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From The Vault Of Art Shay: America, America

By Art Shay in News on Jul 4, 2013 4:00PM

(Legendary Chicago-based photographer Art Shay has taken photos of kings, queens, celebrities and the common man in a 60-year career. This week, Art gets patriotic with some Walt Whitman and snapshots from his archives.)

On holidays such as this I feel the ineluctable joyous pressure of Walt Whitman, whose clear voice "singing" his love for "the people" took root in me when I was 14 and discovered Leaves of Grass. The battered poet (whose transsexuality came whispering through his work: "With my head on your shoulder, camerado...") whose peaceful heart led him to serve as a battlefield medic, spurred my passion for language and by extension, for pictures.

Whitman was ahead of his time his work and his persona inspired soldier and civilian alike: "Somewhere a woman waits for me, containing all and lacking nothing." was thrilling then and is thrilling now. As are, I now understand, the sonnets Shakespeare wrote to boys he loved and the sexual didos whose sex he sequestered with the very language he mastered—or mistressed. And, come to think of it, some of the Master's other lines served as my generation's centerfolds .His Venus and Adonis, for one, in which Venus, a world-class fucker, nailed Adonis, a willing farmboy , who stroked her "sweet bottom grass below."

Many of my picture subjects wooed my eye and then my heart—and still do-leaving me, like Whitman, a pulse in my work that always puts me in the thrill and the thrall of sharing what I see—or seem to see—with all of you.

If you can't wait until this time every Wednesday to get your Art Shay fix, please check out the photographer's blog, which is updated regularly. Art Shay's book, Chicago's Nelson Algren, is also available at Amazon.