Here we are, in 2015, and here are some of the things that happened in the world of Southern fine art photography while we were away.
1. The Bitter Southerner published a great story called "Pictures of Us," about the Do Good Fund and its collection of Southern photography, go here.\
2. Lenscratch has a feature story by Aline Smithson on Jeff Rich and his Watershed portfolio, here.
3. Sumner, MS-based photographer Maude Clay (see image above) was named one of "50 People Who Are Changing the South in 2015" by Southern Living magazine, go here.
4. Honorary Southern Photographer Eugene Richards' book Red Ball of a Sun Slipping Down was named one of the outstanding photograph books of 2014 by the editors at Photo District News, go here.
5. Atlanta-based superwoman Jennifer Schwartz had her book Crusade for Your Art chosen by Elizabeth Avedon as one of the Best Photography Books of 2014, go here.
Schwartz also curated an exhibition of Portrait Photography, called Faces of Fraction, for Fraction Magazine, go here.
Good to see the work of a number of Southern photographers among Schwartz' selections, including images by Noelle McCleaf, Susan Worsham (see image above), and Honorary Southern Photographer Myra Green.
6. California-based but North Carolina born photographer McNair Evans' book Confessions for a Son was the subject of a feature story in Photo District News, go here.
7. Nashville-based arts writer Mary Addison Hackett attended PhotoNOLA in New Orleans back in December and wrote about her visit on the website of the Nashville Scene blog, here.
Hackett was, as she says, "drawn to works using the South as a backdrop," and was especially taken by the work of Tamara Reynolds, Nic Persinger, Rebecca Drolen, Jeanine Michna-Bales, and Eliott Dudik.
8. You still have time to see work by Mississippi-based photographers Don Norris (see image above), Marcus Frazier, and Milly West in a show of work by Mississippi artists at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, MS, up now through January 25th, 2015.
9. Atlanta's High Museum of Art is opening a show of work by the distinguished American photographer Helen Levitt, called Helen Levitt: In the Street. The show opens January 10th, and is up through May 31st, 2015.
Levitt is mostly associated with the streets of New York City, but, we learn from the High, she also photographed extensively in Savannah, GA, and some of that work will be in the show at the High.
10. Kat Kiernan(see image above) , formerly a gallery owner in Lexington, VA but now working in NYC at the Louis Meisel Gallery, has a solo show of her own work opening at the Sierra Arts Foundation Gallery in Reno, NV.
The show features work from Kiernan's Between Earth and Water portfolio, opening January 10th and up through February 6th, 2015.
Kiernan reports on her year after moving to NYC and on her success with the magazine Don't Take Pictures, here.
11. And while we are on the subject of galleries, the new year also brought sad news that the Wiljax Gallery for Southern Photography in Cleveland, MS, closed its doors for good in Mid-December.
The Wiljax Gallery in Cleveland had been open for 16 years, and its true that Things Run Their Course, and that All Good Things Must Come to an End, and that Bills Need to be Paid, and that People Move On.
But, still, one dreams of a time when places like Cleveland, MS, could support and sustain a place like Wiljax for the long as well as the short term.
Photography on the Internet is a Fine Thing, and we are richer for it, but there is no substitute for the look and feel and experience of a print.
A photograph on one's computer screen lacks the dimensionality of a print. A print has depth and substance and texture. It represents the fulness of a photograph's reality.
You get that in a gallery.
And a gallery is a cultural institution, a place of gathering, and inspiration, and community formation.
Maybe in a place like Atlanta photography galleries can come and go and the impact is not dramatic.But in the smaller cities, when a gallery folds up, there is a tear in the cultural fabric that is hard to repair.
We had a photography gallery here in Raleigh for several years, and it nourished the local community of photographers as well as providing an outlet for our work. It closed, and has not been replaced.
We are the poorer for that.
One hopes that places like Cleveland, or for that matter, any of the towns and smaller cities in the South, can be their own places, alongside the Atlantas and the Nashvilles, and the Charlottes, as incubators for folk's energy and creativity and celebration of the arts.
That time is not yet. But we can still dream.