A 'Honky Tonk' life 

click to enlarge Waylon Jennings is one of the famed performers pictured in Henry Horenstein's series "Honky Tonk" on view at RayKo Photo Center. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • courtesy photo
  • Waylon Jennings is one of the famed performers pictured in Henry Horenstein's series "Honky Tonk" on view at RayKo Photo Center.

Henry Horenstein photographed bookies, bettors and racetracks, lonely roads and pre-commercialized NASCAR, as well as Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Loretta Lynn.

A dozen great images on view at RayKo Photo Center are culled from Horenstein's famous series "Honky Tonk," which he began in the early 1970s and continued until 2011.

He captured big names such as Jerry Lee Lewis and Waylon Jennings as well as regulars, barmaids and groupies from the country-western music scene, many of the shots taken in Nashville, Tenn.

In "Waiting Backstage, Ryman Auditorium, Nashville," two formidable-looking women with mile-high shellacked hairdos and fur jackets appear displeased. Whether tired groupies, exhausted girlfriends or jaded performers, they are a humorous glance of the less glamorous side of show business in Horenstein's well-timed snap.

In one glowing shot, Parton looks like she is about to say "howdy" with quintessential Dolly charm. Lynn is featured in a candid shot, apparently pleased at something outside the frame, her long hair and smile radiant.

If Horenstein is acutely aware of capturing femininity in all its myriad forms, he is just as adept at documenting masculine swagger.

In "Harmonica Player," a man with jauntily angled legs, a rumpled hat and paint-splattered jeans sits hunched over his mouth organ. The ceiling is low, the floor checkered and a girl with perfectly parted pigtails sits to his right; a man in plaid polyester pants is at his left. No one is paying special attention to him. He is a man unto himself, a lone wolf, much like Jennings, whom Horenstein snapped leaning into the wall, taking a drag from his cigarette, a Telecaster sitting lazily in his hand.

The photos are an evocative cocktail of vintage romance and the glitzy panache of the old-school country-western scene, low-brow with high-brow pride; it's down-home music for down-home people who have slick, suave hair, gold studs and impeccably embroidered (and snugly fitting) clothes.

Also running through the end of the week is "Center Forward," an excellent juried show of traditional gelatin silver prints, X-rays and tintype images by 42 international and national artists co-organized by RayKo and the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colo.

The mixture of landscapes, portraits and staged, David Lynchian scenes represents a comprehensive cross-section of contemporary photographic artistry and trends.

IF YOU GO

Honky Tonk

Where: RayKo Photo Center, 428 Third St., S.F.

When: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday

Admission: FreeContact: (415) 495-3773, www.raykophoto.com

About The Author

Lauren Gallagher

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