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Photography in Houston Galleries
November 16, 2005




Gary Faye, Yellow Canoe, Montana, Courtesy of Harris Gallery


In the late 1960s there wasn’t a photography collection anywhere
in Houston. There was no institution exhibiting photography.
Geoff Winningham,
Image Magazine, Houston 1982


HOUSTON, TEXAS (October 12, 2005) – Twelve galleries and 41 artists highlight the transformation of photography’s place in Houston’s art scene today. Photography in Houston Galleries is presented by FotoFest to give focus to this transformation and the recognition of photography as art in Texas.


The exhibit features a broad range of photographic art from conceptual color work to classical black and white still lifes. The opening reception for Photography in Houston Galleries is Wednesday November 16, 2005 from 6 – 9 pm at FotoFest’s downtown gallery in Vine Street Studios, 1113 Vine Street.


The exhibit runs through Saturday, December 17, 2005. Gallery hours are 10am – 5pm Monday through Friday and noon – 5pm on Saturdays. The gallery will be open from 2 pm – 9pm for the Art Crawl on November 19. The exhibit is free to the public.


The gallery system as we know it “really is a function of the second half of the twentieth century.” says Clint Willour, long-time patron of the arts in Texas and curator at the Galveston Arts Center. “Photography just lagged about 20 years behind that and came into the picture more in the 70s.”


When photographer Geoff Winningham opened Latent Image, the city’s first art photography gallery, in fall 1970, he kicked off his first show with internationally known artists such as Wynn Bullock, Harry Callahan, and Aaron Siskind to name a few. The gallery produced first-rate exhibitions, but the market for photographs was not yet in place. The Museum of Fine Arts Houston’s (MFAH) first photographic acquisitions were from Latent Image’s closing auction in 1971.


Later efforts by Cronin and Mancini Galleries focused on photographs as fine art and pushed photography into the commercial arena in Houston. At the same time, photography programs at the University of Houston, Rice University, and the MFAH’s Glassell School provided an institutional commitment necessary to sustain practicing photographers and build a wider audience. The Houston Center for Photography started in 1982 and afforded a source of vitality for the Houston photographic community showing Houston-based photographers, sponsoring members’ shows, lectures, workshops and publishing an important journal of photography, IMAGE (now SPOT).


Today the MFAH houses over 20,000 photographs and one of the best international photography collections in the U.S. Houston has two full-time non-profit photography spaces, an internationally known Biennial of photography, three university and museum photo teaching programs, and over 40 commercial galleries that include photography in their repertoire.


“What has happened in Houston reflects what is happening throughout Texas,” says FotoFest Artistic Director Wendy Watriss. “In addition to the MFAH’s collections, there are two world-renowned institutional photography collections in the state, many museum and university teaching programs, and important photography galleries in Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio. The photographic arts are now regularly included in the exhibition programs of every museum and non-profit art space in the state.”


Today, photography is a major force in Houston and Texas thanks in good part to commercial galleries that show photo-based media as an important art form. Commercial galleries as we see them today came about after the boom following World War II. ”If you look at the history of galleries in Houston, “states Clint Willour, “Meredith Long came along in the 60’s, Hooks Epstein came along in the late 60s, and Betty Moody in the 70s.” With the opening of more galleries, art then became a viable commodity for many consumers. Although New York has been the epicenter for artistic trends in America, including photography, Houston was not far behind in the emerging commercial art market.


FotoFest’s Inter-Biennial exhibitions and art programs, such as Photography in Houston Galleries, are supported by private foundations, government agencies, and corporate individual contributors. Funding for this exhibit has come from the City of Houston through the Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County, The Wortham Foundation, The Susan Vaughan Foundation, Margaret Regan and Fletcher Thorne-Thomsen Jr, and FotoFest’s Board of Directors.


FotoFest is a non-profit international photographic arts and education organization based in Houston, Texas. Its next international Biennial is FOTOFEST 2006, March-April 2006.


For additional information and visuals, please contact press coordinator, Frank Rose at press3@fotofest.org or 713/ 223-5522 ext 26. Visit the FotoFest website at www.fotofest.org.



Maggie Taylor, Moth Dancer, 2004, Courtesy of John Cleary Gallery

THE GALLERIES

Houston galleries participating in Photography in Houston Galleries show or represent photographic artists on a regular basis. Exhibiting artists are Houston-based, national and international.


John Cleary Gallery,the longest running Houston gallery devoted to photography, shows classic photography masters such as Andre Kertesz, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau as well as contemporary artists such as Michael Kenna and Jeffrey Becom,. The gallery also sells a wide range of rare and vintage books, and publications by many of well-known contemporary artists. John Cleary, native Houstonian, owner and founder, is a member of Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD). John Cleary Gallery is showing Jeffrey Becom, Jeffrey Conley, Rolfe Horn, Rodney Smith, and Maggie Taylor.


The director of Deborah Colton Gallery describes her gallery as “challenging the ideas of art and art-making. We strongly believe photography is part of this ongoing discussion, and will continue to support and exhibit strong historical and influential work. We are interested in breaking boundries by supporting work in new technologies and media, which is a growing and changing force in the art community, and by opening new avenues for artists." Deborah Colton Gallery is presenting the work by Jonas Mekas, Suzy Paul, Stephen Torton, Maripol, and Michael Somoroff. Described by the gallery as pioneers in their media.


De Santos Gallery is a project of Luis and Gemma De Santos. It is the newest full-time photography gallery in Houston. The De Santos, long-time supporters and collectors of photography had the stucco and glass building especially designed as a gallery space by architect Fernando Brave. The gallery is dedicated to photography in all its forms, to the classics as well as contemporary and emerging photographers worldwide. De Santos Gallery is showing Naia del Castillo, Amparo Garrido, and Rafael Navarro.


Harris Gallery, one of Houston’s longest running art galleries, shows contemporary paintings and works on paper with a large inventory of landscape, still life and abstract works along with photography and sculpture. Harris Gallery is showing Peter Brown, Gary Faye, George Krause, and Jason Neumann.


McMurtrey Gallery, centrally located on Houston's Gallery Row, has been representing contemporary regional and national artists since 1983. Beginning with a focus on realism, still-life, figurative and abstract painting by early and mid-career artists, the gallery now includes sculptors, mixed-media artists and internationally-recognized photographers. McMurtrey Gallery is showing Kate Breakey, Keith Carter and Osamu James Nakagawa.


McClain Gallery, based in Houston, describes itself as maintaining “an internationalist point of view”, exhibiting the works of New York, European, Asian and Texas artists in a full range of media including painting, sculpture, works on paper, photography and conceptual installations. McClain Gallery will exhibit works by two New York based artists, Bill Beckley and Katsuhiro Saiki.


Betty Moody opened Moody Gallery in 1975 and exhibits work by contemporary American artists. The emphasis has always been on artists living and working in Texas, as well as artists who have had a strong connection to Texas. Moody Gallery will be exhibiting work by MANUAL (Ed Hill/Suzanne Bloom).


Poissant Gallery is dedicated to presenting both emerging and mid-career contemporary artists from Texas and around the country. The gallery is located in a restored nineteenth century church in the West End area of Houston. Typically, the gallery exhibits ten solo shows a year and several curated group shows of gallery artists and emerging regional and
national talent. Poissant Gallery is showing William Steen, Laine Whitcomb, Arthur Liou, George Hixson and David Brown.


Rudolph Projects/ArtScan Gallery states that “the reason we exhibit photography is because we love it. We love images… A short generation ago photography was the art world's neglected stepchild, but in a few short decades it revolutionized and redefined the visual canon. We exhibit photography because it is quintessentially a modern medium that has reshaped the visual taste of our time.” The gallery exhibits photography-based fine art of established artists as well as the work of up-and-coming talent from Houston and around the world. Rudolph Projects/Art Scan Gallery is showing showing Laura Calfee, Anderson Wrangle, and Rob Ziebell


Sicardi Gallery, well known for its exhibitions of Latin American art, has been showing photography since its inception 11 years ago. Founder María Inés Sicardi states that the gallery established itself in the Houston art world with ground-breaking exhibits by well-known Latin American artists using photography - Luis González Palma, Mario Cravo Neto, Geraldo de Barros, Liliana Porter. Sicardi Gallery shows experimental works, including the photography-based works by painters like Virgil Grotfeldt, to the photo assemblages and videos of Oscar Muñoz. Sicardi Gallery is showing Liliana Porter and Oscar Muñoz.



Anya Tish Gallery, established in 1996 in Houston, specializes in works by internationally recognized artists, with the emphasis on Central/Eastern Europe and Russia. The gallery also provides a venue for selected Houston and Texas-based artists. Exhibited artwork includes contemporary painting, sculpture, photography and video. More than the type of media or the degree of commercial success, Anya Tish says that the gallery seeks out artists who have an unwavering commitment to creating original, compelling, and innovative art. The gallery is exhibiting Andrey Chezhin, Zofia Rydet, and Soody Sharifi.br>


Directors of Watermark Gallery in Gallery Row, state that the gallery was opened in 2004 “in support of FotoFest 2004“ The gallery description states that Watermark is dedicated to photography as an art form that spans museum-quality works as well as premier decorative art for commercial and residential spaces. In addition to original prints, Watermark has a well-stocked library of fine art photography books, including many limited edition artist books and titles. Watermark Gallery is showing David Halliday, Kerik Kouklis, Raymond Meeks, Ken Rosenthal, and Sheila Rock.








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