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Posts about Photography

Soth and Zellar tell Texas tales

Posted by: Kristin Tillotson Updated: December 27, 2013 - 5:47 PM

Photo of Hearne, Texas, street by Alec Soth.

The dreamy on-the-road partnership between photographer Alec Soth and writer Brad Zellar just wrapped another chapter. Chronicled in their self-styled newspaper, The LBM Dispatch, the two visit various parts of the country and attempt to capture that mix of geography, humanity and circumstance that creates regional character.

Though the results often seem serendipitous, they have an itinerary heading out, Zellar said. “We hate being in the van so we usually know where we’re going with some idea of why,” he said.

They’ve previously applied their particular documentary style to Ohio, Michigan, Colorado and upstate New York This time out the pair tackled the Texas Triangle, a more than 60,000-square mile swath that’s home to 70 percent of the state’s population. Among their stops were the site of JFK’s assassination on its 50th anniversary, the 16th execution of a Texas death-row prisoner in 2013, and a tatty shrine to the Virgin Mary erected by a farmer who claimed in a hand-lettered sign that she helped him get his tractor unstuck.

Throughout the trip, Zellar and Soth had looked in vain for that archetypal kind of town made immortal by “The Last Picture Show.” Toward the end, on the way back to Huntsville to cover the state’s 16th and last execution of the year, they stumbled onto tiny, desolate Hearne.

“It was at the exact epicenter of the Texas Triangle formed by San Antonio, Dallas and Houston,” Zellar said. “The light was perfect. There were no cars. Along six or seven blocks of this super-wide main street, everything was closed down but a drugstore.  It was spooky, it was so abandoned. When we got back to the motel we found out it was one of the first towns that WalMart moved into.”

Unusually unprofitable itself, that WalMart was closed in 1990 and turned into a high school.

Like the LBM’s five previous editions, a print version of the collected stories and photos may be previewed and purchased at lbmdispatch.tumblr.com.

The duo have been attracting interest from far-flung corners, including the New Yorker’s Photo Booth blog and the Russian version of Esquire magazine, which flew a stylist and three trunks of designer clothes from Moscow to Grand Junction, Colorado, for a fashion shoot photographed by Soth and featuring Zellar as the model. Brad was game for the job, despite momentary hesitation on how to pronounce “Givenchy.”

See below for one of the surreal images from that experience.

 

 

Brad Zellar channels Cary Grant in "North by Northwest" for a fashion shoot for Russian Esquire. Photo by Alec Soth.

Walker acquires Sean Smuda artwork

Posted by: Kristin Tillotson Updated: December 27, 2013 - 4:18 PM

An image from Sean Smuda's portfolio "Blueprints," recently acquired by Walker Art Center.

Sean Smuda, a Minneapolis photographer, multimedia artist and ubiquitous fixture on the cultural scene, once unwittingly insulted Walker Art Center associate curator Bart Ryan. But Ryan hasn’t held it against him. He recently acquired a portfolio of Smuda’s work, “Blueprints,” for the Walker’s collection.

“I’ve pestered various Walker curators over the years to stop by my studio, with no real expectations,” Smuda said, in his usual charmingly dry, affectless tone. “The first time I met Bart, he gave me a drink ticket at a Walker event, then I criticized a show I didn’t know he had just curated.”

“Blueprints” is a series of collages made from photographs of modes of transport from trains to hot-air balloons plane to a shopping cart -- against barren, fantastic landscapes, with excerpts of poems translated from many different languages embedded at the bottom.

Ryan said he was drawn to Smuda’s work for its “constellations of knowledge, the interplay of information, identity and geography.”

“I now feel completely justified for dropping out of art school,” Smuda said. See and read more about his work at  http://seansmuda.com/mosaic.html

Alec Soth prints sold to benefit Soap Factory

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: December 9, 2013 - 3:36 PM

"Soap Factory," by Alec Soth

Internationally known Minneapolis photographer Alec Soth has produced a limited edition of 100 prints (above) whose sale will go to support the Soap Factory, a non-profit Minneapolis arts organization that showcases experimental projects in a former factory warehouse. This summer Soth staged a "slide show" review there at which participants in his Summer Camp for Socially Awkward Photographers explained and exhibited their own work.

Soth's own work has garnered international attention for the past decade at the 2004 Whitney and Sao Paulo biennials, in 2008 shows at the Jeu de Paume in Paris and the Photomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland, and a 2010 retrospective at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. While his gallery and museum career perks along, Soth uses the book format to tell stories in pictures. At regular intervals he turns out small editions of books and magazines that quickly become collector's items including "Sleeping by the Mississippi," (2004); "NIAGARA," (2006), "Fashion Magazine," (2007); "Dog Days, Bogota," (2007); "The Last Days of W," (2008); "Broken Manual," (2010). For the past five years he's been devoting a lot of attention to quirky publications issued through his publishing firm, Little Brown Mushroom.

The Soap Factory print is roughly 12 inches wide by 9 inches tall and will be issued in an edition of 100. Cost $400. Orders can be placed through the Soap Factory here.

Video: Minneapolis gallery owner Martin Weinstein talks photos

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: November 4, 2013 - 4:27 PM

Photo by Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

Minneapolis gallery owner Martin Weinstein talks photos in a new You Tube video put out by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in connection with a show of his gifts to the museum. Over the past 31 years Weinstein, a former Minneapolis lawyer and long-time trustee of the Minneapolis museum, has given the Institute more than 500 photos about 75 of which are on view through August 31.

On the video, museum director Kaywin Feldman, photo curator David Little and photographer Alec Soth talk about Weinstein's contributions to the Twin Cities art scene along with comments from Weinstein himself. 

Photographer Gordon Parks celebrated in two Minneapolis exhibits

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: October 23, 2013 - 11:22 AM

Gordon Parks, 1990 portrait by Richard Sennott for the Star Tribune

Two shows of photos by legendary photographer, filmmaker, musician Gordon Parks will run simultaneously at the Mill City Museum and Juxtaposition Arts in Minneapolis. They feature photos on loan from the Gordon Parks Foundation and work by Twin Cities students enrolled in a Juxtaposition program guided by nationally known photographer Jamel Shabazz.

Panel discussions and artist talks accompany the exhibits which open October 24. The Mill City show runs through June 8, 2014; the Juxtaposition exhibit through Dec.1. Both are free.

The exhibits' title, "A Choice of Weapons: A Living Legacy," alludes to Parks' powerful autobiography in which he recalls his tough, impoverished youth in Kansas and St. Paul during eras of racial tension and strife. Rather than respond to violence with more violence, Parks (1912-2006) chose to fight injustice and ignorance with a camera. His unsparing photo essays for Life and other magazines of the time documented the appalling living conditions endured by the poor in the United States, Brazil and elsewhere. Many of his photos are recognized as classics of the Civil Rights movement. He went on to be a pioneering filmmaker, composer, poet and inspiration to generations of admirers.

The exhibits complement One Minneapolis One Read, a community endeavor in which Twin Citians are invited to read the same book, this year's selection being "A Choice of Weapons" by Parks.

Opening reception and panel: 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Oct. 24, free. Mill City Museum, 704 S. 2nd St., Mpls. Panelists: Wing Young Huie, Archie Givens, Robin Hickman and Jahliah Holloman, moderator Daniel Bergin. RSVP to oneread@minneapolismn.gov or call 612-673-2509.

Reception and artist talk: 5 p.m.-7p.m., Nov. 7, free. Juxtaposition Arts, 2007 Emerson Av., N., Mpls. Speaker Jamel Shabazz. RSVP to oneread@minneapolismn.gov or  call 612-673-2509.

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