Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hollis Bennett on the Conscientious Blog

Nashville, Tennessee photographer Hollis Bennett is featured this week on Joerg Colberg's Conscientious blog, go here. This recognition is for Bennett's American Weekend portfolio

This is a real honor for Bennett, since Conscientious is an exceptionally well regarded blog and Colberg, as a result, shows up as a portfolio reviewer and commentator on contemporary photography from coast to coast and around the world.

This could lead to some really good things for Bennett.

Duke Inaugurates New MFA Program in Experimental and Documentary Arts

 We've got a whole slew of fine academic programs for photographers in the South, not to mention the presence of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in both Savannah and Atlanta, but its always good to have more opportunities.

Folks considering MFA programs might consider Duke's new one, an MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts, which just welcomed its first class of students. 

Elizabeth Avedon Photographs SlowExposures 2011

For those of us who couldn't make it this year, Elizabeth Avedon helps us know what we missed.

This includes Birmingham, Alabama-based photographer Vicki Hunt's first prize winning entry Seeker (see above).

Hunt's work shows a strong eye for the shapes and colors, the people and practices of Alabama. She's a photographer we are glad to get to know.

Looks like a great show, great party, great gathering of folks. See you next year!

Southern Photographers Get National Recognition

Two items of interest:

1. New Orleans-based photographer Josephine Sacabo is opening a show of her work called  “Óyeme con los Ojos (Hear Me With Your Eyes),” this Saturday at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, along with her friend sculptor Ersy Schwartz.

The two artists are also the subject of an appreciative feature story in today's New York Times, here.

2. Columbia, SC-based photographer Eliot Dudik (see image above) is now featured on the website LensScratch.

Eliot is also a new member of the faculty at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

This is the university known simply as Carolina in South Carolina, but is known as South Carolina in North Carolina, because there is another institution known as Carolina in North Carolina, but as North Carolina in South Carolina.

Are we clear on that, now?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Where are the Southerners?

There are two major photography shows, one up now and one about to open, that are international in scope and, given the venues, highly significant for what they say, and don't say, about perceptions in the current world of fine art photography.

The one that's up is at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, with the title Signs of a Struggle: Photography in the Wake of Postmodernism.

As the museum puts it, this exhibit "explores photographs that make reference to themselves, other media and texts, and demonstrates how such Postmodernist approaches to photography have persisted for over 30 years."

There is a review of this show on Joerg Colberg's blog Consciencious, here.

For some reason, I can't find a complete list of the photographers whose work is on display, but the show does for sure include the work of a number of well-known contemporary photographers, including Jeff Wall, Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, and about 25 other folks.

This show is up in London through the 27th of November, 2011, and seems to be part of a run-up to an even bigger show at the V&A called Postmodernism: Style and Subversion, which opens soon and will be up for a long time.

The show that is about to open is at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, and it's the 2011 installment of MOMA's ongoing series of shows under the general heading New Photography. It opens September 28th, 2011, and will be up through January 16th of next year.

This year's show, we are promised, is expanded to include six photographers whose work demonstrates "the diversity and international scope of contemporary photographic work."

The featured photographers this year are Moyra Davey from Canada, George Georgiou from England, Viviane Sassen from the Netherlands, Zhang Dali from China, and Deana Lawson and Doug Ricard from the USA.

Congratulations are certainly in order for all these folks, and especially for Lawson and Ricard.

But my point is that, as far as I can tell, none of the photographers in either of these shows has any connections to the American South. Well, Deana Lawson (image above) did have a show of her work at Spellman College in Atlanta, in 2009,  but that's pretty tenuous.

What does it mean that Southern American photographers do not seem to register in folks' minds when the questions are about recent styles in photography or current interests in work that demonstrates "diversity" or "international scope"?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Jack Spencer Workshop Coming Up in October

Distinguished Southern photographer Jack Spencer is offering a rare opportunity to learn from him on-site and in his studio with his first-ever workshop the weekend of October 14-16, in Nashville, Tennessee.

The brochure for this show is here, with lots more information about time, place, staff, and what you need to bring. 

We've discussed Jack's work before on this blog, when he had a major show at the Rebekah Jacob Gallery in Charleston last year.

We noticed his splendid engagement with light, color, and form, and we said that "Jack's mastery of light and color in these images makes for haunting, powerful landscapes that draw the viewer in, deeper and deeper, into Southern landscapes of field and forest, of dirt roads that lead the eye back into the woods where sunlight plays across clearings, of marshlands and seascapes and rolling hills."

 I wish I could make it to Nashville in October, and I recommend that you do just that, if you can. This looks like a real treat.

Friday, September 16, 2011


With the morning chill in the air in my part of the South, its clear that Summer 2011 is behind us, and a new season is before us. And there is so much going on, wherever you are in the South this Friday.

If you are in Danville, VA, there is the Nine Visions show (see previous post).

Further South, Raleigh-based photographer Larry Earley is having a show of his elegantly seen and beautifully printed images documenting changes in Southern coastal life as traditional cultures give way to the world of tourism and mass production. The show, called East of Beaufort, opening tonight, September 16th, with a reception between 6-9 at the Through This Lens Gallery, at 303 East Chapel Hill Street, in in downtown Durham, NC.

Larry is a master of traditional, hand-made darkroom photographs, a practitioner of the craft as well as the art of photography. This is definitely worth checking out, if you are in this part of the South.

If you are in Georgia, on the other hand, this is the night to check out all the events of Opening Weekend for SlowExposures 2011. There is much to to do -- the SlowExposures show, Mr Bennette's show, David Simonton's show, the Party, the Ball, the portfolio review, Sylvia Plachy's lunch, and much, much more.

Nine Southern Photographers at the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History

The Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History in Danville, VA, is opening a major show of photographs today, Friday, September 16th. The show is called Nine Visions,and includes the work of nine Southern photographers who together reflect several generations of fine art photography in the American South.

Work in this show includes images made by two generations of the Gowin family, both Emmet Gowin and his son Elijah Gowin, as well as work by Bill Wylie, Tom Rankin, Jeff Whetstone, Dave Woody, Susan Worsham, Pamela Pecchio, and Chris Sims.

The show is up through November 13, 2011.

The grand master here is Emmet Gowin, a native of Virginia who has had a long and distinguished career as a fine art photographer. Its good to see that his son has gone into the family business.

Other photographers represented in this show are also based in what one might call the "northern South," the South of Virginia and North Carolina. Susan Worsham, Bill Wylie, Dave Woody, and Pamela Pecchio all live in Virginia; indeed, Bill, Dave, and Pamela all teach at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Jeff Whetstone and Chris Sims live and work in North Carolina; Jeff teaches at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and Chris Sims teaches at Duke University in Durham and is on the staff of the Center for Documentary Studies.

Many of these photographers are folks whose work we are familiar with on this blog. Some are new, and well worthy of being more widely known. I'm delighted to see them all together in one place.

The curators of the show in Danville want us to think of these photographers especially as Southerners (we are told these "photographers use their southern sensibilities as they look at the people and folkways of the South"). We are also to see them as representing "what is currently going on in photography at the university/academic level."

While that's true, mostly, (Susan Worsham does not, I think, teach photography in an academic setting, but I hope she will correct me if I am wrong), thinking of this work in this way doesn't quite get it, and in fact misses something distinctive about the role of universities in the American South. 

Thinking like this makes a divide between "the university/academic level" on the one hand and some other unspecified level on the other hand, in the larger realm of cultural production.

But universities in the South have carried a larger role as centers for creativity, reflection, and culture -- and for the nurture and support of the arts in their surrounding communities -- than they have, perhaps, in other parts of the country. 

Universities in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco, for example, have a place in a much larger urban area, and are in cultural terms almost secondary to a much larger, thriving, lively arts community, a museum and gallery world, a world of creative response that is largely independent of, and sometimes hostile to, whatever makes an academic institution "academic."

The South has been, until recently, a largely rural and small town world, in relationship to which its universities were places where culture was studied but also produced, and to which artists working in the small towns and rural areas looked for support, recognition, and validation. Places like Atlanta are only now becoming large enough and culturally rich enough to support and sustain a cultural and artistic community independent of their institutions of higher learning.

In that context, in the South, so often our artists are our teachers, in both the academic (perhaps in the descriptive and analytical sense, that a phrase like "academic objectivity" might imply) and also in a more engaged and visionary sense, as people who teach us how to see, or what it is that we are seeing and not noticing, or seeing and can engage with more deeply.

So, this show is definitely about current Southern photographic visions and sensibilities. It is vastly more significant for us than the label of "academic" might imply. It looks splendid, and well worth a trip to Danville.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Russell Lord Named Curator of Photographs at the New Orleans Museum of Art

Russell Lord has been named as the Freeman Family Curator of Photographs at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA).  Lord is a historian, curator, and educator who recently completed a Jane and Morgan Whitney fellowship in the Department of Photographs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He will assume his new position on October 17, 2011.

NOMA has been a pioneer in collecting photographs and now holds over 8,500 works representing the history of fine art photography and including work by Berenice Abbott, Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus, Ilse Bing, William Eggleston, and Edward Steichen.

In his new role, Lord will be responsible for the care, interpretation, and presentation of NOMA's wide-ranging photography holdings. In addition to developing exhibition programming that expands scholarship in photography and actively engages audiences, Lord will continue to acquire works that enrich the museum's collection.

"We are proud to welcome Russell Lord to NOMA and New Orleans," said Director Susan Taylor. "His interest in and study of the relationships between photography, other artistic media, and modern life are a perfect match for the museum's mission of combining scholarship with accessibility and engaging a broad range of audiences with new and exciting exhibitions, publications, and public programs."

Lord began his career as Curatorial Assistant in the Prints, Drawings, and Photographs Department at the Yale University Art Gallery. During his course work at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, Lord also served as Gallery Director at New York's Hans P. Kraus, Jr. Fine Photographs.

Alan Cohen at the Gregg Museum of Art and Design

Chicago-based photographer Alan Cohen is having a major retrospective show of his work, called Earth with Meaning: The Photographs of Alan Cohen, now up at the Gregg Museum of Art and Design in Raleigh, NC, through December 17, 2011.

The show will open formally with a reception on September 22, with a reception from 6-8 pm in the Gregg Museum, which is located in the Talley Student Center on the campus of NC State University.

Cohen is a graduate of NC State with a degree in nuclear engineering. He discovered photography while in graduate school in Chicago and earned an in 1972 from the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology, where he studied with Aaron Siskind, Arthur Siegel, Garry Winogrand, Charles Swedlund, Ken Josephson, and Joe Jachna.

Cohen's work is included in the permanent collections of museums across the country, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC,  the High Museum of Art in Atlanta GA, the  Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Cohen is now Adjunct Full Professor in the Art History, Theory, Criticism Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a member of the visiting faculty at Columbia College Chicago's Department Of Photography.

Cohen's work combines the documentary and conceptual traditions of photographic practice to engage place, event, and trace, working in places where the fragmentary physical remnants of historical and natural events are still visible, including vestiges of the Berlin Wall, remains of Holocaust sites, boundary lines, meteor impact craters, ruins of fortresses, and abandoned colonial buildings.

Cohen says he seeks in his work to record “the earth of our past as a record of memory, not as an act of witness.”

There will also be a panel discussion of Cohen's work, chaired by yours truly, on October 27th, at 6:00 pm in the Gregg Museum. The distinguished panel will include Brooks Jensen, editor of Lens Work Magazine; Tom Rankin, Director of Duke's Center for Documentary Studies; Shannon Johnstone, Associate Professor of Photography at Meredith College; and Frank Konhaus, a Durham-based photographer and audiovisual design executive. 

Responders to the Panel Discussion include members of the photography collective of Wilson, NC: the distinguished photographer Burk Uzzle (whose career includes working for LIFE and serving as president of Magnum) and the distinguished photography collector and curator Allen Thomas.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Catching Up: Early Fall Edition

Still loads of good things happening this fall for photographers and photography in the South.

Here are three more items of interest: 

1. One One Thousand features for early fall the New Orleans photography Jennifer Shaw and her Hurricane Story project.

We've discussed this portfolio by Shaw earlier on this blog so we won't dwell on her work further, except to say it's good to see her work in One One Thousand.

Her images look just as good in this venue as they do in the book. 

Maybe better, actually  -- the jewel tones in these images look great when printed on paper in book format, but they take on a luminescent quality when backlighted on a computer screen that truly enriches the viewing experience and thus the impact of these haunting images.

2. Distinguished photography blogger Joerg Colberg. master of the Conscientious blog, is now featuring the intriguing work of Atlanta-based photographer Julie Sims from her Uncharted Territory portfolio, work she showed this year at the Castell Photography Gallery in Asheville, NC.

Sims' work is about trying to come to terms with the experience of mental illness by externalizing it through drawing parallels between disruptions of the inner world of the mind and external disruptions caused by natural disasters in the world around us.

Sims' images show "constructed settings" that "reference both the natural world, and the anatomical structures and chemical pathways of the brain."

She says, "The devastation of a home disrupts our ability to carry on with life as usual, and replaces an assumed security with the helpless feeling of being controlled by unseen forces. Our psychological environment is similarly subject to fault lines and erosive conditions."

Her work seeks to offer "a different context in which to consider mental health issues, and reminds us that systems of the mind and body are as interdependent as we are with the environment in which we live."

3. The September issue of SouthxSoutheast is out now on their website,, with loads of articles, essays, and other kinds of features on the general topic of music in Southern culture.

There is 'way too much good stuff here to try to summarize, and you need to put down (a very modest) subscription fee to get to it, so I want go into much detail.

Just a taste, however:

Photographers featured include William Eggleston (photographing Graceland), Jimmy Williams (photographing Blues musicians), Larry Fink (photographing the music scene post-Katrina in New Orleans), Briney Imes (photographing small clubs in Mississippi), and much, much more.

Especially interesting is the portfolio assembled by John Bennette of Gospel musicians at work.

SxSE is well worth the price of admission. Check it out!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Southern Cooking . . . . .

Good to see that Southern cooking is getting its due recognition, and not just in William Eggleston's photography (see above).

This month's Bon Appetit magazine declares Charleston's HUSK as the #1 Best New Restaurant in America for 2011.

The same issue features recipes from Raleigh's own Ashley Christensen and her restaurant Poole's Diner for a Down-Home Sunday Supper of roasted chicken, creamy grits, and fig and thyme jam.

To round out this issue's interest in Southern cooking is Bon Appetit's listing of Bill Neal's Southern Cooking as one of the classic cookbooks of all time.

Bill Neal got us into this. He started a restaurant in Chapel Hill, NC, called Crooks Corner that featured traditional Southern food taken to a new level of refinement and distinction.

After Crooks Corner came Charleston's Hominy Grill and Atlanta's Watershed, and now there is a lengthy and ever-growing list of fine dining establishments across the South that are grounded in the Southern culinary tradition.

The current national interest in local food well-prepared fits our dining traditions perfectly.

What's this got to do with photography? Well, if an interest in Southern cooking is good enough for William Eggleston, its good enough for me.

After all, cooking is an art, like photography. A shooter's got to eat, and might as well eat well.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Meditation on Photography and 9/11 from the Guardian Newspaper

England's Guardian newspaper has put together a splendid visual/audio piece for the upcoming anniversary of 9/11.

Go here:

Its a powerful and haunting meditation on, and example of, the power of photography.

I think its worthy of our contemplation as we consider photography's role in recording, documenting, and interpreting time, history, and experience of a specific place.

And, after all, the Pentagon is in Virginia.

Get out Your Dancing Shoes . . . . .

Opening of this year's SlowExposures Show grows ever nearer. So the SlowExposures Show Committee is inviting us all to a Ball.

This is an occasion not to be missed. Remember your small town Southern high school prom, when you were taking photographs of the merrymakers rather than dancing with the Prom King or Queen?

Adulthood is the time for the revenge of the artsy, the geeks, the nerds, and the oddballs, and the SlowExposures Show Committee is helping us with that. 

Here's how they put it:

Don't miss out on your ticket to The SlowExposures Ball! Deadline for Tickets is Friday, September 9th.
    THE 9TH ANNUAL SLOWEXPOSURES BALL is Saturday, September 17th and we don't want to miss you!

     This year, we have moved the Ball back to Opening Weekend of SlowExposures so our jurors and guests from all across the U.S. can put on their dancing shoes and join us. It turned out to be a great move--many of the photographers whose work graces the walls next door to the Ball will also be here. 

About the only one who cannot attend this year is the mule who traditionally takes ball-goers on carriage rides (he has the night off...)

     Come at 7:00 p.m. to Strickland's in Concord for cocktails...dinner is announced at 8:00...dancing to the sounds of The Regal Brothers, a jazz trio featuring jazz and swing standards.

     As usual, we will have our local photography studio offering instant "prom photos" for a nominal fee.

     And then there are the photographs...the Ballroom is adjacent to the Main Exhibition where many of the images will feature this-night-only prices. It's a great opportunity to meet many of the photographers who are coming from California, New Mexico, New York, Texas and all points between. Take a chance on our traditional Picture Raffle and win a lovely photograph for $1. Check out some of the work that will be shown by the participants of the SlowExposures Portfolio Review.

     It's a black tie-optional event with a fun, rural side. It's the only formal ball where every table is encouraged to bring a cooler! Each table of eight will create a centerpiece and a signature cocktail that will be judged by a mystery panel of judges. And, thanks to Still Pond Vineyards for getting everyone started with award-winning, complementary red and white wine.

The cost: $50.00 a ticket. The good deed: It's a benefit for The Whiskey Bonding Barn. The pay-off: A night of fun, dancing, conversation with photography lovers, awesome images, and unforgettable memories.


BY PHONE or E-MAIL: Call 770-567-3600 and leave a message--we'll get back to you pronto. Or, email us at with your inquiry. 

ON-LINE BY CREDIT CARD:  Go to Go to the History page and use the handy PayPal donation button to charge your tickets. 

(Please be sure to tell us who you are so we can do the place cards.)

ACP Festival 2011 Guide now Available Online . . .

Go here for a full listing of exhibits, events, and other activities that are part of this year's Atlanta Celebrates Photography Festival.

A number of the exhibits that are part of this year's ACP are already up and available for viewing, including Atlanta photographer Santiago Vanegas' show of large images he made in Antarctica (see above) now on display in the Transportation Mall at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, where they will be seen daily by millions.

Every time I think about the Atlanta airport, I remember the old saying  -- on the Day of Judgment, regardless of your final destination, you will have to change planes in Atlanta.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Chip Simone at the High Museum

Atlanta-based photographer Chip Simone has a major show of work now up at the High Museum, through  November 6th, 2011, entitled The Resonant Image.

A native of Worcester, MA, Simone studied at the Rhode Island School of Design with Harry Callahan. Soon after, he moved to Atlanta, where he made a career as a photographer by making B&W street photographs.

Chip Simone's photographs are in the permanent collections of the High Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art in NYC, The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, The Houston Museum of Fine Art, The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, The Worcester (Mass.) Historical Museum, and the Sir Elton John Collection.

In 1996, Simone published On Common Ground, Photographs from the Crossroads of the New South with a forward by former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young.

More recently, he has moved into color photography. The show at the High contains over 60 of his color photographs, like the one above, documenting and celebrating the past decade of his work.

Simone says, "My pictures celebrate the very act of seeing. . . . . . The potential of photography lies in its ability to render with a clarity and eloquence that bestows gravity to common objects and invests moments in time with a significance that transcends time. It is not what the photographer sees, but rather how the photographer sees that breathes life into a photograph."

Simone has convincingly mastered the transition from seeing in B&W to seeing in color. There is still very much a street photographer aesthetic in this work, yet color enhances form, composition, and timing in these images.

Simone's exhibit is a must-see for folks in Atlanta or those going to Georgia for ACP. Very much worth checking out!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Things to Come, Part Three -- More Shows to Watch Out For This Fall

Three more items of interest:

1. Shelby Lee Adams will have a show of his photographs from the salt & truth portfolio, opening September 9th and up through October 9th, 2011, at the Davis Orton Gallery, at 114 Warren Street, in Hudson, NY.

This show is in conjunction with the publication of Adams' monograph salt & truth by Candela Books in October 2011.  

It will be interesting to see what the folks in Hudson, NY, make of Adams' images.

2. Durham, NC-based photographer Christopher Sims is having a show of work from his portfolio Theater of War: The Pretend Villages of Iraq and Afghanistan at the Southeast Museum of Photography, 1200 West International Speedway Boulevard, in Daytona Beach, FL, up now through October 2nd.

3. Savannah-based photographer Jeff Rich continues to have a year to remember. He will be showing work from his Watershed portfolio in several venues early this fall.

He will be in the No Place in Particular: Images of the American Landscape show, up at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville from September 7th until November 6th.

This show also includes work by Jeremiah Ariaz, Bryon Darby, Matt Siber, Steven B. Smith, Amy Stein, Michael Vahrenwald and Scott Wheeler.

He will also have work in the Echoes of the Sublime a show at Emily Amy Gallery, at 1000 Marietta Street, Suite 208, in Atlanta, GA, from September 9 – October 22.

The show will also include work by the following artists: Allyson Ross, John Paul Floyd, Klea McKenna, Wes Cummings, Justin Weaver, Aaron Norberg, Lauren Hughes, Ryan Hendon, Ashley Kauschinger and Megan Gorham.

Jeff will also have a solo exhibition of his work at Virginia Intermont College, in Bristol, Virginia. The exhibition will feature work from the French Broad and Tennessee chapters of Watershed and will be up from September 15th to October 13th in the Anne R. Worrell Fine Arts Center.  

Jeff will deliver a lecture “The Evolution of Watershed” as part of this exhibition on September 19, 201 at 7:30 p.m. in Nunn Recital Hall. This lecture is open to the public.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sally Mann Show at Jackson Fine Art

Sally Mann will have a show of her photographs at Atlanta's Jackson Fine Art Gallery, at 3115 East Shadowlawn Avenue, opening Friday, September 9th, 2011 and up through Saturday, October 29th.

This show will offer images from Mann's Proud Flesh portfolio, a richly envisioned meditation on the aging body, especially of Mann's husband.  Work from other portfolios by Mann will be on view as well.

This show opens with a reception from 6-9 pm on September 9th, to be attended by Mann.

This is a not-to-be-missed show. Mann is doing exceptional work. And the venue is a fine place to see it.

I remember my first visit to Jackson Fine Art, an unassuming white house in a residential neighborhood of Atlanta.

I had to wonder, from the outside, what there could be to see in the inside. But once inside, one finds that the modest building turns out to have wings and additions that provide exceptional amounts of space for viewing photographs.

The staff is gracious and thoroughly professional, exuding authentic Southern hospitality.

The work up that day was an earlier show of Mann's work, her large photographs of Southern landscapes. I was enthralled with her work, and have remained so, and the gallery space showed it splendidly.

You gotta check this out, if you are in Atlanta.