The Anne Kelly Mixtape
I’m so excited to feature the amazing Anne Kelly in our Mixtape series. I have known Anne for many years as the intelligent and enthusiastic Gallery Director of the photo-eye Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but I have also spent time with her at numerous portfolio review events. Whenever I’m in Santa Fe, I leave time for this special gallery and her insights into photographers’ work. Anne’s continued commitment to the photographic image makes her an invaluable asset to our community.
Anne Kelly is the Director of photo-eye Gallery in Santa Fe, NM and has been with the company since 2006. Her interest in photography developed at an early age, influenced by her mother’s love for the medium. Originally from Colorado, she moved to Santa Fe to further her studies in photography under the direction of David Scheinbaum at the College of Santa Fe, where she received her BFA. Kelly ls particular interested in photographic works that employ the use of alternative processes in contemporary work, magical realism, and images that invoke emotion and stimulate the imagination.
As a Gallery Director, she is a a juror for photo-eye’s online Photographer’s Showcase and Art Photo Index. Kelly has been attending portfolio review events, as a reviewer since 2006. photo-eye is a leading contemporary photography gallery and bookstore representing both established and emerging photographers.
And now, The Anne Kelly Mixtape!
Tell us about your growing up and what brought you to photography.
Photography has long been part of my life. My mom did a great job of documenting my childhood, but photography really became part of my consciousness when she started taking photography classes and making black & white portraits of me.
I believe I was fourteen years old at that time, and it wasn’t long before I started taking classes and photographing my friends with a 35 mm Nikon. The first class that I took was through Arapahoe community college in Denver, CO. This inspired me to sign up for a two-year vocational commercial photography program that was conveniently located on my high school campus. This opportunity gave me the freedom to focus on photography for two hours a day during my junior and senior year of high school. I would stay after school working in the darkroom for hours. Though the class was focused on commercial photography, but my teacher Jim Maxwell allowed me to explore my curiosities and let me experiment. I would make contact prints of contact prints until the image disappeared or splash chemistry around just to find out what would happen. It was magic!
After graduating from High School, I wanted to continue my exploration of photography so I moved to New Mexico to study at the College of Santa Fe. Unfortunately, CSF closed a number of years ago, but at the time was a wonderful liberal arts school that was founded in 1859. I chose CSF purely based on their strong photography program. At the time they were completing the construction of The Marion Center for Photographic Arts. I studied under the direction of David Scheinbaum, Nancy Sutor, Steve Fitch, Roxanne Malone and Debbie Fleming Caffery. As part of the liberal arts curriculum I also studied painting, printmaking, sculpting, drawing and the history of art and photography. My senior show was a series of cyanotypes that were flush mounted to board and hand varnished. After graduating I put on several art shows around Santa Fe – really just for fun. The largest was a pop-up show, an event that I titled A Night of Art and Music. I rented a warehouse for one night and invited a few friends to show their art and perform live.
In 2006 I started working at photo–eye Gallery and quickly discovered my love of the business side of art. Since then I have executed over 60 exhibitions in the gallery as well as at art fairs. Time flies when you are having fun!
What is your title and job description and tell us about a typical day?
My title is Gallery Director, and every day is different – which I love. A good deal of my time is spent corresponding with artists and collectors. In addition to being responsible for the logistics of exhibitions in our physical space, photo-eye also has an in-depth website including a blog that features original content like interviews, reviews, new work, and tips about collecting photography. The gallery team and I are always reviewing and adding new work to the website, brainstorming the best ways to inform and delight our audience while supporting our artists. My desk is located by the front door of the gallery so all activities are punctuated with interactions with gallery visitors and showing prints from the flat files. I love educating people about the artists we show and sharing interesting stories about the photographers we represent.
What are some of your proudest achievements?
I find my position at the gallery to be very rewarding. Working in a creative environment keeps me inspired, and I particularly love working with artists to promote their work and create exhibitions. It really is wonderful to be able to watch an artist’s career blossom. I can by no means take credit for the accomplishments of our artists, but I am thrilled to contribute to the dialogue of contemporary photography and to be able to offer a platform to the many talented photographers that I work with. I love being able to call attention to important works and all the beauty and creativity that this life has to offer.
I will never forget the first time I saw one of Tom Chamber’s prints. It was “Prom Gown #1”. At the time Tom Chambers was represented via our online gallery The Photographers Showcase, and someone had ordered the print and I was unpacking it to inspect prior to shipment to the client. It was one of those prints that just stopped time. I couldn’t articulate what it was about the image, but it moved me. After sharing the print with the photo-eye team, we decided to take a selection of Chambers work to photo Miami and photo LA. This was 2008. Our clients had the same reaction to the work. The following year Tom called to tell me that he had been invited to participate in a photography biennial in Bogota, Columbia 2009 —and that his work would be displayed Fotomuseo, the National Museum of Photography. Fotografica 2009 Bogota was a gathering of sixteen international and twenty-four Colombian photographers. Since then, Tom Chambers has had three solo exhibtions at photo-eye and we worked with Tom to create a LTD photo-eye Editions portfolio of his work. A retrospective book of Chambers work, published by Unicorn, titled Hearts And Bones is due out in the Fall of 2018.
I also absolutely love working with clients, and I believe the collecting process is an art unto itself. In the process of building my own collection, I’ve learned not only how to identify the types of images I love but describe why I love them, and especially enjoy assisting others to do the same. I find helping someone feel comfortable about adding the first photograph, sometimes their first original artwork, to their collection to be particularly rewarding. Showing clients that original artwork is accessible is a true joy.
In the end I am proud to call our artists and clients friends – even if we have never met in person!
Any advice for photographers submitting work to photo-eye?
When submitting to any gallery I would suggest attending their exhibitions and events. However before approaching the gallery you should visit their website and learn about the submission process. You should also make sure you have a strong, well developed and edited portfolio of images. Do not apply with a “sample pack” because it will appear that you lack focus. All of this sounds obvious, but based on my experience it’s not. It is not uncommon for artists to show up without an appointment with a portfolio in hand. Rarely, if ever, is this a good move. Trust me.
If you apply to photo-eye your work will be considered for a few different venues both physical and online. Our physical gallery is located in the Railyard Arts District in Santa Fe, NM and houses work by over 30 artists. Many of these artists have been represented by photo-eye for decades and some are new to us. In addition to our physical space we also have a wonderful group of artists that are represented online. The third venue is Art Photo Index which is a global, searchable compendium of vetted art and documentary photographers and their work. If you apply and your work is not accepted please do not be discouraged. Keep making work. Often times we review work that we love, but it is simply not a good fit for our program.
Any advice for photographers coming to a review event?
Do your homework. Research your reviewers and consider what unique and valuable information they might be able to impart. Most portfolio reviews are a series of 20 minute meetings and 20 minutes can go by quickly. Take notes. You will be taking in a lot of information and tiny details are important. Bring promotional material, ideally small and lightweight. Being pushy or overly aggressive is not productive. Most reviewers will not appreciate this. You are there to network and get feedback. There is always something new to learn even if you feel that the body of work that you are presenting is complete. It is possible that you might be offered an opportunity on the spot, but typically this takes time. We just met.
What is something unexpected that we don’t know about you?
I am a Ski bum – on the weekend anyways! My first memory is my mother trying to teach me to Ski. This was at age three and a few years later I won the Munchkin Madness Ski race and was presented with a trophy by the owner of Beaver Creek Mountain! I grew up in a little mountain town in Colorado and my family skied pretty much every weekend during the winter, until we moved to Denver when I was nine. After graduating from The College of Santa Fe I started snowboarding every weekend and I still do.
And since this is a Mixtape, what is your favorite song, band, and do you dance?
I love music. Growing up my father was always listing to or playing music. I recall going to sleep at night listening to him play the guitar, or other instruments, and feeling the floor vibrate just slightly. Some of my favorite groups to this this day are bands that were part of the soundtrack of my childhood – Pink Floyd, Neil Young, Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and many others. My first tape, a gift from my father, was David Bowie (okay, confession – it was the Labyrinth soundtrack) who is another current favorite. In addition to classic rock, over the years I have developed a love of everything from 70/80’s punk rock to classical. In my car I have a number mixed cd’s that include songs from just about ever genre – and yes, I still listen to cd’s when I am driving.
I also love to dance, whether at live shows or just in my kitchen. A few years ago I started attending a regular Nia class. Nia combines modern dance with yoga and martial arts. When I attended my first class I really didn’t know what to expect. I must say it felt awkward to be dancing in a room of strangers at 9 am. I now find it liberating. Not that my dancing had necessarily improved, but smiling, laughing and feeling free is a good way to start the day.
And now we hand the headphones and the mic to Anne to share what’s happening in her world….
First of all I would like to thank Aline Smithson to her dedication of photography. Her ability to balance the making her own work with her dedication to Lenscratch, teaching workshops and all of the other wonderful things that she does is a truly significant accomplishment. I would also like to thank my family for encouraging me to always follow my dreams – and photo-eye Gallery proprietors Rixon Reed and Vicki Bohannon for believing in me.
Thank you, Anne, for all you do for photography!
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