THIRTEEN’s American Masters series and Latino Public Broadcasting’s VOCES series join forces for the first time to explore the life and work of photographer Pedro E. Guerrero (September 5, 1917-September 13, 2012), a Mexican American, born and raised in segregated Mesa, Arizona, who had an extraordinary international photography career. American Masters — Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey premieres Friday, September 18 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) during National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Filmmakers Raymond Telles and Yvan Iturriaga (Latino Americans) showcase an in-depth, exclusive interview with Guerrero alongside his photography to explore his collaborations with three of the most iconic American artists of the 20th century: architect Frank Lloyd Wright and sculptors Alexander Calder and Louise Nevelson. Using his outsider’s eye to produce insightful portraits of important modernist architecture, Guerrero became one of the most sought-after photographers of the “Mad Men” era, yet his story is largely unknown.
American Masters — Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey highlights the milestones in Guerrero’s life: his serendipitous enrollment in photography classes, his 1939 meeting with Wright at Taliesin West (Scottsdale, Ariz.), his World War II service and his post-war magazine photography career in New York City, shooting interiors while his work with Wright continued. Settling in New Canaan, Conn., Guerrero describes his life after Wright’s death, his work with Calder and the end of his magazine assignments because of his vocal opposition to the Vietnam War. This led to more work with Calder, and eventually, Nevelson. After Nevelson’s death, Guerrero, now 75 years old, returned to Arizona, where he lived until his death at age 95. Guerrero’s second wife and archivist Dixie Legler Guerrero; Nevelson’s granddaughter, sculptor Maria Nevelson; his friends, collaborators and architectural experts, including Martin Filler, also share insights and recollections.
“We at Latino Public Broadcasting are extremely pleased to partner with American Masters on this film,” said LPB Executive Director Sandie Viquez Pedlow. “Pedro E. Guerrero is an important American artist whose work, until now, has been known to only a relatively small group of photography and architecture aficionados. Being showcased on American Masters provides a high visibility platform to share his remarkable story and brilliant photographs with the American public; we hope the broadcast will finally give him the national recognition that has been long overdue.”
“We are thrilled to partner with Latino Public Broadcasting and VOCES to spotlight Pedro E. Guerrero’s talent on American Masters. I hope the documentary and our accompanying national community engagement and education effort inspires a new generation of equally courageous photographers” said Michael Kantor, executive producer of American Masters.
Launched in 1986, American Masters has earned 28 Emmy Awards – including 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series since 1999 and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special – 12 Peabodys, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards and many other honors. Now in its 29th season on PBS, the series is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET and also seen on the WORLD channel.
To take American Masters beyond the television broadcast and further explore the themes, stories and personalities of masters past and present, the series’ companion website (http://pbs.org/americanmasters) offers streaming video of select films, interviews, photos, outtakes, essays and more. For Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey, the website will feature adigital exhibit of Guerrero’s photography. American Masters will mount an Instagram photo campaign (#PedroPBS) inspired by Guerrero’s work, encouraging people to share their own local art and architecture photos. The best images will be featured on the series website, a video compilation on the American Masters YouTube channel and across PBS social media.
Educational resources focused on Guerrero’s life and legacy, developed in partnership with Latino Public Broadcasting, will be available via PBS LearningMedia. WNET Education, working with local public media stations and local arts organizations across the country, will engage diverse audiences in photography through a series of free, community-based photography workshops and screening events. Latino Public Broadcasting is working with public television stations in key markets to extend the footprint of the film beyond the broadcast with local community events, OVEE screenings and social media.