Gay Block Houston, Texas, b. 1942

Biography

Gay Block’s 47-year-long career in photography began when she was a pre-teen, taking pictures of friends and family with a Kodak Brownie camera. Early subjects included her mother and other friends from the affluent Jewish community in Houston to which the family belonged. In the early 1980’s, she explored the community of Jewish retirees in South Beach, many of whom were Holocaust survivors, and the Art Deco hotels in which they lived.

 

Photographs from her Love: South Beach in the ‘80s series are in the public collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston,TX; The Jewish Museum, NYC, NY; and Museum of Modern Art, NY. Her work was included in the important group show, Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography, shown at the Museum of Modern Art, NY, and at the Louis Roederer Discovery Awards Exhibition in Arles, France.

 

Her work has been published in books and is collected by the Museum of Modern Art, NY; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; El Paso Museum of Art, TX; The Jewish Museum, NY; and the New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NM.

 

Block collaborated with author Rabbi Malka Drucker and created Rescuers: Portraits of Moral Courage in the Holocaust, a book and exhibition that traveled to eleven countries of photographs of over 100 Christians who helped rescue Jews during the Holocaust. The exhibit was seen in over fifty venues in the US and abroad, including the Museum of Modern Art, NY.

 

In 2003, Block's 30-year series of portraits of her mother were published by the University of New Mexico Press and traveled as an exhibition. The book, Bertha Alyce, was cited as one of the "Twelve Great Books Published During The Year 2003" by the editors of the Review of Arts, Literature, Politics, and the Humanities. Her video of the material, Bertha Alyce, was awarded the People's Choice and Best Documentary by the Madrid International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, Spain. Block's documentary technique has been compared to Duane Michaels and Nan Goldin.