Monday, December 20, 2010

Upcoming - John Humble @ Krull

I just saw Craig Krull will be putting on a John Humble show in April.

Yes, please.

All Images Copyright John Humble

Friday, December 17, 2010

What is a "Portrait?"

Copyright Yousuf Karsh

Could you tell by this portrait that Ernest was a tortured soul and would come to kill himself just 4 years later?

Merriam Webster:
picture; especially : a pictorial representation of a person usually showing the face.

A portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the person...

In light of some recent features, contests, and shows I've read about, I've been thinking about what defines a "portrait," especially in light of the fact that I consider one of my series an anti-portrait series, in which I place the subjects far away from the lens or partly hidden so that they do not dominate the scene and can hardly be recognized. It is my belief that what it means to be an individual is so complex that a portrait could never come close in the slightest to explaining what it truly means to be that individual and inhabit their universe but I'll spare you my artist statement right now.

In discussing religion or the existence of God, the most important thing you can do is to first define God and then go on from there discussing the existence or absence of such. There's nothing more frustrating that having the person you are discussing this with say, "Well, God is the Universe" or "God is energy."

No, the universe is the universe and energy is energy. There's no need to call either God. Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion gives a pretty fair definition from which to initiate a conversation about "God" in that it seems to follow most religious believer's beliefs and can serve as a good starting point to a debate:
"a personal God who is the creator of the universe, who is interested in human affairs, and who should be worshipped."

Only once both parties have agreed on a definition of what is to be discussed, can you have a productive discussion. So why does the photo community seem to have no definition for a portrait?

What first got me thinking about portraits seeming to lack a solid definition was Flak's 100 Portraits selection. When I first looked through the selection I found myself thinking, "But a lot of these aren't portraits."

A close up of a mouth/teeth, someone's back, an x-ray of a sculpture, the top of someone's head shot from above, the side of someone's head obscured by their winter hat with just a nose and hint of an eye sticking out, a person's silhouette, back-lit so that no features are recognizable.

There's no denying the taste of the selection here - they are all excellent photos, but to me these are not portraits. Were I a magazine editor having sent you out on assignment to shoot someone's single portrait for an article, I would consider these failures and send someone else to re-shoot.

Today in my inbox I received the results of Center's Portraits competition. Juror Rodney Smith, a fine photographer in his own right, chose this photo as the winner:

Copyright Leo Mendonca

As you can see, it is an appropriated (in that the shot of the woman was taken by another photographer) fashion shot billboard on the side of a building. A portrait of a building or an appropriated portrait? I don't know but it strikes me as an odd winner. Then again, I didn't see any of the other entries.

Then yesterday, Joerg called Simon Burch's series of mixed landscapes and portraits, Under a Grey Sky, a "beautiful portrait of Ireland." It is indeed a beautiful series but can you take a portrait of a place? Of a car? Of a building? Of an apple?

How far can we stray? Can we call a picture of a finger be a portrait or a picture of a shirt (back of the head is the most annoying, though)? It's a slippery slope and then at some point a picture of a watering pot becomes a "portrait" of the person who uses it or a picture of an American flag becomes a "portrait" of all Americans, present and past.

It's an interesting question and I'm not sure I have the definitive answer but I'd be curious to hear what others think. What is a portrait?

Monday, December 13, 2010

MOPLA 2011

I forgot to mention earlier that Hossein Farmani posted something about next year's MOPLA. If you'll recall, I'd made a big deal about there not being enough local photographers represented and we had a bit of a back and forth.

Dear Wesley,

Consider this an OPEN CALL for all your readers to get involved in MOPLA. Both me and Cat invite you and your readers to come up with ideas and propose great events or organize your own community events for MOPLA 2011.

We just finished a very successful Lucie Awards in NYC and now its time to focus on MOPLA.


PS. By the end of 2010 Month of photography we exhibited over 200 Photographers work throughout all the events. We had 17 discussions, 32 events, 42 exhibition, 54 venues.

Happy Holidays

Copyright Tim Simmons

You may have noticed that the blog's been somewhat quiet as of late. I've made sure to post about all of the shows and openings I was excited about (except for this, this, and this so get over to the Getty) but the features have been sparse. This is mostly due to the fact that it's the busiest time of year for me at my day job - happens every year - and I'm going to have to hunker down here even more in the next few weeks, so aside from the occasional posting if something truly exciting comes around, I'm going to take a break from WCST until the second week of January.

See you all in 2011!

Quote of the Week - Robert Frank

"It is a different state of affairs for me to be working on assignment for a magazine. It suggests to me the feeling of a hack writer or a commercial illustrator. Since I sense that my ideas, my mind and my eye are not creating the picture but that the editors' minds and eyes will finally determine which of my pictures will be reproduced to suit the magazines' purposes."

Robert Frank

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Saturday Openings

First up is Bedtime for Bonzo, curated over by Matthew Porter over at M+B. There are some big names attached to this one:

M+B is pleased to present Bedtime for Bonzo, a group exhibition curated by Matthew Porter with participating artists Walead Beshty, Gil Blank, Matthew Brandt, Andrew Bush, Eduardo Consuegra, Moyra Davey, Arthur Ou, Matthew Spiegelman, James Welling, Hannah Whitaker and Mark Wyse.

Like a river that returns every year to its floodplain, our politics and entertainment can be expected to return to the preceding decades for material. In particular, much of the recent rhetoric from the mid-term elections echoed the eight years of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Viewing Jimmy Carter’s famous 1979 “Malaise Speech” as a herald of the 80s, this show presents a selection of images that, when stripped of their original contexts, serve as both index and icon for a decade best defined by a sententious leader. They can also be seen, in the decade before the Internet, as a late-century analog swansong. This is the Eisenhower era in color, with a technological upgrade. The confection-coated green and silky whites of the suburbs look saccharine next to rust-belt towns in decay—evidence of the simultaneous achievement and dismantling of the American dream.

Bedtime for Bonzo is a 1951 film starring Ronald Reagan as a moralizing pedagogue intent on meliorating a chimpanzee’s understanding of right and wrong. If the images on the walls feel equally didactic, remember that this is a show about the 80s, when subtlety was traded for over-dramatic hyperbole.

Artists' Opening Reception
Saturday, December 11, 6-8 PM

Then, over at Rose Gallery in Santa Monica, All Things Parr opens from 7-9pm.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Quote of the Week - John Szarkowski

"Nevertheless, I think that we held similar basic ideas about a curator's responsibilities. I'm sure that we all felt that it was our job to try to recognize what was good--what was most vital--in photography's past and present, and to bring that work, at its best and as clearly as we could, to its potential audience. Since we were different people working in different times we interpreted that charge in somewhat different ways, but surely we all regarded ourselves as critics and teachers, not as census takers."

- John Szarkowski

There's a great Spanish word, ojalá, which means something like "but that it were true."


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dye Transfer @ LACMA tonight

Copyright William Eggleston Trust

Even though I'm guessing you can't afford to dye transfer print, you might be interested in learning about it:


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

BCAM, Level 2 – 7:30 pm

Photography conservator Gawain Weaver will discuss the range of materials and processes on view in the exhibition William Eggleston: Democratic Camera—Photographs and Video, 1961-2008. Attendees are invited to continue the conversation across the street at a reception at Edward Cella Art + Architecture, 6018 Wilshire Blvd, LA, CA 90036.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rant Continued - On Contests and Deadlines

Yesterday, I told the NY Photo Fest not to feel so bad for their ludicrous deadline, especially for anyone not living in NYC, since they were not the only guilty party. Today it's time to call out a local contest for a somehow even more egregious deadline:

Smashbox Studios Face Off:

-Selected applicants will be notified on the 3rd of December 2010
-Selected Applicants must deliver printed, framed and ready-to-hang images on the 3rd - 7th of December 2010 to Smashbox Studios
West Hollywood.
-Images must be professionally printed at a minimum size of 16”x20” and framed in a professional manner.
-Any images smaller than 16”x20” or improperly framed will not be hung in the show and will be ineligible to win the competition.

Who in the world can print and professionally frame at 16x20 or larger in 4 days?

I know I can't.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rant - On Contests and Deadlines

As the deadline approaches for the NY Photo Festival's Humankind juried exhibition, I took another look at the requirements to see if I should enter last minute, per the usual. Yes, I admit it. I'm a procrastinator, always have been, but I usually get by ok. The problem here is that even if I were selected for the exhibition and notified by December 5th, which is when notifications go out, I'd have to have my photo(s) printed, framed, crated, shipped, and arriving in New York in just ten days, by Dec. 15th.

Yeah, um, I'd rather avoid that headache/wild-goose-hunt, so while you purport to open the contest to photographers living outside New York, you really don't.

Don't feel too bad, NY Photo Fest - you aren't the only ones.

Pet Peeve

Still lifes with pomegranates or cantaloupe.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Blog break - trip to NYC

Copyright Noah Khalina

It seems incredible that I haven't been to New York in 3 years, since I spent 3 years of my life there and used to go back at least once a year for a visit. Needless to say, I'm pretty excited to return to the beast this week. While it won't quite be winter,

I'll be taking a break from WCST this week, since I'll be having a hard enough time getting to all the shows I want to see and catching up with people.

Anyone in the city, shoot me an email with show suggestions or if you want to grab a beer.

Here's my tentative list. An asterisk means it's a priority but I doubt I'll even be able to hit all of those up:

Friedlander AND Hopper @ the Whitney*
Collier Schorr @ 303 Gallery
James Casabere @ Sean Kelly
New Photography 2010 AND Abstract Expressionist NY @ MOMA*
Abelardo Morrell @ Bryce Wolkowitz AND @ Bonni Benrubi*
Jan Gossart's Renaissance @ The Met
Hiroshi Sugimoto @ Pace
John Currin @ Gagosian Madison Ave.*
Neue Galerie*
The Frick*

Friday, November 5, 2010

More Eggleston in Town

Copyright William Eggleston Trust

Aside from the big retrospective at LACMA, two additional Eggleston shows are here.

On view now across the street from LACMA at Edward Cella Gallery is William Eggleston: American Photographer. Images here. There's also a talk this Saturday at 4pm:

Join independent curator and photographic historian, Carole Thompson for an overview of William Eggleston: American Photographer as she presents her personal and unique insights into the work and life of photographer William Eggleston.

Carole Thompson is a private art dealer with a specialty in American Photographers and Painters of the 20th Century. A former curator at the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Thompson published the first catalogue raisonné of Eggleston's multiples. Her clients include the J. Paul Getty Museum, LACMA, SFMoMA, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art among others.

Opening next Saturday the 13th from 6-8pm at DNJ, Eggleston: On the Road presents images he took at the perfect location for his work, Graceland, as well as images from Democratic Forest. What could be a better fit?

Feature - Glen Erler

Glen Erler now lives in England but he grew up off the 15 freeway, near San Diego where he was born and lived here in LA for three years before crossing the sea. This has been a good year for Glen, having been shortlisted at Photo Fringe in Brighton and selected by Alec Soth for the 5th Curator's Choice over at Hey Hot Shot.

Copyright Glen Erler

I've chosen to select images from three series he made about this time growing up here and about this place that is Southern California. When I first came across the work, many of the images resonated with me, bringing back a rush of feelings and memories of my own childhood in the San Gabriel Valley, specifically summertime there. I'm very excited to feature the work for that reason, but also because it gives me a chance to further explore some things I've been thinking about over the past few weeks.

A little while back, 2point8 published a transcription of a speech that Gary Winogrand gave at MIT in 1974. The following interaction seems to have caught the fancy of a number of people:

[Audience Member]: You talked earlier about how you were dodging and burning to get an open photograph….

[Winogrand]: It simply means that in the shadow areas there should be information, it shouldn’t be dead, a hole in the picture, black. In the highlights there should be information, it shouldn’t be chalk-white.

[Audience Member]: Why not?

[Winogrand]: That’s what we’re talking about, were talking about, an “open print.”

[Audience Member]: Why do you say that though? I mean there are tons of people that consider themselves photographers who elect to have blacks with nothing in it..

[Winogrand]: Everybody is responsible for their own foolishness. And their own misunderstandings.


[Audience Member]: In other words, you don’t allow that ?

[Winogrand]: It’s not up to me to allow, or disallow. I don’t run the show.

[Audience Member]:But you are… you’re not controlling anything, but you’re making a judgment.

[Winogrand]: One the basis of what I understand, that’s all. I mean, just take a look in this room, ok? Who is wearing anything black? Take a look at somebody who is wearing black. There’s light on it, what color is it, is it black? Or is it grey? Is there a black in nature?

[Audience Member]: Yeah?

[Winogrand]: No, sorry. When the lights are out, when there’s no light, it’s black. Take pictures then, be my guest.

Now, this is Winogrand's subjective opinion of what a photograph should be and I'd venture to take that a step further and say it's his opinion of what a B/W photograph should be.

When it comes to color, I disagree. In this case, it's my subjective opinion of what a photograph should be and admittedly, that may be influenced or formed by the technology I've been working with or been viewing over the years. Give me a camera that has the same dynamic range as my eyes and maybe I'd start to favor more open prints. But maybe not.

Personally, I love the combination of colors with deep, true black. It conjures emotion and feeling that I don't get with, say, white or with a soft palette. Maybe that's part of why I mostly shoot at night. I saw 2 Jehad Nga prints while at M+B last week and at first, my friend and I thought they were lightboxes the way the black made the highlights and colors pop so much. More can be seen on their site here.

Copyright Jehad Nga

I've tried softening my blacks and I just don't like the look as much. I still like it, but not as much. I may be wrong, but I think Glen Erler would agree. His blacks are blacks and that's a component that I love about his work.

Copyright Glen Erler

Copyright Glen Erler

Copyright Glen Erler

Copyright Glen Erler

Copyright Glen Erler

Copyright Glen Erler

Copyright Glen Erler

Now, someone who feels differently is Martina Hoogland Ivanow, who's work I came across on American Suburb X this week. I very much like her work but it's a different beast with a softer feel with more open blacks. She's chosen to lighten the blacks in her photos to go with that softness but you also see in the files (I haven't seen prints) a good amount of noise or grain resulting from that softening. Most noise and grain bother me. To me, it feels as if there is a layer of haze over her images.

It's a personal taste thing and well, art is subjective so you may have a different opinion on the matter and that's fine but I prefer true blacks in places like Glen uses in his photography both for the lack of noise and grain and for the emotion it conjures. I hope he'll excuse me for making an example here and for adding some of Martina's images below to his feature for comparison.

To copy Ed Winkleman's style, consider this an open thread on whether black should be allowed to be black in photography.

Copyright Martina Hoogland Ivanow

Copyright Martina Hoogland Ivanow

Copyright Martina Hoogland Ivanow

Quote of the Week - Edward Weston

"I shall let no chance pass to record interesting abstraction, but I am convinced that the approach to photography is through realism."

- Edward Weston

Friday, October 29, 2010

Kopeikin Openings

Two concurrent shows open tomorrow at Kopeikin Gallery (reminder - it moved to Culver City) from 6-8pm. I know it's short notice but we're in luck. There will be another opening reception for both next Saturday the 6th at the same time if you can't make it tomorrow.

Deanna Templeton: Scratch My name On Your Arm

Lara Jo Regan: Drive-Thru

Eggleston @ LACMA

To coincide with the largest retrospective of Eggleston's work now (starting Sunday) on view at LACMA, there are two upcoming screenings I thought you'd like to know about. Strangely scheduled for Halloween, William Eggleston in the Real World will be screened on Sunday.

Then, on Tuesday, Eggleston's own film, Stranded in Canton screens at Cinefamily at 8pm.

All details for both here.

Quote of the Week - Bruce Lee

"I will not allow myself to indulge in the usual manipulating game of role creation. Fortunately for me, my self-knowledge has transcended that and I have come to understand that life is best to be lived and not to be conceptualized."

- Bruce Lee

Yes, that Bruce Lee.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Soundtrack: Deerhunter

Thinking about things, Bradford Cox may be my favorite musician of the last 5 years or so. Whether with Deerhunter or as Atlas Sound, everything hits and there's not much else I'd rather edit photos to. Helicopter is the winner on the new Deerhunter album, Halcyon Digest.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Opening Thursday - Josef Hoflehner @ Stephen Cohen

Copyright Josef Hoflehner

Opening Thursday at Stephen Cohen from 6-9 pm:

The Stephen Cohen Gallery is pleased to announce Sublime, Josef Hoflehner’s most recent black & white photographs from both his Jet Airliner series, and the urban landscapes for which he has become well-known. Many of the images from the exhibition are included in his publications, Jet Airliner, and Unleashed 3, which will be available for purchase. A reception for the artist will be held on Thursday, October 28, 2010 from 6 – 9 p.m.

Hoflehner’s project, Jet Airliner was shot on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten, where the Island’s famously short landing strip requires commercial jets to fly low over sunbathing tourists, and airplane enthusiasts, capturing fantastic images of what appear to be digitally manipulated scenes. The photographer’s urban landscapes of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Russia, Venice, Italy, and Rio de Janeiro, all shot within the last year, highlight man’s hand on the natural setting.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Quote of the Week - Johan Croneman

"Let's not mind the artist's words too much: it's actually up to us. It's all right if they want to join the discussion, but they don't get right of way. Tough, but too bad."

Johan Croneman


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Opening: Herb Ritts - 25 Years @ Fahey Klein

Herb Ritts - 25 Years - Fashion opens tonight at Fahey Klein from 7-9 p.m.

"The Herb Ritts Archive has been stored in a vault since his untimely passing in 2002. All of the photographs on view are original prints made during his lifetime. Many of the photographs in the exhibition have seldom, if ever, been seen by the public. A limited number of prints exist of each image, and in some instances, only one print is available for sale. This exhibition represents an overview of Ritts’ influential and expansive output in the world of photography."

Opening Sat - Michal Chelbin @ M+B

Copyright Michal Chelbin

The opening for Michal Chelbin's The Black Eye is this Saturday at M+B from 6-8 pm. Think of it as a nice segue from Catherine Opie's football players that just came down at LACMA.

The Black Eye
recalls classical images of athletes, but with a twist. Unlike traditional pictures of wrestlers that exalt the physical form and seek to reveal some transcendent ideal, Chelbin's formally composed photographs are grounded in their nowness. The subjects—young Eastern European athletes of professional wrestling schools—are exhausted, sweaty, bruised and bored, photographed in their first few minutes of recovery. This moment, when the sitters discard public personae, is when Chelbin releases the shutter, revealing the disunion between fantasy and reality. Foregoing digital manipulation or cropping, Chelbin's photographs reveal a measured intimacy within a genuine timeline.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Anyone need a gig? - Photo LA

My friend Angie sent me this today so sharing the opportunity:

I am sending out this email because we have a part or full time (30-40 hours) position available helping to produce Art and Photo LA.

I am looking for someone who has production experience as well as knowledge of the fine art- photography community within LA.

Some of the responsibilities will include:
  • Production assistance in planning the opening night benefits- including VIP programming
  • Helping to secure food sponsors for the opening night benefits
  • Exhibitor services support- managing requests

I would be very appreciative if you could pass this email on to any friends you have that may be interested.

Also feel free to re-post this on your Facebook profile.

Please contact me for further details or questions.

Please send a cover letter and resume to Angie:

Friday, October 8, 2010


From this article by the AP:

A piece of artwork denounced as obscene by church members and allegedly ripped up by a Montana woman using a crowbar won't be returned to display because of safety concerns, city officials said Thursday.

Kathleen Folden, 56, of Kalispell, Mont., was arrested Wednesday on a charge of criminal mischief. Witnesses told police that she used a crowbar to smash glass shielding the print at the Loveland Museum Gallery and then tore part of it up.

Folden, a truck driver, told police that she drove from Montana and bought a crowbar in Loveland before going to the museum to destroy the artwork, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by The Coloradoan in Fort Collins.

Police said the damaged part includes what critics say was a depiction of Jesus Christ engaged in a sex act.

So this nutcase (the t-shirt she was wearing read "Tough as Nails") was released on $350 bond and faces penalties of up to $2,000. Who's willing to bet a religious group will happily help her out with that? In fact, her bail was posted anonymously.

So, not so bad for her. And the government gets some revenue.

And what happens to the artist, Enrique Chagoya, who is a professor at Stanford? His work gets pulled and he doesn't get reimbursed for its loss. Way to enable, Loveland Museum Gallery. So much for free speech.

If you'd like to see another, uncensored piece of Chagoya's, his Uprising of the Spirit, pictured above is on display now at LACMA.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cartier-Bresson @ Peter Fetterman

Peter Fetterman Gallery presents Henri Cartier Bresson:

In celebration of the its 20-year anniversary, the Peter Fetterman Gallery is pleased to present the exhibition Henri Cartier-Bresson: Eye of The Century by renowned photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. This exhibition runs from October 8, 2010 to January 8, 2011.

When Peter Fetterman founded his gallery in 1990, Henri Cartier-Bresson was one of his cornerstone photographers along with Cornell Capa, Willy Ronis, Eduard Boubat and Sebastião Salgado. Fetterman launched his collection with Cartier-Bresson’s famous image Sringar. He eventually went to Paris to meet the master. Fetterman built a personal relationship with the photographer that lasted fourteen years until Cartier-Bresson’s passing but continues today through his wife Martine Franck. Fetterman was given this unique opportunity and through it he was able to encourage Cartier-Bresson to print images that had never been printed before including Queen Charlotte’s Ball and Bolshoi Ballet.

Peter Fetterman Gallery
2525 Michigan Avenue #A7, Santa Monica, CA 90404
Tuesday through Saturday, 11 am to 6 pm

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

William Wylie @ Hous Projects LA

Copyright William Wylie

William Wylie's show, Carrera is currently on view at Hous Projects LA at the PDC through Nov. 11th.

Image.Architecture.Now @ Woodbury U.

This Saturday at Woodbury University's Julius Shulman Institute, what looks to be an excellent panel on the relation of images to architecture or vice verse will take place. Later that day, an exhibition curated by Audrey Landreth of works by 10 photographers whose work deals with "documenting the experience of space" opens from 6-9pm. The show runs through Oct. 23.


Julius Shulman
Livia Corona
Chris Mottalini
Jason Schmidt
Iwan Baan
Sze Tsung Leong
Catherine Opie
James Welling
Luisa Lambri
David Leventi
Victoria Sambunaris

Click the flyer for details.

Reminds me of this conversation between Herzog and Wall, that I own.

Quote of the Week - Wendell Berry

"They limit our comfort; they drain away the subtle corruption of being smug; they make us a little afraid, for they suggest always the presence of the unknown, what lies outside the picture and beyond eyesight; they suggest the possibility of the sudden accesses of delight, vision, beauty, joy that entice us to keep alive and reward us for living; they can serve as spiritual landmarks in the pilgrimage to the earth that each one of us must undertake alone."

- Wendell Berry

Feature - Josh Separzadeh

Josh Separzadeh shoots a lot of horror flick inspired stuff but having not really seen a horror film until I was in college (Yes, Scream scared the crap out of me, so there you go) I'm more drawn to his more tame shots:

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Restrepo - Free with Q&A @ Getty

Saturday the Getty will be screening Restrepo, which I'm dying to see, for free if you RSVP. It will be followed with a Q&A with Tim Hetherington

I almost wish I weren't going to be in Palm Springs. Almost.

RSVP: (310) 440-7300

Saturday Oct 2, 2010 7 pm.

Harold M. Williams Auditorium.
The Getty
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90049