Geneva Anderson digs into art

“Framing Migrant Labor”─Matt Black, TIME’s Instagram Photographer of the Year, shows his work on the Central Valley at SRJC’s Agrella Gallery, lecture and reception on Monday, November 16

“Riding to work in a farm labor bus,” Fresno, CA, 2004, 16 x 20 inches, archival pigment print on Museo Silver Rag paper, courtesy Matt Black

“Riding to Work in a Farm Labor Bus,” 2004, 16 x 20 inches, archival pigment print on Museo Silver Rag paper, courtesy Matt Black

California photojournalist Matt Black was born in California’s Central Valley and lives there now, in the small town of Exeter.  Some of his strongest work has been done within a 100-mile radius of his home. Working with a 35mm camera, he establishes a strong visual dialogue with the migrant workers in this drought-parched land, drawing us into the difficulties of their makeshift lives.  Each shot is framed in such gorgeous natural light, with such care, that we feel his respect for their individual stories, their dignity, and for the land.

Santa Rosa Junior College’s Robert F. Agrella Art Gallery, will present “Framing Migrant Labor,” featuring 25 large images from Matt Black’s photo essay “From Clouds to Dust,from November 12-December 10, 2015.  In addition to Black’s photos, some 25 works by Sonoma County photographers Morrie Camhi, Otto Hagel, Hansel Mieth and Ernie Lowe will provide a look back at migrant labor from the 1930’s. 60’s and 70’s. The opening reception is Monday, November 16, from 4 to 6 PM and that same day, from noon to 1 PM, Black will talk on his documentary photography work at the campus’ Newman Auditorium as part of its Arts & Lectures series.

“Dust storm rips off the roof,” Avenal, a small farming town in California’s Central Valley, 2009, 16 x 20 inches, archival pigment print on Museo Silver Rag paper, courtesy Matt Black.

“Dust Storm Rips Off a Roof,” 2009, 16 x 20 inches, archival pigment print on Museo Silver Rag paper, courtesy Matt Black.

Matt Black’s work focuses on the themes of migration, agriculture, social inequality and the environment in his home country and in southern Mexico. Last year, he was named TIME’s Instagram Photographer of the Year (2014) and is a 2015 Nominee Member of the Magnum Photo Agency.  He won the 2003 Alexia Professional Grant for his work “The Forgotten Black Okies: A Lost Journey into a Land of Broken Promises” which was named a Pulitzer Prize Finalist.  In 1994, Black received an Alexia Student Award of Excellence for his project “The Transbay Terminal: San Francisco’s Destitute Gateway” which documented the homeless people who refuged themselves in San Francisco’s primary mass-transportation depot.  In October 2015 he received the W. Eugene Smith Award in Humanistic Photography. He has been has been profiled in The New Yorker, National Geographic, Time and Slate.  He just gave a workshop for prestigious Eddie Adams Workshop, considered the premiere photojournalism workshop.  Right after his visit to Santa Rosa, Black, in high demand, jets off to Germany where he will be giving a workshop at Hamburg’s LFI (Leica Fotografie International) Workshop.

His current project “Geography of Poverty” in co-production with MSNBC, involves a cross-country trip where Black will stop in over 77 cities, documenting the plight of over 45 million people who live at the poverty level in the United States.

“Elderly farm workers at home,” Teviston, CA, 2001, 16 x 20, archival pigment prints on Museo Silver Rag paper, courtesy Matt Black

“Elderly Farmworker at Home,” 2001, 16 x 20, archival pigment prints on Museo Silver Rag paper, courtesy Matt Black

“To have Matt Black speak at our college and to have his work at the Agrella Art Gallery to share with our students and our community, is quite thrilling,” said Renata Breth, SRJC Photography faculty & gallery director.  Breth first came across his work in his photo essay “The Dry Land” which appeared in The New Yorker (9.29.2014) and immediately applied for a major grant from the Randolph Newman Cultural Enrichment Endowment (of the SRJC Foundation) to bring the work to SRJC’s gallery where it could be seen by students and the community.  “The photo essays speak without hesitation, in a direct, honest and sincere voice. The photos show poverty, drought and farm workers, revealing a shocking reality many of us are unaware of.”

The technology will be of interest too.  All of Black’s photos appearing in the SRJC exhibit were taken with 35 mm film cameras, so they are from analog negatives.  They are each gorgeously digitally printed on Museo Silver Rag paper, a fine archival paper, which resembles silver halide papers, with exceptional depth and detail.

Details:  “Framing Migrant Labor” is November 12-December 10 at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Robert F. Agrella Art Gallery, located on the Santa Rosa campus on the first floor of the Frank P. Doyle Library, 1501 Mendocino Avenue, Santa Rosa.  Phone: 707 527-4298. Gallery hours: 10 AM to 4 PM Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays and 1 PM to 4 PM Saturdays. CLOSED: Fridays and Sundays and All school holidays (including November 26th to 28th, 2015) and summer.  Parking Permits ($4/day) are required for both Santa Rosa and Petaluma campuses.)

Opening reception: Monday, November 16 from 4 to 6 PM.

Matt Black lecture:  “Framing Migrant Labor” Monday, November 16, noon – 1PM, Newman Auditorium, Emeritus Hall, Santa Rosa Campus, SRJC (free to the public)

Gallery talk by Laura Larque and Andre Larque: “Historical Perspectives on Migrant Labor in California,” November 17, 2015, noon- 1 PM, Robert F. Agrella Gallery

Ernie Lowe lecture: “Photographing migrant labor in 1965”  December 1, 2015, noon- 1PM, SRJC Petaluma Library – Connie Mahoney Reading Room, 12.1.2015


November 7, 2015 Posted by | Art, Photography | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two fantastic Christo portraits you will NOT see at the Smithsonian Running Fence exhibition–these are right here in Petaluma and by Morrie Camhi

Christo and his Running Fence. Morrie Camhi, 1976, silver gelatin print

While ARThound is delighted to be attending the festivities surrounding the “Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Remembering the Running Fence” exhibition opening this Friday  in Washington D.C. at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, there is something to be said for local talent.  The late Petaluma photographer Morrie Camhi took two of the best portraits of young Christo ever and they are not at the Smithsonian; they are currently on display in Petaluma at the Petaluma Art Center through April 25.   The show in Washington includes the camera-work of Gianfanco Gorgoni, Italian, who handled portraits and Wolfgang Volz, German, who did the landscape shots of the fence.  Were Camhi’s two portraits in the show, they would likely be referred to as the little jewels that best captured Christo the man in this gargantuan project. 

“Portrait as Metaphor” highlights the  work of Morrie Camhi and includes images from his series “Faces and Facets:  The Jews of

Christo and his Running Fence, Morrie Camhi, September 1976, silver gelatin print

Greece,” “Espejo: Reflections of the Mexican American,” and “The Prison Experience.”

What is immediately evident in these images is Camhi’s use of light and the definitive expressions he captured in all his subjects.  The Christo portraits are remarkable though–evoking the determination, defiance and grit that came to define Christo as well as his own sense of wonderment with the fence.   We can almost feel the cool ocean wind blowing as Christo stands in a field with suitcase in hand before the lyrical creation that took him years to realize.   The suitcase says it all–traveler, pied piper, magician, bureaucrat–work accomplished, Christo came and went leaving us to sort out hwat it all meant.  Camhi has pulled so much from the negative, producing a dark broody silouette like image masterfully printed in  silver gelatin.    

Thank you, Christo and Jeanne Claude for fighting for this project with your heart and soul and thank you Morrie for these  images which ignite our memories of  this artistic duo who showed us all how to dream big.

March 29, 2010 Posted by | Art | , , , , , , | Leave a comment