SNAP JUDG­MENTS

The Day - - FRONT PAGE - By AMY J. BARRY

The Av­er­age Joe Photo Show is any­thing but run-of-the-mill.

All 342 images on dis­play at the Lori Warner Stu­dio/Gallery in Ch­ester were taken with the cam­era app on a mo­bile de­vice — a cri­te­rion for sub­mis­sions. In ad­di­tion, they all con­tain wa­ter in some form, to draw at­ten­tion to the global wa­ter cri­sis and the work of wa­ter.org — to which a por­tion of all photo sales is be­ing do­nated.

And all the pho­tos had to in­clude the hu­man fig­ure, which could range from an in­di­vid­ual to a crowd, and show­case a mean­ing­ful con­nec­tion, such as kind­ness, com­pas­sion, joy, shar­ing, out­reach or hu­man­i­tar­ian ac­tion. The show will run through April 22.

It’s hard to be­lieve that the eye-catch­ing pho­to­graphs in the Av­er­age Joe Photo show at the Lori Warner Stu­dio/Gallery in Ch­ester were all taken with the cam­era app on a mo­bile de­vice — a cri­te­rion for sub­mis­sions.

Ev­ery im­age also had to con­tain wa­ter in some form. This is to draw at­ten­tion to the global wa­ter cri­sis and the work of wa­ter.org — to which a por­tion of all photo sales is be­ing do­nated.

And all the pho­tos had to in­clude the hu­man fig­ure, which could range from an in­di­vid­ual to a crowd, and show­case a mean­ing­ful con­nec­tion, such as kind­ness, com­pas­sion, joy, shar­ing, out­reach or hu­man­i­tar­ian ac­tion.

That’s where the pho­to­graphs part ways. The 342 works on the walls of the fine art gallery are of ev­ery sub­ject imag­in­able, ab­stract and re­al­is­tic, shot by emerg­ing and ex­pe­ri­enced pho­tog­ra­phers. Even the way wa­ter is in­ter­preted varies dramatically — from waves crash­ing on a beach to a snowy scene sub­tly re­flected in a horse’s eye.

This is the sec­ond year Lori Warner — artist and gallery own- er, along with her friend Re­becca Steiner — an art his­to­rian — have pre­sented this show. The women are both Old Lyme res­i­dents.

“We started talk­ing about how much fun it would be to do a show to­gether and to make it rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a larger de­mo­graphic — to lit­er­ally in­clude peo­ple in ev­ery walk of life and not just be high art,” says Steiner, de­scrib­ing how the Av­er­age Joe Photo Show con­cept came about. “We also wanted to make sure there was a phil­an­thropic el­e­ment that would ap­peal to ev­ery­one.”

Some of the show’s in­spi­ra­tion, Steiner says, came from the Fam­ily of Man ex­hibit at the Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art (1955).

“It was the first show to re­ally high­light photography as an art form — pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­phers tak­ing pic­tures of the ev­ery­day world,” she says. “Here, our goal was to sub­vert that mission. For us, it’s ev­ery­day peo­ple tak­ing ev­ery­day pic­tures of the ev­ery­day world.”

Warner ex­plains the rea­son for only ac­cept­ing pic­tures taken with a cell phone or other mo­bile com- mu­ni­ca­tions de­vice.

“We’ve no­ticed that ev­ery­one uses cell phone pho­tos now,” she says. “The high qual­ity dig­i­tal cam­era is get­ting more and more ob­so­lete. Even pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­phers al­ways have their cell phones with them.”

Warner says by re­quir­ing both pro­fes­sional and am­a­teur pho­tog­ra­phers who sub­mit work to the show to only use their mo­bile de­vices, “It lev­els the play­ing field. We wanted it to be a very demo­cratic show.”

The pho­to­graphs are all printed on high qual­ity pa­per, Warner points out, mak­ing the cross­over from vir­tual pic­tures to a phys­i­cal art ex­hi­bi­tion that peo­ple can at­tend.

“Print­ing them on archival pa­per makes the pho­tos stand out since most peo­ple don’t even print out the pic­tures they take on their phones — they just post them on­line,” Steiner adds.

The rea­son the women chose wa­ter. org as the ben­e­fi­ciary of the ex­hibit, Steiner says, is “Al­most ev­ery­one, ev­ery­where needs a cell phone to sur­vive so­cially or pro­fes­sion­ally. Ev­ery­one also needs wa­ter to sur­vive. The idea

is putting the most per­va­sive tech­nol­ogy along­side the most ba­sic or­ganic in­gre­di­ent to sur­vive, lit­er­ally.”

Ac­cord­ing to the wa­ter. org web­site, 780 mil­lion peo­ple lack ac­cess to clean wa­ter. And an­other as­ton­ish­ing fact: more peo­ple have a mo­bile phone than a toi­let.

More than one Best in show

There are nu­mer­ous award cat­e­gories in the Av­er­age Joe Photo Show— an­other at­tempt to make it an all-in­clu­sive ex­hi­bi­tion.

The Col­lec­tor Joe Award is an over­all award ju­ried by Har­ley “In­spec­tor Col­lec­tor” Spiller of New York City, an ed­u­ca­tor, col­lec­tor and pho­tog­ra­pher, known for hav­ing the world’s largest col­lec­tion of Chi­nese take- out menus.

The Husky Joe Award goes to par­tic­i­pat­ing UConn stu­dents. Two more Old Lyme res­i­dents jury this award: Nancy Stula, direc­tor of the Wil­liam Ben­ton Mu­seum of Art at UConn, and Suzanne Zack, mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions spe­cial­ist at UConn Li­braries.

“This is a very spe­cial award,” Warner says. “We brought the ex­hibit up to UConn last year — and re­ally wanted to tap into the stu­dent pop­u­la­tion.”

The Av­er­age Joe Award gives peo­ple who at­tend the ex­hibit the op­por­tu­nity to cast their votes as well, which will be tal­lied up at the end of the show, and a pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­pher will present the award to the win­ner.

a new tra­di­tion

Warner and Steiner plan to make the Av­er­age Joe Photo Show an an­nual event — as long as peo­ple keep sub­mit­ting pho­tos as en­thu­si­as­ti­cally as they have for the past two years.

Warner says it’s been fas­ci­nat­ing to see the va­ri­ety of pho­tos sub­mit­ted and how hang­ing them on the walls re­ally high­lights their dif­fer­ences.

“There’s the re­ally in­ter­est­ing jux­ta­po­si­tion of some­one’s grand­daugh­ter on the beach and a more ab­stract photo where you can barely rec­og­nize the hu­man form,” she says. “To see how this field of images all (ad­her­ing to) the same cri­te­ria work to­gether is an in­ter­est­ing story in it­self.”

Warner and Steiner agree that cre­at­ing this show has been a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Fam­i­lies come in and are cap­ti­vated by this show, my 9-yearold in­cluded,” Warner says. “Ev­ery­one finds some­thing they can re­late to. It’s just re­mark­able. It’s been so sat­is­fy­ing.”

“It’s also very ex­cit­ing and heart­warm­ing for us that so many kids and teenagers sub­mit­ted pho­tos and they end up be­ing some of the best in the show,” Steiner adds.

“It’s a lot of work, but there’s so much joy in do­ing this — it’s re­ward­ing on a lot of lev­els.”

On view at the Av­er­age Joe Photo Show is “The Hunt (Town Beach, Old Say­brook)” by Erica Ed­wards.

On view at the Av­er­age Joe Photo Show is “The Hunt (Town Beach, Old Say­brook)” by Erica Ed­wards.

“Hap­pi­ness (Charleston, South Carolina)” by UConn stu­dent Jaymine Pa­tel, won the Husky Joe Award.

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