Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Southern Landscape Photographers on Flak Photo

Flak Photo has an interesting on-line exhibition up right now called Looking at the Land: 21st Century American Views. 

This show was curated by Andy Adams of Flak Photo (juror's statement, here),  together with the Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design.

The show consists of a whole bunch of contemporary landscape photographs,  88, if I counted well, by a geographically diverse array of photographers.

Some of these are Southerners, or take Southern subjects. Not quite sure what Laura Noel was doing in Rhode Island, but there it is.

Included in one of these categories are names familiar to readers of this blog, and some not so familiar -- Anne Lass, Jeff Rich, Chuck Heymard, Dana Mueller, Eliot Dudik, Jon-Phillip Sheridan, Kyle Ford (see image above), Laura Noel, Michael Sebastian, Maureen Drennan, Pamela Pecchio, Stacy Arezou Mehrfar, Sophie T. Lvoff, Ryan Boatright, Scott Conarroe, Rob Hann, and Christine Carr.

Since going up on the  Flak Photo website, this show has been featured on Time Light Box, here.

This is engaging work, well worth your taking the time to have a look. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

SXSE for Early Fall 2012

Nancy McCrary and all the good folks at South x Southeast bring us an early fall issue filled with splendid images and thoughtful discussions of all things photographic in the Southeast.

This is, nominally, the Boy's Issue, to complement last summer's Girl's Issue.

Work by the Boys includes Todd Murphy’s images of Antarctica, Thomas Neff's portraits of Katrina survivors, Tom Chambers' evocative neoRomantic images of people and critters in nature, Jerry Siegel's portraits of Southern artists, Mark Caceres’ portraits of dirt racers in Alabama, Alex Leme’s meditations on the geometry of libraries, Matt Eich's panoramic images of (mostly) Southern locations, Daniel Kramer's attention to color and composition in Houston, and Jon Morgan's haunting images of American town-, city-, and people-scapes.

Also, in this election year, we have Steve Schapiro's images from the Civil Rights protests of the 1960's and  Christopher Morris' images from the White House during the presidencies of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Also not to miss are interviews with Geraldine Chouard, the author of a new book on Eudora Welty, and with Roger Robson, CEO of the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts.

All in all, another fine issue, and its all yours for a very small consideration.

If you aren't already a subscriber, you really ought to be.

You know you ought to.

So just do it.

Sally Mann Show at the Edwynn Houk Gallery

The distinguished Southern photographer Sally Mann has just opened a major new show of work from her Upon Reflection portfolio at the Edwynn Houk Gallery, at 745 Fifth Avenue, in New York City.

This show opened on September 13th, and will be up through November 3rd, 2012.

The images in this show are, chiefly, work Mann did during her recovery in the late 2000's from a horseback riding accident. Unable to work in her accustomed manner, she turned her camera on herself, producing a series of self portraits and images of her own torso in its damaged, healing state.
According to the Houk Gallery, Mann  "has created a new technique for this project which is based on 19th century processes but that incorporates a modern sensibility. Each unique image is captured as a wet-plate positive on a large, black glass plate."

John B. Ravenal says of this work that "Mann complicates the logic of the flattened geometrical order with references to the antiquated, the irrational, and the horrendous.

"The repetitive display of degraded images calls to mind discards from a mid-nineteenth-century photo studio – plates flawed by the sitter’s movement or the medium’s unstable actions, of which they present a catalogue: pitting, scarring, scratching, streaking, graininess, blurriness, erosion, fading, haziness, delamination, over-exposure, and under-exposure"

The Gallery goes on: "For the very first time, the works from the Omphalos series will be on display.

"In this series, the focus is on the artist’s torso. Akin to the faces, the process is the same, but the grids of Omphalos examine more abstract, sculptural forms.

"The plates themselves have been treated as such: chiseled, scratched and smoothed until flesh becomes stone. Clearly a departure from one of the earliest and most timeless motifs in art, Omphalos is a title not only referring to the torso, but also to the symbolic continuation of the themes explored in Mann’s previous work: fertility, family, and heredity, recorded in the human form and in the land"

 Sally Mann is a deeply Southern photographer.

In response to a question about "what makes my work Southern," she said, "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."

I think what makes Mann a Southern ARTIST is her unflinching vision, the gaze that does not hold back from the personal, the physical, and the mortal, and her ability to make our experience of that gaze compelling and engaging, and deeply troubling, as well.

There is no casual viewing of work by Sally Mann. That's a major reason she is Sally Mann.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Miller and Mercure on One: One Thousand

The Southern photography ezine One: One Thousand features work this month by Nashville-born but Connecticut-based photographer Greg Miller and by Sioux City, Iowa-born but Bristol, Tennessee-based photographer Tammy Mercure.

Both these photographers show work made in Tennessee, but putting their images side-by-side in this issue brings to our attention questions of the relationship between the photographer, the subject, and the viewer.

Both photographers show remarkable technical merit in their realization of their images, but they provide very different experiences of the same cultural area.

Miller's images are well-seen, rich in color, and thoughtfully composed (see sample above), but they show people in various settings looking remote, lost, disengaged, passive, bored, vacant.

Mercure's subjects (see sample below) fill more of the frame, engage the viewer directly and with energy, and seem at home in, and living large within, the settings in which we find them.

Part of this has to do with conventions of posing the subject. There is a long tradition of showing people looking in certain directions in paintings or photographs. Religious paintings often show people looking up. Portraits show people looking straight at us, or looking 45 degrees away from us, or 90 degrees away from us. 

This variation has something to do with creating, or interrupting, the illusion in realistic art that the subject is actually there, looking back as we who look at the subject.  And artists want to change styles or compositional practices occasionally to get a different look, explore new options, communicate different kinds of experiences.

Other contemporary photographers also adopt the pose of showing people with vague, blank looks on their faces. But the comments Miller offers us in his artist's statement suggest that for him this look has something to do with the relationship between the photographer and the subject, with Miller's search for home, communicating his own sense of loss -- of home, of connections, of history.

One could say that these images document the emptiness of Southern middle class culture, the culture that you get when Southerners leave the farm and move to the suburbs and try to live like the folks they see in the pages of Southern Living and Garden and Gun.

But I don't think so. I know a lot of these folks and they all, to a person, have far more life, more energy, more engagement with making meaning out of their lives than any of the folks in these photograph. 

Miller says that he made this body of work after having been away from Nashville for a long, long time.

"When I returned to face Nashville in 2008 with my 8x10 view camera, another 20 years later," he writes, "only a paved over modern American city remained, an emotional ghost town."

Nashville? A ghost town? Please -- Nashville is the center of the country music industry, the home of a vibrant music scene, one of the great centers of indigenous American musical culture. Not to mention, the only city in the world with a full-sized replica of the Parthenon.

But Miller's sense that the people in his images live in a ghost town is at least part of what comes through the expressions on the faces of the people in Miller's photographs. 

But when Miller cane to Nashville with his camera, he was looking for home. But he couldn't find it.

With "no childhood room of mine to return to," he says, he tried to find home. He "started with a map . . .  [and] stuck pins in all 17 places where [h]e had lived while . . .  growing up and drove around old neighborhoods, newly minted suburbs, intersections, crossroads, looking for us. Looking for my unsettled family."

He finds his grandparents' house, which "felt like the set of the movie about my childhood" and thought, "Who is going to care about this? How is a simple picture of this house going to have meaning to anyone other than me?"

He says, he "let that question hang in the air, and . . . clicked the shutter. [He] grasped at least one answer: maybe no one."

I think Miller made beautiful images in Nashville of his own sense of absence, of his inability to reconnect with the world of his childhood. These images may be witness to one person's wrestling with Thomas Wolfe's assertion that you can't go home again.

Mercure, on the other hand, has found her home in Bristol, Tennessee.

In her artist's statement, she quotes one Bill Maxwell to the effect that "The South is what we started out with in this bizarre, slightly troubling, basically wonderful countryfun, danger, friendliness, energy, enthusiasm, and brave, crazy, tough people." 

 She says her images "seem to show this area's collective love of history and the land." I think they show her love for, acceptance of, and engagement with these folks who are making meaning of, and coming to terms with, and living out their lives in "this bizarre, slightly troubling, basically wonderful country." 

And so it is. At least on the good days . . . . .

Thursday, September 13, 2012

More News of the Fall Season

The outstanding Durham-based photographer Titus Heagins has a show of photographs now up at Duke University from his Haiti: Before the Earth Moved portfolio.

Here is Titus at the opening:

And here is one of  Titus' pieces from the show:

My thanks to another local photographer, Paul Dagys, for these photographs of Titus' opening. You can see more of his images from the opening here. 

Paul himself has a Kickstarter campaign going to fund his travels through the South, working on a portfolio he calls Southern Expressionism, and you can see some of that portfolio below, and here. 

This looks like a worthy project. I've signed up as a supporter and I hope you will too. 

The Emily Amy Gallery, at 1000 Marietta Street,  in Atlanta will have a show opening October 19th entitled  Shared Southern Stories, which includes nine artists who were featured in the by-now famous Oxford American list of outstanding Southern artists.

Among the nine are photographers Keliy Anderson-Staley (see image above), Joshua Dudley Greer, Jessica Ingram, Phillip March Jones, Dan Tague, and Bruce Wilhelm.  This show will be up through November 24th, 2012.

Finally, for now, the Mississippi-based photographer David Wharton is about to publish his second book of B&W photographs of the South.

Wharton is Director of Documentary Studies and Assistant Professor of Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi's Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

He published  his first book of images made in the American South, The Soul of a Small Texas Town: Photographs, Memories, and History,
in  2000.

This second book, Small Town South, will be published in the fall of 2012. You can see some of the images in this book here.

It's fall. There is a lot going on. More later!

More News from the Oxford American

Those who have been following the editorial controversies at the Oxford American may be interested to know that a new editor has been appointed.

He is Roger Hodge, a Texan, who was editor of Harper’s magazine from 2006 to 2010.

He replaces the Oxford American’s founding editor, Marc Smirnoff, who was fired July 15th, 2012,  after an investigation by the magazine’s board into accusations by young employees of sexual harassment and improper conduct.

Mr. Smirnoff has, of course, strongly denied any wrongdoing and has started his own web site,, on which he defends himself from allegations of sexual harassment and what he has called unfair press reports about his dismissal.

All right, then. Everyone is in place, doing what we expect them to do. We can get back to other matters. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In the Galleries -- Sole, Kiernan, Kariko, Pecchio

It's past Labor Day in the South, the first cool breezes have begun to blow, and the fall gallery season is beginning to heat up.

This is the time we earn by putting up with June, July, and August. Here's a sampling of what's on offer.

Honorary Southern photographer Magdalena Solé is opening a show of her work from the Mississippi Delta in New York City at the gallery Sous les Etoile  at 560 Broadway, in SOHO, in Manhattan.

The show opens with a reception September 27th from 6-8, and will be up in the Gallery until November 10th, 2012.

Lexington, VA - based photographer Kat Kiernan is the current featured photographer in Jennifer Schwartz Gallery's series The Ten.

Kiernan's photographs explore the experience of loss and recall through memory she imagines the wives of sailors go through while they wait for their husbands to return to them from the sea.

In addition to being a photographer, Kiernan also runs the Kiernan Gallery in Lexington. 

Greenville, NC-based photographer Daniel Kariko has work up in the Weizenblatt Gallery of Mars Hill College, in Mars Hill, NC, opening September 12th and up through October 8th, 2012.

This is a solo show of Kariko's work, featuring images from his Storm Season and Speculation World portfolios.

Finally, Charlottesville, VA-based photographer Pamela Pecchio has been wearing two of her many hats.

She has opened a show of her own work called 509: Photographs by Pamela Pecchio at the RES IPSA Gallery,  in Oakland CA.

This show opened on September 7th and will be up until October 18, with a reception featuring the artist on Friday, October 5th, from 6-9. Pecchio will also give a talk at the Gallery on Saturday, October 6th, at 1:30 pm.

With her juror hat on, Pecchio curated a show of photographs now up at the 311 West Martin Street Gallery, here in Raleigh through October 13th.

The title of this show is MIMESIS: Contemporary Photography.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Jennifer Schwartz in New York City

Jennifer Schwartz is branching out from her gallery at 675 Drewry Street, in Atlanta, to explore alternative ways of marketing photographs.

 Her first effort will be a flash event at a barber shop in Manhattan.

For one night -- the night of September 27th -- Schwartz will take over Cut and Shave at 37A Bedford Avenue in Manhattan's West Village.

That night, she will host the show Self Time[d], a show of work by California-based photographer  Heidi Lender, featuring photographs from three of Heidi’s series: Once Upon, Green Dress and She Can Leap Tall Buildings. 

According to Schwartz, Cut and Shave is "a traditional barber shop with a classic, retro feel," which she believes will "complement Heidi’s playful work, and for one night only her beautiful images will adorn the walls."

Schwartz promises "great photography, mojitos, music and an unforgettable night!"

I'm definitely going to be there, if I find myself in New York that night, and I hope to see you there too.

Maude Schuyler Clay at the Delta Cultural Center

Mississippi-based photographer Maude Schuyler Clay has opened a major show of her work in the Delta Cultural Center at 141 Cherry Street, in Helena, Arkansas.

The show opened on September 1st and will be up through December 8th, 2012.

Maude Clay has exhibited and published her work widely, and published her first collection of photographs, Delta Land, with the University Press of Mississippi, in 1999.

You can see some of the images from this portfolio here.

Clay's family has lived in the Mississippi Delta for 5 generations.

Her work in Delta Land, according to the Mississippi Press, "involves the recording and preservation of Mississippi Delta landscape and its rapidly disappearing indigenous structures: mule barns, field churches, cotton gins, commissaries, crossroads stores, tenant houses, cypress sheds, and railroad stations."

Clay uses B+W images effectively to evoke a sense of timelessness, that quality of memory that creates of our past a place that never changes, even as it recedes from us.

This is a sense of the past that many Southerners carry with us of a time now lost.when things were in their place, and we knew our place among them.

Clay will publish her second major collection of images with the University Press of Mississippi, with the title, Delta Dogs,  in 2013.

You can see some of the images from this portfolio, here.

Photography in Southern Cities Featured in PDN

PDN, the monthly photography magazine for grown-ups, has a PDN Photosource supplement to the October issue (at least for the subscription copy) with two feature stories on photography in Southern cities.

In "Shoot in Atlanta," Jay Mallin discusses equipment and rental facilities as well as interesting places to shoot that, he says, "you won't find on the East or West coasts."

The piece includes brief interviews with Angelina Pennington, who is the art buyer for BBDO, an advertising firm in Atlanta, with Caroline Kilgore, photo editor for Atlanta Magazine, and with David Stuart, a photographer who works in Atlanta.

Jay Mallin also discusses, in this issue, the resources for photographers that Miami provides. I know Miami's status as a Southern city is a bit precarious, but it is certainly south of here, and if you need to photograph in Miami, this information about "Miami Studios" should prove helpful.

The Studio + Equipment Guide in this issue also provides brief accounts of the photography resources available in a national survey of locations that includes Washington, DC, Florida, and Georgia.

All this is helpful information if you are headed that way with your camera.

Ann Weathersby -- Chronicles of Life in the Changing South

Ann Weathersby is a photographer who lives in Brooklyn and works in New York City, but she was born in New Orleans.

Weathersby has a fine eye for portraiture and does special assignment work for the New York Times.

Recently, the Times sent her back to the South to make portraits of folks in Alexander City, Alabama to go with a story published in yesterday's NY Times Magazine with the title "Who Wears the Pants in this Economy."

Weathersby's portraits are really fine.  I am grateful to the Times for bringing her work to my attention.

The story, however, is not so fine. Well, the story is true and interesting, but the way the story is framed is not so fine.

The story was written by Atlantic writer Hanna Rosen, who ought to know better than to frame the story in the way she does.

The story is taken from Rosen's forthcoming book, The End of Men and the Rise of Women, the title of which cuts directly to the issue.

The point of the story is that the changing economy in Alabama has resulted in women being able to find good jobs while their husbands are losing theirs, in a culture which teaches people that women's place is in the home, that men are in charge in relationships, are the breadwinners, are the decision-makers.

As one of the women puts it in the article, "I am not a women’s-rights-type person. My place is in the home, and I’m fine with that, so long as my husband is earning the bacon. ’Course, that hasn’t been happening so much lately.”

So the story is about challenges to a very specific, culturally-situated set of definitions of male and female.

The story is really about how traditional gender roles among middle- or working-class Southern white evangelicals -- especially small-town Southern white evangelicals -- are facing challenges or beginning to break down in the face of economic change.

But the premise of the article -- as the title of Rosen's book indicates -- is that such definitions are not time- or culture-specific but generic, even in the face of the fact that middle- and working-class Southern white people have celebrated the strong female figure who rises to the occasion in times of economic stress at least as long ago as the days of Margaret Mitchell and Scarlet O'Hara.

Cultural definitions of gender roles may seem to take on a sense of permanence from time to time, especially when certain definitions get the support of institutions like churches or play into our need to define ourselves or others in terms of class or race or sex.

But they are always fluid, even, or perhaps especially, in the South, where myths about "male" and "female" are constantly being confronted by changing realities as people make meaning of their lives in the stories they tell and the images they make.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

DC Photography Fair Coming Up in October

Kathleen Ewing, long-time fine art photography dealer in Washington, DC, has organized the DC Fine Art Photography Fair, to be held October 5-7, 2012, at 2801 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC.

The event features work from fifteen established fine art photography galleries from across the United States, including a number from the American South, showing representative samples from their gallery inventories.

Southern galleries include, in addition to the Rebekah Jacobs Gallery in Charleston, the following:

Addison/ Ripley Fine Art, Washington, DC; Catherine Couturier Gallery, Houston, TX; Gary Edwards Gallery, Washington, DC; Kathleen Ewing Gallery, Washington, DC; the Hemphill Gallery, Washington, DC; and the Multiple Exposures Gallery, Alexandria, VA.

In addition to the exhibition, a panel discussion, “On Collecting Photography,” will be held from 11am to 12noon, on Saturday, October 6th.

The fair is free and open to the public, and is intended to be part of DC's e)merge art fair, an annual art festival in our capitol city.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Absence and Loss at Flanders Gallery

Sometimes one doesn't know what is happening in one's own neighborhood.

I got to see a show of photographs at Raleigh's Flanders Gallery on the very last day of the exhibition, and I'd chalk it up to negligence on my part and try to forget it, except that the images were strong, often haunting, and very much worth noticing.

The show was called Terrains of Absence, and featured the work of three photographers, Mark Iwinski (see image above), Ian F. G. Dunn (see image below), and Jerome DePerlinghi.

Much of the work by Iwinski and Dunn, though not all, was made in the South, but the focus of all three portfolios was on what Flanders Gallery calls "the desire to investigate and document . . .  small traces of life, or histories and stories that speak to us from the past, as they are found in urban, natural, and cultural settings,  and endeavor to make them visible."

 These guys find traces of histories and stories in "architectural fragments, graffiti on crumbling buildings, abandoned houses, parking lots, tree stumps, and old photographs," all of which "reveal terrains of absence in our day-to-day cultural and natural environment."

Dunn's work documents the transitional in Southern culture, especially in the form of that most transitory, yet still ubiquitous, phenomenon, the mobile home, which in this body of work has lost its mobility as well as its livability, and is all too ready to reveal its inability to shelter us much from time's passage.

Dunn's images speak of Southern poverty. They also speak of the mobile home's flip side, the Southern mansion, which is supposed to be an embodiment of permanence, power, and authority yet is all too ready to remind us that all is passing, nothing endures.

I found Iwinski's work especially haunting, given its juxtaposition of old photographs and new ones of the same places. The hand is part of each image, a reminder that these images are not mirrors of reality but the works of image-makers. Yet time alters the image as well as the object the image works from.

Faulkner said that in the South the past isn't dead, its not even past, but these images remind us that what we have trouble letting go of in the South is not the South but our images of the South. Things change, regardless of our desire to hold on to them, and in that change is both the occasion for grief and hope.

DePerlinghi's images were in keeping with the subject matter of Iwinski and Dunn, but the images were Not Made Around Here.

This was a strong show. I regret I did not know of it earlier, but will try to watch out for Iwinski and Dunn as their careers develop.

South Writ Large -- New Online Publication

I've just run across South Writ Large, a quarterly online magazine, now up to its third issue, which has set out to explore "the culture of the changing South through its literature, art, music, psychology, and social patterns."

The folks behind this say it grew out of something called "the Global South Working Group, based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where, beginning in 2007, authors, artists, psychoanalysts, historians, social scientists, documentarians, and other humanists have met regularly to share recent work and to discuss the dreams, history, symbols, art, music, migrations, transplants, and interactions that link the southern United States to the wider world."

They publish from the perspective that the "South, though historically recognized for its resistance to change, is not exempt from the impact of globalization.

"Globalization," they note, "pushes the South beyond a national, oppositional frame to an integrative South that interacts with the world. It has been increasingly open to a growing pluralism that combines cultures, the imported roots of “local” traditions and the global reach of regional culture.

The folks at South Writ Large believe that, in regard to the South in the 21st century,  “The far away is shaping the deep within,” a process that brings both excitement and tension.

"We at South Writ Large are keen to observe, learn and participate in that process as the South furthers this transformation and becomes increasingly interconnected with the many other countries and regions that are experiencing similar transformations.

 "South Writ Large publishes literature, art, music, performances, memoirs, scholarship, reflections and debate fundamental to this process of regional change and global reconnection. It hopes to stimulate a conversation that is open, broad, and ever expanding."

I'm glad to see this publication, especially because the current issue includes a portfolio of photographs by Richard Sexton, which suggests the editors now see their remit including images as well as the stories, poems, and essays that were the focus of the early issues.

Always a good move when dealing with the South, I'd say.

Photography at Rebekah Jacob Gallery This Fall

The Rebekah Jacob Gallery in Charleston shows mainly photography, and a fine job with it Rebekah Jacob does, too.

Her brick-and-mortar gallery has just recently expanded to a larger space in Charleston. The October show in the Gallery will feature work by Richard Sexton from his Charleston to Cuba portfolio, a body of work exploring the relationships between Charleston and Cuba, and the larger Caribbean.

Jacob is also developing ways of exhibiting and marketing photography on her website, which currently is featuring Atlanta-based photographer Jerry Siegel.

Jacob has started a special program on her website called  FILTER: Photography for the Young Collector, which currently has on exhibition a show of 28 photographs at prices making them accessible to all collectors.

Included in this show is work by Siegel, Richard Sexton, and other well-known photographers, as well as rising young stars like Ben Williams, Cyle Suesz and Eliot Dudick.

Jacob is earning well-deserved national recognition for her gallery. It has just been named one of 15 established fine art photography galleries from across the United States to be included in this year's DC Fine Art Photography Fair, to be held Friday, October 5-Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 2801, 16th Street, NW, in Washington, DC. 

Jacob will be showing B+W images by Ernest Wither, Keliy Anderson Staley, and Kendall Messick (see above) at this show.

Our congratulations go out to Jacob, and all best wishes for continued success and recognition.