Jason Bitner's new collection of found portrait photographs from the Midwest's Frank Pease. LaPorte, Indiana is a major cultural excavation and an opening into these lives, into this town, and into the heart of our nation.
An alert and helpful reader, Jan Regnier, sent us a copy of a Frank Pease ad from an old LaPorte Herald-Argus- two young high school seniors in silhouette! We love seeing this kind of stuff; if you have something like this, please don't hesitate sending it in to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frank C. Pease was born in LaPorte, Indiana, on August 10, 1900. In his youth, the always-curious Pease left LaPorte, Indiana, for Florida, where he spent time as an assistant lion tamer in a circus. Pease's granddaughter, Jari Garton-Gift, fondly recalls how Gladys (Pease's wife, whom he married in 1925) never knew which characters would show up for dinner when the circus came to town: "Sometimes it was the lion-tamer, and sometimes it was a circus midget named Tea Hutton." Growing up, Pease showed promise as a visual artist, particularly as a painter, and held jobs as a crime scene photographer, newspaper cartoonist, and chief of photography at the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant (KOP), a large munitions factory. But, at some point in the 1940s (the exact date is still unknown), Pease opened his own business, Muralcraft Studios.
Pease owned and operated Muralcraft Studios, a local photography studio that specialized in portraits, for two-and-a-half decades; Gladys helped Frank prepare people for their portraits and, once the photos were taken, helped colorize photographs. Pease would spend the 1950s and 1960s taking thousands of portraits in this studio. After Pease closed the studio, he donated his photography equipment to the local high school.
Pease passed away in the September 1970, leaving an incredible archive of Midwestern portraits, becoming an accidental historian of LaPorte, Indiana.