Worth A Thousand Words

Worth A Thousand Words

Photos reveal evolution of ‘Our Natural State’


“The photographers [chosen] for the exhibit are among the best to ever photograph in the Natural State,” says Chuck Davis, photographer, photo historian and curator of “Our Natural State,” on show through Aug. 17 at the Arts Center of the Ozarks in Springdale. The nearly 90 images “convey the state’s vortex of transitioning values, told from the point of view of the artists and their subjects.”

“From a game of dominoes in New Hope, to a portrait on interracial marriage in Jonesboro, and on to a funeral home in Malvern — these visual vignettes can only begin to describe the collective unconscious of Arkansas,” he adds.

The Free Weekly asked some of the photographers to comment on their work — because their pictures are already worth a thousand words.

Rebecca Drolen
“In this work, titled ‘Transplants,’ I photograph people who have moved to Southern cities from elsewhere. I have only just begun to photograph in Northwest Arkansas, but have also made portraits for this project in Nashville, Atlanta and New Orleans. By photographing and representing people who consider themselves ‘transplants’ in these city spaces, I am most interested in the influences of ‘outsiders’ on a regional culture. I also am interested in the influence of the region on the individual.”

Photo courtesy Shiloh Museum of Ozark History
“Boy With Velvet Tobacco Can, Madison County” is among photographs by Jim Simmons taken during a semester of independent study while he was an undergraduate student at the California Institute of the Arts. The Fayetteville native, who went on to work in film, graphic design and the video game industry, says his goal in creating “At Home in the Ozarks” was to take photographs that would “illustrate the statement, ‘This is where I come from.’ I was not seeking information. I was seeking personal experience and validation of self.” His photos are included in “Our Natural State,” on show through Aug. 17 at the Arts Center of the Ozarks in Springdale

Sabine Schmidt
“I came to Fayetteville from Memphis in 2002. I’m originally from Wiesbaden, Germany. I’m interested in shared understandings of home, place and belonging. The basic shape of a house is recognizable across cultures and time, as are the feelings and values associated with a house, and I find myself returning to that idea over and over again.”

nna Pinckley
Little Rock
“‘Sticks and Stones’ is not finished yet, so I’m still photographing for the project. My goal is to have it published one day. What struck me was the resilience of the couples in the face of derision, their refusal to let others define them by the hateful comments people have said to them.”

Maxine Payne
“I have always been more inspired by writers and music really, and just life. Now though, with all the photographs that are too focused, too colorful, too high definition, I go back and get lost in Emmet Gowin, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Robert Frank… I love Sally Mann, Mary Ellen Mark. There are so many.”

All photos courtesy the artists
Don House
Hazel Valley
“Any discussion of Arkansas, especially Northwest Arkansas, has to be tempered with the reality of the changes that have taken place here since I arrived. I was surrounded initially by people who had made decisions about priorities, who had traded making high income for a lifestyle that allowed a certain freedom. It was possible to live a frugal life, to find affordable housing, to be immersed in a community of kindred spirits. There were no gated communities, no starter castles — fewer things that separate people in a community rather than bring them together. Maybe that is why I tend to spend more of my time in the most rural, the most isolated, areas of the region, where patterns of life have endured for generations, not unchanged of course, but changed at a lesser rate, a more thoughtful pace. The architect Christopher Alexander spoke of the mistake that people often make when building a home: walking around the property, finding the most beautiful, the most spiritual spot, then ruining it by building a house on it. I hope people who come to Northwest Arkansas think: ‘This is a beautiful place; how can I be part of it?’ rather than ‘This is a beautiful place; how can I make it more like Dallas or Kansas City or Detroit?’ What is special about Arkansas is ours to throw away. I hope we don’t.”

Matthew Genitempo
Marfa, Texas
“By capturing the foggy landscapes, cluttered interiors, and the rugged men that are tucked away in the dark woods, the project [titled ‘Jasper’] explores my fascination with running away from the every day. The project bounces between fact and fiction, exhibiting the reality and myths of what it means to be truly apart from society.”

Jim Dow
Belmont, Mass.
“I am currently finishing up working on a show that will open next month in Buenos Aires, Argentina, juxtaposing my own work with that of my mentor, Walker Evans, as well as two Argentine photographers, Guillermo Srodek-Hart, a former student of mine, and Fernando Paillet, a contemporary of Mike Disfarmer. We hope to bring the exhibition to the United States. I am also working on finishing a body of work about the old school private social clubs in New York City as well as beginning a project on pizza places in northeast Pennsylvania.”



‘Our Natural State’

Artists’ Reception

WHEN — 7 p.m. July 31; exhibit open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday & 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday through Aug. 17

WHERE — Arts Center of the Ozarks in Springdale

COST — Free; a catalog will be available for $10

INFO — 751-5441

BONUS — The exhibit also includes works by Gary Cawood, Beverly Conley, Mike Disfarmer, Ron Evans, Tim Hursley, Kris Johnson, Margaret LeJeune, Jim Simmons & Alec Soth.



Third Thursday

Art Walk

An Art Walk from 5 to 9 p.m. July 19 in downtown Springdale will feature:

1Seventeen Create — With works by Stacy Spangler, Shawna Elliott, Eve Smith, Octavio Logo, Scarlett Sims, Ruth Lawlor, Core Archectiture plus a live demo by Spellbinding FX, 117 W. Emma Ave.

The Gemini — Mixed media works by Amber Perrodin, 126 N. Shiloh St.

Farmers Market — 4-8 p.m., Shiloh Square

Arts Center of the Ozarks — With Chuck Davis, curator of “Our Natural State,” on hand for conversation, 214 S. Main St.

INFO — 751-5441

Categories: Galleries