The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Feliz Nuevo Ano

On the probably misguided assumption that folks who read this blog care about what's going on in my life, here's some news.

For a few years in the late '70s-early '80s, I photographed rodeos as a way of doing something I liked to do while selling almost enough prints to break even. I accumulated a sizeable archive of negatives (I shot almost exclusively in black-and-white). I was aware as I shot that some of these photos would have a timeless appeal.

Rodeo provides a photographer with a hundred or so peaks-of-action opportunities at each performance that are often far more distinct from one another than, say, a basketball game, where the shots of people launching to shoot a jump shot look a lot like other shots of people going up for a shot. Properly exposed and printed, a grey-scale rodeo shot can be pretty dramatic.

A year and a half ago I met some art enthusiasts who saw and liked some of my photos. They put together a travelling mixed media exhibition called the "Peoples' Biennial" (it's scheduled to tour for two years, at several venues). Six of my rodeo photos are touring with the show. Incidentally, the Peoples' Biennial exhibition opens at the Dahl Fine Art Center in Rapid City on January 14. Its first venue was in Portland, where the work has been exhibited since early September.

Now, the curators of the show, who live in San Francisco, I think, have asked me to provide about 20 photos, printed at 20x24 inches, of my rodeo shots, for a solo show in San Fran starting in March. I think that's pretty cool, although I don't believe it's going to provide any income to speak of. If I am lucky, I will recoup the costs of getting the prints made. I am, however, flattered by the fact that the curators think enough of the work to expend money to show it, and it's nice that it can be seen by a much wider group of art museum/gallery browsers than would otherwise be possible.

I've been culling my files for good images. The curators said they wanted predominantly shots wherein "the animals are winning." In rodeo lingo, that's shots of "wrecks." I have a few. Here's one. This was shot at the Hermosa (SD) 4H Rodeo in 1981. The downed rider is a 15-18-year-old boy. I'll post more from time to time. It's easier than thinking and writing.

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