21 Days of Black Rock City

Posted in Photography at 5:35 pm by Michelle

My latest trip was down the coast in northern California. I’m part of an exhibition of photographs of the Burning Man festival, which takes place every year in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. I applied for this show, 21 Days of Black Rock City, and was awarded not only a spot in the exhibition, but a residency in Berkeley where I made all the large-format digital prints and mounted them. The Creator’s Equity Foundation and Joshua Reichek organized the residency and show. Once I finished the prints, back in February, all I needed to do was show up for the opening, which, of course, was easier said than done, counting in transmission trouble and last-minute flights.
A whole bunch of people made their way to Petaluma (the land of no cell-phone service that even confounds car GPS systems) on a lovely afternoon for the opening on June 1st. The venue is the Marin French Cheese Factory, where cheese is king, but somehow they ended up with a huge empty building for a gorgeous gallery show. The location is also stunning.
The 21 Days of Black Rock City refers to a time-lapse film of the Burning Man festival building up and coming down, on three big fancy screens. Great technology! But the rest of the room is covered with dozens of large prints – up to 40″ x 60″ by 9 photographers: Me; Jason Day; Matt Freedman (a friend of mine from Seattle who I told about the show); Richard Gilmore; Marcel Peelen; Mary Rachel Reynolds; Philip Solomonson; John W. Tucker, Jr; and Joshua Weaver; (along with Lisa Benham, Tony Garcia, and Tom Price from Burners without Borders). These are really stunning. The print quality is fantastic, the mounting and hanging are great, and, surprisingly, the lighting is perfect. I’ve hung many shows in my years running galleries, and I know how hard it is, especially with big art. But they got top-notch lights and everything really pops. The opening was also catered with delicious food, wine and, of course, cheese.
I had a great bunch of people show up: old friends of mine and Matt’s, in from around the country, a posse of Chautauquans, straight from Utah Phillips’ memorial service in Nevada City, and various friends who live in the Bay Area. Topped off with a dinner for the artists (and friends), it was a glorious day!
21 Days show
My photos, taken with a Mamiya 6 medium format film camera (I scanned the negatives to make these digital prints)
My photos
Fire photos
My fire photos, shot on film with Nikons and scanned

More photos as I get a hold of them.
The exhibition is up through August 3rd, generally open Fri-Sun, 1-5. Check the website for more details or to arrange an appointment at other times.


We’ll miss you, Ike

Posted in Photography at 12:03 pm by Michelle

This is a sad post, but also one that is a joyful acknowledgment of someone who’s been very important to me. Ike Royer passed away last week.
I first met Ike in 1997 or so at Photo Plus, a big trade show I attend every year in New York. He was at the Cachet Photo booth; Cachet was a photo paper company I think Ike was president of. I had just won first prize in the Golden Light Awards’ humor print competition, so I showed him my photo in the awards catalog (I had to cajole him a little…). He then consented to look at my portfolio, and I guess he was hooked on the Holga images. A while after that, he featured 10 of my images, with his commentary, on the Cachet web site. It was my first big web presence, and led into other things for me.
I saw Ike on and off over the years. Then, after not running into him for a couple of years, I got a call out of the blue (good lesson for keeping the same phone number). He was now working for Freestyle Photo, which had become the national distributor for the Holga. And, they had a group called the Freestyle Advisory Board of Photographic Professionals, which he invited me to join, sort of as their Holga poster child. After talking to Elizabeth Opalenik, an old friend and board member, I accepted. And it’s been a win-win relationship ever since.
I attended a Freestyle-sponsored conference/trade show in Santa Fe in 2004, where I was introduced by Elizabeth to the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops people, and got a workshop scheduled with them. That directly led to the book (Diane Heppner of Focal Press saw my course in their catalog and contacted me). Ike is the one who gave me the phrase “Toying with Creativity,” which I used for that course, and then for the book. Later, I had a solo exhibition at Freestyle’s gallery in LA, gave a standing-room-only talk there, and graced the cover of their catalog. Ike (and Patrick Dellibovi, my other main champion at Freestyle) were at my book release party in New York, during Photo Plus 2006; I was so thrilled that they were there, since the book wouldn’t have happened without them.
I called Ike “my other father.” He’s about the same age as my fabulous dad (may he live another 20 years), and always treated me with support, warmth, and caring. And always gave great big bear hugs.
I am so grateful to Ike for first taking an interest in a bouncy 20-something with an obsession for strange little plastic cameras, and continuing to help me to accomplish so much over the years.
I’ll miss him.
Ike Royer
Ike in his office at Freestyle, February 2007, during my exhibition there, taken with a Lensbaby