"New York" 1948, Esther Bubley

The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) presents Esther Bubley Up Front, opening September 4, 2015 and running through January 17, 2016. Drawn from a recent donation to NMWA's collection, this spotlight exhibition presents 27 prints by Esther Bubley (1921-1998). 

"During America's golden age of photojournalism, Bubley cast her discerning eye over a broad range of subjects including beauty pageants, boarding houses, schools, clinics and kitchens. Her immersive working process and compassion for her subjects yielded deeply insightful images that also subtly critique American culture on the eve of the Cold War and Civil Rights movement."


"At the well-baby clinic" 1953

Esther Bubley's archive is represented by her niece, Jean Bubley. We are both members of the American Photography Archive Group, an organization that includes many of the greats including Ruth Orkin, Arthur Rothstein, Philippe Halsman, and Fred W. McDarrah.
Jean Bubley will discuss the work of her aunt in a gallery talk at the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, August 27, 2015.

"Born in Phillips, Wisconsin, Bubley developed a passion for photography while serving as her high school's yearbook editor. She set out for New York City in 1940 to become a professional photographer. After a brief stint at Vogue magazine, she moved to Washington, D.C., and worked as a darkroom assistant to Roy Stryker at the Office of War Information (OWI). With Stryker's encouragement, Bubley began photographing neighborhoods and activities around Washington, recording the effects of World War II on the community. One of few OWI photographers who worked primarily with 35 mm and other small handheld cameras, Bubley developed a dynamic point-and-shoot style that enabled her to photograph from unusual angles."

"High school, in a classroom" 1945

"During the 1930s, images created by Dorothea Lange, Margaret Bourke-White and others made clear to government agencies and commercial clients that women could excel as photographers."



"In 1943, Stryker promoted Bubley to the position of OWI field photographer. She contributed more than 2,000 images to the OWI file over the course of that year. In these early photo-essays, Bubley's ability to capture people in natural, unaffected poses is evident. She immersed herself in her assignments, touring on buses for weeks to document American bus travel and profiling a serviceman's family at home. When Roy Stryker left the OWI in late 1943 to establish a photographic library for the Standard Oil Company, Bubley followed, documenting the impact of the oil industry around the U.S. and beyond. One of her best-known assignments for Standard Oil depicted life in Tomball, Texas. Living in the town for six weeks, Bubley took more than 600 pictures documenting the town's commerce, industry, schools, churches and recreation. In her photographs, Tomball's citizens appear natural and unaffected, often unsmiling or not looking at the camera - a reflection of the artist's ability to work unnoticed."

"Backstage in Quest to Be Miss America, Atlantic City, New Jersey" 1957

All images by Esther Bubley, courtesy Jean B. Bubley, thanks to Nicole Straus Public Relations and Margery Newman.
Exhibitions | Permalink |


© Frank Yamrus

The Long Term Survivor Project exhibition opened at San Francisco Camerawork on June 4th, in celebration of annual Pride month and in honor of National HIV / AIDS Long Term Survivor Day, which was June 5th. 

SF Camerawork brings together works by Hunter Reynolds, Grahame Perry and portraits from our pal Frank Yamrus' series, A Sense of a Beginning, to address the experiences of HIV survivorship. 

Go see if you are SF-based!


"Frank Yamrus' "A Sense of a Beginning" is a series of solemn and stately portraits of long-term HIV survivors. Through this series Yamrus tells the story of survivorship as manifested not only in the lines and physical attributes of his subjects' faces, which bear subtle testimony to the effects of HIV medications, but also as a factual declaration of presence. Each person depicted in the series is alive today thanks to a complex regimen of medication and years of struggle and determination. Long-term survivorship is a story of countless physician appointments, blood draws, continually shifting drug regimes and constant monitoring of T-cells and viral loads, in the midst of untold grief watching friends and loved ones die. Through the peak years of the struggle against AIDS may have faded into recent memory, survivors live on, bearing the impact of AIDS in their everyday lives."

"By 1991... we were on the front lines of war. We volunteered at various AIDS organizations, joined support groups, and attended fundraisers and many funerals. I became a Shanti Project buddy, helping and witnessing young men die, and worked at the Mt. Zion HIV Clinical Research Center with young men who sacrificed their bodies to help find a cure. As I recall our first decade in San Francisco, I cannot remember much that did not gravitate around AIDS. The words and acronyms that were so foreign to me not long before became embedded in my vernacular. Around this time, my photography transitioned to work about loss as it became the language I knew best. Like others, I analogized the pandemic to war and the early images I made romanticized death as a coping mechanism to deal with overwhelming grief.... 

"After countless physician appointments, blood draws, continually shifting drug regimes and constant monitoring of T-cells and viral loads, after untold days protesting and untold nights watching friends die, these courageous men and women allow us to examine the aftermath. Gone is the romanticized idea of battle and loss. In its place: the stark reality of years of struggle and fight. This series does not attempt to capture the tenor of those times or the great strides that have been made since. It simply documents survivorship - the physical, psychological and emotional turmoil AIDS has caused over the last 30-plus years." Frank Yamrus.



All portraits © Frank Yamrus

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Exhibitions | Permalink |


© Bear Kirkpatrick

Our hero of the fantastical, Bear Kirkpatrick, has kindly rolled out a new set of eye-popping images in his Wall Portraits series, with a new solo exhibition of the prints opening next week at Daniel Cooney Fine Art in New York City.

"In his studio, Kirkpatrick applies feathers, dead bugs and other assorted materials on his subject's skin and hair as he listens to their stories. They reveal their experiences and he uses his imagination to see what lies below the surface. He imagines a history and another level of consciousness that might exist beyond our own."






All images © Bear Kirkpatrick

It is barely 18 months since I first saw this project and it has been wonderful to watch it develop, and yes, now the be-all and end-all: a solo show in NYC. Props to Daniel Cooney for knowing great stuff when he sees it. Breasts or no breasts, right Bear?

Opens at Daniel Cooney Fine Art, 508 - 526 West 26th Street, #9C, NYC, and runs May 21 - July 17, 2015.

Check out Bear's feature in aCurator magazine from last year. 
Exhibitions | Permalink |


© Tabitha Soren

Tabitha Soren has spent a dozen years delving into the realm of American baseball, exploring tradition, success, and failure. Using the tin type process to photograph some of the live action, she gives a nod to the history of both that process and baseball itself - coming to popularity at around the same time in US history. Embedding herself in the drafts, she uncovered the truth behind the glamour - that a small percentage ever make it to the Big League.


"FANTASY LIFE is a series that explores the fantasies that define America: Manifest destiny, the romantic idea of the restless wanderer, the hopeful idea that failure is just a step on the road to success, the notion that the pursuit of fame and fortune is also the pursuit of happiness, the belief that to secure one's identity, one must seek to stand apart from the community."

"Out of the thousands of players that are drafted into Major League Baseball each year, only a tiny percentage - about 6% - go on to play in 'The Show,' the big-pay, high-stakes galaxy of thirty teams that we all know, love and hate."


"Some of my subjects became well known, respected players at the highest level of the game. Some left baseball to pursue less glamorous work, such as selling insurance and coal mining. Some have struggled with poverty - even homelessness. But the common thread among them all is that they had a shot, and they literally put their bodies on the line for the sake of the game."

It is very hard to do this deep project justice online, so you can go see it now at Kopeikin Gallery in LA, through June 6, 2015. The live exhibition includes:

A mixture of C prints and Selenium toned Gelatin Silver prints;
A wall of memorabilia from the 23 players I followed for 11 years (everything from kindergarten age baseball cards to arthroscopic x rays from knee surgeries);
A wall of comparison portraits showing that only 5 of the 21 subjects made it to the major leagues;
Tintypes of action shots from games;
Two sculptural elements: a vitrine of 40 bone spurs (many taken out of the players during surgery to improve their game) and an acrylic 4 foot high tower of shelled peanuts, with 6% of the peanuts at the top painted gold.







All images © Tabitha Soren

Check out Tabitha's previous entry about her series "Running."
Exhibitions, Photographers | Permalink |


New York, New York (Brooklyn Bridge), 1979. © Tseng Kwong Chi, Courtesy Muna Tseng Dance Projects, Inc., New York

Coming soon to a very fortunate New York City, at the Grey Art Gallery, New York University, 100 Washington Square East, to be precise, is an exhibition by Tseng Kwong Chi. Known for his self-portraits and photographs of New York's wild 70s and 80s scene, this promises to be a fabulous trip into New York's recent but so-different past.

"Combining photography with performance, personal identity with global politics, and satire with farce, Tseng Kwong Chi (1950-1990) created a compelling body of work whose complexity is belied by its humor and grace. Born in Hong Kong, raised in Vancouver, and educated in Paris, Tseng moved to New York in 1978, where he quickly became a key documentarian of Manhattan's vibrant downtown scene. He also began crafting the performative self-portraits - "selfies" avant la lettre - that form the backbone of his artistic practice, exploring the questions of personal and political identity that preoccupied many artists of his generation. Remarkably, Tseng made virtually all the works on view here in the course of just ten years, before his untimely death from AIDS-related complications at the age of 39."


Andy Warhol, New York, c. 1986


Keith Haring, New York, 1988

Bill T. Jones, body painted by Keith Haring, London, 1983


East Meets West Manifesto, 1983


Art After Midnight, New York, 1985


New York, New York (World Trade Center), 1979. All images © Tseng Kwong Chi, Courtesy Muna Tseng Dance Projects, Inc., New York

This exhibition will travel but for now, it's running from April 21st - July 11th, 2015, with an opening on April 20th. See you there! 
Exhibitions | Permalink |


Boston-based super-shooter and lovely man Lou Jones will exhibit images from his important series "Portraits from Death Row." If you're in the Boston area you have two weeks to go see the exhibition. Jones photographed inmates on death row across the US, and a book was published in 1996. Emerson College hosts the show, at Huret & Spector Gallery.

At the other end of Lou's career, are his breathtaking photographs of dancers (among many, many other subjects). See his previous aCurator post and visit Lou's website
Exhibitions | Permalink |


Young boy reading comics with dog, New York City, 1944. Time Inc./Nina Leen/Courtesy of Daniel Cooney Fine Art 

Nina Leen (d. 1995) was one of the first female contract photographers with LIFE, working with them from the 1940s until it ceased its weekly printing in 1972; she contributed some 40 covers alone. Edward Steichen included two of her photographs in "The Family of Man" exhibition. But still, Leen has not had enough recognition to-date, so we're pleased to see that Daniel Cooney has curated a fabulous exhibition of her work. It opens on March 26, 2015, at Daniel Cooney Fine Art in New York and includes a lovely variety of vintage prints from the Time/Life archives. 


Members of the Young Women's Republican Club of Milford, Connecticut, 1941


Teenage boys heckling girls at a hen party, Des Moines, Iowa, c.late 1940s


Choreographer Valerie Bettis having ice cubes put on her eyes, 1948


Man holding a block of ice, 1942


Teenager Helen Honey tests lipstick shades and color, 1945


Teenager Barbara Nelson tests lipstick shades and color, 1945

"One of Nina Leen's most famous photographic essays documents Tommy Tucker, an orphaned and celebrated trained gray squirrel owned by Zaidee Bullis of Washington D.C. who dressed Tommy in a variety of over 30 homemade outfits including Red Cross Nurse and a Dutch-girl dress with apron and bonnet."



All images Time Inc./Nina Leen/Courtesy of Daniel Cooney Fine Art

Read a fabulous article over at Glitterati Incorporated

See Nina Leen: Lenslady, at Daniel Cooney, March 26 - May 16, 2015.
Exhibitions | Permalink |


Harvesting rice © Damyoma Isaac

Giving cameras to farmers in northern Ghana has not just resulted in increased awareness of their development needs and more control over their lives - an enthusiastic volunteer with Christian Aid dropped me a line to tell me about "My Home, My Farm", a wonderful project she has been helping to develop into an exhibition in London.

From the press release: "We believe that the future of international development lies in utilising modern and innovative communication methods. Ghanaian farmers are faced with the problem of having little or no access to market information. This forces them to sell their produce at the roadside to tradesmen and middlemen at very low prices. 

Christian Aid partnered with Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana (YHFG) to develop the MyPharm project. This supplies the farmers with mobile phones and weekly text messages informing them exactly what their produce is worth. To record the progress of the project Christian Aid and YHFG partnered with PhotoVoice to give the farmers cameras and photography training. The result is a collection of beautifully honest photographs." 


"Water is life. This is our source of water. It is about half a mile from my house. Many people who depend on it live further away." © Apam Apamlea


"The whole community has to use this one borehole, and it is hard to get enough. It takes a long time and everyone, young and old, has to wait to get what they need for their family. Sometimes this causes quarrels about who should take water first."
© Jonas Awinpala

"This photograph was exhibited at the Chief's Palace of Anafobisi where it caught the eye of community water and sanitation staff. They were so moved by the image that they have now provided an additional borehole for the community. Jonas Awinpala has also brought business into the community. He photographed baskets that people in his community had weaved and sent the images to an entrepreneur who has now entered into a contract with the community. Jonas has made approximately £192 from his photography."


A couple uprooting grandnuts on the field. © Linda Atibilla Lariba

These snapshots of Ghanaian life through local eyes will be exhibited at Kahaila café in London's Brick Lane, from April 2nd to May 5th. Go see!
Exhibitions | Permalink |


"After Gibson" © Chuck Samuels, courtesy of ClampArt, New York.

You see now this is how to pay homage to the Greats in my opinion: in marvelously good taste, and with a statement to make about gender (especially in comparison to the hideously awful Sandro Miller/John Malkovich repellent bunch of knock-offs which is still pissing me off).


"After Mapplethorpe"

"For this early body of work being presented at ClampArt, Samuels created twelve astonishingly faithful reconstructions of portraits of nude women from the history of photography by such modern masters as Paul Outerbridge, Man Ray, Edward Weston, and Richard Avedon, among others. However, in place of the female subjects, Samuels has staged himself "before the camera."


"After Belloq"

Between seeing these in person, and the superb press release (nice work, Brian Clamp) I am over-excited! Samuels prints and presents the photographs in the same size and style as they were originally displayed.


"After Newton"


"After Weston"

"...Samuels caps his deconstructive statement by asking women to click the shutter release on the camera, finalizing his gender inversion. While everyone is aware of the ubiquity and violence of female objectification in Western culture, by parodying these iconic art historical images with his own body, Samuels establishes himself as an erotic object, confusing a typically implicit male gaze. As Deborah Bright writes in her groundbreaking book "The Passionate Camera": "Samuels' photographs expose the consistent heterosexist underpinnings of elite culture and taste as he vamps and camps through official photo history. Even better, he overtly homosexualizes those master photographers whose signature styles remain carefully preserved."


"After Man Ray"


"After Avedon"


"After Outerbridge"
All images © Chuck Samuels, courtesy of ClampArt, New York.

"Chuck Samuels: Behind the Camera" is on view through March 28, 2015, at ClampArt, 531 West 25th Street, NYC.
Exhibitions | Permalink |


 © Ellen Jacob

Ellen Jacob's photographs of her friend Kay in the final stretch are currently showing at Soho Photo, here in New York City. In a personal yet completely relatable journey for the photographer, and following Kay's journey to the end which reflects so many inevitable others, she produced a quiet series, showing how her friend held herself dealing with terminal cancer. 


"Life and death, the fragility of human connections, the certainty of the end; all are joined to what our spirits manifest as we confront our greatest losses, whether in our past, future or the elusive boundary between them - this precise moment.

"Waiting Room is a foray into this territory we all share. We know death is waiting; yet we persist. This work explores the waiting, the persistence and the places we live while dying. Places largely separated from life.

"Waiting Room project is about Kay. She was 54. She was dying of cancer. She soon found herself partly paralyzed. I visited her often. Everyone approaches death differently. Kay had an amazing dignity that grew from her acceptance of her situation. She knew she was dying; she could barely move. She knew her life was circumscribed by a bed on the 12th floor of a Manhattan nursing home.

"Sometimes Kay was happy, sometimes sad, sometimes angry. Dying, she remained very much alive. Waiting Room is the story of Kay's time at the boundary between life and death and the place where she spent that time. Through Kay's story, I tell the story of all of us." Ellen Jacob.




All images © Ellen Jacob
Exhibitions, Photographers | Permalink |

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