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.
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.
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