Early last month I went to Fort Collins, Colorado, to attend Opening Night of an exhibition entitled “Memories, Stories, Histories” at The Center for Fine Art Photography. It’s not every day that I get to have my work exhibited at a fine art gallery so it was a big deal for me. I decided to invest in making the trip to Colorado and I am happy that I went for many reasons. It ended up being so much more than opening night, thanks to the Executive Director/Curator, Hamidah Glasgow. She made it a full-on weekend experience for the exhibiting artists who attended the show. Opening night began with artist talks from 5-6 pm and the show from 6-9pm. Afterward, Hamidah took all of the attending artists to dinner, which was a great way for the artists to connect and get to know one another. The next day each artist was given a free 20-minute portfolio review with Hamidah, followed by lunch together at the gallery and a group portfolio review. There were some incredibly talented artists there. I admit that after seeing some of their work, I wondered what the heck I was doing there among them and if I should continue to pursue photography at all. Seriously, their portfolios and were great. There were also two amazing artists with solo exhibitions there for opening night. Zoe Zimmerman “Of Men: Strength and Vulnerability, First Aid” and Andrew Beckham “Firmament: An Incalculable Distance”. Fascinating and beautiful work by both of them.
My photograph was a portrait of my mother and father. This photograph is part of a photo essay of the last two years of my father’s life as he and my mom navigated the difficult journey of my father’s dementia.
There was one other piece to this adventure. As with most people, public speaking has always been a terrifying thought and I have successfully avoided it…up to now, anyway. A few days before the opening, exhibiting artists in the group show were notified that the juror would not be able to attend the show due to an unexpected circumstance. This meant that 20 minutes of time was now open for any group artists wanting to speak about their work for 3-4 minutes each. Some strange form of bravery unexpectedly took over my brain and I wrote back and said I was willing to speak about my work. That was immediately followed by a stomach ache and a nagging thought of “what have I done?!” I consoled myself with the fact that I would only have to speak for 3-4 minutes and it would be in front of people who live in Colorado so, if I made a fool of myself, I wouldn’t have to face them every day thereafter.
On opening night, I waited for the other artists to talk and tried to hide in the crowd, hoping the Director might forget I had agreed to speak. Well, she found me, graciously introduced me, and let everyone know that it was my first time to speak publicly about my work, which helped me be far more relaxed than I would have been otherwise. Even though I was nervous and my hands were shaking, I got through it and I was surprised to discover that it was not as bad as I had dreamed up in my head. I believe that was because I chose the perfect place for my first time. The Director and all of the staff and volunteers at the gallery create a very warm, welcoming, and accepting environment and everyone attending was supportive and encouraging.
The exhibit has now closed and photographs are being shipped back to the artists. I sincerely thank Amy Galpin, Juror, and Hamidah Glasgow, Executive Director/Curator of The Center for Fine Art Photography for giving me this opportunity and experience. It means a lot to me to have been a part of this exhibit and to have had my work in such a prestigious gallery.
Juror, Amy Galpin’s statement regarding the exhibition.