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Interview with Mischa Richter


August 9th, 2010

Photographer Mischa Richter’s upcoming solo exhibition at PAAM is titled ‘Saudade’, a Portuguese word describing longing for home or a time gone by. I went to meet this very talented man at his summer house, a shack on Tasha Hill originally built for Harry Kemp.

''We lived at the end of Bangs Street, just down the road from my grandfather, cartoonist and painter Mischa Richter.''

Q: How did you get to Provincetown?

A: I was born in England and moved here from New York City with my mother and my brother, Sacha, when I was five. We lived at the end of Bangs Street, just down the road from my grandfather, cartoonist and painter Mischa Richter.

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Q: English doesn’t even have a word for ‘saudade’. How did you learn about it?

A. I had been away for fifteen years and started to think about the beauty of my childhood in Provincetown. Books about town became an interest of mine. I discovered “In Great Water” (1901) by Josef Berger aka Jeremiah Diggs. He wrote about the quality of ‘saudade’. I knew this was how I felt and decided to create work about it.

Q. I was friends with your late grandfather Mischa. What was it like to grow up around him?

A. We would swim, draw and spend lots of time together. His influence shaped me. Mischa took such loving care of his wife Helen when she took ill. That taught me devotion of family. His art had a sense of humor through tragedy and my work is about beauty and vulnerability. I wish he could be at this show.

Q: Me too, but I know he will be there in spirit. PAAM is a great place for your show. How did that happen?

A: Many photographs were taken in Town Hall and I had planned the show for that space. When the building was determined unsound, I went to Christine McCarthy for advice. She loved the work and scheduled the show at PAAM for 2010. This delay allowed me to continue working on the project. That’s when I decided to make a book.

Q: Is this your first self published book?

A: Yes. It has photographs with written verse by poet Nick Flynn. I raised the money to publish it from local supporters. All the proceeds, after costs, will go to PAAM, WOMR, HOW, SKIP and the Portuguese Festival. Our non profit company, Lands End Press, was formed to produce this edition of 1000. It will be available for purchase at the show for $50.00. I am a filter for Provincetown’s generous spirit.

Q: You live in London also. How is that?

A: My wife is from there and it is a great environment for our two children. We come here summers to work and enjoy time with friends and family.

Saudade: Photographs by Mischa Richter, curated by Pat de Groot, opens Friday, August 27th at PAAM, 8- 10pm. I can’t wait.

www.paam.org
www.mischarichter.com

Columnist Laura Shabott loves to write about Provincetown and the people that make it so special.







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