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Arts / Museums

The Hidden Talent of America’s Merchant Prince Gets Exposed

Granddaughter Promotes His Secret Lens Love

BY // 04.29.17
photography courtesy "Reflections of a Man: The Photographs of Stanley Marcus"

Neiman Marcus’ chairman emeritus Stanley Marcus (1905 – 2002) would have been a 112 years old this month.

He’s been called America’s merchant prince and lauded as the man who defined what the retail experience could be at its best — a passport to another kingdom, a land of glamour, beautiful fashion and intriguing culture that embraced travel too, and the elevation of a store into a temple to enlightened consumerism, customer service, and community.

But few known Mr. Stanley — as his employees fondly called him — as an artist in his own right. Now the indie, small-batch publisher Cairn Press is reviving a title that was brought forth originally a decade ago: Reflections of a Man: The Photographs of Stanley Marcus. After the book was first published, it led to a museum show too, at the Dallas Museum of Art, in 2008.

The few remaining, and collectible, copies of Marcus’ volume documenting his life as a photographer, will be available at a book signing at Dallas’ Barry Whistler Gallery, on Saturday from 1 to 3 pm. Co-authors Jerrie Marcus Smith and Allison V. Smith, will be on hand to autograph copies; they are respectively the daughter and granddaughter of the subject. Read an excerpt of Jerrie Marcus Smith’s remembrance of her father here, published in the photo journal 1814 Magazine.

In an interesting twist, Allison V. Smith, in Whistler’s stable and married to the gallerist, is an acclaimed photographer in her own right.

Via e-mail, Smith relays fond memories of her grandfather and his love affair with the medium: “Stanley loved cameras. He shot all kinds — Kodak Stereo, Nikon, Rollei, Minolta, Leica.”

And she writes of his mentorship: “Yes, Stanley was a major influence on me becoming a photographer. As soon as he saw that my interest… was more like a passion for photography, he fed me with postcards and books about photographers and photography.

“He would keep track of my Page One photos when I worked at the Dallas Morning News and was very supportive of my career as a photographer. We met for lunch regularly and talked about photography and news.”
Now life has come full circle: Smith and her mom are honoring Marcus’ legacy as a lensman.
Book signing for “Reflections of a Man: The Photographs of Stanley Marcus,” at Barry Whistler Gallery, 315 Cole St., #120, Dallas; Saturday, April 29, 1 to 3 pm; 214.939.0242. Books $60 each; after Saturday, signed copies will also be available, while they last, at the gallery.

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