Desperately seeking Art Dubinsky

Art Dubinsky, or Arthur Dubinsky, has left a thin, bright trail of photographs on the web and in various archives. As I approach publication of a biography of Ava Helen Pauling (OSU Press, forthcoming Spring 2013), I seek him, his family, or his heirs in order to gain permission to use two photographs he took of Linus and Ava Helen Pauling: one of their hosting a pancake breakfast for WILPF, a peace group, and the other of the couple at their ranch in Big Sur, California. I am going to show both photographs below, as well as one or two more for which I likewise have NO permission, in hopes that somebody sees this frantic post and offers me additional information about this wonderful, elusive photographer.

Here is a portrait photograph of Dubinsky himself.


Arthur Dubinsky, by Clint Wade. Held by the Claremont Colleges Photo Archive.

This was taken by Clint Wade and is part of the Claremont Colleges Photo Archive. Dubinsky was Pitzer College’s first official photographer, among his other roles.

Dubinsky’s connection with Pitzer allowed him at least once to showcase his work there. Here is a small capture of an exhibit in Scott Hall at Pitzer.

Dubinsky photo exhibit Pitzer

Arthur Dubinsky photo exhibit in the lobby of Scott Hall at Pitzer College. Photo held at Claremont Colleges Photo Archive.

You can’t see much detail, but I am guessing that a significant part of this exhibit was prints from his collaboration with the great Steve Allen on a book about migrant workers called The Ground is My Table (1966). (See, for example, the portrait photo on the back wall.) Those of us who remember Steve Allen may not always recall his social activism and humanitarianism, of which this book was only a tiny piece. Steve Allen, Art Dubinsky, and the Paulings shared that passion for social justice as well as a devotion to humanism as a working philosophy. Dubinsky’s photographs for the migrant worker project recall the work of government sponsored photographers almost thirty years before (to which I referred in an earlier blog entry). See below for a bit more about Pitzer.

There is another small collection of photos on the web attributed to Dubinsky — snapshots, really, of a day in Washington Square in New York City in the early 1950s. Here we see Woody Guthrie and Rambling Jack Elliott. These photos are reproduced from an entry in the blog Dangerous Minds.

Here they are:


Woody Guthrie on right, by Arthur Dubinsky.

Who is the banjo player? Photo by Arthur Dubinsky, early 1950s.


This shows Ramblin Jack Elliott on the left and a rare bearded Woody on the right. Guthrie was apparently already showing signs of the Huntington’s Chorea that would hospitalize him within a few years and then take his life in 1967.

So, the plot thickens. These photos are all credited to Art Dubinsky. But on the official Woody Guthrie site, there is another photo taken clearly the same day, from a similar angle, credited to Robert Wersan. Robert, are you out there? Can you clarify? I’ve offered the link because the site has done a very effective job at keeping me from pirating the image itself!

The young woman on the right side of the third photo (behind Woody’s cigarette, she says) is self-identified as Marcia Stehr. She writes that judging by this image of her, the shots were taken earlier than 1954: like 1950 or ’51. She was a fan of these guys and remembers being there.

Amazingly, as I was drafting this, I found another shout-out about Dubinsky in the form of  a comment on Martin Colyer’s blog entry on this same set of photographs from Stacy Elliott, archivist at Pitzer College. She too has been looking for more information on Dubinsky. Follow that link too, if you will, to share with Stacy your insights and connections. She wrote in November 2012 that they had been  planning an exhibit of Dubinsky’s photos. Since the exhibit information did not pop up on Google, I am thinking and hoping that it has not yet been mounted, because I REALLY want to see it.

Here are the photos I seek permission to reproduce in the biography:

Pancake breakfast, Dubinsky

Linus Pauling and Ava Helen Pauling at pancake breakfast for WILPF (Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom). Arthur Dubinsky, 1962.

AHP and LP at cabin

Linus Pauling and Ava Helen Pauling in front of their cabin at Deer Flat Ranch in Big Sur, California. Arthur Dubinsky photograph, 1962.

Is this entry a jumble or what? I love mysteries, but I’d like this one solved. Where are the rest of Dubinsky’s photographs? Who owns their copyright? How can we get a handle on his biography? I strongly agree with archivist Stacy Elliott that his story should be told.

6 thoughts on “Desperately seeking Art Dubinsky

  1. Hello,

    Well, a lot has happened since I wrote that first inquiry. Now I may be of some help to you. First of all, I was able to track down Bob Gumpert and we had a lovely telephone conversation. I am also in contact with Arthur’s daughter.

    I am happy to pass on a request from you, if you like. She has his collection of negatives, but from what I understand, she has not made an attempt to identify what images she has, yet. But when I spoke with her, she seemed motivated to do sometime with them. I encouraged her to explore constructing a website. But it’s a big job, especially as a side hobby-type thing.

    Anyway, I’ve seen some of those Pauling photos. I didn’t know what the relationship between Linus and Arthur was, but I would would be interested in what it was. Please share what ever information you have regarding their relationship.

    Did I mention in my comment on your site that we’re mounting an exhibition and producing a book on Dubinsky? There will be about 30 prints in the exhibit and about 100 in the book. I will be writing his biography for the book, so I would be grateful for any information. The exhibition and book will be Spring 2014.

    Thanks for contacting me.
    All the best,

  2. Hello – I too am seeking permission to use an Arthur Dubinsky photograph of Dorothea Lange in a documentary film that will air this fall on PBS American Masters. Could you please share contact information for the Dubinsky family via my email address. Thanks!

    • Denise: I am SO SORRY ….I think I did not after all respond to this comment. I don’t know what I was in the middle of. Did you find Stacy Elliott, the Pitzer College curator who mounted an exhibit of Dubinsky’s photos last spring? I’ll bet your project is finished and on its way to the public. Still, let me know if you are still seeking him or info about him. Stacy Elliott is the person…

  3. Thanks for this wonderful information. I am Marcia Stehr the young woman identified in the photos of Woody and Jack in Washington Square Park… it was 1954… a friend reminded me of the correct date. Arthur gave me an 8×10 print of Jack from that day. He also took a photo of me. I have been in touch with his daughter as well since I want to use the photo in my memoir.

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