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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tipper Gore through a new lens

Hidden talent : Tipper Gore through a new lens

By Jennifer Lord/Daily News Staff

Thursday, December 14, 2006 - Updated: 20:20 PM EST

BOSTON--Tipper Gore is better known for being in front of the camera than being behind it.
As the wife of former Vice President Al Gore, she was photographed in the company of politicians and celebrities. Throughout her husband's political career, though, Gore was often peering at history through a camera's lens.
The scenes Gore saw are now available for your home decor. Gore has partnered with Mitchell Gold+Bob Williams, a furniture retailer, to create a line of fine art photography. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to The Climate Project.
``This is a first for me, I tell you,'' Gore said, gesturing around the Back Bay store's photo-filled walls during a stop in Boston to promote the collection. ``I'm very excited.''
Gore's first camera and photography class were gifts from her husband, and she worked at the Nashville Tennessean newspaper as a darkroom technician. Souping film led to the occasional assignment. Then she moved on to photo essays, shooting such subjects as Meals on Wheels, the county fair and weather features.She left the post when her husband was elected to Congress in 1976, but she never put her camera - or her photojournalistic instincts - away.
The photographs in the collection run the gamut - a sepia shot of a beautiful baby contest at the Smith County Fair in Tennessee, circa 1979. Landscapes of the Egyptian pyramids, parts of Wyoming, New Zealand and the High Sierras of California. And there are shots that demonstrate just how close Gore got to people who made history: a portrait of Nelson Mandela, the historic PLO peace accord handshake of Yitzak Rabin and Yasser Arafat before President Bill Clinton, and, most recently, the red carpet at Cannes for the premiere of her husband's documentary, ``An Inconvenient Truth.''
``She has an incredible library of photographs,'' said Bob Williams, who met Gore through his partner, Mitchell Gold, a longtime friend of Gore's. ``She's seen and had access to so much - she was a natural choice.''
Gore, in turn, praised the North Carolina-based pair for their commitment to environmental and social causes, noting that they were longtime leaders in the furniture industry in using environmentally friendly materials such as engineered hardwood.
``I'm thrilled that they made my work meaningful and available to a mass market,'' Gore said. ``I never even dreamed about this. The fact that it's for a larger cause makes it even more wonderful.''
The Climate Project, which the photographs' sales will benefit, is a movement to educate citizens about the dangers of global warning. It has held training sessions in both Nashville and Sydney, Australia, to train people to present the information in ``An Inconvenient Truth,'' the documentary on Al Gore's campaign to reverse the effects of global climate warming.
``We've had such a wide range of people apply for this, including the reigning Miss Rhode Island,'' Gore said. ``The way that we talk about the climate crisis; of course, we want our elected officials to act on this. But you also want to empower the grassroots, the people, to be active.
``For a lot of people, this is an abstract issue,'' she added. ``They think you can't do anything about it. But you can.''
People can start with using low-energy light bulbs, unplugging unused appliances and even buying hybrid cars, she said.
``Even these little actions can help - we just need to educate ourselves,'' Gore said. ``And people care. In Australia, we had more applicants than we could accommodate. I believe the people are ahead of the politicians on this one.''
Gore practices what she preaches. Her car at home is a Lexus SUV hybrid, which frequently holds a full load of grandchildren and animals. Her second, less-frequently used car is a little more romantic.Back when she was a student at Boston University in the late '60s, Gore drove a '65 navy blue Mustang, which she frequently shared with her future husband, then a Harvard University student. The car was totaled in an accident, and Gore had often reminisced over the years about how much she missed it.
``It was Valentine's Day, I had just gotten home from a Bon Jovi concert and I went into the garage,'' Gore said. ``There was a '65 Mustang with a big red bow.''
Gore's work was previously collected in ``Picture This: A Visual Diary'' in 1996 and she was among the photographers featured in ``The Way Home,'' a 1999 photographic project on homelessness. With her husband, she co-authored ``The Spirit of Family'' and ``Joined at the Heart: The Transformation of the American Family.''
Her best-known book, however, is ``Raising Kids in an X-Rated Society,'' which decried the use of profanity, violence and sexual images in music and media directed at children. Gore was a founder of the Parents Music Resource Center, the 1980s group that brought about Congressional hearings on music content and resulted in parental advisory labels on albums with explicit content.
New photographs will be added to the Mitchell Gold+Bob Williams collection several times a year. The framed images range in price from $1,000 to $4,150, depending on size.
``I still have a darkroom at home, and I love to work in it,'' Gore said. ``I do like digital. I still love black-and-white film, but the digital is convenient--the quality is almost as good as film. Almost. The convenience is hard to beat.''
The Back Bay Mitchell Gold+Bob Williams store is located at 142 Berkeley St., Boston. Call 617-266-0075. Or go to to view Tipper Gore's photographs and for more information.

Photographs by Tipper Gore are on display and for sale at Mitchell God+Bob Williams in the Back Bay.(Lisa Cassidy/Daily News Staff)

"Pyramids in Egypt," by Tipper Gore.(Tipper Gore)

Tipper Gore sits with Bob Williams, co-founder and president of design of Mitchell Gold+Bob Williams in Boston. The company is selling Gore's line of fine art photographs.(Lisa Cassidy/Daily News Staff)
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