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Editor’s Letter – 9/5/18

“To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.”

Susan Sontag wrote the above in her famous book about photography, “On Photography.” She says that photographs are a kind of memento mori—like a skull in an old painting: a reminder that life is fleeting.

That’s probably true. When I study a photograph of someone (or worse, myself) I’m pricked by a sharp feeling of loss. The moment lives forever, but I will not, and the evidence is frozen right there in front of me.

Roland Barthes calls that pricking quality the punctum in another famous book about photography, “Camera Lucida.” It’s the thing in a photograph that jumps out and pops you. It “bruises” you, Barthes says. It punctures you.

This is a photo-forward issue of The Tulsa Voice. I’m thrilled to be sharing these images with you for a lot of reasons, but the one throughline is their bruising quality. Punctum abounds. These pages are lousy with it.

First up is our annual spread of otherworldly bartender portraits by Melissa Lukenbaugh and Jeremy Charles. It marks the occasion of this year’s Philbrook MIX cocktail competition, where locals compete for glory at Cain’s Ballroom during Philbrook Museum’s anticipated yearly fundraiser. You’ll find jaw-dropping photos of these plucky hopefuls that will stun and delight you, alongside a Q&A with MIX judge and James Beard Award-winning cocktail historian, David Wondrich.

Next we take a sharp turn left—south, really—to Nicaragua, where a popular uprising against the regime of President Daniel Ortega has been met with brutal, deadly violence. Local photographer and TTV contributor Joseph Rushmore traveled there to document the crisis earlier this summer, and the images he came back with are pulsing with white-hot urgency. You’ll find his photos alongside original, on-the-ground reportage from Carl David Goette-Luciak, whose reporting for The Washington Post, The Guardian, and elsewhere has been instrumental in exposing the contours of this unfolding and underreported humanitarian crisis.

Bookending that story are voices from here, your neighbors, whose hearts are in Nicaragua. First is Linda Allegro, project manager at New Sanctuary Network Tulsa, who writes about her Nicaraguan roots, the current crisis, and how it informs her advocacy for immigrants here in Tulsa. After that you’ll meet Rev. Leslie Penrose, founder JustHope, a local “social-profit” organization providing “solidarity from afar” with communities in Nicaragua.     

You’ll also find photographs by TU student Megan Hosmer, whose series “Motherhood / Womanhood” explores its title concepts through vivid portraiture and tender domestic scenes. I hope you love it, along with the rest of the words and images here, as much as we do—from the light, to the dark, to the shades in between.      

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