Notes from Review Santa Fe
A little over a month ago, I had the great pleasure to attend Review Santa Fe , as a photographer, and engage in an experience rich with all things photography. Review Santa Fe is one of those photo events that truly define and launch careers and projects–an example being Alec Soth’s Sleeping by the Mississippi. It’s the only juried review in the United States setting the bar for excellence in photography. Today I share some of my experience and for the next two weeks, will feature the work of photographers that also participated in the reviews. Admittedly, I was not focusing on recording the event as I was more concerned in participating in it, so thankfully, other photographers had the wisdom of actually taking photographs.
Here is a video from last year’s participants…..
I arrived in Santa Fe the night of June 24th and made my way to one of several hotels suggested for the reviews. I stayed at the Sage Inn, which turned out to be perfectly situated to attend all events without much effort–the reviews being about a 6 minute walk to the Santa Fe hotel where they were held, the Portfolio Walk taking place across the street, and the all important Whole Foods next door.
Having arrived a day early, I spent much of Thursday wandering downtown Santa Fe and exploring the arts district where all the CENTER events were taking place. There was a huge exhibition of video art at the 5th Annual New Media Exhibition, Currents, and a host of new contemporary galleries in the industrial Railroad area of Santa Fe.
The festivities started on Thursday evening, June 25th with check-in, a welcome by CENTER director Laura Pressley , and a hilarious and insightful lecture by the one and only, Phil Toledano. Following was a lovely reception at the hotel with cocktails and appetizers. It was fun to catch up with old friends like Lacey Terrell from Los Angeles, connect with photographers I know from other photo events or have featured on Lenscratch, and meet fellow photographer, Sheron Rupp, whose work I was so moved by in the Where We Live exhibition at the Getty Museum some years back, that I wrote her a fan letter (of which she had no memory of!). In addition, I was really thrilled to finally meet last year’s Lenscratch Student Prize winner, Elizabeth Moran, and this year’ winner, Frances Denny, both terrific people and photographers that have long and happy careers ahead of themselves. When the CENTER reception ended, we were moved to another reception at the new Photoeye Gallery location, now next to the Santa Fe Hotel in the heart of the burgeoning Railway gallery district. The gallery walls showcased the amazing and well-celebrated work of Richard Tuschman, who happened to also be a participant at the reviews.
It’s easy to report on the social side of events like this, but I’m also going to touch on the emotional side. I seem to go through the same set of emotions during reviews…first loneliness and feeling untethered, then feeling a little anti-social and wanting to retreat to my hotel room and just watch TV, then the excitement of meeting fellow photographers and seeing old friends, then ending the first evening with the knowledge that you have to expose your work and yourself to the movers and shakers in the photography world the next morning and the flood gates of anxiety and insecurity open up that don’t allow for a restful night. By the morning, I just wanted the first review to be over, to release some of the tension and energy that comes from presenting your work.
On Friday, most photographers had three reviews–mine were with Japapnese Festival Director and Gallerist, Takeki Sugiyama, Mary Anne Redding, Chair, Photography Department & Curator, Marion Center for Photographic Arts at SF University of Art & Design, and Verna Curtis, Curator of Photography, The Library of Congress, DC. I look at reviews as a starting point for relationships, without expectations of walking away with something concrete…for me, it’s about building friendships and getting my work on the visual rolodex’s of the movers and shakers in the photo world.
Once the reviews were over, photographers scrambled to prepare for the Portfolio Walk. Long tables were set up at the Farmer’s Market Pavillion across the street and for three hours, we greeted interested attendees who wanted to look at photography, while trying to see the work of fellow photographers.
After a long day, groups of photographers went out to dinner, forging deeper bonds and swapping war stories. The next morning, we were back at the reviews, ready for a long day of 6 or more reviews–the reviewers had three times that amount, so a big day for everyone.
All througout the events, photographers were giving artist lectures at the Zane Bennett Contemporary Gallery a few doors away–I was able to hear Manjari Sharma’s terrific lecture, and other photographers included Adam Reynolds, Morgan Ascom, Amiko li, Richard Tuschman, Clare Carter, Phil Toledano, Gauy Martin, and Jeanine Michna-Bales–all receipients of CENTER’s awards.
I had wonderful meetings with Brian Clamp from Clampart in NYC, Danny Sanchez from the Modernbook Gallery, Sara Bader from Princeton Architectural Press, Claire Carter from the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Eve Schillo from the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, and Arpad Kovacs from the J.Paul Getty Museum. All were thoughtful and engaged reviewers and I so appreciated there insights and wisdom.
Saturday ended with a Black and White party and auction to celebrate CENTER’S 20th, the Santa Fe Workshops 25th and the Center for Contemporary Arts (CCA) 35th Anniversaries. The event was highlighted by a lecture by the wonderful Julie Blackmon.
Sunday was filled with gallery tours and visits to places such as the new photo-eye bookstore.
A big thank you to the amazing staff at CENTER for providing us with an exceptional experience. And another big thank you to all the photographers who made the experience so rich by opening their hearts and their portfolio boxes. It only confirmed that we are in a community of amazing people–warm, supportive, creating and celebrating work that defines who we are and the world we live in.
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