Thursday, May 31, 2018
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
I had the tremendous honor of being the sole juror for CENTER Santa Fe's annual Editor's Choice Awards this year. It was ridiculously hard to choose three winners from hundreds of spectacular entries, but in the end these three amazing bodies of work really stood out. Here's a sample image from each, and my juror's statement about why I chose them. To see their complete portfolios and artists' statements go here, to learn more about the Choice Awards go here, and also check out the Curator's Choice, Director's Choice, and Producer's Choice awards as well (all of which virtual visits I heartily recommend).
My Juror's Statement:
The quality of work submitted to this year’s CENTER Awards was extremely high. It was a joy to view so many powerful images—some beautiful, some wonderfully challenging, some tranquil, some brash—all deeply engaged with the world and the workings of the mind. And, accordingly, it was difficult (at times if felt nearly impossible) to narrow down hundreds of strong portfolios to just three winners. But, as every editor knows, narrow down we must. All three of this year’s winners engage with themes I saw resonating across many of the entries—and, indeed, have seen resonating in the larger photographic community in recent years—but each brings to its theme and subject matter something entirely new and fresh.
Azalea Trail Maids takes a dive into a little-known subculture—in this case a “court” of high school girls who dress in pastel antebellum-style dresses in Mobile, Alabama—and views that subculture through a curious and feminist lens (the photographer points out that: “these bright, modern young women appear at civic events in smiling silence, despite being selected on merit”). While such projects often veer into either adulation or harsh critique, this one is exquisitely balanced. I have rarely seen such a perfect blend of societal appraisal, empathy for the subject, a sense of humor, and an eye for the sublime. In just eleven images we come to love these young women, while at the same time calling into question the cultural forces that have placed them where they are.
What Azalea Trail Maids does for the photographic project of examining a subculture, Visions of Johanne – The Aging Female Body does for portraiture of an elderly relative. The idea of taking one’s own aging parents or grandparents as a photographic subject has been gaining momentum in recent years, but, again, this photographer does something with that material which I’ve never seen before. Perhaps because of her stated aim to counter the societal convention by which the aging female body “is rarely seen, much less celebrated, and…remains virtually invisible to younger female generations,” this photographer has rendered her subject seen to an extraordinary degree. From her incisive glance, manicured hands, and single breast to her crumpled paper medical gown, box of pills, and dish of candy, Joanne is rendered with a clear-eyed tenderness that loses none of its clarity and strength for all its kindness.
Another recent movement in photography is the making of pictures in abandoned interiors. Decay creates interesting tableaus, and the history behind the images is often just as striking. Left Behind, a series of images made in the abandoned gold rush town of Bodie, California, takes that trope and moves it into brand new territory. These photographs are exceptional for several reasons. For one, the intimacy of these vignettes of personal objects (blankets still on beds, coats still on hooks, picture frames, enamel cups, reading glasses) juxtaposed with ruined textures (peeling wallpaper, water-stained wood, tattered fabric) is extraordinary. Second, and even more essential, is the photographer’s use of light. The milky sunlight that permeates these images gives them both a softness and a clarity rarely seen. Rather than being handed spookiness or tragic nostalgia, we are invited to contemplate, among other things: “dreams...the vagaries of life...strength...loss...[and] the uncertainties of living.”
Tuesday, May 29, 2018
We had the crazy good fortune to have our apartment featured as a home tour on the fantastic blog Cup of Jo! Photographer Lena Corwin -- whose work I've long admired -- came to our place and took the best pictures that have ever been taken of our home. That's what this post is really about: the photos. If you want to read the interview with me that goes along with them, you can check that out in the original Cup of Jo post, here.
yellow voice bubble: Andrea D'aquino
paint swatches: Leah Rosenberg
embroidered square + embroidered space ship: Vanessa Walden
whale + green chair: Lisa Congdon
landscape with sheep (yelllow frame): Molly Rausch
green plants: Alicia Dornadic (via Artists Take Action)
tiny pink haired girl: Courtney Cerruti
colorful diagonal swashes: Jen Garrido
face reflected in water: Daniel Garzi
squirrel plate: Isabelle Samaras
paper peony: Tiffanie Turner
It Will Be More Beautiful Than You Could Ever Imagine: Susan O'Malley
Monday, May 28, 2018
I made some revisions to a few of the drawings for the journal I'm authoring and illustrating (coming next Spring from Chronicle Books!):
The original goldfish maybe looked a little dead and it was hard to see his food so I made a new picture to address those matters.
The original french fries just looked a little naked so I kept that previous drawing but added a happy star to the box.
The perspective on the original Mille Bornes game box was a bit off, so I drew a new one from a different angle.
The stoplight, meant to evoke a negative emotion, simply wasn't working, so I threw that concept out entirely and replaced it with a broken plate.
Friday, May 25, 2018
The thing I was in New York for a few weeks back was the Frieze Art Fair. Hundreds of art galleries show their work in booths under massive tents on Randall's Island. It's an art-looker-at-er's (and also a people-watcher's) paradise.
Here is the first of several posts about art that caught my eye at the fair -- this one about the major big-names and heavy-hitters' work on view. Just imagine being an extremely wealthy person going shopping among these blue-chip pictures!
Above: Kehinde Wiley
Willem De Kooning
Andy Warhol "Angry Dog"
(all the boys want to be) Raymond Pettibone
Keith Haring (this was like the Church of Keith Haring - no way were you going to get an unimpeded photograph of this painting)