In the Footsteps of…
As each of us goes through life, we are shaped by our genetic makeup, our surroundings, and our life experiences. Of course, the same applies to those who call themselves artists. The work they create, no matter the medium, is inherently the product of every bit of the life they’ve lived and also includes the influences of artists who came before them. Some artists may have had formal training or were mentored by an influential figure in their chosen craft. Others may be self-taught, exposed to various artists and art forms in their personal educational process. In either case, everything produced by an artist is in some way shaped by what has come before, both in their personal and professional lives. Each of the eight photographers in this exhibit has chosen a strong influence in their artistic development and presented several images to illustrate those influential footsteps in which they follow.
Click Here to read an article in Cary Magazine about The Image Salon.
Hanging the Halle — July 30th, 2016
Big Crowd on Hand for the “In the Footsteps of…” Reception — August 5, 2016
The Image Salon Members
(Top Row) Robert Blum, Donald Namm, Michael Ligett, J.J. Raia & Annette Huetter
(Center) Sandra Seagroves, (Bottom) Fran DeRespinis & Lynn Feiss Necrason
Click on any image to see a larger version
Recent Review of the “In the Footsteps of…” Exhibition
“The Image Salon: 8 Photographer Visions Footsteps,” The Halle Cultural Arts Center, 237 N. Salem St., Apex, through Aug. 31.
Eight photographers have pooled their efforts and ideas to create one of the best photography shows I have seen in a long time. They live in Chapel Hill, Durham and various parts of the Triangle and Apex’s Halle Center is a wonderfully busy place to mount their first group exhibition. They chose to examine their particular artistic influences and limited their work to proving that point; as the show unfolds each artist’s body of work is individual and differs from all the others. Their comparisons have been thoughtfully presented and, with their added written information, offer the important lesson that all art is interrelated. The show is an important introduction to fine art photography.
Five of the artists — Lynne Feiss Necrason, Sandra Seagroves, Fran DeRespinis, Donald Namm and JJ Raia — sat down with me a few days before the opening to talk about their love of photography and the importance of this group for their growth as art photographers. The other three — Annette Huetter, Michael Ligett and Robert Blum — had other commitments, but they were well represented by those who could be there. Interestingly, the influences embrace well-known painters, famous photographers, a psychologist, and a writer. We walked around and the artists told me a little about what they are trying to accomplish artistically with their pictures.
Raia chose the photographer Eliot Porter (1901-1990) and the abstract expressionist Mark Rothko (1903-1970) as his major influences. In 1938 Porter left a career in biochemistry and became a full-time photographer; his photographs for the Sierra Club book “In Wildness Is the Preservation of the World” were Raia’s Bible and taught him to appreciate the delicate beauty of the natural world. His “Meadow of Loosestrife” is a field of meadow grasses that stretch before us in delicate color. His Rothko lookalikes are beautiful blends of several different shots.
Seagroves uses this exhibition to explore a relationship between what she finds in nature and Herman Rorschach (1884-1922) and his famed “Rorschach Inkblot Test.” In “Dance” her stark black twigs stand out against a white background and remind us of the symmetry of an inkblot although nature will not allow anything so exact; it is that difference between the man-made and the natural she ponders.
Necrason discovered the British photographer Michael Kenna (b. 1953) and how he is drawn to the conditions of mist, rain and snow in his landscapes. In her photograph “Solitary,” [above] she has captured a single tree, shorn of leaves, in a snow covered hilly landscape. She writes how the softening effects of those same conditions inspire her.
Namm began taking pictures seriously when he retired in 2005; as he said, it gave him an excuse to travel. For this exhibition, he chose people and places in Cuba and quoted Hemingway as his influence. His pictures include ballerinas; little girls in party dresses, hiding in a corner; beautiful but decaying rooftops; and a close-up portrait of a man whose weathered face shows a hard life.
DeRespinis taught school in New York state and walked the streets of Manhattan photographing people and architecture. He honed his skills with courses at New York’s School of Visual Arts and the Center for Photography at Woodstock, N Y. It is Diane Arbus (1923-1971) and her photographs of “eccentrics, weirdos and freaks” that have led him to look for the odd and quirky in everyday life. His “Mixed Signals” [below] shows us a client getting a body tattoo and a friend soothing her with one hand while using a cell phone with the other.
A waiter descending steps crisscrossed with an iron railing is one of Blum’s photographs of portraits of people from exotic places. He cites William Albert Allard (b. 1937), a veteran photographer for National Geographic, as his influence. His pictures are close-up portraits of people from such places as Bali, Nepal, and Myanmar.
Huetter found old abandoned cars covered with snow to make her point about the trash that litters the American landscape. David Emmit Adams (1980) and his photographs of rusted cans found in the desert influenced her fascination with trashed cars.
Ligett is on an odyssey to follow the spring season from the Gulf Coast to the Canadian border; his pictures are the first in his journey and are black and white photographs of places he encountered in southern Alabama. They look like finely etched prints and are remarkable.
These men and women are truly interested in each other and have set egos aside in order to make the group work. They talked about the value of their critiques for each other. Although some have used film in the past, they have all embraced digital. This work is very straight forward: they take the shot and, instead of darkroom manipulation, they do it digitally. Two of the members are still working full time; the others are semi or completely retired. In October, the “Click Triangle Photography Festival” will be held. Art photography will be everywhere; this show needs to be seen again as part of that festival.
The Halle Center is in the old Apex town hall, built in 1912. At one time it housed a meat and vegetable market, a fire house and a jail. The mayor’s office shared the second floor with an auditorium that seated 300. Today it hosts all sorts of cultural events from small theater productions to weddings to classes to art exhibitions.