photo méthode / phō tō mē thō duh / noun: a plethora of photography techniques
Tina Weitz opened Photo Méthode Gallery in September 2013. Since then, Weitz – an experienced gallerist and a professional photographer herself – has assembled an impressive group of fine art photographers including Kevin Greenwood, Shelley Wood, and David Johndrow.
For 10 years, Weitz owned and operated Studio2 on South Lamar and showcased a range of contemporary art. When she gave up her space on South Lamar, she moved to the Flatbed Building where she set up her own photographic studio and continued her commitment to exhibiting artists from Studio2 with pop-up shows at the 02 Project Space in this East Austin art hub.
When she was ready to return to running a gallery full time, she opted to focus solely on photography. “Photography,” she says, “is an isolated occupation. The fine art photographer makes a significant investment of time as he or she studies a subject in depth and experiments with photographic processes which range from the traditional methods developed in the 19th century to the most recent digital techniques.” It is the storytelling nature and the choice of processes used to create a photographic series that engages Weitz, and it is this enthusiasm that she shares with viewers.
Photo Méthode’s intimate space, sleek white walls, and meandering feel is a testament to Weitz’s mastery of presentation. The layout itself emphasizes the concept of a series and encourages the viewer to move from image to image to understand a story. It also serves as a place for photographers to gather, talk, and share. The result is that Photo Méthode has taken on a sense of family with both photographers and gallerist having a stake in the gallery’s success.
During the 2014 East Austin Studio Tour (EAST), Photo Méthode will showcase two photographers: Tami Bone and Peter Brown Leighton. Bone’s photo montages merge multiple images to create an imagined world. Her exhibit This is where I’m going to be now . . . is based on childhood imaginings which led to a heightened sense of wonder that today gives her work a veiled sense of mystery. Leighton’s Man Lives Through Plutonium Blast informally explores the roots of twentieth century photographic practices by connecting them to photography’s digital present. Conceptually, their narratives are as perplexing and absurd as the modern world in which we live.
In Weitz’s mind, there is a place in fine art photography for both the traditional and the digital. “Fundamentals are fundamentals,” she says. “We have to keep the old in order to understand the new . . . otherwise an image is just a snapshot.” For 2015, she has booked Dan Burkholder, the guru of iPhoneography, and scheduled an exhibition of drummer Dony Wynn’s macro photography. At the other end of the spectrum will be Christa Blackwood and Hannah Neal, whose well-honed techniques range from tintypes to photogravures.
Photo Méthode has provided a much-needed venue. In our region, group shows are the main exhibition options of fine art photographers. There are few venues which provide opportunity for solo or two-person shows. Weitz has created just such a place and photographers have embraced the opportunities.
Art.Science.Gallery. / ärt sīəns galərē / noun: a space that celebrates art–science fusion of all kinds
Hayley Gillespie founded Art.Science.Gallery. in 2012. The gallery, which now resides at Canopy in East Austin, actually began as a blog. After earning her Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at UT, Gillespie had what she calls a little creative explosion, and, in addition to working on her own art, she started biocreativity, where she wrote about the intersection between biology and art and featured artists making science-inspired work. So many of these artists were seeking a physical venue where they could show their work that she decided she would provide one. After several successful pop-up shows around Austin, Gillespie felt the need for a permanent space.
For 2013 EAST, she and her husband created a pop-up at the then still unfinished Canopy. The duo built seven 8 ft. x 8 ft. studded walls and installed gallery lighting for a 44-artist show, ECLOSION. The show was held in conjunction with a meeting of the Entomological Society of America and featured assemblage sculptures of insects made from plant and insect parts and beeswax “crawling on walls and coming down from the ceiling” as well as an informative field guide for visitors. This positive experience led them to sign a lease and move into permanent digs at Canopy.
Since that show, Art.Science.Gallery. has settled nicely into its glass-fronted home in Building 2 of the complex on Springdale. The 1,000 sq. ft. space is chock-full of science-inspired art, from the inviting exhibition space at the front of the gallery, pleasantly suffused with natural light, down the hall and into the back office, where visitors are encouraged to roam. Labels feature scientists’ stories and discoveries. “Get well” cards carry the chemical formula for vitamin C. Gillespie hopes that visitors will glean at least one scientific tidbit that they didn’t know before and experience a little of the wonder of discovery that makes science so inspiring.
In its new home, the gallery is perfectly poised to serve as a hub for inspiration and education for its audience of visitors and artists alike. Being around other artists and galleries has led to fruitful collaborations, including the Tesla Project in July and a PrintAustin show last year. Events, talks, and classes are also part of the work of Art.Science. Gallery., and Gillespie says that she and her team would love to expand their class offerings and give people an informal opportunity to learn about science.
This year at EAST, Gillespie says visitors will see “variables made visible” at X Marks the Spot, a group exhibition about scientific variables. The show will demonstrate how scientists and artists explore and measure the natural world and look for patterns in datasets. In contrast to last year’s EAST exhibit, X Marks the Spot has a broad focus, spanning all scientific disciplines and exploring how these variables are found within the art-making process as well. The exhibit will run through November 23, 2014, and visitors can boast that they’ve been to one of the only art-science galleries in the country. As testament to the gallery’s unique offerings, December classes will be offered with Southwestern University mathematician Dr. Fumiko Futamura, who will teach students how to render hyperbolic geometric structures in crochet.
Gillespie has clearly found that art is a great vehicle to engage the public with science, a small but important stepping-stone in communicating science’s universal application. Art.Science.Gallery. is an exciting and important addition to the Austin arts, giving a voice to the obvious but often over- looked intersection of science and art.
grayDUCK / grā dək / noun: 1 a contemporary art gallery on E. Cesar Chavez in Austin, Texas, that is friendly and accessible to everyone 2 also referred to as a goose (in the nursery rhyme duck duck goose)
Jill Schroeder founded grayDUCK Gallery in 2010 in South Austin and is dedicated to exhibiting the work of local and national artists with a broad range of experience. After four years renting a space tucked away on a side street, Schroeder purchased and renovated a 100-year-old house on Cesar Chavez in East Austin. The transition from renting to owning, from south to east, and from in-the- back to street-visible has given grayDUCK gallery a permanence and integration into the fabric of the Austin arts that it so deserved.
With its high ceilings, plentiful wall space, and room to spread out, grayDUCK is able to present more solo shows, exhibit a wider range of mediums, and host a variety of events, ranging from poetry readings to experimental cinema. This space has allowed Schroeder to push the limits on what she is comfortable showing and, luckily for the Austin community, she has stepped up to the challenge. As it has re-energized her, it has re-energized East Cesar Chavez and given it a much-needed professional space to serve the surrounding artists. The original wood floors are warmly welcoming as one walks into the gallery, and a long crisp white wall leads to the vaulted ceiling in the back room, natural light pouring in from the high windows. It’s an ideal space for presenting everything from painting to sculpture to video. One can imagine being an artist walking into this blank canvas, eagerly embracing the freedom and respectability it provides. Schroeder takes pride in giving local and national artists this opportunity, curating a mixture of voices that intrigue both collectors and academics alike.
For the crowds of EAST, grayDUCK will exhibit a larger selection than usual with a more accessible bent than the conceptual pieces of shows past. It is, after all, a weekend dedicated to the selling and, hopefully, the buying of art. In its main gallery, grayDUCK will present HEIRLOOM, a two-person show featuring the work of Adrian Landon Brooks and Megan Kimber. Their mixed-media paintings draw on legacy and heritage to connect to the viewer and strive to evoke something greater than oneself and the current moment. The front alcove of the gallery, coined “Decoy,” will feature two distinctly different artists: Pamela Valfer from Los Angeles and Jayne Lawrence from San Antonio, whose drawings hybridize the man-made with the natural. Over the next year, grayDUCK’s shows include painting, drawing, found object sculpture, large wood sculptures with sound elements, collage, photography, and mixed media. With such a diverse schedule, grayDUCK continually leaves us curious and excited about what’s next.