12 X 12 INCHES / 120 PAGES HARDCOVER
Forget the jokes about late ‘70s South Beach being the Yiddish-speaking section of “God’s Waiting Room”; yes, upwards of 20,000 elderly Jews made up nearly half of its population in those days — all crammed into an area of barely two square miles like a modern-day shtetl, the small, tightly knit Eastern European villages that defined so much of pre-World War II Jewry. But these New York transplants and Holocaust survivors all still had plenty of living, laughing and loving to do, as strikingly portrayed in Shtetl in the Sun, which features previously unseen photographs documenting South Beach’s once-thriving and now-vanished Jewish world — a project that American photographer Andy Sweet (1953–82) began in 1977 after receiving his MFA from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a driving passion until his tragic death.
Sweet’s photos capture this community’s daily rhythms in all their beach-strolling, cafeteria-noshing and klezmer-dancing glory. “They were strong, humorous, and beautiful images,” fellow photographer Mary Ellen Mark, who worked closely with Sweet, remarked after his passing. “He may have been younger, but I considered him every bit an equal.” The book includes a foreword by award-winning Miami arts journalist Brett Sokol and an introductory essay by National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Lauren Groff.
“Sweet is really looking. He’s paying attention. The way he sees people nearing the end of their life is vibrant; he loves them in the brightest colors he can magic out of the camera. In my favorite of Andy’s photographs, the color shouts old age triumphant: a woman in a red wig leans on her yellow umbrella, grinning rakishly.”
— Lauren Groff, novelist
excerpt from the Introduction
"I can’t recall exactly where I first discovered Andy Sweet’s photos but it wasn’t long after moving north, probably in some bookstore in Boston. After you get some distance from a place, you realize there were some things you liked after all. And one of those things for me was the Miami Beach that is represented in Sweet’s photography. If only, back when I was out there on Ocean Drive, with my Pentax K-1000, if only I could have stumbled into Andy Sweet’s photographs."
— Kelly Reichardt, filmmaker