Mar 27, 2007

on books

never do i feel more, geographically, out of the loop as when i see the calender pages of PDN each month. so many great photographer's showing right now, ans alas i'm 2,500 miles away from the closest show. my fix up here remains the photo book.

i had the good fortune of having dinner with local fine art photographer, Dennis Witmer, a couple weeks ago and viewed his mammoth book collection. i wish he had more work online for viewing- if i can find some i'll post later. he works, almost exclusively, with an 8x10 documenting Northern Alaska in black and white, and his prints are huge in size, scope, and ambition. he's a wonderful photographer and capturing Alaska in an important way.

so, about books: first, Dennis has a library of over 1,000 photography books- yes, 1,000. seeing his towering collection made me sweat a little with anticipation. it's impossible to even begin to choose one, or two, three to sit with. that night i pulled Snake Eyes, and the new MoMA retro of Friedlander, and Los Alamos and got lost in the greatness on the page as we drank wine and ate home made sushi. his has, unquestionably, the best collection in Fairbanks, and comes with thoughtful commentary. thanks Dennis.

second, the library has a fine collection for it's size, but limited in recent works. apparently they received a sizable amount of money for acquisitions in the late eighties, and haven't purchased much since then. my recent infatuations have been Joe Deal's Southern California Photographs and Lynne Cohen's Occupied Territory.

finally, the local bookstores are a little conservative in their efforts- you can never have too many Ansel Adams books it seems- but some of their choices have proven to be inspiring. the one trend that has me worried however is their 6 copies of The Big Book of Breasts. yes, 6. why? they keep selling out , i'm told. it's been a long cold winter.

one more note on the book front. i was happy to see the recent winner of the Duke First Book Prize this year is none other than a childhood neighbor of mine- Danny Frazier. Danny and i grew up (junior and senior high school) no more than five, or so, houses from each other in LeClaire Iowa. it's been a strange turn of events in viewing his work for me. i first saw one of his images from the POY awards a couple years ago, but never made the connection. he uses his middle name now, and for some reason it never clicked.

as i read the Book Prize article (judged by Robert Frank by the way) i was stopped cold with "native of a small town in Iowa". what? where? LeClaire. what the..? photographer Danny Wilcox Frazier. Danny? Wilcox? i don't know a... holy shit- Danny fucking Frazier. i nearly fell off my chair. i haven't talked to him in probably 15 years, but i couldn't be more happy for him. his book is due out in the fall, and i can't wait to see it. in short- beautiful, honest, compelling work coming out of Iowa.

if you haven't seen them already, do take some time with the images here.

No comments:

Locations of visitors to this page