- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

AMARILLO, Texas (AP) - The homemade sign placed on the glass door of an out-of-the-way studio on a bare part of Sunset Center’s west end Monday gave just the slightest of glimpses into the man and the project.

Scott Hyde Archive.

The Amarillo Globe-News (https://bit.ly/1phoDJ1 ) reports inside was Renea Dauntes, surrounded by various stacks of photographs, prints, negatives and film positives, about 70 years’ worth to be exact.

Visiting her every so often is the man whose name is on the sign, the photographer whose collection Dauntes has made her single-focused mission to categorize and digitize.

“It’s funny because Scott always tells me I’m trying to make him famous,” Dauntes said.

“I say, ‘No, I’m trying to make you relevant, because you deserve it for the work you’ve put in your entire life.’”

Hyde, 89, has been a widower since 2007. He drives his Ford Focus across Amarillo, the place he and wife Phyllis moved to in 1987 from the city of his inspiration, New York City.

She suffered a stroke and needed to live where there was more of a car culture. A sister, whose son taught at West Texas State, lived in Amarillo. That was the place.

“I didn’t think twice,” Hyde said. “She said to me at one point, ‘Well, I’m going to Amarillo, and I hope you’ll come with me.’”

Hyde moved from Los Angeles to New York in 1947, then brought decades of work with him to Amarillo. He was among a group of cutting edge commercial and artistic photographers in Manhattan, where he studied with Josef Albers and John Cage.

He was part of the Fluxus Movement in the 1960s, where an array of artists, composers and designers blended the different disciplines. He was awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in 1965 for “creative ability in the arts” in photography.

He knew Andy Warhol, he said, before the artist became famous. Hyde’s photographs are on the album covers of jazz musicians Lionel Hampton and Miles Davis’ “Quiet Nights.”

It was a happy accident that Dauntes, a Plainview native and 2004 Texas Tech graduate, became Hyde’s archivist. Their paths crossed at a show of Hyde’s work at Amarillo Museum of Art in September 2012. They struck up a conversation.

“I told him how much I loved his photo of Times Square in 1950,” she said, “and he asked me if I were good at organization. He said he needed helping organizing all his work.

“I wasn’t full-time employed at the time, so I told him I’d be happy to. I didn’t realize until later his work needed to be documented rather than organized.”

Dauntes, who holds an archaeology and philosophy degree at Tech, began dabbling in archiving his work in October of that year. But it was not until April 2015 that she stopped everything to devote full time to the project. It may take another year to complete.

“It’s just the ability to preserve and share historical objects,” she said, “except I’m not digging in dirt, but digging in paper.”

She estimates there are about 4,000 images and maybe 10,000 photographs to be catalogued. She has searched for help, but none has come her way. Soloing can be painstaking.

“Oh, my goodness, it’s been a challenge because it’s a race against the clock,” she said. “There is a treasure trove of incredible work that needs attention, and the biggest struggle is doing it by myself.”

Dauntes sees her mission as filling in some major gaps in the historical record of Hyde’s photographs. Once his collection is documented and digitized, his work will be available to institutions here and abroad, as well as to the public.

“Because of his reluctance to let people know who he is and where he was, and the reluctance to stay in a particular area of photography, a lot got pushed to the back burner,” she said.

While archiving his work, Dauntes is working on two books about Hyde. One is “Who Remembers?,” the commercial and artistic endeavors of the photographer in New York and Los Angeles. The other is “What Are We Doing Here?,” a focus on his work and the people he met in Amarillo.

“I shouldn’t think it makes any difference at all to me,” Hyde said of the archiving. “I hope this will be of use to somebody. But it’s nice; I’ll put it that way. I’m not looking for fame.”

But if it is relevance, as Dauntes said, much of her focus is on Hyde’s photographs of New York City life from the 1940s through the 1980s. It’s a preservation and documentation of history, a different side to his meticulous commercial work.

“It was a time when modern art was really emerging,” she said. “It was pre-Jackson Pollock and right at the time of Andy Warhol, and Scott was a party to some of those things.

“There is that time in New York City that people with an interest in history will appreciate. It’s more than his creative work, but everyday pictures of people on the street that tell stories in and of itself.

“Many of the images are places and time that haven’t been seen since they were taken. They’ve been locked in a box in Amarillo, Texas.”

Giving them life again is what’s happening behind the sign.


Information from: Amarillo Globe-News, https://www.amarillo.com

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