People — St. Thomas
A portrait of Americana, St. Croix-style, heads for Great Britain, Europe, China and the Ukraine this summer. The Royal Photographic Society has selected St. Croix photographer Ted Davis to participate in its155th International Print Exhibition, opening in London this July. From over 2,800 photographs submitted, The Royal Photographic Society chose only 123. One of those was the work of Ted Davis: “Piano Lesson, St. Croix.”
The Queen of England, a patron of the society, will attend the royal reception. Ted Davis is beside himself.
“I think they picked ‘Piano Lesson’ because there’s something universal about it,” Davis said. “It was photographed here on St. Croix, but it could be anywhere; it could be Trinidad; it could be Alabama; it could be New York City.”
The story started on the backstreets of downtown Christiansted where Davis parks every day before work at his galleries. “One afternoon I heard piano music coming from behind lovely little lace curtains. I tiptoed up and peaked in the window. A school girl sat playing the piano and a lady hovered above her, teaching her,” Davis said. When he saw the lady sweeping her steps the next day, he approached her---to no avail. “I had to pursue her for weeks!” he said. Finally, when the photographer brought a brochure of his work that featured a young girl holding a puppy up to her face, Marjorie Sutton invited him to her piano lesson the following Thursday at four.
A slice-of-life picture, it brings you into a very personal home setting with bouquets of birthday flowers, family photos scattered across walls and tabletops, a cuckoo clock, a mirror reflecting a wall of CDs and, off to the side, a water bottle with a map of St. Croix on the label. And two people---a piano teacher and her student.
“I love the photograph because there’s so much detail. It tells a complete story, a compelling story. You want to know more,” Davis said.
Davis felt anxious about showing Ms. Sutton the picture because of its personal nature. “It says so much about her life, but she loved it! I was flattered,” he said. Then, when “Piano Lessons, St. Croix” was selected for the royal exhibition, Ms. Sutton had second thoughts, according to Davis.
"The Queen is going to see my bare feet!” she told him.
But the bare feet, along with her birthday flowers, her turquoise Caribbean dress, family reunion and wedding photos, collector’s plates that decorate the walls and the piano notes you can almost hear draw you into the story. The piano teacher turns the page for her student...
Hailing from Trinidad, Ted Davis also lived in Austin and, after studying Theater at the University of Texas, he set out for LA where he worked for 20 years both in front of and behind the camera. His repertoire includes roles in “Seinfeld,” “Doc Hollywood,” “Just Shoot Me” and “West Wing.”
Davis and his partner, Sam Dike, own D&D Studio and Fine Art, both on Company Street.