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Final Tour Video: Washington, D.C.

The last stop of the Crusade for Collecting tour was Washington, D.C., and it was an amazing way to end this project. Lady Blue popped up right on the National Mall on June 5 with local photographers James Campbell, Frank H. Day, Hannele Lahti, Alexandra Silverthorne, and E. Brady Robinson. This may also be the very best video from the tour.  I hope you will take a look!  

The last stop of the Crusade for Collecting tour was Washington, D.C., and it was an amazing way to end this project. Lady Blue popped up right on the National Mall on June 5 with local photographers James Campbell, Frank H. Day, Hannele Lahti, Alexandra Silverthorne, and E. Brady Robinson.

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Crusade Tour Featured on FStoppers

The awesome Joseph Gamble interviewed me for this article on FStoppers. Love the Joseph, love the FStoppers.A Crusade for Collecting: Jennifer Schwartz’s Photo Road Tripby Joseph Gamble, published on FStoppers on September 3, 2013

Ten thousand miles, ten cities on a coast to coast ramble in a 1977 vintage VW bus all for the sake of promoting photographic art. From April to June of this year, gallerist Jennifer Schwartz was behind the wheel of her microbus on a two-fold mission: to promote photographers and create collectors. Working with five photographers in each city on the tour, she orchestrated pop-up events and curbside photo exhibits designed to educate and engage communities regarding photographic art and the value of starting a collection.

An avid photographer and collector, she launched the Jennifer Schwartz gallery in March 2009 in Atlanta with the hope of reaching collectors and providing an immersive art buying experience. One of the cornerstones of her early success was placing photographers in front of an audience of interested collectors. As she explained, her role was not just to sell work but also to foster a community of collectors.

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Lady Blue replica model in Brooklyn, New York when the van was under repair.

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The Map of the trip.

“In my Atlanta gallery, I discovered the most successful programs to get new people interested in art involve meeting the artist and making a personal connection,” said Schwartz. “They lure people who have had only a limited relationship with art to have a unique, fun experience where they engage with photography and the artists in a thoughtful way. They look, and in a lot of cases, they start to believe in art.”

While the gallery experience created a local nexus for artists and enthusiasts to gather and view work, the space felt limiting as she was only reaching people in Atlanta. Thus, she came up with the idea of a mobile arts promotion traveling across the country in a wide loop from Atlanta to Los Angeles and up the West Coast to Seattle before heading east to Chicago and New York and then down the East Coast.

The trip wasn’t an unplanned, off-the-cuff road show. Schwartz staged pre-trip events in 2012, one at the High Museum of Art and the other in December at PhotoNOLA in New Orleans. These initial stops were instrumental in preparing for the three-month journey that began in April, which she named the Crusade for Collecting.

The idea was grassroots and simple — take the gallery experience on the road, interface with local photographers in each of the tour stops and then bring the photographers and their work directly to people on the street. In essence, breaking down the gallery walls and the exclusivity that exists in the art world. Photographers seeking exposure would give away ten of their photographic prints (between 6 x 9” and 8.5 x 11”) signed copies of an image freely in exchange for the exposure and opportunity of sharing their work and being a part of the tour.

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Pop-Up Event in Cleveland, Ohio.

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Los Angeles, California Pop-Up event.

“I felt that if I could give people a fun, disarming art experience in an unexpected way – that if they had an opportunity to meet artists, learn about their work and connect to an original piece that became theirs – it may be transformative and put them on a path to loving, supporting and collecting original art,” said Schwartz. “And what could be more fun than walking by a turquoise 1977 VW bus with photographers standing in front giving away original, signed photographs to someone who wanted to chat about them?”

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San Francisco Pop-Up Event

To fund the purchase and outfitting of her bus, nicknamed Lady Blue, Schwartz, like many project-driven photographers profiled on Fstoppers, launched a Kickstarter campaign. It wasn’t an easy prospect so her efforts were buoyed by additional sources including sponsorships, a local fundraiser, private donations, and the Collectors Building Collectors program that she developed with an Atlanta collector.

“When I launched my Kickstarter campaign, it still seemed fun and new and I had only known a couple of people who had run a Kickstarter campaign but I did have a difficult time explaining to my non-art friends that ‘yes, they were giving me money to buy a bus, and no, there were not any starving children or sick animals that would benefit from it,’” said Schwartz. “Now that the concept is more mainstream and people trust it, I think it is easier to fund a project, because the pool of potential supporters is deeper.  On the flip side, there is a significant amount of Kickstarter fatigue.  If you are going to do it, I think you have to be very strategic about it.  I wrote a blog post offering tips to launch a successful Kickstarter campaign, based on my experiences.”

Lady Blue, like many Volkswagen microbuses from the past, wasn’t the most reliable choice of vehicle considering she would be subjected to a bi-coastal odyssey. Once on the road, Jen quickly learned to speak ‘conversational mechanic’ and now counts several mechanics around the country as good friends. “Fewer breakdowns would’ve been nice…” she said.

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Mechanics and Sean Dana (photographer who traveled with the tour from San Francisco to Portland) diagnosing Lady Blue. Photo by Kurt Simonson.

There were some detractors who felt that the concept of giving away work was devaluing the photographic medium and the work of the artists. Participating photographers were given an opportunity to showcase their work and reach out to new people who might take an interest in their future work. “But the goal was to give people an opportunity to connect with a piece of art, own it, hang it, to recognize value in that experience, and to want to replicate it going forward,” said Schwartz. “The hope was that the engagement would be transformative.”

Overall, the three-month saga was “a blur of awesomeness.” Photographers often came aboard and drove sections of the trip and kept her company. Social media resources including facebooktwitterinstagramand youtube proved to be immeasurable as she documented the entire experience with blog posts and video updates. It was an organic way of keeping up with new contacts from cities past and to forecast and prepare for her arrival in a new city. A few highlights of the trip include: an unplanned stopover in Cleveland with assistance from the Cleveland Print Room, a private tour by Fred Bidwell of the Todd Hido show at Transformer Station and presenting to a sold-out crowd at FotoWeek DC, the final stop on the tour.

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DC pop up with photographers Frank H. Day, Hannele Lahti, E. Brady Robinson, Jennifer Schwartz, Alexandra Silverthorne, James Campbell.

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Lady Blue in front of the White House. 

Although the Crusade tour is over, she is developing Crusade for Art, a non-profit organization with a mission to educate, inspire, and support artists to create unique, approachable programs that engage new audiences with art in meaningful ways. She has a variety of opportunities for photographers that are in the works and will be announced at the end of the year.

“This tour was not about a road trip, it was about starting a conversation about art,” said Schwartz. “It is nice to know the conversation not only started, but also continues.”

You can keep up with Jennifer Schwartz by sign up for the email newsletter and following her online at Crusade for Art or check in on her gallery work at Jennifer Schwartz Gallery.

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LPS Spotlight: E. Brady Robinson

Since the photographers featured in the Local Photographer Showcases in each city are supremely talented and excited about reaching new audiences with their work, we will be regularly featuring them to give you more insight into their work and their experience Crusading. Next up is E. Brady Robinson from the DC pop-up:

Tell us a little about your background as a photographer and where you are now with your work.

E. Brady Robinson received her BFA in photography from The Maryland Institute, College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland and her MFA in photography from Cranbrook Art Academy in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Her photographs have been exhibited nationally at the Orlando Museum of Art, Katzen Art Center at American University and FotoSpace DC. Select collections include: Corcoran Gallery of Art, Orlando Museum of Art and Spanish Cultural Center in Santo Domingo, DR.  She is Associate Professor at UCF and maintains a studio in Orlando, Florida and Washington, DC.

Recent exhibits include 2013 Dali Photography Festival in China and American Life, Shijiazhuang Art Museum, China curated by Yan Li.  Her artist website can be viewed here.

Currently, she is documenting desks of the art world. Her series Desks as Portraits: An Inside Look at the DC Art World won Grand Prize in American Life exhibit during the 2011 Lishui Photography Festival in China and was also featured in the Washington Post.

The Bund Shanghai and broadcast on Channel One Russia TV can be viewed here. Robinson is currently working on publishing a book on this series.

How did you hear about the Crusade, and what were your initial impressions? 

First heard about the Crusade, through kickstarter and the Jennifer Schwartz Gallery e-marketing campaign. (I’m on your email list). I’ve followed the Crusade from the very beginning. My initial response: awesome!

Were you excited to participate in the Local Photographer Showcase?  Why or why not?

The DC visit gave me an opportunity to connect with local photographers, reach out to a new audience and give back to a community, which has supported my work. DC has been good to me, I was happy to give back.

How did the event go for you?  Was it like you expected or different?  Better or worse?  

The event was lot of fun and not outside my comfort zone. I’m into art as a social experiment and enjoy meeting new people. It was a challenge to walk up to complete strangers and try to engage. With that challenge came a huge “rate of return” – by the time I got home from the pop-up exhibit, I received two emails from “new collectors”. One thanked me for brightening up his cubicle and sent a cell phone pic of my photo posted in his office – a desk shot no other! The other email was from a former school teacher who currently works for the Department of Education. She understands the value of art education and promises to follow my work. This was beautiful!

Several other collectors arrived as a result of my posts on social media and a FB event invite created the morning of June 5th as soon you announced our location. Social media peeps who arrived and collected includes Tierney Sneeringer from the Luce Center, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Doug Dunlop, DC artist and former UCF colleague and Meg Clark from the Phillips Collection. Meg has previously posted about my work on the Phillip’s Collection blog. We have a friendship on Instagram and met “in person” for the 1st time on June 5th during Crusade for Collecting: DC. Ken Ashton, DC photographer arrived on bike from the Corcoran to support local photographs. 

The location was ideal and iconic with the Capitol and Nat’l Monument backdrop to Lady Blue and site to the last stop of the tour. While the support from complete strangers on the mall was not unanimous – the connections made were genuine and conversations engaging. It was a beautiful day! Thanks for coming to DC Jennifer.

What do you hope will come out of the experience for you - personally and professionally?  Do you think those are realistic expectations?

Honestly, I had no expectations going in – just a curiosity to see how things go down and an excitement to meet new photographers in person. (I was also happy to catch up with you in person and plant the seed to come back).  I  welcome the exposure to a body of work, which has not shown in its entirety in DC. Transfer was last on exhibit at The Cornell Fine Arts Museum in Florida. The Crusade allowed me to put it back on DC’s radar.

Tell us about the image you gave away at the event and how to see more of your work.

My work is informed by a culture of instant and mobile image capture. I use the camera to examine my environment and record fleeting moments of existence. The photograph I choose to give away titled "Purse" is from my series Transfer. 

Transfer is based on the concept of the drift – Drifting draws upon pure chance and opportunity for new and authentic experiences generated by different atmospheres from urban landscapes and new places. The snapshot aesthetic is utilized as means to quickly record, document and observe.

Currently, I am working on a book of this series. It’s going into the Indie Photobook Library and will soon be available for purchase. Stay tuned!

You can view more of my work on my website: www.ebradyrobinson.com.

 

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Crusade Tour Essay on PDN

Crusade for Collecting: A Controversial Experiment Meant to Create New Photo Collectors

Published August 23, 2013 via PDNonline.com.

Earlier this year Jennifer Schwartz, a gallerist and the founder of the non-profit arts organization Crusade for Art, traveled to cities around the country in an effort to create demand for the work of emerging photographers by encouraging people she met on the street to consider collecting art. Working with five photographers in each of the cities she visited, Schwartz organized street-side exhibitions, asking the photographers to talk with passersby about their work, and to give away signed, non-editioned prints to those who wanted them. The project drew both criticism and skepticism, but it also, Schwartz says, created positive dialogue between artists and would-be collectors. PDN invited Schwartz to explain the motivation behind the trip and recap her experiences.

Nearly five years ago I began a journey to cultivate audiences for art, specifically the work of emerging photographers. By creating innovative programs that make art immediately and affordably accessible to new audiences, both online and through special events, my goals have been: to promote and develop the careers of talented, emerging, contemporary photographers and to educate and cultivate a new crop of collectors.

Working with emerging photographers, I recognized from the beginning that the challenge is to find an audience for these artists. Too often as gallery owners, we hang the art and then wait for an audience to come. With that in mind, I created Crusade for Art, a non-profit organization dedicated to cultivating demand for art by creating opportunities to introduce new collectors to artists and their work.

In my Atlanta gallery, I have discovered that the most successful programs to get new people interested in art involve meeting the artist and making a personal connection. They give people who have had only a limited relationship with art a unique, fun experience where they engage with photography and the artists in a thoughtful way. These programs also give photographers an opportunity to interact directly with an audience and advocate for themselves and their work.

In April 2013 I took this concept on the road with a special project, the Crusade for Collecting Tour. Traveling to ten cities over the course of three months in a 1977 VW bus (affectionately named Lady Blue and purchased through funds raised on Kickstarter), I staged spontaneous pop-up events to give away original, signed photographs and bring grassroots art appreciation to the streets, moving outside the traditional boundaries of the art world.

I felt that if I could give people a fun, disarming arts experience in an unexpected way—that if they had an opportunity to meet artists, learn about their work and connect to an original piece that became theirs—it may be transformative and put them on a path to loving, supporting and collecting original art.

It was fun. It was a blast. It was also incredibly challenging. A lot of people have asked: How is giving away photography going to encourage collecting? That is a completely valid question, and there is no real way, at present, to determine how many of the people we met might become collectors of the photographers’ work. But the goal was to give people an opportunity to connect with a piece of art, own it, hang it, to recognize value in that experience, and to want to replicate it going forward. The hope was that the engagement would be transformative.

The other side of the same question addressed concern for the participating photographers: Won’t giving away work have a negative effect on the photographers? Not every program or idea is the right fit for all artists at all stages of their careers. None of the photographers were coerced into participating. On the contrary, I had photographers reach out from all over the country wanting to be a part of the project, and most were selected as a result of submitting to my open, free call for submissions. For an artist who is trying to get more exposure and get more eyes on their work, participating in a project where they can connect with potential new collectors in their hometowns may be worth a try.

Could I promise the participating photographers any specific, tangible benefits from participating? Of course not. The hope was that they would connect to ten new people in their community with whom they could follow up and continue to build the relationship, and who may in the future purchase work from them. But I suspect the photographers chose to participate not because they expected any concrete benefits, but because they also believe in art and artists and wanted to be a part of something that was trying to make a difference.

As it turns out, it is really difficult to give away something for free. In each city (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Cleveland, Brooklyn, and Washington, D.C.—Atlanta and New Orleans happened in late 2012 as “test” cities), five local photographers (each of whom were curated for the project to participate in the pop-up in their city) and I pulled up to a high foot-traffic area and, armed with photographs, Crusade-wear, and a lot of enthusiasm, tried to get passersby to stop and talk to us. Each photographer had ten small (between 6 x 9” and 8.5 x 11”) signed copies of an image to give away over the course of the pop-up, which typically lasted two hours. Saying things like “we are five local artists here to encourage art collecting in our city” and “become an art collector today for free,” we got both the hand and high-fives.

We were not asking for money or requiring email addresses (although exchange of contact information was highly encouraged, and each photographer included information about themselves and their work in the envelope with their print), just the participant’s attention. All you need to do is look. The art will do the rest. Some cities were more challenging than others, and the day, weather, and type of location were all important factors. It was significantly easier to engage people on a beautiful Saturday in a trendy retail area in Los Angeles than in Chicago on a windy downtown street corner on the Friday afternoon of a long weekend.

But no matter the city, the quality of interactions between the artists and the people who did stop to participate was consistent. Most people wanted to see each of the five images, listen to the story of the photograph from each photographer, and make a thoughtful, informed selection. The artists and I both received great feedback in person and through follow-ups from people who really connected. There were hugs and amazing moments on the street, and also emails, phone calls, and photos of the newly framed pieces hanging on the new collectors’ walls. These were powerful and eye-opening moments for everyone involved.

The best example of witnessing an “aha” moment happened at the last pop-up event in Washington, D.C. A young woman was talking to us after selecting Hannele Lahti’s photograph. She said this was her first piece of art to own, and when I asked her why she selected that image over the others, she said it was Hannele’s description of what the image was about that really moved her. When she heard Hannele describe the photograph, she realized this art was about an experience she was having at that exact moment.

In city after city, the same lesson emerged: People value connection. A lot of established collectors buy art because of the artist’s reputation or the proven value of the piece—the art world as we know it is driven by trends and price tags, not experiences. But the status quo is not cultivating new audiences for art. To attract people who are not already connected to art, we need to provide opportunities to facilitate a personal connection between the artist, the collector and the image.

This is not to say I am anti-traditional gallery. Not at all, and I think that has been one of the common misconceptions about the project and about me personally. Helping emerging photographers get a foothold in the art world is just one piece of the puzzle, because that is exactly what it is—a foothold. Once that foothold feels secure, and the artist begins to gain traction—exhibitions, collectors, positive exposure—they need to take the next step.

The same is true for collectors. Helping someone start on a path of appreciating and collecting art is incredibly exciting and rewarding. But as they continue farther down this path—the more they look and buy and hone their tastes and collection—they will feel more comfortable and confident about engaging with traditional galleries and museums and cultural institutions. It will be a regular part of their world.

The other question I received several times caught me off-guard: Isn’t this whole project just a way to promote you and your gallery? All I can say is that I am just not wired that way. I believe in collaboration and community building and doing whatever I can for the greater good. Even writing this sounds ridiculous, but I do believe that doing good is important, and it drives me. Will there be some side-effect benefit to me personally? Maybe. But this tour was altruistic. We were giving art away, not selling anything. If I had spent the last year and a half working on something with the potential to make money and did not involve leaving my husband and three kids to drive around the country on a shoe-string budget, crashing on couches. . . well, that may have been smarter. But I would not change it. The opportunity to make a difference does not come around every day.

I knew this project would be a challenge—logistically, financially—but I could not have guessed it would have pushed me so much personally. I never imagined I would spend so much energy defending an idea that was solely meant to do good. Emails and online comments from people I did not know, questioning my motivation, process, and intentions, were upsetting and unsettling. I wish I could say handling these criticisms thickened my skin, but my skin only gets but so tough. What it did, however, was help me hone in on what exactly I was trying to say and do and why. It forced me to critically and objectively examine every element of the project and make changes that dramatically narrowed and improved the focus.

For example, my original plan was to partner with museums and arts spaces and stage the pop-up events in front of their facilities. But it became clear that if we did that, we would be directing our outreach at people who were already connected to art. If my goal was to give an arts experience to people who were not currently seeking one, then I needed to truly go to them.

I also added the Local Photographer Showcase component to the tour. I had planned to only bring photographs from an online project, The Ten, which features photographers from across the country. But the more I was asked to explain the motivation behind the project and the generation of the tour idea, the more I realized that if my experience had shown the most significant and transformative connection point to be the interaction between the audience and the artist, then it was important to create an opportunity for people to meet, engage with, and potentially continue a relationship with photographers who lived in their own communities.

I am proud to be known for being a champion and advocate for photographers, especially those who are at the beginnings of their careers. I am passionate about the ways individual artists can advocate for themselves and for creating ideas and programs to help them find the people who will best appreciate their work. I am an idea person and also a doer. I am not just complaining about a problem with the current art hierarchy, but I am actively trying to do things to create a more sustainable arts ecology—openly sharing successes and failures with equal parts laughter and tears and a whole lot of heart.

I believe in art, and I believe artists. I am happy to shout it from the rooftops. Or from a VW bus. Every interaction makes a difference, and I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to be a part of so many. Let’s keep it rolling. . .

Jennifer Schwartz is the owner/director of Jennifer Schwartz Gallery and the creator of the non-profit organization, Crusade for Art. Crusade for Art educates, inspires, and supports artists to create unique, approachable programs that bring new audiences to art and allow them to engage with art in a meaningful way.

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LPS Spotlight: Alysia Macaulay

Since the photographers featured in the Local Photographer Showcases in each city are supremely talented and excited about reaching new audiences with their work, we will be regularly featuring them to give you more insight into their work and their experience Crusading. Next up is Alysia Macaulay from the New York pop-up:

Tell us a little about your background as a photographer and where you are now with your work.

I fell in love with photography when I was in grade school and my father gave me my first camera, a konica slr.  My high school years were spent behind a camera and learning the ins and outs of a darkroom.  Regrettably, during my college and early post-college years my focus shifted away from photography.  I did, however, write my baccalaureate essay on Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother", an image to which I still feel very connected.  Though in fits and spurts, photography remained a passion of mine until my children were both in school full-time and I was able to make photography a real priority.  I studied at ICP and adored every minute spent shooting and being immersed in a community of like-minded artists.  Heaven!

I am currently working on a few different projects.  After I had two solo show for my series, "The Quiet", I began shooting "Night Light", which I plan to resume working on this summer.  As well, last spring I began making shadow boxes, utilizing my images in a three-dimensional way.  Working with my hands proved to be extremely satisfying and offered new types of challenges that I welcomed.  It was also a pleasure to be able to take a break from working on my images exclusively on the computer.  Most recently, I have begun a new body of work that I am really excited about.  I am shooting my children's toys.  Many adored and worn from years of love and attention, but rarely interacted with now, this series is really an homage to my children's early childhood. It is also a way for me to pay my respects, in a sense, to these objects that have played such an integral role in my children's development during their most formative years.

How did you hear about the Crusade, and what were your initial impressions?

I became aware of Jennifer Schwartz and the Crusade mainly through social media.  I found the concept to be both highly original and engaging.  I have always been a fan of public art, so this was right up my alley.

Were you excited to participate in the Local Photographer Showcase?  Why or why not?

I was very excited to participate as a local photographer in New York.  I loved the idea of interacting with total strangers as a group to show our work and encourage collecting.

How did the event go for you?  Was it like you expected or different?  Better or worse?

It was tough!  New Yorkers are on the move and not much can derail them from getting to where they want to go.  The experience as a whole was both better and worse than I had anticipated.  Worse because I was surprised at how persistent and vocal I needed to be in order to get someone to stop and look and listen.  It was definitely not how I typically like to interact with people.  That said, when I did engage in a dialog about the work and collecting art with complete strangers it was incredibly rewarding.

What do you hope will come out of the experience for you - personally and professionally?  Do you think those are realistic expectations?

Networking for sure.  I will keep in touch with the photographers from our group, a varied and lovely bunch.  As I am relatively new to Brooklyn, I would love to build my own community of like-minded artists, like I found at ICP.  As well, I hope to gain exposure for my photography through my involvement with the Crusade.  I have bodies of work that I am very proud of and would love to find the right venue in which to exhibit.  My images tell stories that I hope people will find engaging and thought provoking.

Tell us about the image you gave away at the event and how to see more of your work.

The image I gave away was from a series titled "Sheltered".  It has a double meaning, as the photographs in the series depict a time in my family's life when we were finding our way through and nearing the end of a very challenging period.  This body of work was a follow-up to "The Quiet" series, and I photographed it on Shelter Island, New York.

To see more of my work you can go to my website www.alysiamacaulay.com.  

Thank you Jennifer for an amazing and inspiring experience!  Rock on Crusaders!

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LPS Spotlight: Charlotte Strode

Since the photographers featured in the Local Photographer Showcases in each city are supremely talented and excited about reaching new audiences with their work, we will be regularly featuring them to give you more insight into their work and their experience Crusading. Next up is Charlotte Strode from the Brooklyn pop-up:

Tell us a little about your background as a photographer and where you are now with your work.

I call myself a self-taught photographer, but I can't say that truthfully.  My dad was a photojournalist who taught me how to see pictures, even with the simplest things in our backyard.  We had a darkroom at home and I began learning how to dodge & burn and make prints as early as I can remember.   Most of his work was in the south - documenting things like the Civil Rights movement and strip mining in Kentucky - and he taught me how to love place through taking pictures.  I've been shooting ever since, and have taken classes at ICP in New York.  I'm currently working on strengthening my personal projects, instead of simply shooting.

How did you hear about the Crusade, and what were your initial impressions?

I heard about it because I've been a fan of Jennifer Schwartz's gallery and projects for quite some time.  I think I saw a post about it on her blog, and decided to submit an image.  I thought it was such a cool and unique concept - I currently live in New York where fine-art photography and collecting are intimidating.  It feels like a pretentious world that is tough to get involved in.  Art should be for everyone.

Were you excited to participate in the Local Photographer Showcase?  Why or why not?

Of course!  It's great to get your work out there, and a great exercise to engage people about it.

How did the event go for you?  Was it like you expected or different?  Better or worse?  

I loved it!  I think people really liked my image which made me feel good about my work, and I was happy that it took me out of my comfort zone and made me actually say things about what I'm working on.  I also enjoyed meeting the other photographers and made some great connections!

What do you hope will come out of the experience for you - personally and professionally?  Do you think those are realistic expectations?

I'm happy to be a part of this network, and I hope this will continue.  I think the crusade also gave me clarity on what I need to work on with my photographs, so I'm excited to get started on that.

Tell us about the image you gave away at the event and how to see more of your work.

The photograph I took is part of a series of road trips I take to explore my southern roots.  I left the south to go to college, and the distance has made me more interested in the culture that shaped me.  Every year, I take a trip somewhere new to learn about the landscape, people, food, history, and culture, and each time I come back with a better sense of the south as a whole.  This photograph was taken on Skyline Drive in the Blue Ridge Mountains, with my dad's 35mm camera from the 1960's.

You can see more of my work on my website, www.charlottestrode.com.

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Brooklyn Crusade Video is Live!

It's been a while, but we have a new Crusade for Collecting Tour video - Brooklyn! This was the 9th city on the tour, and another great group of local photographers.  Take a look!

The Crusade for Collecting Tour popped up at Brooklyn Bridge Park on June 2 with local photographers Alysia Macaulay, Sara Macel, Muema, Marico Fayre, and Charlotte Strode.

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LPS Spotlight: Joanna Jinselli

Since the photographers featured in the Local Photographer Showcases in each city are supremely talented and excited about reaching new audiences with their work, we will be regularly featuring them to give you more insight into their work and their experience Crusading. Next up is Joanna Jinselli from the Seattle Pop-up:

Tell us a little about your background as a photographer and where you are now with your work.

I started exploring photography when I was about 9yrs old, taking images of my surroundings, typical street photography explorations. In high school, I immersed myself in all of the arts and my photographic focus shifted to environmental portraiture then in college my work was mostly either elaborate tableaus (to satisfy my set-building desires and to utilize my sculpture and crafts background), portraiture or figure studies often using various alternative processes shot on 2 ¼ or 4x5 film along with some digital work as well.  I was kind of all over the place (and still am) although my work has always been threaded together by my love for Semiotics/symbolism, whether it be obvious culturally understood/accepted or very subtle personal associations.  Also, I’ve always had a heavy emphasis on the process being as important as the final project, always trying to make sure that whatever process I use for a particular piece fits that image and isn’t just a gimmick. I’ve always strived to be as hands on as possible from start to finish (conception of the image down to the framing/final presentation of the piece), I guess I’m a bit of a control freak…

Since graduating, (I received my B. F. A. in Photography from the University of the Arts in 2009) my artistic work has had to adapt to my very minimal, near non-existent budget. I have several new series that are in various stages of completion, two of which, ‘The Gray Series’; a multi-media installation with an accompanied limited run of hand-bound books of the images and ‘CatS’, a painting with light feline figure study which will be transferred onto hand assembled light boxes are expected to be completed by the end of the year. Also, as I have been saving for film and other materials for these series I have been shooting some digital (as well as some film) single, stand alone works in order to force myself to be continually creating which I have complied into two portfolios on my website, Vignettes I & II.

How did you hear about the Crusade, and what were your initial impressions?

I learned about the Crusade from the Photo Center NW. Initially, I was a bit conflicted about submitting as I was trying to weigh the pros and cons of giving away my prints. Ultimately, I decided that the potential benefits would outweigh the cost. I knew that at the very least, I would be able to get a gallery owner who showcases emerging photographers to see my work, which I thought in itself was enough to submit, especially since there wasn’t a submission fee.

Were you excited to participate in the Local Photographer Showcase?  Why or why not?

Yes, I was excited to participate, as being selected as one of the five reassured me to continue my pursuit of my photographic fine art endeavors.

How did the event go for you?  Was it like you expected or different?  Better or worse?

I tried to keep from having any expectations. I wanted to go into the event with a blank slate as to not psych myself out. However, I was apprehensive about being down at Pike Place, I’m surprised we were able to last as long as we did…I think you have to be local to understand what the market is and isn’t.  I thought the event went much better after we changed locations, I feel that I made some solid connections with most of the people who chose my image. Overall I thought the event was a success.

What do you hope will come out of the experience for you - personally and professionally?  Do you think those are realistic expectations?

Professionally, I hope down the line, to gain at least one new collector of my work from this experience. I figure, I gave away 10 prints, that means in theory that my image will be displayed somewhere in the homes of those 10 or pass it along to someone they know. You never know who could potentially stumble upon these 10 prints and feel compelled to either purchase a photo of mine or give me an opportunity for some sort of exposure. I think that’s a realistic expectation or at least I hope it is, haha. I can say that since the pop-up event there has been an increased amount of traffic on my website.  I can’t say for sure that it’s because of the event or if it’s sheer coincidence but I feel that it’s a good sign…

As for personally, I hope that this experience continues to keep me open to the idea of alternative outlets as I feel that I may have been too narrow with my previous efforts to find an audience for my work.

Tell us about the image you gave away at the event and how to see more of your work.

I moved to Seattle three years ago and for the first two years out here my progress on new work was at a very slow pace; as I couldn’t afford to work they way I used to due to my financially crippling student loan debt. I was coming to terms with being an adult and taking care of my responsibilities. However, I realized that I really couldn’t call myself an artist if I didn’t have any new work to show. Back when I was in my early 20’s, I thought 30 was this far off number and that by the time I hit 30, I was going to be a successful artist, showing my work at galleries at a regular basis and being able to fully support myself through my artistic endeavors. However fast forward to now, I’m 26 going on 27 in about a week and I’m not where I thought I ought to be. Four years out of college and I barely had anything to show for it thus I decided one day to make art with the tools I had. It was a beautiful, picturesque day the sky was filled with these spectacular clouds. I felt like it had to be a sign, I needed to capture those clouds as I’ve always associated clouds with my hopes and aspirations and now as I grow older each day they represent my seemingly fading and fleeting dreams. The resulting photograph from that day was Soft and Far Away, the image I gave away at the pop-up event. However the image is not meant to be depressing but rather motivational because even though at times looking at clouds can be depressing when I think I’m not on the right track but I just can’t give up those dreams, I have to keep chasing them like those clouds.

More of my work is viewable on my website: www.joannajinselliphoto.com.

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LPS Spotlight: Hannele Lahti

Since the photographers featured in the Local Photographer Showcases in each city are supremely talented and excited about reaching new audiences with their work, we will be regularly featuring them to give you more insight into their work and their experience Crusading. Next up is Hannele Lahti from the DC pop-up:

Tell us a little about your background as a photographer and where you are now with your work.

I studied photography at RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) after being introduced to the medium by my father while on family road trips. I started out assisting other photographers and doing editorial, commercial and event-based photography. I still work with a variety of commercial clients but am currently transitioning my business to clients a with an environmental and animal focus. Growing up in a rural part of Maine, I find much of my inspiration to create photographs within the natural world, and I'd like my business to represent that theme more fully. I've begun exhibiting my work in group shows throughout the eastern US and am looking to work with galleries more in the future. I'm constantly working on personal projects and normally have 2 or 3 in the works at all times.

Over the past few years, I’ve learned audio and video which I’m incorporating with my still photography to create mini-documentaries about people and events I find interesting. My stock photography has been represented by National Geographic Creative since 2009 and I launched an online print store for my fine art work last year. (http://archive.hannelelahti.com)

How did you hear about the Crusade, and what were your initial impressions?

I’m not sure where I came accross the project, probably somewhere on social media. I really liked the idea because it was such a different way to think about cultivating an audience. The act of taking art out of the gallery scene to create a positive experience around collecting for people on the street sounded appealing.

Were you excited to participate in the Local Photographer Showcase?  Why or why not?

Yes, I was excited to meet my fellow Crusaders, to engage people about art and to try something new. Sometimes I feel like I spend way too much time on my computer ,so I thought this would be a fun way to get out and make some new connections.

How did the event go for you?  Was it like you expected or different?  Better or worse?  

I figured the event would be pretty organic and it was. We ended up having a nice mix of tourists and locals which made engagement fun. The people who stopped asked a lot of questions and seemed really interested in learning about all of the artwork being presented. This made the event really enjoyable and lively.

It would have been nice to have an easy method to record contact info from the new collectors. A table with sign up sheets & info for each artist might have been a good way to accomplish that.

What do you hope will come out of the experience for you - personally and professionally?  Do you think those are realistic expectations?

I looked at this experiment as a good way to practice talking about my work, to be part of something bigger than myself, and to meet new people. The idea behind the Crusade resonated with me, and I hope that by participating I was able to create a positive art experience for the people who stopped. Maybe the next time they need something to hang in their home, they’ll consider purchasing an artwork from their local arts community instead of a large box store. To me, that would be a successful outcome.

Tell us about the image you gave away at the event and how to see more of your work.

The image, Tuckamore Forest, Newfoundland was shot last year in Gros Morne National Park. For me, the image captures the essence of the forests in that region which are stunted and shaped by strong coastal winds and spraying salt water.

My main website is www.hannelelahti.com, from there you can link to my online print shop, blog, social media, and stock photography. My Instagram stream is @hannelelahti.

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LPS Spotlight: Marico Fayre

Since the photographers featured in the Local Photographer Showcases in each city are supremely talented and excited about reaching new audiences with their work, we will be regularly featuring them to give you more insight into their work and their experience Crusading. Next up is Marico Fayre from the Brooklyn pop-up:

Tell us a little about your background as a photographer and where you are now with your work.

For me, photography is always about storytelling. And about connection. I began falling in love with photography while using a pink plastic point-and-shoot in the woods surrounding my childhood home. Moving up to an old Honeywell Pentax with black & white film in high school helped define my vision and personal style. I continue to be inspired by the changing light and color of different places I travel, a sense of drama imparted during my time as an actress, and a love of literature developed during the many hours of my childhood spent inside fantastic realms of myth and legend.

How did you hear about the Crusade, and what were your initial impressions?

I heard about the Crusade from friends and colleagues and was incredibly excited about the idea of bringing artists and new collectors together, face-to-face. After speaking with Jennifer at Photolucida, I was even more enthusiastically supportive of the Crusade.

Were you excited to participate in the Local Photographer Showcase?  Why or why not?

I was ecstatic! The dialogue between artist and audience fascinates and inspires me, but so often it is indirect. Having this opportunity to speak with artists, enthusiasts, and collectors about my work was truly a joy. 

How did the event go for you?  Was it like you expected or different?  Better or worse?  

I did my best to go into the event without any expectations, so I had a fabulous time. I was sad not to have Lady Blue as a recognizable icon, and the day was incredibly warm, but neither of those things can be controlled. Being that we were in NYC, it was rather more difficult than normal to give away anything for free, which was interesting to see, though not unexpected. I have yet to see much feedback or follow-up from the event, but I hope that will happen over time.

What do you hope will come out of the experience for you - personally and professionally?  Do you think those are realistic expectations?

My first goal with this event was to meet and network with local photographers and art enthusiasts, and that definitely happened. This was also a way for me to get my work in front of new potential collectors, so I hope additional sales will eventually come from it, though I have not yet seen that. I hope the Crusade will continue to receive additional attention and that the conversation of art collecting will grow and evolve and lead to future opportunities.

Tell us about the image you gave away at the event and how to see more of your work.

I gave away prints of "Watching Weather" from the series mariko, which refers to the meaning of my name in Japanese (either circle or honesty & integrity, depending on who you ask). In the solitude of my creation I feel free and connected to the natural world. Through the camera I catch glimpses of the essence of life, the truth of my experience, a record of the transient beauty of nature. In mariko I seek to capture a fleeting moment, turn a thought into something tangible, something understandable. Using light, gesture, and color I contemplate memory, whimsy, grace, and dreams. These photographs are the product of time spent traveling through the Oregon countryside, the landscape that shaped my childhood and allowed me to become the woman I am today. The patterns and textures of the land, sky, and the human body juxtapose reality and fantasy, allowing ordinary moments in the day to become mysterious and enchanting. Imagining how a bird dances through the delicate spring sunlight or explores the crunch of a late-season snowfall, I hold a performance with nature that mirrors the emotional response brought on by the combination of raw elements. In this way I record my sliver of reality, exploring and rearranging the world around me, leaving an impression though the landscape remains unchanged at the end of the day.

This series can be seen on my website: whatwillyoureveal.com. I am also working on publishing a book of the extended series, which I hope to share in the near future (looking for publishers if you know of anyone who might be interested. I have a mock-up through Blurb I can share).

You can also find me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mfayrephotography

Twitter: @MaricoFayre

Instagram: Marico Fayre

on my Tumblr: http://andthespacesinbetween.tumblr.com/

and on my blog: http://whatwillyoureveal.wordpress.com/

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LPS Spotlight: Sara Macel

Since the photographers featured in the Local Photographer Showcases in each city are supremely talented and excited about reaching new audiences with their work, we will be regularly featuring them to give you more insight into their work and their experience Crusading. Next up is Sara Macel from the Brooklyn pop-up:

Tell us a little about your background as a photographer and where you are now with your work.

Born and raised in Houston, Texas, I left home to study photography in New York when I was eighteen.  I got my undergrad BFA in Photo & Imaging at NYU in 2003 and my MFA in Photography, Video, & Related Media from SVA in 2011. Between my undergrad and graduate degrees, I worked as Bruce Davidson's studio manager and as a still photo producer at Art Department while working on my personal projects and exhibiting my work around NYC and Brooklyn.  After getting my MFA in 2011, I began teaching photography at Rockland College upstate and shooting my own editorial and advertising shoots to help support my personal work.  My first monograph, "May the Road Rise to Meet You," is coming out in Sept 2013 from Daylight Books.  There's going to be a big launch party and panel talk on Sept. 21, 2013 at United Photo Industries, and I'm kicking off the exhibition and book tour with a show at Daylight's project space in Hillsborough, NC in late Sept-early Oct.

How did you hear about the Crusade, and what were your initial impressions?

I met Jennifer at Fotofest in 2012.  She wasn't on my list of reviewers, but I knew about her and her gallery and wanted to make that connection, so I emailed her before the event asking if she could make a little time for me, and she was so gracious and said yes.  During our meeting, she gave me some of the most helpful and honest advice I got the whole review and helped connect me with David Bram of Fraction Magazine who then featured my work in Issue 39.  In the months that followed, Jennifer and David invited me to their Flash Powder retreat in Astoria, which I attended earlier this year.  I knew about the Crusade from the beginning and followed its adventures, but it was at the retreat that I got to meet Lady Blue and become even more invested in supporting Jennifer and her vision.  I was so happy when Jennifer asked me to take part in the Brooklyn Crusade soon after getting home from Astoria.  I think it's a really creative way to get people into the idea of collecting art and meeting artists.  And most artists I know are eager to build an audience for their work but not really sure where to start.  I knew it might be a little awkward to walk up to a stranger on the street and say "Are you interested in collecting some art for free today?" And it was!  But it was also a great exercise in practicing my "elevator pitch" and hang out more with Jennifer, which is my definition of a win-win.

Were you excited to participate in the Local Photographer Showcase?  Why or why not?

Hell yeah! I love being part of Lady Blue's journey. It taught me a lot about creating your own buzz and finding ways to reach people so that they too become invested in your project.  With my book coming out in September, it was fun to tell random people on the street about it.  I brought a notebook and got names and emails of the folks I talked to about my work.  For the people who walked away with my print, that's just even more incentive for them to check out and hopefully buy the book when it comes out.

How did the event go for you?  Was it like you expected or different?  Better or worse?  

It was disappointing that the van couldn't join us in Brooklyn for mechanical reasons, but overall I was really excited about the people I met and who walked away with my prints.  The first couple I met and shared my work with already collect photography from local DUMBO photo gallery Klompching, so that was great!  And right after I talked with them for a few minutes, I met a female artist and we talked about making work and getting it out in the world.  Despite the heat, I met some great people and really enjoyed hanging out with my fellow artists and Jennifer. The post-Crusade drink with the gang was also a highlight.

What do you hope will come out of the experience for you - personally and professionally?  Do you think those are realistic expectations?

Jennifer is a powerhouse of great ideas, so it was worth it just to talk with her more about my book project and brainstorm ways of spreading the word about that.  By getting contact details for the people I met, I helped grow my audience for future events, books, and shows.  And if a print sale comes from this, that would just be the cherry on top of the sundae.  In the end, I just like being part the Crusade for Collecting family, and if any future collectors come out of it, great!

Tell us about the image you gave away at the event and how to see more of your work.

The image I contributed is from my series "May the Road Rise to Meet You." The project is about my father's life on the road selling telephone poles, and the image, titled "Recognition Lifts the Human Spirit, Spring, Texas," is a bird's-eye view of his desk at home.  The title of this image comes from an inspirational phrase he wrote to himself on his day planner. More info about the book can be found on my website www.saramacel.com and at www.maytheroadrisetomeetyou.com. The book launch party will be Sept. 21 in Brooklyn at United Photo Industries, and all summer until October you can see images from my series "Rodeo Texas" along The Fence at Brooklyn Bridge Park (http://fence.photovillenyc.org/) sponsored by Photoville and UPI. Please sign up for my mailing list on my website for more updates and follow me on Instagram and Twitter @saramacel.

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Crusade Thoughts From the Co-Pilot: Part 2

This is Sarah Moore again, reporting to you from my little casita in Santa Fe, NM.  I thought I’d share some of my thoughts about the end of the Crusade for Collecting tour, which already seems like so long ago.  Sigh. The rest of our stay in Brooklyn was…interesting.  I mean, you have to understand that I’m not really a city girl (born and raised in South Dakota), nor am I used to the humidity anymore (currently living in the desert).  So, to be in the throes of a large city during an incredible heat wave was not necessarily my cup of tea.  I remember spending hours upon hours holed up in my Hotel Indigo room (which, might I say, was absolutely lovely!), sheltering myself from the heat and the people.  That being said, I did enjoy a few lovely nights out in Brooklyn, a stroll through Prospect Park, a few entertaining subway rides, fun confusion in DUMBO, and an afternoon with two of my favorite photographers.  So all in all, New York was a success.

Spending an afternoon with Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris-Webb was definitely my favorite part of the New York stop, possibly of the whole trip.  I’ve been a long-time fan of their work, particularly Rebecca’s My Dakota.  It’s not often I meet another person from South Dakota (outside of that state, that is), not to mention a talented photographer.  It was a pleasure to talk to Rebecca about our home state.  Though we grew up under different circumstances and in different landscapes, we both can relate to the vastness and solitude of South Dakota.  Talking to her definitely put a few things about my own photography in perspective.

It was also a pleasure to see many of the Norris-Webb books, both ones they’ve made individually and ones they’ve collaborated on.  These photographers are clearly passionate about telling stories, and they do it with such grace.  Plus, they were just delightful people to spend a hot summer day with. But enough on that…let’s get back to the Crusade!

The Brooklyn Pop-Up event was one for the record books…the heat record books!  Ha.  No but really, it was a balmy, sweaty, sunshiny day spent by the river in DUMBO.  Our photographers were all awesome and outgoing, but it was still pretty tough to get the passersby to take the free photographs.  Some people would claim that they “already had art, so didn’t need any more”, and one guy even said “well, I’d hate to take that and then just throw it away.”  Fair enough, I guess.  Despite some hesitations, we managed to get 50 new collectors in Brooklyn that day, and many connections were pure and joyful.  It was a good day, even if many of us almost got heat stroke.

All in all, as exciting as parts of New York were, I was quite happy to set sail to Washington DC.  I was a bit weary on how our Nation’s Capitol would take to the free art campaign, but excited to see how it would end up.

DC was another unexpected (for me, at least) breath of fresh air on this trip.  What a lovely, tree-lined, art-loving, high-security city!  Perhaps the high security part wasn’t quite as fun.  But really--DC was swell.  Jennifer and I stayed with her college boyfriend, Sam, in a cute old brownstone in a nice quiet neighborhood.  The architecture around DC is really stunning, which is something I hadn’t noticed the last time I was in DC (which was on an 8th grade field trip to see all the great monuments and museums, of course).  And the dappled light in the evening was warm and welcoming.

Jennifer and I spent one afternoon driving Lady Blue around the city, both so she could see it and so we could get photos of her in it.  This went well for the most part, except for one minor hiccup when we were getting a photograph of Lady in front of the White House.  The police officer wasn’t thrilled that we were parked in a “no parking” zone in “that vehicle” during a state of heightened security.  Needless to say, we moved right along (after getting our photo).  I must say though, Lady Blue looked really nice in Washington DC.

For our DC Pop-Up, we stationed the Lady and our five local photographers right in front of the National Mall.  I thought perhaps we’d get some angry business folks or security guards that day, but it actually went smoother than I could’ve ever imagined!  We got a huge variety of people to stop and talk to us about photographs and the art world--ranging from eager tourists (including a troop of middle school boy soccer players) to coffee-clutching businessmen to people who heard about us online and sought us out.  Nearly everyone who stopped was excited, inquisitive, and thrilled to walk away with art.  We left the Mall that day feeling like we had hit our East Coast high note in an unexpected place.  It was definitely a good way to end the Crusade journey.

We finished our DC stop with some delicious pizza and wine with a few photographers before heading back to Sam’s place.  I slept about four hours that night, due to an early bird plane ride back to the Southwest.  The next thing I really remember was being nestled in my Santa Fean bed, wondering if the Crusade had been just a delightful dream.

Thanks again to Jennifer for including me on her East Coast Crusade tour.  I know as time goes on I’ll grow more and more grateful for the experience and more and more conscious of all the things I learned while traveling with her and Lady Blue.  It was a remarkable trip, filled with laughter and tears.  I met so many incredibly people and have a renewed sense of what it means to be a photographer and a collector in today’s Arts Ecology.

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Lovely Cleveland, Now On Video!

Lady Blue cruised into the Lakewood section of Cleveland on Sunday, May 26 and had a delightful time creating collectors with the help of the Cleveland Print Room and The Root Cafe. The video is now live on our YouTube channel!

Lady Blue cruised into the Lakewood section of Cleveland on Sunday, May 26 and had a delightful time creating collectors with the help of the Cleveland Print Room and The Root Cafe.

And since you're in a Cleveland mood, check out this Around the Block with Fred Bidwell video!

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LPS Spotlight: Maggie Meiners

Since the photographers featured in the Local Photographer Showcases in each city are supremely talented and excited about reaching new audiences with their work, we will be regularly featuring them to give you more insight into their work and their experience Crusading. Next up is Maggie Meiners from the Chicago pop-up:

Tell us a little about your background as a photographer and where you are now with your work.

I was inspired to be a photographer in 1999 when I was at a  retrospective for whom I do not even remember at the V and A in London.  Photography is something that I have always loved to look at , but had never really tried to make pictures myself.  I started off by taking a basic Photo 101 class as a Continuing Ed student and something was born.  I've since taken a workshop here and there, which have all been extremely influential in my practice, but for the most part, I am self-taught.  However, I must say, that the best education I have gotten has been through my relationships with other photographers-- that has been invaluable.  My early work was generally quite abstract and did not involve much human interaction, whereas now, I am focusing on several projects that examine various sub-cultures.  This is quite a shift for me, as photography was initially a way for me to isolate behind the lens and spend some time by myself, and now I am finding that I am interacting with people on a much grander scale than I ever imagined.  It has been great though and I still find some time to be by myself, hiding behind my camera.

How did you hear about the Crusade, and what were your initial impressions?

I heard about the Crusade through the Jennifer Schwartz Gallery website and The Ten.  It seemed like such an interesting concept and I am so inspired by people that are doing things differently.  I especially loved the idea behind engaging the public in a conversation about art.  I had no initial impressions other than it was something I wanted to participate in if selected.

Were you excited to participate in the Local Photographer Showcase?  Why or why not?

I was so thrilled to be one of the 5 Chicago photographers selected, especially since I was familiar with Matt's work and Jess's work.  It was an honor to be participating with them, and of course an honor to participate with Damon and Nate, as well.  I am a bit of an introvert so I had a little bit of angst on the day of the event. Initially, I thought the crowd was tough, but once I started to get my game on, engaging people was not as difficult and it was fun to see them get so excited about art.  But I tell ya, I've never seen so many people dis something free before-- the economy must be doing really well !  It was also interesting to see what photos attracted people and why.

How did the event go for you?  Was it like you expected or different?  Better or worse?

The event itself was great, despite the chilly weather.  It was so fun to be part of something so innovative.  I did not have many expectations for the day and it went well. At times, I felt like it dragged on, but I think that was a result of the mid-day pre-holiday weekend crowd thinning out.  I really enjoyed talking with the other photographers, and would have liked to do more of that, but had to remind myself to engage the passers-by.  I was pretty surprised that more people were not as enthusiastic as I would have thought they would be about the prospect of getting something free, especially art.  At times I wanted to say, "Do you have any idea how huge some of these guys will be one day?", but I kindly kept those thoughts to myself, as I did not want to seem like I was accosting anyone ;)

What do you hope will come out of the experience for you - personally and professionally?  Do you think those are realistic expectations?

Sometimes I think it takes a while to gauge what will result from an experience like the Crusade.  Obviously, I really enjoyed meeting some other local photographers and it is great to continue to build up my own network and to engage in the Chicago photographic community.  Professionally, it was great to be able to participate in something produced by Jennifer and to get my work out there in a more innovative context.

Tell us about the image you gave away at the event and how to see more of your work.

The image I gave away is called, Goddamn Sherpa,  it is 1 of a series of 12 self-portraits which explore the various identities I presume on any given day.  This body of work is the first time I had used a studio setting or lighting and took about 3 years to complete.

http://www.maggiemeiners.com

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Chicago Pop-up Video!

The Crusade for Collecting popped up on a downtown street corner in Chicago on Friday, May 24. This was a chilly and challenging one with photographers Matthew Avignone, Jess T. Dugan, Nathan Matthews, Maggie Meiners, and Damon Shell, but the connections we made were pretty powerful.  Take a look - Click on the image to play the video on our YouTube channel:

The Crusade for Collecting popped up on a downtown street corner in Chicago on Friday, May 24. This was a chilly and challenging one with photographers Matthew Avignone, Jess T. Dugan, Nathan Matthews, Maggie Meiners, and Damon Shell

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LPS Spotlight: Raychel Rogers

Since the photographers featured in the Local Photographer Showcases in each city are supremely talented and excited about reaching new audiences with their work, we will be regularly featuring them to give you more insight into their work and their experience Crusading. Next up is Raychel Rogers from the Seattle Crusade Pop-up:

Tell us a little about your background as a photographer and where you are now with your work.

My love for photography began at a young age when my parents’ gave me a re-furbished Olympus 2s - still one of my favorite cameras to shoot. I started taking photos in my teens, eventually taking a course in developing and printing. In 2010, 3 years after graduating university, I allowed myself an opportunity to step away from all distractions and devote 100% of my time towards personal experimentation and implementation artistically. I lived in Barcelona and attended Metafora where I attained an international diploma in studio art and art history. During my time in the studio I found that I mostly gravitated toward photo and print media. Through tireless exposure and development I discovered an interest in those quirky, intimate, and sometimes “misunderstood” moments.

My vision focuses on unrefined, raw, forward portraiture in situations that are not always comprehensible and that are, often, humorous. My website, purewhild.com, features images from more recent work. Since my experience in Spain I shoot color-negative and transparency mostly, and I lean towards a softer, more nostalgic, washed-out look; as though the image had already aged between the laminated pages of some wild primitive family album. I am attracted to expressions of perplexity and moods.

Professionally, I am ready to work independently and collaboratively. I’d like to apply my alternative-eye and playfulness to art-dialogue within a company, on a campaign, or at a magazine/art publishing house. I love to push the envelope, to think of new solutions and to promote alternatives. It would be fulfilling to use my creativity to support a greater purpose; using my nostalgic beach work to stand behind Ocean Conservancy campaigns or green surf companies, these are things I think and dream about.

I discovered the Crusade's call for entries posting at the Photographic Center Northwest. I thought the idea of printing an edition to share and gift to the public was interesting. I was really nervous to work so closely and directly with an audience. There is always a fear that you will be misunderstood or poorly received by others, but in the end I was really grateful to have challenged myself to stand, quite literally, behind my image and to interact intimately with strangers over a piece of my art (an extension of myself--especially considering I presented a self-portrait). This experience helped me transcend my fear of being misunderstood or, even worse, my fear of being rejected by an audience. Working with Jennifer and the other talented photographers featured in the Seattle Crusade, was inspiring and encouraging and the contact I made with those who asked for my image was rewarding and  invaluable.

Now, I say, sky is the limit!  http://purewhild.com

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The Crux of the Crusade

I am sitting in my childhood room in Richmond, Virginia, thinking back on the crazy adventure called the Crusade for Collecting Tour.  Now that it is over, I feel a jumbled mix of emotions, but mostly I feel proud.  That may be a weird thing to say, but after traveling to ten cities and meeting so many new people, I know that this wild ride has made a difference.  At some level, to some people, this tour made an impact, and that's all I could have hoped for. In my gallery in Atlanta, I found the most successful programs to get new people interested in art involved meeting the artist and making a personal connection.  The Crusade just took that idea on the road, bringing artists onto the streets to meet people and talk about their work.  I felt that if I could give people a fun, engaging arts experience in an unexpected way – that if they had an opportunity to meet artists, learn about their work and connect to an original piece that became theirs – it may be transformative and put them on a path to loving, supporting and collecting original art.

One to one interactions, opportunities to learn first-hand about the story behind a piece of art – that’s not intimidating, that’s interesting.  Over and over, city after city, the same lesson emerged:  People value connection. A lot of established collectors buy art because of the artist’s reputation or the proven value of the piece – the art world as we know it is driven by trends and price tags, not experiences. But the status quo is not cultivating new audiences for art.  To attract people who are not already connected to art, we need to provide opportunities to facilitate a personal connection between the artist, the collector, and the image.

If you make art or love art or buy art, you have had that magic moment when a piece speaks to you.  You have had that "aha" experience of looking at an image that made your head (or heart) want to explode (at least, that's how I feel it).  The goal of the Crusade was to create an opportunity for people who had not been moved by art in this way to experience that lightening bolt moment. . . and want to have more.

The artists and I both received great feedback in person and through follow-ups from people who really connected.  There were hugs and amazing moments on the street, and also emails and phone calls and photos of the newly framed pieces hanging on the new collectors walls. These were powerful and eye-opening moments for everyone involved.

The best description of witnessing this "aha" moment happened at the last pop-up event in Washington, D.C. A young woman was talking to us after selecting Hannele Lahti's photograph.  She said this was her first piece of art to own, and when I asked her why she selected that image over the others, she said it was Hannele's description of what the image was about that really moved her - when she heard Hannele describe the photograph, she realized this art was about an experience she was having at that exact moment.  It was so powerful to watch someone realize that art could be so dynamic and have layers of meaning that resonate on a very personal level.

Every interaction makes a difference.  I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to be a part of so many. Let's keep it rolling. . .

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DC: The Perfect Finish Line

Washington, D.C. was the last official stop on the Crusade for Collecting tour, and it could not have been a better place to wrap up this amazing journey.  There was a great interview in the DC Examiner, the pop-up was listed in Southern Living's Daily South blog as the number one thing to know about that week, and social media was on fire like it had not been in any of the other cities.  DC was ready for their art! As usual, our first order of the day was to drive around the city, get the lay of the land (for pop-up locations) and get some b-roll video footage.  Washington is not the easiest city to drive around in, and when we finally got to a spot where we could get a great shot of Lady Blue in front of the White House, it felt like winning the lottery.  Until I saw police lights behind me.  Apparently parking "this vehicle" in front of the White House during a time of high national security was a problem.  Fair enough.

The first night there I met up with E. Brady Robinson (a phenomenal photographer, photo professor, and force of nature when it comes to organizing art-related community programming) and Theo Adamstein (founder and executive director of FotoDC and all-around amazing doer) for drinks and dinner.  Foto DC is an incredible organization, and I loved hearing more about their mission and programming.  You know, arts engagement stuff I geek out on. . .

But the real highlight was the final pop-up of the tour.  The weather was beautiful, the photographers were pumped, and the parking spot was primo.  Seriously, Lady Blue was proud as a peacock, with the Capitol on one side and the Washington Monument on the other.  We had great foot traffic on the National Mall from both people who worked in the area and tourists.  As usual, we had to make a real effort to get people to stop (Brady's technique was unparalleled across the tour - approaching someone unassumingly and in a regular, non-salesy voice saying, "you look like a collector. . ." - worked every time), but the people who did seemed to really connect to the artists and their work.

It was a sunny day, and the art was moving.  People were excited, photographers were smiling, the bus was purring. . . I could not have asked for a better experience to end the tour on.

After the pop-up, I was surprised by how emotional I felt.  A lot of blood, sweat, tears and sheer will went into making this tour a reality, and it's hard to believe this part of the journey has ended.  The photographers, friends, family and supporters who have helped push this forward are way too many to name, but each of you made a difference.  Art wins!

The day and DC stop ended with a sold-out lecture at the Goethe-Institut, sponsored by FotoDC. I love speaking about audience engagement and the importance of facilitating opportunities to create connections between a person, an artist and an image.  Great crowd, great questions.  Ah, this just gets better and better!

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LPS Spotlight: Ashleigh Castro

Since the photographers featured in the Local Photographer Showcases in each city are supremely talented and excited about reaching new audiences with their work, we will be regularly featuring them to give you more insight into their work and their experience Crusading. Next up is Ashleigh Castro from the San Francisco pop-up:

Tell us a little about your background as a photographer and where you are now with your work.

When I started photographing I found most of my inspiration within the ANSWER coalition's movement against George W. Bush when I was 14. My dad would bring me to protests in San Francisco and I found that documenting these events yielded powerful photographs of an oppressed nation. I guess you can say my inspiration began in San Francisco. After this I started documenting events of all kinds ranging from concerts to the school yearbook. Today I have come a long way with the experiences of my youth and continue to be inspired by movements and musicians by documenting the Occupy Movement (New York and San Francisco) occasionally and some of my favorite musical acts. I started by photographing with film and fell back in love with the medium when I started photographing with a friend's Rolleiflex. Now my favorite camera to use is my twin lens Minolta Autocord. Although my background is mainly photojournalism, I also have an artistic conceptual side to my work that began in college and keeps growing. I'm a big fan of natural light and candid portraiture.

How did you hear about the Crusade, and what were your initial impressions?

I heard about the Crusade through a website called Bay Area Art Grind. Since I graduated in the Fall from San Francisco State, I have been trying to get my work out there and known. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to bring one of my favorite portraits and see what emotions it evoked. I do believe that the art world has been consumed with business and capitalist ventures making it vaguely accessible to everyday people. I have sold that piece printed smaller for five dollars before. I just want people to feel the same joy as the lighter stashing hula hooper when they look at it.

Were you excited to participate in the Local Photographer Showcase?  Why or why not?

I was excited because I would get to meet new people and share my work with them, but I didn't know what to expect. I mainly was hoping to gain more traffic on my website I've been working on.

How did the event go for you?  Was it like you expected or different?  Better or worse?  

I didn't really know what to expect but the event went well. I didn't realize how difficult it was to give away your art to people walking down the street. The whole process of looking at all five of the crusaders' art would take 5 minutes, but many people aren't willing to give you the time of day when they hear the word "free." I guess people conceive that as a gimmick. It made me feel like I was on RuPaul's Drag Race doing a street challenge. I had to alter my approach many times, but it kept me on my toes and was fun and exhilarating. For a while I had only given out two images but as time passed I started to pick up the pace. It was better than I expected in the end.

What do you hope will come out of the experience for you - personally and professionally?  Do you think those are realistic expectations?

I hope people want to see more work from me and maybe one day I will be shooting somewhere and they will recognize me and we can converse about art in a less busy setting. I also hope people are intrigued enough with film to keep supporting film photographers in this digital age. I'm excited to email the people I've given work to and hear about how it functions in their lives and homes.

Tell us about the image you gave away at the event and how to see more of your work.

The image I gave away is titled "Pocket Socks". I took it during the one-year anniversary rally of Occupy SF on September 17, 2012 with Delta 3200 film at around 6 pm. The woman hula hooping was laughing to herself and seemed to be in a utopian world as music blared and stormtroopers guarded the banks. After I developed the film I realized she had a lighter in tucked into her tube socks. This image has resonated with me since I took it. You can see more of my work at www.ashleighcastrophoto.com or on Flickr for a more extended collection. My handle on instagram is @5_foot_assassin. You can also follow me on Tumblr.

If you're local to San Francisco you can see my work at 50 Mason Social House. The current exhibition "Peripatetic Muse" chronicles my venture across country on Greyhound (coming soon to the website) there were four images until someone stole one of them from the bathroom. But they left the frame, so it's kinda funny to me! This will be deinstalled April 16 and replaced with a new body of work from myself and members of the all female art collective called Diatribe for the show titled "Smoke Signals." The opening is April 19 at 50 Mason Social House from 7pm -1 am we will be accepting sliding scale donations $2 - $5 and the artists will be selling work at all kinds of prices and there will be great live music. Please come out and support!

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Brooklyn - Too Hot to Trot

Honestly, this is a tough one to write about.  The photographers were awesome, as usual - enthusiastic and excited to reach out to people and share their work.  But it was so hot out, and the people walking by were. . . non-plussed.  Some really interesting connections were made, but a lot of the people did not want to stop.  They already "did the art thing".  Really?? It just goes to show, maybe the biggest impact is made where people are not already inundated with arts experiences.  DUMBO is way arty.  We'll see how people strolling through the National Mall feel. . . every day is a new adventure!

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