We Have Not Been Forsaken!
As most of you know, I took a road trip last week with my mother, Minnie, down to Greenville, SC to attend the August 4th opening reception for the Forsaken Exhibition. My photograph, American Dream, is included in this show hosted by the Southeast Center for Photography (sec4p). I have been anticipating this trip with Minnie, the reception, and my portfolio review held the following day for close to two months.
Now that both events have finally come and gone, I’m sharing my reflections on the reception with you in today’s blog, which is Part II of my 3-part series on the Forsaken experience. Part I was about preparing for my portfolio review. If you haven’t read it, be sure to do so before my last post on the subject next week (Part III), where I will report on that review.
‘No One Stared at Me’
Some of you might recall that my original draft title for this post about the reception jokingly included the following words: ‘Everyone Stared at Me’. Fortunately, the event was such a positive experience that I’ve decided to take a different approach to the one implied by that title: I’m going to share the reception with you by describing the venue and the show in this blog, and then I’m going to run through a list of positive lessons learned from our experience in a separate, companion post. I hope my Top Tips for Surviving a Photography Exhibition Opening will be useful and comforting to other artists that are lucky enough to find themselves in a similar situation. I hope to have it posted later today or tomorrow.
The Forsaken Exhibition Reception at the Southeast Center for Photography
Minnie and I arrived at the reception a little after six on Friday evening. The sec4p gallery was pretty empty at that point, but it was still early. The place made a good impression right away. The owners, Jane and Michael Pannier, have created a minimalist, but beautiful gallery space featuring an industrial, exposed ceiling and concrete floors, segmented into about six discrete areas. The lighting and presentation of prints are excellent, both for the Forsaken Exhibition and the other show currently on display, which features a series of photo composites by a local artist, Polly Gaillard. Gallery exhibition openings are timed to coincide with the Village of West Greenville’s textile-mill-village-turned-arts-district, First Fridays; a recurring monthly event featuring art, food, and music at the many galleries in the area.
Arriving as we did when there were still few people in the gallery, Minnie and I had the opportunity to get Michael’s undivided attention, and then to work our way unobstructed through all 39 photographs in the exhibit, taking the time to examine and reflect on each one. We both agreed that the juror, Terri Cappucci, put together a very strong and cohesive series of images for the event. Some were disturbing and sad, others were hauntingly familiar, and some were even a bit whimsical. A few quite effectively revealed the beauty and emotion that lingers beneath the surface of Forsaken subjects: abandoned places, discarded creatures and renounced objects. These few were my favorites. Most of the photographs fit well within the overall theme. I encourage you to peruse all of them here.
Eventually, more people began filtering in and out of the gallery. There was never a huge crowd, but Forsaken seemed to be well received by most of those who attended. Well, except for by one older gentleman wandering around with a glass of wine who approached my mother with the sentiment that he found the subject matter depressing, so he could use the opportunity to hit on her. That was pretty entertaining. Refreshments of red and white wine and bottled water were available for visitors and artists perusing the exhibits. The best part of the evening for me was connecting with the gallery owners and the other artists displaying work who were able to attend the reception. I believe there were about six of us contributors present at some point over the course of the evening.
Two of my favorite photographs included in Forsaken are Nancy Albert’s, Abandoned Church, Nova Scotia, and Dale Rio’s, Bud Plant (1), Philadelphia. Dale’s photograph of the Bud Plant interior has a kind of crystalline feel to me, as the water on the floor creates a glistening, superior, almost inviting world compared to that above. I really admire what she was able to create in this shot. Nancy’s Abandoned Church photo is full of texture, from the waving grass to the wooden slats on the structure; it makes me feel like I could reach out and touch them. I also identify closely with her style and vision for this shot. It’s quite beautiful.
How wonderful is it that both of these artists were also at the reception and I got to meet them? Nancy and Dale were gracious and open, so I felt comfortable talking and getting to know them. We exchanged contact information and have been in touch since the reception, so now I have the chance to nurture enduring relationships with two creative people. Just about everyone I met that evening left me with some new piece of information and/or perspective.
Minnie and I spent most of the reception apart; she sat and chatted with the owners and other artists, while I wandered around also meeting new people and talking about photographs. The reception was very low key and the crowd wasn’t as large as I expected, but it was a valuable experience from which I learned a great deal. My photograph, American Dream, looked dapper under the gallery lights, dressed in a white mat and black frame, and it got a few compliments. The evening really couldn’t have been much better. We had a good time and stayed until close at 8 pm. By that time we were tired and ready to go back to the hotel to rest up for the next day’s challenges of my portfolio review and our antiquing adventures.
Now you may be feeling sad that you missed the reception, but it’s not too late to see the show for yourself. The Forsaken Exhibition runs until August 27th, so if you’re in the area, please stop in and check it out. I’m off now to write the companion post on my Top Tips for Surviving a Photography Exhibition Opening. Come read some more!
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-- Angela Martin
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