Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Ken Abbott is Having a Wonderful 2016, and Its Only July

Asheville-based photographer Ken Abbott is having an wonderful 2016. 

First of all, Abbott's book of work made at Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview, NC, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, was published by Goosepen Press, with the name Useful Work: Photographs of Hickory Nut Gap Farm.  

Then, Abbott was invited to do a solo show of his work from this portfolio at Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies, now up until September 10. 

This is a beautifully-mounted show, with Abbott's images of Hickory Nut Gap Farm elegantly displayed in the Center for Documentary Studies' galleries -- it is not to be missed if you are in Durham.

Then, Useful Work was reviewed in Aperture, go here.  It was featured by Aline Smithson on Lenscratch, go here. 

It was featured on Jeff Rich's Eyes on the South blog for the Oxford American, go here.
blog, go here.


Useful Work was also featured in Abbott's hometown paper, the Biltmore Beacon, go here. 

And now, Abbott and Useful Work has been featured in PDN's Photo of the Day feature, go here.

Abbot's work has also been featured on Slate, go here.

So, Abbott is on a considerable roll this summer, and a well-deserved roll it is. 

This work is elegantly seen, evoking a rich sense of the place and the people and of the lives that have thrived and endured in these buildings and on this land. 

Besides, as I sit here in my office in Raleigh, and its 95 degrees outside, I somehow feel cooler, just looking out at the Blue Ridge from the spot Abbott places me in the image above, on the porch at the farm, where already there is a welcome touch of autumn in the air. 

Congratulations to Abbott on this work, and on earning the recognition, and on the prospect of what may still lie ahead. 

After all, its only July.

Friday, July 22, 2016

William Eggleston at the National Portrait Gallery

Distinguished Southern Photographer William Eggleston is having a major exhibition of his work at the National Portrait Gallery in London, now up through October 23rd, 2016. 

This show constitutes a major career retrospective for Eggleston, including 100 color and black and white images dating from the 1960s to present, chosen to represent what the National Portrait Gallery is describing as "the most  comprehensive display of his portrait photography ever."

The National Portrait Gallery recognizes Eggleston for "his experimental use of colour and his solo show at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1976  . . . considered a pivotal moment in the recognition of colour photography as a contemporary art form."

The show includes what the Gallery is describing as "monumental prints of two legendary photographs first seen forty years ago: the artist’s uncle Adyn Schuyler Senior with his assistant Jasper Staples in Cassidy Bayou, Mississippi (see image directly above), and Devoe Money in Jackson, Mississippi (see image at the top of this blog post).

The show also includes what the Gallery is billing as "a selection of never-before seen vintage black and white prints from the 1960s, featuring people in diners, petrol stations and markets in and around the artist’s home in Memphis, Tennessee, [that] help illustrate Eggleston’s unique view of the world."

If you can't make it to London for this show, The National Portrait Gallery has for sale the catalogue for the show, entitled William Eggleston: Portraits, with text by
Phillip Prodger and an appreciation of Eggleston's work by the Academy Award-winning director Sofia Coppola.

Or, you can order directly from the National Portrait Gallery a special edition (limited to 250 numbered copies) of this book, "encased in a beautiful cloth clamshell box with a cloth cover and signed by the photographer," for only £295.00, or about $400.00 US dollars. 

(I must say, as I read this description, I am reminded of the way John R or Gene Nobles or Hoss Allen used to describe the special deals available at Randy's Record Shop in Gallatin, TN, during their shows on WLAC, in Nashville. I suspect Mr Eggleston remembers that, too.)

Anyway, while you are at the National Portrait Gallery's website, you can also pick up a copy of the Exhibition Poster for this show and register for a free trip to Memphis for three days of touring in the Eggleston country of southwestern Tennessee and the Mississippi Delta.

Based on the reviews, this show is a big hit in London. You can read more about the show here:
The Evening Standard gives the show ★★★★★, and writes “Two great pleasures result: seeing again images that are among the most resonant and eternally fascinating photographs ever made — like revisiting favourite songs — and encountering new, unexpected gems.”

Read the full review from The Evening Standard, July 19th, 2016, here.

Time Out London gives the show ★★★★★ and writes “You have to see Eggleston’s work edited in this way. And you have to see his photos in the flesh... If I could give it six stars, I would.”

Time Out, 19 July 2016
Read the full review

The Guardian also gives the show ★★★★★ and writes, “Eggleston never diminishes what he sees but somehow enlarges both the momentous and the trivial... It is all there. What a great show.”

Guardian, 20 July 2016
Read the full review

The Daily Telegraph gives the show ★★★★ and writes “Photographer William Eggleston's Southern Gothic is steamier than a heatwave -- Eggleston is essentially a storyteller, and the best images in this show aren’t so much portraits as passages in a lifetime’s narrative about a people, a culture and a place.”

Daily Telegraph, 20 July 2016
Read the full review

So, this one is a must-see show if you can get to London. 

Think about how far it is from Memphis or the Delta to London and to the National Portrait Gallery, and Mr Eggleston has made that journey. 

What a long, strange journey! What a joy to contemplate!  

Congratulations to Mr Eggleston!

Monday, July 18, 2016


SOUTHERN GLOSSARY is a new New Orleans-based web-based magazine which promises to be "about art, culture, and performance across the South." 

The folks at SOUTHERN GLOSSARY say the want to bring us "a South unburdened by archetypes or stereotypes, full of art and enterprise." 

They promise to bring us "clear writing that promotes and supports talented artists, valuable art institutions, and the communities both serve. 

SOUTHERN GLOSSARY has an Instagram account that rotates curators each week. Artists from across the South are invited to share their visual art, photography, or documentary work.
Photographers whose work is on exhibit on SOUTHERN GLOSSARY include Hannah Cooper McCauley (see image above), Gordon Hight (see image directly below), and Ashley Gates (see the image second below). 


To submit work, email your website and Instagram handle to SOUTHERN GLOSSARY at

SOUTHERN GLOSSARY also promises to bring out a print issue which includes images from the Instagram account, along with essays and interviews. 

Issues #1 and Issue #2 are now available, here.  More on Issue #1 here.

As you can see, there is good work here, as well as good opportunities to get work out and seen.  

We welcome the good folks at SOUTHERN GLOSSARY to the larger world of Southern fine art photography, and promise to keep up with what they are doing with SOUTHERN GLOSSARY in the days and weeks ahead.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Historic New Orleans Collection Acquires Archive of Harlod F. Baquet

The Historic New Orleans Collection has announced that it has received a bequest of the archive of distinguished New Orleans photojournalist Harold F. Baquet (1958–2015). 

According to the Collection, Baquet's work "captured African-American life in New Orleans—from the music and cultural scenes, to the contributions of civic leaders and the working class. 

"The archive expands THNOC’s vast photography holdings and adds to the documentation of African-American life in New Orleans. It also marks the institution’s first complete photographic collection by a black photographer."

There is more on this significant bequest here, from the Guardian, and here, from the Louisiana Weekly.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Stacy Kranitz Is Having a Wonderful 2016, and Its Only July

Kentucky-born photographer Stacy Kranitz (see image above) is based in LA, but is usually on the road in the South. 

Recently, she has been working on a documentary project about members of a Muslim community in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, now published on the Roads and Kingdoms website, here.

Right now, in fact, she says she is "shuffling between Central Appalachia (Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina) and an Artist residency in Pickens, South Carolina, and will be at least until September 9th, 2016."

SO, if you happen to run into her, please say hello to her for me, and congratulate her.
Because Stacy Kranitz is definitely having a moment in her career.

Kranitz ended 2015 by having a show of work from her As it Was Give(n) to Me portfolio at the Cardiff International Festival of Photography, in Wales, and by being named TIME magazine's Instagram Photographer of the year for 2015.

She also continued publication of her work on the VICE website, here, in an ongoing series that led, in 2016 to a targeted series on Appalachia, here.

And here, on the effects of strip mining. 

And here, on the social cost of the decline of the coal industry.

And here, on addiction.   

And here, on medical care. 

 And here, on folks who proudly claim to be Rednecks. 

This adds up to a major and significant body of work, which is earning for Kranitz a significant amount of well-deserved recognition. 

Her work was featured on SLATE in February, go here.  And on Dazed Digital, go here. And on Juxtapoz Magazine, go here.

Kranitz makes a lot of her work photographing what folks in the world of Southern literature call the Rough South, the world occupied by the characters created by writers like Harry Crews, Ernest Gaines, and my former colleague here at NC State, Tim McLauren.

Some folks think Kranitz's work plays into stereotypes about Southern and Appalachian culture. It certainly raises appropriate questions about who it is made for, and what will be made of it by audiences from very different social backgrounds and cultural contexts. 

We can discuss those questions, if we need to. 

But we need to remember, when we do discuss them, that those are questions that can be raised -- and have been raised -- about the work of Walker Evans, or Robert Frank, or any of a large number of celebrated photographers who work in the documentary mode and whose subjects are not likely to show up in the museums or galleries frequented by students of fine art photography

What one cannot deny, I think, is the essential humanity and compassion for her subjects -- as well as the high level of technical skill and eye for the critical moment -- that Kranitz brings to her work. And the value of Kranitz's subjects as human beings, and the value to them, as well as to us, of having their stories told.

All this is earning for her wide recognition as a Southern photographer, recognition which she richly deserves.

The Do Good Fund has a new website!

The Do Good Fund is building an exceptional collection of Southern photographs, a collection that promises to become the most complete and comprehensive collection of photographs of the American South we have, all in one place.

And now the Do Good Fund has a new website, at

Here, you can explore the collection, learn about the current exhibition of work from the collection at the University of Georgia, as well as past and future exhibitions, catch up on news, and arrange for an exhibition or make donations to support collection development.

And all in one place!

We all owe a deep debt of gratitude to Alan Rothschild and his colleagues at the Do Good Fund for this extraordinary undertaking. The work they've collected already is truly exceptional -- the very best of Southern photography

The folks who run The Bitter Southerner think so too.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Aaron Hardin and Matt Eich Win Magnum Awards

The Magnum Photography Award recipients for 2016 have been announced and among them are two Southern photographers.

Jackson, Tennessee-based photographer Aaron Hardin (see image above) has received first prize in the Fine Art Photography category for work from his 13th Spring portfolio

Charlottesville, VA-based photographer Matt Eich (see image above) is one of five students to receive special recognition as photographers "who show great promise and deserve special attention at this early stage of their careers."

Eich received this recognition for work from his This is Not Your Family portfolio. 

The Magnum Photography Awards is an international competition which this year drew entries from over 127 countries, which the jurors reduced to 24 winners in several categories and an additional 20 finalists. 

Congratulations to Hardin and to Eich for receiving these high honors, which are both richly deserved and well-earned.