In this episode of the Deerfield Public Library Podcast, we had the great pleasure of talking to photographer and writer Art Shay. Shay’s work has appeared in LIFE, Time, Sports Illustrated, and many other publications. Our conversation is full of first-hand accounts of some of the most famous people and events of the 20th century. It’s not every day you talk to someone who says, “and then Hemingway said to me…”
You’ll also hear some truly remarkable and untold stories of local history. Shay has been a longtime Deerfield resident, which means some of his friends and photographic subjects, like Nelson Algren and Billy Corgan, were frequent guests at his home in Deerfield.
Art Shay and his wife Florence were also part of the Deerfield Citizens for Human Rights, a group which began in support of the integrated housing development planned for Deerfield in 1959. Many Deerfield residents may be aware of Eleanor Roosevelt’s visit to support integration in 1961. Much less known, and apparently unreported at the time, is the visit of the brilliant essayist, novelist, and activist James Baldwin. In our conversation, we learn Baldwin came to Deerfield and gave speeches in support of integration, at Art Shay’s invitation.
At 95, Shay is still taking and exhibiting pictures. He recently was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the Lucie Foundation and has a current exhibit at the American Writers Museum, Capturing Stories, which features his photographs of authors. You can check out books by Art Shay here at the Deerfield Public Library.
Note: Shay does use a bit of colorful language in this interview—you might want to preview it before sharing with young listeners.
We hope you enjoy our twelfth episode! Each month we’ll be releasing an episode featuring a conversation with a dynamic Deerfield leader. Learn more about the podcast on our podcast page.
You can listen to all of our episodes in the player below or on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play. We welcome your comments and feedback—please send to [email protected].