Johnny Cash, Photo by Martha Grenon

Martha Grenon "Shoot Like a Grrrl" opening reception w/ Lissa Hattersley's Trip Trio, Ed Vizard Trio

Born in Flint, Mich., during the final year of World War II (“so I’m pre-boomer”), but raised in Detroit, Martha Grenon left to study design in New York at 18, and nearly a decade later docked on the isle of Corfu, where her son joined Greek history. After Nixon resigned the U.S. presidency, she moved to Austin in 1975, where her best girlfriends from high school lived. Design work with the Austin American-Statesman, Texas Parks & Wildlife, Breed & Co., and others followed.

“The first of my photos to run in the Chronicle was from Graceland in 1982,” she writes. “I was there with Margaret Moser and a couple members of the Joe Ely Band, which opened for Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis at the Memphis Cotton Fest. I had returned to photography, which I’d studied at Pratt Institute almost 10 years earlier, at that time because of the music.

“I would shoot at night, run home and develop film, make 5x7 prints of my favorite shots, and give them to the musicians.”

Grenon became photo editor at the Chronicle in 1985 and later art director, amassing one of the most important personal portfolios of local music history: Dangerous Toys, Roky Erickson, Daniel Johnston, Poison 13, Doug Sahm, True Believers, Townes Van Zandt, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Don Walser, Lucinda Williams, and on and on. Asked about the differences between male and female photographers, she proved typically candid, funny, educational:

“I think women have to try harder, and be stronger than men. But being sweet and smiling sometimes helps get you in where you need to go. My photo heroes are all women who have covered tough subjects: Lynsey Addario, Susan Meiselas, Diane Arbus.”

Raoul Hernandez
Past date: Sun., July 28, 6pm
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