Im­age col­lec­tor

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS - The New Mex­i­can. Great Speck­led Bird.

Pho­tog­ra­pher Paige Pin­nell

Paige Pin­nell’s pho­tog­ra­phy shows a def­i­nite ex­per­i­men­tal bent as well as an eye for the sur­real. In his early black-and-white work, on view in Paige Pin­nell: The Artist as Col­lec­tor at Ob­scura Gallery, we sense enigma in his por­tray­als of vague forms and his un­usual per­spec­tives on the or­di­nary. His mul­ti­ple-im­age pho­tos, cre­ated in the pre-Pho­to­shop world, par­tic­u­larly stand out. They also re­mind us of the iconic pho­tomon­tage works by Jerry Uels­mann, and in fact, Pin­nell stud­ied with Uels­mann and con­sid­ered him a men­tor.

Pin­nell, who died in 2017, was a long­time Santa Fean who was not only a pioneering pho­tog­ra­pher but an en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist and a banjo-play­ing found­ing mem­ber of South­west Pick­ers — two of his he­roes were au­thor Aldo Leopold and folk singer­song­writer Woody Guthrie. An­other of his pas­sions is high­lighted in the con­text of this Ob­scura ex­hi­bi­tion, which opens Fri­day, Jan. 11. It’s the first in what owner and cu­ra­tor Jen­nifer Sch­lesinger in­tends to be a se­ries called The Artist as Col­lec­tor. “Paige col­lected all kinds of things,” said his friend, artist An­nie Sahlin. “His house was full of col­lec­tions of Hopi kachi­nas, t-shirts and posters from con­certs, 78 records, and books about the Boy Scouts.”

The new ex­hi­bi­tion in­cludes both pho­tographs by Pin­nell and by other pho­tog­ra­phers he col­lected, among them Uels­mann, Paul Capon­i­gro, Ed­ward Cur­tis, Ead­weard Muy­bridge, Anne Nog­gle, and Ed­ward We­ston.

Vesta Paige Pin­nell Jr. was born in Ma­con, Ge­or­gia, in 1944, and moved with his fam­ily to Florida be­fore his sec­ond birth­day. As a boy, he was ded­i­cated to Scout­ing and achieved the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s top honor of Ea­gle Scout. He went on to earn a BFA in pho­tog­ra­phy at the Univer­sity of Florida. He served in At­lanta’s Vine City ghetto as a part of Amer­iCorp’s Vol­un­teers in Ser­vice to Amer­ica pro­gram, ac­cord­ing to his obit­u­ary in He de­vel­oped a food co-op there and also helped es­tab­lish an un­der­ground news­pa­per named the

He moved to New Mex­ico in 1969 and re­ceived an MFA in pho­tog­ra­phy and the his­tory of pho­tog­ra­phy from the Univer­sity of New Mex­ico. He stud­ied at UNM with an­other renowned pho­to­graphic ex­per­i­men­tal­ist, Van Deren Coke.

Sahlin met Pin­nell in 1971. “I knew him when he lived up on Cerro Gordo. We were hip­pies and we met through other hip­pies and hung out when Santa Fe was very ex­cit­ing,” she said. “He was my first pho­tog­ra­phy teacher. He was a pho­tog­ra­pher and a good one. I used to trade him. We’d go to Steak­smith and I’d buy us beer. He would give me in­struc­tions of what I should do next and I’d go do it and bring back the pho­tos. He’d give me a cri­tique. His big­gest ques­tion was al­ways, ‘So what?’ You had to ask your­self what made that an ex­cit­ing or im­por­tant photo. Why did you take it? Why would any­one else like it?”

Pho­tog­ra­phy dealer An­drew Smith and book dealer Ni­cholas Pot­ter both cred­ited Pin­nell with ex­pand­ing their knowl­edge of pho­tog­ra­phy in the 1960s, Sch­lesinger said. She added that Pin­nell was in­stru­men­tal in the devel­op­ment of pho­tog­ra­phy as a mar­keted art form in Santa Fe, but ac­cord­ing to Sahlin, he had lit­tle in­ter­est in mar­ket­ing his own work. “He didn’t care so much about pre­sen­ta­tion in terms of im­press­ing any­one,” she said. “He was

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