It is with deep sadness that I write that Robert Sobieszek, former senior curator of photography at the George Eastman House, died July 15, at age 62. Sobieszek left Rochester in 1990 to head the photography collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It was a short time after his arrival in Los Angeles that I had the great fortune to actually meet the man.
I was fresh out of graduate school and had just completed a collaborative photographic project with one of my professors. Robert came to the opening in Santa Monica. He already knew my professor --- no doubt because he was the one who had a hand in purchasing several of her photographs for the GEH collection --- and immediately came over to us.
Sobieszek talked to me at length about the collaborative piece and about my own work. He treated me as someone much further along in the field than I was. His words were encouraging and thought provoking.
In retrospect, it makes perfect sense that this was the man who in 1993 curated the seemingly unusual Robert Smithson: Photo Works. It was an exhibition that examined the photographs of an artist increasingly interested in the environment and one who created "non-sites," works of photographs and related objects introduced into the otherwise pristine space of the gallery.
I suppose if you could sum up life in a few short words, I'd have to say that Robert Sobieszek possessed a powerful creative vision as well as the conviction to uphold it. The art world has lost a veritable giant. He will be truly missed.
--- Alex Miokovic