Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Support the Light Factory -- New Year's Eve Appeal

Charlotte's Light Factory has been a center for Southern photography since 1972, featuring classes, exhibitions, competitions, and all the good things that a dedicated organization can do for a community.

But 2013 has been a difficult year for the Light Factory, with financial crises, crises in leadership, and a host of other challenges which for a time seemed to threaten the organization's future. 

But the folks in charge now seem to have recovered themselves. Here is the latest news, from Rebecca and the rest of the Light Factory Team --

"We recently moved to a new location in Plaza Midwood and are building out the space for classes and exhibitions. We’re also in the process of developing a strategic plan that will ensure The Light Factory's future as a sustainable, independent, nonprofit organization promoting photography and film in Charlotte and beyond.

"We are committed to transparency and welcome your ideas and suggestions at info@lightfactory.org."

New classes are scheduled, a Kickstarter project is in the works, and everywhere there is new life and energy.

This is all good news, indeed.

The Light Factory has been a center for the development of Southern photography since 1972. 

Every vital organization has its institutional ups and downs. Long may the Light Factory thrive.

We can support the renaissance of the Light Factory by giving a year-end gift or becoming a member.

I'm chipping in, and encourage you to do so, too.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas at Graceland, 2013

In the words of Paul Simon, "I have reason to believe we all shall be received in Graceland."

Best wishes for Christmas and the holiday season to Southern photographers and Southern photography fans everywhere!

The Blog about Southern Fine Art Photography will be taking a short break while your humble blogger attends to other professional and personal responsibilities.

In the meanwhile, remember that Christmas is a season, not a day, and the season of Christmas is 12 days long, so its Christmas until Twelfth Night, January 5th.

Happy New Year, y'all!

The Other New South -- Ashley Jones and Arturo Soto on One One Thousand

Savannah, GA-based photographer Ashley Jones and Mexico City-based photographer Arturo Soto explore Savannah in their portfolios featured in the November 2013 issue of One: One Thousand, the online magazine of Southern photography.

But their Savannah is not the Savannah of the Chamber of Commerce, the Tourism Office, or Southern Living. Its not even the Savannah of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Much as we celebrate the New South, the urban South, the South of Sunbelt prosperity, Jones and Soto want us to remember that change is costly for some folks, and in the midst of change, some things remain the same.

In the New South, what remains the same is that poor people, often also people of color, bear the burden of change. This is true in Savannah as it is true in Atlanta, and Charlotte, and any other Southern city.

In Durham, NC, for example, an expressway that linked the city to the interstate highway system and thus to Atlanta and Washington and New York City, was sited so that it runs directly through the historic, and historically African-American, Hayti neighborhood, destroying parts of it and cutting other sections of it off from the rest of the city.

Jones and Soto, both of whom studied at the Savannah College of Art and Design, bring this phenomenon home to us in their exceptionally well-seen documentary images of parts of Savannah that have been left behind, hidden beneath the overpasses, untouched by the economic development that has revived the rest of the city.

Jones' portfolio Frogtown to Victory explores the effects of interstate highway development on Southern cities.

 She notes the "stark division between the restored and legally protected buildings within the central National Historic Landmark District" of Savannah "and the struggling, run down neighborhoods that surround it.

Her images in this portfolio look especially at the impact of Interstate 16 on the Frogtown neighborhood and its general environment, the "at-risk neighborhoods along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and the ways in which they have been impacted by the construction of the Interstate 16 flyover."

In Jones' view, her work is not just about documentation but about restoration,  depicting "the current state of this community and the architectural structures that remain" not just "to provide an understanding of the historic and contemporary contexts of this community" but also to support "local movements to renew and revive Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and the neighborhoods."

Arturo Soto's portfolio All lovely things will have an ending looks at this same phenomenon from a broader and more conceptual perspective. 

 His subject matter is in his view "banal," and deliberately so, since what we otherwise know about Savannah is our images of its "beautiful historic district."

Soto is less interested in disturbing us with his images and more interested in alerting us to the contrast between the Savannah of his images and the Savannah of popular depiction.

Soto wants us to think about possible links between with "the mythology of the South" and the way in which the appearance of Savannah's "historic district" is maintained and also is portrayed in more typical imagery.

His goal is for us to "question the type of imagery that is usually associated with the identity of a picturesque city." After all, part of the"typical image" of Savannah is of a city out of time, creating the illusion that our experience of its evocations of the past places us in a kind of timeless realm.

Soto describes his images as "representations of stillness and silence," yet they are dramatically different from images of tourist Savannah, like this one.

Rather than evoke an aura of timelessness, Soto's "representations of stillness and silence attempt to depict the entangled cultural structures of a place that is rapidly changing."

We're always grateful to the good folks at One One Thousand for bringing us intriguing, challenging, and fresh perspectives on the American South.  Keep 'em coming!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

PhotoNOLA This Weekend

PhotoNOLA opens today, December 12th, for its annual 4-day run. 

PhotoNOLA is quickly becoming a major event in Southern photography. The folks in New Orleans pack a lot of life, energy, and photography into just a few days' time.

Organized by the New Orleans Photo Alliance, in partnership with the galleries, museums and photographers of New Orleans, PhotoNOLA offers a wide range of photography exhibitions, many of which are on display not just this weekend, but also throughout the month.

Work on display includes images by photographers with (dare I say) a Southern focus like Deborah Luster or Emerson Matabele (see image above) but also nationally and internationally prominent photographers like Andres Serrano, Edward Burtynsky, and Gerry Yaum.

The festival lineup also  includes portfolio reviews, workshops, lectures, demonstrations, book signings and the PhotoGALA.

And, wherever you are during PhotoNOLA,  you've got New Orleans itself right outside the door. Let the good times roll!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Latest News Updated -- Southern Fine Art Photography, Late Fall 2013

I've been attending to other projects, as faithful readers may have surmised. Go here to find out what I've been up to. While I was otherwise occupied, a lot has been happening in the world of Southern photography.

Here are a few items.

Tierney Gearon is having a show at Jackson Fine Art in Atlanta, up now with work from her  Colorshape portfolio through Saturday, December 21st, and with work from her Alphabet Book portfolio up now through February 2nd, 2014.

William Eggleston had a show at the PDNB Gallery in Dallas, TX last fall. He now has a show up at the Gagosian Gallery in NYC, through December with images from his At Zenith portfolio of cloud photography (see image above).

This work dates from the late 1970's and suggests of course that Eggleston had been thinking aobut Alfred Stieglitz's Equivalents images of forty years earlier. The catalogue is available here.

Eggleston continues to have a major show at the Tate Modern Museum in London, and is also featured at the Gagosian Gallery's booth at Art Basil Miami Beach, happening now.

Also, Chapel Hill, NC-based photographer Lori Vrba had a show at Wall Space Gallery in Santa Barbara, CA, where she now officially has gallery representation and a wider audience for her work.

Finally, for now, the following photographers have appeared -- since we last checked -- in Jeff Rich's ongoing Eyes on the South series in The Oxford American.

Margaret Holland Adams
Ari Gabel
Dylan De Rose
Tim Gruber

Jeff also brings our attention to a series of books called The American Guide, patterned after the Depression-era guidebooks sponsored by the U.S. Government as part of the Federal Writers Project.

 Several volumes in this series are on states in the American South and feature work by Southern photographers, including

Darin Acosta 
Breonne Dedecker
Michael McCraw 
Tammy Mercure
Missy Prince
John Lusk Hathaway
Lindsay Scott
Brittany Kearns
Aaron Canipe
David Jones

And that's enough news for one message. More later.

Jennifer Schwartz Gallery Closing, Crusade Continuing

Atlanta's Jennifer Schwartz opened a show of work on November 1st, 2013 by Winston-Salem-based photographer Heather Evans Smith, from her portfolio The Heart and The Heavy,  with a one-night-only event at Atlanta’s Goat Farm Arts Center and a subsequent exhibition at Schwartz' gallery at 675 Drewry Street in Atlanta's Virginia Highlands, now up through December, and viewable by appointment.

Schwartz then immediately announced that her gallery was closing at the end of the year -- with presumably Smith's show the last one for this long-time major player in the Atlanta photography scene.

Schwartz will now be devoting her time and seemingly boundless energy to her Crusade for Art project.

This project -- which last year involved a cross-country trip in a VW bus -- seeks to create more demand for art, specifically photographic art, or as the announcement puts it, "promoting and developing the careers of photographers and cultivating collectors."

The purpose of Crusade for Art is "to build artists’ capacity to create demand for their work" by "educating and mentoring artists to higher levels of creative and professional development" and by incubating, through programs and advocacy, innovative solutions that connect artists with their audiences."

This new phase of Crusade for Art will involve a range of activities, including national and local chapters of Crusade for Art as well as Crusade Engagement Grants, and you can learn more about it on the Crusade's new website.

I know a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, but I can't help but believe that the closing of Jennifer Schwartz's gallery is a significant blow to the photography scene in Atlanta.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Brandon Thibodeaux Named Exhibition Winner for Critical Mass

Dallas-based photographer Brandon Thibodeaux has been named one of three exhibition winners through this year's Critical Mass review process.

Thibodeaux won on the strength of his portfolio When Morning Comes, the result of a three-year-long exploration of life in the Mississippi Delta.

The folks at Critical Mass say of Thibodeaux's work that "while this work makes specific reference to the rural black experience," it also "reminds us that themes of faith, identity, and perseverance are common to us all.

"What started as a personal redemptive journey ends up illustrating the unwavering nature of the human spirit."

Congratulations to Thibodeaux on this achievement.

Interesting how the Mississippi Delta region (known to some as "the most Southern place on earth") keeps drawing photographers, and keeps inspiring them to produce outstanding work. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Updated -- Is Art Basil Miami Beach an Event in the Narrative of Southern Photography?

For a quick tour of Art Basil Miami Beach 2013, go here:
Then ponder this Question: Is Art Basil Miami Beach an event in the narrative or history or culture of Southern Fine Art Photography?