2008


Leaning Tower of Pisa, Illinois

It’s been a busy year.

Early in the year Beth went to Portland, Oregon for the opening of her show at the wonderful Blue Sky Gallery, while I travelled to Pittsburgh to speak at the f295 Symposium and then twice to Florence with Cy DeCosse, organising things for his 2009 show there.

In the summer, Beth and I spent some time driving around the small towns in west-central Wisconsin, gathering material for a collaborative project we’re working on, finally ending up in Chicago for yet another of her projects.

One of the highlights of the year for me had to be in June, when my image Bird’s Nest was published by Jen Bekman‘s 20×200, while for Beth it was probably being flown out to San Francisco for a few days by the nice people at Blurb to receive her $25,000 check for winning the first Photography.Book.Now competition.

As for exhibitions, I had work included in several group shows in Phoenix, New York and Pittsburgh, while November saw Beth’s show open at the Photo Center Northwest. That same month saw Beth and I having a joint show at the Iris Gallery in Boston, which then travelled to their other gallery in Great Barrington, where it will remain until early January 2009.

Beth is already organising several shows for 2009 for which I’ll have to start printing soon, as well as finishing the 100+ 3-colour gum dichromate prints for Cy’s show in Florence. That show will open in October 2009 and will be accompanied by a 3-colour catalogue. And yes, we’ll be there…

20×200 Interview

Recently, Beth was asked by the good folks at 20×200 to come up with some answers for their continuing series of artist interviews. Here’s the complete interview, or you can go to the weblog at 20×200 Artist Interview: Beth Dow.

Happy Friday! I am pleased to offer you this snappy little interview with photographer Beth Dow. Beth recently won a Grand Prize from Photography.Book.Now for her book In the Garden:

Ms. Dow’s photography is truly outstanding. Her elegant images of the cultivated natural world, her devotion to a traditional photographic process, her ability to make work that feels contemporary, and her intelligent use of the book form to showcase that work is what ultimately separated her work from an impressive field.

– Darius Himes 

And now on to the questions! Do you have any guilty pleasures? While I try not to align pleasure with guilt, maybe: loud, fast, music that freaks out my kids (and husband). And singing! Especially while I cook.

When did you decide to be an artist? I couldn’t have been older than four. I was obsessed with drawing and was always good at that.

Can you remember your first photograph? My dad was a photographer and it was a part of my life so I don’t remember the first. When I was very young, I drew pictures on blank slides and ran them through a projector in the basement. Family lore says that some of those slides scandalized my grandmother, but that’s a story for another time.

Where would you like to live? I’d sometimes like to move back to London, and I (nearly always) like New York, too. My husband and I both need to have one foot in the city and one in the the country, and I’d hate to give up our weekend place in Wisconsin. Minneapolis works for now.

Your favorite painter? For different reasons: Claude Lorrain, Pierre Bonnard, John Singer Sargent.

Your favorite photographer(s)? Aleksandr Rodchenko, Josef Sudek, P. H. Emerson, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Lee Friedlander, Sally Mann, Berenice Abbott, Frank Gohlke, Pentti Sammallahti, John Davies.

Your favorite musician? My musical taste is famously broad, but Nick Cave came to mind.

Your favorite author? As in music, my tastes are eclectic. I like the cinematic qualities of Graham Greene and Raymond Chandler. Mayhem and moral ambiguity.

How do the above influence your art (if at all)? I hadn’t thought about that before, but there is, perhaps, a similar kind of noir aesthetic, tempered by dark humor.

Do you collect art? Of course! Mostly photographs, but also paintings and prints.

Any favorite fellow 20×200 artists? Keith Taylor (because I married him).

How important is it to you to keep art affordable? “Affordable” is a relative concept for someone who works in platinum! We all need to recognize images that have meaning for us. Some of those pieces will stay with us throughout our lives, and others pass through as our needs change. While I’m a firm believer in the connoisseurship of photographs as artifacts, I also acknowledge the power of images as ideas. It would be a sad world if all ideas were expensive.

What are you working on? A project about fake ruins that I’m super excited about, and two collaborations.

If you didn’t make photographs what would you make? Excuses.

Witty and talented. Who could ask for more?  Beth is represented by Jen Bekman Gallery.  Images from her last solo show, Fieldwork, can be seen here.  Beth’s 20×200 edition prints:  Bags Clearing, Wakehurst Place Beth’s website Beth’s book, In the Garden

Florence

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Back in Minneapolis after another (all too quick) trip to Florence and a week of good eating. And photography…

Villa Le Piazolle was incredible. High in the hills above Florence yet near enough to be able to walk into town, although the return journey usually involved a taxi ride, especially after lunch or dinner.

My room had windows facing in three different directions and the image above was shot from one of these. According to the website its ancient purpose was to let the occupant control the property on three sides, as well as the work that was being carried out on the estate.

The flight back was uneventful, from the taxi being there at 5am to making the connection in Amsterdam. But special thanks must go to the steward on the Northwest Airlines flight who, because I had briefly fallen asleep, chose to decide for me that I didn’t want a main meal. When I requested one from him on his way back to the galley I was told that “we’ve stopped serving”. OK, I’ll just have to make sure I’m awake for the snack later. Which I wasn’t. Again, he knew better, but at least I had my stash of Clif bars.

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I’m thinking that he did me a favour though, because on the last three international flights I’ve taken with NWA this year I’ve been sick afterwards. This time, aside from having a craving for a mixed bean salad (?) I couldn’t have felt better.

So, when I next fly NWA and The Replacements‘ song Waitress in the Sky is playing on my iPod, I’ll be able to put a face to the lyrics.