Pat Rose

Chasing the Light

Astoria's LightBox Photographic Gallery is a Bright Beacon in Dark Times

The great German portrait photographer August Sander wrote, “In photography there are no shadows that cannot be illuminated.” Best known for his documentary-style portraits of working class Germans in the early twentieth century, Sander practiced his craft during a dark and transformative period in world history, and he suffered great personal and professional adversity in his lifetime. He lost his son and his home to war, and tens of thousands of his photographic negatives were later destroyed by fire. Still, he persevered, and much of his art survives.

Perhaps the story of Sander can teach us something about resilience in our own dark time. The coronavirus pandemic has brought both personal and professional loss to many over the last several months, and across the world people have had to adapt quickly to the crisis in order to survive. Many businesses and organizations have also been affected, and art galleries have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic. At a time when we may look to the arts to help us through difficult times, many galleries have been forced to shut their doors to the public. And with their closure we also lose a vital connection with our communities.

LightBox Photographic Gallery in Astoria has not escaped the hardships that art galleries have faced during the pandemic. A beloved institution among photographic artists and patrons of the arts, LightBox has grown into a premier gallery for photo-based art since its opening just over a decade ago. The gallery’s stellar reputation is a testament to the vision, commitment and professionalism of its owners, Michael and Chelsea Granger, as they have continued to build their photography center. Both acknowledge that they could not have fulfilled their dream without the support and devotion of the gallery’s members, many of whom have stood by them since the beginning. This is the story of how LightBox has grown, how it has withstood the pandemic, and what it has meant to many of its members over the years.

Logo, LightBox Photographic Gallery

THE GALLERY


LightBox Photographic Gallery opened in June 2009 with the first in a long succession of monthly exhibitions celebrating the work of photographic artists. Since its grand opening LightBox has become a Mecca for fine art photographers, particularly those who embrace the use of film, traditional photographic methods, and historical alternative printing techniques, but also for those who practice their craft using the finest in contemporary digital processes. With a guiding mission dedicated to the promotion of creative photography, the gallery has long been a venue for photographic artists to exhibit their work, share their vision, and inspire fellow photographers wishing to further develop their creative and technical skills. LightBox has served as a cherished community gathering place for photographers and patrons of the photographic arts, as well as a center for educating the public in current practices in fine art photography.

LightBox Photographic Gallery, Astoria

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The arts: After the deluge, what?

ArtsWatch Weekly: Planning for a post-Covid Oregon cultural scene; pancakes and the art of dissent; good things come in multiples

AS OREGON HESITANTLY REEMERGES FROM ITS LONG COCOONING – baby steps, everyone: take it cautiously, and wear your masks – it’s not too early to think about what the “new normal” might look like for the state’s arts and cultural organizations. A couple of highly respected onlookers have been considering the changed landscape long and deep, and while they disagree on some fundamental issues, on one thing they’re in accord: It’s highly unlikely that enough money will be available to support everyone in the manner to which they’d like to be accustomed.

What to do, then, when financial push comes to shove?

Fear No Music playing music by Middle Eastern and emigrant-diaspora composers at The Old Church Concert Hall: Will the future of arts in Oregon by small and adaptable? Photo © John Rudoff/2017

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Focusing in Isolation: Part 2

Portland photographers reflect on their work during the pandemic

Desmond Tutu once said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” These words were spoken by the celebrated human rights activist in a very different place and time, but they seem very apt in the present moment.  I can think of no more fitting words to cling to at this point in time. Still, it feels like a tall order. With the ongoing unrest surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement and the recent uptick in coronavirus infections worldwide, it’s hard to see any light in these very dark times.


OREGON IN SHUTDOWN: VOICES FROM THE FRONT


Although everyone has no doubt been affected by all that’s happening now, each of us will react in our own way. Some of us will experience a kind of paralysis and fall victim to anxiety and depression. Others may experience a newfound freedom to explore new possibilities in their lives. No matter the reaction, it is an important time for self-reflection for many. As I consider my own reactions to the current crises, I’ve been wondering how these events have affected some of my fellow photographers in the community. So I caught up with a few of these artists and asked them how the pandemic and other events have influenced their own creative work. The following is the second in a two-part series based on my interviews with ten of Portland’s finest photographers.  Today’s report features the work and voices of Zeb Andrews, Susan de Witt, Julie Moore, Motoya Nakamura and Deb Stoner.


ZEB ANDREWS


Zeb Andrews, “Multnomah Falls”

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Art on the move: responding to crises

ArtsWatch Weekly: The Black Lives Matter movement and the continuing coronavirus challenge are reshaping the arts world

WE ARE IN THE MIDST OF LIFE-CHANGING TIMES, and in the face of multiple crises remarkable work is being done. How do artists fit in? Sometimes, smack in the middle of things. Many news organizations have been doing excellent work of discovering the artists speaking to the moment and bringing their work to a broad audience. Oregon Public Broadcasting, for instance, has been publishing some sterling stories – including the feature The Faces of Protest: The Memorial Portraits of Artist Ameya Marie Okamoto, by Claudia Meza and John Nottariani. Okamoto, a young social practice artist who grew up in Portland, has made it her work not just to document the events of racial violence in Portland and across the United States: She’s also, as OPB notes, “crafted dozens of portraits for victims of violence and injustice.” 


Ameya Okamoto, “In Support of Protest.” Photo courtesy Ameya Okamoto

“People get so attached to the hashtag and the movement of George Floyd or Quanice Hayes,” Okamota tells OPB, “they forget that George Floyd was a trucker who moved to Minneapolis for a better life, or that Quanice Hayes was actually called ‘Moose’ by his friends and family. When individuals become catalysts for Black Lives Matter and catalysts for social change … there is a level of complex personhood that is stripped away from them.” In her work she strives to give that back.

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Focusing in Isolation

Portland photographers reflect on their work during the pandemic: Part One

When I think about how the world has changed so fundamentally over the past few months, I find it hard to accept that I won’t suddenly recover from some crazy Alice in Wonderland Syndrome and come out from behind the looking glass. Time and space seem so distorted right now that navigating my way through each day is like moving through a perceptual minefield. And as more recent events seem to have supplanted the pandemic scare, my feelings of fear, sadness and loneliness have lately given way to feelings of anger, outrage and disbelief. 


OREGON IN SHUTDOWN: VOICES FROM THE FRONT


But unlike so many others, I am fortunate. As I remain vigilant about practicing self-isolation, all that is happening now has affected me more emotionally than practically. As a photographer I can still create work, even though the nature of that work has changed since the start of the pandemic. As I continue my photography safely at home, I’ve been wondering how the lockdown has affected other photographers in the community. So I caught up with a few fellow photographers and asked them how the current crisis has influenced their own creative work. The following is the first in a two-part series based on my interviews with ten of Portland’s finest photographers. Today’s report features the work and voices of Ray Bidegain, Jamila Clarke, Jim Fitzgerald, Heidi Kirkpatrick and Angel O’Brien.


RAY BIDEGAIN


Ray Bidegain, “Becoming Invisible”

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