On the two center pages of this issue of The Bridge we remember and honor Andrew Kline, who died on October 5.
Many people in Montpelier and beyond knew Kline as a friend and admired Kline as a gifted, often brilliant, photographer.
Mason Singer, a longtime friend and Kline’s former business partner in the graphic design firm The Laughing Bear Associates, has created the centerfold spread for this issue with a number of Kline’s photographs along with three personal tributes from friends who knew him well.
In the 1970s, when I first came to live in Montpelier, the capital city I remember was a different place than it is today. Certainly it was more conservative politically. We had a shoe store on State Street, a men’s clothing store on Main Street, a few pretty modest restaurants, Charlie O’s, of course, Edson’s Pharmacy, the Lobster Pot Restaurant. Even the State House was modest by today’s standards, with a very small cafeteria and with a genuine feeling that you could walk inside and sit down and get to know what was happening pretty quickly. A lot of legislative old timers and lobbyists hung out at the Thrush Tavern or across the street at the very busy Tavern Motor Inn.
But things were stirring. There was a sense of possibility in the air, and things were changing. Over on Langdon Street was the new vegetarian restaurant, The Horn of the Moon Café. A new food co-op opened up on Barre Street. There was a growing arts, writing, music, and theater scene. And, in 1981, a politician whose name was Bernie Sanders won election as Mayor of Burlington by the razor-thin margin of 10 votes.
Andrew Kline, at The Laughing Bear Associates and then with After Image Photo Lab, was very much of the changing times. His photographs, often experimental, iconic, and unforgettable showed off the rooftops of the capital city from the clock tower at City Hall or captured a crane in a busy scrap yard sorting out metal.
Like many others, I mourn Andrew’s death. But there is some consolation in knowing that his way of seeing the world and his photographic images continue to be with us still.
by Nat Frothingham
Andrew Yeatman Kline — photographer, astronomer, teacher, local radio show host, master handyman, and darkroom film-developer extraordinaire — died October 5, 2017 at the UVM Medical Center in Burlington, Vermont. He was 71 and a long-time resident of East Montpelier, Vermont.
Born in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, to Charles Carter and Gheretein Yeatman Kline on May 28, 1946, Andy (as he was then called) grew up a “child of the ‘60s” – playing Bob Dylan and The Beatles really loud in his attic bedroom, rebelling against the cultural norms of the 1950s. After graduation from Nether Providence High School, he attended the University of Miami in Florida; then followed a girlfriend north to Vermont in 1969 after his draft board certified him as a conscientious objector.
Kline found his true niche in Vermont – where his talents and values fit. He taught classes at Goddard College and started his own businesses: Laughing Bear Associates, with friend Mason Singer, in the early 1970s, and After Image Photography in the late 1980s in downtown Montpelier. He also expertly rebuilt a former pottery studio into the house in which his family lived for decades, was the projectionist at the Savoy Movie Theater, and immersed himself in local politics.
The 20th-century photographer Edward Weston’s work deeply influenced Kline’s artistry in his black-and-white photographs of the Vermont landscape and portraits. In the introduction to Kline’s book of photographs, Geometry of Light, Howard Norman writes, “… given the quality of Andrew Kline’s photographs…often superlatives can only be understatements….so many of Kline’s photographs offer us not only the vivid immediacy of the physical world, but organize our emotions, as well.”
Kline, just like Weston, received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, the slow progression of which inhibited his ability to work. In addition, the emergence of the digital age in photography caused his business to decline. He closed his studio in 2010. He spent his last few years working on select photography projects, overseeing the printing and organizing of his life’s work, mentoring fine arts students in studies ranging from high school to graduate programs, and in the continued pursuit of his many interests, including politics, astronomy, rocketry, model trains, playing bocce ball, and entertaining friends with his extensive knowledge of many subjects and dry wit.
In Kline’s second published book of photographs, he wrote in the afterword: “Life is a mystery to which there are no easy answers. We grapple in the dark and then fade from the scene as ignorant as when we came into this life…. I hope that even in a small way my work has contributed to our understanding of the world around us.”
Kline is survived by his daughter, Lilian Fishman Kline; his former wife; Nadell Fishman, his two older sisters and two younger brothers, several nieces and nephews, and many loyal Vermont friends. His ashes will be buried at the Doty Cemetery in East Montpelier, Vermont.
A memorial gathering, open to the public, in remembrance of Andrew Kline’s life will be held on October 29, 2017 in the downstairs vestry of the Unitarian Church of Montpelier, 130 Main Street, from 2 to 5 pm.