Reception to celebrate award winners, selected photographs
By Christine Simek
On Saturday, Sept. 15, the Garrison Art Center (GAC) will host an Open House and Artists’ Reception for its newest exhibit, PHOTOcentric 2012, their annual juried photography exhibition. The show features 63 photographs chosen from nearly 1500 submissions, as well as the winners of the Leonard Freed Memorial Awards, which distinguish the best photographs in the categories of People, Nature, Architecture, as well as the Best in Show.
Now in its fourth year, PHOTOcentric has established itself as an exhibition of outstanding fine art photography. Over 250 artists from across the United States and 13 countries submitted work for consideration. Philipstown photographers whose work was chosen for the show include Paul Bonnar, Todd Seekicher and Annette Solakoglu of Garrison, and Jane Soodalter of Cold Spring. A number of Beacon artists’ work is represented as well.
PHOTOcentric is open to photographers of all stripes, and it attracts professionals as well as artists newer to the genre. Carinda Swann, executive director of the GAC, remarked that digital equipment and processing have transformed photography into an accessible art form — a sort of “everyman medium,” she called it. “Not too long ago, to be taken seriously as a photographer, artists were required to spend significant amounts of money on camera equipment, darkroom set-up, and expensive papers and chemicals. Now, beautiful works of art can be made with just a cellphone and printed on just about any printer. This has opened the door for artists of all means.”
One is forced to wonder about the implication that a lot of not-so-great work could find its way onto gallery walls. “I think not,” says Swann. “I saw the images submitted to PHOTOcentric jurors, and, I must say, the strength and quality of the work was truly extraordinary.”
This year’s Best in Show winner is Eric Tomberlin of North Carolina. His photograph, titled Garden of Earthly Delights, is a breathtaking and surreal mosaic of color and perspective. Garrison resident Paul Bonnar’s stark and solemn Kladno CZ — the Wasteland, earned the second-place prize in the Architecture category.
Swann says that the esteemed careers of PHOTOcentric jurors is one of the reasons that so many artists submit work to the project. This year’s jurors are photographer Elizabeth Opalenik and gallery owner/curator Robert Mann. Opalenik’s work has been featured internationally in the magazines Zoom, CameraArts, Black and White Magazine, Silvershotz, Photo District News, and Progresso Photographic, among others. Her monograph is titled Poetic Grace: Elizabeth Opalenik Photographs 1979-2007.
Mann has been in the photography business for 35 years, dealing in both vintage and modern photographs. For the past 25 years, he has owned the Robert Mann Gallery, located in the Chelsea district of New York City. It was one of the first to deal exclusively in fine art photography. Past PHOTOcentric jurors have included Malcolm Daniel, Alice Rose George, Harvey Stein, Stephen Shore, Larry Fink and Stephen Perloff.
The PHOTOcentric 2012 awards were made possible through the generosity of Brigitte Freed and Susannah Freed, the wife and daughter of the late photographer and artist Leonard Freed. Freed’s repertoire includes more than 20 photography books and can be found in the collections of major museums across the world. In 1975, Leonard and Brigitte moved to Garrison and became active members of the community. Brigitte and Susannah still live and thrive here as active residents and supporters of the arts.
The PHOTOcentric exhibition was established in 2009 by Cali Gorevic and Lucille Tortora, professional photographers and GAC supporters who have served as the event’s co-chairs ever since. Swann said that PHOTOcentric has thrived “in large part due to the tireless efforts of these two women whose passion for photography is unparalleled and whose work shows it.”
The photographs from PHOTOcentric are available for purchase, and a color exhibition catalog, which includes images of each the selected works, is also available. The GAC gallery at 23 Garrison’s Landing is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the show runs through Sept. 30. Saturday’s Artists’ Reception will be held from 6 – 8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.