Blue Sky: 36 Monographic books by 36 great photographers
Looking at recently released books this week….
In a stroke of genius (or madness), Blue Sky, the Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts has simultaneously published 36 monographic books by 36 great photographers that the gallery has exhibited over the last four decades. In the words of series editor Christopher Rauschenberg, “These books are available only on the internet and they are startlingly cheap. (They’re about one quarter the price of most photo books today.) This series of books are produced and distributed by harnessing the power of internet age print-on-demand capabilities and the combined social networks of Blue Sky and the 36 photographers. It’s the dawn of a new way of creating Great Books by Great Photographers at Great Prices, powered by elbow grease (an artist specialty) instead of huge piles of money (not an artist specialty)”.
The books showcase the work of Justyna Badach, Karl Baden, Mary Berridge, Lucy Capehart, Susan Dobson, Beth Dow, Pedro Farias-Nardi, Mary Frey, Patricia Galagan, Eduardo Gil, Ford Gilbreath, Rita Godlevskis, Ken Graves & Eva Lipman, Gary Grenell, M. Bruce Hall, Craig Hickman, Hillerbrand+Magsamen, Kent Krugh, Alejandra Laviada, Pedro Lobo, Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, Bill McCullough, Julie Mihaly, Christine Osinski, M. Alexis Pike, David Pace, Gail Rebhan, Greta Pratt, Shawn Records, Soody Sharifi, Danny Treacy, Seth Thompson, Joe Vitone, Susan Weil & José Betancourt and Albert Winn.Christopher continues, “We’ve got portraits, landscapes, street photography and family rituals, mythologies, quirkiness and pathology. We’ve got bachelors, Haitian workers, Moslem youth, synchronized swimmers, people dressed as the statue of liberty, people holding snapshots, and people scarily dressed in rubbish. We have pictures from Russia, Cuba, Mexico, India, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Burkina Faso, small town Oregon, and Canadian suburbs. We’ve got projects about prison cells, proms, English gardens, Judaism, weddings, museums, and AIDS. We’ve got blueprints, pre-Photoshop shenanigans, plastic camera pictures, stereographs, photographic sculpture, scanners used as cameras, pictures made with hand-held fishtank cameras, and trees seen from every direction at once. Half of the books are by women artists and all of them are great.”
The Portland Art Museum is currently celebrating Blue Sky with the exhibition The Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts at 40, that runs through January 11th, 2015. In preparation for the exhibition, the Blue Sky staff looked at the 767 exhibitions they produced for 650 different photographers and published the 36 monograph books from those shows. Quite a remarkable achievement and legacy that deserves not only a museum show, but a parade!
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With Blue Sky’s usual mix of populism and exuberance, the books are delightfully inexpensive. These books average 64 pages in length and an average price of only $18 (whereas the average photo book today costs around $70). They’re not available in any store so go to BlueSkyGallery.org/books to find, preview and order them (lots of them).
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