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E- Brady Robinson


Ones2Watch with Atlanta Celebrates Photography

Atlanta Celebrates Photography is an organization that kills it year round for photography. Not only is the MONTH-LONG (which actually starts in September and goes into November, because there is so much programming) festival overwhelmingly stellar, ACP programs year-round and it a huge reason Atlanta's photography culture is so robust.  Ten years strong. . . hot damn. While ACP is celebrating it's 10th year, the annual gala auction benefit has been happening for five. There is an exciting live auction, led by Denise Bethel from Sotheby's, where inevitably you get swept up in the moment and wave a paddle you previously had no intention of raising.  There is also a silent auction with a variety of items (was so bummed to be outbid on the Martin Parr faces paperweight) and a selection of ten framed photographs from the Ones2Watch section.  For years I have poured over this part of the auction and bid mightily, and this year I was beyond honored to be invited to curate it.

I was asked to select ten photographs from ten photographers who are on the front lines of awesome.  Yes please!  The selection process was so much fun for me, but then seeing all of the pieces lined up on easels with each one framed to best showcase the image (thank you Myott!) was beyond, beyond.  And then to see all the bids flying!

Want an up-close peek at the images?  I thought so. Click on the image to visit the photographer's website.

Heather Evans Smith

Heather Evans Smith

Jeff Rich

Jeff Rich

Brandon Thibodeaux

Brandon Thibodeaux

Clay Lipsky

Clay Lipsky

Bill Vaccaro

Bill Vaccaro

Kurt Simonson

Kurt Simonson

Aline Smithson

Aline Smithson

Kelly K. Jones

Kelly K. Jones

Elizabeth Fleming

Elizabeth Fleming

E. Brady Robinson

E. Brady Robinson



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.

DC bus A Crusade for Collecting: Jennifer Schwartzs Photo Road Trip

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.



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:




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!