Akron Art Museum



Barbara Tannenbaum Visits Photolucida in Portland, Oregon

Your name: Barbara Tannenbaum

Your position: Director of Curatorial Affairs 

Date of your experience: April 23-26, 2009 

Time of your experience: All day, each day 

Galleries/shows/events you will discuss: Photolucida, national photography reviews in Portland, Oregon 


“I spent April 23-26 doing every curator’s favorite part of the job—looking at art. I was in Portland, Oregon, at Photolucida, one of three major American photography conferences. These meetings bring curators, dealers and publishers face-to-face with fine art photographers and their works. Photography is the only medium that does this type of event! Reviewers sit at individual tables and every 20 minutes another artist sits down with a portfolio to view and discuss. Also offered are lectures and exhibitions. In Portland, there were 60 reviewers and 160 artists. 

I love these events. Seeing original art is so much more revealing and satisfying than looking at reproductions (remember when you look at the images accompanying this!). I get the all-too-rare opportunity to spend time swapping information and news with colleagues and artists from around the country. And the reviews are like pop quizzes. You have about 5-7 minutes to digest work you’ve never seen before, figure out how you can best help the artist and decide how to express your opinion in a kind but direct way—to verbalize what makes good art and how to make it into better art. 

Of course. every artist secretly dreams of being “discovered” and made into an instant art star! Most of them, being experienced professionals, are content to receive serious critical responses from 20 or 30 of the top people in the photo world. And each year, some artists receive offers of shows, books or representation. 

There were a number of projects that showed great promise but were still gestating. Some of my favorites of those that seemed “ripe” are listed below (in no particular order, and not at all well represented by reproduction on the web)”. 


“-borderline  by Desiree Edkins of Scottsdale, instantly reached me on an emotional level. Ostensibly photographs of Edkins’s daughter, this series clearly addressed much deeper and broader issues including the artist’s relationship with her mother, the fragility of our mind’s mooring in the external world, and the perils and tensions of childhood.


Thank you Barbara.

You can visit the Akron Art Museum at  http://www.akronartmuseum.org/

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