Review Santa Fe, part three: Extras

© David Bram's iPhone: me, David, Darius Himes, and Susan Worsham at the opening reception, hosted by photo-eye
©David Bram: open portfolio night

In addition to the reviews themselves and hobnobbing with photographers, Center also rounded out the long weekend by including a few extras--some excellent, some not as good in my opinion. Here's a roundup:

The night we arrived there was a private opening at photo-eye Gallery, showcasing Debbie Fleming Caffery's The Spirit and The Flesh. I had the opportunity to briefly meet Melanie McWhorter and Darius Himes, and then was treated to an amazing buffet of food, set up for the Review artists by the gallery. We were all starving, and the meal was delicious--it really was a great way to kick off the start of the trip, and I was able to sit in the courtyard, eat, and chat. I won't comment on the show as I really breezed through just as they were closing shop, but I did visit the photo-eye bookstore briefly and it's a great space--if you're ever in Santa Fe I'd highly recommend making this one of your go-to places. I wish I'd had the chance to go back and spend more time with the many editions they have available.

The next afternoon/evening was an open portfolio viewing at the Center for Contemporary Arts, which I mentioned before was perhaps the weakest part of my experience. I had to take the provided shuttle over to the space at 3:45 (they had us go in shifts so the artists wouldn't crowd in all at once), but the actual viewing didn't start until 5:00. I was thus able to look at some people's work, which was the best part of the evening. I then returned to my table when the public showed up.

One of the biggest problems for me was the length of time--we were there until 9:00 pm and by the end I think everyone was exhausted. Being on our feet on a concrete floor for over five hours did feel a bit grueling. Another problem was a lack of dinner--volunteers came by with granola bars and apples, but I don't think many people felt comfortable chomping on fruit with the possibility of greeting someone important with a mouthful of food. OK, so I'm being a bit wimpy, but it was a long night--perhaps if I'd had a lot of feedback and a better experience overall the discomfort would have felt worth it, but instead it was a bit like being at a dance where you're hoping someone will come over but trying not to look desperate.

I don't know if it was where I was located but I have to admit I had long dry patches. I did have the pleasure of meeting Mary Virginia Swanson, who kindly introduced herself, had a look at my prints and offered some recommendations on what avenues to pursue. I heard across the board that she was a fantastic reviewer (she had been high on my list but I wasn't paired with her) and she had an energetic, enthusiastic demeanor that I really appreciated. I also appreciated a few of my reviewers coming by to say they enjoyed seeing my work that day, and was admittedly pleased when Darius Himes took one of my magazines, though whether it was for the images or the object itself is hard to say (insert smiley face emoticon here). I do think I roped poor Brian Paul Clamp into looking at my images inadvertently, but he was gracious about it, and it was nice to interact with the general public a bit too. In the interest of full disclosure, I'll admit that I did leave my station to meet David Bram's cute-as-all-heck baby Elizabeth (nice name, ahem) aka Jelly Bean, and his lovely wife Amelia. So maybe it was right at a point where if I'd only been by my work someone would have offered me a solo show on the spot (just kidding of course.) I can't think of any brilliant way to improve on the experience, except perhaps to do it in shifts. That way we artists would have a chance to go around, and perhaps the reviewers would have been able to see more work. That's my two cents plus change.

There was also an auction at CCA on Saturday night, but the issues with that gathering I see as CCA's doing rather than Center's. All in all it was pretty lackluster. I had donated a print, so I got a comp ticket, but if you hadn't given work you had to pay $25 to get in, a pretty hefty sum for people who travelled out to Santa Fe for the review. The bids were low, the energy was fairly low, the crowd was thin; the food was good at least, and the auctioneer was quite entertaining. I think they could have really upped the attendance if they'd allowed all of the photographers in for free, along with the reviewers--there's something to be said for a full room of people at an event. Center did issue an apology to the artists via email, which which I think was a good move on their part, though I hold no resentment--I was happy to donate the work as a way to support the community and the CCA, and if they didn't generate much money I consider that to be on the back end, and I felt my contribution was on the front end. I did give a small image with a cheap frame, I will admit, so I can see how some of the photographers who donated limited edition, large, beautifully framed works would have much more to gripe about.

Up next will be a post about the final day's lecture Words Without Pictures: Considering Contemporary Photography at the New Mexico Museum of Art, given by Darius Himes, Charlotte Cotton, and Katherine Ware, curator of photographs at the museum. It was an excellent talk and I think warrants its own write-up, so I'll say more about it later.

I should have called this post Review Santa Fe: More than you ever wanted to know...


Sharon Van Lieu said…
I am enjoying your articles on Review Santa Fe. Thanks for posting them!

I'm glad you like them! Thanks for commenting.
ari said…
great to read your "review" review. great to meet you there and see your work too.

-ari salomon-
Thanks Ari, it was great to meet you as well and see your prints in person.

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