Visual Art

The Fast and the Frozen

Photography, Past and Present Tense

The Fast and the Frozen
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The Darkroom Series, at Zeitgeist Coffee, is pictures taken on mobile devices. "The easy access," Boohi Bronson writes, "makes for capturing every stupid beautiful little thing." Bronson is a member of Juxt, the Seattle "mobile arts community" that organized the Series—Juxt was founded to explore the possibilities of making art while moving, speed being a source of chance. Written profiles of members extol the democracy of the form: busy mothers becoming practicing photographers, for instance.

It's curious that most of the photographs on display are street pictures, taken in public or exterior places. For all the directness and intimacy of having a phone in your hands at all hours, not much of this group's shooting is taking place, say, at home, or directly on the body, as in early video from the late 1960s after the development of the mobile Portapak. A few images involve my favorite mobile-device-photo tic: pictures taken at arm's length, facing up. Mobile devices seem to produce more heavenward images than any other technology ever has.

surFACE, at Photographic Center Northwest, is portraits made using a technique invented in the 1850s. The five photographers here, brought together by curator Ann Pallesen, are, in contrast, earthbound, immobilized. They create impressions on glass (ambrotypes) and tin (tintypes) by preparing a plate with a wet chemical (collodion), inserting it into the camera, then requiring that subjects remain still for up to 60 seconds for shooting.

Ellen Susan uses the Civil War–era process to make varied portraits of active-duty US soldiers. Some hold their children, or their ancestors—fathers and grandfathers in the service, traditions represented in antique photographs the soldiers have chosen as companions. In two portraits lovingly framed alongside soft gray velvet pillows, Susan positions the camera so that the metal arms that stabilize the subjects' necks in the studio become visible, like dreaded spinal prosthetics after war injuries.

Jenny Sampson works in the field, and her field is skate parks: She carts her equipment around the Bay Area and asks subjects to pose right there. The plates are small and the images have a fast, crackling feeling, like their subjects. It's hard to make antiquey images look warm and unprecious, but Sampson does. By contrast, Joni Sternbach's images of surfers are neoclassical. Bikinis never looked so staid.

Robb Kendrick aligns form with content, demonstrating the persistence of an old-time way of life in the American West, Mexico, and Canada: cowboyism. In one picture, two boys wearing cowboy hats pose under a basketball hoop in the middle of a dusty landscape. One holds the basketball, the other a lasso. A city rises in the far distance. The corners of the plate are blacked out because of the way Kendrick's camera holds the plate, giving the effect of a cartoon fade-out.

The best-known practitioner of wet-plate collodion portraiture in Seattle is Daniel Carrillo, who uses the arty process to capture the arty people of the city—painters, performers, writers. Going to visit him has become a rite of passage. Carrillo, who was born in Mexico, raised in California, and settled in Seattle in 1997, carefully paints varnish on the surfaces of the plates once they dry, in order to preserve them. In Seattle, wet-plate collodion portraiture might be seen as especially poignant: The process was invented the same decade as the city. For a frozen moment, each of Carrillo's subjects is made to be as old as our young urban idea. recommended

 

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Mrs Jarvie 1
Just Googled the Ellen Susan photographs - amazing. Thank you Jen for informing, as always, us plebs about the amazing art all around us.
Posted by Mrs Jarvie on January 11, 2012 at 2:25 PM · Report this
Unglate tongue 2
The Photo Center Northwest (PCNW) is a grand conundrum trying to pass mostly classical and old fashioned photography as hip to the current leading art scene, a proposition hard to digest. The Center seems stuck in the past and committed to avoiding what moves photography in the contemporary art scene. They struggle to survive financially trying to provide training for those who will come to be good at professional portraiture, pet pictures, food and advertising photography and maybe individual artistic expression. It is notable they are across from the Hedreen gallery that gets plenty of critical attention from the art community while they tend to be ignored. What they push as art photography tends to be the old fashioned alternative processes that pretend at art in the old school of pictorialism. So if you care to make a Gum, Cyanotypes, Carbon and others are taught as the way to be artistic. These approaches are forever lost as what matters to the contemporary art scene. The surprise of uncontrolled effects, fuzzy or out of focus images and odd variations on the straight photograph are imagined to be the thing that artists do. They advertise that they are a center of fine art, but one wonders. Sadly they could be leaders of local art and get a lot of attention but they don’t and don’t seem to get it.
Posted by Unglate tongue on January 15, 2012 at 3:26 PM · Report this
3
@2 you are so wrong.
Posted by wrong on January 17, 2012 at 5:44 PM · Report this
Unglate tongue 4
@3 wrong (person),

Since I made multiple points your generalization doesn’t muster much substance more than a raw cluck unless you specify which of my points is wrong and why. I'm thinking trying could get your point of view in a lot of trouble. Admittedly what photography should be to be art is not an easy thing to make sense of. I’d love to hear why it’s ok that PCNW doesn’t get much attention from the local art community. I’d think that if they were doing something right it would come. They could bring the community more pleasure that way. The UW’s photography programs do it, why not PCNW?
Posted by Unglate tongue on January 20, 2012 at 3:13 PM · Report this
5
I am not really sure why teaching the alternative processes is such a bad thing. Think of it as preserving a lost language. And nobody is forced to take those courses. It's actually interesting to see how different people incorporate what they have learned into there own work.

I am a student and volunteer there , I haven't seen a lot of pet photo's. Before the Christmas party people were encouraged to bring in their pets for polaroid shots in front of a nostalgic holiday back drop. People brought in their dogs and cat's some on leashes and some powdered.

In some of the classes people did take pictures of food , probably because they like food. And if they do decide to pursue a career in advertising , so what ?

And for your opinion about what is fine art , and I consider it your opinion. Henry Horenstein had a show last year , he seemed to think the center was legitimate , and frankly I would trust his judgement over yours. I am not really concerned about the rest of the city

And I'll touch on the financial aspects. They have just done some substantial remodeling and are opening a new digital lab. They must be doing alright and probably not just from Photolust 2011 , which was a great success.

Anyway if you continue to hide behind a pseudonym I will just consider you a troll .

My name is Dabi

Posted by Dabi on January 20, 2012 at 4:00 PM · Report this
6
I see Seattle as a podunk hick town with an incestuous little scene where a bunch of people spend their time congratulating each other on how "amazing" each one is. Typical West Coast feel good nonsense. The contemporary art scene has a long history of using alt processes against hegemonic trends. Probably more relevant today than ever. Perhaps Mr Tongue out to check out Lyle Rexer's books to educate himself on this. I see a whole lot or work where the most tired do-gooder or documentary cliche gets ink and shows in this town. I would say that if PCNW is getting ignored then perhaps it's that they're doing something right. I think the current show mixes time, history and place with a fascinating sense of dislocation. Good for them.
Posted by ItalianNecktie on January 20, 2012 at 4:44 PM · Report this
7
I also find your comment to be in bad taste, especially posted under an article that contradicts everything you are saying.

Obviously, PCNW is getting attention if one of the leading popular, art-savvy publications in Seattle is taking the time to discuss their show. And I wonder if you have made it to any of their openings, as the place is always packed.

Maybe you have only ever attended shows featuring "old fashioned alternative processes," but they are extremely in tune with the pulse of modern photography. If you really think that "these approaches are forever lost as what matters to the contemporary art scene" maybe it is yourself who is out of the loop.

If you don't think that PCNW gets enough attention, and you'd like for them to "bring the community more pleasure" you could become more involved, and discuss your opinions with their staff in a constructive manner.

If nothing else, get yourself a ticket to their next benefit auction, take a look at the array of well-known and respected contemporary photographers and art buyers that are happy to contribute to such a great institution, and then tell me that they don't "get it."
Posted by Julia Pulliam on January 20, 2012 at 4:49 PM · Report this
8
Dear Unglate Tongue,

I am not the person who wrote "wrong" above, but I am happy to provide with some specifics on how you are wrong.You are entitled to your opinion, and I respect it, but I hope you take a minute to read this and let me change your mind.

Your unfounded comment is infuriating, I wish that you had at the very least taken the time to do your research before blurting out things you don't even know. I am hoping that your knowledge about the organization's financial status comes from having seen their financial statements? Because you are clearly not aware that the Photo Center is thriving financially, they have received grants from major foundations, both private and from the City. They are in the middle of a very successful capital campaign and just opened at state-of-the art digital media studio just last week.

If you had taken the time to look through the exhibition archive on the website and maybe even pay them a visit, you would have noticed that the gallery exhibits almost exclusively contemporary photography, from renowned photographers who are collected by major institutions around the world, alongside outstanding local and international emerging photographers. Did you know that many artists who have booming international careers had their first ever exhibition at the Photo Center? I would give you a list, but maybe, since you have so much time, you could look through the website and find out for yourself.

You mention that PCNW doesn't get much attention from the local art community, maybe just not from you. Above is a very positive article from a major local newspaper, hundreds of visitors walk through their doors and they have great relationships with virtually every major gallery and institution in town. Last year PCNW collaborated with, among others, the Henry Art Gallery, the UW Photography program, the SAM, the Frye, Gail Gibson Gallery, Platform Gallery, Tacoma Art Museum, Decode Books, Photolucida, Rayko, HCP, Newspace and many others. An event was hosted a few months ago with photographer Isaac Layman and representatives, curators, collectors, artists and supporters from every major art institution, newspaper and even the city council were in attendance and praised the Center for their work. The annual auction brought in world-class photography and significant support to finish the new capital campaign.

You mention the UW Photography program. You would be pleased to hear that their faculty visit our classes for presentations and guest critiques frequently. Their students have shown their work in the Photo Center galleries, and PCNW and UW collaborate often in bringing accomplished artists into town (i.e. Jason Salavon, again, do your research and then tell me if Salavon's work looks like "fuzzy" pictures to you), many times only because the Photo Center was so well connected throughout the country.

If you look at the Photo Center's curriculum you will see that classes span from basic training in lighting and darkroom, to conceptual and fine art portfolio development classes. There is a thesis class taught by renowned artists Eirik Johnson and Keeara Rhoades, both have had major local and national exhibitions. Faculty members hold MFA degrees from UW, SVA, RIT, MICA, Bard College and other major colleges. History of Photography instructor hails from the Monsen Collection (do your research). Any respectable artist should feel lucky to study there. There is no food or pet photography classes, there are other schools in town that teach that, and they do it well.

The Photo Center has also done an outstanding job working with refugee youth, homeless teens, senior citizens and Native American populations, making a huge difference in the community. You would know this if you had done your research. There are hundreds of individuals who benefit every year from volunteers and generous instructors who bring photography to underserved populations in Seattle.

Finally you would be happy to hear, since you are interested in contemporary photography that the upcoming line up of visiting artists for the next 3 months includes: Jesse Burke, Ariana Page Russell, Kelli Connell, Steven Miller, Sophia Wallace, Richard Renaldi and more. Also coming to Seattle are Darius Himes and H.M. Hunt... if you don't know who they are, you will want to, do your research. They are hugely important shapers of the contemporary international photography scene.

And yes, historical and alternative process are and will always be welcomed at the Photo Center, this is the first show of alternative processes that they have had in a very very long time and I very much enjoy it.

Sincerely,

A student, volunteer, and long time supporter.
More...
Posted by Rbsch009 on January 20, 2012 at 5:22 PM · Report this
9
Dear Unglate Tongue,

I am not the person who wrote "wrong" above, but I am happy to provide with some specifics on how you are wrong. You're entitled to your opinion, I respect it, but please read this before you continue to make unfounded remarks.

Your unfounded comment is infuriating, I wish that you had at the very least taken the time to do your research before blurting out things you don't even know. I am hoping that your knowledge about the organization's financial status comes from having seen their financial statements? Because you are clearly not aware that the Photo Center is thriving financially, they have received grants from major foundations, both private and from the City. They are in the middle of a very successful capital campaign and just opened at state-of-the art digital media studio just last week.

If you had taken the time to look through the exhibition archive on the website and maybe even pay them a visit, you would have noticed that the gallery exhibits almost exclusively contemporary photography, from renowned photographers who are collected by major institutions around the world, alongside outstanding local and international emerging photographers. Did you know that many artists who have booming international careers had their first ever exhibition at the Photo Center? I would give you a list, but maybe, since you have so much time, you could look through the website and find out for yourself.

You mention that PCNW doesn't get much attention from the local art community, maybe just not from you. Above is a very positive article from a major local newspaper, hundreds of visitors walk through their doors and they have great relationships with virtually every major gallery and institution in town. Last year PCNW collaborated with, among others, the Henry Art Gallery, the UW Photography program, the SAM, the Frye, Gail Gibson Gallery, Platform Gallery, Tacoma Art Museum, Decode Books, Photolucida, Rayko, HCP, Newspace and many others. An event was hosted a few months ago with photographer Isaac Layman and representatives, curators, collectors, artists and supporters from every major art institution, newspaper and even the city council were in attendance and praised the Center for their work. The annual auction brought in world-class photography and significant support to finish the new capital campaign.

You mention the UW Photography program. You would be pleased to hear that their faculty visit our classes for presentations and guest critiques frequently. Their students have shown their work in the Photo Center galleries, and PCNW and UW collaborate often in bringing accomplished artists into town (i.e. Jason Salavon, again, do your research and then tell me if Salavon's work looks like "fuzzy" pictures to you), many times only because the Photo Center was so well connected throughout the country.

If you look at the Photo Center's curriculum you will see that classes span from basic training in lighting and darkroom, to conceptual and fine art portfolio development classes. There is a thesis class taught by renowned artists Eirik Johnson and Keeara Rhoades, both have had major local and national exhibitions. Faculty members hold MFA degrees from UW, SVA, RIT, MICA, Bard College and other major colleges. History of Photography instructor hails from the Monsen Collection (do your research). Any respectable artist should feel lucky to study there. There is no food or pet photography classes, there are other schools in town that teach that, and they do it well.

The Photo Center has also done an outstanding job working with refugee youth, homeless teens, senior citizens and Native American populations, making a huge difference in the community. You would know this if you had done your research. There are hundreds of individuals who benefit every year from volunteers and generous instructors who bring photography to underserved populations in Seattle.

Finally you would be happy to hear, since you are interested in contemporary photography that the upcoming line up of visiting artists for the next 3 months includes: Jesse Burke, Ariana Page Russell, Kelli Connell, Steven Miller, Sophia Wallace, Richard Renaldi and more. Also coming to Seattle are Darius Himes and H.M. Hunt... if you don't know who they are, you will want to, do your research. They are hugely important shapers of the contemporary international photography scene.

And yes, historical and alternative process are and will always be welcomed at the Photo Center, this is the first show of alternative processes that they have had in a very very long time and I very much enjoy it.

Sincerely,

A student, volunteer, and long time supporter.
More...
Posted by Rbsch009 on January 20, 2012 at 5:24 PM · Report this
10
Like so many others in the Pacific Northwest (and beyond), I have enjoyed the programming at the PCNW for many years now. Their knowledgeable staff work tirelessly, providing a wide variety of exhibitions, and much-needed photo-related services, to their community.

Naturally, not every exhibition is tailored to everyone's taste; and how boring would that be, were it the case? PCNW serves as a valuable, integral part of the Seattle photographic community. In my opinion, they are not striving to be a snooty, ultra-contemporary gallery. Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, no matter how narrow-minded it may be.

I for one would like to offer my congratulations to PCNW, on producing yet another fine exhibition.
Posted by soulcatcher on January 20, 2012 at 6:26 PM · Report this
11
Unglate tongue-
You make it clear that you know very little about the Photo Center and their intentions. If their exhibitions are not up to your expectations of what contemporary photography should be then tell them so. Your comments just make you sound like an arrogant asshole and are completely worthless unless you express them to a real living person. It's funny how you mention the Hedreen, a gallery propped up and cocooned by the college. Do you work there? The Photo Center gets plenty of attention but just not by the folks in your lofty, tight little circle.
The floundering analog film market and the ubiquitous, plastic nature of digital photography has simply turned off some photographers. Antique processes have a tactile power to them and it is undeniable even if some may dismiss this as an attempt to be "Artistic". Photography was invented by scientists, nurtured by artists, and exploited by idiots but it is all art nonetheless.

Posted by mercury on January 20, 2012 at 10:11 PM · Report this
Unglate tongue 12
@5 Dabi,
You seem like a good person dedicated the PCNW and what goes on there. In most respects, I support your position. I think you’re wrong about some things though. Yes, it is interesting. My comment about pets and food was an expressionist kind of sarcasm directed at the ilk of the place when it comes to what they support as passing for serious art. Alternative processes are just fine if you don’t think you’re doing great art when you take ordinary pictures or revive the photography of the past or its clichés. In my view, PCNW promotes a tedious approach to what is going on in art as it relates to photography. Henry Horenstein’s photographs do not strike me as new photography but derivative, clichéd and trying too hard to alarm. He is not doing much more than a variation on WeeGee and others. The approach is not new. I see PCNW as necessarily caught in vocational education to the detriment of the kind of art education one might get at the UW and pretending they’re not. I think, as with many vocational teaching institutions they are kind of falsifying what they are doing and giving the students. If they are doing better financially, that’s good. The print of Jim Demetre makes Jim look like a movie star (sorry Jim) and not the guy we know.
Posted by Unglate tongue on January 21, 2012 at 5:54 PM · Report this
13
Dear Unglate tonque,
Are you really this narrow minded or do you have some private bone to pick with PCNW? I find your statements about what constitutes art and what is not acceptable to be callous and immature. I agree that the Hedreen gallery is getting some wonderful and well-deserved attention – and if you pulled your head out of the sand you would notice that PCNW is also receiving high praise for the many diverse things they do. In fact, PCNW is remarkable in scope and inclusivity when it comes to the photographic arts – contemporary, conceptual, and traditional. Last I looked they did not offer classes or exhibitions about dog-photography nor food. What do you know about PCNW’s financial status? Obviously you don’t, but if you must know, they are doing very well. Non-profit photographic arts centers are few and far between. They need to be supported and PCNW deserves that. I urge you to go to PCNW and talk with them. They are remarkably open-minded and would be happy to hear you out.
Posted by Claire Garoutte on January 21, 2012 at 8:16 PM · Report this
14
First off, I would like to thank Jen and the Stranger for highlighting our current exhibition. I would also like to add a few words to the comments listed here.

I am thrilled to see that we have people engaged in a dialog about the Seattle photographic arts scene – you care!

I have been the Executive Director of the Photo Center for the past four years. I moved from Brooklyn, New York for the position. When I was visiting the Photo Center for my initial interviews I knew very little about Seattle, but I brought a strong background in the photographic arts and nonprofit management. The moment I set foot in the building I could tell that the Photo Center was rife with potential and a true jewel not just in the Northwest, but also in the country. Nonprofit centers for photography with open access to exhibitions, artist facilities, and educational programs are extremely rare. That, I believe is partially due to how challenging it is to find a balance of support and programming that keeps the doors open and is still community based.

Four years ago the Photo Center did have financial challenges which we overcame thanks to a remarkable show of community support, and through building a fantastic staff and board, innovative programming, and strong faculty; and as a nonprofit arts center that works every day to provide low cost and free access to the arts we can never rest when it comes to fundraising. The Center is thriving now – and by that I mean that we are able to pay our bills on time, we offer thousands of dollars in scholarships and underwriting of free outreach programs, we keep our facility access rates low for artists and students as well as provide sponsorships to artists for project support, we continue to improve and expand our already exceptional programming, we provide an extensive array of options for photographic expression, and we support an internationally renowned exhibitions program. To offer additional transparency, we do this work primarily through tuition revenue which accounts for the largest percentage of our annual revenue, followed by grants, membership, individual contributions, and art sales.

Providing a space where artists can thrive, build community, see contemporary work, and be inspired while simultaneously serving a community of enthusiasts and emerging photographers is what the Photo Center is all about. In addition, we open our doors to the broader community – bringing contemporary works to the Northwest.

I agree with a lot of what has been written here. We do need to provide challenging and thought provoking exhibitions to our (sometimes sleepy) city. We do need to push our students/community, whether they are interested amateurs or established professionals to keep up with contemporary practices, learn about what else is happening in the art world, broaden their perspectives … but I don’t believe that we should discourage anyone from picking up a camera and expressing themselves (even if they choose to do a series on food or to choose an entertaining true example, we did have an artist scholarship entry highlighting show cats in stunning outfits).

I am grateful for the contributions to this discussion and welcome anyone to be in touch with program ideas, additional thoughts, or contributions. We are actively recruiting volunteers, teaching artists, and members to join our community and to help us shape our offerings. We are interested in working with passionate artists and arts supporters to continue to strengthen the community by elevating the art and appreciation of photography. I hope you will join us.

Annie Van Avery, Executive Director
Photo Center NW

More...
Posted by AnnieVA on January 22, 2012 at 9:50 AM · Report this
15
My name is Daniel and I am one of the, like it or not, fine art photographers in the exhibition. I took the picture of Mr. Jim Demetre so I will take your comment about how Jim looks like a movie star as a compliment. Thanks! As far as your other comments, I think you assume way too much . For one, that image of Jim is not a print but a plate. The entire exhibition is made up of unique photo objects on glass and metal. It would help your argument to know what you are talking about and not lump anything that is not digital photography as "old fashioned alternative processes". Your generalization is simply ignorant.
Your comments about Photo Center are more more emotional and uninformed than a valid criticism and it's hard to take you seriously. What are you really complaining about? Everyone has opinions but don't dilute yourself into thinking you know what matters to the contemporary art scene and what fine art is. To add some perspective, you are a faceless comment on the web and have very little influence overall. I have a show at Greg Kucera Gallery in May an I invite you to meet me in person and talk. See you then!

Thanks,
Dan
Posted by daclotype on January 22, 2012 at 10:24 AM · Report this
16
Hi UT

Thanks for not slamming me. I am inclined to think you are not so much a troll , as someone connected with PCNW who feels they are not being heard. And if that is true , it makes me sad. But I have found that "the powers who be" are very nice approachable

.

I am of course bias , I have taken many classes and will continue do so . I will not pretend to be a great artist , I am actually mediocre and clean the toilets.But what I have seen is students challenged to reach beyond their comfort zone , and raise the bar on their vision. I have experienced it first hand.

Of the Gallery , I have enjoyed all the shows. I am not familiar with most the artists , but I take away a little from each of them. And I don't know if you've been to the Auction , but many artists are represented some known for many many years and some new on the scene. But the they represent themselves with their "Fine Art" and not rejects.And they bring in highly respectable bids. The Auction is electric. Come next year I'll buy you a drink

UT, I have to touch on your Henry Horenstein comment. I went to his workshop last year. I had never heard of him , what I found was a very charming man , without a drop of pretension. He didn't use phrases such as"Expressionist form of sarcasm". He was down to earth and I thought current. He encouraged everyone to shoot what they love. It didn't matter what the subject was and it's alright to document what is happening around us be it homeless people or people with hat's.

Anyway , I would it if you would list some names of the new updated "Fine art photographers" I am not testing you or being snide. I really would like to see their work.

I wish you well , I have said as much as I should

Dabi


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Posted by Dabi on January 23, 2012 at 12:47 PM · Report this
Unglate tongue 17
@14 Annie,

I didn’t expect you to post. Your comments are sensitive, sophisticated and most welcome. Even you may have some concerns about some of the words from PCNW supporters here it must be gratifying to see how much caring and commitment to PCNW is evident. I do think we have a bit of major groupthink going on from some reactive gossipy vigilantes. I’m thinking they all mean well. Thanks for the reply. I’ll try to get back to you here and address some things.
Posted by Unglate tongue on January 23, 2012 at 6:22 PM · Report this
18
Thanks Jen for taking a look at and writing about the exquisite show at PCNW. Ann Palleson does an exceptional job at curating and exhibiting all types of work; from cutting edge to documentary to historical processes. I love PCNW and try to see every exhibit and, as an educator, I often take my students to view the work exhibited. Seattle is lucky to have PCNW and I hope they are around for a long time. The exhibits they display and the program they offer help us (as a community of artists and aficionados) create a dialogue and discourse about what it means to make images. Bravo to the artists working in historical processes (especially Daniel for continuing to lug around his 8 x 10 and make beautiful images). Sally Mann and Chuck Close (just to name a few contemporary artists) would be impressed and intrigued by this show.
Posted by Lyn McCracken on January 24, 2012 at 8:51 PM · Report this
DM1 19
Great review. Are the photos for sale?
Posted by DM1 on January 26, 2012 at 8:47 AM · Report this
20
@19

Yes, the wet plate collodion tintypes and ambrotypes are for sale. All works are framed. We also have payment plans to suit an individual's budget. Please come in and have a look and introduce yourself. We have received so many compliments from our visitors. It will be up through February 15th.

I'm thrilled to see all the comments on this feed. Thanks Jen for featuring this show in the Stranger!

Best,

Ann Pallesen
Gallery Director
Photo Center NW
Posted by AnnP on January 27, 2012 at 3:58 PM · Report this
Unglate tongue 21
@15 Dan C.,
Your images can have a haunting effect kind of reminiscent of the beautiful deep tones of photogravures of E.S. Curtis. They obviously have a beauty that would appeal to many. They conjure up an emphasis on nostalgia that has a certain cache’ and you clearly have achieved a serious following that provides you with quite a bit of work (commissions). Your pix mimic an old effect kind of like the photo products for the masses on vacation at fairs where they dress up in old Western attire and pretend. Such effects never fail to turn on the masses. It’s all such a warm and fuzzy reality, all rather banal. Is it high art? Was it high art in its day? Collectors of contemporary art and others have to ask themselves this question. It’s not a trivial question but leads to major problems with achieving clarity. Your work is certainly high craft and strokes vanity. Still your work is wonderful.

I have no truck with you except with your use of “fine” connected to “photography.” The “fine” thing was long ago critiqued as somewhat ridiculous some and any thoughts you entertain that when you make rather plain portraits that you are doing serious art is a stretch. You have no need to boast of this. My main truck is with PCNW and its purposeful corrosion of the concept of photographic art that it promotes to the public and to its people. I have no problem with you thinking of yourself as artistic or creative but those who compare you with Chuck Close (who is clearly an artist) creates a false analogy.

(I know you’re a really nice guy so it’s a little difficult the way your post is designed to impugn my ideas and malign my character. This is hard to take Dan, not justified and it makes it hard to restrain myself in response. The fact that several of you have cited my promoting digital over analogue photography is not supported by what I’ve written and shows that a lot of you have simply responded to what has been said about my post by way of rumor. So I’ll counter that it would be good if you knew what you’re talking about. Not reading what I’ve said creates a lot of flatulence and peacockyness in your comments. I presume your new found professional largess has gone to your head)
.
I don’t think your work makes you what is considered a contemporary artist doing conceptual photography like say Chris Engman, Amir Zaki or Lori Nix. I was a little puzzled that G. Kurcera would choose you because I consider your work more of a PCNW kind of photography, but I’ve thought it over. I’m very happy for you that he has. I’m trying to make the distinction about the kind of photography PCNW focuses on the photography one might see at, say, James Harris’ gallery. I think PCNW’s vision is a conceptual disaster, fails to join photography and art practice in a strong sense and throws it all out with a kind of sense of entitlement. PCNW works within a tribal photography that’s long existed and might be called the retrograde Photo Salon approach.

I find it a little difficult to buy into the way you get likened to Chuck Close. You don’t have his Prosopagnosia, didn’t throw off your brushes to challenge yourself and are not a quadriplegic. You haven’t created giant works in a time that was moved by it. Close is set up for conceptualism, you take pictures. As he explained in a 2009 interview with the Cleveland Ohio Plain Dealer, he made a choice in 1967 to make art hard for him and force a personal artistic breakthrough by abandoning the paintbrush. "I threw away my tools", Close said. "I chose to do things I had no facility with.

Greg is a very smart person andbusinessman and does love a range of creative styles and media he chooses to represent. I’ve not quite understood why he chose the Southern quilt makers, Deborah Butterfield or John Waters, This stuff has good marketability regardless how it fits into contemporary art scene and Greg lives a lifestyle that many of us would sell our souls for. It appears a movable feast in which one is surrounded by an ever changing collection of increasable art and things. You are well liked by the art and other communities, have gotten a lot of media coverage and produce pieces that do not have to be editioned because they are one-offs. Greg tends to demand rather high prices for the work of those he represents.

I’m thinking of two ways the UW might be of help to you. First, if you ever consider wanting to get a good education in what art photography might be, their Art School Photography program is a winner. They do not eliminate a huge portion of contemporary art photography as PCNW does. Secondly, I’m a little worried about you, your clients and your families’ health and safety. You are dealing with a lot of serious toxic chemicals. Many can badly affect an infant’s developing body and your longevity and health over time. If I were you, I’d visit some faculty in the UW’s Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences. Although they tend to approach large work environments a professor or grad student might find your work environment interesting to study and help you measure whether your approach is protecting you and others. Fume hoods can fail to do the job if used improperly. Aren’t you curious what dangers in your work can be aided? Don't expose that baby unaware.

The folks love you and you probably have a great career ahead doing what you’re doing. I wish you and your family the best.
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Posted by Unglate tongue on January 30, 2012 at 7:39 PM · Report this

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