books – published: Johnny Dark, People I May Know, 2006



Bruce Weber and Nan Bush’s Little Bear Press published Johnny Dark’s People I May Know in late 2006, after more than 2 years of adventure; we first traveled to Deming, New Mexico, in 2004 to meet Johnny and the late Scarlett Dark. The 6.5″x9″ book contains 256 pages of text and photography – both black and white and color – and was the first book produced entirely in-studio for Little Bear Press. I’m listed as Art Director and co-Editor (with Bruce and Nan). I don’t have a proper description for my role; I basically lived with this project, producing all the pieces, from beginning through final mechanical.

I found this description by the wonderful Santa Fe photo bookstore photo-eye; I think it sums up the book well:

Who is Johnny Dark? Poetic shutterbug. Fiery, renegade bohemian. Unapologetic beat generation sensualist. A myriad of monikers spring to mind when first encountering the cool appeal of Johnny Dark’s debut effort People I May Know – a volume rife with guns, drugs and sexual escapades played out against the sweeping tableau of the American West. But even as this mythology gathers in the reader’s mind, it is complicated to the point of irrelevance with the turn of the page and the revelation of other dispositions. For Johnny Dark is equally the creator of visual vocabulary all his own, one fraught with tenderness, romance and a deep curiosity about the people he may know. A memoir in the loosest sense of the term, People I May Know follows the casual, spontaneous path of an artist whose most realized idioms are detached observation and obsessive documentation of the people and places he happens upon. Part travel journal, part family album, People I May Know is characterized by fragmentary narrative, deep personal reflection, and photographs that evoke an unmistakable sense of time and place. Johnny Dark’s debut meanders from New York and Spain to Nova Scotia and New Mexico, his lens ever trained on the quiet psychological dramas at work within his patchwork family. This restless group – comprised of his wife Scarlett, her two daughters Kristy and O-Lan, the author/playwright Sam Shepard, and Shepard’s son Jesse – are Dark’s preferred subjects, his portraits of them comprising the emotional heartbeat of People I May Know . Johnny Dark’s cinematic landscapes are equally evocative all dusty prairies, threatening skies, and vacant western towns that perfectly mirror the struggles and disquiet of his most familiar companions.