Studio Visit: Brian Ulrich

Since we’re in Chicago for the art fair, we’re bringing you all things Windy City for the week. Enjoy this virtual tour of Brian Ulrich’s studio. And then make sure to come visit us in Booth 12-266 at Art Chicago!

A few years ago I had a studio live/work space down in the Pilsen area of Chicago. It was a great place with good light and plenty of space. After some time I came to the conclusion that having my work several feet from my bed was not necessarily a productive thing. It was all too easy to continue working late into the evening, wake up, crawl back to the computer and pick up where I left off. Continuing on this path seemed a one-way street that was not going to lead to healthy living.

I found a smaller but nice space on the North side of Chicago in an area called Andersonville. This was a large converted factory building in a beautiful area near the Metra train. It was a bit strange walking by the small start-up businesses with their doors open in the morning (seemingly waiting for clients) but the change to have work to show up for and a home to return to in the evening was a welcome change.

Late last year, with many of my recent forays into collecting signage and retail artifacts, I was beginning to simply run out of space. After some looking I found a space nearly three times bigger than the Andersonville one for a small amount more per month. In order to store my framed works I had to rent a small storage unit; I was able to end that expense as well with the new bigger space.

My studio assistant Jeffrey Brandsted and I did a fair job getting organized. Building a storage rack for the framed works, keeping the table movable to accommodate special projects. There is always the random last minute shipping container that needs to be built or a sign to disassemble, clean, and trace for new neon, mounts or whatnot.

Storage rack of framed works, shipping supplies, and Architect Rendering from Rolling Acres Mall.

This is the first space that allows me to have the opportunity to indulge a bit more. Specifically when I’m out photographing or collecting, I don’t have to be hampered by the fact that I simply won’t have space for an object. I can bring something back to the studio and then decide. Making lots of photographs leads one to remind oneself to trust the inclination to take a certain picture. The same goes for some of the objects. If there is a curiosity there, follow it.

Art For Less #5 signage without plastic covers, being mocked up and testing power supplies. In foreground is recent rescue of Cinema sign.

View of Cinema I & II signage, Burt’s Shoes is behind it. A large framed 48 x 60″ print from Thrift is on the wall along with 3 Dark Store proofs (Richland Mall, 2009; Kids R Us, 2008; Kentucky Fried Chicken, 2009).

Currently I work with Jeff and my SAIC co-op intern Claire Demos. It’s quite amazing to have people around to help and share ideas. I do my best not to take that for granted, and Claire and I have many talks and have made occasional trips for her work which is really making strides. Over the years I’ve been incredibly lucky to have some great people work with me.

I also couldn’t do without my two Scanmate Drum Scanners, 1 Epson 9900, 1 Epson r2400, Shop vac, Coffee Maker, mini fridge (stocked with out dated film, hummus, and half and half), ladders, books, books, and books.

Scanning area. Scanmate 5000 scanner, older Mac for scanning, Epson flatbed for scanning objects and preliminary scans of film, swanky chair found outside a former strip club.

Bookshelf with archived negatives, Ear Piercing sign, retro Polaroid camera, Montgomery Ward door pulls, photograph of Jon Gitelson as a pre-teen with inscription “Have a Great Summer, See You At the Pool”, books and publications, custom lamp given as gift from Clevelandart. — Brian Ulrich

Brian Ulrich has spent the last decade researching and shooting the images in Copia, a series for which he won a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in 2009. Ulrich has exhibited his work at many venues, most recently at Robert Koch Gallery in San Francsico; Julie Saul Gallery, New York City; and the FotoFest Biennial in Houston, Texas. While not traveling the country making work, Ulrich teaches part time at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Read more about Brian Ulrich and his work at his website.

See you in Chicago

We’re looking forward to our first year at Art Chicago, happening this year from April 29 to May 2, as usual on the 12 floor of the Merchandise Mart. We’ll be telling people all about our residency program, exhibitions, and Contact Sheet, as well as our world-class digital services and our new online Digital Archive. We’re also bringing an amazing array of beautiful prints to sell in support of our programming, including the four images new to our 2011 Subscription Program. Among these is this gorgeous image by master photographer Carrie Mae Weems, called Untitled (Woman and Daughter with Make-up) from the iconic Kitchen Table Series.

Over the course of the fair, we’ve invited three former Light Work Artists-in-Residence to stop by the booth, talk about their work, and share their experiences about being a resident at Light Work. Make sure to stop by and meet:

Kelli Connell, Friday, April 29, 2-3pm
Kelli Connell was a Light Work Artist-in-Residence in 2008. Connell received her MFA in photography from Texas Woman’s University, and her BFA in both photography and visual art studies from the University of North Texas. Her work has been exhibited nationwide. Connell has also received various awards and residencies, and given lectures and workshops across the country. Connell currently teaches at Columbia College in Chicago. For more information about Kelli Connell please visit her website.

Judy Natal, Saturday, April 30, 1pm
Judy Natal was an Artist-in-Residence at Light Work in 2003, and her work  was featured in an exhibition in the Light Work Main Gallery in 2004.  Natal is a professor of photography at Columbia College in Chicago. Her  work is the collection of institutions including the California Museum  of Photography, Center for Creative Photography, and the Museum of  Contemporary Photography, among many others. Her work has been exhibited at Projects International, The Nelson-Atkins Museum, and the Sao Paulo Biennial, among other venues. For more information about Judy Natal and her work, please visit her website.

Dawoud Bey, Sunday, May 1, 1pm
Dawoud Bey was a Light Work Artist-in-Resdidence in 1985. His work was featured in an exhibition in the Light Work Main Gallery in 1986, and his work is included in the Eatonville Portfolio. His work has been exhibited at numerous institutions worldwide, including The Art Institute of Chicago, The Barbican Centre in London, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among many others. For more information about Dawoud Bey, please visit his website.

See you at the fair!

Enjoy the Contact Sheet Digital Archive today

Over 160 issues of Contact Sheet are available online in our Digital Archive. If you currently subscribe to Contact Sheet, all you have to do is sign in for immediate access to the Archive. You can subscribe online – if you’d like to go entirely paperless, you can get online-only access to every Contact Sheet ever printed for $25. Our free trial subscription allows you to peruse the most recent issues of Contact Sheet, including the Light Work Annual. Click here for a quick preview and find out how easy it is to use the Contact Sheet Digital Archive. Let us know (315.443.1300; if you have any questions about how to access this amazing resource.

Contact Sheet 161, the latest to be added to the Digital Archive, features the work of Jeffrey Henson Scales, whose exhibition That Year of Living is also currently on view in the Light Work Main Gallery.

From the Juror, Amber Terranova

More than 50 Syracuse University students entered the Light Work Student Invitational this year. Photo District News photo editor Amber Terranova served as our juror to select a Best of Show winner, Genevieve Marshall, and Honorable Mention award recipients Andrew Hida and Renée Stevens. An exhibition featuring the work of all those who entered is currently on view on the Light Work flat screen. Congratulations to the winners, and our thanks to all participants and our juror.

Juror’s statement by Amber Terranova

A number of themes recurred in the Light Work Student Invitational, including identity, love, loneliness, and the beauty of nature. I was particularly struck by the connection between photographer and subject in much of the work. Images of family dynamics, couples, moments between young lovers and friends, celebration, objects, religion, nature, empty urban and interior spaces all seem to permeate the open invitational this year. In this particular invitational the individual images had to make an immediate impression since the call wasn’t for series. While editing the selections I began to take notice of imagery that revealed the photographers’ unique perspective or an intention. Technically proficient images reflecting a strong concept or aesthetic stood out.

Many of the students’ images appealed to me and felt fresh. But I was drawn to Genevieve Marshall’s portrait (above), the recipient of the 2011 Best of Show Award. Her image offers room for a viewer’s interpretation. The gentle light, muted colors, gesture, and subtle eye contact suggest a certain curiosity about her subject. This image also emphasizes the importance of timing. To capture spontaneous moments requires being observant and quick. Here, Marshall’s choice of focus and perspective create both intimacy and distance. It’s a moment that raises questions or hints at something to come.

Amber Terranova is the photo editor for Photo District News. She worked previously for New York magazine and Outside. Amber has reviewed portfolios for the New York Photo Festival, the International Center of Photography, Review LA, Review Santa Fe, Photo NOLA, the Boulder Magazine Conference, Aurora photography, APA, and has been a guest lecturer at ICP, SVA, MICA (Baltimore) and Dawson College in Montreal.  She has judged national photo contests, serving in 2009 as one of three jurors for Review Santa Fe and in 2010 as a judge for the International Photography Awards. She also judged The Center for Fine Art Photography’s Red competition and an issue of F-Stop magazine.

Students Participating in the 2011 Student Invitational Exhibition:

Daniel Aguilera, Sarah Anthony, Martin Biando, Danielle Carrick, Caitlin Caspersen, Luis Chimbo, Kathryn Connelly, Maureen Coyle, Ciara Crocker, Rose Cromwell, Brian Dawson, Joshua L. DeMotts, Emily Edwards, Jillian Ellis, Julia Ferrier, Amy Francisco, Andrew Frost, Anthony Garito, Andrew Hida, Mark Hoelscher, Myron Holmes, Robert Hopkins, Max Jackson, Lauren Jones, Varun Joshi, Jenna Ketchmark, John Liau, Joe Lingeman, Robert Loughlin, Annie Louton, Allie Marino, Genevieve Marshall, Varvara Mikushkina, Bob Miller, Emma Morgan Meade, Hannah Nast, John O’Toole, Arundhati Patel, Carly Piersol, Elizabeth Reyes, Jessica Scarfo, Meghan Schaetzle, Masha Snitkovsky, Renée Stevens, Leah Stiles, Alyssa Stone, Bridget Streeter, Chris Trigaux, David Trotman-Wilkins, Jennifer Turner, Tracey Wishik, and Elif Yoney.

Images: Top, Genevieve Marshall, recipient of the 2011 Best of Show Award; middle, Andrew Hida, recipient of the 2011 Honorable Mention Award; bottom, Renée Stevens, recipient of the 2011 Honorable Mention Award.

Jeffrey Henson Scales Interview

That Year of Living, an exhibition of work by Jeffrey Henson Scales, will be on view at the Light Work Main Gallery until May 27. Click here to read more about this amazing series, which was made in the time after Scales had been diagnosed and successfully treated for cancer.

Before the opening reception for the show yesterday, Scales gave an interview about his work to WSYR. In the interview, Scales also talks about what makes a good photograph, making work on the streets of Manhattan, and his #1 tip for taking pictures (take a lot of them!).