Friday, July 30, 2010

Southern Photographer Alan George Moves West

San Francisco based photographer Alan George was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina and grew up in the even smaller town of Coats, NC,  living with his paternal grandparents. He later moved to Tennessee, attended the University, and lived for a time in Nashville. 

About 15 years ago, he and his wife moved to San Francisco, where in the early 2000's, he became a serious photographer, in part to deal with the culture shock of the west coast. Much of his work shows us the familiar world of San Francisco's urban streets and neighborhoods. But he also has a portfolio of work made in Alabama, now published in a limited edition book. This work shows us the red clay roads of the rural South, not to mention signs about Jesus and telephone poles overrun with kudzu.

Alan's comments about his work use language familiar to Southerners. He's concerned of course with memory, with photographs that evoke the past, and, as he says, with a touch of Faulknerian fatalism, "remind us of the relentless inevitability of time."  Photography for him is of course about "exploring the world," but its also about noticing the "unnoticed," about becoming aware of the world around us, "searching, selecting, and examining," and thus becoming "more conscious, more aware, more engaged, more alive."

But perhaps his Southern background comes through most strongly when he refers to Gary Winogrand as "Mr. Winogrand" when he evokes the old concern for wanting "to see what things look like as photographs."

 A thought to ponder -- does Alan photograph San Francisco (and China, in one portfolio) with a Southern sensibility?

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