Asia Kepka and Lynn Dowling: HORACE AND AGNES: A Love Story
If you’ve ever had the good fortune to meet photographer Asia Kepka, you know what I’m talking about when I say that she is a unique life force, filled with humor, color, and “boundless enthusiasm” for all things photographic. And after a few dark weeks, it’s time for some positivity. After studying set design in Lodz, Poland, Asia attended the New England School of Photography and has gone on to work for such publications as Wired, Fortune, Time, The New York Times Magazine, and elsewhere. As a fine art photographer, her work has been exhibited in galleries and museums in the United States and Europe.
Asia recently joined forces with Lynn Dowling, a graduate of Wheaton College and a Boston-based creative director in the design industry, to create a very unique photo book, Horace & Agnes: A Love Story, published by Blue Rider Press, an imprint Penguin Random House. They will be having book signings at 13 Forest Gallery in Arlington, MA on December 8th and Gallery Kayafas in Boston, MA on December 16th. You can also help support the Griffin Museum of Photography by buying the book through them, here!
Asia explains how Horace and Agnes: A Love Story came about:
On a hot July day, we dressed ourselves up with masks borrowed from a friend and started shooting self-portraits. We were fascinated by these characters and immediately named them Horace and Agnes. Once we gave them an identity, their story began to unfold. They met through random circumstance and their love for each other is literally blind. They exemplify a fairy tale of what it would be like to fall in love with the right person…just because.
The story of Horace and Agnes (and their friends) is a story about unconditional love, life, acceptance, and friendship.
LOVE IS BLIND
Twenty years ago, Horace Groomsby met Agnes on a train. It was overcrowded and stiflingly hot. Horace politely asked if he could possibly take the last remaining seat next to Agnes. She moved her pocketbook onto her lap and smiled. He gently slid into his seat and smiled back. She was shy at first, but Horace enthusiastically engaged her in conversation. They talked for more than two hours. So engrossed with each other, they both missed their stops.
During the summer months, Agnes and Horace enjoy lounging on the davenport singing their favorite Bobby Vinton tunes.
Agnes has an exquisite voice. Horace should probably avoid singing, but he plays the accordion so poorly that he drowns out his own voice. It wouldn’t matter to Agnes anyway. She loves listening to Horace no matter what.
Horace and Agnes go out almost every weekend but sometimes Agnes puts on her “stay-at- home-dress” to signal they’re in for the night. Her quilted Asian-style ensemble is strictly used for lounging and occasional hair dyeing. Horace doesn’t mind staying in. He’s content to lean up against Agnes and peruse his record collection. The phone rings and Agnes starts chattering away under the hair dryer. Horace thinks it’s one of her girlfriends and that she’ll be on the phone for hours, but she’s off in a flash. “Who was that?” Horace asks.
“Your lovely neighbor Irene,” Agnes says with a fake smile.
“What does Ms. Klench want this time?”
“You left the trash cans out too long this week,” Agnes shouts from underneath her hair dryer.
Horace grimaces. “I can’t believe you’re nice to that pill.”
“Horace my love, we all know you get more flies with honey, and we get fewer calls from Irene when you bring the trash cans in on time.”
Peering over her steering wheel, Irene Klench surveys the neighborhood. “Ohh, Mr. Freeman, you shouldn’t be watering your lawn during the shortage,” she says to herself as she jots down the infraction in her little black book. Irene heads out early in the mornings with a thermos full of Chock full o’Nuts and an old pair of binoculars. There is no stopping Irene when she’s on her fifth cup. Once she tried to make a citizen’s arrest on Horace when he was crossing the street. “It’s called jaywalking!” Irene shouts from her car window. “It’s called a crosswalk, Ms. Klench!” Horace shouts back as he hurries across the street. “Oh, sorry, Horace,” Irene says, slightly embarrassed. “I didn’t recognize you in your new jacket. I will call and get this crosswalk freshly painted tomorrow. It’s barely visible,” she admits before lurching off in her old car. Irene takes the neighborhood watch very seriously. Nobody is above the law. Not even her.
THREE CHEERS MOTEL
Every year Agnes heads off to Delaware for a week to visit her sister Flora. They are quite different in looks and personality, but they both enjoy good fun. The amusement park down the street is usually their first stop. Agnes misses Horace already, but she thinks it’s good to get away once in a while—it makes you appreciate what you have. Horace concurs. He al- ways tells her on her way out the door: “Absence makes me handsomer.”
Now that Agnes is away, Horace is happy to break all of the house rules. Agnes runs a tight ship, so she would be horrified to know that he was eating in their bed. But as Horace sees it, he’s got seven whole days to change the sheets and no one is the wiser.
Horace was all ready for bed when he heard a knock at the door. When he opened it, he couldn’t believe his eyes: It was Agnes! “I took an early train,” she said. Horace didn’t even wait for her to put down her bag. “I’ve missed you so much,” he said as he grabbed her for a hug. Agnes was so exhausted that all she wanted to do was go straight to bed. As they snuggled in together, Agnes leaned over to Horace and whispered, “Have you been eating in this bed?” Horace quickly propped himself up on his pillow and replied, “Why would you ask me that?” Agnes put his face in her hands and grinned: “Because these sheets are clean.”
Dick Peck is an old family friend of Agnes’s. He grew up wealthy, but has never really found his calling. His re- cent foray into politics hasn’t been easy. Dick just has a habit of saying the wrong thing. Horace has tried to help him with his campaign—he even took his photo, but Dick is resistant to constructive criticism. “I think I know what’s best, Horace, but thanks for your suggestion. Hey, take a bumper sticker, will you . . . I just got them printed.” Horace grimaces at the stack and chooses the least offensive one. “Vote Dick-Less Government.” Then he laughs to himself because he’s going to put it on Agnes’s car anyway.
RED ROCK CANYON
Agnes, get a load of that guy over there. What in the world . . .” Horace is dispatching running commentary as they wait for the 424 bus. Agnes is exhausted after a full day of sightseeing and can’t wait to get off her feet.
“Horace dear, don’t be unkind.”
“C’mon, Agnes,” Horace moans. “The best part of coming to the city is people-watching.”
“That’s true, sweetheart, but don’t forget, they’re looking at you, too.”
“What’s wrong with me?” Horace asks plainly.
“Luckily nothing . . . because I pick out all your clothes,” Agnes says nonchalantly while peering out for the bus.
Horace laughs out loud. “Very well, I will be good.” Just as he declares silence, a lady walks by who looks just like Ernest Borgnine.
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