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Random Notes on photo la 18 - 2009  by Jean Ferro

Eighteen years and counting…. In its second year at Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, Stephen Cohen’s photo l.a. 2009 — with a well rounded scope of international work presented by more than 60 galleries — brought out record crowds from Friday, January 9th, through Sunday, January 11th. LACMA’s opening Gala on Thursday evening was well attended, giving promise of potential sales over the next three days.

On opening night I spoke with Weston Naef, who, on January 31st, will leave the post he’s held as Senior Curator at the Getty Museum for nearly 25 years. His final exhibition, “Dialogue Among Giants: Carleton Watkins and the Rise of Photography in California,” is on view at the Getty through March 1. Weston reminded me as I was bemoaning the fact that he’s leaving the Getty that he’s not gone, but will become emeritus curator. Judith Keller, a longtime Getty curator, will continue as interim head of the department until the search for a new senior curator is completed. Graham Howe of Curatorial Assistance joined our conversation and we all agreed that Graham’s Holiday Greeting html e-mail was brilliant, the best one received during the season.

Blind Photographers Organization booth

The booths were filled with vintage works by Carlton E. Watkins, Steichen, Stieglitz, Ruth Bernhard, Eve Arnold, Man Ray, and Lou Stoumen at galleries such as Barry Singer, Michael Dawson, Richard Moore, Gitterman Gallery and others to large scale photographs at Ace Gallery from Tierney Gearon and Orlan. Artist Maggie Taylor’s work was very visible.

            Ace Gallery artists, Joel Peter Witkin and Jean Ferro            Tiffany Trenda

There were estate authorized reproduction portraits by Hurrell at Clarke Gallery. When you first entered the hanger you were greeted with video creations by Raul Vincent Enriquez. Throw in some vernacular dealers, add in Joel-Peter Witkin at 21st Editions and you’re entrenched in the A to Z of collecting photography under one roof.

Herman Leonard with Peter Fetterman

You can count on Peter Fetterman to have his signature red walls. They looked great with white-matted, black-framed images by Lillian Bassman, Sebastião Salgado, and others. He had an image of Barack Obama by Peter Turnley.

I took a wonderful photograph of Peter with photographer Herman Leonard. Nice to see familiar faces, Jiri Jaskmanicky of The Czech Center of Photography from the Czech Republic. They’ve been coming to photo l.a. since its debut at Butterfields in 1998. One of the most legendary is The Halsted Gallery, noted as the oldest continuing photographic gallery in the USA. Tom Halsted opened his gallery in a two-story house in 1969 in Birmingham, Michigan, with an exhibit of Berenice Abbott.

The John Cleary Gallery of Houston, Texas, is now handled by Catherine Couturier who worked closely with John in the past and continues to handle images spanning from contemporary to classics, along with photo books.
Dali Skull, 1951, by Philippe Halsman

The hardy beer-drinking gents from Witzenhauzen Gallery, Amsterdam, New York, displayed magnificent limited-edition portrait prints by Hendrik Kerstens (editions of six) and panorama landscapes by Kevin Erskine. One of my favorites was from Gallerie Stephen Hoffman/Germany, a $20,000 Dali Skull, 1951, by Philippe Halsman…so intriguing, so Dali. I checked back with the gallery on Sunday and it had sold.

The Nailya Alexander Gallery/NY presented Russian photographers Evegeny Mokhorev and Alexey Titarenko — stunning black-and-white work. Robert Berman’s gallery housed the photo l.a. catalog cover image by Alex Prager. DNG/Los Angeles exhibited Holly Andres and the Jenkins Johnson Gallery/San Francisco showed Julia Fullerton-Batten from London who creates images with the subject matter in awkward positions within unusual situations. Newcomer Sara Lee (Robert Sobiesziek’s wife) Artworks & Projects/Bergamot Station Gallery/Santa Monica, CA, presented contemporary Korean photographers. Nathan Corum, an artist from Queensland Centre of Photography/Australia ran around with his Apple Laptop providing live video feed to friends in Australia. Nathan was excited to share his meeting with the extraordinary artist, Witkin.

Diane Keaton and Marvin Heiferman, book signing


The LACMA lecture and book signing series was presented by Charlotte Cotton, Curator and Head of the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department. I attended three of the conversation-styled interviews, including the Diane Keaton–Marvin Heiferman book project “Bill Woods’ Business” and Bruce Davidson and Susan Meiselas.


To the delight of the attendees, Davidson and Meiselas provided insights into their adventurous careers with Magnum. (On a personal note, my first photo mentor was Don Peterson (1948–1982) a freelance Magnum photographer in Vietnam.) Meiselas has accomplished a stunning body of work over the years. Davidson embraced Meiselas, who has been honored for her Carnival Strippers and Nicaragua projects. At the Verso Editions booth they had the Bruce Davidson Central Park in Platinum limited edition signed books.

photographers, Susan Meiselas, Raymon Paul and Bruce Davidson

Performance artist Tiffany Trenda fascinated attendees with her live reflective video performance from inside a life-sized Kodak Brownie Box camera. As spectators peered into the camera lens, their movements were reflected back to them on a TV monitor that was positioned on the shoulders of Trenda. The performance was intended to simulate the human psyche inside the digital world.

 Tiffany Trenda photo based performance artist

Collector Michael Wilson visited the LACMA conversation program and was busy scurrying around to the galleries. I saw collectors with wallets open and (excellent work on the walls in Alex Novak’s Contemporary Works/Vintage Works gallery (e)

Out of the three collecting seminars listed — Karen Sinsheimer, Charlotte Cotton, and Jonathan Green — I took the Saturday collecting seminar with Karen Sinsheimer, Curator of Photography, Santa Barbara Museum of Art. It’s really a great way to see the work before it becomes shielded by large crowds moving through the isles. Karen talked about collecting strategies and artist presentations. The Gary Edwards Gallery, Washington, D.C., salt print collection was really striking. Sinsheimer with her keen eye, led the patrons of art to the galleries that displayed photographic styles they were seeking. It was great to visit with MaryAnn Charis, House of Photographic Art, San Juan Capistrano, and her photographer husband Phillip Charis at the seminar.

Karen Sinsheimer, Curator of Photography, Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Another newcomer to photo l.a. 2009 was the Blind Photographers Guild. It was unusual and very interesting to see how their passion to create becomes greater than the image itself…and yet the work is a reflection of persistence and accomplishment against all odds.

The book booths — D.A.P, Bondi Books, Schaden Books, Nazraelli Press, Modernbook (which also has a gallery), Simon Finch rare books, LEADAPRON — were crowded with eager buyers. Everyone lined up for the book signings over the three days with notables Jona Frank/DNJ Gallery, Jill Greenberg/ClampArt, Catherine Opie/D.A.P., Arthur Tress/Contemporary Works/Vintage Works, Joel-Peter Witkin/21st Editions, Jock Sturges/Bernarducci Meisel Gallery, Jeffrey Ladd /Errata Books, Ken Schles, A New History of Photography, and Bertrand Fleuret,
Land Masses and Railways.

This year I had my ducks-in-a-row and was ready to canvas everything. It would take at least a solid week or more to really comprehend the full extent of what photo l.a. 2009 had to offer, including the portfolio review exhibition held at the Santa Monica Double Tree Hotel. It’s a pleasure for photographers and collectors to return year after year to revisit the classics as well as scope out the new and emerging artists and galleries.

Jean Ferro is a photo artist and President of Women In Photography International (www.womeninphotography.org); www.jeanferro.com.
All photographs ©Jean Ferro 2009

WIPI Member Mya Myers attended the lecture w/Susan Meiselas eager to have the chance to meet Meiselas and get a signed copy of her book "Nicaragua.".

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The Photograph Collector: photo l.a. XX  2011
RANDOM NOTES 2011, by Jean Ferro, volume XXXII, No. 2, Feb. 16, 2011

The Photograph Collector: photo l.a. 19 - 2010
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