Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Laura Noel's Withdrawn

Atlanta-based photographer Laura Noel has just published a really nifty book, Withdrawn, from England's aglu press and you can have a copy for £5.00 if you go to aglu's website. 

And you really ought to have a copy, because Noel is doing fine work with her camera and fine work folding her images into a book.

I have been an admirer of Noel's work for years, ever since I saw one of her Smoke Break portfolio images at a show here in Raleigh at NC State's Gregg Museum

Among Southern photographers, she is especially good at Southern urban culture since the 1950's. 

I admire especially her wit and inventiveness, but also her deep insight into ways you can use a camera to communicate through choice and framing.

Here, she turns this exceptional perceptiveness with her camera on images of books that have been discarded, indeed bearing the "discarded" stamp. You can read more here about the concept.  

But its the angle of view and the choice of what to include and exclude that makes these images compelling. Each of Noel's images is a small drama of rejection or dismissal. 

Somehow the diminutive scale of this book of images works perfectly with the subject. 

But there is even more here than a series of rejections. This set of images is about time and transitions, about the culture of reading and literacy in the South, and the circulation of books and ideas. 

That's a lot for a small book to be about, but this small book carries off the responsibility with grace and ease. 

Catching Up on Shows, on Kickstarter . . . . .

Some important events of the season for those of us in the upper South  --

Chapel Hill, NC-based photographer Taj Forer is just closing a really engaging show at Raleigh's Flanders Gallery, with work from his Stone by Stone portfolio.

And Raleigh's Roger May has succeeded with his Kickstarter project.  So we can now look forward to the book.

Go Roger!

Diana Bloomfield is already having a great year, and its only March

Raleigh, NC-based photographer Diana Bloomfield is having a great 2013, and its only March.

She has just been awarded first place honors in a national photography contest hosted by Brilliant Studio in Exton, PA. with her image, above.

This honor comes just as plans for two major exhibitions are coming into focus, one in Virginia and the other in Oregon. 

The show in Virginia is at the great Southern fine art photography gallery Kiernan Gallery, in  Lexington, VA, where Kat Kiernan does an outstanding job of exhibiting fine art photography.  You can keep up with her and the Kiernan Gallery at her blog, here.

Bloomfield will be doing a solo show of work from her Vignettes portfolio at the Kiernan Gallery, opening May 1st, and up through June 1st, 2013, see image below.

In Oregon, Bloomfield is doing several things at the Light Box Gallery in Astoria. She is part of a two-person show of gum bichromate prints, called Two Friends who Never Met, jointly with the distinguished photographer and printer Katharine Thayer.

This show is a memorial and tribute show for the work of Katharine Thayer, who died recently. Along with the show of her work and of Bloomfiend's, there is a group show of gum bichromate printing, juried by Bloomfield. 

All of this opens on May 11th, and is up in Oregon through June 1st, 2013.And all of this came about because Bloomfield and Thayer met and conducted a long and happy friendship and professional association, all over the internet, without actually ever having met in person.

Oh brave new world . . . . .

Bloomfield is a long-time alternative processes photographer and printer. She has been doing fine work in Raleigh  and exhibiting her distinctive images from the American South to the West Coast, and to China and beyond. 

Bloomfield specializes in pinhole and toy cameras, which suit her aesthetic sensibilities and photographic vision of the world, a vision concerned with past memories, of half-remembered dreams, of visual narratives. 

Traditional and historic processes, for her, fit this vision, as do the unusual perspectives, the long exposures, and what she calls the "sense of  movement and fluidity," and the "dream-like quality" she gets from her cameras. 

There is also the hands-on quality, the tactile engagement with the materials, the incorporation of "surprises and happy accidents" she describes as getting from gum bichromate as well as from other labor intensive alternative processes she uses like platinum and cyanotype printing.

Somehow, I sense a connection between the romantic side of Southern awareness and the kind of work Bloomfield produces. This is "made" work, work that engages a felt reality, that embodies a vision of that reality, in ways that photographs shot on digital cameras with crystal sharp lenses and printed on ink jet printers really cannot approximate.

Great to see Bloomfield's career blossoming in new ways. Long may it thrive!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Daniel Echevarria of One: One Thousand Featured on FotoTazo

Atlanta-based photographer and editor of the online magazine of Southern photography One: One Thousand Daniel Echevarria is the subject of a deep and wide-ranging profile interview on the blog  fototazo at the moment.

Echevarria tells us how One: One Thousand started, in collaboration with Natalie Minik, and talks about his own interest in and understanding of Southern photography.

He speaks with wisdom and good sense about photography, and about Southern photography, saying, for example,

"It was never my intention to make One, One Thousand specifically about "southern" themes, but instead to examine the region by means of the actual work being created here. . . . One of our goals was to make a resource so both photographers and the general public could see the great variety of work and the talent pool currently in the southeast."

I give thanks for how well One One Thousand meets this goal 

And, bless him, he names this blog among "a very brief list of organizations people should look up." For that, I am, personally, very grateful indeed.

May and Scott Updates -- Late April 2013

Anderson Scott's really important new book Whistling Dixie is getting strong reviews from all over the place.

Check these out!

The Wall Street Journal

The Huffington Post

The Atlanta Journal Constitution. 


At the same time, Roger May's project to fund his book on Appalachia, Testify: A Love Song to Appalachia, is getting closer to full funding on KickStarter, and could use your help to put him over the top.

Roger has a really interesting interview HERE with the good folks at The HillVille about his life and work and perspective on the mountainous parts of the South. 

Great work, all around, guys. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Desvergnes, Robbins, Sole in Mississippi

The Delta region of northern Mississippi is a much-photographed region of the American South, and three of the most distinguished among these photographers are showing their work in the Mississippi Delta, either now or in he next couple of months.

Columbia, SC-based photographer Kathleen Robbins and French photographer Alain Desvergnes have shows up now at the University Museum of the University of Mississippi, at Oxford.

Robbins' show opens today and is up through August 3rd, 2013. Desvergnes' show opened in March and is up through August 17th, 2013.

Honorary Southern photographer Magdalena Solé' will open a show of her work at the Cassidy Bayou Gallery, in the Cassidy Bayou Art Center, at 103 Court Street,  in Sumner, MS., opening May 11th, 2013 and up until June 15th, 2013.

All these shows are, in a sense, about the world around Oxford, Mississippi. 

Alain Desvergnes' work (see image below) is from his series of images Yoknapatawpha, Mississippi, 1963 - 65, made around Oxford when he taught at the university.

Desvergnes was inspired to make this work, we are told, because of his fascination with the work of William Faulkner, long-time Oxford resident, who set most of his novels in fictional Yoknapatawpha County, a county in the Mississippi Delta very much like the land around Oxford, Mississippi.

Robbins' work (see image at the top of this blog entry) is from her Into the Flat Land portfolio, work made in the Mississippi Delta where Robbins' parents and grandparents lived, and where Robbins was born.

The world Desvergnes shows us is the world of Robbins' ancestors, the world that was fading away and turning into the Mississippi of Robbins' work while Robbins was growing up.

Solé's work is, like Robbins', set in today's Delta, and is from her New Delta Rising portfolio (see image above).

All this work is strong photography in and of and about the South.

These folks, and their work, will offer residents of the Mississippi Delta to see themselves,  and their part of the South,  from the perspective of insiders and of outsiders, as we all, all Southerners, do.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Deborah Luster Wins Guggenheim, Has Show in NOLA

New Orleans-based photographer Deborah Luster is having an exceptionally successful 2013, already.

Luster has just closed a show at the Ogden Museum in New Orleans of work from her portfolio Tooth For an Eye: A Chorography of Violence in Orleans Parish.

Today, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation announced that Luster is one of twelve photographers to be awarded prestigious Guggenheim Fellowships for the year.

I have long thought that Luster was one of the very best photographers working today, in the South or anywhere.

Congratulations to Luster for her exceptionally powerful, thoughtful, and compelling photographs, and for the outstanding recognition she has earned through the Guggenheim fellowship competition. 

Also, thanks to Don Norris for alerting me to Luster's show at the Ogden in New Orleans. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Paul Conlan, Southern Photographer, 1949-2013

Southern photographer Paul Conlan has died, at the age of 62.

Conlan produced a distinguished body of work as a photographer,  and was an organizer of the SlowExposures Photography Competition.

Here is his obituary, from the Newnan, GA, Times-Herald:

"Mr. Paul E. Conlan died on Monday, April 8, 2013, from complications following a brain aneurysm on Dec. 27, 2012.

"Paul, the only child of Mr. Eugene Conlan and Mrs. Erna “Sue” Conlan, was born in Miami, Florida, on Nov. 9, 1949.

"He attended the Georgia Institute of Technology and in 1971 received a degree in aerospace engineering.

"While living in Atlanta, Paul met Susan Donald. In 1980 they married and over the next eight years their family grew with the arrival of a daughter, followed by two sons. Paul and Susan moved their family to Newnan in 1993.

In 1995 Paul started East Point-based energy consulting business Enercom Inc.

"He was an avid backpacker and was active in the Boy Scouts of America in Newnan.

Here he also rekindled his love of photography, which he turned into another business, fstopblues.com. He participated in a number of photography groups in the Atlanta-Metropolitan area and was instrumental in helping plan the annual Slow Exposures show.

"He is survived by his wife, Susan; sons, David and Daniel; daughter, Martha Williams; son-in-law, Jason Williams; and grandson, Lane. A loving father, grandfather, and friend, Paul is dearly missed.

"There will be a visitation at McKoon’s Funeral Home Wednesday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. A memorial service will be at Central Baptist Church at 11 a.m. on Thursday, April 1, 2013, with Dr. Joel E. Richardson officiating.

"In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The Boy Scouts of America or Slow Exposures, P.O. Box 489, Zebulon, GA 30295. Online condolences may be expressed at www.mckoon.com."

May he rest in peace.

Roger May and Gene Ellenberg on One: One Thousand

The online photo magazine One: One Thousand (1:1000) offers us for April work by Cary, NC-based photographer Roger May and Clemson, SC-based photographer Gene Ellenberg. 

Both of these bodies of work -- May's Testify (see image above) and Ellenberg's In My Father's House (see image below) -- address important issues in Southern culture, specifically making meaning of and coming to terms with history, both regional and personal.

Roger May's work is, he says "a visual love letter to Appalachia, the land of my blood," a record of how he "came to see the importance of home and my connection to place."

He goes on: "After moving away as a teenager, I've struggled to return, to latch on to something from my memory. These images are a vignette into my working through the problem of the construction of memory versus reality. My work embraces the raw beauty of the mountains while keeping at arms length the stereotypical images that have tried to define Appalachia for decades"

In relationship to this place, May finds himself, like most Southerners,  feeling like "both an insider and an outsider."

This body of work represents his "bearing witness of a personal journey, of never truly being able to go home again, to seek answers from my ancestral home."

"Appalachia testifies of timelessness and natural beauty. The mountains testify of protection and sanctuary and at the same time the horrible destruction of mountaintop removal mining. The people of Appalachia testify of their pride and resilience. Old time religion testifies of the power in the blood and a heavenly home just across the shore"

May's work in both B and W and color is powerfully seen and beautifully realized.

And, he is having a great year, right now, as a photographer. In addition to having work on One: One Thousand, he has a Kickstarter campaign going in support of a book project based on this body of work.

This campaign has been declared a Kickstarter Staff Favorite and has been featured on FlakPhoto Digest, here.  I'm signed up as a supporter, and commend it to you.  

Gene Ellenberg's portfolio In My Father's House is a powerfully seen and powerfully realized set of very personal images.

These images speak of both intimacy and estrangement, of closeness and distance. There is courage here, in the honesty and openness in which his subjects agree to be seen, by him and by us.

Many Southerners will recognize familiar settings and situations here, in this record of the dance of family life. My father had a favorite chair, like the one depicted above. And a pistol in an underwear drawer, as well.

Ellenberg in his Artist's Statement speaks of all these dimensions of family, and of the process of photographing his family, as both "quiet and unnerving." 

He speaks of "brief notes scribbled on napkins" that reveal "the private introspections of my father," of personal distances that develop "over the course of this project . . . into an exchange." 

"Looking at the work now," he writes, "I see a mutual understanding, a trust. Through straight documentation as well as the constructed image, I am attempting to blur the lines of what I recall, what I want to admit, and perhaps what I want to see." 

I'm grateful to Ellenberg and his family for making this work, and making it available to us. His work, and May's represent some of the strongest work that the folks at One: One Thousand have brought us.

Congratulations, all around!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

William Eggleston is off the Hook

Mississippi-based photographer William Eggleston is off the hook for creating and selling digital large-format versions of some of his iconic dye-transfer images from the 1970's and 1980's.

A New York collector, Jonathan Sobel, had sued Eggleston for making and selling the large (44x60 inches) versions of these images. Sobel, who owns over 190 prints of Eggleston's photographs, claimed that his 16x20 inch prints of these images were devalued by Eggleston's actions, which in Sobel's view, violated the terms of Eggleston's original agreement with collectors to issue these images in only a limited number of prints.

Sobel sought damages from Eggleston and his son William Eggleston III, as trustees of the Eggleston Artistic Trust, for violation of the New York Arts and Cultural Affairs Law (Acal), by committing "fraudulent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment and promissory estoppel"

Sobel lost in federal court. The judge defined Sobel's complaint, thus: "Sobel's belief that the works were limited editions was a principal factor in his decision to purchase them... he argues that the defendants violated the Acal by holding out the limited edition works as restricted to a maximum number of multiples and subsequently creating and selling the reprints." 

The court ruled, however,  that "nothing in the statute suggests that such behaviour violates the Acal."

The key issue was a sale of Eggleston's digital prints of his images at Christie's New York in March of 2012. The sale of 36 of Eggleston's images brought in $5.9 million. The image of a tricycle, Untitled 1970 (see above), sold for $578, 000, a world auction record for a single print by Eggleston.

Read more about the dismissal of this suit HERE, from Photo District News.

Now, of course, for most of us, creating an image that would sell for nearly $600, 000 at auction is the fondest of fantasies. And, the creation of artificial scarcity through the limited-edition route -- especially for a print of a digital file that could be reprinted infinitely many times with every copy looking identical to all the others -- is far more about marketing than it is about art. 

But, still, its good to know one could make one's images, benefit from the marketing of small editions, then change the format and start the process over again.

This case brings up a whole host of questions about what constitutes the art "object," especially in a digital age, but the weather today in this part of the South is too beautiful to spend time thinking about them.