AP Presidential Photo Exhibit at Baker Center; Walking Tour Wednesday

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A photo from the exhibit. From left, George H. W. Bush, Barack Obama, George W. Bush., Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter

As the fifty-seventh presidential inauguration draws near, a traveling photo exhibit entitled The American President is on display in the Rotunda of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy.

More than eighty photos from the Associated Press’s vast photo archive are in the display. The photos show American presidents from Abraham Lincoln to Barack Obama at war, in victory and defeat, in crises, campaigning, and leading the country on the world stage.

Baker Center visitors can peruse the exhibit free of charge from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Mike Martinez, a UT journalism professor, will lead a walking tour of the exhibit at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 16.

Martinez spent twenty-six years as a photojournalist. He worked at Associated Press in New York headquarters from 1992 to 1999, and he also worked at the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Detroit News, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Mike Martinez

“I’m going to try to talk a little about how the media covers the president,” Martinez said, explaining that AP photographers are with the president day in, day out. “It’s called a ‘death watch’ because they’re there to make sure nothing happens to him, but that’s how you end up getting some of these great photographs.”

Martinez said he knows back stories about some of the photos and will share those.

For instance, there’s a photo of Ronald Reagan trying to cut in when his wife, Nancy, was dancing with singer Frank Sinatra.

That photo was taken by White House photographer Michael Evans and shared with the press. After it went public, White House Chief of Staff James Baker III scolded Evans because he feared the president might be angry about it. But when Nancy Reagan called, she said the president loved it and wanted copies for himself and Sinatra.

Coverage of the White House by AP reports and photographers has been the dominant source of presidential news across the United States and around the world.

The American President features a number of AP’s Pulitzer Prize–winning images, including Paul Vathis’s view of John F. Kennedy conferring gravely with his predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, at Camp David after the unsuccessful Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and Ron Edmonds’ split-second documentation of the 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan.

The exhibit will be at the Baker Center through January 25.

C O N T A C T :

Nissa Dahlin Brown (865-974-8681, nissa@utk.edu)

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