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?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Taj Forer in Finite Foto

Chapel Hill photographer Taj Forer is interviewed in the current issue of Finite Foto, a New Mexico and Web-based "new media collective" which occasionally (and presumably collectively) manifests itself in interesting assemblages of photography and conversation. 

Taj works in the documentary tradition of photography. In fact, he was a Founding Editor of Daylight Magazine, the international biannual publication of contemporary documentary photography.  

In the Finite Focus interview, Taj is asked about his interest in alternative schools and communities, especially about his documentary project on the Waldorf/Steiner Communites and Schools, which includes the image shown above.  More of this work can be seen in his new book, Threefold Sun.

Taj also has some interesting things to say in the interview about photography, including his view that photographers "collaborators in the creation of images: who work with our subjects, the light, color, shadow, etc. every time we make a picture."

He goes on: "By recognizing that this process is one that affects far more than ourselves, I believe we work towards a more responsible approach to photographing and that our imagery might be added to the ever-growing historical fabric that portrays (documents) the aforementioned awakening of society."

Taj is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Art at UNC-Chapel Hill, where he got his MFA. He was also a 2007-2008 Artist-in-Residence at the North Carolina Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh. He was named one of PDN's 30 Outstanding Young Photographers in 2008.  
He has work in the collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles, CA), The North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh, NC), The Sir Elton John Collection (London, UK), The Mint Museum of Art (Charlotte, NC) and The Taubman Museum of Art (Roanoke, VA. 

Since moving South, he's also discovered an interest in posing people on banks of red clay, like Drew, here, seen in Hillsborough, NC. If nothing else, that definitely makes him a Southern Photographer to Watch Out For.  

Monday, July 12, 2010

Award Season -- Laura Noel, Susan Harbage Page Win Major Competitions

Atlanta-based photographer Laura Noel has been named a winner of the Members Online Gallery competition of the Texas Photographic Society. Her work (see Amy, above)will be featured in an online exhibit in September of this year. She will also have a book of her work published by Lulu.

Also, Chapel Hill, NC-based photographer Susan Harbage Page has recently been named a recipient of a $10,000 Artist's Fellowship by the North Carolina Arts Council.  Page is one of ten artists -- and the only photographer -- to be awarded this fellowship in 2010.

Congratulations to Laura and to Susan -- good work, folks.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Julian Cox leaving Atlanta for San Francisco

Julian Cox, curator of photography at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta since 2005, is leaving that position at the end of the summer to become Founding Curator of Photography for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) and Chief Curator of the de Young Museum.

Cox has been instrumental in making fine art photography a major emphasis of the High Museum, always having fine shows to coincide with the Atlanta Celebrates Photography festival in the fall as well as other times during the year.

Cox organized major shows by Harry Callahan, who worked in Atlanta in his final years, as well as Sheila Pree Bright, Alex Soth, and others.

My thanks to Laura Noel for passing this item along. The Atlanta photography community is deeply shocked and saddened by this news.

David Strohl Featured on Conscientious Blog

Savannah photographer David Strohl is featured now on Joerg Colberg's influential blog Conscientious. Colberg says David's portfolios contain "some very beautiful work." And indeed they do. 

David does fine work, treats -- especially in his To Drift Savannah portfolio -- distinctively Southern settings, landscapes, and people, and describes his work in terms that echo definitions of the "Southern" in literary and cultural studies.

Here is David on his work:

"We all interact and entwine our stories, telling of the local culture and thus helping to define a greater region. The way we act, the things we do, the way we strive for uniqueness and individuality through the adornment of ourselves and our space, cannot help but be influenced by the intricate cultural relationships that envelop our lives."

David is definitely a Southern Photographer to Watch Out For.

David's mention on Conscientious, however, and especially for his work in Savannah, is interesting for me because I once got into a multi-stroke interchange with Colberg over whether there was such a thing as a school of or regional influence on or history that influences the practice of photography. I said yes, obviously, but he said no. He said that fine art photographers the world over today had transcended the regional or the national and were all part of an international Culture of Fine Art.

But then he turns around and reorganizes his blog to feature photographers by nationality. Go figure.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Interrogating Southern Art at the Welch Gallery, GSU, Atlanta

The Ernest G. Welch Gallery at the School of Art and Design at Georgia State University in Atlanta is having a quick mid-summer show on a subject of interest to readers of the blog. The title of the show is, Southern Art? An Exhibition that Explores the Usefulness or Necessity for Such a Label.

The show opens July 6th, with a reception from 7:00-9:00 pm, but is up only through July 15th. It includes a mix of media, including Atlanta photographers Stephanie Dowda, John Paul Floyd, and Lynn Marshall-Linnemeier, and including Dowda and Floyd's combination of photographs with found objects, made into constructions like the one above, called Timeline -- Our Hearts.

Here is how the folks at GSU describe the work in the show:

"Does simply living in the South make one a “Southern Artist?” If one makes work about a particular location in the South, or engages in Bible belt philosophies or focuses on issues of racism and the legacies of the plantation economy, are they then a “Southern Artist?” Can an artist successfully utilize a Southern stereotype without the risk of being misunderstood? Are ideas about the South shaped by insiders or imposed by outsiders?"

I'm interested, first off, that this account poses questions which presumably the art on offer will answer or at least explore. If anyone gets to this show, please send me reactions, observations, a copy of the program, to see if this show advances discussion on any of these questions of identity, regionalism, and so forth.

Sally Mann Show at The Photographer's Gallery

Distinguished Southern photographer Sally Mann has a major show of her work at The Photographer's Gallery in London, now up through September 19th, 2010.  The show is entitled The Family and the Land and is Mann's first solo show in the United Kingdom.

Works in this show are drawn from several bodies of Mann's work that demonstrate her deep connections to her family and to the southern landscape she lives and works in. These bodies of work include Immediate Family (1984-1994), her early portraits of her children Emmett, Jessie and Virginia; Deep South (1996 – 98), images of Southern landscapes chosen because of their association with the Civil War; and What Remains (2000-04), haunting images of decomposing bodies made at a forensic research facility in Tennessee.

Given the controversial nature -- in the States -- of Mann's images of her children and the potentially disturbing quality of her images of decaying corpses, some interesting features of this exhibition are the notes for families and youth groups touring this exhibition, links to which are at the bottom of this page, here.

The Photographer's Gallery also has a guide to Mann's photographic techniques, here.

On the occasion of this show, London's Daily Telegraph has an on-line Gallery of Mann's work and a  story about the collodion process in photography.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Andy McMillan in show at Civilian Art Projects

Andy McMillan, a Charlotte, NC-based photographer, has work in a show at the Civilian Art Projects at  1019 7th Street NW, in Washington, DC.

Civilian Art Projects is a neat gallery space that features clever, challenging shows, often including photography. A recent show at the gallery featured Durham-based photographer Chris Sims, on his way to winning this year's Baum Award for Emerging Photographers.

The show with Andy's work is based on the Exquisite Corpse method, which as they describe it, "involves a group of collaborators assembling a collection of images – each collaborator adds to a composition in sequence, either by following a rule or by being allowed to see only the end of what the previous person has contributed."

 The show at Civilian Art  now includes 28 photographers and three sets of images, each of which, as they say,  "present both recognizable connections and surprising juxtapositions, and illustrate the responsive, dreamlike aesthetic that makes the exquisite corpse methodology so exquisite."

Images from the show are on the Civilian Art website. Andy  also has a bunch of great work on his own website. He's definitely a Southern Photographer to Watch Out For.