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Blake Andrews


LPS Spotlight: Blake Andrews

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 Blake Andrews from the Portland Pop-up:

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

I've been making photographs for about 20 years. Although I've gone through ups and downs, at this point I feel very good about my photography. I see photographs now that I would've missed 5 or 10 years ago. And I've worked through certain themes and retired them, so I don't need to look for certain things any more. Most importantly, new photographs still excite me. When I expose a frame I am anxious to see what it looks like. I think it's that curiosity which compels me to make new photographs and to care deeply about photography. So that's enough to go on. Really that's the only thing there ever was to go on.

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

I was contacted by you via email through Chis Bennett. I liked the concept from the start because I like giving away prints occasionally. I think the fine art market is quite speculative and sometimes motivated by unimportant concerns. I think that world and the world in general could use more giving and altruism, and there is always a need for inexplicable public actions. This event covered all those bases, plus it was in a VW bus. So it seemed like a go.

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

Photography has become so associated with money we hardly think about it. Any photo on a gallery wall usually has a price tag, and so its meaning is usually tied up with some monetary value. This makes sense for some situations but I don't think it's a blanket prescription. There are many alternate ways photographs can be circulated. My ideas on giving have been shaped by many influences, and from general life experience, but especially by Lewis Hyde's philosophy expounded in is book The Gift, a primer on gift economies. In some ways a gift is the most priceless value that can be associated with an object. Anyone with money can buy any object with a price. Warren Buffet can acquire any item in the world that he wants to, and no photo is beyond his reach. But the acquisition of gifts is much more restricted. One must be a suitable target, and so gifts are relatively inaccessible, even compared to the most expensive photograph you can imagine.

With these thoughts in mind, when I heard about a gallery owner encouraging the giving of photos I was excited.

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

It was roughly what I expected, although I didn't know the particular logistics. I was a bit nervous about being forced to make a sales pitch or long-winded explanation, but that fear proved unfounded. It was a relaxed experience. How can riding in the back of VW not be relaxed? I expected people to resist our photographs since most people do not like being solicited by strangers in public. This proved to be both true and untrue. Most pedestrians ignored us, but there was enough interest that we were able to quickly give away all of the photos.

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

I try to have no expectations about anything photo-related. I think that's the most realistic expectation anyone can have.

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

I gave away a small stack of random images printed on 8 x 10 RC paper. Most were spare prints from my files, and I added a few new prints of images I thought would have popular appeal. I also put in a few prints of a "bad" photo just to see if anyone would choose that one, which some people did eventually. I probably gave away 20 total.

To see more of my work Google me or else look for me on a street corner.




Portland Pop-up - Put Some Art On It!

Lady Blue rolled into Portland last Tuesday, and while I hunkered down in a conference room for four days to  meet with 48 different photographers and give feedback on their work for the Photolucida portfolio review, the Lady luxuriated in a garage across the street.  The trip from San Francisco was gorgeous and an absolute blast, but after three days of driving, Lady Blue deserved some downtime. But by Saturday afternoon, she was ready for some Crusading!  We decided to mix things up in Portland, after big events in Los Angeles and San Francisco where we parked on a busy street and set up display shelves and tables on the sidewalk.  We wanted to be more rogue and have a roving Crusade event, and so we had just three local photographers participate to more easily pile into the Lady and move from location to location.

I mentioned before how each city's personality has influenced the way people engage with the pop-up, and Portland was no exception.  The vibe of the city seems to be pretty low-key and unassuming, and that was definitely the vibe of the participating photographers!  When we were driving over to our first location, we talked about how to engage people walking by. . . if the bus had not been moving, I'm pretty sure these three would have jumped out and run away.

But alas, we got into a groove, and being on the move made it a lot easier to reach out to people.  We also received a lot of unsolicited treats in exchange for art - cookies, candy bars. . . Portland is awesome.  One man did refuse to participate in protest of the mandatory art tax just imposed here.  Portland is kooky too.

All of the photographs were gone in record-time, and we didn't even have a chance to move the bus to a different part of town.  It was really fun to be on foot and spread out a bit, and it has been exciting and educational to speak with people about art and gauge their reactions to the project.  More on that later. . .