Andrew Owen, the co-founder and director of the festival that has made Charlottesville an important stop for serious photographers and photo lovers each June, has fond memories of the slide show parties wildlife photographer Michael “Nick” Nichols used to hold in his Albemarle County backyard. A 25-year tradition, these annual one night affairs, last held in 2005, drew as many as 500 people from as far away as Washington D.C. and New York City.
“The idea was that anybody who showed up could show work,” Owen says. “So you might have a National Geographic photographer showing his newest project and that would be followed up by the neighbor who just got back from a family vacation. It was that campfire spirit that got us started.”
Now in its sixth year, LOOK3 has grown out of beloved informal get-togethers to a month-long community happening highlighted by “three days of peace love and photography” on and around Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall. David Doubilet’s stunning underwater images of the world’s oceans grace the Mall. Exhibitions by nine other artists are on display all June. Open air slide shows plus artist interviews, book signings and master classes all designed to showcase a vibrant, evolving art form take place June 7-9.
“I call it an immersive public arts experience,” Owen says. “Photographs are hanging in the trees; they’re on the sides of buildings; they’re in the galleries. We have shows in the Paramount and the Pavilion, and they’re in all the coffee shops. Any business with wall space that puts up art is showing photography in June.”
Since it was first held in 2007, LOOK3 has drawn photo fans from 46 U.S. states and 26 other countries. Eighty-five percent of attendees who buy three-day festival passes come from out of town. Besides pumping tourist dollars into the area economy, the festival organization itself spends liberally in the local business community as it produces exhibits and events that are free and open to all.
Each year the festival celebrates “three legends of photography who have made an indelible mark on the medium.” This year’s three Insight Artists—Stanley Greene, Donna Ferrato, and Alex Webb—who largely work as photojournalists, will be interviewed at the Paramount Theater in separate evenings devoted to their work.
Stanley Greene’s work is showing in a specially constructed gallery at 306 Main Street adjacent to Bank of America. Although Greene has produced iconic images in such news hot spots as Croatia, Rwanda, the Berlin Wall and the post-Katrina Gulf Coast, he rejects both the photojournalist and the artist labels, claiming the former has been “bastardized” and preferring the idea of being “a photographer, just being photographer.” A photographer “is someone who looks at the world and tries to make some sense of it for themselves, and for everyone else,” Greene says. “And that’s what I want to do.”
A man who believes in believes working deep and thorough, Greene spent more than a decade in Chechnya as Chechnyans fought Russia for independence. “He stands his ground,” says fellow photographer David Griffin, curator of Greene’s exhibition. “He’s very impassioned and refuses to compromise his values.”
Owen is “particularly excited about Stanley because he’s so analog. He’s a strong critic of what digital has done to photography, and for a lot of the young photographers in the audience it will be a perspective they don’t know anything about.” Greene will be interviewed by photojournalist Jean-François Leroy at the Paramount on June 7 at 7:00 p.m.
Donna Ferrato’s unflinching documentary work is on display in the McGuffey Art Center’s Main Gallery. Ferrato determined to shine a light on the lot of battered women early in her career, after seeing a man hit his wife. Her exposés of domestic violence add up to “powerful and important work,” Owen says. “Nobody has made a contribution to this field quite the way she has.”
Ferrato’s 1991 collection, Living with the Enemy, the first book-length photographic exploration of domestic abuse, has been reprinted four times and sold 40,000 copies worldwide. Since 9/11 she has focused on her Lower Manhattan neighborhood of Tribeca, a now trendy area with elegant landmark buildings and a gritty commercial and industrial history. Ferrato will be interviewed at the Paramount on June 8 at 4 p.m. by Alex Chadwick, journalist and co-creator of National Public Radio’s Morning Edition.
A retrospective of the work of Alex Webb is on display at 2nd Street Gallery. “Alex is the photographer’s photographer,” Owen says. “He has been copied and emulated for 30 years. His use of color is singular.” Webb was first inspired to use color in the 1970s when forays to Haiti, the Caribbean and the U.S.-Mexico border, so different from the New York and New England environments he’d been documenting, led him to switch from black-and-white to capture the South’s particular heat and light.
Webb “is one of the most patient photographers still working today,” Owen says. “He will go and find a beautiful wall or a particular street intersection and just wait; he’ll go back to it every night when he thinks the light’s right and just wait for something to happen.” Webb will be interviewed by essayist and novelist Geoff Dyer at the Paramount on June 9 at 4:00 p.m.
LOOK 3’s most popular show each year is the one hanging in the trees—the trees along the Downtown Mall. Intended to promote environmental awareness and conservation, the exhibit features images from nature. This year’s photos from the 40-year career of National Geographic underwater photographer David Doubilet, including coral reefs, blue-ringed octopuses, leafy sea dragons, schools of giant bumphead parrotfish, and tiger sharks, make the Mall the setting for “a self-guided tour of the world’s most fascinating ocean environments.” Under Exposed, Doubilet’s interview with Alex Chadwick, takes place at the Paramount on June 6 at 7:30 pm.
Friday and Saturday evenings at 9:00, the festival will take over the nTelos Wireless Pavilion for Shots and Works, two hours a night of what Owen describes as “visual essays by photographers from all over the world,” culled by “advisory boards from New York who look at hundreds of potential projects.” These onscreen projections will feature new and innovative work from both professionals and emerging talents in photojournalism, fine art, and everything in between.
Rather than presenting a smorgasbord of individual photos, the 40 artists will show entire projects constructed free from commercial restraint, sometimes with musical accompaniment. Shots on Friday will be a sort of Fridays After Five continued in the dark, and still free. Tickets for Works on Saturday are $10. Each evening will follow the same format, but with different participants.
Renowned photography teacher Ernesto Bazan, a native of Sicily, first saw Cuba in 1992. He went back for 14 years. “For many years I had strongly desired Cuba, as if longing for a woman that you meet only once and can’t get out of your mind,” Bazan says. “I’m almost certain I lived there in another life.” Bazan will show his work and present a Masters Talk at the Paramount June 8 at 11:00 a.m.
Five other artists will receive exhibitions this year. Lynsey Addario has documented wars and humanitarian crises from Darfur, the Congo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya for The New York Times, National Geographic, Newsweek, and Time. In 2009, she was on a team that received the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. Addario’s exhibit Veiled Rebellion is on display at McGuffey.
Bruce Gilden’s criterion for a good street photograph is that it makes you smell the street. “He’s proven that the street is an exotic destination,” says guest curator Vince Musi. “I’ve been known for taking pictures very close,” Gilden says, “and the older I get, the closer I get.” Gilden’s exhibition Street Smart, including images from Coney Island, Tokyo, and Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, are on display on the wall outside the Regal Cinema.
Hank Willis Thomas is a rising art world star whose central subject is the black male figure as portrayed in the media. “Thomas appropriates images from popular culture—advertisements, magazines—and strips them of their branding,” Owen says, showing the image by itself “as a way to poke fun but also create a dialogue about race and identity and popular culture.”
Thomas’ Myth(ology) has been printed on vinyl banners and is displayed on the Freedom of Speech Wall on the Mall. “There has been a lot of talk about race relations in Charlottesville,” Owen says, referring to the City’s ongoing Dialogue on Race initiative, “and I think that this is going to be an important contribution to that conversation because it is about how black males are perceived in popular culture.”
When Camille Seaman was growing up as part of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, a self-governing tribe in a small village outside Long Island, New York, she was taught that the human race and the natural world are intimately connected. “This false idea that we as humans are separate from nature is what I seek to challenge with my images,” she says today. Seaman’s conviction is reflected in a body of work that guest curator David Griffin describes as dramatic and sometimes ominous. Seaman herself compares her photos of polar ice in the Arctic and Antarctica to portraits of ancestors, each revealing a unique personality. Her exhibit The Last Iceberg is at Chroma Arts Project.
Robin Schwartz has been taking pictures of her daughter Amelia with animals since Amelia was three. Gibbon apes, dogs, kangaroos, llamas, and a hairless cat have all appeared with 13-year old Amelia, who now collaborates with her mother, helping choose poses and clothes. “My daughter and I share an affinity with the animal kingdom and we play out our fantasies and explore our eccentricities by creating a cultural space where animals not only co-exist with humans, but also interact as full partners,” Robin says. Schwartz’s interspecies fantasia Amelia’s World is on display at Warm Springs Gallery. The photographer will be at the gallery on June 9 at 11:00 a.m. Pets are welcome.
LOOK3’s feast of images and stimulating discussion is bound to put some festivalgoers in a, shall we say, interactive mood. Let them head to the Truth Booth on the front lawn of the McGuffey Arts Center June 7-9. Truth Booth is a touring inflatable installation shaped like a cartoon speech bubble. Inside, the booth functions like an old-fashioned photo booth that takes multiple, rapid portrait shots, except that it takes two-minute videos instead. As the videos are taken, subjects are invited to complete sentence, “The truth is…” First installed at Ireland’s Galway Arts Festival in 2011, Truth Booth is traveling to festivals, fairs, and the like, compiling footage that will be edited into a single work of art.
“The stories behind the photographs, I think that’s where we’ve distinguished ourselves,” Owens says modestly, acknowledging only when asked that LOOK3 is the preeminent photo festival in the U.S. “When we bring people to the stage, it’s not a canned presentation. We sit them down with a professional interviewer and ask them questions that are sometimes tough to answer.” Look and listen—Central Virginia has the privilege every June.
For tickets and information about classes and other events, go to www.look3.org.
The Charlottesville area has always been shaped by immigrants, and we have a long tradition of recognizing them for it. French-born Claudius Crozet, who served as an engineer in Napoleon’s army, constructed the first railroad from Charlottesville to Richmond in 1851. He then blasted a railway
Throughout the month of September, an audio-visual exhibition called “Landscapes of Slavery and Segregation” provides historical context to Charlottesville in three different locations: the Downtown Mall, the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center and UVA Grounds. Curated by
From Coachella to Firefly, Nashville-based pop rockers Moon Taxi have spent the summer honing their upbeat, charismatic live set at music festivals across the country. Their songs, inspired by life on the road and the power of the human bond, blend personal lyrics, synths, guitar, bass and
The sun casts honey-colored hues across White Hall’s stretch of the Blue Ridge Mountains as Gina Sobel plays a gold Stratocaster at Restoration’s summer concert series. It’s too hot to play inside the restaurant, she says, as muddied jazz and rock ‘n’ roll reverberate across the restaurant’s
Welcome to our public schools feature where we highlight the quality education available to students in Charlottesville city and surrounding counties. If you have a family and are considering a move to central Virginia, or if you’re planning to relocate from one county to another, and are
I heard about a patch of ribolla gialla vines in Barboursville, and I had to go and see them to find out what was happening with these special grapes. Luca Paschina, the winemaker at Barboursville Vineyards, first tasted wine made from ribolla gialla about 30 years ago. “It was the mid-1980s in
For all its utility in tracking our planetary revolutions, earthly seasons and our personal development from one sunrise to the next, time may be the human construct that inspires the most anxiety. If you find conventional planners too rigid, digital calendars too ethereal, if you seem
Fans of fiction C-VILLE Weekly and WriterHouse partnered again this year for our fiction contest, in which readers submitted works to be judged by author Ann Beattie, who was the Edgar Allan Poe professor of literature and creative writing at the University of Virginia. Forty-seven entries were
A Ukrainian clarinetist, an Italian organist, and a Chilean-born cellist are coming to Staunton this month. So are a Hungarian violist, two Finnish violinists, a German composer and a bevy of specialists in Baroque and Renaissance music skilled on the antique instruments that music was written
Even though updos are typically seen as a more formal style, we challenged hairstylist Brianna B. Adams to create three carefree, romantic options for inspiration. Model Amber Griggs wears earrings by Ana Cavalheiro (anacavalheiro.com) and a gown from Sealed With A Kiss
Calling all authors! Dust off those manuscripts—submissions are now being accepted for the C-VILLE Weekly/WriterHouse fiction contest. Short works of previously unpublished creative fiction that are a maximum of 3,000 words are eligible for entry; the winning story will be published in the
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards saw a red door and wanted it painted black. But if the Stones had the kind of options that are available today, who knows? Maybe they’d have wanted a six-panel, deep purple door with sidelights, a dark bronze weather strip and a composite adjustable sill. “When we
Despite falling to North Carolina in the ACC Tournament finale Saturday, Virginia earned the No. 1 seed in the Midwest region in the NCAA Tournament over Big Ten Tournament champion Michigan State, marking the second time in three years that Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers have snagged a top seed in
Charlottesville — Just in time for Valentine’s Day, a group founded by a self-described “pickup artist” is planning an international meet-up day February 6 in 165 cities and 43 countries—including Charlottesville’s Lee Park. The group Return of Kings has been described
Let’s grab a drink! On Thursday, February 11, from 6:30-8:30pm, C-VILLE Weekly is celebrating its Love Issue (on stands February 10) at Champion Brewing Co. and we’re inviting you—and your single friends!—to grab a beer with us. We’ll buy the first round; all you have to do is
We’ve heard you complaining (or was that just an echo?): There is no one left to date in Charlottesville. …But that’s where we come in. C-VILLE’s working on a list of Charlottesville’s most eligible local bachelors and bachelorettes for an upcoming issue and we
The Virginia Film Festival has announced the schedule for 2015, which will run from November 5-8. This marks the festival’s 27th year and the anticipation is a testament to the growth that Jody Kielbasa has forged since taking the executive role in 2010. The festival will again showcase
Beginning September 28, expect nightly closures of the Rio Road crossover at U.S. 29, as a part of a grade-separated intersection project involving excavation and construction of abutments on which bridge beams will rest when they are placed next summer, according to VDOT. During the closure,