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The Gallery of Joseph Mitchell's Daughter

Filed under: Eustace Google   Tagged: , , ,

Here's an intriguing and touching story about Joseph and Therese Mitchell's daughter, in the Asbury Park Press (links and boldface mine; normally I wouldn't reproduce a whole piece, but this one is worth it). Bobbi Seidel writes:

A few years ago, Nora Mitchell Sanborn was looking for a new place to live. She was also wondering about a way to showcase photographs taken by her late mother.

Sanborn found both in the waterfront borough of Keyport.

In 2004, she opened Mitchell Sanborn Gallery on West Front Street. Last August, she moved into what she calls a "wonderful old house from 1837."

Today, the two-room gallery with its white walls and glass storefront is home to an exhibit about every six weeks, says Sanborn, who is set to retire in February from a 30-year career as a probation officer in Middlesex County. Art classes and poetry readings take place at the gallery, too.

"It's a great town, a very interesting town. People from Keyport and from all over the county come into the gallery to hang out and talk. I've met some really wonderful people," she says.

At the time of house hunt, she didn't know this would happen.

"I was living in Eatontown and was looking for someplace to live," Sanborn says. "I wanted someplace by the water, with a downtown where I could walk to. And I was looking for something to do with my mother's pictures. I thought, "Well, why don't I just open a gallery?' "

Her mother, Therese Mitchell, was a professional photographer who had shot pictures of New York City in the 1930s and '40s. She died in 1980. Sanborn's father, Joseph Mitchell, was a writer for New Yorker magazine and the author of several books. He died in 1995.

"By the time I came along, she was mainly taking pictures of the writers and artists of the New Yorker," says Sanborn, 66.

After her father's death, Sanborn and her sister, Elizabeth Mitchell of Atlanta, found boxes of negatives of her mother's photos.

"My father was absolutely bereft when my mother died. He couldn't look at the pictures. They made him too sad. My sister and I found them in the apartment in New York where we grew up.

"The first show I had was my mother's pictures and paintings from my landlord of years ago in New York. He was 92 when he painted them," she says. "After I opened, I thought, "What would I do for artists?' But I've never had to look for artists. They just keep coming."

The second show was an exhibit of the work of 28 artists from Keyport. Last year, she displayed the work of 37 Keyport artists. An exhibit of her mother's photos of New York City, matched with excerpts of her father's writing, ends Saturday.

Exhibits today vary greatly — anything that strikes her, she says.

"Old Friends," a joint show, runs Sept. 9 to 23 with Jane L. Wechsler's photos of European circuses and of New York Harbor, as well as portraits and nudes by Ira Robbins, a graphic designer and teacher. Gallery hours for this show are 5-7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Sanborn, whose husband, John, died in 1998, has two children, Jack, 40, and Elizabeth, 36, and two grandchildren.

Photo of Nora Mitchell Sanborn in her gallery, New Jersey Independent
Article, "My Mother's Photographs," not online, in the Spring 2002 issue of The Recorder
New York Sun piece about a crowd of Mitchell family and friends gathering at the Shaffer City Oyster Bar for the publication of Old Mr. Flood; good stories here.


Just saw the ending (again) tonight of Joe Gould’s Secret and thought of you all. What a lifetime ago that was!

Good luck with your gallery. Sounds like fun as well as hard work. Dolores

Dolores Du Bois (Barry)February 04, 2009

Saw the film and discovered how you learned to drink martinis. I hope you are well and happy. I retired to Tucson.

Bill IngramMarch 26, 2011

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