Monday, March 31, 2014

Announcement: New Call for Work!

Portfolio Showcase 2014
Deadline: May 22
Exhibition: July 2 – 30, 2014
Opening Reception: July 11

©Gordon Stettinius

Every photograph tells a story. When part of a body of work, the photograph takes on a new meaning, becoming part of a larger and more complete narrative. A portfolio allows the photographer to explore the complexities of their subject, and provide context that gives it richness and meaning that is more than the sum of its parts. The Kiernan Gallery is pleased to announce its third annual portfolio showcase. Juror Gordon Stettinius will select four photographers to display their bodies of work from July 2 – 30, 2014.

-       All photographs and artist statements will be reproduced in an exhibition catalogue available for purchase.
-       Submit a body of 10-15 images, an artist statement, and a link to your website (if applicable)
-       All exhibiting photographers will be featured on The Kiernan Gallery blog and website.
-       Electronic show cards will be made for each exhibiting artist.

All photographic media are encouraged.

About the Juror
In 2010, Gordon Stettinius founded Candela Books, a publishing company, and, to date, they have produced three fine art photography monographs with more in the works. In 2011, Gordon founded a fine art photography gallery dedicated to featuring the work of nationally respected photographers. Candela Books + Gallery now inhabits a renovated 3,800 square foot building in the downtown arts district of Richmond, Virginia and is one of the leading advocates for fine art photography in the mid-Atlantic region. As a photographer, Stettinius has been exhibited nationally and internationally over the last twenty years and his work can be found in numerous private and public collections.  His work is represented by Robin Rice Gallery in New York and Page Bond Gallery in Richmond, Virginia. Stettinius is also an emeritus member of 1708 Gallery and an adjunct professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. 

For more information and to see submission guidelines visit:

Friday, March 28, 2014

Take Flight Winners: Dawn Hanna

Photography has always been a part of Juror’s Choice winner Dawn Hanna’s life. Her parents, avid photographers themselves, nurtured her love of the medium. “I picked up an old Brownie camera of my grandmother's when I was about 11 years old and my father gave me a Polaroid for Christmas a few years later which I still have and use. I learned how to process and print film in high school and loved it. Photography is an integral part of my every day.”

Bowties Never Stay Put

Hanna’s images exude a sense of fantasy, wavering between whimsical and ethereal. To achieve this look she incorporates tilt-shift lenses in conjunction with post-production layering techniques. “I completely give myself over to creating the image, and I am almost always surprised at what emerges. I work with tilt-shift lenses because I have found that they are able to blur the boundaries between what I am shooting and the emotion that I feel in a way that resonates with my aesthetic.” From there, Hanna works with Photoshop layers to bring the piece to its final state.

I like to explore the boundaries of starting with something that is already there and then methodically pushing it out to see how far it can go. Sometimes that involves putting elements in or taking them out of an image, altering tones and layering many foundations underneath or over an image. Just as in painting, I start with a foundation of color and texture and work up and out from there. Although I'm not a painter, I'm very interested in that particular boundary between photography and painting.
Love Rises

Hanna also enjoys exploring the connection between photography and language. “Certainly text and image stand on their own as individual entities but for me, it's nearly impossible to separate the two, and I value them both.” She explains that she can’t read anything without appreciating the images it conjures, and likewise she can’t view an image without imagining the story behind it. Because of this, Hanna often includes words either within or without the format of her photographs. “They flow effortlessly into one another. They are both used for communication and they are both mutable in their interpretation and that interests me.”

From her impressive body of work, one wouldn’t guess that Hanna had returned to photography recently. Personal bumps in the road forced her to step away from her art for a time. “I have come to understand the risks needed to make myself vulnerable for creating art, to understand its absolute value in my life, to allow my life to flow into my art, and to embrace the sheer joy of creating. I'm not sure I could have been fully present to that in an earlier time.” She appreciates that her time away from her creative life gave her the opportunity to grow as a person and has given her insight into her relationship with her art. Hanna is still trying to balance her personal and commercial work, prioritizing the necessities of her profession while still carving out time for personal work.

Her return to photography has also encouraged her to take her art in new directions. After stumbling upon a self-portrait challenge online, Hanna decided to experiment with herself as subject. “Using myself as a vehicle for self-expression has been one of the most liberating things I have ever done. Having the courage to put myself in front of the camera has untapped a vein of emotional depth and insight that I might never have understood had I not pursued it.” Judging by her body of work, Hanna has found success in this exploration. Despite this, she does not like to definitively define success for herself. “Success is way too elusive a measurement to stand against. There will never be a consensus on what successful art is. But if I can continue to acknowledge and push through fear or apathy or whatever life might throw my way, to create art that resonates with me, then that is the closest measurement I can draw to define success.”

Take Flight is on view at The Kiernan Gallery through March 29, 2014.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Take Flight Winners: Geoffrey Agrons

Director's Choice winner for Take Flight, Geoffrey Agrons speaks about his fantastical imagery.

How did you first find yourself picking up photography? Was it love at first snapshot or was it long time in development? 
I came to photography obliquely and relatively late. As a radiologist, I spent my workdays in darkened reading rooms interpreting “photographs” of the human interior. I gradually recognized that my aesthetic appreciation of the images was deeply entwined with the rigor of anatomic analysis, logic, and problem solving. In the digital era the disciplines of still photography and radiology have converged, and it seemed a natural step to pick up a camera and explore the greater world. In the process, I found respite in feeling rather than thinking.
Twenty-three Birds
Much of your work explores the tension and harmony between the manmade and natural worlds. How does Synecdoche relate to this?
In his introduction to Michael Kenna: A Twenty Year Retrospective, Peter Bunnell explored the notion of the “unheroic landscape,” a term that aptly described the photographer’s “concern for the land more as feeling than about the land as place.” I recognized in this characterization a kindred sensibility that continues to inform my work. I find myself drawn to both the apposition and opposition of natural and human-made elements in landscape photography, and seek to convey the emotional to and fro between timelessness and evanescence.  Made at Mont Saint-Michel, the photograph Synechdoche is my attempt to place a familiar architectural landmark in the larger context of an unsentimental, even threatening, natural realm. The appearance of a murmuration of starlings was a welcome accident. I came to title the photograph with a figure of speech derived from the Greek for “simultaneous understanding”, wherein a part of something refers to the whole.
Mont Saint-Michel, in France, is famous for its natural receding land bridge. Previously, you have drawn parallels between the eroding power of water, and its ability to mold and alter a shoreline. Is this piece a continuation of this thought? How so?
In visiting Mont Saint-Michel for the first time, I was struck by the incongruous endurance over centuries of this self-contained edifice, which appears quite delicate at a remove, episodically immersed in water and surrounded by a shifting environment. In many ways the site epitomized the landscapes that most intrigue, excite, and puzzle me as a photographer.
Eight Faux Birds
Your photographs are often printed on handmade paper. How does the paper add to the overall work? Do you create it yourself?
After a good deal of experimentation with a variety of papers, I discovered Bizan, a traditional Japanese Washi individually handmade from Kozo (mulberry) and Hemp fibers at the Awagami mill in Tokushima for Legion. I appreciate the variegated texture and “toothiness” of the surface, a certain ethereal quality the paper lends to monochrome work, and that no two prints are identical. In this digital age of reproduction, the idiosyncrasies of the paper and the challenge of creating a successful inkjet print introduces an element of craft that allows me to feel comfortable offering limited edition work.
 Escape from Alcatraz
Your other piece, Escape from Alcatraz, was chosen for the show. Both have similar themes, but have a different mood. What story were you attempting to convey with each piece?
Both photographs include self-contained island worlds reminiscent of city-states, although only one world was expressly designed for incarceration. Initially, the making of each photograph was a rather deliberative exercise, yet each incorporates unanticipated or unintended elements of airborne freedom: in Escape from Alcatraz, the appearance of a dirigible over the island penitentiary and in Synechdoche, a flock of starlings moving as a single entity. In photography, I find myself humbled and delighted by accidents and temporal intrusions. They remind me that the physical world and the passage of time do not care what I think or plan.

Take Flight is on view at The Kiernan Gallery through March 29.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Susan Spiritus

The Kiernan Gallery is pleased to have Susan Spiritus as juror for our upcoming exhibition, In the Abstract. Susan is the Owner and Director of Susan Spiritus Gallery in Newport Beach, CA. Here she speaks about her gallery and vision in her own words.

Lilac, 2013 by Cara Barer 

"I never had a set plan or any interest or intent to open an art gallery and my interest in the arts did not evolve from my undergraduate or graduate training in school. With an undergraduate degree in speech pathology and audiology from the University of Buffalo and a Master's in Special Education from Boston University, I was not leaning towards a life which revolved around the arts, but, my life took an unexpected turn in the spring of 1974 when I came down with Menniere's Disease. Recuperation was slow and the effects of the illness were such that I had to make new choices in life that were more in line with my taking on a more passive lifestyle. It was suggested that I get involved in the arts because it did not involve much "activity" and so in spite of my admittance not to know anything about art; I gave this suggestion serious consideration."

How were you first introduced to photography? What made you fall in love with it?

My husband and I developed our interest in the arts after we moved to Newport Beach and befriended Jack Glenn of the Jack Glenn Gallery (early 1970's), and with whom we not only started making purchases from, but with whom I eventually started to work with in his gallery. It was Jack Glenn who subsequently introduced us to John Berggruen, Margo Leavin and Joni Gordon of Newspace Gallery as well as others in the art world. We bought early work by Laddie John Dill, Paul Dillon, and Tony Delap as well as works on paper by Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Motherwell, David Hockney and Sam Francis.   

 In 1975 Jack Glenn decided to expand his gallery to include fine art photography and asked me to work with him as his assistant. I told him that I had no knowledge of photography and he assured me that not only was that okay, but he would serve as my mentor and educate me. I jumped in and learned on the job and this was the start of my love affair with photography. However, my job as Jack's gallery assistant lasted about one year, if that, before he announced that he was going to be moving and closing the doors. I asked what I should do next and his immediate reply was, "Open your own gallery, you know how and can do it!"  That's all that was needed and I began to look for a suitable space. 

The Lovely Monster Over the Farm, 19:25CDT, Lodgepole, NE 2008 by Camille Seaman

Susan Spiritus has been a leading art gallery for 38 years. How has the gallery evolved since it first opened? How has it impacted and influenced the community?

The doors to the new Susan Spiritus Gallery opened in Newport Beach in June 1976, which was located in a refurbished two-story house of 600 square feet. The two upstairs bedrooms were used to exhibit two concurrent artist's shows and the large living room downstairs always had selections of each of the artist's works who were represented by the gallery at the time-- beginning with George Tice, Cole Weston, Ansel Adams, Linda Connor, Robert Heinecken, Marsha & Michael Burns, Harry Callahan, Eikoh Hosoe along with many others. 

When the gallery opened in 1976, there was only a very small art community to speak of in Newport Beach and none were collectors of photographic art. It was my mission to introduce fine art photography to Southern California and to slowly begin educating the public. I capitalized on everyone that I knew including friends, acquaintances and colleagues and put the word out about photography.  We mounted one-person exhibitions each month and coordinated them with an opening reception to which we invited everyone. Gallery announcement cards were printed and mailed out.  We also offered artist talks and discussions, and I started writing a newsletter, which was mailed out to our clients on a monthly basis as well. Of course, life in the gallery became much easier with the introduction of computers and the World Wide Web! It was goodbye to the IBM Selectric. 

With my gallery entering into its 39th year of operation, much has changed. What was during the first 20 years is no longer, for instance I no longer actively seek portfolio submissions because I have a long-standing selection of photographers with whom I work on a regular basis. This does not mean that I am not looking for new photographers, but I am much more selective as I look for work that is different from anything that I already have. The work of Korean artist, Seung Hoon Park is a perfect example. I found this artist on Facebook two years ago and actively tracked him down, which was no easy feat.  We've been working together since - overcoming the language barrier that we initially incurred. 

I also no longer do portfolio reviews in the gallery, which were done on a regular basis during those early years as it was more of a necessity then to do and to give the artist direction. That is not to say that many of the emerging artists do not need that direction and advice today, but it is so much easier for them to find it on-line or from the wealth of artists who are out there in the art market today. 

Textus #165, St. Stephenson, Vienna, Austria by Seung Hoon Park

What is your pet peeve when an artist contacts you looking for representation?

The personal pet peeve that I have always had and remains true today is when an artist allows someone else, 'an agent', a friend, his or her mother or anyone else call (me) on their behalf to discuss their work!!  There is NO ONE better to talk about and discuss your work than YOU. I will not have this discussion with anyone but the artist himself.

As Owner of Susan Spiritus Gallery, you have worked with many different artists and collectors. What is your approach for finding the right piece of art for a specific collector?

My gallery has become known for representing fine art contemporary photography and of course today with an active website it is easy for clients and collectors to seek out which artists I represent. This makes it easy for them to search and shop for the exact piece(s) they are looking for.  

But, should a collector or new client come into the gallery in hopes to find a specific photograph for either a ‘space’ or a ‘collection’, the first thing I do is ask a few questions and then most importantly, I LISTEN TO THEIR ANSWERS. My expertise is working with people, one to one.  I listen to them and then search my inventory for pieces that might suit their needs/requirements and having such a large inventory at hand allows me to find multiple potential pieces — ones which would fit based on what they say they are looking for — and I especially keep in mind the price point that they have indicated they want to stay within. Sometimes I may have many to offer and consider; and other times there may only be one or two. I’ve said this before, but being a dealer in contemporary photography certainly offers the client many options from which to choose. 

Susan Spiritus Gallery has always carried a large collection of Japanese work. What draws you to those photographers’ work? What is different about them?

I was introduced to Eikoh Hosoe's work through Light Gallery during the early years of Susan Spiritus Gallery. With a move into a new larger gallery space scheduled in 1979, I offered Mr. Hosoe a retrospective exhibition (1960-1980) for the opening show for my new space. When Mr. Hosoe accepted I flew to Japan to meet him and to see more of his work.  I ended up purchasing a set of 100 (20x24") photographs, representing a large cross section of Mr. Hosoe's work at that time.  It was this initial introduction to Mr. Hosoe which was the beginning of my meeting other photographers from Japan - some as the result of introductions from Mr. Hosoe and other meetings along the way at portfolio reviews and through other photographers. There is really nothing specific which draws me to works by artists from Japan except perhaps the simplicity of composition. It was always my intent to be able to offer a wide range of work from different parts of the world.

Over the years, the gallery has opened its doors to private parties and events. In what ways do these events contribute to the gallery’s outreach? What sorts of functions take place in the gallery?

The gallery's doors have been open to receive private parties and events for many many years. These have included concerts, art auctions, insurance seminars and many student classroom visits set up by the teacher (high school) or professor (college). In addition, I have had private companies contact me and ask if they could have their company's party or event at the gallery.  Over the years, there have also been numerous photo shoots for magazine publications at the gallery. I also offered to host a private party for a non-profit that I support and offered them the use of my gallery space along with a commission from any sale that took place during that event. It was a win-win for everyone. 

From the Chrysler Building, NY by George Tice

You spend a great deal of time reviewing the work of emerging and mid-career artists. How do you think that impacts your approach as a juror?

When I am asked to jury a selection of photographs, I do so with an open mind. I do not believe that I am not influenced or impacted by other photographic works that I have previously seen and I jury an image on its own merit. In general each competition that I am asked to jury has a theme and the work has to be selected to fit within the stated parameters. For instance, you have asked me to jury your next competition, The Abstract, and I am looking forward to seeing the submissions and selecting those that ‘speak to me’ once I have viewed and reviewed them. I have no preconceived ideas as to what I will see - and I do not know anyone who has submitted work to this competition. Anyway, I’m certain that all of the submissions will be anonymous with only an I.D. number attached to them, so I won’t know them. Of course, there have been a few times when I have recognized an image, and I have always judged it amongst the others  — giving it no special attention.

A fun follow up to jurying a competition is to see the results and the names of the artists! Oftentimes, after the results have been published, I receive notes both in the mail and through email thanking me for selecting their work! That’s a great way to finish — and I do save them for my archive, which will be housed at the Center For Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona.

And finally, how do you define success in art?

with regard to the word success, I think it has different meanings to everyone, especially those in the arts! I believe that an artist will measure his/her success just by accomplishing their goal to make art. If they make their art and are satisfied with it, then I am certain that they feel a sense of accomplishment - success! Of course, if it’s profitable for them, then it’s even more so, but many artists make their work - and do not think about selling it.  Of course, they say, if it sells, then they are doubly pleased! 

There are thousands and thousands of artists out there who are making art because that’s what they do - and most remain unknown in the art world. I would think that every artist would like to become more well known, or as we say, a household name, but that takes years and years of hard work and most do not achieve that status!  I think the most famous household name in the (photographic) art world is Ansel Adams thanks to the endless PR that his friend Bill Turnage did for him. I think an artist certainly achieves success when he/she becomes a household name, but success is not limited to that by any means.

With regard to the Susan Spiritus Gallery and the word, success, I have been asked, “to what do I attribute my success?” and my response has always been multi-fascited as it is tied closely to all of the wonderful artists with whom I work and to the loyal clients who have supported the gallery through sales during all these years! Without them, the Susan Spiritus Gallery would not be.

On the occasion of the gallery’s 30th anniversary, I decided to host a dinner party to say ‘thank you’ to all of those who had supported the gallery for all those years.  I did not tell anyone why they were being invited to my party — I was just hosting a party and hoped all would come. When they arrived, I greeted them with, "I’m sure you are all wondering why you are here…. to which I replied, “You are here because the Susan Spiritus Gallery is still here.  Thank you.”

So as I come upon the gallery’s 39th year in business, I am feeling pretty good about it.  I have achieved my dream, accomplished what I set out to do and had fun along the way! I’ve met great people and have wonderful stories to tell. 

My business has certainly been a success in my eyes;  I have become a household name and I’ve put my artists out there in the public eye by working very hard for all of them!  All of that to me equals success and a win-win for everyone.

The deadline to submit work for In the Abstract is March 21. Visit for more information.