A Portrait Of

[ New York, US. 2022 ]

A personal portrait project based in the foothills of the famed mountains of northern New York State featuring of curated portraits and essays linking back to the topic of connection. 


Photography By Christina Holmes. 

Project. A Portrait Of.

New York, United States

A.J. Mason

The Mt. Everest Parka, Eddie Bauer. Style #088

Bovina, New York.

Photography by Christina Holmes

Writing by A.J. Mason

Edited by David N Mcllvaney


I have a long-standing attachment to things that have lost their story – a sort of poetic sentiment of “everything landing on a shelf.”  How easily, within a generation or two (or three) – objects, furnishings, tools, and art, can lose the life details of the people who once possessed, used, or created them. The simplest of objects carry the energy of a long story, within their physical form. 


I’ve not been able to obtain the real story of how my grandfather, Dr. Jack Gonwa, came to have this Eddie Bauer expedition coat. He was my step-grandfather on my mom’s side, and a physician in the small town of Chrisman, IL. Into his final years, he was huge history buff, and often dove into certain historical time periods: both in the cultures from those times and their artifacts. Well-traveled and intrigued by the tools, weaponry, and customs of indigenous cultures, he would learn to recreate their objects as they had traditionally been made. As a teenager, I became more and more fascinated with the gear and things he had made. I only recall bits of overheard travel stories, but he had a long-running interest in Inuit's and their way of life. He had several self-crafted wooden bowls, totems, spears, fishing traps, and fur and leather goods. I’m guessing the coat and mittens were purchased on, or for, one of his Alaskan trips.


He passed away in 1999, and we fell mostly out of touch with his side of the family. When my grandmother eventually moved, several of his belongings were passed on to the cousins and my brother and me. 


For the last 20 years, I’ve had the pleasure of ‘caretaking’ and using the expedition coat and mittens that were once part of his adventurous life, and only recently, learned that they were from a collection that had been designed for Jim Whitakker’s 1963 Mt. Everest expedition team. -A.J. Mason