Missouri Report

Posted in Photography at 5:05 pm by Michelle

I just spent a fabulous weekend in St Louis and St Charles, Missouri. Not a part of the country I know much about, or have any connections in, But I got sucked in by one Mark Fisher. From his first idea of a Holga Polka Invitational, we ended up with “Unrefined Light: Images by Plastic Cameras and their Friends,” at the Foundry Art Centre, with me as juror, and a two-day workshop at the Foundry and a community college darkroom. It was a stellar trip all around.

Michelle & Mark Fisher
Me with Mark Fisher. He’s usually a lot smilier than this!

First there was arriving at the space, which is just fabulous. It’s an old train repair building, converted in true style to an arts center, with grand center hall, with stage, galleries lining on both sides, and 20 artist studios above the galleries, perched over the main hall.

Foundry Arts Centre
Thanks to Mark Fisher for all the photos!
The exhibition is in a huge lovely space, very well hung, and looking fabulous. The opening was Friday night, and I met several of the included photographers during the evening, and had the challenge and pleasure of choosing 5 artists to show more work at the Foundry.

Unrefined Light exhibition

Over the weekend, I taught a workshop to a great group. We had several extra people join in for the talk Saturday morning, when I show a selection of images and a bunch by other toy-heads, and talk about everything plastic – subject, equipment, technique, etc. Then we took a tour through the gallery checking out all the work and discussing the same things, plus thoughts on presentation. It’s a great combination, to run the workshop during relevant exhibitions. In the afternoon, we trolled around the neighborhood shooting with our Holgas. The light was kind of bland, but it was fun in any case.

Michelle talking to the group

On Sunday, we met at St Charles Community College, where 3 of my students teach. They have a nice darkroom facility, so we hung out there all day. First we reviewed the photos from Saturday (processed and contact printed by Mark, Kate, Alison and Paul – thanks!). Then everyone got the chance to make a print or two, with the experienced folks helping out the newbies. Finally, I did a brief demo of scanning and fixing up a few images in Photoshop, in the digital lab. By the end, everyone was full up with information, but no one was leaving. I’m sure we could have played for another whole day in there (with a good night’s sleep in between)!

Monday morning I stumbled on a place that is a dream come true for me. City Museum, with its strangely unprepossessing name, is one of the most amazing buildings I’ve ever seen, full of treasures everywhere you look, from the floor tiling (fishes!) to the walls (covered with old printing plates), to the ceiling ( thousands of flags of white, like an anemone bed upside down). And everything in between. I can’t even begin to describe it! And, as a very special treat, I was there with Joyce Rosen, Director of the Foundry, and she ran into a sculptor she knows, who happens to be one of the folks constantly adding more fabulousness to City Museum. He gave us a tour of the museum, but even better, we got a special tour of the Art Lofts they’re building above the museum, full of curvy rooms, glass bottle walls, and endless other wacky details. Then, Paul Bayer, The Man with Keys, took us to the workshop he uses, and some other behind the scenes places. I was absolutely giddy the whole time! I had chosen City Museum over St Louis’ fancy sculpture park, and Joyce and I were both entranced by the whole place.

Back in Seattle now, I’ve survived 3 weeks of the wacky world of the Moisture Festival, which was a blast, as usual.

Couple of cool articles about toy cameras have popped up recently: The Brooklyn Rail and The Independent.

Now getting over that nasty cold and getting ready for more trips!