Joseph Saxton Gallery of Photography

July 26th, 2009

D20 0003 Joseph Saxton Gallery of Photography

At the beginning of July we were visiting relatives in Canton, Ohio, when my brother-in-law told me there was a new photography gallery downtown and that it was the evening of the First Friday Art Walk. So we went down to do the art walk and see the photo gallery.

I didn’t make it to any of the other art walk galleries or events. This new gallery had the best collection of photographs that I have ever seen in one room. I’m not exaggerating. I include the galleries and museums in Chicago and New York City in that evaluation.

This weekend I was back in Canton and took advantage of the opportunity to visit the gallery again and talk with Stephen McNulty, the general manager.

D20 0011 Joseph Saxton Gallery of Photography

The Joseph Saxton Gallery of Photography, owned by Tim Belden of Canton, has work by more than 160 photographers. And if you pay attention to photography you have probably heard of most of them. The philosophy of the gallery is to collect and show “blue chip” photographers…only the best from the history of photography.

D20 0036 Joseph Saxton Gallery of Photography

I know you think I’m exaggerating. Really, I’m not. Here is a list of just some of the photographers in the Saxton collection:

Bernice Abbot

Eddie Adams


Margaret Bourke-White


Manuel Alvarez Bravo

Wynn Bullock

Robert Capa

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Lucien Clergue

Alvin Langdon Coburn

Imogen Cunningham

Edward Curtis

Robert Doisneau

William Eggleston

Alfred Eisenstaedt

Elliot Erwitt

Walker Evans

Roger Fenton

Lee Friedlander

Ralph Gibson

Ernst Haas

Philippe Halsman

Lewis Hine

George Hurrell

William Henry Jackson

Yousef Karsh

Robert Mapplethorpe

Mary Ellen Mark

Steve McCurry

Duane Michaels

Barbara Morgan

Felix Nadar

Beaumont Newhall

T.H. O’Sullivan

Marc Riboud

Sebastiao Salgado

W. Eugene Smith

Edward Steichen

Alfred Stieglitz

Paul Strand

Jock Sturges

Josef Sudek

George Tice

Jerry Uelsmann


Brett Weston

Edward Weston

Garry Winogrand

And that’s not all of them. You get the idea.

Panorama1edited Joseph Saxton Gallery of Photography

The gallery is large and beautiful, renovated, maintained and lighted to archival standards. If you visit you won’t see the entire collection on the walls, but there is enough space that some prints from nearly all the photographers in the collection are usually on display.

The breadth of the collection is just breathtaking. The goal was to provide something for everyone. “We wanted to produce as many ‘ah ha’ moments as possible, said McNulty. “Everyone pings on different things. We don’t want to be a niche gallery.” But rather, he said, they want only the best photography, but with something that will appeal to every visitor.

This is a commercial gallery, not a museum. The prints are for sale. And some of the prices are pretty attractive for the level of work in the gallery. Most print prices fall in the $2-3,000 area, but there are a lot of prints for less than $1,000.

But, before you pack up your portfolio and rush off to Canton, I need to tell you that this gallery is NOT accepting any portfolios from photographers for review. But don’t let that stop you from paying them a visit. The collection is wonderful to see and the folks running the gallery are very knowledgeable about photography and happy to talk to visitors. It’s a very friendly place.

But don’t go there expecting to talk with Joseph Saxton. He hasn’t been around for quite a while. Even most historians of photography may not recognize his name, but he was the first photographer in North America. According to a news release from the gallery, he produced the oldest extant daguerreotype made in the United States. Made only a few months after Daguerre invented the process, it depicts the Philadelphia Central High School and was captured using a cigar box and glass lens, then developed with mercury heated in a spoon. Saxton has ties to Canton and his brother was the founder of the city’s newspaper, The Repository.

I should also say a bit about the wonderful building which houses the gallery. It is in the Wilson building at 520 Cleveland Ave. Built in 1909 and originally a Cadillac dealership, the building boasted the largest free spanning space between the Mississippi and New York City. This is made possible by bridge trusses that hold the roof up.

The Joseph Saxton Gallery of Photography is a treasure. It’s wonderful that we have it right here in Ohio. It deserves attention and support from anyone who loves photography. I urge you to pay the gallery a visit. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

The gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 5.

Their website is pretty sparse, but here is the link:

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Photos and comments by Dave Levingston. This is the place to see my most recent work which may include nudes, dance, landscape, nature and whatever other kinds of photos I feel like taking.

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