June 24 - July 17, 2016
People and Places: Photographs from 50 years (1966-2016)
Helena Davis, Frable and smallspace Galleries
Opening Reception for the Artists
Fourth Friday, June 24, 2016
Free and Open to the Public
Closing Artist Talk
Sunday, July 17, 2016
Free and Open to the Public
I recently reached the start of my eighth decade and predictably find myself in a mirror-and-naval-gazing state, re-evaluating and consolidating elements of my creative life. It seemed appropriate to mount something of a retrospective of my work in photography. As it happens, the vast majority of work I have saved in the form of negatives or transparencies comes from almost exactly the past 50 years, beginning with Kodachromes I carried home with me from my time in Vietnam in 1966-67.
I have selected pieces that represent my best work in two main categories: People and Places. A lot of my favorites are candid, unposed portraits of friends, family, and folks I have met in my travels or professional activities. Some of my "People" pictures are from my occasional venture into "street" photography and are meant to capture expressions, gestures and other components of what Henri Cartier-Bresson called "decisive moments."
I've been fortunate to be able to travel extensively and to work in South and Southeast Asia, Mexico, and the West Indies. Many of the "Places" pieces I want to exhibit are from these locations, but I have also carried my cameras with me for decades through streets of Richmond, and the countryside of central and eastern Virginia, so many of my "Places" aren't quite so exotic.
If there is a common theme in the works I wish to exhibit, it is one best expressed by qualities like peacefulness, quietude, relaxation, playfulness, humor, and harmony. Our visual world these days is over-wrought with images that are restless, anxious, angry, discordant, and violent. I have, throughout my life, considered my art-making as a personal antidote to those sorts of often-painful energies. It is my hope that others can find a flash of beauty, a smile, or a moment's meaningful peace in my pictures.
All of the pieces for this show are archivally-stable photographs printed by me specifically for this exhibition. All have been printed on museum-quality papers. While photographs and prints have traditionally been exhibited framed behind glass, there has been, in recent years, an increasingly popular trend away from that format. In my view, museum quality glass is exorbitantly expensive, and lesser glazing materials impede the viewing experience due to reflections and distortions. It has become feasible to protect the surfaces and image qualities of photographs using contemporary coating materials which prevent atmospheric chemicals, dust, and ultraviolet light from degrading the imagery in a work of art. What's more, unframed works are more affordable and provide the purchaser with the opportunity to frame or present the works in a way they prefer, without paying for a rather unattractive gallery frame.
I received my first camera—an original Brownie box—in 1949, as a gift from my baby sitter. I was 4 years old and amazed at this marvelous new toy. By the age of 10 I had begun developing my family's snapshots in a darkened root cellar, and for my 12th birthday my father bought me my first "real" camera: a 35mm Argus C-Twenty. At 14 I had my own darkroom, and in high school I was president of the camera club and official photographer for the school newspaper.
In the late 1960s I used the G. I. Bill to get professional training in photography and film production and went on to work as production manager for a radio, television and film company. Following that I worked as a writer, photographer and managing editor for various print media in New York City before returning to university to pursue my doctorate in anthropology. I am now a retired scholar/professor with a lifelong avocational and semi-professional interest in photography and filmmaking. I have showed photo works sporadically throughout my adult life. Since retiring in 2002, I have had nine solo or small-group shows and my works have appeared in a few dozen group shows in Central Virginia.