Monday, January 31, 2011

Brief Notices -- Hollis Bennett, Jimmy Williams

Hollis Bennett

Nashville-based photographer Hollis Bennett is the Photographer of the Month for February on One One Thousand,  the web-zine based in New Orleans. Hollis is one of the Southern Photographers We Watch Out For, and its great to see his work in this venue.

The work he is showing on One One Thousand is from his American Weekends portfolio, images made in Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia that show how Southerners spend their weekends, from "state fairs and demolition derbies to days on the river," where some "seek rest, others seek oblivion, and all find it on the weekend."

Jimmy Williams

Raleigh photographer Jimmy Williams, one of the Southern Photographers We Admire, was showing work and winning prizes all over the country last year. This year he starts off with a show in his home town, at the Miriam Preston Block Art Gallery, located on the first and second floors of the Avery C. Upchurch Government Complex, 222 W. Hargett downtown Raleigh. Williams is showing here from his portfolio of jazz and blues musicians, well worth checking out if you are in Raleigh from February 3rd to March 28th, 2011.

The Block  Gallery is one of Raleigh's premier venues for art and is curated by the City of Raleigh Arts Commission.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Susan Harbage Page at the FedEx Global Education Center

Chapel Hill photographer Susan Harbage Page  has opened a show of her photographs entitled  Walking the Border at the FedEx Global Education Center on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The show is up through March 12th, 2011. There will be an Artist's Talk and Reception for this show on February 16th, at 7:00 pm, at the Center at 301 Pittsboro Street, in Chapel Hill.

In Page's installation, a blue line twists and winds its way across the floor of the elegant atrium of the FedEx Center, a simulacrum of the dividing line represented by the Rio Grande River as it divides Mexico from the USA and one part of this space from another. One is always aware, in this space, that one is on one side of a basic dividing line. In Page's images, one also becomes aware that crossing this line comes at a price, at least for those who cross it going from south to north. This price is evokes by images of what has been left behind, indeed what must be left behind, to make this crossing.

The show itself represents a new body of Page's work, this time attending to items she found while walking the US/Mexico border, items left behind by people from Mexico who are crossing the border. There is more on this body of work here, from Southern Cultures, and here and here from Page's blog. This is strong work, helping us get our heads around what Page has called the Great Northern Migration, which is certainly making the American South even more complex culturally and socially.

Immigrants swim across the Rio Grande and then quickly change from wet clothes into dry clothes and then try to disappear into the USA. The things they leave behind thus become signs of their life transitions marked by the crossing of the border. Or, in Page's words, “I see the resultant personal items strewn along the border as symbols or relics not only of a changing culture but also of a longing for a better life, security for one’s family, a safer environment.”

This work seems to me to be about identity as well as hopes and dreams, about leaving behind one kind of self, the familiar self, with the clothes one abandons as one moves from one's homeland into a new land, in exchange for a new identity as someone else, in this strange land. This work subtly captures traces of the moment of transition, brings it to our attention, and compels us to think through what we are seeing. This is engaged art at its best. 

Susan Harbage Page is, in my view, one of the most important artists and photographers working today on the question of the Southern experience. Over the past several years, she has been involved in several projects that document, explore, confront, or intervene in the ongoing paradoxes and complexities of Southern history, culture, and daily life. Her work goes well beyond recording or witnessing what happens into the realm of engagement and intervention. Always provocative and witty, she forces us to see afresh the material and social conditions in which we live, those inheritances from the past or those changes in the present that we either deny or ignore.

Her show Prop Master, a joint project with her husband and fellow artist Juan Logan, up at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston from April to July of 2009 explored and confronted its viewers with images of race, class, gender, and history in the heart of the Old South. Her show Postcards from Home, at Winthrop College in Rock Hill, SC, in 2008, used photographs of Klan hoods she made from very un-Klanish fabrics to engage in conversations about beauty, violence, and racism. You can see more of this work here.

Page has also been interested in the particular situation of Southern women. Her 2003 show Susan Harbage Page: The Ties That Bind  at the Greenville Museum of Art in Greenville, SC, included images she made of women associated with Greenville's Bob Jones University, a bastion of Christian fundamentalism, where women are required to wear dresses and panty-hose and are constantly reminded of their subordination to men. Her Working Women from the 1990's included photographs and interviews with women in a textile mill in Charlotte, North Carolina.Southern Cultures will publish a piece about this body of work in their upcoming summer 2011 photography issue.

Along the way, she has done a host of other projects, including very personal work engaging with her response to her own experience -- and the experiences of other women -- with breast cancer. She's won grants, prizes, and awards too numerous to mention.She's now a member of the studio art faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Page also works in a variety of media in addition to photography. She's an exceptional photographer, a powerful artist, a thoughtful and provocative documentarian of Southern culture. She's definitely a Southern Photographer We Admire.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

More Southern Connections for Photo-Eye Books of the Year

Many thanks to Melanie McWhorter of Photo-Eye for recognizing more Southern connections with their list of photography books of the year. She notes the following list of books with Southern subjects or :

Oraien Catledge's  Photographs, including the one shown above.

Michael Schmelling's Atlanta.

Jason Fulford (originally from Atlanta) The Mushroom Collector.

Danny Lyon's Memories of the Southern Civil Rights Movement.

These are in addition to the titles noted earlier,William Eggleston's For Now, Sally Mann's The Flesh and the Spirit, and Chris Verene's Family.

Keep those cards and letters coming, folks. You make the blog better by all that you do to keep us informed.

And you can learn more about  Melanie and her photographs as well as her work for Photo-Eye here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

UPDATE: Even Busier - WAS William Eggleston Has Been Busy

UPDATED 1/25/2001

Distinguished Southern photographer William Eggleston has been very busy of late. He has a solo show of 50 of his photographs at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, 919 Broadway, in downtown Nashville, up through May first, 2011.

Eggleston will also have a museum dedicated to his work in Memphis, his home town. The museum, to open in 2013, will be built in downtown Memphis, and will house the offices of the Eggleston Trust as well as the archive of Eggleston's work, totaling over 60, 000 photographs. It will also have gallery spaces to show the photographer's work and the work of other contemporary artists. (Thanks to the folks over at One One Thousand for this information).

Edward Goldman, art critic of KCRW radio in Santa Monica, went to see Eggleston's show at LACMA, which closed January 16th. Goldman says Eggleston is the Prince of Melancholy, and that nothing happens in Eggleston's photographs. But he was profoundly taken with the body of work. For the story, go here. For the audio version, go here, on KCRW
Now, back to the Nashville show, which is entitled William Eggleston: Anointing the Overlooked and includes iconic images from the early 1970s and work from Eggleston's mature years as a photographer, as well as rarely seen more recent work. There is more on this show here, from

Eggleston will also have work in a group show opening at the Baltimore Museum of Art, opening February 20, 2011, entitled Seeing Now: Photography Since 1960, up through May 15th.

He has also been playing the piano for the Oxford American magazine. Check out the story and the video here:

William Eggleston Plays the Piano

Not long ago he was profiled in W Magazine, here:  William Eggleston  

Good to have this master of modern photography still active, productive, and vigorous.

Monday, January 17, 2011

David Simonton Featured on One One Thousand

David Simonton, Raleigh photographer and one of the Southern Photographers We Admire on this site,  is the latest photographer to be featured on One One Thousand, the fine new web magazine about Southern photography.

David has been photographing in the South, and especially in small town North Carolina since he moved from New Jersey in 1989. He has now photographed in over 350 towns and cities in the Tar Heel State. His work has been included in juried shows and solo exhibitions across the nation. David was one of a small group of North Carolina photographers to be purchased by the NC Museum of Art several years ago when they got serious about collecting fine art photography.

David does exquisite black and white images in the darkroom. He works in the documentary tradition but seeks a more elusive sense of the state of things, of the process of change, of transitions from past to present, than one often finds in documentary work, where the concern often seems to be about what is, what is there, what it looked like when it was there. 

For more about David, go here. For more of David's work in One One Thousand, go here.

Congratulations to David --we're glad to know you!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Keith Carter Opens Biennial at ECU

The 7th Biennial Photographic Image Exhibition opened last night at the Wellington B. Gray Gallery at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, with a talk by the juror, Keith Carter, followed by a reception in the Gray Gallery.

Carter spoke to a packed house at ECU's Speight Auditorium in the Jenkins Fine Art Center. He gave a gracious, informative, enlightening and challenging talk that included a review of his own work, from pieces familiar to us from his many books and exhibits to newer work, some of which from series still in process had not been shown widely before. 

Later, Keith stayed late in the gallery, meeting exhibitors, autographing his books, and talking photography with one and all. Here he is, talking with Raleigh photographer Allison Overton, who also has work in the show.

Shameless Self-Promotion Department -- Here's yours truly, with the piece of my work that Carter chose for the show:

And here's evidence that at least some folks stopped to have a look at it.

And here's my friend -- and long-time Raleigh photographer -- Carson Boone, standing with the image from his work that Carter chose for the show.

The show itself is large -- over 80 pieces -- representing work by photographers from over 20 states, and very eclectic, with work representing a wide range of styles, subject matter, approaches, and techniques, from small prints to large, and from kallitypes and platnum prints to digital prints and multi-media constructions. It's a kind of snapshot of lots of things that are going on in photography today, and well worth a visit.

Congratulations to Carter for choosing the strong body of work, and to Tom Braswell and his colleagues at the Gray Gallery and ECU for for their fine work in organizing the competition and mounting the show. I'm honored to be in it.

The show is up through February 19th, so there's plenty of time to see for yourself.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Photography Biennial opens Thursday, January 13th, at East Carolina University

The Wellington B. Gray Gallery at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC will host the 7th Biennial Photographic Image Exhibition starting this Thursday, January 13th, 2011. The exhibit will open at 5:00 pm with a talk by the juror, Keith Carter, to be followed by a reception. Carter's talk will be in the Speight Auditorium; the reception and exhibition will be in the Gray Gallery of the Jenkins Fine Art Center.  Work will be on display until February 19th, 2011.

The Art Faculty at East Carolina has sponsored this competition for 15 years with great success. This Biennial is perhaps the most prestigious juried competition held in North Carolina. This year's competition drew entries from 307 photographers from 23 states. Carter, a well-known photographer and educator, is the Walles Professor of Art at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas.  He has exhibited widely both at home and abroad and has published over 10 books of his photographs.

Carter chose 83 images for the show and gave special recognition to work by Dylan Ray of Beaufort, NC; Bridget Milligan of Tiro, OH; Kenda North of Dallas, TX (see image above); Fred Scruton of Cranesville, PA; and Robert Sulkin of Roanoke, VA.

Shameless Self-Promotion -- he included one of my works as well; go here for more information on that piece.

The Wellington B. Gray Gallery is located off of Fifth and Jarvis Streets on the campus of East Carolina University in the Jenkins Fine Arts Center.  Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM and Saturday 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, except for university holidays.

I plan to attend the reception. Hope to see you there.

Southern Photographers on Photo-Eye's Best Book List for 2010

Photo-Eye, the web magazine of photography books, has released its list of choices for the Best Photography Books of 2010. On the list are William Eggleston's For Now (Twin Palms Publishers)  and Sally Mann's The Flesh and the Spirit (Aperture). Also included is Chris Verene's Family  (Twin Palms Publishers), work by a photographer with Southern connections.

William Eggleston's For Now  includes images from Eggleston's work over four decades of photography and four decades of attending to family and friends, work (including the image above) characterized by Photo-Eye as having "an air of offhand intimacy, typical of Eggleston and typically surprising." 

Sally Mann's The Flesh and the Spirit is the catalogue for Mann's current show at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and also contains images made by Mann over several decades, with special attention to her treatment of the human form, tackling, as Photo-Eye puts it, "often difficult subject matter and making unapologetically sensual images that are simultaneously bold and lyrical." Some of the most challenging work in this volume is images Mann made at Virginia's Body Farm, where corpses are set out into the elements to decay so that scientists can understand the process by which bodies return to dust.
Chris Verene grew up in the Midwest and now works in New York City, but he went to college at Emory University  and received his MFA from Georgia State University, both in Atlanta. Throughout his career, and especially in his new book Family both the choice of subject matter and the style of treatment suggest a sensibility that has much in common with many Southern photographers, including the image, above, from Family.

Congratulations to all!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Jane Robbins Kerr Seeing Red in Mississippi

Jane Robbins Kerr is getting her year in photography off to a fast start, opening a show of her work on January 23rd at the Capps Museum at Delta State University in Cleveland, MS with a reception from 2:00 to 4:00 pm in the Main Gallery of the Capps Museum. The show is up through March 31, 2011.

Kerr's work in the Delta State show is from her portfolio Seeing Red which was previously exhibited in Atlanta as part of Atlanta Celebrates Photography in October of 2010. It includes the image Tennessee Red, above. This work will also be seen later in the year at other venues, and in 2012 at the Cottonlandia Museum in Greenwood, MS.

Jane Kerr is a Mississippi native and long-time member of the Atlanta Photography scene. Kerr last year had work in John Bennette's Southern Memories show as part of the Slow Exposures show in Pike County, GA. The year before, she had a show of her work at the Callanwolde Fine Art Center in Atlanta.
Congratulations to Kerr on this and other upcoming shows. She is definitely a Southern Photographer We Admire.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Christmas in the Mississippi Delta

Kathleen Robbins has been adding images to her portfolio of images from the Mississippi Delta and posting them to her Facebook page. Go here for more of her work.

This one looks like a good image for a bleak, damp Southern January morning:

Southern skies in the winter are often overcast, with the dampness making the winter chill penetrate all the more deeply. Its like that today, where I am. This image makes use of that overcast sky and the way the light penetrates Southern forests in the wintertime, when all the leaves are down.

Makes one long for a fire and a dram of whisky, for comfort, while we watch the seasons turn.