Now that we’re officially in summer the monsoon has arrived and lightening will soon follow. More than 40 million lightening strikes hit the earth each year. Fortunately, the odds of hit by one of these celestial bolts is about one in a million. Most people survive even when a large percentage of their body is burnt. But sometimes lightening is deadly. In the news this week there was a report of two dogs killed in California after being struck by lightening. That west coast incident reminded me of a lightening storm that resulted in the death of a New Mexico photographer.
A Family Visit
Tyler Dingee was a self-taught photographer who was born in 1906 in Brooklyn, New York. In 1945 he and his wife made a three-month trip to the Southwest. Their trip included a visit to Santa Fe to see his brother in-law, Will Shuster. When the couple arrived in the capitol city Will Shuster was already a Santa Fe legend. In addition to being the co-creator of Zozobra, Shuster was a member of Los Cinco Pintores, a group that consisted of five modern artists. After their visit Dingee and his wife decided to make Santa Fe their adoptive home.
Los Cinco Pintores
In 1921, five young artists joined forces and became known for their work as artists of modernist art. Jozef Bakos (1891–1977), Walter Murk (1895–1942), Willard Nash (1898 –1942), William Schuster (the creator of Zozobra) (1893–1969), and Fremont Ellis (1887–1985) introduced modernistic art in the Southwest. When they held their first exhibit at the Museum of Art in Santa Fe, the town had 7,000 people.
Dingee opened a photography studio when he moved to Santa Fe. He partnered with local architects and photographed much of their early work. In 1960 his photograph of the Palace of the Governors was adopted by the U.S. Postal Service as the official stamp to commemorate Santa Fe’s founding 350 years earlier. He was killed by lightning the following year while on a fishing trip with his brother in-law, artist Will Shuster, in Estes Park, Colorado. Both Dingee’s cocker spaniel and Shuster’s poodle were also victims of the bolt.