Friday, March 27, 2015

Rebekah Jacob and the Southern Camera Project

Rebekah Jacob, who owns and runs the splendid Rebekah Jacob Gallery in Charleston, SC, has announced a new initiative to bring "cutting-edge and collectible" photographs by "both seasoned and emerging artists in the Southern region" to the attention of collectors. 

 Jacob is calling this initiative the Southern Camera Project, or SCP, for short.

To get it started, she has created, on her Gallery's website, an online set of galleries for photographers who work, in Jacob's words, "East of the Mississippi River and South of the Mason Dixon Line."  

Display and sales of work will all be handled online. Jacob has organized a process of submission and review for photographers' work. 

She has also committed her time and entrepreneurial talents to promoting the work both through the SCP site and through social media.   

Work from a number of photographers is already on view on the SCP site, and the portal is open for additional submissions. Jacob says that the site will eventually display the work of up to 50 photographers. 

This sounds like an exciting opportunity for photographers not from the Charleston area to gain access to this area's culturally vibrant art scene, as well as to all the folks who have come to appreciate Jacob's discerning eye and the overall quality of her gallery.

Many, many thanks to Rebekah Jacob for this exciting new initiative!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Southern Photographers in the News -- Early Spring 2015

Items of Interest since we last checked in:

1. Atlanta-based photographer Fernando Decillis has powerful photographs in this week's Bitter Southerner of last weekend's observance of the 50th anniversary of the March to Selma. 

I am in awe of the splendid work the folks at the Bitter Southerner are doing. The consistently high quality of the stories, and the photographs, is truly breathtaking. 

2. Laurinburg, NC native (but San Francisco-based) photographer McNair Evans (see image above) is one of Photo District News' 30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch for 2015.  

3.  Florida-born (but Chicago-based) photographer Clarissa Bonet (see image above) is also one of Photo District News' 30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch for 2015.  

4. Memphis, TN-born (but Quincy, MA-based) photographer Molly Lamb is also one of Photo District News' 30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch for 2015. 

5. Cedar Key, FL photographer Christian Harkness has images from his Water Women portfolio in the current issue of the ezine Liner Magazine, here.

6. New Orleans-based photographer Deborah Luster has been named the Robert Gardner Fellow in Photography at Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. 

7. Little Elm, Texas-based photographer Rachael Banks has images from her portfolio Between Home and Here featured in Issue 72 of Fraction Magazine, here.

8. Pittsburg-based photographer Aaron Blum has work from his portfolio A Guide to Folk Taxonomy featured in Issue 71 of Fraction Magazine, here.

Blum is Not From Around Here, and he works in West Virginia, the state created specifically so folks could avoid the central event of Southern history.

But his attention in West Virginia is on Appalachia, a lot of which is in the South, and Roger May has convinced me that West Virginia is Southern enough, hence my inclusion of Blum's work.

9. The splendid Aline Smithson describes her experiences at the 2014 edition of PhotoNOLA in Lenscratch, here.

10. Smithson has also profiled some Southern photographers whose work she saw and liked at PhotoNOLA 2014, including Jeff RichScott Dalton, Corey George, and Maxine Helfman (see image above).

11. And speaking of Jeff Rich, his latest addition to the canon of photographers who have their Eyes on the South is Cole Cashwell (see image above), who offers tintypes from his Peripheral Subsistence portfolio, here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

South by Southeast -- S[x]SE -- for Early Spring 2015

The latest issue (Volume X, Issue 2) of South by South East (S[x]SE) Photography Magazine is now out for early spring 2015, and it has all the fine photography and engaging features we have come to expect from S[x]SE.

Editor Nancy McCrary says March means spring, so this issue is devoted to images we need to make the transition from a long, hard winter to the wonders of springtime Down South. 

McCrary brings us photography by Donna Rosser, Eric Whitaker,  Marilyn Suriani,  Peter Leafman,  Melissa Levesque, (see image below),  Diane Kirkland (see image above),
Blake Pierson, and Frank Fuerst.

There is also an extended essay by Hillsborough, NC -based photographers Margo Taussig Pinkerton and Arnie Zann, of Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures, about releasing your inner creativity. 

The issue also includes interviews by Jerry Atnip with portrait photographer Tina Barney and by  Dennis Graves with Mario Algaze.

And you can have access to all this fine -- and award-winning -- work for a very reasonable fee, a very reasonable fee indeed.

To subscribe, to do the right thing, go here.

Don't put it off any longer. We Southern photographers need to support our basic institutions.

You know you should subscribe. You know it, you really do.

Eudora Welty on the Segregated South

The distinguished Southern writer Eudora Welty (1909 - 2001) also produced a significant body of work as a photographer for the Works Progress Administration in the 1930's. 


The Hunter Museum in Chattanooga, TN is opening a show of this work on March 20th, entitled Eudora Welty and the Segregated South, up through July 12th, 2015. 

Welty made this work, chiefly in Mississippi, in the early 1930's. She would say, later in life, that her work as a WPA photographer shaped the style of narration as well as the subject matter of her fiction. 

To my eye, Welty's images give us a richer and more nuanced view of the Depression-era South than than we get from the work of better-known WPA photographers like Walker Evans, Margaret Post Wolcott, and Dorothea Lange. 

That is to say, Welty shows us, unflinchingly, the realities of poverty, rural isolation, and racism in the segregated South, as do they. But, sometimes, one gets the sense that Evans and the others were so shocked by this dimension of Southern life that they had trouble seeing beyond it.

Welty, on the other hand, more familiar with the realities of life in the American South, recognized and documented in her work events that to some extent at least enriched the lives of those whose days were spent laboring in the fields.

All of this makes Welty's work essential to the history of Southern photography and makes this show at the Hunter Museum well worth a trip to Chattanooga.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Baldwin Lee Photographs in the American South

In the arts, people can be doing brilliant work right around the corner, but you might not know it unless you move in the same circles or have the right set of friends. 

Here is an example. I've learned about Knoxville, TN-based photographer Baldwin Lee, who has been photographing in the American South since the early 1980's, only  because he has been featured in a story by Mark Steinmetz in Time's Lightbox blog, here, for work from his Black Americans in the South portfolio. 

Lee's work is a revelation. 

Lee's career is grounded in early study with masters of American photography, including Minor White at MIT in the 1970's and then with Walker Evans at Yale, where Lee received his MFA in photography in 1975.

 He first began to photograph in the American South in the early 1980's while on a cross-country photo trip with former classmate at Yale Philip Lorca-DiCorcia. 

I'd love to know what photographs Lorca-DiCorcia took whole traveling in the South with Lee.

Lee then moved to Knoxville, TN to start a program in photography in the Art Department at the University of Tennessee, where he worked for 30 years, produced several major bodies of work, and wrote a manuscript  In Consideration of Photographing in the South, from which Steinmetz quotes in his piece for Time.  

 Along the way, Lee picked up two Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1984 and 1990) and a Fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation (1984).  

Lee's work has not gone entirely unnoticed. 

He has photographs in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the University of Michigan Museum of Art, the University of Kentucky Art Museum, the Yale University Art Gallery,  the  National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Museum of the City of New York.

Back in 2012, from February to August, Lee had a career retrospective show at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, VA, entitled The South in Black and White: Photographs by Baldwin Lee for which the Chrysler Museum did extensive background interviews with Lee, which you can find here, here, here, here, and here.

Steinmetz says that Lee's manuscript discusses his history as a student and practitioner of photography,  including his relationship with Walker Evans. Lee also recounts his experiences as an Asian-American photographer working chiefly with folks in the African-American community in the American South.

Steinmetz gets it right when he says that Lee's work "is the result of a keen talent and intellect working with discipline, passion, concern, and risk."

Lee is definitely a Southern Photographer We Honor. So glad  to have made his acquaintance. 

Steinmetz goes on: "Baldwin Lee’s inspired work from the mid-1980s deserves to be known by a larger audience. 

"The neglected world he describes has perhaps vanished by now, but it is my hope that his unique images along with his words will find a publisher and enrich our understanding of what photographers do."

I completely concur, and will try to do my part. This is fine work!

And while we are on the subject of the South's complex and tangled history, there is a story in the NY Times this week on the first Museum of Slavery in the USA,  to be found in a plantation in Louisiana -- a story not to be missed, and its here.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Justin Cook, Made in Durham, in The Bitter Southerner

Durham is the City of Documentary Photography, what with the Center for Documentary Studies, the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, and Duke's MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts program.

So it's no surprise that Justin Cook, a free-lance photographer based in Durham, has made folks in Durham the subject of a long-running project to document the uneven impact of the revival of Southern cities on their citizens.

Cook's project, called Made in Durham, is currently featured in The Bitter Southerner ezine, a publication fast becoming the go-to place for compelling stories about the complexities and paradoxes of Southern culture. 

Cook documents how Durham is successfully transforming itself from a working class city with an economy based on tobacco into a city with an economy based on high-tech medicine, education, and the arts. 

In Durham, the world-famous Durham Bulls baseball team rubs shoulders with the American Dance Festival, Duke University and its Medical Center, and NC Central University and its Museum of African-American Art.

The city has also been named by Southern Living as one of the hottest cities in the South, for its Farmers Market, its local breweries, and its fine-dining restaurants. 

Cook wants us to remember, however, that Durham is also a city living with its history as a Southern city.

There is a significant part of Durham that is still "scarred by segregation," and by the unequal impact of urban renewal, where "condos sprout from the rubble of blighted neighborhoods, and affordable housing grows scarce." 

 This part of Durham "fights for the right to exist and struggles to keep its young people alive."

This is the part of Durham, where neighborhoods, churches, and commercial areas were destroyed to make way for a freeway that at once connected Durham to the rest of North Carolina's Research Triangle Park and the interstate highway system, and also cut Durham in half, sharply dividing the city along racial and economic lines.  

The Durham that Cook documents, in stunning photographs, is a part of the city where, as he puts it, unemployment is high, and young men, "saddled with criminal records and locked out of jobs, adrift between boredom and fear and survival . . . sell drugs and release their self-hatred by annihilating each other.

"Homicide is the fruit of economic isolation and a code of street justice entrenched when the law fails to protect their community. In 2013, it was the leading cause of death for African-American males ages 15-49 in this Durham. Their murders go unsolved and their mothers grieve to death; their children grow up without dads and wander toward their same fate."

Cook makes this documentary personal by introducing us to Joslin Simms, shown weeping in the image at the top of this blog entry. 

She stands at the corner of Broad and Leon Streets in Durham where her son Rayburn, 30, was shot to death on May 21, 2005.

Cook gives Simms a voice in this piece, enabling her to in effect co-author it with him. He ends with Simms' voice, a voice that entreats us to 

Take away the guns and madness
    Save another family from this sadness;
I can’t fake a smile, or stifle my scream
Wake me up from my walking death
    Wake me up, wake me up

“Since Ray been murdered," she says, "I have nightmares. I dream of him in the morgue, and when they are cutting his body I wake up because I can feel the knife cutting me.” 

This is a part of Durham with too many funerals, too much pain and suffering. 

Cook gets that part of the story about right. 

But he also gets right a broader story, one in which people form community to support each other through hard times and the challenges of life in the South where not everyone shares fully in the new New South of the 21st century.

Cook also gets right some signs of hope, in which people endure, basic Southern concerns with family get affirmed, and new possibilities open before us. 

Congratulations to Cook for his fine work, and also to the Bitter Southerner for bringing it to us.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

LOOK 3 Photography Festival Tickets Now on Sale

LOOK 3 is a photography festival that transforms downtown Charlottesville, Va every other year into "a vibrant art space with world-class exhibitions, talks, projections, events, and workshops," as they well and rightly put it.

LOOK 3 will run this summer from June 10-13, 2015, and will include Larry Fink, Zanele Muholi, Walter Iooss, Alec Soth, Vincent J. Musi, and Piotr Naskrecki  as guest artists.

Tickets for LOOK 3 are now on sale, go here,  for an event that is not to be missed. 
The folks who run LOOK 3 see their mission as "to celebrate the vision of extraordinary photographers, ignite conversations about critical issues, and foster the next generation of artists."

Theirs is an ambitious goal, but my experience at LOOK 3 confirms for me that they achieve it to a remarkable degree.

Long may they thrive!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Southern Photographers in the News -- Late Winter 2015

1. Sumner, MS-based photographer Maude Schuyler Clay (see image above) just received the Governor of Mississippi's Arts Award For Excellence in the Visual Arts for 2015. For more, go here.

2. Columbia, SC-based photographer Kathleen Robbins (see image above) has published her book Into the Flatland, with the University of South Carolina Press. 

You can get an autographed copy from Rebekah Jacob Gallery in Charleston, go here.

3. Chapel Hill-based photographer Lori Vrba (see image above) has published her book The Moth Wing Diaries, with Daylight Books, go here.

4. North Carolina-born but San Francisco-based photographer McNair Evans (see image above) will exhibit images from his Confessions for a Son portfolio at the Sasha Wolf Gallery, at 70 Orchard Street, in Manhattan, opening February 25th, and up through April 5th, 2015. 
5. Atlanta-based photography crusader par excellence Jennifer Schwartz curated a show for the January 2015 issue of fraction magazine, here  and a show for fototazo, here. 

6. Atlanta-based photographer Michael McCraw (see image above) has had his work featured in Ain't Bad Magazine, here.

McCraw and Richmond-based photographer Susan Worsham both had work in January in the Ones We Love show at London's Camden Image Gallery.

7. Stacy Kranitz, who often photographs in the South, has been hanging out lately at a skate-board facility in Ohio, and her work made there is featured on the BlouinArtInfo blog, here.

8. Jeff Rich has featured work by the following photographers since we last checked in on his Eyes on the South series over at the Oxford American website.

8a. Richmond-born but NYC-based photographer Eliza Lamb, photographing in Hopewell, VA. 

8b. Low Country Georgia-based photographer Ansley West Rivers, photographing the rivers of America. Including some in the South. You can learn more about her project from the NY Times, here.

8c. Tampa-based photographer Corey George, photographing nature's revenge on failed land developments in Florida.

George has also been profiled in lenscratch, here.

8d. Houston-born, but San Francisco-based photographer Elizabeth Moran, who has explored  her sense that the spirits of her ancestors still haunt her family's land in Memphis, TN.

8e. Decatur, GA-based photographer Beate Sass, documenting people whose families lived as tenants on Tall Timbers Plantation in Florida, and the houses they lived in when they lived there.

More to come!