Tag Archives: Center For Fine Art Photography

SW Regional SPE: Brenda Biondo

Sharing photographers that I met at the SW Regional SPE Conference hosted by the Center of Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado….

When I met Brenda Biondo and spent time with her terrific project, Once Upon a Playground, I realized that it had so much potential–as a teaching tool, as a museum exhibition, and as a book. As a teaching tool, it was a great reflection of how a project forms, from a few photographs and ideas, growing into significant research of a subject adding additional layers of insight and thought. As Brenda states, she discovered that no institution is documenting objects of play, and her project may one day, be an important historical record.  Her museum options range from Children’s Museums, The Museum of Play, the Smithsonian, and a host of other options.  Finally, the book dummy that she shared in Colorado is a thorough and fascinating look at the history of playgrounds. Publishers, where are you?

Brenda received B.A. degree in communication arts from James Madison University in Virginia. After working in corporate communications in Manhattan and Washington, DC for a decade, she left the corporate world to focus on freelance writing. As a writer, she had her work published in The Washington Post, The Denver Post, The Christian Science Monitor, USA Weekend magazine and many other publications. In 2004, she decided to discontinue writing in order to concentrate on fine art photography. Her work has appeared in group and solo shows throughout the country, including exhibits at the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, CO; the Hubbard Museum for the American West in Ruidoso Downs, NM; the Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder, CO; and the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, VA. A native New Yorker, Brenda now lives in a small Colorado town at the base of Pikes Peak with her husband and two children.

Once Upon A Playground 

This was the first project I started after turning 40 and having my first kid. Even though I had been taking photographs for more than two decades, I had never pursued it seriously until then. As I was thinking about subjects I could shoot with a baby in tow, I began noticing that the local parks I visited with my young daughter hardly ever had the type of equipment I had grown up with. 

For the past nine years, I’ve worked on this project on and off, traveling around the country photographing whatever old playground equipment I can find in schoolyards and public parks. I see this series as a type of cultural archeology, because playgrounds have played such a prominent role in the lives of American children for generations. The classic metal and wood structures were a distinctive element of the American landscape for most of the 20th century and are part of the personal histories of most Americans over the age of 30. 
The towering metal slides, spine-jarring seesaws, colorful spinners and other classic equipment was gone from most playgrounds. As I started focusing on these childhood icons, I realized that the equipment designs often reflected the popular culture of the times, with geometric metal and wood apparatus of the early 1900s supplemented by pieces in the shape of cowboys and Indians, Wizard of Oz and Charlie Brown characters, rocket ships and satellites, motorcycles and geodesic domes during the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. 

Unfortunately, it gets harder to find this equipment with each passing year. When schools and towns renovate their playgrounds, the old equipment is almost always hauled away to the scrap yard. As far as I can tell, no institution — hello, Smithsonian — is collecting and preserving this equipment. I can’t remember how I stumbled across the first playground catalog on eBay, but I began buying them whenever one came up for auction, not really sure what I would do with them but knowing they provided historical context for my photographs. 

After several years, I had nearly two dozen catalogs, published from 1920 through 1975, along with a growing pile of historical playground postcards. I’ve recently combined the historical documents with my photographs and created a book on Blurb to show to potential publishers. All the elements of the book are viewable on my website, www.onceuponaplayground.com.

Filter Photo Festival Week: Samantha VanDeman

This week, I am sharing a few of photographers that I met at the Filter Photo Festival in Chicago….

It was a pleasure to see Samantha VanDeman’s terrific series, Forgotten Hotels in person. I’ve seen a number of images in exhibitions and online over the year, but to see the nuance of color and the extent of the series made the work more meaningful.  Samantha received a BFA from Columbia College Chicago and earned a MFA in photography from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University in 2009. It was during her time at the low residency program at AIB, that she was able to have independent studies with artists such as Anne Wilson, Mayumi Lake, Jeanne Dunning, and Laura Letinsky.

Samantha already has a long exhibition resume including work seen at  Review Santa Fe, The Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, CO; Newspace Center for Photography, Portland, OR; Emory Visual Arts Gallery, Atlanta, GA; Smash Box Studios, Culver City, CA; Denver International Airport, Denver, CO; Finch and Ada, NY; New Orleans Photo Alliance Gallery, New Orleans, LA; Las Manos Gallery, Chicago, IL; Gallery 263, Cambridge, MA; Midwest center for Photography, Wichita, KS; Gallery 808, Boston, MA; Change Artist Space, San Francisco.  In 2012, Samantha was selected as a finalist for Photolucida’s Critical Mass. And most recently, she received first place in The International Photography Awards for architectural interiors. Samantha has been published in Shots Magazine and The International Photography Annual.

Forgotten Hotels 
This photographic series is of abandoned hotels that are on the verge of being demolished. Each hotel has sat vacant for ten -thirty years, with several failed attempts to bring them back to life. With plans of demolition, each structure awaits an uncertain future. In my work, I’m drawn to places that are isolated and have been forgotten about by society. I use my camera to examine these areas that often go unnoticed. Through the use of light, I try to capture the beauty the once existed in these magnificent environments. By photographing these structures, I attempt to provide a visual record of what might be lost forever.

Upcoming Activities

Lots of teaching, reviewing, and traveling coming up and I hope to meet you somewhere along the way…here’s what’s up next:



Presenting the Fine Art Portfolio: Taking Your Work to the Next Level at the Center for Fine Art Photography


Date: Sunday, November 4th, 2012 9-12pm
Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, CO
as part of the SPE Southwest Regional Conference
This workshop will help photographers understand what it takes to produce a professional fine art photography portfolio. Participants will explore the elements that go into creating a strong body of work including: the importance of editing, sequencing, the artist’s statement, and producing a portfolio that can be used for reviews, gallery presentations, and more.
This intimate hands-on workshop will be limited to twelve students. Participants should bring portfolios to the workshop. The class will review work collectively and Aline will offer individual feedback and advice tailored to each person’s project
Enrollment Limit: 12
Workshop fee: $75
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The Broad View: Fine Art
Portfolios from Context, to Creation, to Completion at FotoWeekDC
Dates: Sunday, November
11th, 2012 10a-2p
at
Goethe Insitut

The most important tool that a photographer can bring to their work
is knowledge and insight.  Many photographers spend much of their
education on learning the bells and whistles of cameras and changing
technology, and don’t consider what is equally as important: Creating a
voice, having ideas, producing stellar prints, and knowing where the
work they create fits into the contemporary art market.  Ultimately,
what is most rewarding and most important is The Work.

This three-hour workshop is geared to beginning and emerging
photographers.  During the session, we will explore how to develop ideas
for projects by examining the fine art market and by exploring the
context of award winning or meaningful portfolios.  Portfolios will be
presented to also help explain contemporary genres of photography,
touching on categories that are often offered in competitions or
magazines, and we will look at what kinds of work fits into what kind of
market.
In the workshop, we will also not only discuss how to create a
portfolio but in addition, how to present a body of work to the fine art
market, focusing on your ability to articulate your work and produce
quality photographs.  The details that surround the work you make are
important to establishing yourself as a professional.
Workshop fee: $165 (includes PDN’s 30: Strategies for Young Working Photographers – Moderated by Holly Stuart Hughes, PDN Editor in the afternoon)
To enroll register here.
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Creating the Fine Art Portfolio: Taking Your Work to the Next Level 
Dates: Thursday, November 29, 2012
9am-Noon
International House Hotel
Creating the Fine Art Portfolio will help photographers understand what it takes to produce a professional fine art photography portfolio. Participants will explore the elements that go into creating a strong body of work including: the importance of editing, sequencing, the artist’s statement, and producing a portfolio that can be used for reviews, gallery presentations, and more.
This intimate hands-on workshop will be limited to twelve students. Participants should bring portfolios to the workshop. The class will review work collectively and Aline will offer individual feedback and advice tailored to each person’s project.
Enrollment limit: 12 students
Workshop fee: $75
To enroll register here.
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Refining Your Portfolio Workshop at the Southwest Photo Summit
Dates: Thursday, Dec 6 – Friday, Dec 7, 2012
The most essential qualities a photographer can bring to their work are commitment and self-knowledge. Building a photographic portfolio can be a long journey: from developing a consistent visual voice to articulating a point of view and perspective about the work; and then knowing where best that work fits into the marketplace. Presenting and preparing a portfolio for the public eye is a final important step that is key to success. Your photographic portfolio needs to be as clear and dynamic as possible, as without a powerful, refined portfolio presentation your work will not reach the desired audience.
Aline Smithson shares her knowledge of how to create and/or refine a personal portfolio and offers her insights into the contemporary photographic marketplace as it relates to opportunities for all photographers – fine art, documentary, commercial, and editorial. As photographer and a reviewer herself, she brings the perspective of someone who sits on both sides of the reviewing table.
This two-day workshop starts with an in-depth look at the key elements of a powerful portfolio, with Aline showing examples of successful ones. Aline then works with each participant, in a group setting, to refine their personal portfolio through editing and sequencing as she makes suggestions where the work fits into the broader marketplace. Additional topics covered over the course of the workshop include professional portfolio presentation, the written photographic statement, leave-behinds, creative presentation and exhibition ideas, and how to customize your portfolio for a target audience.
Whether you are preparing for a portfolio review, getting ready to send your images to a new client, showing your prints to a gallery, or simply wanting to get some feedback and expert advice on your personal portfolio—this workshop can make a huge difference in your pursuit of connecting to an audience.
Enrollment limit: 15 students
Workshop fee: $475
To enroll please contact the Santa Fe Photo Workshops at 505-983-1400 or register here.

Medium Festival: Marjorie Salvaterra

Featuring photographers seen at the Medium Festival in San Diego….

I admit that I am already a fan and friend of Los Angeles photographer, Marjorie Salvaterra, but I have no hesitancy in sharing the new body of work (still in progress) she brought to the Medium Festival. Marjorie is a diminutive and determined photographer, creating large scale and compelling visual gestures that don’t reflect her stature. Her new project, HER, is influenced by Italian cinema, with a European sensibility and an out- of-the-box approach to image making that reflects the world of women–the land mines of life, motherhood, friendships, relationships that we all navigate through on a daily basis.

Marjorie has exhibited widely including the Rencontres d’Arles, Arles, France,  Clark-Oshin Gallery, Los Angeles,  Robert Berman Gallery, Los Angeles, Rayko Photo Center, San Francisco, and The Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado. Her work was included in the George Eastman House Museum auction at Sotheby’s, New York and she was runner-up for the 2009 and 2010 Berenice Abbott Prize for Emerging Photographers and a current finalist for Critical Mass 2012.

 HER 
I am a decent woman. 
 A pretty good wife — with a great therapist, otherwise I would’ve screwed this one up way too many times. 
 A mother – I think this one I do best except between the hours of 6:15 and 7:30pm and certain whole days at a time. 
 A daughter – I was a pretty terrible daughter growing up. I’m starting to get the hang of it now that I’m a parent. 
 A good sister. 
 And lastly a friend. To some, the best and to others, impossibly guarded. 

I’m forty three years-old and I’m trying to grow as a person but so is my skin. I’m not that interested in holding onto my youth. My life is far greater now. But letting go isn’t as easy as it sounds. Some days I don’t recognize this person who looks back at me in the mirror. She is older, has responsibilities. She has had to learn that sometimes God has a bigger plan for her life than she does. Not everything goes the way she wants it to go. Things happen. Money comes and goes. So do jobs. As well as friends.

People sometimes get sick and her kids will inevitably get lice and share it with her, which is still preferable to pin worms that their friends get. She will cry over losses and and weep when she sees her child standing in a line of other children. Not because everything is wrong. But because everything is right. On the outside, she strives for peace but inside there is a turbulence of holding on too tightly to all these things that have finally brought that peace and true joy. 

With HER, she turns away from the mirror and turns the camera on her own life — examining the psychology of her age and her gender in black and white, through surreal interpretations and exaggerated gestures, reminiscent of Italian cinema, creating photographs that reflect the universal idea of womanhood and assure HER that she is not on this path alone.

Medium Festival: Kurt Simonson

Featuring photographers seen at the Medium Festival in San Diego….


Sometimes the best part of attending a Photography Festival is not just the lectures, workshops, exhibits, and reviews, it’s simply sitting next to someone you don’t know while enjoying a beer. You learn about their life and interests, and discover over the course of the festival, what a great person you’ve met and realize you’ve begun a friendship.  This was the case with Kurt Simonson.

Originally from St Paul, Minnesota, Kurt is an artist/educator based in Long Beach, CA. Kurt’s work is regularly exhibited throughout the country and internationally, including recent exhibits at the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado, and the Foto8 Gallery in London. His work has been featured in Fraction Magazine, he received a Curator’s Choice award from CENTER Santa Fe, and he was chosen as a finalist in Photolucida’s Critical Mass 2012.

Kurt teaches at Biola University in La Mirada, CA, where he is the Associate Professor of Photography in the Art Department. He received a B.S. in Studio Art from Biola University, a Secondary Education Credential from Whittier College, and an M.F.A. in Photography from California State University, Long Beach.

One of the projects that he brought to the Medium festival was Northwoods Journals, work that explores “the tensions surrounding our ideas of home and community, pilgrimage and displacement, belonging and connecting.”

 

Northwoods Journals

I must have been ten or eleven years old when I first ran across the peculiar envelope that bore my grandmother’s shaky handwriting: “not to be opened until my death.” Tucked in her top dresser drawer amidst other valuables, its striking phrase burned into my memory at a young age. I don’t know exactly when, and I don’t know how often, but I know I visited the envelope numerous times, pondering what could be inside. What could be so important (or tragic) that it must be kept secret in this way?

 I have never been able to shake the hold that piece of paper had over me.  More than just a letter—I was haunted by what it represented. Loaded with latent meaning, yet withholding its story, the letter is my experience of growing up in Minnesota. My family roots go deep into the folklore of the rural Northwoods and retain their hold, despite time and distance. It’s a place where my grandfather was a lumberjack, and a place where cars go to die; it’s where kids have playtime adventures, and where secrets go to be buried. It is a merger of myth and memory that grows more complex as time passes.

Medium Festival: Claire Warden

Several weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of attending the inaugural year of the Medium Festival of Photography in San Diego, CA, conceived by the very capable Scott B. Davis.  It was a three day event kicked off by a keynote lecture by Alec Soth, and continued on with workshops, artist lectures and portfolio reviews.  Most importantly, it was an opportunity to connect with a wonderful community of photographers.  Over the next week (and into the next), I will be featuring a few of the photographers who attended the festival.

Claire A. Warden, a photo-based artist working in Los Angeles, California, brought a terrific project about preserving the natural world, titled Salt: Studies in Preservation and Manipulation. The project includes methodically captured images of plant life preserved in salt, but when exhibited, also includes some of that flora and fauna under bell jars and on the wall.  The fragile quality of the salt is reminiscent of snow and only adds to the delicate nature of the object and the approach to her image making. The images are timeless and exquisite.
Claire received her BFA in Photography and BA in Art History from Arizona State University where she worked along side Guggenheim fellow Mark Klett and former Eastman House curator, Bill Jenkins. She now works in Los Angeles as a fine art photographer and photographing and working at the Getty Research Institute. Claire’s work is in personal collections and has been displayed in galleries nationally and internationally, including Rayko Photo Center in San Francisco, CA, the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, CO and the Center for Photography at Madison, WI with upcoming shows at Soho Photo in New York, NY and Agripas 12 Gallery in Jerusalem, Israel. Her SALT series has earned her the Ted Decker Catalyst Artist Grant. 
Salt: Studies in Preservation and Manipulation: Despite the best efforts of science, authentic preservation of living matter is an impossible act. It is an ideal that stands in tension with the transient ephemerality that qualifies life. And yet – or perhaps because of it – this tension makes the humble ambitions of the botanical sciences intriguing. In order to preserve and document specimens for future study, scientists must ‘fix’ the organic complexity of the botanical specimen through human intervention.  

It is a process that, ultimately, restructures the essence of the specimen. In this way, botanical life can only endure as a specimen in a liminal state, the extended occupation of a pause between natural growth and decomposition. It is in this otherwise invisible moment, one reachable only through the intervention of the preservative act, that I find a deep and uncanny beauty. 

I emphasize the manipulation that manifests from preservation through the use of salt. This paradoxical mineral, that is necessary to sustain life—yet, if the delicate balance is outweighed, can extinguish it—reflects the structure of a preserved specimen and acts to preserve it. I submerge each living plant in a bath of salt water and allow the salt to crystallize on and within the living form.

Inspired by the intentions of botanical illustrations as a method to understand and control one’s environment, I seek to impress the human urge to order nature and in the process fundamentally change it. Using the platinum-palladium photographic process for its chemical stability and long-lasting image, these direct contact prints complicate the ideal of preservation, albeit, at the expense of the most authentic act of living matter, decay.

Greg Ruffing

OK, I admit it.  Exploring Greg Ruffing’s project on Yard Sales had me drooling over certain objects featured at some on the sales, and my first thought was: Where are these sales, and how fast can I get there?  I mean, who doesn’t want a set of owl lamps with crushed velvet shades?  My reaction is exactly what Greg is thinking about when he creates his work–our culture of consumption and the desire to have what we don’t need.

Greg Ruffing is a Chicago-based artist working in photography and mixed
media and often explores themes of consumption and the economy. His
works have been exhibited at the Annenberg Space for Photography
in Los Angeles, the New York Photo Festival, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the
Center for Fine Art Photography in Colorado, and elsewhere. In addition, his photographs
have appeared in publications such as TIME
Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, Mother
Jones
, Smithsonian, The Atlantic Monthly, and others. Greg also runs an online
photography project titled Self-Guided Tour, a series of writings
about photography, art, and contemporary issues.

Greg has created a book on his Yard Sale work that has been included in the DIY: Photographers & Books exhibition that is currently on view at the Cleveland Museum of Art until the end of 2012. The book is a precursor to a larger publication he hopes to publish in 2013.

My series Yard Sales is focused on the
complexities of consumption: the ubiquity and disposability of consumer goods
and their ever-shifting value and meaning. In a way, these photographs are an
attempt to document the cycle of our pursuits in accumulating “stuff” (and our
relationship to that “stuff”), in a way that reveals fundamental human habits
and behaviors and their link to socioeconomic circumstance.

I was first drawn to yard sales as a sort of grassroots marketplace defined by the seller’s curious efforts of display and advertising to attract shoppers, and the buyer’s hunt for prized items and bargain prices. I was also interested in how the yard sale, as an event, transforms the private domestic space of the seller’s residence into a public commercial space to facilitate purchasing goods.

I’m also intrigued by how yard sales illustrate a specific dyadic complex of consumerism: on the one hand, they speak to our somewhat insatiable compulsion to shop and hoard possessions, and perhaps a certain cognitive blurring of the distinction between needs and wants (related to the process by which consumers assess and impose value and meaning onto material items).

And yet, on the other hand, it seems that yard sales (and other forms of resale) serve as a crucial antidote to much of the disposability and wastefulness inherent in consumerism – sending unwanted objects into secondary cycles of consumption where they may find renewed value or purpose through subsequent buyers.

Furthermore, I’ve undertaken this project in the context of the American economic Recession that began in 2008. In those past four years photographing this project, I’ve met and talked to countless families who, in the aftermath of financial hardship nationwide, have sold off possessions just to help pay their bills. In addition, while photographing yard sales in southwest Florida (which has continually had some of the highest home foreclosure rates in the U.S.), I met people who were selling goods obtained from an underground network of scavengers who take discarded possessions from the littered front yards of foreclosed and evicted homes.

It would seem that the Recession has brought decades of unbridled consumer spending (especially its emphasis as an economic engine) into question. Some navel-gazers have even wondered if we actually shopped ourselves into the Recession by living beyond our means through cheap credit, and many have spoken of pursuing a more austere lifestyle. Its in this framework that I hope my Yard Sales project can contribute to a sincere dialogue on and modest reformulation of our relationship to the items we choose to buy.

Ana Galan

Spanish photographer, Ana Galan, has created a life affirming project, Viv(r)e la vie!, that looks at couples from around the world, particularly in Spain, Finland, and the United States.  Her portrait approach replicates the formula that first emerged in the 15th century in Italy and can be associated with the work of Jan Van Eyck, where figures are placed in an idealized landscape.


Ana  holds a degree in Economics, an International MBA and
an MFA in Photography from EFTI, Madrid, Spain. She has been finalist in many international competitions and has been exhibited in numerous
galleries, international photography festivals and exhibitions in France, Italy,
India, Spain, Finland and USA. She has completed a residency in Philadelphia,
PA and in Pirkanmaa in Finland. Her work is collected in CENTER in Santa Fe,
NM, in the Philadelphia Art Hotel, Philadelphia, PA and in The Center for Fine
Art Photography in Fort Collins, CO.



Images from Viv(r)e la vie!

Viv(r)e la vie!in process
 Viv(r)e la vie! is a photography series “in process”, consisting of
photographs of couples in profile with a landscape of a countryside in the
background, and pays homage to those people who continue to live “in the moment”.
The
concept depicts the two contrary principles, masculine and feminine, which are
found in an embrace as a symbol of the partnership, the unit and belonging. 

As well in its coniferous
landscapes, the series recreates the representation of the power of vital
force, of immortality.
Viv(r)e la vie! Is a photographic typology of couples
which meet in order to dance. I began the series Viv(r)e la Vie! in
Guadalajara, Spain, with the idea of putting together a set of series of 10
couples in different cities around the world.
Couples of a certain age, people
barely seen socially, but who have not stopped living life fully and whose
close relation is photographed in the outing dances of their area.


The photographs give visibility to people which, for a certain time,
have lacked such visibility. This series, at the same time, documents the
cultural diversity that exists between different cities and countries. The
objective of this project would be to form an extensive visual transcultural
inventory, almost as small histories of social and anthropological life of some
people that are reaching a mature age, but remain active.

The second series
of “Viv(r)e la Vie!” was developed in the American city of
Philadelphia in June 2011 thanks to an artist residency I was granted by the
Philadelphia Art Hotel and the third in June 2012 in Finland thanks to a
residency granted by the Arteles Creative Center. The fourth series of this
project will be produced in May 2013 in Iceland.