Iconic Gordon Parks photos show shades of gray in American race relations - The Washington Post: At first glance, it seems a memory of an innocent time: A father stands at the window of an ice cream stand, buying treats for his young children. But the family is African American, and the sign above them says “colored.” Gordon Parks made this color photograph in 1956 in Alabama, when separate-and-unequal strictures shadowed nearly every aspect of American life.
Parks is best known for his black-and-white work, much of it for Life magazine and well represented in Adamson Gallery’s “Gordon Parks: An American Lens.” The show includes high-contrast shots of Harlem in the late 1940s, as well as dramatic 1960s candids of Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X and Duke Ellington. Also present is the photographer’s take on “American Gothic” — a starkly posed 1942 portrait of office custodian Ella Watson, made when Parks worked at the Farm Security Administration in Washington. That photo is a rare overlap between this selection and the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s Parks exhibition in 2011.