~The following was published in The Floyd Press on October 4, 2012 and on the paper’s webpage HERE.
The results of an April photo shoot on the streets of downtown Floyd and beyond will be exhibited at the Jacksonville Center for the Arts from October 5th to November 24th in a show titled A Portrait of Floyd. The 76 black-and-white portrait photographs, taken randomly by Norfolk photographer Glen McClure, represent a slice of life in Floyd and highlight the county’s cultural diversity, says the Center’s Hayloft Gallery Chair, Lore Deighan.
“What’s fascinating to me is that if the shoot happened on any other weekend, we’d have a completely different show,” Deighan said about the spontaneous, “come as you are” photo shoot, which took place over two days in downtown Floyd, at Ingram’s farm supply store and a yard sale by Slaughters Supermarket. McClure, along with others involved in the project, also visited the homes of fiddle maker Arthur Conner, woodworker Ernest Bryant and artist Charlotte Atkins.
“This show is so different than any we’ve had,” said Deighan, who also teaches the Jacksonville Center’s after-school art program at Floyd Elementary School and teaches art at Blue Mountain School. She explained the center’s commitment to connect art and community and to reach out to a wider audience within the region.
“Supporting our community artists is our priority, but I also want to inspire them,” said Deighan, who believes that balancing exhibits that showcase local art with art from beyond the community will “enrich the dialogue” and stimulate a wider interest in the center.
To further the goal of reaching a broader audience, the center enlisted the help David Brown, an art curator from Winston Salem who works independently as an art management consultant, creating opportunities for artists and art organizations. Brown helped to develop Roanoke’s Taubman Museum, was chief curator at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art for eight years and has juried a past show at the Jacksonville Center.
With McClure in mind, Brown told the center’s staff and supporters, ‘I think you should try to involve the community more, and I think I know someone that could help open that door.’ Believing that McClure’s portrait work on projects like Random Portrait of Virginia and Watermen of the Chesapeake Bay, and Floyd’s special mix of “old timers, new-agers, young hipsters, and overalled bluegrass musicians” would be “a marriage made in heaven,” Brown suggested that McClure and the Jacksonville Center work together.
“I love to photograph people and I’d go almost anywhere to do it,” said McClure, who had just returned from a trip to Ireland where he was photographing the Irish landscape. “I had heard of Floyd but had never been there. I was excited to do it just from the standpoint of an adventure.”
Recalling that he had met some “really neat people” while photographing in April, McClure described the final results of that shoot. “These are not glamour shots, but how you look in that instant. That’s what I love about doing this. It’s real.”
“I think of myself as a visual recorder,” McClure said, noting that his eye might be drawn to a cool hat, a tattoo, or maybe a farmer that just came in from the field and is dirty. “You want to show that. They are visual clues,” McClure continued. He thinks of his final photographs as his “interpretations” of the people he shoots.
“Some of these portraits will be in my portfolio of favorites for quite awhile. I’ve photographed thousands of folks and some of these are just really unique.”
McClure has been working on the photographs for months. He reports that they are of various sizes, with an average size of 16 X 20. The largest is 44 X 63. Interspersed with the various sized photos will be a grid design of clustered 8 X 10s. Every person that happened by the photo shoot and had there photo taken that weekend in April will be included, said McClure, who has work in many collections, including the Polaroid Collection, the Chrysler Museum of Art, the Taubman Museum, Capitol One Collection and The Mariners’ Museum.
The portraits will include brief bio-notes about the photographed people’s livelihoods, what brought them to Floyd the day of the shoot or whatever else they chose to share about themselves. A 32 page exhibit catalog, designed by McClure’s wife, will be available for purchase at the opening. “It was Glen’s idea to do the book to make the project more accessible. People will have something they can take away, so the show can go on after the exhibit,” Deighan explained.
The project has been generating a lot of excitement. “Ever since the photo shoot people have been asking me, ‘When’s the show, when’s the show?’” Deighan said. She described McClure as a passionate photographer whose work is “striking,” and noted Brown’s keen insight as a curator. “He values Floyd as a community, and so he chose someone that would highlight that.”
Deighan is looking forward to seeing how the photographs will transform the gallery space. “Our gallery is going to be full of people. You’re going to walk in and see a lot of eyes. It will create a group of people who don’t know each other and who normally wouldn’t interact, but they’ll all be interacting in this space.”
“I think Glen’s project is more about sharing than anything else, getting to know your neighbors, the people on the street that, even in Floyd, you might walk by,” Brown said, adding that every photograph has a story behind it. “In viewing these portraits and finding out about who they are, you just might discover a little bit about yourself in the process,” he said.
Post Notes: The Portrait of Floyd exhibit will open Friday October 5th and run through November 24th. A Meet the Artist Reception is scheduled on October 13 from 5-8pm. David Brown and Glen McClure will speak at the start of the reception. The last three photographs posted here are Glen’s. Check out his webpage HERE. Read the story with photos I did of Glen’s Floyd photo shoot HERE.