Ideas, Styles, and Fads
by Fredericks Hunter and George Krause
A few words on the HCP’s juried exhibition by those who made the choices.
(The judges for the Houston Center for Photography's Second Annual Juried Exhibition were Fredericks Hunter, owner of the Texas Gallery, and George Krause, photographer and teacher at the University of Houston. Here they discuss a few of the difficulties and surprises of that job.)
It was a great pleasure to jury HCP's annual competition and to share that pleasure with George Krause. There are drawbacks to jurying photographs from slides -artificial enhancement of color, distortion of scale, and loss of distinction in printing technique. However, I knew that George's aesthetics and knowledge of technique would keep us from going astray in our judgement and also insure a lively show, which he did with grace. His nature also minimized our differences so I am confident now that there were none at all.
I do wonder if any two other people involved in contemporary photography would have made significantly different choices. Out of the more than two hundred entries it seemed clear to me from the first go-round which artists were outstanding. Without actually laying down guidelines for selection, I believe we looked for individual vision among the prize-winning Daily Gazette entries and romantically inclined solarizations. Personally, I did not respond to fashionable techniques that quickly have become cliches, such as use of the Diana camera or the application of paint to photographs. (Certainly that is not an across-the-board condemnation; but at this point in time, use of such techniques must be "extra good".)
Ironically among the selections made there are a significant number of dogs and babies - subject matter that has long been associated with amateur photographers and considered taboo by the sophisticated artist, but that is the kind of surprise that one hopes for in jurying such a competition, making it fun as well as funny. The other noticeable trend among the final selections is the emphasis on the theatrical or artificial rather than on the chance or casual. This re-evaluation of subject matter both in choice and in presentation reflects a concern of many young artists working today, whatever the medium, and it also calls attention to artists who continue to work in such a manner despite the vagaries of fashion. The significance of a juried show to me is that it evidences an immediacy of involvement on both the part of the juror and the "juree” in the present.
By George Krause
As one of the jurors I would like to comment on some of the problems inherent in this exhibition, the most critical being my ability/inability to see accurately the work in slide form. My concern with this system is the probability that some of the work was rejected because of scale and surface or inferior quality in the production of the transparency. I see no solution as it is understandably necessary to handle the large number of entries in this manner. With those individuals whose work I recognized I felt an obligation to abstain from judgement. This number was not as large as I anticipated since many of the photographers I know chose not to submit their work. I hope they will change their minds and do so next year.
Does this exhibit represent the ideas, styles and fads that are prevalent in the photography of today? An unusually high percentage of the entries were black and white photographs that had been tinted/ painted in a similar manner. Almost all of these were rejected. I cannot explain this phenomenon but suspect that many of the schools of photography are encouraging this technique- This could also be the reason for the predominance in number and quality of images in color over that of black and white. From my point of view the greatest pleasure came from the few humorous images in the show and the opportunity to know Fredricka Hunter a little better.