Historical society to display the works of renowned town photographer
NEW CANAAN — Pedro Guerrero, a renowned Mexican-American photographer, took so many pictures that his daughter, Susan, 69, joked he would take one every 15 seconds.
With that, it’s no surprise it has taken five months for members of the New Canaan Historical Society and Guerrero’s children and grandchildren to sift through hundreds of materials in preparation for their Sept. 28 reception at 13 Oenoke Ridge.
“It’s kind of daunting,” Ben Guerrero, 62 and Pedro’s son, said as he was arranging photographs on a table Monday morning.
Pedro, an Arizona native of Mexican descent, was famous for his photography, which was featured in various New York magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar and captured the work of other acclaimed artists like Frank Lloyd Wright and Alexander Calder.
“It’s been incredible going through the family pictures and all the links here. Seeing a picture of my grandfather in 1917 is truly incredible,” Ben Guerrero’s 31-year-old son, Alexander, said as he also was admiring his grandfather’s green World War II uniform.
For the Guerrero family, this exhibit, the largest of its kind in the famous photographer’s adopted Connecticut town, is about the story of a daring Mexican-American artist who stood by his ideals.
To learn more about the upcoming exhibit, visit: https://nchistory.org/pedro-e-guerrero-the-photographer-of-mid-century-new-canaan/
“It’s important to know how this Mexican-American man worked in the art spaces of the 1950s and 1960s as a person of color and also as someone who had served and opposed the Vietnam War,” Alexander said.
Pedro, who served in World War II as a photo officer in Italy, was outspoken about his opposition to the Vietnam War even while serving on the town’s draft board, earning him some critics while he lived in New Canaan.
In a Feb. 1, 1968, New York Times article, his stance “aroused indignation among some residents of this affluent suburb,” which affected his work and family — and also landed him a dead bird in his mailbox.
“I remember that because the minute my father voiced his position, he was blacklisted by major shelter magazines as he was always freelancing,” Susan said. “I think it was actually good for us as a family because we entered a period where we lived by our principles and led to a great flowering of creativity.”
Guerrero moved to New Canaan in 1951 and lived here until he returned to Arizona in 1999. He died in 2012 at the age of 95.
“I want people who come to the exhibit to see that my father was a master of what he did through photography. He really captured who these artists were and the beauty and wonder of architecture,” Susan said.
Historical Society Executive Director Nancy Geary said the upstairs floor would showcase Pedro’s work and the downstairs room his life and personal items.
“The installation itself is a bit of a creative process,” Geary said. “He was a New Canaan resident very well connected to the art and architectural world, but also a very thoughtful political man who had strong opinions and defended them.”
“The story of his life can highlight some of the things that happened in this town over 50 years,” Geary said.
The exhibit will be on display until Dec. 9.