This Side of Paradise

From the pages of Jonas Mekas diary: “Unpredictably, as most of my life’s key events have been, for a period of several years in the late 60s and early 70s, I had the fortune to spend some time, mostly during the summers, with Jackie Kennedy’s and her sister Lee Radziwill’s families and children. Cinema was an integral, inseparable, as a matter of fact, a key part of our friendship. The time was still very close to the untimely, tragic, death of John F. Kennedy. Jackie wanted to give something to her children to do, to help to ease the transition of life without a father. One of her thoughts was that movie camera would be fun for the children. Peter Beard, who was at that time tutoring John Jr. and Caroline in art history, suggested to Jackie that I was the man to introduce the children to cinema. Jackie said yes. And that’s how it all began. I bought them a very easily operable 16mm movie camera, and even wrote a “mini-textbook” suggesting some simple movie exercises…The images in the exposition, with a few exceptions, they all come from the summers Caroline and John Jr. spent in Montauk, with their cousins Anthony and Tina Radziwill, in an old house Lee rented from Andy Warhol, for a few summers. Andy himself spent many of his weekends there, in one of the cottages, as did Peter Beard, whom the children had adopted almost like their older brother or a father they missed. There were summers of happiness, joy and continuous celebrations of life and friendships. These are ‘Little Fragments of Paradise.’ " Tomorrow night marks the opening of “This Side of Paradise,” an exhibition of photo prints taken from original 16mm film from Jonas Mekas’ celebrated film “This Side of Paradise: Fragments of an Unfinished Biography” (1999). The exhibition will mark the first time these rare and personal images of the Kennedy and Radziwill families are on view in NYC in their entirety. Opens September 24 at the Agnès B Gallerie Boutique - 50 Howard Street New York, NY.