Preview day at NEXT

We had a great preview yesterday at Art Chicago/NEXT. The booth was full all day with hundreds of people interested in our mission and the beautiful prints and books we’re selling in support of our programming.

The Eatonville Portfolio attracted a lot of attention in the booth during the preview. This amazing set of four images explores the history, geography, and people of Eatonville, FL, the oldest incorporated African American town in America. The portfolio features work by Carrie Mae Weems, Lonnie Graham, Deborah Willis, and Chicago artist Dawoud Bey.

Bey’s other print in our Fine Print Program, Five Children, Syracuse, New York, 1985, has also been very popular with Chicago collectors. The gorgeous prints by fellow Chicago artists Judy Natal and Ben Gest are drawing a lot of people into the booth as well.

If you’re in Chicago, definitely stop by the Light Work booth at 7-8034. We have some great neighbors in our corner of the fair, including Jon Feinstein and Amani Olu from Humble Arts Foundation. We’ll be here through Monday.

Our entire selection of fine art prints and books, all of them donated by the artists who made them, is also available online at our website.

Light Work at Art Chicago/NEXT

Light Work will be at NEXT at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago from April 30 to May 3. Along with a great list of exhibitors, NEXT is presenting a fantastic slate of programming to sweeten the experience.

Many of our former Artists-in-Residence will have work represented at NEXT. For example, we’re looking forward to seeing the Barry Anderson (Light Work AIR 2006) installation at the Cara and Cabezas Contemporary booth. In a brief interview with Anderson this morning, the artist talked about the installation, which will be a new piece called Starchild. The two-channel video is shown on two separate screens with special frames around them, so the work offers a sculptural element not seen in previous installations by the artist. The imagery, Anderson explained, hints at religion and magic and references one of his influences, the experimental filmmaker Kenneth Anger. Above, a still from Starchild.

2008 Light Work AIR Deana Lawson will be represented in the exhibition Partisan, which will be in Booth 12-561/563 of Art Chicago. Her image Family Portrait, a print of which is in the Light Work Collection, will be featured prominently in the exhibition, which focuses on politically-motivated art.

Please stop by Booth 7-8034 and check out the latest prints from our Fine Print Program, which includes work by Elijah Gowin, Suzanne Opton, Doug Dubois, and Stanley Greenberg. We’ll also have several of our signed books available in the booth.

In the stacks

Sometimes just looking at books you love yields great ideas when you’re thinking about a book for your own work. April Artist-in-Residence Brian Ulrich knew when he arrived that he wanted to work on a book dummy for his project Copia during his residency. Syracuse University’s Bird Library, right next door to Light Work, has a great collection of photobooks both in the stacks and in their Special Collections.

While doing some roaming in the stacks, Brian came across one of his favorites, What We Bought by Robert Adams. It’s a classic that definitely resonates with Ulrich and his work: “What We Bought was one of the first books I started thinking about when I began Copia. It’s a great example of diverse work developed over time around an idea. What Adams was seeing in Colorado at that time was all new when he made those pictures. I liked the idea of sort of bringing that trajectory of thought into the 21st Century.”

Image: Brian Ulrich, Westland Mall, 2009, from the series Copia

April Artists-in-Residence

The Light Work Artists-in-Residence for April are Ayana V. Jackson and Brian Ulrich. Both artists are using part of their residency time to edit work, scan film on our high-resolution Imacon scanners, and work on book dummies. Read more about each of their projects, as well as more info on Ayana and Brian, in the Artists-in-Residence page of the Light Work website. There you can also find details on the residency program and how to apply.

The image at left, La Reina de la Primanera, is by Ayana V. Jackson.

Notice for Stephen Chalmers: Unmarked

Syracuse art historian, critic, and writer Nancy Keefe Rhodes has posted a great article about the exhibition Stephen Chalmers: Unmarked, which is currently on view in the Light Work Main Gallery. Having come upon the opening for the exhibition by chance, she appears to have been pleasantly surprised by the series, the photographer, who gave a talk in the gallery, and Contact Sheet 156, which features the work.

Fractionmag also has an article about the show, which will run through May 29, 2010.

Garry Winogrand remembered

We received this wonderful email from Jon Reis this week about lessons learned from Garry Winogrand:

“I had an occasion to visit Rockport, Massachusetts, recently with my wife, Dede Hatch, who was delivering some artwork to a local gallery. I remembered that in 1976 when I was 27 years old I was in the same seaside town where I did an intensive week-long Garry Winogrand workshop. Then, the ten or twelve students all had their Leica’s in their hands and everyone wanted to watch him work the peak summer tourist onslaught. How DID he make such consistently interesting photos? . . . What was the secret to his vision?

One of the many truisms he spoke was to ‘shoot pictures that had not been made before.’ Garry used to say ‘If you seen a photo before, don’t take it again.’ Like the other students I snapped a few of Garry himself at rest not far from Rockport Motif #1. (Now that he is gone I wish I had shot more.)

At night during the photo critique of the day’s take one student asked ‘What made Atget such a great photographer?’ The wise-cracking Winogrand shot back, ‘Why, it is where he stood!’

Being in Rockport again 34 years later, I had fun recreating the pose with the help of Dede. Tree is doing well!”

Jon’s exhibition, By the Way: Two Decades of America Observed 1973-1993, is on view at the Robert B. Menschel Photography Gallery at Syracuse University until December 2010. His generous gifts to the Light Work Collection include over 100 pieces.

Dean Kessmann at Conner Contemporary Art

2009 Light Work Artist-in-Residence Dean Kessmann is currently exhibiting Art as Paper as Potential at Conner Contemporary Art in Washington, D.C. This is his fourth solo exhibition with the gallery. It will run through May 8.

Art as Paper as Potential investigates ideas of tactility as well as the multiple references, implications, and meanings that can be drawn from the sight of a blazing white sheet of paper. Kessmann’s work plays with this idea of a “blank” surface that may have been erased of content or be as yet untouched. The exhibition is staged in three parts with a 21-foot long light box piece, split into three sections, at its center. The center panel of this piece, which is titled Intersecting Data: Light/Dark, is shown here. Read more about this elegant suite of work at Kessmann’s website.

Images from Art as Paper as Potential, along with an essay by Tim Wride, will be featured in The Light Work Annual 2010, Contact Sheet 157, which will be published in July 2010.

Light Work Annual Student Invitational

Light Work is pleased to announce the results of the Light Work Annual Student Invitational, featuring photography students at Syracuse University. Jason Houston from Orion Magazine served as our juror to select a Best of Show winner: Varvara Mikushkina, a junior in SU’s Transmedia Program.  Houston also selected four Honorable Mentions: Elif Yoney (first year graduate student), Erin Geideman (freshman), Hannah Nast (freshman), and Rose Cromwell (freshman). Over thirty students from the College of Visual and Performing Arts and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication submitted excellent work to the invitational. The exhibition will be presented on Light Work’s flat panel screen from April 1 through May 29, 2010. Congratulations to the winners, and our thanks to all participants and our juror.

Juror’s statement by Jason Houston:

It is difficult to select ‘the best’ from such a diverse series of images. There are sports images that captured the peak of action, emotional and intimate documentary portraits, creative fictional scenarios, poetic landscapes, and thought provoking fine art images. Photographs are made for so many different reasons and in so many different contexts. Still, a good photograph will always be a good photograph.

The images I chose as Best of Show and for Honorable Mention transcend their genre and hold up without context. They show technical skill and creative vision, but also, and more importantly, go beyond the literal retelling of what is happening around us. They interpret. They help us see and they show us something new about the world.

For Best of Show I selected the portrait of the man drinking from a tea cup made by Varvara Mikushkina. It has the wonderful feeling of being both deliberate and natural. The fundamentals such as great color, composition, and lighting are balanced by the spontaneous moment captured by Varvara’s camera—a moment that engages us, yet promises only to introduce us to the subject’s character. The intimacy makes it feel familiar, but we are kept ever so slightly off balance by the opposing tilts of the head and the cup, and by his partly covered expression. We are left to wonder about his mood and seek the source of his gaze. We explore the image for clues, drawn in to where we notice details such as the tentatively balanced spoon on his thumb or the slightly skewed art on the wall above his head. It is an image you want to look at.

Image: Varvara Mikushkina, Deda and Tea, 2009, pigmented inkjet print, 16 x 20″

John Reis—By the Way: Two Decades of America Observed 1973–1993

Jon Reis—By the Way:
Two Decades of America Observed 1973–1993
Robert B. Menschel Photography Gallery,
Schine Student Center, Syracuse University
Exhibition Dates: April–December, 2010
Gallery talk and Reception: Oct. 22, 6 p.m

Light Work is pleased to present an exhibition featuring the photographic work of Ithaca-based photographer Jon Reis. By the Way: Two Decades of America Observed 1973–1993 is on view in the Robert B. Menschel Photography Gallery in Syracuse University’s Schine Student Center.

This exhibition features black-and-white photographs from Reis’s Aviation series. Many of the pictures were taken directly on the premises of the airports Reis photographed. This may be in part due to his travel mode. He piloted his own plane to many of the airports, and once there was landlocked without a car. He flew in, photographed, and flew out again. But his speedy travel mode did not translate into rushed images. The captured moments communicate life at its best, spiced up with a smidgen of humor, such as the two women chatting while resting their heads on a plane at Accomack County Airport, or a father sharing a happy moment with his toddler son as they inspect a Cessna airplane at Tompkins County Airport.

Light Work has supported this project since the early ‘70s—Reis received two Light Work Grants, and was featured in two early Light Work exhibitions. Light Work also supported Reis in his application for a NYSCA Conduit Grant, which he received in 1986. This substantial grant enabled him to photograph dozens of municipal airports and resulted in exhibitions at the following airports: Albany County, Syracuse/Hancock International, Rochester/Monroe County, Greater Buffalo International, and Ithaca/Tompkins County. In 2009 Reis generously donated an additional 93 hand-printed silver gelatin images and photo postcards to the Light Work Collection, bringing the total of images to 112.

Reis continues to work actively as an artist and runs a photography business in Ithaca, N.Y. In addition to the Light Work Collection, his work can be viewed at and at

Light Work will host a gallery talk and reception on Friday, Oct. 22, at 6 p.m. to celebrate this exhibition.

This exhibition is on view in the Robert B. Menschel Photography Gallery in Syracuse University’s Schine Student Center. Gallery hours are Sunday to Saturday, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. (except school holidays) and by appointment. To schedule an appointment, please call (315) 443-1300. Both the exhibition and gallery talk are free and open to the public.

Light Work invites groups and individuals to schedule tours and gallery talks of the exhibition and facility. Light Work is a nonprofit, artist-run organization dedicated to the support of artists working in photography and electronic media. Light Work is a member of CMAC, the Coalition of Museum and Art Centers at Syracuse University.

For more information, please contact Jessica Heckman at Light Work, (315) 443-1300 or
**Digital press images and image information are available upon request.

Jennifer Wilkey wins Inaugural Lucie Scholarship

Syracuse artist Jennifer Wilkey is the 2010 recipient of the Lucie Foundation’s Scholarship Professional Grant. This new grant includes a cash award of $5,000 plus a one-week workshop at the Maine Media Workshops. The grant will go toward completing her project and preparing for an exhibition of the work in Syracuse.

Wilkey is recognized for her series that records the life of her brother, who is developmentally disabled. Wilkey eloquently documents his day-to-day activities and discoveries, as well as his relationship with their mother, a constant presence in his life.

The artist holds an MFA in Fine Art Photography from Syracuse University as well as a BS in Anthropology and BFA from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. In 2010 her work will be exhibited at Project Basho in Philadelphia in addition to other venues.

Congratulations, Jennifer, for this well-deserved honor.

[Image: Jennifer Wilkey, James in the Kitchen, 2008]