For Kalamazoo Gazette, 09-26-10
A festival of photos
Images to showcase surreal, celebrated
Photographer Paul Strand defines the art of photography as a “means of intellectual and spiritual enrichment.” Writer Susan Sontag describes photographs as “clouds of fantasy and pellets of information.”
This coming Friday’s Art Hop attendees will have the chance to view photos in many of their manifestations as some 30 photographers, under the banner of “Photo Fest,” will display their work around town. The artists will be among the hundreds of photo practitioners, educators and hobbyists in Kalamazoo for the three-day Society for Photographic Education’s Midwest Regional Conference.
Among those showing work will be Carlos Diaz, most of whose 20 photo collages — black-and-white silver prints from 35mm film — will be new, he promises. The 9x12 images “are small, to bring people closer,” he says of the pieces to be shown at Kalamazoo College’s Light Fine Arts Building.
Titled “The Invented Landscapes of Coney Island,” his pictures depict empty rides and midways at Brooklyn, N.Y.’s famous Astroland amusement park during off-season. Into these images Diaz has dropped cut-out illustrations — turn-of-the-20th-century large gears, levers, wheels and pulleys as well as umbrellas, bells, baby carriages and occasionally people.
Coney Island was the quintessential amusement park, built to attract the immigrants who came to America to work in its new manufacturing plants, Diaz explains. The factory parts represent the real and the finite, the park the surreal and infinite.
This merging of the park and the Industrial Revolution in his photos “became magical,” says Diaz, a professor at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit who spent two years studying drafting and mechanical design in graduate school.
“The fabricated landscapes provide a world where … the relationship between technology and mankind can be seen as both compatible and in contrast. The ‘Invented Landscape’ images are double-edged swords.”
Also taking part in Photo Fest will be “the best of the collection” from the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, guest curator Gary Ciadella says.
Featuring about 40 images from the 19th century to the present, “Light Works: Photographs From the Collection” will include work highlighting city life — by Alfred Stieglitz and Henri Cartier-Bresson — and the outdoors — by Edward S. Curtis and Ansel Adams — as well as the cultural — including Diane Arbus, Dorthea Lange and Richard Avedon, among others.
All the photos chosen are from the KIA’s permanent collection and are “historically important and aesthetically strong,” contends Ciadella, a photographer who specializes in documentary social landscapes — “looking at the environment we live in.”
What did he consider when choosing pieces for this exhibit?
Ciadella wanted to show off the collection to conference attendees who haven’t seen it before, as well as to “the community at large who haven’t seen these in awhile.”
Also on display during Photo Fest will be work by photographers who were chosen through juried selection. They and their locations are:
• Jack Carney — Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo
• Geoff Delanoy — West Michigan Cancer Center
• Dana Fritz — Barnabee Gallery/Powell Library
• Eleanor Gatewood — ARCUS Gallery
• Hans Gindlesberger, Anna Norton, Filippo Tagliati — ARCUS Gallery
• Darlene Kaczmarczyk — Columbia Plaza
• Fredrik Marsh — Diekema-Hamann Architecture + Engineering
• Ardine Nelson — City Center Mall, Diekema-Hamann
• Francis Schanberger — West Michigan Cancer Center
• Kate Shannon — Columbia Plaza
• Leilani Wertens — Kingscott Architects
• Joel Whitaker — Keystone Community Bank
Featured Photo Fest exhibits
A number of exhibits are planned in connection with the Society for Photographic Education’s Midwest Regional Conference. Go to www.midwestspe.org for more information. Here are some of them:
• “Photo Fest”
Some 30 venues featuring work by artist photographers, as part of the monthly Art Hop
6-9 p.m., Oct. 1
• “The Invented Landscapes of Coney Island”
Photo-collages by Carlos Diaz
Light Fine Arts Gallery
Through Oct. 8
Reception 5-7 p.m., Oct. 2
• “Light Works: Photographs From the Collection”
Kalamazoo Institute of Arts lower level
Through Dec. 12
Reception 6-8 p.m., Oct. 1
• “Sculpture, Photography & Film”
Work by Yinka Shonibare, MBE, the British-Nigerian filmmaker, painter, photographer and installation artist
Richmond Center for the Visual Arts
Western Michigan University
Through Oct. 13
Reception 7-9 p.m., Sept. 30
• Society for Photographic Education Student Juried Exhibition
Richmond Center for the Visual Arts
Through Oct. 2
Reception 7-9 p.m., Oct. 2
The visual world
Conference to focus on photos
“In this day and age, can you imagine the world without photography?” marvels Ginger Owen. “It’s the backbone of studying the world visually.”
This coming Thursday through Saturday at various locations in town, more than 250 photo professionals, artists, critics, historians, educators, students and hobbyists from 13 states will discuss and display photography in its many uses at this year’s Society for Photographic Education’s Midwest Regional Conference.
This is the first time the annual conference will be held in Kalamazoo, notes Owen, assistant professor of photography at Western Michigan University’s Gwen Frostic School of Art and one of the event’s co-chairpersons.
Conference events — all open to the public — will include exhibitions and gallery shows, lectures, panel discussions, presentations, workshops and portfolio reviews. Topics will range from the historical to the theoretical, artistic to the technical.
The keynote address will given by author, art critic and theorist Lucy Lippard at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, at Western Michigan University’s Dalton Center Recital Hall. Lippard has written 20 books on art, politics and feminism, including The Lure of the Local: Sense of Place in a Multicentered Society, and has curated more than 50 exhibitions. She’s been a columnist for The Village Voice and In These Times.
Photographer Laura Letinsky will present the closing lecture at 5:30 p.m., Saturday, at Kalamazoo College’s Dalton Theatre. Her works have hung in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Along with the lectures, workshops and artists’ presentations will be “quite a few events for networking,” Owen adds. “People are constantly sharing with each other.”
The Society for Photographic Education is a natiowide not-for-profit organization with 1,835 members.
Society for Photographic Education’s Midwest Regional Conference
Lectures, panel discussions, exhibits, workshops, portfolio reviews, presentations and other events
Sept. 30-Oct 2
Various locations around town
Some events are free, others require a fee