Barry Goldwater’s Photography at Scottsdale’s Museum of the West

Jackie DishnerMay 1, 2019
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The first time Barry M. Goldwater picked up a camera, he was a young boy, and it was without permission. His mother, the owner of said camera, had forbidden it, so the story goes. But curiosity got the best of the boy, and eventually, his mother relented, becoming host to the late Arizona senator’s first public exhibition by displaying the photographs he made throughout her home.

Goldwater’s work is on display again. “Growing Up Goldwater: Family Photographs & Stories” and “Photographs by Barry M. Goldwater: The Arizona Highways Collection,” are exhibiting at Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West in the Scottsdale Arts District through March 2020.

Barry M. Goldwater, Navajo Pony, 1938; Courtesy
of the Barry & Peggy Goldwater Foundation.

To help preserve her grandfather’s legacy and share the Arizona history he captured on film, Alison Goldwater Ross created the Barry & Peggy Goldwater Foundation in 2018. The foundation’s work includes digitizing a collection of more than 15,000 negatives and slides the senator – and one-time U.S. presidential candidate – made during his lifetime (1909-1998). She’s also curating shows; this one’s the first for the foundation.

At Museum of the West, visitors will see a series of black and white (and some color) shots from the senator’s stateside travels and portraits of Native Americans. “I like portraits if I can find a good face,” said the man who was mentored by Ansel Adams. Family photographs include shots of his wife Peggy, group shots of the entire family, and portraits of Goldwater that Peggy made. Personal memorabilia is also on display: his cowboy hat, an old camera case, and cameras Goldwater used.

On sale in the museum gift shop is a copy of The Eyes of His Soul: The Vivid Legacy of Barry M. Goldwater, Master Photographer (2003, Arizona Historical Foundation), which includes images and stories used in these exhibitions.

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