Since the origins of the art form in the 1800s, New Mexico has held an important place in the brief history of photography. The short list of major figures who created many of the most iconic or significant images of their careers in New Mexico is impressive. Timothy O'Sullivan, Paul Strand, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz, Eliot Porter, Laura Gilpin, Lee Friedlander, Meridel Rubenstein, and Joel-Peter Witkin all have important personal and artistic ties to the region.
Honoring that legacy, and recognizing that artistic territories are strengthened when shared, CENTER, a non-profit dedicated to advancing historical and contemporary photography in the arts, in conjunction with Albuquerque's visual arts powerhouse 516 ARTS, and The University of New Mexico Art Museum, brings you PhotoSummer. In a splendid display of commercial/non-profit hybridism, 16 additional venues including Albuquerque's venerable Richard Levy Gallery and The Harwood Art Center. Santa Fe's reputable photo spaces, Verve Gallery of Photography and Scheinbaum & Russek Ltd. are participants, along with the newly relocated David Richard Gallery. "Past is Present," one of three promising exhibitions David Richard is promoting as part of PhotoSummer (while also sponsoring workshops) consists of "handmade photographs" by alternative process artists Kathleen Bishop, Luther Gerlach, Jackie Mathey, Jennifer Schlesinger, and Sam Tischler. The show opens July 8 and runs through September 3.
Zooming in on other highlights, from July 1-24 in their petite white-walled and elegantly clerestoried gallery space, Axle Contemporary Art will display "Accidental Photography," images curated from submissions with the stipulation that each was genuinely made by mistake. To see the show, search the location of their shiny mobile art unit (a former bakery delivery van) at axleart.com. Though if you're art hopping in Santa Fe, chances are they'll find you.
CENTER's Director's Choice Award this year goes to "Adrift" (June 3 – Sept 3) at Photo-eye Bookstore and Project Space, presenting the work of Magda Biernat. The photographer juxtaposes images from two ends of the world in the forms of Antarctic icebergs, and abandoned Inupiat hunting huts to draw our attention to the effects of climate change and its deleterious impact upon culture and identity. Also showing, Nick Brandt's "Inherit the Dust" (June 10 – July 23) in which the artist returns to the scene of the crime to re-photograph his own iconic animal pictures. Blown up to life-size and mounted on billboard like panels, the ghostlike presences of these vanishing beings are profoundly situated in the panoramic post-industrial wastelands that had been plentiful with flora and fauna when the original images were made.
At the Marion Center for Photographic Arts on the Santa Fe University Arts and Design campus, CENTER will present "Dispossessed" (June 17 – August 26) an exhibition focused on the fact that over half of humanity now identifies as minority, marginalized, immigrant, or refugee, and what it means when you feel like you don't fit in. The next evening, 516 Arts in Albuquerque opens "Future Tense" (June 18 – September 17) bringing CENTER member-photographers from around the world to examine the "tenuous balance that defines the path of our collective future."
Which lands us right up against "THE FENCE New Mexico." The organizers of a national photo art event, "THE FENCE," that originated in Brooklyn four years ago in conjunction with CENTER, will this year mount five large-scale outdoor exhibitions across the US, in Brooklyn, Boston, Atlanta, Houston—and, as part of PhotoSummer, in Santa Fe. Works by 40 photographers chosen by a jury of international art professionals for their visions of community across cultural, economic and geographic boundaries will constitute the bulk of the imagery, though each city's "fence" also includes sections exposing the projects of local photo-artists, juried by photo luminaries of that particular community. To be unveiled in July, the Santa Fe installation featuring 16 additional participants featured in "THE FENCE New Mexico" will be hard to miss, running in a 700-foot long horizontal row along the bike trail at the Railyard, as well as at the circular ramada at the busy corner of Guadalupe and Cerrillos. If the photographic arts are your focus, PhotoSummer clearly provides a myriad of perfect places to point your lens.