International focus on convenience stores

Voyeur Magazine published by Virgin Airlines Australia has an insightful feature on convenience stores world -wide: small shops that play a valuable role in communities across the globe from America to Sweden. I am thrilled that my photographs and especially my friend Amar is representing the USA. Amar’s shop is located in Teele Square, in Somerville MA and he works long hours seven days a week. Spend a little time in Amar’s store and it’s easy to see he knows everyone who walks through his door, including related family members. Emma Ventura writes “nowhere does the convenience store and its cheerful rows of lollies, chocolates and treats offering instant gratification seem more at home than in America, the original fast food nation.” Well I prefer to think about many of the vendors I meet as continuing perpetrators of community convenience in search of attaining some financial security for themselves and family. You may remember that as one version of the American dream, which goes far beyond fast food. Anyway, here is the article and hopefully it brings more attention to the ongoing We Sold A Winner project.

profile conv st

JULY 2014_CON STORE-1

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conv store sweden

 

 

 

Project live on Feature Shoot

Thank you to Pelle Cass and the folks at Feature Shoot for profiling my We Sold A Winner project today. It’s an honor to be in such great company with so many talented photographers, such as Jennifer McClure, Michael Kenna, Joel Meyerowitz,and Eugenia Maximova. Check it out and help spread the word by liking and sharing

http://www.featureshoot.com/2014/07/wonderland-of-dough-photos-of-american-convenience-stores-that-have-sold-million-dollar-lottery-tickets/

 

My nominations for the Top 10 exhibitions of 2013

Before we herald in the new year here is my list for the best 10 exhibitions of 2013. These are shows that aroused my senses and changed the way I look at and experience the world. I see so much art and so many exhibits that I’ve really come to appreciate and treasure the few shows that enliven my place in this crazy, complicated world.

1 – LaToya Ruby Frazier:

Sig-Image_2011.63.1_Grandma-Ruby-and-Me_428W

Grandma Ruby and Me (2005)

Fifth-Avenue-Tavern-and-UPMC-Braddock-Hospital-On-Braddock-Avenue-2011_428H

Fifth-Avenue Tavern and UPMC Braddock Hospital On Braddock Avenue (2011)

2011.63.2_Shadow-Momme-Portrait-series_428H

Shadow (form the Momme Portrait series), 2008

Represented in two exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum March 22 – August 11, 2013 and the ICA Boston, November 13 – March 2014, Frazier manages to portray startling shifts in socioeconomic and class that are unfolding all across America especially in de-industrialized cities like Braddock PA (home of Andrew Carnegie’s first steel mill), where all her work emanates from. By documenting her close relationship with her mother, Grandma Ruby (1925-2009) and the surrounding town, Frazier’s work offers an unflinching honest and painful portrait that goes way beyond the usual headlines.

2 – She Who Tells A Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World

01-mother-daughter-doll-series-2011-boushra-almutawakel

Boushra Almutawakel, Mother, daughter, doll series (2011)

02-dont-forget-this-is-not-you-for-sahar-lotfi-2010-newsha-tavakolian

Newsha Tavakolian, Dont forget this is not you (2010)

04-untitled-2-2008-gohar-dashti

Gohar Dashti, untitled (2008)

On view at the MFA, Boston from August 27 – January 12, 2013 assistant curator of photographs Kristen Gersh assembled a group of female artists who represent “the strongest photography coming out of this part of the world” and the evidence was both eye-opening and abundant in the 100 photographs and two videos on view. The best part of this exquisite exhibit for me was being introduced to so many new artists, who I otherwise would not know about.

3 – James Turrell, Guggenheim Museum June 21 – September 25, 2013

Turrel_01

Turrell_02

A sublime and transformative experience. I loved having to slow down, be patient and wait for the magic of his light experiences to be revealed. These images convey only a fraction of the accompanying sensations one feels in their presence.

4 – Magritte, MOMA, September 28, 2013 – January 12, 2014

Clairvoyance

La Clairvoyance (1936)

Magritte

Le Portrait (1935)

Magritte-Time-Transfixed_360

La Duree Poignardee (Time Transfixed) 1938

The master of illusion and the unconscious – no one does it better than Magritte and this collection was a pure delight of painting skills and ideas. From the first painting to the last in the exhibit I was astonished to learn Magritte made all of them in just 12 years. A humbling realization to say the least. The exhibit also included sketches, photographs and letters.

5 – A Different Kind of Order: The ICP Triennial, May 17 – September 22, 2013

Every three years the International Center for Photography in NYC brings together a group of artists creating the most game-changing photography. This year was by far the best collection of works yet. Assembled by Kristen Lubben, Christopher Phillips, Carol Squiers, and Joanna Lehan. Stand-outs included Rabih Mroue’s The Pixelated Revolution: a video installation that shockingly details how Syrian protestors are using smart phones and social media to broadcast their own deaths in real time.

rabih Mroue

Gideon Mendel’s portraits of people around the world whose livelihoods and way of life are threatened by floods. Mendel photographs their continuing existence amidst the flood waters,  long after the newspaper headlines have receded.

Gideon Mendel          Gideon Mendel_02

Mishka Henner brings a twist to aerial photographs of the Dutch Landscape by incorporating the colored pixelation google uses to blot out areas deemed vital to national security.

MH-DutchLandscapes-Staphorst Ammunition Depot_3_900

6 – Kerry James Marshall, in the tower at the National Gallery of Art

In his first solo exhibition in Washington D.C., on view June 28- December 8, 2013, Marshall showed 10 paintings and 20 works on paper that evoke the Middle Passage of slave ships between West Africa and North America, and the themes of immigration, class mobility, and aspiration central to American life. A visual, conceptual and technical tour-de-force.

Great America (1994)

Great America (1994)

Bang (1994)

Bang (1994)

7 – We Shall: Photographs by Paul D’Amato, on view at the DePaul Art Museum in Chicago, September 12 through November 24, 2013

Damato_01

damato_03

damato_02

For 20 years Paul D’Amato photographed the everyday lives of ordinary people living in Chicago’s west-side neighborhood. This exhibit brought together portraits, interiors, graffiti, and street scenes presenting a vivid and poignant tribute to resilience and hope. A very moving photography exhibit and I was so glad to have been in Chicago when this show was on view.

8 – Thomas Hirschorn’s Gramschi Monument, on view in the South Bronx NY from July 15 – September 15, 2013

A participatory experiment created in collaboration with the people of this south bronx housing complex. I ventured up on a sweltering summer day and found a sprawling hodge-podge of activities. Community radio station, cafe, library and impromptu lecture series, all run and staffed by members of the surrounding community and volunteers. Everything, including a bridge between craft workshops and library was built with found and donated materials. At the end of the installation’s run, all equipment and materials will be gifted out to the community . I give Hirschorn high marks for continuing to bring together such an amalgam of social, art, economic and philosophical ideas.

Hirschorn_01

Hirschorn_02

Hirschorn_03

9 – Lori Nix, Clamp Art, NYC, October 17 – November 16, 2013

For sheer inventiveness and craft, Nix creates these extraordinary tableaux in her studio. This group took on a decidedly apocalyptic view of NYC that were both humorous and disturbing.

Subway

Subway

Shoe Store

Shoe Store

Chinese Take-Out

Chinese Take-Out

10 – This Will Have Been: Art, Love and Politics in the 1980s. On view at the ICA Boston from November 15 2012 – March 13, 2013 

Organized by Helen Molesworth, this exhibit was worth several visits to get the full flavor of this tumultuous decade. From the rise in aids activism to the fall of the Berlin Wall,  the artists presented continue to influence contemporary art praxis. The exhibition was organized into four sections. I’ve included a tiny sampling (and I mean tiny) of the amazing breadth of work that was on view. This was truly a curatorial masterpiece.

part 1 -The End is Near

jernigan

Candy Jernigan, Found Dope Part 11 (1986)

part 2 – Democracy

ica_01

Artist Collective General Idea

ica_02

Hans Haacke, Oil Painting (Homage to Marcel Broodthaers)

part 3 – Gender Trouble

durham

Jimmy Durham self portrait (1986)

sherman

Cindy Sherman, Untitled #153 (1985)

part 4 – Desire and Longing

bright_01

Deborah Bright, Dream Girls (1989-1990)

torres

Felix Gonzales-Torres, Untitled (perfect Lovers) 1987-1990

Seems fitting to end with an image of clocks made by one of my favorite artists and someone who I turn to whenever I need to find inspiration and new reasons to believe.

May the coming year bring all of us more challenging art and continued hope.

Peace,

Edie

We Sold A Winner featured on Business Insider

It’s been a busy few months. After several road trips to Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Michigan with stops along the way in New Jersey, New York and Delaware, my lottery economies project got a big boost with a feature on Business Insider magazine. The article received over 6500 hits and I fielded inquiries from people as far away as Australia. Here is one of the photographs I made picturing the little known phenomenon of the unclaimed winning ticket

Playland Market, Rye NY

Over the last few years as I’ve been following lottery stories every day (thanks to google alert), I have seen a rise in the number of stories across the country concerning winning tickets expiring. Depending on the state a winner has from 182 days to 1 year to claim their winnings. Sometimes (I think), when a player doesn’t win the top prize they might not check to see if their ticket is still worth a lesser amount. At this store a player matched enough of the Powerball numbers to win $1,000,000. Although not close to the winning jackpot of $329 million, it’s still a significant sum. Can it be players get so used to NOT winning that their tickets get stuffed and forgotten in glove compartments? Or ruined in the laundry? The owner of this store even posted hand written signs encouraging his customers to carefully check through their old tickets, but on August 26, 2013, this million dollar winning ticket expired.

So what happens to the money? Depending on the state (each state has different rules on this) the money either goes back into the lottery’s operating budget or is allocated toward its designated community service.

More new photographs can be found on my totally revamped website.

Happy fall.

Second Exchanges at the BCA

Our second Community Exchange at the Boston Center for the Arts was held last week in the evening from 6:30-9:30 on May 15th. We decided to hold this exchange in the evening to give many of the working people a chance to come and exchange their voucher for a photograph.  Quite a number of participants showed up and their delight at finding their portrait on the walls of a pop-up gallery supported by this venerable South End institution was really gratifying. Some were even moved to exchange their vouchers for a different image other than their portrait. Forming these connections with so many people continues to be a fascinating and moving experience. I am always surprised and grateful for all the ways strangers are willing to open up, collaborate on making their portrait and become, in essence more familiar.

Here are the new portraits I made over the last several weeks of the many people who live and work in this South End neighborhood surrounding the Boston Center for the Arts

Zi + Leland, South end residents

Zi + Leland, South end residents

Rolf, Volunteer gardener and south end resident

Rolf, Volunteer gardener and south end resident

Matt, mike and paul

Matt, Mike, Paul, Dexter and Gabby, south end residents

When Matt and Mike stopped by they shared with me the very sad news that their small dog gabby had just passed away so coincidentally this is their last “family” portrait. We all got a little teary sharing stories of pets we’ve loved and lost.

Renaldo, South End resident

Renaldo, South End resident

Bianca, south end resident

Bianca, south end resident

Anne, Esther, and April

Anne, Esther, and April

South End Dynamites

South End Dynamites

Pierre, at home

Pierre, at home

Sam

Sam

Reggie, South End Valet

Reggie, South End Valet

Miguel + Josh, South End residents

Miguel + Josh, South End residents

Liz and Carol, South End residents

Liz and Carol, South End residents

Unknown South End resident

Unknown South End resident

Arlene and Freda, volunteers at Sancta Maria

Arlene and Freda, volunteers at Sancta Maria

Lamp post shadows continued their magical appearance along with chalk drawings and the magnificent blossoming of flowers in local gardens:

02_lamp post shadow

03_lamp post shadow

Sidewalk drawing

Sidewalk drawing

bronze girl w red tulips

And finally some back and white silver prints to capture the charming 19th century quality of the distinctive independent shops and public sculptures:

South End storefront

South End storefront

When Pigs fly

Flower shop

gardener sculpture

girl in doorway sculptureImperial marble stone

jumpropeAnd this last one is a detail from the Harriet Tubman sculpture that sits in the park along Columbus Avenue. I really love this sculptural tribute to her and decided this detail of hand reaching for hand encapsulated a lot of my reverence and respect for what she accomplished.

sculpture handsThere is one more exchange day on June 15th. I’ve decided to spend the last few weeks of my residency relying on my 4×5 and making more patient and considered portraits. May the force continue to be with me and you.

First exchanges: more bang for their buck?

Our first Community Day at the Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) resulted in many surprising trades and exchanges. After just three weeks of photographing and wandering in this small south end neighborhood I settled on a few recurring themes: the first one is the driving force for the project and considers the people who work and live in this diverse neighborhood. Anyone who agreed to collaborate on making their portrait received a voucher, which they could exchange for a gifted photograph from the project at one of three Community Days at the BCA. All of the participants were strangers who I met walking on the street through a variety of serendipitous circumstances. We usually begin with a passing comment which then grows into a lengthier conversation and eventually the camera comes into play. I am still learning how to make good portraits – something that genuinely honors and captures a person’s likeness. Actually I am terrified every time I begin and this is one of the reasons I am pushing myself to do this project. I work with either my 4×5 camera (as in this first photograph below) or my DSLR:

Yulia, shop worker

Yulia, shop worker

Pat, store manager

Pat, store manager

Leo, fruit and vegetable vendor

Leo, fruit and vegetable vendor

Cynthia and Velma, Cleaners

Cynthia and Velma, Cleaners

John, carpenter

John, carpenter

Ashton

Ashton

Bruce, window-washer

Bruce, window-washer

Bob and Fred, at home in the South End

Bob and Fred, at home in the South End

Anna, artist reclaiming green space

Anna, artist reclaiming green space

Miriam, artist coming to work in her studio at the BCA

Miriam, artist coming to work in her studio at the BCA

Vernon, shop owner and worker

Vernon, shop owner and worker

Peter, South End postal worker

Peter, South End postal worker

I am also recording the neighborhood using a Holga, which is a plastic pinhole camera. The architecture, small shops and abundant churches are reminiscent of an earlier time which makes the use of B+W film more appropriate. Making silver prints in the darkroom rekindles this relationship even further.

Open for business

Open for business

historic south end lamp posts

historic south end lamp posts

B+W6

flight path 1

B+W7

hoping for spring

B+W5

Holy Trinity German Catholic Church: homage to the worker

Jesus, Holy Trinity German Catholic Church

Jesus, Holy Trinity German Catholic Church

flight path 2

flight path 2

Super Cleaners

Super Cleaners (with lamp post shadow)

winter's end

winter’s end

Handle with Care

Handle with Care

Flight path 3

Flight path 3

Tree fugue

Tree fugue

And finally, some days (and late nights) I need to record the neighborhood in color

Cathedral of the Holy Cross, sunset

Cathedral of the Holy Cross, sunset

historic south end lamp post (shadow)

historic south end lamp post (shadow)

Blackstone square, snowy night

Blackstone square, snowy night

South End sky with moon

South End sky with moon

Starlight, south end at night

Starlight, south end at night

sky conversation

sky conversation

Shadow fugue

Shadow fugue

Blackstone Square (Prudential in Background)

Blackstone Square (Prudential in Background)

Receiving the institutional support from the BCA for this project is making a huge difference to its success. First I have a studio in the neighborhood where over these last several weeks I’ve been able to return to and warm up (average temp these past weeks = 40 degrees!) and it helps knowing my production costs are covered. I am looking forward to the weather warming up, which is bound to create more opportunities for photographing people.

There were many highlights to the first Community Exchange Day. Eugene Finney did an amazing job converting the studio building entryway into a pop-up gallery and interns Bridget Lynch and Hannah Adams were on hand to help coordinate the exchanges.

Exchange detail_01

photograph by Olga Khvan

I met Bob walking down the street and ended up spending a lovely afternoon in his home along with his partner Fred. They each received a voucher and it was a wonderful reunion when they showed up to exchange their vouchers for photographs. They have lived in the South End since 1965 so it is especially gratifying to hear from them how well they believe I am capturing the spirit of the neighborhood.

photograph by Olga Khvan

photograph by Olga Khvan

photograph by Olga Khvan

photograph by Olga Khvan

I received 5 vouchers back in trade and in the last hour when the exchange was opened up to anyone in the community I received 9 more trades. I have more work to do in regards to finding ways of getting participants to return . Ultimately I want to re-gift the entire portfolio back out to the community.  I learned from some visitors that many of the workers who participated were unable to come because they were at their jobs. I hope to address this in my next Community Day which will take place in the evening after work (May 15th 6:30-9:30pm). Over the next month I will be looking for each of them to make sure they are aware of this opportunity. This is one of the challenges with this project.

the red dots signify exchanges

the red dots signify exchanges

BCA_01

A very gratifying but exhausting three weeks, I am looking forward to getting back to the neighborhood to continue building the project. Walking home that evening with my girlfriend Susie we were greeted with this encouraging sight: a confluence of flight paths in the fading sky

BCA_03

Exchange Economy

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A new community interactive project in collaboration with The Boston Center for the Arts was launched on Monday March 4th, 2013.

Over the next 15-weeks, as artist-in-residence I will be photographing on the streets of the surrounding BCA neighborhood, sometimes setting up informal studios in various locations and inviting passers-by to collaborate on crafting their photographic portrait. In exchange for their cooperation and time, participants receive a voucher as “currency” that can be used to purchase any one photograph exhibited at a BCA Community Day. I am also photographing the people who work in the many small shops dotting the neighborhood.

voucher

During the first week I’ve been orientating myself and defining the boundaries. Located at 539 Tremont Street in the south end, the BCA community is composed of many diverse groups: hispanic, chinese, russian, korean, and white. Shops range from convenience stores and dry cleaners to hair salons and intimate restaurants. There is also an animal rescue league, many theaters and schools, an active post office, a library, fire house, and churches. In other words, it is a microcosm for many small communities in the greater Boston Area.

Exchange MAP boundary

I like that the shape of the map resembles a pentagon drawing of a house.

To convey the nostalgic character of the architecture and small streets I decided to use a holga with B+W film to create silver prints. To photograph the men and women who work throughout the neighborhood, either at the counters or in back rooms, I am using my 4×5 camera with color film. And my DSLR is essential when time and/or low-lighting becomes a hurdle, especially out on the street. At the end of 15 weeks I seek to compile and ultimately preserve the unique character and spirit of this BCA community at this moment in time. I like these kinds of relational projects because they offer me a way to engage with strangers, exchange gifts, and ultimately come away with a different perspective of the world.

Here’s how the gifting process will work. The BCA and I will be hosting three Community Days: Saturday April 6 from 2-5pm, Wednesday evening May 15 from 6:30-9:30pm and Saturday June 15 from 2-5pm. During the first two hours, anyone with a voucher can “purchase” one of the photographs on view; they may opt to go home with their portrait or choose a completely different subject. During the last hour, remaining photographs are available to anyone who offers me something of value in exchange. This idea of “value” is open to interpretation and I will be documenting the array of objects and notions of value I receive. Only 4 prints will be made for each image that becomes part of the project. One will be exchanged or gifted, and one will be kept as an artist’s proof. The other two will become part of complete clam-shell portfolios that will be  offered for sale in the traditional market, to an institution and/or collector.

Why am I doing this? As a long time artist I am concerned with the way “value” in our culture is increasingly solely defined by a marketplace built on economic inequity. I hope this project will open up alternative possibilities and viewpoints. This project would be impossible without the incredible support from the BCA, especially the invaluable help of Cynthia Woo (Associate Director of Education and Public Programs), Eugene Finney (Visual Arts Manager), Christine Licata (Associate Director of Visual Arts) and interns Michelle McGinn, Bridget Lindstrom and Hannah Adams.

I will be posting periodic photographs and updates in addition to having guest bloggers post their own thoughts on what they value, how it is created and how it is sustained. If you are interested in becoming part of the conversation, please let me know.