Friday, February 11, 2011
An Interview with Jim Fitts
Article by Panopticon Gallery intern
Jim Fitts, known widely throughout the Boston photography scene as the former Executive Director of the Photographic Resource Center at BU, is co-curating the upcoming Polaroid-themed exhibition Instant Connections at the Panopticon Gallery. The opening reception will be on March 31st from 5:30pm-7:30pm. Mr. Fitts was kind enough to answer a few questions about the upcoming show.
Elizabeth Ellenwood: How did you come up with the title for the show: Instant Connections?
Jim Fitts: The idea for the exhibition came first; the title for the exhibition came later. Polaroid is an amazing medium. It is so incredibly pliable. I thought it would be interesting to see if there were any connections, overt or not, between the work of some of Boston’s - as well as the country’s - best known fine arts photographers who use Polaroid in the creation of their images. There is no question that the work of each artist in the exhibition stands on its own, but I think it is fascinating to see the work and compare and contrast it with the work of other artists in the exhibition.
EE: As a collector, do you own any Polaroids?
JF: In my personal collection, I have work produced utilizing Polaroid by Tom Baril, Bill Burke, John Goodman, and John O’Reilly.
EE: Which artists come to mind when you think of Polaroid?
JF: For me, a number of the artists that immediately came to mind are included in the exhibition. Without naming them, they are artists whose work I have admired for many years and I have been fortunate to come to know as friends. They were very generous to agree to allow their work to be included in the exhibition.
EE: In your opinion, what is the most memorable Polaroid ever made?
JF: That’s a tough question. It may be an impossible question to answer. I will answer it by saying the most memorable Polaroids that I have encountered were John O'Reilly's photomontages that were included in the 1995 Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art. I was working in New York at the time and I was able to take a short break and visit the exhibition. John’s work blew me away. I wasn’t expecting the power and originality of the work and his work still blows me away today.
EE: Polaroid has had a rich tradition of being part of the Boston photography scene for over 50 years. How important was its influence on photography as we now know it?
JF: The Polaroid company was both generous and smart in the fact that they donated so much of their product to photographers. I think that through their generosity they were able to push the use of Polaroid past the commercial applications. In my history, as an advertising creative director, Polaroid allowed the photographer and I an opportunity to see a rough idea of the final image prior to committing it to film. Before Polaroid film, it was usually a matter of taking the shot and hoping for the best.
EE: What do you think causes such nostalgia with Polaroid film? Is it instant gratification?
JF: It is probably different for every photographer, but for me, the magic of Polaroid is that you can almost instantly hold a print or a negative in your hand. It lives in the real world. Perhaps we should have called the exhibition Instant Gratification.
Monday, February 7, 2011
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Ernest C. Withers lived and photographed in Memphis, TN, a crossroad for the Civil Rights Movement. Withers also documented the music scene on Beale Street, the Negro Baseball League and black social life in Memphis.
Withers played a key roll in the Civil Rights Movement as a result of his photographic document of the Emmett Till trial. He was witness to key Civil Rights moments including: the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Medgar Evers Funeral, the Integration of Little Rock High School, the March Against Fear, the Memphis Sanitation Workers' Strike and the Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination and funeral.
To see more photographs by Ernest C. Withers, visit our website:
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Selected works now available through Panopticon Gallery
In 1995 his passion for photography rekindled, and since then he has traveled worldwide extensively, photographing what he finds intriguing at that moment and place. In 2000 he closed his production company in order to devote himself entirely to the art and became a full time photographer.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
This exhibition will feature various forms of Polaroid imagery by some of the most important photographers whose primary medium is and was Polaroid. It will include Polaroid 20x24, 8x10, SX-70, and Type 55 gelatin silver prints made by the likes of William Wegman, David Levinthal, Vik Muniz, James Casebere, Stephen Sheffield, Olivia Parker, Marie Cosindas, John Reuter, Elsa Dorfman and many others.
Please join us on Thursday, March 31, 2011 from 5:30-7:30 for the opening reception with some of the artists.