I remember when Jan and I did Fundraising in 1978… We used to come to Crocker Park every night and count the money. One night we had $9,998. I went over to everyone in the park—board and exhibit chairs—and asked for a quarter until I had nine quarters. I handed the money to Howie Rosenkranz; I said, ‘Here—ten thousand dollars and twenty-five cents!’ That was the first time we ever raised that much.
The year 1969 was the first year of the Marblehead Festival of Arts Photography Exhibition. Herb’s wife Jan saw a call for artists in The Reporter. Herb was a professional commercial photographer, and she encouraged him to submit his work. That year, Herb became an integral part of the Festival. Now, he’s filled with stories. His history and involvement with the Festival include almost the entire 50 years since its inception.
In 1978, Herb became a part of the Board of Directors and stayed on it for three years. Herb says, at one point, “Someone said we needed a Professional Photo Exhibit and an Amateur Exhibit.” He laughs and adds, “In the Professional category, I was the only one to submit.” As it turns out, this distinction set the precedent for future photography categories.
Herb, like most of the few who have seen the Festival since its early years, notice how the Festival has grown. He says, “The Festival has had a tremendous growth spurt in the last 15 years. There are more exhibits and more entertainment.”
Herb reminisces about the difference in budget, recalling a story. He begins, “Presently, we are able to raise $120,000, but I remember when Jan and I did Fundraising in 1978… We used to come to Crocker Park every night and count the money. One night we had $9,998. I went over to everyone in the park—board and exhibit chairs—and asked for a quarter until I had nine quarters. I handed the money to Howie Rosenkranz; I said, ‘Here—ten thousand dollars and twenty-five cents!’ That was the first time we ever raised that much.”
Herb was ecstatic about being Photography Chairman and having a committee to help him. He loved that he could choose to stay in Historic Downtown Marblehead and tell someone else to go to a remote area. He still had a lot of ground to cover wherever he positioned himself. He says, “At one point I resigned from the Festival as Photography Chair because my wife was in a wheelchair and told me that I never stayed in one place for more than 15 minutes.”
Herb says that the Festival is an event for people to look forward to all year. He doesn’t know anyone in Marblehead who doesn’t go to the Festival. He notes, “Sixty percent of the people I know are from the Festival.”
Herb ultimately mentions the famous Herb-Nordia collection: “How it got started was when the Stevens cottages were going to be torn down, Nordia Kay was upset about not being able to paint them in time. She said, ‘Herb, I want to paint the cottages, but it’s too cold to sit out there. Can you take photographs so I can paint from them?’ So I did it. Then she said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if we did a photo and watercolor pair every year? We could put them in the Art Auction!’ Up until her death in 2014, Herb and Nordia framed each pair, thanks to the help of Gene Arnould, and sold them for upwards of $2000—all donations to the Festival.”
“Now, I’m no longer Chairman of the Photography Committee; I do photograph the Festival, but I can’t get around as easily as I used to. For a while, I was photographing in a wheelchair,” he laughs. “I’m still listed as Photo Historian!”
Herb likes to take photos of street and scenic scenes. The Marblehead Festival of Arts has given him an outlet for expression and a multi-faceted organization to be a part of. Taking photographs and submitting his work to the Festival has given him a lasting sense of creative reward.