Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Frank: In Focus Coming to Chapel Hill

Frank, the Artists' Cooperative Gallery in Chapel Hill, NC, has announced the full schedule of events for their first photography festival, starting in early September.

Frank: In Focus includes a series of forums, exhibitions, and other events, all to be held in Chapel Hill/Carrboro, beginning Sept. 5th and running through  Nov. 1, 2012

The Event Calendar:

Wednesday, Sept 5 -- Closing Reception -Barbara Tyroler, Beijing Impressions Show at the FedX Global Center 301 Pittsboro Street, Chapel Hill, NC

Sunday, Sept 9 @ 2:30 @ Framers Corner 210 West Main St, Carrboro, NC   --  Artists talk. Donn Young-Four Photographic Essays -- Art, Controversy, and Censorship: panel discussion with Donn Young and guest panelists including Todd Drake.

Thurs. Sept.13th: @ 6pm-9m @ Frank gallery -- Frank Artists discuss The Image in Flux A tour/discussion on the photographic work by Frank artists, Alan Dehmer, Peter Filene, John Rosenthal, Barbara Tyroler, Bill McAllister, Bryce Lankard, Caroline Vaughan, Wojtek Wojdynski, Jackie Tait Leebrick, Sam Wang, David Spear, Peg Gignoux. Featured Artist: Bill McAllister

Artwalk: Fri. Sept. 14th @ 6pm-9m @ Frank gallery Changing Focus:The Image in Flux opening

Thurs. Sept. 20th @ 6pm @ Frank Gallery -- The Modern Photographer --  With Pat Davison, UNC Journalism Dept. Michael Itkoff: cofounder Daylight Books Jock Lauterer: UNC J-school instructor, Community Newspapers

Fri. Sept. 21st @ 7pm @ North Carolina Museum of Art 2110 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh, NC --  The Discerning Eye: NCMA Special Tour Chief Curator, Linda Dougherty leads a tour of the Julian T Baker collection, A Discerning Eye, featuring the work of some of the most important photographers of the 20th century.

Thurs. Sept. 27th -David Spear presentation: -6pm Frank Gallery John Rosenthal presents Guggenheim Fellowship and NC Artist Fellowship award winner photographer David Spear.

Fri. Sept. 28th @ 6pm @ Daylight Books,121 W. Margaret Ln. Hillsborough 2012 Daylight Photo Awards opening: Plus a book signing for Kevin Kunishi’s book ‘Los Restos de la Revolucion’.

Sat. Sept 29th @6pm @ Carroll Hall auditorium- Rm 111 UNC - Chapel Hill - UNC campus Artistic Trajectories : Voices in Contemporary Photography -- With Jeff Whetsone: UNC Art Professor Jacquelyn Leebrick: Art professor emeritus -ECU University Lori Vrba: represented by Jennifer Schwartz Gallery Moderator: Gilbert Leebrick -gallery director ECU University

Sun. Sept. 30th @ 1-3pm @ The Carolina Inn: Chancellor’s Ballroom 211 Pittsboro Street, Chapel Hill, NC The Informed Collector- How and Why to collect Photography: With  Roylee Duvall: director, Through this Lens Gallery, Durham, NC Gabrielle Larew: director, Doma Gallery, Charlotte, NC Jennifer Schwartz: Jennifer Schwartz Gallery, Atlanta, GA Frank Konhaus, photography collector, Chapel Hill, NC moderator: Kelly Flanders: Flanders Gallery, Raleigh, NC

Sun. Sept. 30th @ 3-5pm @ The Carolina Inn: South Parlor 211 Pittsboro Street, Chapel Hill --  The Carolina Inn Collection: Join us after the Informed Collector panel in the South Parlor for a cocktail reception with the panelists for “The Informed Collector” and take a guided tour of the Carolina Inn’s exhibit given by the curator, Dr. Kenneth Zogry.

Thurs. Oct 4th @ 6pm @ Frank Gallery The Documentary Project: Vincent Joos: “Little Haiti, Mount Olive, North Carolina: Documenting the Haitian Immigration in Eastern North Carolina” Jessica Kennedy: ”The Shifting Face of Agriculture in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina” Christopher Sims: Instructor, CDS at Duke University-“Theater of War: The Pretend Villages of Iraq and Afghanistan.”Represented by Ann Stewart Fine Art. DL Anderson and Jeremy Lange: Independent photographers “The Farmer Veteran”

Sun. Oct. 7th @ 4:30-6pm @ Wilson Library Gallery 200 South Rd., Chapel Hill --  Special Preview: Photographic Angles- News Photography in the North Carolina Collection Stephen Fletcher, Photographic Archivist of the NC Collection and curator of this exhbition will be on hand for a guided preview of this special exhbition.

 Sun. Oct. 7th @ 6pm @ Pleasants Family Assembly Room Wilson Library, UNC campus 200 South Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514 -- Critical Focus- The Curatorial Perspective, with Stephen Fletcher: Photographic Archivist, NC Collection Dennis Kiel: Head Curator, The Light Factory Roger Manley: Director, Gregg Museum, NCSU Linda Dougherty:Chief Curator, Curator of Contemporary Art, North Carolina Museum of Art Moderator: Xandra Eden- Curator-Weatherspoon Museum

 Thurs. Oct. 11th @ 6pm @ Frank Gallery Alternative and Legacy Processes --  With Alan Dehmer, Bryce Lankard, and Brady Lambert.

Fri. Oct 12th @ 6:30pm @ Frank Gallery Border Glitches: UNC MFA Visions in Contemporary Photography Recent technology has pushed or lives further into a pixelated space, blurring the line between our digital lives and our corporeality. Ali Halperin, UNC MFA candidate, leads a a discussion about with Seoun Som and Michael Lauch on how we perform our identities visually, digitally, and photographically within this schism.

Thurs. Oct 18th@ 6pm @ Frank Gallery -- Taming Technology for the Photographic Creative Process --  With: Goodloe Sutter: NASA software adapted for earth-based artists. Sam Kittner: DC based photographer-HDR Panorama Images Irene Owsley: Founding Board Member-Fotoweek DC -Extreme outdoor photography Shawn Rocco: News and Observer- Cell Phone photography

Fri. Oct 26th @ 6pm @ FedEx Global Center 301 Pittsboro Street, Chapel Hill -- George Stuart -Opening Reception: Carroll Hall- Rm 33, UNC campus CB 3365. Chapel Hill, NC.

Thurs. Nov. 1st @ 7pm @ Frank Gallery -- Documentary Storytelling and Social Change -- featuring StoryMineMedia, an independent company based in Carrboro, NC that partners with non-profits, foundations, and other organizations to create stories that move people to action. Kathryn Stein-Toward Healing: fistula patients in Malawi Catherine Orr- CDS: StoryMineMedia Elena Rue-Lewis Hines Fellowships at CDS, StoryMineMedia Moderator: Barbara Tyroler

Contact Information:

Bryce Lankard: -917-204-8165
Barbara Tyroler: -919-360-8791

For complete and up to the minute information on the events and exhibitions and participant bios, please visit:

Slow Exposures 2012 on CNN

The Slow Exposures Festival of Photography in the Rural South opens September 21st in Concord, Zebulon, and Molena, Georgia.

There is a feature today on Slow Exposures 2012, with some images from the juried show, on the CNN blog, here. 
The full schedule of events is here.

This is a splendid event, not to be missed.

I first attended Slow Exposures in 2009. Getting work in that show was a catalyst for my decision to start this blog.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Susan Worsham at Light Work

Richmond, VA based photographer Susan Worsham will have a show of her work in the Kathleen O. Ellis Gallery at Light Work, the photography center at 316 Waverly Avenue, in Syracuse, NY.

The show features work from Worsham's  Bittersweet/Bloodwork portfolio, some of which is here. 

Worsham's show opens on September 4th and will be up through October 12th, 2012. There will be a reception with the artist in the gallery from 5-7 pm on September 13th. 

Worsham does powerfully personal, meditative work with friends, neighbors, and locations from her childhood in Richmond, Virginia. Her work will also be featured in issue 168 of Light Work's publication Contact Sheet

Worsham has had a splendid career of late as a photographer.  In 2009 she was nominated for the Santa Fe Prize for Photography, and her book Some Fox Trails In Virginia won first runner up in the fine art category of the Blurb Photography Book Now International Competition.

In 2010 Worsham was awarded the first TMC / Kodak Film Grant, and was an Artist-in-Residence at Light Work, in preparation for this exhibition.

She has also had exhibitions at the Corcoran Gallery in Wahsington, DC, the Photographic Center Northwest, the  Dean Jensen Gallery in Milwaukee, and the Danville Museum, in, well, Danville, VA.

You can learn more about Worsham here, in an interview she did with Jonathan Blaustein on APhotoEditor.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Review -- New Southern Photography at the Ogden Museum

One of our readers sends along this review of the "New Southern Photography" show now up at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans.

Turns out the "New Southern Photography" show is only part of a much larger array of shows.

Here is the review:

 "The New Southern Photography" show, organized in three adjoining small rooms with maybe 40 photographs, is quite strong.

"To a piece, the work (including Donna Pinckney's image, above) demonstrates a higher degree of originality, technical competence, and maturity of vision than you might expect of a show mostly made up of comparative newcomers.

"Curator Richard McCabe has a fine eye for photographs, and he also knows how to do an installation.

"A second and larger show, the "Louisiana Contemporary," is a juried competition. It is artwork by the natives, and it also is strong, with a lot of good photography. It was so well put together (by the curator of the McNay in San Antonio) that you might conclude that the state somehow found a way to spawn artistic talent.

"Then, there is a third show, of photographs from the Ogden's permanent collection, of Louisiana work by Bellocq, Laughlin, Evans, and others. Worth seeing? Yes, and to paraphrase dear old Dr. Johnson, worth going to see.

"So, you should fly down, and enjoy all this. New Orleans itself will not leave you bored.

"Then, next year, you can come for the Ogden's openings of these shows, which are on White Linen Night, when thousands of white-clad art lovers descend on the Julia Street fine arts district to enjoy art, food and drink, and music.

"All three shows close the 3rd week of September."

My thanks for this review!

Reviews by other readers are certainly welcomed. I request only that they be reasonable, fair,  thoughtful, and descriptive.

Ralph Burns at Pink Dog Creative

Asheville photographer Ralph Burns just closed what looks like a really fine show of his black and white photographs at Pink Dog Creative, a gallery in Asheville.

Burns has been working as a photographer for a good long time, but this was his first solo show in North Carolina since 2005, and his first in Asheville since 1994, when he exhibited at the Blue Spiral 1 Gallery.

Burns has shown his work previously at places like the California Museum of Photography; The Cleveland Museum of Art; the Tate Gallery, in Liverpool; the Hokkaido Museum of Art, in Japan; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; the Honolulu Academy of Art; the  Contemporary Arts Museum, in Houston; the Asheville Art Museum, in Asheville; and the Southeastern Center of Contemporary Art, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Based on the work on the websites and in the exhibition catalog I've just received, this looks like it was a really strong show.

I only wish I had known about it earlier.  But at least we can make note fo it and look out for further shwos of this work.

You can learn more about Burns' work by reading the essay by J. Richard Gruber, Director Emeritus of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, here.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

As Others See Us -- Summer 2012

The travel writer Chuck Thompson has a new book out, reviewed in the New York Times, here, called Better Off Without 'em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession,  in which he proposes that both North and South in the United States would be better off if the South actually did secede.

Apparently Thompson been traveling through the South and noticed some things he's not happy with, or finds amusing, or disturbing, or annoying.

This book is probably worth a read. I have a copy on order. I don't want to comment on it directly since I haven't actually read it.

But I think you can get the flavor of it if you visit Thompson's promotional website where there are, to make this more relevant to this blog, 14 actual photographs which I gather Thompson made Down Here on his travels.

One can say, however, that this book joins a bunch of other books written by visitors to the South from John White,  John Lawson, and Alexis de Tocqueville to James Agee and V. S. Naipaul. My guess is, Thompson doesn't do much better at capturing Southernness than they did.

Someone writing on the Economist's blog nails folks like Thompson, thus. They "want the South to be an essence, not a messy mix of gays and straights, Democrats and Republicans, blacks and whites, atheists and Christians, readers and football fans."

And, as Karen L. Cox points out in her Dreaming of Dixie: How the South Was Created in American Popular Culture  the South of folks like Thompson is a creation mostly of non-Southerners who need for there to be a place in their imagined USA to be the repository of everything wrong with the country.

In fact, the South, in a profound way, holds up to the rest of the country a mirror for contemplating who we are, and where we've been, and what its come down to.

Even the bleakest aspects of Southern history and culture are deeply engrained in the history of the rest of the nation, from the exploitation of native peoples to slavery to the devastation of the environment for short-term economic gain to political corruption and the use of political power to enhance the wealth of the wealthiest at the expense of the poorest among us.

What really annoys me are those Southerners who make a career out of performing stereotypical Southernness for non-Southerners who are looking for the entertainment value to be found in meeting Rhett or Scarlett or some good ole boys and girls.

When any of them come around, I remember what my father said. "Watch out, now," he'd say. "Watch out."

Friday, August 10, 2012

Catching Up on the News of the Week in Southern Photography

Several items of interest:

1. The folks behind the Gallery at Willjax in Cleveland, MS are opening a show of work by Magdalena Solé,
on August 23rd, 2012, from her portfolio New Delta Rising, up through September.

This show will be followed by a show in October and November featuring photographs by Kathleen Robbins from her portfolio Into the Flat Land, also work made in the Mississippi Delta.

2. Long-time western North Carolina photographer Rob Amberg has a new website, and a new blog.

3. Cary, NC-based photographer Roger May has interesting discussions up on his blog about William Gedney  photographing in Appalachia, go here and here.   There is also a related discussion on Fresh Air, here

4. Folks at FRANK, a gallery and artists' collaborative on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, NC, have just announced a two-month-long photography festival, called FRANK: In Focus, billed as "an in-depth exploration and celebration of photography."

FRANK: In Focus will begin September 5th and run through November 1st, 2012. Events will include panels, salons, presentations, special exhibitions, and a visit by Atlanta's peripatetic Jennifer Schwartz.

For more details, go here:

 5. For those following the controversial ouster of founder Marc Smirnoff at the Oxford American, go here to the New York Times story, or here, to stories from Arkansas media, or here, for a story on Slate.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Noel and Lou in One: One Thousand for August

The New Orleans-based photo ezine One: One Thousand features work by Laura Noel and Richard Lou in its August issue, two photographers who are attuned to the nuances of Southern life in the early 21st century.

Atlanta-based photographer Laura Noel offers us her portfolio Smoke Break, in which she documents the particular life of people who, as Noel puts it, "continue to smoke cigarettes in the face of public condemnation."

I'm going to flat out say that I think Laura Noel's image Amy in her Back Yard (see above) is one of the great photographs of our time.

My response to this image is strong in part of course because, in North Carolina, tobacco shares with cotton the role of most distinctive agricultural product, with its own peculiar landscape and its own special culture, language, calendar, and expertise.

The earliest English colonists took North Carolina tobacco back to England in the 1580's and people have been hooked ever since. We live with God's little joke that the only things that grow well here are (of course) kudzu and tobacco.

Two of our major educational institutions, Duke University and Wake Forest University, were funded with tobacco money, and the most prestigious professorships at my home university are the R. J. Reynolds professorships. 

There is a reason for this -- the appeal of smoking, both social and biological, is undeniable. There is something very sensual as well as meditative about the act of smoking. There is also the social dimension, the performative character of smoking, that allows one to show off, to draw attention to oneself in the act of lighting up.

So the culture and practice of tobacco permeates the culture of North Carolina. Or at least it used to.

Now, of course, cultural standards have changed. Smokers, even here, have to go to special places set apart to practice what used to be acts that placed them at the center of attention.

Noel in these images captures well the appeal of smoking, but also the experience of being isolated, of having to leave the party, of being deprived of the social stage while one smokes.

More than that, in images like Amy in her Back Yard Noel nails the look of the smoker who is isolated by her practice but who also has complex reactions to being observed doing this smoking thing.

But what really gets me in Amy in her Back Yard is the dog, a dog right out of a George Booth cartoon, a dog whose position and posture in the frame carries much of the work of this image.

The dog's leash reminds us of the confinement now required of the smoker; the dog's pose, straining at that leash, suggests the yearning of the smoker for a cigarette. Everything in this image works together in really engaging ways. 

Memphis-based photographer Richard Lou's portfolio Ownership Society: A Conundrum explores the relationships among property, gun ownership, and race in our culture.

The gun is everywhere as the symbol of white power in Southern culture, from the dueling pistols of 18th century Tidewater aristocrats to the sporting guns of Southern bird hunters to the shotguns of the chain gang to Garden and Gun, the latest magazine to cater to Southern patrician wannabes.

Lou's images show us scenes that echo in their composition images familiar from the tradition of Western art depicting white people in power, starting,  as Lou notes, with Thomas Gainsborough's painting Mr. and Mrs. Andrews (1750), but also including Grant Wood's American Gothic (1930) and others.

In these images, however, the people who are armed are people of color. 

Lou says, this work embodies a personal journey into the questioning of received cultural understanding. "A white man holding a rifle in front of a large parcel of land,"  he writes, "conjures a feeling of 'rightness'" that he had to get beyond. 

"To understand this image and its unspoken power," he says, he "needed to subvert the figures by placing friends . . . within the frame in a somewhat similar fashion in regards to a simple reading of the subject matter.

Lou says he "was interested to see what happens when people of color are holding weapons on their property and how it would read. Would these new images invoke a similar bucolic image within the convention of portraiture or would another reading be elicited and what are these other readings referencing?"

And Lou leaves the question hanging. As well he might, leaving the question hanging there for us as well. 

These images remind us that the Southerners who are living lives of ownership and property today are as likely to be people of color as they are to be white.

One of the great challenges that continues to face those of us who live in the South is the challenge of making the transition to a culture in which the symbols and artifacts of power are not the sole possession of people whose ancestors came here from northern Europe.

The difficulties we are having in making this transition play out in the headlines every day, especially in this election season.

Lou offers us difficult, perceptive, challenging work. There is much to commend in this issue of One: One Thousand.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Shelby Lee Adams on Flak Photo

Shelby Lee Adams was recently interviewed by Catherine Edelman on the website flakphoto in connection with a show of his work at the Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago and publication of his new book Salt and Truth.

 Adams has been photographing the people of eastern Kentucky for over three decades. You can read Edelman's interview with Adams, as well as see a generous selection of his work, here, on flakphoto.

Thanks to the fact that Edelman is a skillful interviewer, this conversation ranges widely over Adams' career, his relationships with his subjects, his photographic practice, and the controversies his work has evoked.

Adams' photographs of people who live in poverty in eastern Kentucky bring up a wide range of issues for many viewers.

My sense is that photographs share many characteristics with Rorschach ink blots. That is,  the things people think of to say about photographs are often more revelatory of viewers than they are of the subjects of the photographs they are looking at.

Adams' work can be challenging to those of us who choose, or have been given the opportunity, to live under very different cultural and economic circumstances from the folks whose lives are documented in Adams' work.

In Adams' work, I see someone who regards his subjects with dignity and respect, and who collaborates with them in the making of these images.

In the midst of all the conflict and anger and courage and shame and pride and envy and resentment of being Southern, I find Adams' craft and vision exemplary.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

New Southern Photography at the Odgen Museum in New Orleans

The Odgen Museum of Southern Art  opens a new group show called New Southern Photography with an reception at the museum from 6  to 9 this Saturday, August 4th.

The work will be up until  in the Ogden Museum, at 925 Camp Street in New Orleans, through October 2012. 

This show features the work of established and emerging photographers, chiefly but not exclusively members of the New Orleans Photography Alliance.

Photographers with work in the show include a number of folks with whose work I am familiar and a number of folks who are new to me.

They include Bernie Imes, Tom Wik (see image above),  Victor Balaban, DH Cooper, Heidi Kirkpatrick, Alex Leme, Donna Pinckley, Woody Woodroof, Sesthasak Boonchai, Lissette de Boisblanc, Charles Franklin, Kevin Kline, Don Norris, Kathleen Robbins, S Gayle Stevens, Colleen Mullins, Frank Hamrick, and  Warren Thompson.

This should be a first-class show. Shows like this -- at their best -- are about identifying who is doing strong work, and thus are about developing a canon of artists worth paying attention to.

I probably will not make it to New Orleans before this show closes, but I hope to get a catalogue.

Kathleen Robbins is Having a Wonderful Year

Columbia, SC-based photographer Kathleen Robbins has had her work featured recently on

Kathleen also has an exceptionally ambitious and wide-ranging exhibition schedule coming up for the rest of this year and into 2013.

She will be showing work in the New Southern Photography show at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, opening August 4th and up through September 23rd, 2012.

She will also have work in the The Kids Are Alright show, at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center  in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, opening in September 2012 and up through January of 2013.

Kathleen will also have solo exhibitions of work from her portfolio Into the Flatland in the Gallery at Wiljax, in Cleveland, Mississippi, during October of 2012; in the New Orleans Photo Alliance, in December 2012 through January of 2013; and at the University Museum at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, from April through July of 2013.

Kathleen does truly splendid work. I'm glad to see that it is gaining for her the kind of recognition it deserves.

Interesting to see that several of these shows are in Mississippi. Perhaps in the 21st century we are proving Thomas Wolfe wrong about not being able to go home.

Jeff Rich in Photo District News

Atlanta-based photographer Jeff Rich was featured in the July 2012 issue of Photo District News (PDN).

Conor Risch, in his article about Jeff's Watershed portfolio, says that Jeff's work "questions the way people think about their relationship to Rivers that flow through their backyards, communities, and cities."

Jeff's images, says Risch, help us to "understand that the health . . . of all the nation's rivers depends on vigilance and good stewardship."

Jeff recently won the Critical Mass book award competition with this work.

He was also, this year, the subject of a feature story on the flakphoto website, here.

It's good to see him continuing to get the kinds of recognition this work deserves.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sally Mann on Being a Southern Photographer

Quote for the day --

"I do consider myself a Southern photographer.

"I believe my work has that ineffable, Southern quality, whatever it is.

"At the very least, there's a kind of humidity to the photographs.

"But what is it that actually makes my work Southern?

"Oh, the obsession with place, with family, with both the personal and the social past; the susceptibility to myth; the love of this light, which is all our own; and the readiness to experiment with dosages of romance that would be fatal to most twentieth-century artists.

"In that sense, Southern artists are like certain of our mountain religious folk, who, in their devotions, subject themselves to snake bites that would kill or disable anyone else.

"What snake venom is to them, romanticism is to the Southern artist: a terrible risk, and a ticket to transcendence."

 -- Sally Mann, from A Place Not Forgotten: Landscapes of the South, University of Kentucky Art Museum (1999)

(with thanks to my friend and fellow photographer Larry Earley, who pointed this quotation out to me.)

"The past isn't dead. It isn't even past" Department -- 2012 Edition

One challenge of being a Southerner is having to live with headlines like this one.

Go here.

'Nuff said.