Thursday, January 24, 2008

From trees to wet plate to poets

Bruce and I took a little trip to Western, MA this past weekend. It was a last minute get-a-way before he started his second semester of graduate school at UConn (not to mention, I crave trees every now and then). One of the photographers in my next landscape show, Paul Taylor, had an opening at the Hallmark Museum of Photography (no relation to Hallmark cards or collection), along with the super Susan Kae Grant. Paul owns and operates a photogravure press in New Hampshire, called Renaissance Press, which I visited this past summer. The fantastic retrospective included photogravures, ambrotypes, and many large gelatin silver print prints from wet plate collodion negatives. The PRC will be showing selections of the later from a series along the Connecticut River in March (see example above).

Just expanded, Hallmark now has two substantial gallery spaces and both bodies of work were immaculately presented. Hallmark does it right: the artists were picked up and driven around in limos the entire time, red carpets flowed out of the doors, and the reception was replete with extra touches. We met and talked to the Executive Director, Paul Turnbull, a former teacher at the related Hallmark Institute of Photography just down the street (which by the way is a 10-month commercial school that is unbelievably, incredibly outfitted with the latest technology). Bruce took courses there for a spell when he was about 20 and it was great to catch up with Paul, who proceeded to inform Bruce he had been following his work. Later that evening, during the artist talks at the Institute, Paul announced to the entire audience that Bruce Myren will have a show at the museum in 2009!

We had a delicious
dinner and stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast, appropriately called Poetry Ridge, near Poet's Seat Tower. Come to find out, Paul and his wife and Susan were all staying at the b&b too! We had drinks (including a plum port) and looked at old photos of the house in front of a roaring fire. Turner's Falls itself is a small village with a paper mill history and a picturesque setting. From the warmth and kindness of all of those at Hallmark, to the dinner, to the b&b house and hosts, and a brilliant breakfast and visit with all of the artists, it was truly a memorable weekend!

UPDATE: I just posted pics from the weekend on our flickr page.

ABOVE: Paul Taylor, Untitled Connecticut River Landscape #20, 2000, Toned/Stained Gelatin Silver Print from collodion negative, 30 x 40 inches. For more of Paul's work and his press, visit

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Another accolade for Picture Show

I just learned that Picture Show has won an award from the New England chapter of AICA (Association Internationale des Critiques d’art, the International Association of Art Critics). I am so thrilled! I am so excited to be counted among a group of superb museums, galleries, and alternative spaces, and honored by critics and peers. I am not sure if it's a first or second place award or the exact category, but my guess for the latter is: "Best Group Show in Institutional/University Gallery, Boston-area." I'll let you know if it's a gold or silver after the ceremony in February!

From the AICA's literature:
Each year the ...[AICA] invites its nearly 400 members to vote for the best exhibitions created during that season as a way to acknowledge the exceptional work contributed by artists, curators, and dealers in the field of the visual arts. These prestigious annual awards are the art-world’s equivalent to those given each year by the New York Film Critics Society, the Drama Desk and the Academy of Motion Pictures. Additionally, for the past six years, the New England chapter of AICA has initiated its own awards ceremony to honor local efforts, which are also announced at the National AICA/USA awards ceremony....AICA was founded in 1949 as a non-profit governmental affiliate of UNESCO. The Paris-based AICA comprises 4,000 members in 74 national sections around the world. AICA, whose members are distinguished critics, scholars, curators and art historians, aims to further protect the field of art criticism as a discipline and emphasize its contribution to society, and to act on behalf of the moral defense of works of art.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Golden Bee for Picture Show

I just learned today that the PRC's 2007 Boston Cybearts offering was featured in the Boston Phoenix's 2007 Art in Review. I am proud as pie to report that the good art folks there counted Picture Show among the best of 2007! The Phoenix gave the first nod to the amazing "Joseph Cornell: Navigating the Imagination” at the Peabody Essex Museum. This was truly an outstanding exhibition -- a true visual and mental feast and a rare experience indeed -- and I am thrilled to have our exhibition share the same ink.

Here is the blurb on Picture Show:

Back to the future “Picture Show,” organized by Leslie K. Brown at Boston University’s Photographic Resource Center, went low-tech to mull motion pictures. The best stuff seemed teleported straight from some fabulous 19th-century inventor’s lab. Deb Todd Wheeler offered a magic picture wheel and hand-cranked light-up illusions. Steve Hollinger adapted old-time amusement hall flip-book animation technology to create visions of an atomic apocalypse. And a strange pedestal contraption by Hans Spinnerman of the terrific, hallucinatory Musée Patamécanique in Bristol, Rhode Island, somehow made a giant bumblebee appear to hover inside a bell jar.
I am particularly proud of this accolade because...

1.) It's the first time I curated a show with kinetic, interactive art and the first time I worked with this kind of new media meets old media (oh how nervous I was during the opening and throughout the whole show).
2.) I've always loved pre-cinematic and optical toys (and creating as much atmosphere in the gallery as I can).
3.) This is an idea I've had for some time.
4.) These artists were top notch and a joy to work with (and great senses o' humor too!).
5.) Perhaps it was because most of the work was constructed or assembled over several days right in the PRC, we developed a great sense of camaraderie. I count them among my friends. We took a particularly memorable trip to visit le Musée Patamechanique in Bristol, RI after the show ended its run. (Congrats on your recent grant!)
6-1000.) It was a joy to see how much fun visitors had with the show! You can browse pics of the light-sensitive, lens-based, and people-activated artwork here at this
flickr set.

Thanks Steve, Olivia, Deb, Erica, Hans and Neil! And thanks Greg Cook!

ABOVE: Detail of Hans Spinnermen - The Dream of Timmy Bumble Bee. Installation at PRC, Photo by Jeremias Paul

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Midtown meets Polaroid

After a long blog absence and a much needed holiday break, I continue my musings on Midtown Plaza (see the last post for a little history of America's first indoor urban mall). We actually went to Midtown the first night I was back in Rochester for the holidays. Parking underground and then riding the escalators up into the mall brought back a flood of memories (including trips to the stationery store Scrantom's for art supplies). My father and I wandered around for a while taking oodles of photographs. There were actually a fair amount of people there, likely paying their last respects to a Christmas tradition. You can read several Rochestarians' memories as printed in the local newspaper on Christmas eve here.

More on my trip home later (and more and better posts in the New Year!), but in the meantime I present one of my fave Polaroids above. It shows a (barely) live tree oddly lit by crazy bright hanging pendant lights. You can actually see it in its glory days in the left of the below picture. (The overall lighting of the mall, however, was incredibly dim and orange, which made picture taking quite difficult.) If you'd like to see more digital snaps I took at the mall and running commentary, please visit my flickr page.

P.S. I realize that taking Polaroids diverges from my Kodak roots, but somehow the nostaglic feel and format of Polaroid seemed appropriate for Midtown. And it's nice to support them and film too!