Monday, July 30, 2012

Atlanta's Fall Line Press Moving to New Digs

Atlanta's Fall Line Press, publisher of  photography books by Kael Alford, Laura Noel, and others,  is moving to a new location in the Atlanta Photography Group gallery space at the TULA Art Center, at 75 Bennett Street, in downtown Atlanta. 

 They will be open soon in their new gallery space with their reading room and book store. They will also be using the facility's atrium for special programming,

So, new space, but same fine works and programs and the same hours, Wednesday - Saturday, from noon to 4:00 pm.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Kate Medley at the Center for the Study of the American South

Durham, NC-based photographer Kate Medley has a show of her images called "Southern Foods from the Backroads and Byways," now up at the University of North Carolina's Center for the Study of the American South.

The Center is at 410 East Franklin Street, in Chapel Hill. The show is up now through August 15th, 2012.

Medley's day job is to photograph portraits of local farmers for Whole Foods. Her portraits of farmers hang above the produce or fruits they have grown.

She has also done documentary work for the Southern Foodways Alliance, a nonprofit that celebrates Southern food traditions.

You can see more of this work here.

A native of Jackson, Mississippi, Medley studied photography at the University of Montana and the University of Mississippi.

She is no stranger to the complexities of Southern culture, having done a major project while at Ole Miss taking portraits of those opposed to the Civil Rights movement, including segregationist politicians and former Ku Klux Klan members.

In 2005, while working for the Jackson Free Press, she covered the trial of Edgar Ray Killen, who helped orchestrate the murder of three civil rights workers in 1964

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rebirth Workshops in the Delta -- Updated

South Carolina's Kathleen Robbins sends word that photographers Sarah Hodzic, Chris Williams, Will Jacks, and Laura Beth Lott offer photography workshops and retreats in the Mississippi Delta under the name Rebirth Workshops in the Visual Arts. 

You can see work produced by the folks in one of these workshops here.  There is exceptionally strong work on view.

Hodzic, Williams, Jacks, and Lott all have deep roots in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Will Jacks writes for the group about the Delta setting for their workshops in the language of someone who knows where he lives and knows how he deals with the challenges and opportunities of making photographs in that place.

Here is what he says:

“To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi.” ~William Faulkner

"I’m not sure if Mr. Faulkner’s words are true or not. I hope they are. I want them to be. What I do know is that this state, the Mississippi Delta particularly, is rich in culture and artistic heritage.

"Writers, painters, musicians, photographers, actors – many of the most talented and accomplished American artists – attribute their influences to this area. The Delta is known primarily for its fertile soil, but the work of folks like Faulkner, Walker Percy, Eudora Welty, William Eggleston, Robert Johnson (the list is endless, really) shows that this region fosters the creative spirit and its growth.

"Perhaps it is the wide open expanses of flat land that entice our curiosity. It could be that to bide our time we must generate our own entertainment. Or maybe it’s simply that we prefer to create our own adventures rather than rely on someone else to do it for us. I read somewhere once that a free spirit needs room to wander, and goodness knows we have lots of room and lots of wandering. Creating is a way of life here. It’s how we earn our living. It’s how we pass the time. It’s how we define ourselves.

"Take a lazy drive down Highway 61 and you’ll not only see it all around you, but my bet is that you’ll feel it too. Highs. Lows. Life. Death. Joy. Sorrow. Energy. Expression.

"Ours is a land of contrast, and it’s that contrast that lets you know you’re human. Lets you know you’re alive. In an interesting case of the dog-chasing-its-tail, a rock-and-a-hard-place, the-chicken-or-the-egg (you get the point) a former art teacher once told our class, “To be alive is to create, and in order to create you must know what it’s like to be alive.” 

"I suppose that’s what Mr. Faulkner meant when he wrote the words above."

Now, that's someone I really might learn from about making art in Mississippi. 

Magdalena Sole Workshop in the Delta

Honorary Southern Photographer Magdalena Solé is offering a week-long workshop in the Mississippi Delta this October 17-24, based in Clarksdale, MS, about an hour and a half down Highway 61 from Memphis and an hour and a half west of Oxford on Highway 278.

Full details are here. 

Solé has had a rich and diverse photographic career, but she is best known Around Here for her portfolio made in the Mississippi Delta, published as New Delta Rising, from the University of Mississippi Press.

 Solé knows this area well, having spent a year interviewing and photographing hundreds of residents in the Delta. The chance to work with Solé in the Delta should be a real opportunity for those who do participate. 

The Press rightly describes  New Delta Rising as "an exploration of Mississippi Delta life and a celebration of the indefatigable Delta people who live there."

The Press notes that in these images, Solé captures the "personal dignity, resilience, and resourcefulness, along with the closeness of family and community" of folks who live in this distincrive part of Mississippi.

There is, in Solé's images a sense of "their strength and character and spirit---a spirit bound up in a deeply rooted sense of place and shown in their compassion for one another."

All these things are good to know, and are true, at least to my eye, of Solé's work.  One sign of their truthfulness is that Solé is making available two tuition scholarships for people who currently reside in the Mississippi Delta.

So people in this workshop from outside the South will be working side by-side with people for whom the Delta is home.

But you wouldn't know this if all you knew was what you learned from reading the blurb on Solé's flyer for this workshop, written by one Rick Bragg.

In his words, the Delta is a place where you can "stand at the edge of one of those vast, brown fields" and "feel like you could walk and walk, walk into your own old age, and meet your Maker out there, somewhere, kicking up dust."

People who come here, in Bragg's view, "say they have tumbled back in time, but I do not think that is true. They have merely slipped sideways into a place they do not recognize, and may never understand."

The Delta, says Bragg, "is not, despite appearances, the end of nowhere. . . .  In the open land between the towns and the wide places in the road, dark drops like a lid on a box, and that very isolation has shaped life here, held it, and marked it deeply and sometimes horribly."

Here, says Bragg, "the poverty hits you between the eyes like a hurled chunk of loose asphalt."

Who is this trash written for? I have a terrible feeling that folks who are attracted to Solé's workshop by this kind of drivel will not arrive in the Delta prepared to respect the dignity of folks who live there, or to appreciate their "resilience and resourcefulness," but to visit a Museum of the Strange and the Weird and the Bizarre.

Oh well, the people of the Delta will survive this brief invasion.

And if the workshop participants read William Faulkner's Go Down, Moses and Absalom, Absalom before arriving, and learn from Solé how to see what is really in front of them when they get there, maybe, just maybe, they will will do some work that will be worthy of our consideration     .

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

All Things Summer, in the South -- at Rebekah Jacob Gallery

Charleston's Rebekah Jacob Gallery is having an online show of photographs, now up on the Gallery's website, entitled Summer in the South: An Online Exhibit of Photography. This body of work is available through August, 2012.

Like other gallery owners these days, Rebekah Jacob is seeking ways of combining the brick-and-mortar gallery with the display and marketing potential of the internet.

The show features work by Richard Sexton (see image below), Kendall Messick, Julia Cart, Jerry Siegel (see image above), and Ben Gately Williams.

The work Jacob has on offer in this show contrasts interestingly with the work in the show at Higher Pictures Gallery we discussed recently.

The work on offer in New York City is often about uniqueness in look, or informed by issues or ideas that sometimes seem remote from the actual images on offer, or concerned with questioning the nature of photography in relationship to other media or materials of expression in the visual arts.

Southern fine art photographers are often engaged in other concerns, like the look and feel of a place, the relationship between history and myth, the identities of those who are linked by, and separated from, each other by the peculiar burden of Southern history and the passion to make sense of it, by the obsession to understand oneself as an artist who lives with, and within, this history and this culture.

This is why, I think, Southern photographers are more likely today to function within the documentary tradition, broadly conceived, of photography, which is the tradition of bearing witness to what is being shown in the image.

If not the documentary tradition, then photographers operate in the tradition of seeing the world through cameras and techniques and processes that deliberately call attention to the act of seeing by placing between the subject and the viewer visible traces of the photographer's choices.

There is of course nothing about Southern history that is uniquely Southern. Issues of race and class and gender and the exploitation of people and the land are American issues. The South's role in the Civil War has in a way given the rest of the country a free ride in dealing with this history, and these issues.

Nevertheless, it does seem to have become the  challenge and the burden of Southern artists to make sense of this, to make meaning of this, or at least to say what this is that we are struggling with.

One can certainly talk in conceptual and theoretical ways about creating fairly traditional-looking images of traditional Southern subjects.

Stacy Kranitz, for example, discusses her work in Appalachia in terms of a theory of process:

"I am initially drawn to stereotypes. Then I look to demystify these stereotypes only to find that they are rooted in some sort of reality. I do not exclude the stereotypical image from my representations, nor do I only seek it out. The resulting images are a regression to the mean and the mean is interwoven with both typical and atypical lives captured through controlled and chance operations."

More often, however, Southern photographers talk about their images in terms of their own histories with the place and their sense of Southern identity.

Kathleen Robbins, for example, talks about her photographs made in the Mississippi Delta in terms of her own story of her multigenerational family and its connections with the soil of the Delta. 

Susan Harbage Page photographs Klan costumes made of colorful fabric because of her sense that "To be Southern is to be irrevocably shaped by the rift of society along the line of “race” that defines American modernity."

So if there is a Southern identity, and a Southern way of making photographs, it is perhaps at least partially located in this kind of awareness and this kind of practice.

Your thoughts?

Friday, July 20, 2012

What Other Folks are Doing

The summer is always a good time to get out and about to see what other folks are doing.

In that spirit, it may be worth noticing that the Higher Pictures Gallery, at 980 Madison Avenue, in Manhattan, had a group show up earlier this summer called Photography Is.

This show, featuring the work of twenty photographers, caught the attention of an arts reviewer for the New Yorker, always a good guide to what is happening in the arts in New York City.

One of these photographers is Aspen Mays, whose image Untitled (Fireflies inside the body of my camera, 8:37 - 8:39 PM, June 26) is above.

Also included were four 4x6 inch polaroid images by  Katherine Hubbared, including this one, Untitled (2012).

The reviewer says this show was a good example of the "savvy, of-the-moment survey shows" for which this reviewer says the Higher Pictures Gallery is well known.

The folks at Higher Pictures Gallery seem to have mastered the marketing of the "savvy," since this show inaugurated their move to "new, larger digs."

The New Yorker reviewer says the work on offer "emphasizes experimentation, manipulation, humor, and surprise,"
such as Matthew Stone's Nouvel Routes to Ecstasy, below.

 Or this one, by Joshua Citarella, Hourglass and Apples and Oranges (2011):

This show has few examples of what the reviewer thinks of as "straight" photography, but lots of "mixed media mash-ups," including Sarah Anne Johnson's Triangle (2011), below:

Work here makes "categories like abstraction and representation seem hopelessly passé," leaving "such definitions wide open."

Including, presumably, work like John Houck's Untitled, #21, 65,535 combinations of a 2x2 grid, 16 colors (2012), which certainly stretches my understanding of why one would choose the medium of photography to represent an image.

 "The medium," concludes the reviewer, "has never been quite so willing to embrace change; judging by the work here, this is a position of strength."

Happily, though the real show has come down in Manhattan, the virtual show is still up, and you can check out all the work from this show, inf you choose, on Higher Pictures Gallery's website.

 Photographers on offer here include Sam Falls, Lucas Blalock, K8 Hardy (clever lass!), Talia Chetrit, Jessica Eaton, Andrea Longacre White, Aspen Mays, Letha Wilson, Emily Roysdon, Adam Marnie, Matthew Brandt, Joshua Citarella, Matthew Stone, Sarah Anne Johnson, Katherine Hubbard, John Houck, Artie Vierkant, Iliana Ortega, Anouk Kruithof, and MPA Megan Palaima.

These folks are, as I like to say, Not from Around Here, but your thoughts on this work are welcomed.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Jennifer Schwartz Gallery in Transition -- Updated

The Jennifer Schwartz Gallery, one of Atlanta's premier showcases for fine art photography, is going through a period of transition.

Here is a link to the latest word on the move to their new loft show space at 675 Drewry Street in the Virginia Highlands neighborhood, to becoming "an experiential, immersive gallery, with a streamlined physical space for displaying work and for meeting with collectors and photographers."

Go here.

According to Megan Walter, Gallery Manager,  on August 1, 2012, the Jennifer Schwartz Gallery will leave its location at 1000 Marietta Street, in the Westside neighborhood of Atlanta and move to a smaller showroom space in the Virginia Highlands neighborhood. 

At the same time, the Gallery will begin to present one-night-only show-and-sell experiences in "unique spaces around Atlanta and across the country." Each distinctive experience will be held in "a space that uniquely suits the work being shown." 

This means that  'Jennifer Schwartz Gallery exhibitions will no longer be exclusive to Atlanta."

The Gallery hopes in the process to expand its "mission and focus" to a national level, "producing exhibitions in the cities where our photographers are based," expanding "the gallery’s reputation, reach and collector base."

The Gallery says that Jennifer already has "several exhibitions planned for the fall, including one in Atlanta during Atlanta Celebrates Photography and one in New York City."

I also know that Jennifer plans to be driving her Kickstarter-funded minivan around the country, with a stop planned in Chapel Hill this October.

Jennifer certainly has enormous energy, inventiveness, and initiative. Her flash show last year for Lori Vrba at PhotoNOLA was a smash hit. Her The Ten marketing concept has brought collecting fine art photography to a younger market.

Doing new things always involves risk as well as opportunity. We wish Jennifer well with this reinvention of the gallery.

Summer 2012 -- Southern Photographers in NYC

Raleigh-based photographer Shawn Rocco has work in FRESH, the Annual Summer Show at the Klompching Gallery, 111 Front Street, in Brooklyn, opening July 25, 2012, and up through August 18th, 2012.

Also, Charlottesville-based photographer Pamela Pecchio has work in the SUMMER SALON at the Daniel Cooney Fine Art Gallery, at 508 W 26th Street, in Manhattan.

There are other fine shooters in both these shows, but they are Not From Around Here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Summer 2012 -- In the Galleries -- Updated

The fine folks at Fall Line Press are hosting An Evening with Kael Alford, on Friday, July 20th, on the occasion of the publication of her book Bottom of da Boot, including images from her show now up at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.

Fall Line Press is at 1000 Marietta Street, Suite 112, in Atlanta. The evening will begin at 6 and run 'till 9, and the folks at Fall Line promise drinks and books and Kael Alford -- a winning combination.

The LightBox Photographic Gallery at 1045 Marine Drive in Astoria, Oregon has up a group show of work by the When Pigs Fly Photography Collective, which includes Southern photographers Anne Berry, from Newnan, Georgia; Ann George, from Shreveport, Louisiana; Gayle Stevens, from Pass Christian, Louisiana; Lori Vrba, from Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and Judy Sherrod, from Wichita Falls, Texas.

Lori Vrba is also featured this summer on Plates to Pixels, in Portland, Oregon, with a major show of her work.

Also, the Good Children Gallery, at  4037 St. Claude Avenue, in New Orleans has up now through August 5th, 2012 a show entitled  Something Here from Somewhere Else, featuring work by  Eric Graham, Stephen Hilger, Deborah Luster, Maria Levitsky, and Katherine Newbegin.

We are told by the Good Children folks that this show "features work that seeks to draw forth phenomenological relationships between human interactions and its [sic] affect [sic] on the experience of space.

"Similarly, the work explores how the character of a place is tweaked by our interventions as well as how the memories that are held in a place can make us vulnerable to the intimacies of our inner selves."

That's theory-talk for saying that this work deals with good Southern concerns like the personal experience of time, memory, and place.

Luster and Levitsky are photographers based in New Orleans whose work is always worth our attention.

The other folks are fine artists, but they are Not From Around Here.

Check back -- this blog entry will be updated as news of other summer shows and events crosses my path. 

Time to Plan for the Fall

Even though these are the hazy, lazy, crazy days of summer, its already time to anticipate the fall juried shows, festivals, and other events on the fine art photographer's calendar.

Here are a few upcoming deadlines:

FotoDC (an expanded version of FotoWeekDC) will be held this year from November 9-18, 2012. There are image and book competitions, and you can find out about the process and the deadlines here.

The Atlanta Celebrates Photography event in October will include a portfolio review on Saturday, October 13th, 2012. The deadline for submitting work to be juried into the Review is July 27th.

You can learn about how to submit work here.

The Castell Photography Gallery in Asheville, NC  is having a show of work juried by W. M. (Bill) Hunt, an NYC based photography collector, curator, and consultant.

The organizing concept for this show is "ROAD." The show will open in Asheville on October 19th, 2012, and the deadline for submission of work is September 15th.

For full details about entry, you will find the Prospectus here.

Check back -- I will be updating this list as I learn about new opportunities and deadlines coming up. 

Rineke Dijkstra Retrospective at the Guggenheim

Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra is having a mid-career retrospective of her work at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC, up now through October 8th, 2012.

Dijkstra is one of the strongest and most influential photographers working today.

She gets mentioned here because, as we know, a number of her strongest and most well-known images were made at Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Strange Doings in South Carolina -- Updated

Is this a sign of things to come for the arts in the South, and the nation?

The Chronicle of Philanthropy notes that Nikki Hayley, Governor of South Carolina, has exercised her line-item veto to defund the South Carolina Arts Commission, effective immediately.

The Chronicle goes on:

"The agency’s 20 employees were told not to report to work on Monday.

"Ms. Haley eliminated a combined $9.5-million allocated for the arts agency and the South Carolina Sea Grants Consortium, which helps the state’s universities secure federal money for marine research.

"She said the state funding was redundant because the schools can seek grants on their own and the private sector can support culture projects.

"The Republican governor tried to zero out arts funding last year, but the move was overridden by the GOP-controlled legislature.

"This year, however, her veto carries immediate force because lawmakers did not approve a new spending plan until after the July 1 start of the fiscal year, meaning Ms. Haley’s move eliminates the Arts Commission’s current operating budget."

For more, see a full report in the Columbia, S.C., daily The State, here. 

Update -- July 18, 2012 -- the SC House and Senate have both voted to override Governor Hayley's veto.

Both Houses of the SC Legislature are heavily Republican, so its good to see that they voted 110-5 in the House and 29-10 in the Senate to restore funding for the arts in South Carolina.

Read more here:

Strange Doings at the Oxford American -- Updated

The Oxford American, a magazine of Southern culture that started several years ago in Oxford, Mississippi but later drifted over into Arkansas, seems now to be in the middle of a major organizational crisis, or staff shake-up, or power play, or some such.

Fired suddenly are the founder and editor Marc Smirnoff and managing editor and arts editor Carol Ann Fitzgerald, according to publisher Warwick Sabin.

Go here, and here,  for more information.

Now, when you fire the founder, that's a shake-up. Not to mention the arts editor.

This is a major story in Southern cultural life, well worth following.

Folks are of course lawyering up,  so there will definitely be more to come.

The Oxford American is a lively publication that often gives significant coverage to the arts in the South, including most recently its list of 100 Superstar Southern Artists which included lots of photographers.

Update -- Maybe Marc Smirnoff got canned because he spoke truth to power about Garden and Gun. Check out his comments here.

Friday, July 13, 2012

One One Thousand for July Deals with Visitors to the South

Folks have been visiting the South forever, and one of the things that fascinates Southerners is the strange behavior that visitors exhibit while they are here.

We are not sure what it is about the South that elicits such strange behavior, but the photographers featured in the current issue of One: One Thousand, the Southern photography online magazine, document some of that behavior, and some of its consequences for the South.

Minneapolis-based photographer Tim Gruber, in his portfolio The Island, says he is interested in"life on the Outer Banks of North Carolina," a "long and narrow string of barrier islands" that attracts visitors looking for a "vacation destination."

Gruber goes deeper here, for these islands are also the place where he "fell in love, married and now [he is] trying to discover the peculiar qualities that have me so intrigued by this little island."

What he documents in these well-seen images is the impact of tourism on a culture with few economic options other than to cater to the tastes and interests of tourists.

In Gruber's images, as in real life, what tourists seem to want is to build large houses dangerously close to the edge of the ocean, to have vast tracts of land turned over to elaborate miniature golf courses, and to behave in strange ways usually involving the bearing of skin to the merciless rays of the sun.

In these images, we are reminded of the season, but also of the off-season, when the permanent residents board up, put away, and try to survive the storms of the fall and winter until economic opportunity arrives once more in the form of tourists' tastes and whims and appetites. 

The Outer Banks are a really fragile string of islands. They are probably doomed by global warming. The struggles staged here between economic opportunity and conservation, between natural beauty and human desire, are played out constantly in the political and social cultures of North Carolina. Their consequences are enormous. 

Over against that, or as an integral part of that, are personal stories like Gruber's, of love and commitment and the making of meaning.  

Gruber embodies some of this complexity in these images, and hints at other aspects of it. I hope he keeps working on it.

Savannah-based photographer Adam Kuehl also deals with the impact of another a visitor to the South, the ubiquitous ecological disaster known as kudzu. 

Kudzu is the American name of a Japanese vine called kuzu that grows in Japan on rocky slopes with shallow soil. 

I've seen it in Japan. In Japan, it looks a lot like ivy. 

It was brought to the USA in the late 19th century and was introduced to the South as an answer to the depletion of nutrients in Southern soil -- it is rich in nitrogen -- and as a way of dealing with soil erosion. 

The idea was, you plant it and then plow it under.

Like other visitors to the South, however, kudzu had other ideas. The hot, humid summers and deep Southern soil inspired it to discover a capacity for rapid growth and a desire for territorial take-over. 

People say the way to plant kudzu is to throw a sprig of it over your shoulder and run like hell. It covers everything -- houses, cars, fields, trees -- and is extremely difficult to eradicate once it is established. 

The thing about kudzu, visually, is that it changes the contours of the landscape, smoothing out irregularities and particularities into large forms that make a strangely uniform natural backdrop for other, perhaps human-made, forms. 

It also can have a kind of menacing character as the objects it covers loom up before us.

Kuehl in his portfolio Kudzu makes good choices in these images, using light in some interesting ways to heighten the peculiar appearance of this vegetable visitor to the Southern landscape. 

I sometime wonder what the Southern landscape looked like before kudzu. 

Southerners are often suspicious of visitors. Based on experience, we have reason to believe that visitors might look benign and helpful, but they have appetites and desires they want us to help them satisfy, or they threaten to grow big and take over. 

But wait -- we were all visitors once.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Happy Birthday to SXSE! -- Updated

The online ezine South by Southeast (SXSE) is celebrating its first anniversary with a big Summer 2012 issue, now out here.

Nancy McCrary, our splendid editor, says it is the Girls' Issue.

Nancy can get by with saying that. But I can't. If I call these folks girls, I'm in serious trouble.

Because there is nothing girly about the work on offer here from the 10 photographers featured in this issue,  including Alecs Konson, Angela West, Beate Sass, Lori Vrba, Jan Fields, Joanna Knox Yoder, Josephine Sacabo, Laura Noel, Meryl Truett, and Vicki Hunt

Nancy also has a section of photographs from recent graduates of BFA and MFA programs in the South. They include Jesse Robitaille, Celestia Morgan, Meredith Ochoa, Jordan Lewey, Julie Sharpe, Sergei Isaenko, Aniz Adam Ansari,  Holly Killian, Alexander Wilson, Kayley Hake, Madison Jordan, Allison Wheeler, Amanda Halbrooks, and Deanne Andrus
That's all here, not to mention the usual section of reviews, comments, and a powerful report on this year's Look3 Festival of Photography from Charlottesville.

Nancy also announces in this issue a change in the publication schedule for SXSE. The good news is, there will be more print issues.

The plan, Nancy says, is that "every two months an online and a print will come out. July/Aug online was out July 1st, the print will be out before the end of August -- and so forth.

"So,  2 issues online represented by (selected images of) the same issues in print each two months."

And, yes, I know, there is a subscription fee for all this fine Southern photography, but its a very reasonable fee.

You can subscribe to the online version here.  You can order the print version, both issues of Volume One, here.

Don't put it off any longer. You know you should subscribe. You know it, you really do.

Photography on Exhibit in Charlotte this Summer

There are two shows up in Charlotte right now of interest to Southern photographers.

The Light Factory at 345 North College St. has on view its annual Juried Annuale, with work selected by juror  Kevin Miller, Director of the Southeast Museum of Photography in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Of six photographers whose work is on view through August 19th, 2012,  three are working in the South.

Dawn Roe is from Winter Park, Florida, Rylan Steele lives in Columbus, Georgia, and Aspen Hochhalter(see image above) lives in Charlotte.

Also, over at DOMA Gallery at 1310 South Tryon Street, is a show called Dante and the Delta, featuring work by Mike Smith and Magdalena Solé up now through August 17th, 2012. 

Smith (who is on the faculty at East Tennessee State University) has on view work from his portfolio of work made in the town of Dante, a down-on-its-luck former coal mining town in Southwestern Virginia.

Solé has up  at DOMA images from her New Delta Rising portfolio, made during a  year-long study of communities in the Mississippi Delta, and published recently by the University of Mississippi Press. This book won the Silver Award in 2011 from the PX3 Prix de la Photographie.

Solé is based in New York City, but she works so well in the South that she has earned the title Honorary Southern Photographer.

These shows offer an enticing combination of emerging and established photographers and a wide range of work from the deeply personal to the documentary, so a trip to Charlotte might well have a place on the calendar for the summer of 2012.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Photography Residency at King College

Bristol, TN photographer Tammy Mercure, recently-named "Superstar of Southern Art" by Oxford American Magazine, teaches photography at King College

She has announced a new residency in photography at King College, to be held this October 2012.

The college will host either one photographer for a month or 2 photographers for 2 weeks each. The college will provide a stipend, housing, food, and access to the photography department's computing and studio resources.

Mercure is a first-class photographer with a highly developed sense of visual irony that perfectly suits Southern popular culture. 

This looks like a great opportunity to work with her,  and with her colleague John Hathaway, at a beautiful time of the year to be in eastern Tennessee.

The deadline for applications is August 4th.

Get all the details here, on the King College website. 

This Summer at Rebekah Jacob Gallery

Rebekah Jacob is having a rich summer of photography at her fine gallery at 502 King Street in downtown Charleston.

Right now, she has a large show of cell phone photographs called WAYS OF SEEING: PHONEOGRAPHY   featuring work by a whole slew of photographersand, bless Rebekah,  lots of these images are on her website for those of us who will probably not make it to Charleston to see the show. 

Upcoming is an online show of specifically Southern photography for the season, called  Photography of Summer in the South, which will feature work by Julia Cart, Kendal Messick, Richard Sexton, and Jerry Siegel (see below).

This show will be up soon at the Rebekah Jacob Gallery's website. Watch for it here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Response to Picturing the South at the High Museum

The reviews are beginning to come in for the new Picturing the South exhibition at the High Museum in Atlanta.

Notice is coming from a wide range of locations. We have this one from the New York Times. 

And this one from Felicia Feaster in the NYC-based Photograph magazine. 

Her conclusion? "These emerging photographers deliver impassioned, politically cogent visions of the South. It is work you imagine the High had in mind when it inaugurated the series."

Also, from  ArtInfo, the following, here. And in Atlanta's Creative Loafing. And on AccessAtlanta.

Kael Alford gets a fine review on ArtsATL, here.  Shane Lavalette got noticed in Time.  The whole show was noticed by the Associated Press, as here, from the Miami Herald. 

The High's companion show, Picturing New York, was reviewed in ArtsAtl, here

Ryan Nabulsi, in his review of Kael Alford's work at the High, articulates well what I have been concerned about this whole enterprise in its current redaction at the High:

Nabulsi writes, "In order to see Picturing the South, the viewer must walk through one of the other exhibits, which may affect one’s experience of “South.” By forcing the viewer through the larger exhibitions, the High seems to relegate contemporary photography to a space of little significance, almost an afterthought. It feels tilted toward celebrating the history of art instead of looking toward the future."

Sorry to hear the High is confirming my worst fears about their view of this exhibition.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Kael Alford Wins Michael P. Smith Award for Documentary Photography

Dallas-based photographer Kael Alford has just been awarded the Michael P. Smith Award for Outstanding Documentary Photography. 

This well-deserved award goes to Alford for her portfolio Bottom of da Boot: Losing the Cost of Louisiana, work also in the Picturing the South show now up at the High Museum in Atlanta.

There is more about Alford here and an essay on her work by Brett Abbott, the Curator of Photography at the High Museum of Art, here.

Jennifer Schwartz also alerts us to the fact that Alford will give an artist lecture at the High at 6:30 pm on July 19th. On the 20th, Fall Line Press (who published a book featuring photographs from Bottom of da Boot) will throw a Cajun-style party at the Jennifer Schwartz Gallery.

As they say, laissez le bon temps roulez!

Alford clearly deserves this award, but there is also wonderful work among the other Finalists for this award, almost all of it made in the South and all of it by Gulf Coast Photographers.

The New Orleans Photo Alliance provides links to most of this work:

Jeremiah Ariaz
Tucumcari, New Mexico

David Armentor
The Sugar Mill Sessions

Lizzie Chen
Serving God and Country

Dennis Church
Public Attire

Jennifer Kaczmarek
Love for Alyssa

Tomas Montoya
Uprising:  The Diasporic Festive Cultures of Santiago de Cuba, New Orleans, and Haiti

Raymond Thompson
Justice Undone

Mary Lou Uttermohlen
Structure Out Of Chaos

Michel Varisco

Monique Verdin
For the Record: LA Identite

Friday, July 6, 2012

Back from Italy, and Mystified . . . . .

I'm mystified. Why do some people, when they write about the South, write like this?

"There is a mystery about the South that hangs over it like the Spanish moss that drapes the giant oak trees wherever you go. The mystery is conjured up from the southern nature, the sheer temperature of the environment, and the musicality of the landscape. When these ingredients come together, the result is a charmed region where life proceeds at a stately tempo."

This is the writing of one Carl Sesto, who, it turns out is professor emeritus at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where he taught photography for twenty years.

And it is total nonsense. There are vast regions of the American South where there is nary a trace of Spanish moss to be seen, and today, while it is 99 in Raleigh, NC, it is only 84 in Mississippi and it is 102 in Illinois and Indiana, 100 in Michigan, and 99 in South Dakota and New Mexico.

There is no one "southern nature." While the region has its charms, it is as much cursed as it is "charmed," a region haunted by its history and and by a legacy of poverty and fear and the exploitation of the weak by the strong and rich.

That's the legacy that gave rise to the music. That's the legacy that brought Robert Johnson to the crossroads in the Mississippi Delta, that caused residents of Appalachia to cling to the old songs they brought with them, that empowered and motivated the people who took that music up the Mississippi to Chicago, and to Detroit, and to New York. .

And anyone who thinks the South moves at "a stately tempo" has never been on the Atlanta beltway at rush hour, even when things stop dead, because there is nothing stately about being stuck in traffic on the Atlanta beltway.

This is the stuff of moonlight and magnolias romanticism, conjured up by Margaret Mitchell and foisted on the nation by David O. Selznick, with the aid of Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh.

This stuff comes from a piece Carl Sesto wrote in the Tufts University Alumni Magazine, and you can read all of it here.

 The victim is Shane Lavalette, who has work up at the High Museum, as we know.

However one feels about Shane's photographs, he deserves better treatment than this.