Wednesday, December 29, 2010

One, One Thousand

I just learned about One, One Thousand, a new online magazine and website dedicated to Southern photography. There's also a blog and the usual social media to keep up with.

The folks at One, One Thousand are photographers Daniel A. Echevarria and Natalie Minik, who hail from New Orleans. They say One, One Thousand is "a bi-monthly publication focusing on photography produced in the Southeastern United States by emerging and established photographers." Started this fall, " One, One Thousand features new photographic works from the South."

They now have out 4 issues and the work looks strong and compelling. They accept "both film and digital photography submissions." The only requirement is that "all work must have been created in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, or West Virginia."

Here's wishing these folks well. Will be on the lookout for future issues.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas at Laura Noel's House

Laura Noel has a fascinating blog called Alls Fair on which she discloses the development of her photographic practice. Good to consider it in this season when we can watch the seasons change. Enjoy!

Monday, December 20, 2010

I've reason to believe we all will be received in Graceland . . .

if of course we have the $30 admission fee.

Christmas at Graceland -- difficult to get more Southern than that.

Here's wishing you all blessings during this holiday season. JNW

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lori Vrba in SHOTS -- a Year to Remember

Lori Vrba is truly having a year to remember in her photography career. After her success at PhotoNOLA, she got home to find the latest issue of SHOTS Magazine in her mailbox featuring her work in their annual Portfolio issue.

Congratulations are definitely in order!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lori Vrba at PhotoNOLA

Chapel Hill photographer Lori Vrba staged a major coup in New Orleans at the recently-past PhotoNOLA -- a one-day show of her work in a New Orleans house still under reconstruction after the ravages of Hurricane Fran. Assisted by Atlanta Gallery owner Jennifer Schwartz and a bunch of others, she found the house, printed the work, hung and lighted the show, and drew a crowd from folks attending PhotoNOLA.

And it was all over in one night. 

The images are from her Piano Farm portfolio. The work, and the event, certainly delighted David Bram over on the Fraction Magazine blog.  He says, this was "one of the best shows going on in New Orleans."

"I'm not sure," David writes, "I've ever been to a photography show before where the surroundings were so perfect.  The house that, well, housed the show was in the middle of restoration with loads of exposed walls and ceilings and a slightly creepy feeling.  Had I been in the house alone, with the dim lighting, creaky floors and somewhat haunting photographs, I'd probably be a bit on edge.  It was kind of like a haunted New Orleans house. In the space, the photographs really fit the environment.  I loved it."

Greg Wakabayashi, the art director of Welcome Books, who was also a portfolio reviewer at PhotoNOLA, made it to Lori's show as well. He says, "It was a one-of-a-kind installation, any description of which I might offer would not do it justice. The work was installed on the first floor of the partially restored historic Louise Arsene Vitry House in the legendary Treme neighborhood and it made me feel like I was in something like Grey Gardens. Lori is a very talented photographer and printer. She is all traditional all the way…from film to beautifully executed toned gelatin silver prints. The creativity of the installation was perfect for her work and a true reflection of her artistry and personality."

On the basis of that kind of celebration, Jennifer Schwartz  is surely right that it was "a light your pants on fire blow-out event that people would be buzzing about so loudly the buzzing would become a roar."  Anyway, Jennifer supplies on HER blog a photograph of Lori in her space before the hoards descended.

And here is the show in full swing.

And you can see the work here. And now we've all been there, too. Amazing the sense of presence the web can provide.

Vrba was born in Texas and received her education in photography at the Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. Her images are made with an old Hasselblad. She does her own darkroom work, and fine work it is, indeed. And she clearly has profound insight into how to stage an event.

Here is Jennifer Schwartz' blog about a visit to her studio:

Lori is definitely a Southern Photographer We'll Watch Out For.

Friday, December 10, 2010

William Eggleston in Los Angeles

Those of you headed to Southern California for the holidays will want to check out three major exhibits of work by Memphis photographer William Eggleston, now up in Los Angeles. Eggleston is one of the masters of contemporary fine art photography, much of whose work (like the image above, from Louisiana) was made in the South.

Eggleston has helped bring color to fine art photography. Perhaps more important, he helped make the ordinary scenes of daily life at the end of the twentieth century part of the essential subject matter of serious photography. Years before Robert Venturi published Learning from Los Vegas in 1977 and alerted us to the aesthetics of neon lights and automobile culture, Eggleston was making fine art photographs of strip malls, gas stations, grocery stores, and other manifestations of urban sprawl.

Lots of this work is now on display in Los Angeles. The Big One is at the Los Angeles Museum of Comtemporary Art  and it's entitled William Eggleston: Democratic Camera—Photographs and Video, 1961-2008. (up now  at LACMA through January 16, 2011).

There is another exhibit of Eggleston's work, entitled William Eggleston: American Photographer across the street, at the Edward Cella Gallery, through January 29, 2011.  One piece in this show is the image, below, of a truck I think my father used to own.

The third exhibit is at DNJ, with work from two of Eggleston's portfolios, William Eggleston's Graceland  (sample shown here:
and from The Democratic Forest.   Oh yes, the democracy of filling stations and trash containers and neon signs: 
My guess is that Eggleston's eye was shaped by the the strange look of Southern small-town culture after the automobile but before the interstate, by the kitsch glitziness of Nashville and country music, by the aesthetic of NASCAR and billboard advertising. One thing's for sure -- all the photographers who have made their reputations photographing the fringes of the suburban landscape -- and you know who you are -- ought to be sending him royalties. 

Of course, Los Angeles is the perfect place -- outside of Atlanta -- for a celebration of Eggleson's work. As my Aunt Effie used to say, its a hoot.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

More Good News for Jeff Rich

Savannah-based photographer Jeff Rich has just been named one of five finalists in the Book Award competition for Critical Mass, a virtual jurying process run by Photo Lucida to identify and promote the careers of emerging fine art photographers.

Jeff achieved this distinction based on reception of his portfolio Watershed which includes photographs of waterways, chiefly Southern, like the shot, above, of a garden on the North Toe River near Spruce Pine, North Carolina.

Jeff had pieces from this body of work at a show in Tallahassee, Florida in the 621 Gallery earlier this fall (hey, I had work at a show at 621 Gallery several years ago myself), in connection with a meeting of the SPESE Conference.

There's also an interview with Jeff up at URBANSAND, and he has work in a show up through January 13th, 2011, at the Reece Museum in Johnson City, TN, sponsored by the Appalachian Photography Project.

Congratulations to Jeff. He's definitely a Southern Photographer We Will Watch Out For.

Actually, I think it was the red wheelbarrow that makes this image. But then I'm a fan of William Carlos Williams, who knew that so much does depend on a red wheelbarrow. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Southern Photographers in Fraction 21

Fraction Magazine, one of the best and most influential online photography magazines, has included several photographers with Southern connections in its Issue 21, just online. Among these are  Kathleen Robbins and Susan Worsham, photographers already familiar to readers of this blog, as well as Savannah, GA photographer Jeff Rich, whose image of the Ivy River in Harriman, Tennessee, is above, and Houston, TX photographer Warren Harold, whose haunting image of his son is below.

For your information, Warren Harold's website is here and Jeff Rich's website is here. Fraction 21 also includes a review of the catalogue (Sally Mann: The Flesh and the Spirit) for Sally Mann's current show at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, by Daniel Coburn, here.

Fraction Magazine also has a blog, here. Fraction, magazine and blog, is based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but its editors take a wide view of the world of photography, so it has been an originating source for a number of the entries on this blog, like this one. I am grateful to them for their good work.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Roe Ethridge, Southern Photographer, Makes Good

Roe Ethridge is having a year to remember in his career as a fine art photographer. His roots are Southern; he was born in Miami and studied photography in Atlanta, where he received a BFA from the Atlanta College of Art in 1995. He now lives and works in New York, where he has achieved remarkable success in a very short time.

Ethridge has exhibited in major museums in Atlanta, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and New York City. He has also exhibited his images at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, and various museums and galleries in Paris, London, Berlin, and other European v

Ethridge's website is empty of visual content, perhaps itself a statement, but you can see lots of his work from his part of the Andrew Kreps Gallery website, here, or his part of the Gagosian Gallery, here

Some of his work exhibits what a writer for Frieze Magazine calls his attention to “exorbitantly bland subjects,” which he presents in a way that “undermines that very certitude,” appearing as “little more than the erratic product of an unsettled, expansive attention” which, when “taken together . . . or looked at generally . . .  to bounce off each other, their cumulative effect suggestive rather than illustrative of his fundamental inquiry into our ready assumption that photography will tell us something true.”

Right now, Ethridge's work is part of MOMA's New Photography 2010 exhibition, up through January 10, 2011, including Moldy Fruit, above. This latest work grows out of an examination of the photographic process in its various cultural manifestations, or, as MOMA puts it,

“Drawing upon the descriptive power of photography and the ease with which it can be accessed, duplicated, and recombined,  [Ethridge] orchestrates visual fugues, juxtaposing, for example, a picture in which he has superimposed an image of a plain white plate, grabbed from Bed Bath and Beyond’s website, on a checkered Comme des Garçons scarf . . . . . The pictures acquire their meaning from the salient way in which they have been shuffled, sequenced, and laid out in nonlinear narrative structures. Combining and recombining already recontextualized images, Ethridge at once subverts the photographs’ original roles and renews their signifying possibilities.”

Ethridge said of his Whitney Biennial portfolio, “The idea is not to render a perfect illustration of a coastal-themed photo project, but something more like a fugue form with multiple voices that pull the threads through this coastal thematic. There could be any kind of counterpoint—formal, conceptual to content. It’s like a plate spinner. You want to keep all of them going at one time." 

Jason Kaufman, writing in the Biennial catalogue, says Ethridge has been influenced by the work of Thomas Ruff, Michael Schmidt, Christopher Williams, and other artists “who combine photographs that veer from the biographical to a metanarrative conceptual mode. . . . By arranging his work in various sequences, contexts, and installations, Ethridge reveals the mutability of his images, the possibility that the original intention with which a picture was created might fall away over time, allowing it to take on new meaning. We are encouraged each time to examine these images and their interrelations anew.”

I've quoted from several commentaries on Ethridge's work that are couched in the language of aesthetic theory because I'm trying to come to terms with his work's distinctive combination of the elegant and the banal, the commercial and the conceptual, with Ethridge's success as a photographer and his concern with Objects of Southern Desire, as here.

Or this:

Anyway, Ethridge has now been shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize for 2011, awarded annually by London's Photographer's Gallery, along with fellow American Jim Goldberg, Germany’s Thomas Demand, and Israel’s Elad Lassry. This prize is worth £30,000 and recognizes "a living photographer, of any nationality, who [in the past year] has made the most significant contribution, in exhibition or publication format, to the medium of photography in Europe."

High cotton, indeed, for Ethridge to be in. He's definitely a Southern Photographer We Admire. Will keep you posted as to the progress of the Deutsche Börse competition.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Kathleen Robbins is Mid-Career Photographer of the Month at Texas Photographic Society

Mississippi native and Columbia, SC resident Kathleen Robbins is Mid-Career Photographer of the Month for December 2010 for the Texas Photographic Society. You may find a portfolio of her work on their website, here,

This portfolio consists of ten images Robbins made while living in her ancestral home place in the Mississippi Delta, the place that has been called the South of the South. She found the truth of Faulkner's observation that in the South we live in a world shaped profoundly by long lost events and people and places, or as he put it, "the past isn't dead; its not even past."

Kathleen says that for a time she "ate from my great-grandmother’s china, drank from her crystal and slept in her bed. At dusk I rocked on the porch and watched the blackbirds descend on the canebrake planted by my great-grandfather. Living on the farm I existed in a strange continuum. My family’s history and their connection to this place were markedly present in my everyday experience."

So she made these familiar and yet haunting, contemporary and yet timeless, images.  She is also having a show of this body of work right now at the Du Mois Gallery in New Orleans as part of this year's PhotoNOLA. Check 'em out.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Group Portfolio Show at Atlanta Photography Group

ACP is over for 2010 but the photography scene in Atlanta continues to thrive. One of the major organizations supporting photography in the South's major city is the Atlanta Photography Group, which is now sponsoring its Portfolio Show, juried by Anthony Bannon, Director of the George Eastman House.

The show includes the work of 10 photographers, at least 7 of whom have Southern roots. This show is up at the Tula Art Center in Atlanta, at 75 Bennett Street, NW. It opens today, December 3rd, with a reception from 7:30 - 10:00, and remains up at the Art Center through January 21st, 2011.

Bannon says this show is "about light. In particular, it is light in those moments of change - between day and night, between the presence and the absence, perhaps in and out of the shadow. Dr. Bannon's full statement about his choices of work is here.

The  photographers whose work is included in this show are Paul H. D'Amato, Jill Ediger, Richard Ediger,Jan Kapoor, Kent Krugh, June Yong Lee, Tom Meiss, Gina Randazz, David Simonton (whose image from the invitation to the opening is shown above), and Svjetlana Tepavcevic. 

Of the photographers in this show, those with Southern roots include David Simonton from Raleigh, NC; Paul H.D'Amato, Jill Ediger, Richard Ediger, Jan Kapoor, and Tom Meiss, who are based in Atlanta; and June Yong Lee who hails from Athens, Georgia.

Lots of strong work to be found here. This is definitely worth checking out if you are in Atlanta over the holidays.

Art Basel Miami, Or, Is Florida in the South?

Art Basel Miami Beach, an American version of the Swiss art festival Art Basel, brings people from all over the world to Miami Beach to see and be seen, and to party, and perhaps, occasionally, to look at and even buy the art.The New York Times calls it "that bacchanal disguised as the Western Hemisphere’s most prestigious art fair."

Its now in full swing in Miami Beach, running this year from December 2-5, 2010, in museums, galleries, warehouses, and everywhere else one can display art. The full Program is here.

There is lots of photography on display, including a show entitled Inside Out, Photography After Form: Selections from the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Collection, on view at the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, 1018 North Miami Avenue, in Miami.

This show includes the image, above, by Los Angeles-based photographer Uta Barth, entitled Sundial, and we are told that this image and the others in the show explore "the creative relationship between the camera lens and the construction, production and deconstruction of form; tracing the many and various ways in which form can and has been both produced and undone through the agency of the camera lens."

There is also lots of photography on offer from the 300 or so galleries who have moved their wares to Miami Beach for this event. Some real Southern photographers are among them, including Sally Mann, whose piece, Jessie  #6, above, is for sale at the booth of New York's Edwynn Houk Gallery.

But is this an event in Southern culture? How would we know if it were? Much of coastal Florida certainly has lots in common with the rest of Southern coastal culture, but the last time I was in Miami, I saw a forest of empty condominium towers.

Not sure about any of this. Perhaps I should look at more of Uta Barth's photography, which I'm told is about just these kinds of questions, about "a consciousness of the processes of perception and the visceral and intellectual pleasures of seeing." 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Shane Darwent at Rebus Works

Rebus Works, one of our local galleries here in Raleigh, has an annual show of work by folks associated with North Carolina's Penland School of Crafts, which is mainly about, well, crafts, but it also has a solid photography program. Shane Darwent is a photographer who has recently finished a 2-year residency at Penland, and his work is at the center of this year's Rebus Works show, opening this Friday, December 3rd, 2010, and up through January 29th of next year.

Darwent is a new name to me, but he grew up in Mt. Pleasant, SC, studied photography at the Maryland Institute College of Art,  and has recently moved to Chattanooga, TN. His work looks intriguing, or at least what one can see of it on the Rebus Works' website or on his blog.

He's clearly interested in using photographs in mixed media, and has a collection of images called East of the Mississippi/Below the Mason-Dixon that he's making into a book with bookmaker Kathy Steinsberger. He also plans on showing photographs of large Southern houses printed on semitransparent paper and superimposed on maps.

He's also interested in the detritus of the new South, in garbage dumps and mounds of construction debris, and also in color work, also of odds and ends, as in this image.

I'm looking forward to seeing Darwent's show at Rebus Works, and to following his career as it unfolds. Definitely worth checking out.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sally Mann at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Sally Mann (shown above surrounded by her work in an image from the Richmond Times Dispatch) is having a major exhibition of her work at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, open now through January 23rd, 2011.

Mann chooses not to call this a retrospective, since she says that sounds like something one does at the end of a career, and she is very much in the middle of hers. Nevertheless, this show includes 90 images drawn from all phases of her career and includes early work that is being shown for the first time.

Sally Mann is in my view the most important Southern photographer working actively today. She has produced major bodies of work that have earned her an international reputation and just about every fellowship and award available to her, all from her home base in Lexington, Virginia. The themes of her work -- time, landscape, the South's tangled and complex history, and their inscriptions on the bodies of young and old alike -- are all deeply grounded in Southern concerns and obsessions.

Mann's photographic technique -- her use of old cameras and historic processes for image-making -- inscribe the history of her medium in the surface of her images. Each one embodies the paradox of seeing photographically -- the clarity with which the photographic image can put us in the presence of  complex and painful subjects and yet remind us of the difficulty of seeing through the haze of memory or the complexities of desire or the fearful paradoxes of mortality.

I suspect that Mann has spent much time, profitably, with the images of Matthew Brady and the novels of William Faulkner, with the photographic record of slaves' tortured flesh and Civil War carnage and the stories of the South's complex attempts to make meaning of its memories, passions, and desires.

Atlanta's Jennifer Schwartz went to the show in Richmond. Here is her report. This is a major show, well worth getting to. There is an extended discussion of this show, and of Mann's career in photography, at here.  If you can't get to Richmond, the catalogue is available here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

PhotoNOLA 2010 Opening December 2nd

PhotoNOLA for 2010 brings to a close the year's run of photography festivals. This year it opens in New Orleans on December 2nd and runs through December 11th. Events include a gala, the annual Portfolio Review, a lecture by the ubiquitous Mary Virginia Swanson, as well as a large number of special exhibitions, lectures, and receptions.

The complete calendar is here. Samples of images by the folks taking part in the Portfolio Review are here.

There are lots of shows this year at area museums, galleries, and other exhibition spaces. The list of all PhotoNOLA-linked shows is here. Some include work by Southern photographers, including the wittily baroque images of Jamie Baldridge (see his image above) at Taylor Bercier Gallery, images of Mississippi by Kathleen Robbins at Du Mois Gallery, the multi-layered images of Jill Stoll at the Tulane School of ArchitectureJennifer Shaw's images of New Orleans and Katrina at the Guthrie Contemporary Gallery, and the images of Letitia Huckaby at the McKenna Museum of African-American Art.

There is lots of good work to be seen in New Orleans the week after Thanksgiving -- definitely worth checking out.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Another Major Photography Show in the Triangle, now Durham's Turn

There's yet another big photography show up in the Research Triangle of North Carolina.This show is curated by Jeff Whetstone and is called Blackbird whistling / Or just after (seven women reflect on dystopia).   

This show brings together a number of emerging photographers and video artists, including Shannon Ebner (who had work in the 2008 Whitney Biennial and the 2010 Berlin Biennial) , Debbie Grossman, Pamela Pecchio, Lisa Satterwhite, Edie Shimel, Hon-An Truong, and MJ Sharp, whose image Bowls is above. 

This show is up at the Durham Arts Council galleries at 120 Morris Street, in Durham, through December 5th, 2010, with the opening reception scheduled for this Friday, November 19th, from 5-7 pm. 

While the show at Flanders Gallery is mostly of well-established photographers, this show, in Durham, is an exceptional gathering of emerging photographers, some of whom have Southern roots and/or connections (especially MJ, Pamela, Edie, Kisa, and Ho-An). 

Definitely worth a look.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pamela Pecchio and Jeff Whetstone

Someone once said the very best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else. So universities tend to be havens for fine art photographers. The good news is, you get a day job that pays the bills and also keeps you involved in your photographic practice.  You also get to spend lots of time with creative and energetic young people who have a way of keeping you on your toes.

A number of the folks on my lists of Southern Photographers are on faculties, including Kathleen Robbins at the University of South Carolina, David Simonton at Peace College, Leah Sobsey at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Shannon Johnstone at Meredith College, and Susan Harbage Page at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The current show at Raleigh's Flanders Gallery gives me the chance to feature two more Southern university-based photographers whose work is included in Allen Thomas' photography collection. One is Pamela Pecchio, who teaches photography at the University of Virginia (see image above); the other is Jeff Whetstone, a colleague of Susan Harbage Page at UNC-Chapel Hill (see image below).

Both Pamela and Jeff are Southerners, Pamela from Atlanta and Jeff from Chattanooga, and both received their MFAs from Yale in 2001. But their work is very different.

Pamela works in color, organizing bits and pieces of larger environments, both indoors and domestic as well as outdoors and natural in their setting, into highly idiosyncratic -- and highly provocative -- compositions. In this work, it seems to be the artist's process of setting apart this or that object, rather than the object itself, that compels the viewer.  Pamela brings our attention to a clock, a thermostat, a flower set against patterned wallpaper, a wall with shadows of the framed images that used to hang there. I didn't know I cared about these objects, but Pamela brings my attention to them, and juxtaposes one with another, in compositions that compel our attention. 

Jeff has worked in color, making images of graffiti that he found in his exploration of caves in his native Tennessee and in Alabama, but most recently he has been working in black and white, and in what one might call a conceptualized version of the documentary tradition.

Jeff's portfolio Zoolatry includes the repetition of composition and subject we are familiar with from the work of the Bechers and their followers, but also makes this English teacher think of Wallace Stevens' poem about placing a jar on a hill in Tennessee, a jar which in turn organizes everything around it. His portfolios Orozco, Kentucky, and The New Wilderness use the people and the landscapes of Southern Appalachia familiar from older photographers in an effort not to tell stories as much as to explore concepts of space and time and, in Jeff's words, the way "survival, dominance, and sexuality intertwine in our everyday interaction with the land."

Both Jeff and Pamela are doing great work, work grounded in their Southern backgrounds and histories and their engagement with time, history, and the land. They are both Southern Photographers We Watch Out For.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Photography at Flanders Gallery

The corks popped, the champagne flowed, and the crowds gathered. Folks wandered around looking at the images; the room filled with energy. Ashley Christensen, Raleigh's best chef, turned out the appetizers. As Burk Uzzle said to me as he looked around the crowded space at the Flanders Gallery, its like the larger world of fine art photography had suddenly showed up in Raleigh, NC.

Here was fine work by nationally known photographers  -- like Carrie Levy, Anthony Goicolea, Shen Wei, and Kerry Skarbakka (image above) -- along with a number of locally-based photographers like Burk himself, as well as Pamela Pecchio, Jeff Whetstone, and Taj Forer. Here's one of Pamela's images from this show.

Burk Uzzle is represented in this show by three large -- and fine -- images, including this one, of a Southern barn, turned by Burk's eye into an image evoking comparison with a sculpture, or a Franz Kline painting.

The work in this show is a reminder that to a great extent the fine art world is of a mind, or of a piece, at present about what constitutes a photograph that is also fine art. The work of Southern photographers fits comfortably on the walls of Flanders Gallery alongside the work of photographers from across the country. Ironies abound. New York-based and midwestern-trained photographer Brian Ulrich shows here an image he made of Raleigh's Rialto Theater.

The mind, or the taste, at work here is that of Allen Thomas, an art collector from Wilson, NC, who served as the curator of this show at the Flanders Gallery.  Thomas for the past fifteen years has been assembling a major personal collection of contemporary fine art photographs, some of which have been shown in various venues over the years, including Barton College and the Arts Council of Wilson, NC, the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, VA, the Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, NC, and the NC Museum of Art here in Raleigh.

For those of us who have been struggling for years to develop a community for photography in this small part of the South, this show is not an unmixed blessing. It is a great treat, a real gift to photographers in the area, to have work we know otherwise from trips to Atlanta, Washington, and New York now hanging in a gallery near us. I'm deeply grateful to Allen Thomas for his energy and insight and commitment to fine art photography and his initiative in bringing this level of work to Raleigh and the Research Triangle. 

On the other hand, this is a city where the only gallery devoted to fine art photography just closed. It is a city in which photography is traditionally a hard sell in the area's other galleries. Most of us in the area who make fine art photographs often find more recognition for our work outside the area than we do closer to home.

Certainly the local media have done nothing to bring attention to this show -- in spite of all the local connections, our city's newspaper this week in its art section said nothing about this show, featuring instead a story they downloaded from a news service about an exhibit of paintings from the Vatican that isn't even going to come anywhere near Raleigh.

On the other hand, folks seemed to be enjoying themselves at the Opening Friday night. As the evening went along, red dots were beginning to make their appearance under some of the images. There is hope, although only time will tell whether this show is the sign of a new stage in the development of an audience for this kind of work in the area, or yet another one-time event.

I plan to enjoy this show as long as its here -- it's up through the beginning of next year, and Flanders Gallery is open at 302 S. West Street from 11-6 Wednesdays through Saturdays -- and hope for better things in the year ahead.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

FOTOWeek DC in Full Swing

 FOTOWeek DC started on the 6th of November, and is in full swing through this week, including exhibits all over DC and the suburbs, involving large-scale projections of work onto public buildings and shows at the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery as well as a whole slew of shows in private galleries and other venues.

For daily updates go here.

This year, the Corcoran Gallery is the center of events, with several shows of photography, including displays of winning work in a number of contests sponsored by FOTOWeek DC. These include winners of work by younger photographers as well as several categories of work by us older folks. For winners, go here,  here,  and here.

Good to see Raleigh's Jimmy Williams featured as winner of the Commercial category for work he made for the NC Department of Tourism.  Also good to see the show in Gallery 31 of work by recent graduates of the Corcoran College of Art + Design, including work by Charlotte photographer Andy McMillan.

Andy shows work from his portfolio documenting the current state of Charlotte's Heritage USA, the Christian Theme Park developed by Jim and Tammy Faye Baker that fell onto hard times after Jim got caught in bed with a staff member. Some of the land has been turned into commercial real estate developments, including the houses pictured in Andy's photograph, above.

On topics not directly Southern, but well worth checking out if you are in DC, are the major shows, including two that integrate photography and paintings into larger surveys of art and cultural display. These include the National Gallery's show of paintings and photographs,  The Pre-Raphaelite Lens: British Photography and Painting, 1848–1875 (now up through January 30, 2011) and the show at the National Portrait Gallery, HIDE/SEEK: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture ( through February 13, 2011), which explores art's uses of secrecy and disclosure in the treatment of same-sex relationships.

There is also a big show of Lee Friedlander's work at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Blake Gopnick of the Washington Post is doing a great job of reviewing the major events of FOTOWeek DC this year. You can find his reviews here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Photography Show Opening at Flanders Gallery this Friday

Raleigh's Flanders Gallery is opening a large photography show this week in their new space at 302 South West Street, in the Warehouse District of Downtown Raleigh.The opening reception for this show, which is entitled Open Season, is from 6:00 - 8:50 pm.

This show, curated by photography collector Allen Thomas, features, in addition to the image Rialto Theater by Brian Ulrich, shown above, work by a wide range of photographers including Keliy Anderson-Staley, Tim Briner, Jesse Burke, Katrina d’Autremont, Ian F.G. Dunn, Nils Ericson, Dan Estabrook, Jody Fausett, Taj Forer, Anthony Goicolea, Allison Hunter, Michael Itkoff, Bill Jacobson, Sara Anne Johnson, Carrie Levy, Chris McCaw, Pamela Pecchio, Kristine Potter, Francesca Romeo, Kerry Skarbakka, Tema Stauffer, Bill Sullivan, Tim Tate, Burk Uzzle, Stacy Lynn Waddell, Shen Wei, Jeff Whetstone, and Cosmo Whyte.

Some of these folks are Southerners, though most are not. They are in the show because they appealed to Allen Thomas, a life-long Southerner who lives in the not-so-small North Carolina town of Wilson and who has been building a collection of contemporary photography for some years.

The folks at Flanders Gallery explain the title "Open Season" as "referencing those times during which certain hunting regulations are lifted, suggests an occasionally liberating free-for-all, a sort of throwback to the Bakhtinian conception of the carnival and the psychological release and escape it inspires. In other words, an open season cannot exist without an accompanying regimentation of society whose forced order can be briefly relaxed. It is in this regard that the phrase parallels art collecting. The act of acquiring can engender feelings of euphoria, but life’s practicalities rarely allow for it to constitute a consistent reality."

This is a major photography show for Raleigh, and for North Carolina -- definitely worth checking out.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Appalachian Photographers Project

The Appalachian Photographers Project, based at East Tennessee State University, is a consortium of established and emerging photographers who live or work in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Their website hosts portfolios by 21 photographers, including western North Carolina's Rob Amberg, Richmond, Virginia-based photographer Susan Worsham, and Atlanta's Angela West.  Also included is Cullowhee, NC's Cathryn Griffith, whose image, Biker Rally (Cherokee, NC, 1996), is shown above.

The APP partners with ETSU's Center for Appalachian Studies, Now and Then Magazine, and The Reece Museum, to provide regularly scheduled exhibitions as well as publishing and sales opportunities. You can, for example, purchase through the website portfolios and books by Rob Amberg, David Spear, Mark Steinmetz, and other members of the project.

Membership at the moment seems to draw heavily -- but not exclusively -- from photographers working in the Appalachian region of the Southeast. The guidelines, however, clearly indicate a desire for involvement from a wide range of locales. Folks wishing to join them may submit their portfolios for review here.

Mary Shannon Johnstone in Critical Mass

Raleigh-based photographer Mary Shannon Johnstone's emotionally wrenching portfolio Breeding Ignorance, documenting the crisis caused by domestic animal overpopulation, has been selected as one of the top 50 portfolios submitted to this year's Critical Mass process. For more of Shannon's images, go here. For all 50 portfolios, go here.

ACP Winding Down, FOTO Week DC Starting up

Atlanta Celebrates Photography for 2010 is winding down with a closing reception at Atlantic Station on Saturday, October 30th, from 6-10, including a show of work by photographers affiliated with the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).

At the same time, events leading up to early November's FOTO Week DC are getting under way, including an exhibit of work by photographers associated with Brightest Youngest Things. For the full calendar of events, go here.

And PhotoNOLA is just around the corner!  Actually, I think they space these events out month-by-month so Mary Virginia Swanson can get to all of them.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Steve Perille at the Light Factory

Charlotte-based photographer Steve Perille is having a major retrospective show of his work at Charlotte's Light Factory, open now through the end of January 2011.

Steve has been a major part of Charlotte's photography community for over 35 years. He moved to Charlotte to become a staff photographer for the Charlotte Observer from 1972 until 1983 and was named NC Photographer of the Year in 1975. He was a part of the first exhibit of photography mounted by The Light Factory, Charlotte's Museum for Photography and Film in 1973.

 Steve works in the documentary tradition of photography developing from Henri Cartier-Bresson's pursuit of the critical moment, so Byron Baldwin, who curated this show for The Light Factory,  speaks of Steve's "timing of gestures and expressions," his skill in capturing "fleeting, revealing moments" when "light form and content come together to form . . . timeless images."

Steve also shows the influence of Robert Frank and of street photographers like Gary Winogrand. He makes his images among ordinary working class Southerners. Traditional subjects in Southern documentary work make their appearance here, including barbershops and hair salons, stock car races, strip shows, and church meetings. Steve's work, nevertheless, has the freshness of a discerning eye and an impeccable sense of timing.

 Lots of his images have to do with automobiles and marketing, two central motifs in the life of Charlotte as a center of The New South. Charlotte is worth a trip, and the strength of these images gives us all the more reason to go. Or you can see many of the images on Steve's Flickr site, or buy them in a Blurb book, for sale here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Kathleen Robbins, or, Memory and Vision in the Southern Landscape

Columbia, SC-based photographer Kathleen Robbins uses photography to engage with and explore her history and legacy as a Southerner whose family has deep roots in the Mississippi Delta. Her portfolios combine images of Delta landscapes with images of family members, their houses, and their possessions.

Much of her family's history survives in buildings and things as well as in people. Many of us are not so fortunate as to have so many tangible signs of the past.

Last weekend, my wife and I and some other relatives went to visit Walltown, a long-vanished community on the banks of the Pee Dee River that divides (or links, depending on your point of view) Anson and Richmond Counties in south-central North Carolina. My Wall relatives have lived in North Carolina, on the banks of the Pee Dee River, since the late 18th century.

We are all descended from this man, who wanted to be remembered as a native of Virginia, the descendants of whose sons and daughters fill my childhood memories as my aunts and uncles and cousins.

We walked over this land and talked of who was related to whom and who was descended from whom, and who we had heard from lately and who had moved further south or further west and had been lost touch with. We talked of how these people must have lived, and what they grew on this land, and what happened to their houses, and who was going to take care of these graveyards in the future.

So much of that past is now fragmentary, broken, burned, or reabsorbed into the wilderness for which it came. Still, for a moment, we felt a connection to our ancestors and to each other that only family members can when we are aware for a few moments of our common heritage, more aware than we usually are amidst the concerns of our accustomed lives that have taken us on to many different places and opened possibilities and opportunities that gradually have separated us from one another.

Maybe that's why today when I found the work of Kathleen Robbins, I found it to be deeply affecting. Kathleen teaches photography at the University of South Carolina, and is affiliated with their Institute for Southern Studies. She is beginning to get wide recognition for the quality of her work. She will have work in a show this December in New Orleans, at the Du Mois Gallery, as part of PhotoNOLA and also has just been selected for an online show of her work by the Texas Photographic Society, perhaps in November or December of this year.

Kathleen has used her skills and vision as a photographer to connect with the lands of her southern ancestors, not settling for walking their land but actually living in their homes and exploring their stuff and photographing the landscapes of her childhood and their past.

Kathleen says her work is "based on the significance between time and memory and the relationship between place and identity," clearly Southern concerns. On her blog -- unfortunately not too active of late -- she raises the question of Southern photography as an "issue of perspective."  "Is there a difference," she wonders, "in the way we view “Southern photography” in the South vs. outside of the South? Is there a difference between the self-image created by photographers who have grown up in the South, and the “outsider” image created by non-Southern photographers who have relocated to the South?"

More of her thoughts on this subject are in an essay in the Journal of Visual Culture.

Her work might be seen as providing some answers to those kinds of questions. Starting in traditional black and white but moving more recently to color, she has documented the lands her ancestors farmed and the houses they lived in and the things they cared for. Her approach to image-making is very contemporary, but her choices of subject matter produces images that will haunt the imaginations of those who like her have roots in the South.

Kathleen quotes Sally Mann, "The repertoire of the Southern artist has long included place, the past, family, death, and dosages of romance that would be fatal to most contemporary artists. But the stage on which these are played out is always the Southern landscape, terrible in its beauty, in its indifference."

That's a good way of thinking about the purpose of this blog as well. I'm grateful to Kathleen for pointing it out to me, and for her work, too. She's definitely a Southern Photographer we will watch out for.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Laura Noel, Guerrilla Photographer

Atlanta photographer Laura Noel is a major part of this year's Atlanta Celebrates Photography Festival with multiple exhibits, especially in what she calls her Guerrilla Photography series. This has involved 4 exhibits, one opening each week of ACP, in public but secret locations around Atlanta. Laura gives clues to the location of each show on her blog, All'sFair, and one can go out into Atlanta and find them.

This is to me an intriguing concept, both for the idea and for the execution. Laura says she started with an understanding of street photography as "an adult version of a treasure hunt," fueled by the "possibility of finding a hidden gem of a picture in the mundane world." Her All's Fair Guerrilla Exhibitions are intended to "mimic this process of unexpected discovery for the viewer"

Thus, the first show, which opened October 1st, is in the parking lot of a now defunct Atlanta strip club and motel, the Clermont Lounge, and included prizes of free prints. A week later the work was still up:

The second show opened on October 8th at the Krog Street underpass, where Laura's images joined layers and layers of grafitti.
The third show opened last week in Noguchi Playscape in Piedmont Park, a playground designed by the distinguished Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi. This exhibit featured Laura's work done in Cuba and Ecuador.

The final Guerrilla show, opening this Saturday at 3:30, is at City of Refuge, a non-profit organization that provides food, shelter and social services to the residents of one of Atlanta’s poorest neighborhoods. Sales of photographs will benefit the City of Refuge.
Definitely worth checking out.

Based on her comments, looks like Laura used this series of shows to review her own work and take stock of where she is with her photography. The idea of staging shows outside the gallery world and making prints available either free or for whatever one is willing to pay her is a radical concept and a really compelling one, exploring the concept of what constitutes exhibition space and recovering the role of art as a part of everyday life.

Laura continues her radical reconfiguring of the gallery scene in Atlanta with another image she has in a show called Post-Her, organized by Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta's premier photography gallery, in their Project Space in the White Provisions complex at 1170 Howell Mill Road.

This brings together work by a number of photographers, all printed in poster format, and made radically affordable, since all the images have been printed as 36x24 signed posters available for $50.00 each. You can see Laura's image and the rest of the work in this show if you go to this Facebook page.