The Coen Brothers, Ralph Lauren and jazz guitarist Bill Frisell are just a few artists who have found inspiration in the photographs of Mike Disfarmer (1884-1959). A small town photographer from Heber Springs, Arkansas, Disfarmer used glass plate negatives to create snapshot-size photographs – “penny portraits” – as keepsakes for the local community. Having one’s picture taken at his studio became one of the main attractions of a trip into town.
Mike Disfarmer (born Mike Meyers) was eccentric. He rejected the farming world in which he lived and the family in which he was raised. Hence, the name change. He even claimed at one point that a tornado had lifted him up from places unknown and deposited him into the Meyers family. (Though he did not claim his siblings were leonine, straw, or tin.) A collection of Disfarmer’s Cleburne County Portraits are on view at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (Jan 24-July 14, 2013).