A review of Wayne Thiebaud’s 2018 exhibition at theJan Shrem & Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at UC Davis.Read More
A quick review of Ave Pildas’s short run book “Street / People”Read More
William Karl Valentine’s review of Geoff Dyer’s book “The Street Photography of Garry Winogrand” and his March 23, 2018 lecture at the Getty celebrating the books release.Read More
Photographer William Karl Valentine examines the influences of how he developed his photographic vision or photographer’s eye.Read More
Review of the Boston Museum of Fine Art’s Unexpected Families exhibitionsRead More
Actor and Photographer Jason Lee at Arcana for the release of his book A PLAIN VIEWRead More
My thoughts about the process of seeing and photographing.Read More
I was in New York last month to show my work and to photograph. I also took some time to hit a few galleries in Chelsea, here is what I found:
Laurence Miller Gallery 521 West 26th Street, Fifth Floor, NYC
I loved the vintage work they had up (new exhibitions up now), some amazing images I had never seen before from the masters. W. Eugene Smith's image from the 1941 World Series at Yankee Stadium really got my attention. I have photographed a lot of baseball so I am always interested in how other photographers, especially a master, choose to document the sport. I also thought it was interesting this image was taken just before the start of WWII. Robert Frank's prints were another favorite. I am very familiar with the work but the style of printing for these prints was interesting, gave me more insight of him as a photographer. I also appreciated the photographic technique and craftsmanship of Erica Deeman’s prints. Her work has received a lot of attention recently. The gallery staff knows the medium well, I enjoyed talking with them.
Robert Mann Gallery 525 West 26th Street, NYC
What a cool space and I loved Julie Blackmon’s photographs. Her large prints are amazing, best way to experience her images, they allow you to see all the details. I especially like her new work, "Trapped" & "Holiday", and I really appreciate her humor. I also picked up a copy of Julie's book, great addition to the library. Gallery staff at Mann has energy and you can tell they love what they do. Can't wait to visit again.
Friedman Benda Gallery 525 West 26th Street, 1st Floor, NYC
I went to the opening of Misha Kahn's Midden Heap by accident while looking for Kasher Gallery's opening and am thankful I did. Friedman Benda describes Kahn's exhibition this way:
By allowing the illogical and the irreverent to take over his creative process, Kahn transforms a white-walled gallery space into a delightfully inventive alternate reality. “Each piece is part of a landscape I imagine as the earth gets swallowed by the sea,” he says. “No single object has any specific meaning. It’s all part of a feeling.”
I have no idea what it was but it was so cool, and describing it as a "feeling" is accurate, especially during the action of a New York opening. This exhibition runs through December 16, 2017, if you're in NYC it is worth experiencing.
Steven Kasher Gallery 525 West 26th Street, 2nd Floor, NYC
I enjoyed Jill Freedman’s work. The prints were obviously vintage based on their condition and the craftsmanship; I always like opportunities to see vintage prints because I can learn so much more about the photographer. Debi Cornwall's work definitely had merit too.
521 West 26th Street, 2nd Floor, NYC
I thought Matthew Pillsbury’s images were very interesting, unique, and well crafted. Definitely best to view prints because the images really work at that scale. I don't know if this will make sense, but for me, when I looked at these images for a few moments, their layers showed themselves and a deeper meaning came through. I see how it would be possible to move through the gallery quickly and think you saw these images but you really wouldn't have.
Strand Books 828 Broadway, NYC
Okay not a Gallery, and in a different part of the city, but this book store is amazing and worth talking about. I picked up a copy of Meryl Meisler’s book ‘A Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick’. It's not the tightest edit or greatest printing of a book I have ever seen but I just liked a lot of her images, found it to be an interesting documentation of the New York during that era. Could have filled my suitcase with everything I found on their racks.
William Karl Valentine's review, and images, of Pier 24 Gallery's exhibition "The Grain of the Present"Read More
The Sebastião Salgado "Genesis" exhibition at MoPA in San Diego is wrapping up this weekend, luckily I was able to get to see it earlier this month. I am a huge fan of MoPA, and a member. Its a great space, always worth the trek south, and this was another solid exhibition.
I had seen silver prints from Sebastião Salgado's Workers series before and was impressed. I am pretty sure this is the first time I have seen prints from the Genesis series. All the prints at MoPA were digital prints either from original digital files or scanned negatives. The massive scale is impressive and appropriate for the subject matter. The quality of most of the prints were very good. I think MoPA did an outstanding job getting so much work up without it feeling crowded.
The The International Center of Photography was the first venue in the United States to host this exhibition in 2014 which was curated by Lélia Wanick Salgado. The ICP described the exhibition this way: "Genesis is the third long-term series on global issues by world-renowned photographer Sebastião Salgado (born Brazil, 1944), following Workers(1993) and Migrations (2000). The result of an eight-year worldwide survey, the exhibition draws together more than 200 spectacular black and white photographs of wildlife, landscapes, seascapes, and indigenous peoples—raising public awareness about the pressing issues of environment and climate change." A powerful body of work, relevant to today, and well worth the view.
In December 2016 I had an image included in a very unique exhibition here in Los Angeles, The Billboard Creative. The exhibition takes unsold billboard spaces and features one artist, and one of their works, on each billboard for a month in December. My billboard was on Wilshire Boulevard and Dunsmuir Avenue just east of LACMA.
I am always happy to have my work seen, but I especially happy that Mona Kuhn included this image in the group of 45 selected artworks for the 2016 Billboard Creative. I love the concept of putting artwork on billboards in a place like Los Angeles which is such a car centered society. I also felt this was the perfect image for the venue and I get excited to think of the thousands of people who had a chance to see one of my most important photographs.
This past year the Autry Museum in Los Angeles and the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana both had exhibitions of some amazing photographs by the masters. Bowers had its final exhibition in a series on Edward Weston's work and the Autry highlighted Group f/64 and Richard Misrach's photographs from the Bank of America collection. I believe it so important to see prints by the masters of our craft for a photographer to really have the understanding of what a good print looks like. I remember early in my career getting to see, and hold, a Weston pepper print and learning so much from that experience. Another important exhibition I saw was SFMOMA commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ansel Adams where they exhibited 100 of his prints curated by John Szarkowski. What I enjoyed most in that exhibition was seeing prints of the same image that were printed at different times in Ansel's career. It really highlighted how he honed his craft as a master printer.
My only criticism of these two exhibitions was the lighting in the galleries at both venues. At the Autry it was too dim and you couldn't see print detail. I especially remember two split toned images by Misrach which looked they were beautiful but there wasn't enough light on them to show the green and purple tones. The lighting at Bowers was inconsistent, one image would be lit perfectly then the next would have fall off that prevented the viewer from seeing the full beauty of the image.
As a side note, here are some favorite works I saw at the Autry on my last visit (I am Maynard Dixon) :
© 2017 WILLIAM KARL VALENTINE "Untitled" CHI-DSC 58974-20-17
I follow Street Photography International on Instagram, I follow numerous photography related accounts. Today they posted a posed portrait, I think it was a self portrait, of a woman's reflection in a rain drop covered window. It was a fine image, it got tons of "Likes" and emoji's, but it was not "Street Photography". I commented on the image, questioning if it was "Street Photography" and the photographer replied that it was because there was a street in the reflection... I chose not to continue my point there because I did not want a reply war on Instagram, opting to share my opinions here on my blog instead.
Doing a quick on line search this is one of the first definitions of Street Photography that I found: Street photography is a type of documentary photography that features subjects in candid situations within public places such as streets, parks, beaches, malls, political conventions and other settings. The basic concepts are the images are candid ( usually not posed ) and they document something. Yes I know every photograph documents something by the nature of the medium , but in this case I think good "Street Photography" documents the moment and has layers with deeper meaning created by the interaction of the different elements within the image. I am a Documentary Photographer, some of my images are "Street Photography" other images are just documentary in nature. Image quality is more important than a label.
I have seen a fair number of other images lately that people try to label as "Street Photography" and the images just are not, they are not candid nor documentary, and often they are not good. I think some people like the concept of Street Photography and adopt the label without knowing what is and what isn't Street Photography.
Above is one of my images from Chicago a couple weeks ago. I think this is a decent example of "Street Photography". I made the photograph while actually walking down the street, it's candid, it documents how these people looked on this date, plus the way the little girl is looking at the man begging while her mother is looking away adds that deeper layer of value for the viewer.
For those wanting a better understanding of Street Photography look for "Streetwise" published by Modernbook in 2010 which accompanied a MOPA exhibition on Street Photography curated by Deborah Klochko, its is a good definition of Street Photography. Garry Winogrand, Robert Frank, Danny Lyon, Bruce Davidson, and Lee Friedlander are Street Photography legends, look up their images. I do think is worth noting though, that I have seen a video interview of Winogrand where he ripped the term "Street Photography" and wanted nothing to do with it. That's why I will stick with the label "Documentary Photographer" and leave it at that.
I got a request this past week from Artsy.net asking me to share a link to the their website, specifically their feature page on Robert Frank. I wasn't too familiar with Artsy so I looked in to them first, they are basically a clearing house for art on the internet, collecting information from all over and having it in one place. They are definitely worth checking out and I even added their mobile app to my phone. Below is the link to their Robert Frank page and I have their main page in my Links page now as well.
So I decided to endure afternoon traffic in Los Angeles to go see this exhibition today. I loved the concept of the pop-up exhibition and thought the venue had potential.
So this is it... Really?
The building is hip, I would say it was cool but it doesn't have air so it isn't - they were running fans to deal with the heat. The concept of the exhibition display is interesting how it hangs from the ceiling and you move through it. Someone put a lot of time and effort in to that, plus they had the plastic holders for the magazines created for the exhibition. I know this because they all had "Slash Exhibition" molded in to the top of them. But the reality is this exhibition sucks. I went there hoping to see the images from the magazine printed and displayed like a normal gallery, I thought I would see some of the magazines too, but I expected more. All they did was hang a bunch of the magazines up so you could look at them. Big deal? There is no lighting in the building so it hard to read most everything. You have to deal with the harsh lighting from the front windows and the reflective properties of the plastic sleeves so good luck with seeing half the work. Another thing is this is an exhibition about the punk era of the late 1970's, the presentation is too clean and delicate, it doesn't fit. Someone would have done better to spray paint the walls and glue copies of the magazine over them. The presentation is more befitting modern images where the process of actually walking through them was an important component of the exhibition. I looked at the catalogue while I was there, $50 for basically a bunch of reprints of the original magazine but again they are scaled down in size and hard to read and see detail.
It just seems like someone was looking to make a quick buck with this rebirth by quickly repackaging the magazine issues in a catalogue and hanging some old copies from the ceiling. If someone would have taken the time to go through old negatives and make some good scans then reproduce the text this exhibition, and catalogue, could have been pretty amazing. As it is I would have gotten way more out of this if someone would have just scanned the original magazines and put them on line so I could read them when I had the time.
I read Caroline A. Miranda's article in the LA Times about the punker magazine Slash on Thursday and was excited to see there is a pop-up exhibition going on highlighting the magazine, the scene, and Melanie Nissen's photographs. It is showing at 4859 Fountain Avenue in Hollywood and is open Monday - Friday from noon to 5:00pm. Limited hours but I am hoping to make it up there this week and will give a review after. But since it is up for such a limited time I wanted to make a post about it now. I am excited that we are starting to see more photographs from the 1980's getting visibility. The link to Caroline's article is below, great read.
While looking at A New History of Photography's Facebook group page today I saw a post by Polly Gaillard announcing her latest blog post "When the House is Burning Down; Photography and Memory. I checked it out and thought it was a great read plus there is a lot of other good content on her site, worth the visit.
My High School graduation gift was a Pentax K-1000, the standard starter camera for my generation. When I left to attend ASU my grandmother gave me her Nikon F which she had purchased during a trip to Japan. Based on that gift I became a Nikon photographer. I own Canon point & shoot cameras, Fuji Cameras, a Mamiya 7II, a Leica, plus other cameras but my DSLR world is Nikon.
My Nikon D5300 just wore out, literally no more auto modes, and I had to make the decision on how to replace it. I have been wanting a D5 to replace my D3 but I was hesitant based on the price and size (too many people flip out when you photograph with a pro body). As timing would have it the D500 was recently release and I was able to get a kit from Samy's Camera this past weekend. The initial images are impressive. The ISO capabilities are insane, 10 FPS are awesome, and ergonomically the camera is comfortable to use. My initial observation is it has all the features I was looking for in the D5. I did notice the D500 seems to eat up battery power but I hear Nikon is addressing that and will introduce new batteries soon. Nikon also still needs to get their SnapBridge App for iPhones released so you can upload images straight to your phone from the camera.
Some initial test images from the last two nights:
I had the opportunity last night to attend a private reception at the Hilbert Museum of California Art at Chapman University which was very impressive. Mark and Janet Hilbert began collecting California Scene paintings in 1992 and the collection has grown to over 1,000 pieces. As the collection grew Mark and Janet decided they wanted to find a means to preserve and share their collection. They eventually developed a relationship with Chapman University in Orange, California and helped to build the Hilbert Museum of California Art. Earlier this year the Museum opened in a beautiful new temporary building at 167 North Atchison Street in Orange. The Museum will eventually move north several blocks to a large old Orange packing warehouse that the University owns which will be a larger space with other venues. Last night's reception was for members of the Pacific Club.
I found it very interesting to listen to Mark describe his collection. It was fascinating to see what made him gravitate towards different pieces and how passionate he and his wife are about the collection. He definitely is a good steward for the work, almost like a proud adoptive parent. I know I always want people who obtain my work to share my passion for the image & print as I do.
I have long enjoyed the work of Millard Sheets and other California Scene painters. I think partially because the paintings often are similar to photographs, I usually like the subject matter (often they are of grittier scenes which I know I gravitate towards), they document my parents' generation which I enjoy, and I know a big part is that I appreciate the skill these artist had. Sheets is my favorite of the group and I have to say I have not seen a watercolor like his San Dimas Train Station before. How Sheets was able to capture the lighting in watercolor is just amazing. I have limited painting experience but enough to know what he was able to do with his brush is not an easy thing.
Chapman's President Jim Doti was also at the event last night and it was great to see how excited and supportive he was about the Hilbert Museum and art in general as it relates to education. Gordon T. McClelland did a very nice job curating this exhibition and I can easily say the trip up to the museum was well worth it. The museum is literally right across from the Metrolink / Amtrak station so easy to get to from San Diego and Los Angeles. Old town Orange is right there and great restaurants like Felix's are an easy walk.
New additions to my library: "The Open Road" by David Campany (2014 Aperture) and "Both Sides of Sunset: Photographing Los Angeles" by Metropolis Books 2015.Read More