Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Do Good Fund in Athens, Georgia


The Do Good Fund is building an exceptional collection of Southern photographs, a collection that grows and grows, promising to  become the most complete and comprehensive collection of photographs of the American South we have, all in one place. 

A really big show of the collection is up now at six venues in Athens, Georgia, organized by the University of Georgia's Willson Center for the Humanities and Arts. 

The overall title for this multiple-site show is Pictures of Us: Photographs from The Do Good Fund Collection.

For a full list of the six exhibitions, including venues, times and dates the venues are open, and more about this extensive display of the outstanding collection amassed the Do Good Fund, go here.

For those who are not regular readers of this blog, the Do Good Fund is a public charity that has set out to build a museum-quality collection of contemporary Southern photography, including works by both established and emerging photographers.  

For more on the Do Good Fund, go here.

For recent press coverage of the Do Good Fund, go here, here, and here

We all owe a deep debt of gratitude to Alan Rothschild and his colleagues at the Do Good Fund for this extraordinary undertaking. 

The work they've collected already is truly exceptional -- the very best of Southern photography.  

So these shows are not to be missed, if you are anywhere Athens.
All we can add is, every day, in every way, the Do Good Fund is doing better and better.

Getting 2016 Off to a Good Start -- Laura Noel, Davion Alston, Maude Schuyler Clay, Eliot Dudik

Some news of Southern photographers, and photographs, in the midst of a chilly Southern winter:

1. Atlanta-based photographers Laura Noel (see image above)  and Davion Alston have been awarded IDEA Capital grants to pursue specific projects.

Noel's grant will enable her to fund a book project The Lookout, combining poems Noel has created by stitching together intertwined conversations overheard in public places with photograms made from objects Noel finds in the streets of Atlanta.

Alston's grant will support his project, Sapelo Island (see image above), to document
through text and photography the Geechee /Gullah culture of coastal Georgia as it goes through a transition brought about by the influx of tourist-driven commercial developments that threaten the culture and the identity of the island's long-time residents.

 2. Mississippi-based photographer Maude Schuyler Clay (see image above) is opening a major show of work from her Mississippi History portfolio at Atlanta's Jackson Fine Art Gallery on February 5th, 2016.

Clay's work is up at Jackson Fine Art through April 16th of this year. 

3. Williamsburg, VA-based photographer Eliot Dudik (see image above) has had his Broken Land portfolio featured in the online ezine Hawk and Handsaw, from Unity College in Maine, go here.

More later, from The Southern Photographer. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

News of Southern Photographers for Early 2016

Items of Interest on a cold January day:

1. Greensboro-based photographer Leah Sobsey (see image above) is publishing a book project with Daylight Books entitled Collections: Birds Bones Butterflies, featuring her photographs of specimens of birds, bones, and butterflies (naturally) from the collections of natural histopry museums. 

Sobsey is running a campaign on INDEGOGO to raise money to defray some of the publication costs. Go here if you would like to help her out in this very worthy project. 

2. Chapel Hill based photographer Susan Harbage Page (see image above) -- who has a day job as Assistant Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill -- has been interviewed about her photography along the border between Mexico and the USA by folks at the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at UNC.

You can hear a podcast of this interview if you go here

3. Atlanta's Jennifer Schwartz is involved with Flash Powder Projects, and you can learn more about what she's now up to if you go to the Flash Powder website, here.  

4. Seems to me that for a guy from Virginia and points South, Eliot Dudik (see image above) has been spending entirely too much time lately in Maine, and in January too.

Dudik has spent at least part of his time in Bar Harbor, where right now, as of this writing, the temperature is 20 degrees and the wind is blowing over 10 miles per hour. 

Young man, what has come over you? Makes me shiver to think about it.

For more news of Dudik's adventures in the frigid North, go here.  

5. Raleigh's Roger May (see image above) continues to go great guns with his efforts to diversify the press coverage of Appalachia, including notice in the Atlantic Monthly, here. 

6. The latest Southern photographers to be featured on Jeff Rich's Eyes on the South blog for the Oxford American are Jared Ragland (see image above) and Matt Odum (see image below).

7. Nashville-based photographer Shawne Brown (see image below) is the latest Southern photographer to be featured in the online magazine Ain't Bad, here. 

8. Stacy Kranitz (see image below) has had images from her portfolio of photographs of young white men doing stupid things, entitled From the Study on Post-Pubescent Manhood, published in the online magazine GUP, go here. 

All for now -- I'll be adding to this blog entry in the days ahead. Keep checking back!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A Gift for the New Year -- S[x]SE for early 2016

Nancy McCrary and all the fine folks at South X Southeast Photomagazine have released their third issue under the new, all-online format.

With the January/February issue for 2016, South by Southeast Photomagazine continues bigger and better than before, and still all on the web, and on the new website, and entirely free. 

Photographers whose work is featured in this issue include, among others, Beatrice Chauvin (see image above), Willie Ann Wright (see image below), Becky Stayner (see image below Wright's) and Tessa Gehringer (see image below Stayner's).

And a whole bunch of other photographers, too numerous to mention, as well as all the interviews, book reviews, and other features we have come to expect of McCrary and her colleagues at SxSE.

Not to mention the Photo Workshops, and the new SHOP, too.  

SxSE is turning into a Center of Southern Photography Culture, and is not to be missed. 

Check it out today.

What a gift to us all, this SxSE publication!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

News of Southern Photographers -- Early Winter 2015 Edition


Several items of interest here in the waning hours of 2015 --

1. Nashville-based photographer Jerry Park has announced the publication of his first book, Slow Roads Tennessee, available here.

Park's book is drawn from work he made over a 2-year period while roaming the backroads of Tennessee with a Holga camera.  
Publication of Slow Roads Tennessee was celebrated by a show of this work this month at Nashville's Arts Company, go here. 

Park is a member of SouthLight Salon, a group of 7 photographers in Nashville, including Jerry Atnip, who concentrate on Southern photography and are deeply committed to enhancing the quality of art in our region. 

2.  Atlanta-based photographer Forest McMullin has recently been getting lots of recognition for work from his Black Cowboys (and Girls) portfolio, documenting the world of African-American rodeos.

See coverage here, in LensCulture, also here, in feature shoot, also here, from Manfrotto.

McMullin reminds us that African-Americans constituted a significant proportion of the folks who settled the American West, although their role has been largely ignored by historians and the media.

 This tradition is kept alive today by a network of rodeos -- notably the Bill Pickett Rodeos -- who feature especially participants who are black.  

3. Dallas-based photographer Rachael Banks (see image above) was interviewed about her work recently by the Strange Fire Collective, go here.

4. Southern photographers Deborah Luster (see image above) and Sally Mann (see image below) have work in a show that opened in October 2015 at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, TN.  

This show is entitled Phantom Bodies: The Human Aura in Art, and includes, along with Luster and Mann, a bunch of heavy hitters in the current art world like Damien Hirst, Gerhard Richter, and Magdalena Abakanowicz.

There is still time to see this show, since it is up at the Frist Center until mid-February 2016.  

5. Among the books chosen by Elizabeth Avedon as the best photography books of 2015 are GORDON PARKS: BACK TO FORT SCOTT, edited by Karen Hass (see image above) and ALPHABET, by Debbie Fleming Caffery (see image below)

 6. Lenscratch, on its list of the best of 2015, included photographs by Alabama-based photographer Jared Ragland (see image below), from their State of Alabama project. 

 8. Lenscratch also liked Winston-Salem-based photographer Heather Evans Smith's Seen but not Heard portfolio as a favorite (see image below).

7. Aline Smthson, editor of Lenscratch, listed Lori Vrba's The Moth Wing Diaries and McNair Evans' Confession for a Son, as among her favorite photography books of 2015. 

8. And finally, for now, and for 2015, Jeff Rich in December 2015 featured Atlanta-based photographer Blake Burton's portfolio Ponce City Market (see image above) and East Tennessee-based photographer Matthew Jessie's portfolio
Its Hills and Valleys (see image below) in his Eyes on the South series, for the Oxford American.

And that's my take on fine art photography in the American South for 2015. 

We'll be back next year, folks.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Eliot Dudik has had a Wonderful 2015, says Aline Smithson

Aline Smithson, the Founder and Editor-in Chief of Lenscratch, has declared that Williamsburg-based photographer Eliot Dudik (see portrait above, by Penn Chan) is "the Grand Master of All Things Photographic" for 2015.

Smithson says,  "I stand in amazement at what Eliot has and can achieve. He is a talented and dedicated large format photographer (we are talking an 8 x 10 camera with double backs–meaning an 8 x 20 camera–see below)."

Smithson then recites Dudik's achievements from 2015, noting that Dudik "recently started the new William and Mary photo department from scratch, celebrating its establishment with an exhibition of over 100 photographs garnered from various contemporary photographers, which Eliot single-handedly printed, mounted, and then burned."

She goes on, "Eliot had nine exhibitions in 2015, 4 of them solo shows, with many more lined up for 2016. 

"He made all the frames for the exhibitions, he created the most talked about leave-behind at last year’s PhotoNOLA and also won the 2014 PhotoNOLA Review Prize for which he produced a monograph with custom made linen and foiled covers. 

"He won the 2015 Archive of Documentary Arts Collection Award from Duke University and the 2015 Flash Forward Award–and has just been nominated for the 2016 Baum Award for Emerging American Photographers. 

"And if that isn’t enough, he and Jared Ragland photographed, produced, and printed a spectacular book in ONE DAY during PhotoNOLA.

Smithson concludes, "It doesn’t hurt that he’s a wonderful friend and supporter of all who he encounters. Needless to say, he’s a constant inspiration."

That's high praise from Aline Smithson, and its well-deserved praise, too.

I had the good fortune to meet Dudik during CLICK! The Triangle Photography Festival in Durham, earlier this year.

Glad to know Dudik, glad to see he is getting the recognition he deserves.

Southern Photographers in Vogue

Southern photography seems to be having a moment in the sun. 

Or at least, a moment in vogue, or more specifically, a moment in Vogue, where Contributing Editor Rebecca Bengal offers us a list of books that, at least in her view, are "the Best Photography Books about the American South" for 2015.

Bengal notes that the American South has a "sort of peculiarly twisted past-is-never-past relationship to place," and that "photography has its own inherently, peculiarly twisted relationship to history, anxiously aware of the possibility of loss and the fleeting nature of every moment, the fact that as soon as a picture is made it moves into another tense."

Hence, for Bengal, "To look at any photograph is to reckon with the past and trigger a dialogue with the present. 

"This year some of the most compelling photo books were those that delved seemingly further backward, as well as some that seemed to, yielding a portrait that is varied, anachronistic, and speaks very much to the world of now."

Bengal's list of the Best Photography Books of 2015 that attend to the American Sough include, of course, Sally Mann's Hold Still (see image above), in which "Sally Mann writes as vividly of the South as she has photographed it, of a life spent in the thrall of its beautiful wilderness but forever haunted by its history."

Also on her list is William Eggleston's The Democratic Forest (see image above), his multi-volume compilation of hundreds of images in which, according to Bengal, "in a dynamically highly arranged narrative, the ordinary explodes with implication; by bringing the minor details of the world to our attention, Eggleston brings everything to our attention.

For Bengal, "the whole thing swerves, with dizzying power, heading back home South, along dirt roads, flashbacking past its town squares and porch columns and tables set for dinner, eerily past tobacco barns and farms, to battlefields and graveyards and shooting upward to its cottony clouds and startlingly blue, blue skies." 

Also on Bengal's list is Gordon Parks' Segregation Story (see image above), a compilation of Parks' work from 1956 in which he set out "to discover whether the Brown v. Board of Education ruling had done much to change daily life" in the South, and found "a Deep South still vastly divided among racial lines. 

Bengal is attracted to the power of Parks' images to document how "At the water fountains and along school fences, he captured the contrast in full color photographs, images that, 60 years after the fact, retain a powerful immediacy."

Following up on Parks' explorations of race in the American South, Bengal singles out Honorary Southern Photographer Gillian Laub, who in her Southern Rites (see image above), offers us "an original and provocative twelve-year visual study of one community’s struggle to confront longstanding issues of race and equality," especially as it seeks to hold its first integrated Senior Prom.

Laub's work has been the subject of an HBO documentary as well. You can read more about Laub's work, here. 

Bengal's list also includes Maude Schuyler Clay's Mississippi History (see image above), of which Bengal says that Clay's portraits of friends and family "are radiant, and they astonish with their subtle intimacy, as if Clay spent the past three decades lurking around backyards and porches in Delta magic hours."

Bengal has also selected An Iconography of Chance: 99 Photographs of the Evanescent South (see image above), made by Memphis- based photographer and rock ’n’ roll musician Tav Falco.

According to the publisher, in this book "Falco guides us through the home towns, gravel roads, and the backwoods spiritual sanctuary that he knows so well.

"This is a psycho-iconography of the gothic South in pictures with captioned intertext of the urban spectors, rural fables and visual clichés that have made the American South a netherworld of dreams and a necropolis of terrors.  

"In his hands the camera excavates the Orphic vision of the American South. Falco succeeds like no other in his stated mission to stir up the dark waters of the unconscious."

Well, OK, maybe -- but just because this description sounds like rock and roll hype doesn't mean that the work is not worth our attention. 

In another of Bengal's selections, authors Sarah Bryan and Peter Honig have brought together in LEAD KINDLY LIGHT (see image above) a compilation of recordings and found images from the rural American South in the period between the dawn of the 20th century and the Second World War. 

North Carolina collectors Honig and Bryan, a husband-and-wife team, have spent years combing the backroads, from deep in the Appalachian Mountains to the cotton and tobacco lowlands, in search of the evocative music and images of the pre-War South. 

The music here includes 46 recordings of lesser-known country, blues and gospel artists made between 1924 and 1939.

The photographs, from Bryan's collection of vernacular photography found in the Carolinas, Virginia and Tennessee, are "richly textured depictions of family life, work and leisure, fine exemplars of the often accidental beauty of the vernacular snapshot."

Finally on Bengal's list is Parchman Farm: Photographs and Field Recordings: 1947-1959, a compliation of recordings and photographs made by the great American folklorist Alan Lomax at Parchman Prison Farm in Mississippi in the late 1940's and 1950's.

Brought together by Bruce Jackson, this collection of 44 songs and 77 archival photographs "documented as best an outsider could the stark and savage conditions of the prison farm, where the black inmates labored "from can't to can't," chopping timber, clearing ground and picking cotton for the state."

The publisher tells us that the people Lomax recorded "sang as they worked, keeping time with axes or hoes, adapting to their condition the slavery-time hollers that sustained their forebears and creating a new body of American song. 

"Theirs was music, as Lomax wrote, that "testified to the love of truth and beauty which is a universal human trait." 

All fine work, all worthy of representing the work of Southern photographers in 2015. 

Our thanks go to Bengal, another Southerner, for bringing this work to our attention, and to the attention of Vogue readers everywhere.

You can see a slide show of images from all these books here

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas at Graceland -- December 2015

In the words of Paul Simon, "I have reason to believe we all shall be received in Graceland." 

Best wishes for a joyous Christmas, or for your own version of the holiday season,  to Southern photographers and Southern photography fans everywhere. 

The Southern Photographer will now take a short break from chronicling Fine Art Photography in the American South while your humble blogger attends to other professional and personal responsibilities.

Thank you for your attention, and especially your kind words of support for this blog during the past year. 

We look forward to resuming our chronicle after the 25th of December. 

In the meanwhile, remember that Christmas is a season, not just a day, and the season of Christmas is 12 days long. 

So its Christmas from December 25th all the way through until Twelfth Night, January 5th, 2015. 

In the meantime, we wish you all the joy that the holiday season can bring, and a Happy New Year, too.