Despite whatever you’ve been led to believe over the past couple of weeks, there’s more than one multivenue, international art exhibition going on in New Orleans this fall.
Now in its ninth year, PhotoNOLA will be taking place in museums, galleries and other art spaces over the entire month of December. If you’re still working your way through Prospect.3, get ready for your list of must-see shows to get even longer.
“PhotoNOLA is a citywide celebration of photography,” said PhotoNOLA coordinator Jennifer Shaw. “We’re very excited to have 70 photography exhibitions across New Orleans, our biggest year yet. The festival offers four packed days of programming over the weekend of Dec. 4, with exhibitions on view throughout the month.”
But PhotoNOLA isn’t only about what’s on the walls. For New Orleans Photo Alliance board president Thom Bennett, it’s just as much about the community of people who come together for it every year.
“What makes the New Orleans Photo Alliance’s annual PhotoNOLA festival special to me is that it brings hundreds of contemporary photography’s brightest lights to New Orleans for portfolio reviews, workshops, exhibitions, gallery talks and lectures, most of which are free and open to the public,” said Bennett.
Bennett emphasized the educational aspect of PhotoNOLA as well.
“Over the course of the festival you can see what is going on in the broader world of photography just by following the guide to the 70-plus venues that are exhibiting photography; the variety of work is outstanding,” he said.
“Combine that with lectures by some of the most important photographers working today, like Emmet Gowin, our keynote lecturer, and your knowledge base of photography will most certainly expand.”
To best appreciate the scope and range of PhotoNOLA, Bennett said visitors shouldn’t miss two events at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art on the evening of Friday, Dec. 5.
“The CURRENTS 2014 exhibit, which was juried this year by Roy Flukinger, showcases the work of 16 New Orleans Photo Alliance members that were chosen as being some of the best work being done by emerging photographers,” he said.
“Next is the Photowalk, an event where the public can see the work of the photographers who have come to New Orleans to have their work reviewed by some of the movers and shakers in the international photo community. You can walk among the tables laden with beautiful photography and talk with the artists who created the work.”
The Ogden will also be hosting one of the more unusual PhotoNOLA guests over opening weekend: a special appearance by an enormous 20-by-24-inch Polaroid camera, one of four in the world.
The camera will be made available to local professional photographers at a reduced rate and by appointment, enabling them to follow in the footsteps of other artists who have worked in the large-format Polaroid medium, including Andy Warhol and Chuck Close.
In addition, visitors will be able to arrange a fee-based 20-by-24-inch Polaroid portrait session with photographers Tina Freeman and David Halliday behind the lens — which might make for an especially memorable family gift this holiday season.
Shaw also mentions that PhotoNOLA will launch with its own smartphone app, new this year, enabling visitors to keep track of events and connect with other attendees. Given all the goings-on, that app will likely prove to be a necessity.
Of course, Shaw has her own list of must-see events. “After Emmet Gowin’s lecture at NOMA on Thursday night we’ll all cut loose at the PhotoNOLA Gala, eating and drinking and dancing to Alexis and the Samurai,” she said. “And on Sunday, Camille Seaman’s public lecture at The Historic New Orleans Collection should be fantastic.”
Elsewhere that weekend, keep an eye out for a one-day-only pop-up show of oversized tintype photographs by Kevin Kline and Bruce Schultz at 809 Piety St., on view on Sunday, Dec. 7, with an opening reception from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. the evening before.
Described as “a story in tintypes,” Kline and Schultz’s photographic images explore the course of Kline’s 16-year relationship with his partner Brian and were produced with a large camera obscura (made from an ice fishing tent) and a giant 530mm Cooke lens.
In melding traditional photographic processes with a timely, innovative and deeply personal subject matter, they perfectly capture what PhotoNOLA is all about.