Review Santa Fe
One hundred photographers — from all over the United States as well as from Mexico City, London, Paris, Rome, Tokyo, Beijing, Helsinki, and Warsaw — gather in town from Thursday, June 11, to Sunday, June 14, for Review Santa Fe. Their careers face significant boosts after they meet and discuss their work with professionals from renowned galleries, museums, and book and magazine publishers and editors. On the cover is an untitled photo by Daesung Lee from his Futuristic Archaeology series.
“It’s great to go to Review Santa Fe and see all these creative people for two days and immerse yourself in their art, their world, and ask them to tell you their stories, why they’re doing what they’re doing and what their passion is,” said Mary Anne Redding about Center’s annual portfolio-review event for photographers and reviewers from magazines, galleries, and other venues. “I think most reviewers are looking for a body of work that interests them and is complete and that they think they can show in whatever venue.”
Center is a local nonprofit organization devoted to furthering the careers of photographers. Redding is one of more than 40 industry professionals invited to see the work of 100 photographers in the Review Santa Fe Festival, which takes place from Thursday, June 11, to Sunday, June 14. The colloquium, now in its 15th year, was established to facilitate relationships between photographers and professionals looking for new work. Redding is curator with the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. She was previously curator of the Marion Center for Photographic Arts and chair of the photography department at Santa Fe University of Art and Design; and before that she was the curator of photography at New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors. “I’m on Center’s advisory board, and for me and a lot of other reviewers it’s a great way to see a lot of photography with an eye toward exhibitions and publication. It’s also an opportunity to network with people in the industry. One thing that’s nice about the Turchin Center is that we show all media by local, national, and international artists. I’d especially love to bring work by emerging photographers here.”
Laura Pressley, executive director of Review Santa Fe, said the editors, curators, and gallery directors participating as reviewers “pick up stories from the photographers and show them in their publications and galleries.” This year’s event brings photographers from all over the United States, Mexico, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, Japan, and several other nations. The photographers were chosen by Erin Elder, Center for Contemporary Arts; Molly Roberts, Smithsonian magazine; and Brian Ulrich, Rhode Island School of Design.
The 2015 event involves a total of more than 950 portfolio reviews, each one a 20-minute face-to-face
meeting between a photographer and one of the reviewers — including Santa Feans Maggie Blanchard, director of Twin Palms Publishing; Joanna Hurley, president of Hurley Media; Anne Kelly, director of Photo-eye Gallery; Melanie McWhorter, manager of Photo-eye’s book division; Andra Russek, director, Scheinbaum & Russek; and Amy Silverman, photo editor, Outside magazine.
Center staff spends most of the year on Review Santa Fe. “It really ramps up in October as we put out our call for entries for the photographers in November,” Pressley said. “Then the jurors get the work in February and have a month to look at it; then in March we invite the selected photographers.” She said this will be the last time the review event will be held in June. “We want Santa Fe to benefit from increased tourism, and we want the community to be more engaged, so we are planning to move the event to a less busy season. As of 2016 it will be held each November.”
That’s all that will change, though. The main event appears to be admired equally by photographers and the reviewers who come seeking images. An example from the gallery world is Brian Paul Clamp of Clamp-Art Gallery, in New York. “He has picked up several artists. He comes every year,” said Pressley, who curates the reviewer list. “Some of the newsy participants like The New Yorker, Time, and MSNBC have such a demand for content all the time with their blogs and whatnot, they’re looking for work that has not been covered by any of the others. They want to get to it first.”
“Frankly, this is the best that I’ve been to of the portfolio reviews,” said Time magazine’s Alice Gabriner. “It’s incredibly well-organized. They treat everybody well, and the quality of the work is consistently high. When I was there I met a photographer named Bryan Schutmaat, whose career has burst onto the scene. It’s a place to meet somebody really early on. But also, personally, it revives you professionally in terms of the people you meet, people from other disciplines. The conversations are fantastic, and it makes me, since I’m an editorial person, think about what I do differently.” Gabriner was a photography editor at Time from 2000 to 2009, and then was deputy director of photography at the White House and a senior photo editor at National Geographic before returning to Time. She is now the magazine’s international photo editor.
Are there photographers who have come to Time because of Review Santa Fe? “What happens is that after the review, you develop a relationship, so actually Bryan Schutmaat came to Geographic several months after, and my boss at the time wanted to give him an assignment, and he actually will.” Schutmaat did Time’s Person of the Year story this year on “The Ebola Fighters.”
“Some people do get a book deal or a gallery show,” Gabriner said, “but I think what’s most important is that you begin that relationship. It’s best if people don’t think, ‘I’ve got to come out of this with a deal.’ What’s most important is that it’s a weekend of inspiration and renewal in a beautiful place.”
This is the fourth Review Santa Fe for Verna Curtis, curator of photography at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and previously with the Milwaukee Art Museum. Her motivation is a bit less aimed at scouting. Curtis has found the portfolio reviews to be “an interesting way to kind of give back,” she said. “I had a variety of photographers who were interested in the Library of Congress collection, and though they were very different I could call up something in my
memory to help them. It was gratifying to be able to use all that in that overview of people coming across the table many hours during the day. In fact it wasn’t tiring because of that — there was so much I could relate to.”
The Library of Congress also seeks photographs for its collection. “We were able to acquire some work as a result of my going to Review Santa Fe. There was one man from Wisconsin, who wasn’t showing the work that we actually acquired, which was political in nature. It was about the first protests at the State Capitol about the governor [Scott Walker] who is now running for president,” Gabriner said. “The Library also purchased Jonathan Blaustein’s The Value of a Dollar portfolio as a result of my seeing his work at a review. He came to Washington, D.C., and we went to Sen. Udall’s office together to show the work.” Blaustein is an artist, writer, and educator based in Taos. The Value of a
Dollar is about the overconsumption of food and of the resources used to raise, grow, and produce food. Each of the photos in the series, which was published by The New York Times in 2010, represents one dollar’s worth of food purchased from various markets in New Mexico. The portfolio is now part of the Library of Congress photography collection, which numbers about 13 million images. These range from War Department images of the Civil War by Matthew Brady and Farm Security Administration photos — including the famous Dorothea Lange images from the Great Depression — to more recent work. “In the 1920s, the Library became more conscious that photography could be a form of expression and collected Clarence White and Gertrude Käsebier. We continue to collect contemporary work not only as art but as documentation,” Curtis said.
Another entity coming to Santa Fe with scouting in mind is WIRED, which Pressley said “has shown a dozen or so” of the Review Santa Fe photographers. Patrick Witty, director of photography for WIRED, said that his magazine makes sure it has a presence at Review Santa Fe every year. Its editors “definitely have discovered work that has moved us, surprised us, and inspired us.”
Untitled photo of Sahra from a series about migrants by Inés Dümig Top, God Save Me Now from Phyllis Dooney’s
Moonflowers series about a Mississippi Delta family Opposite page, a moment from a previous public portfolio viewing Photos courtesy Review Santa Fe
Photos on parade