Working the Land… and Curating

2/7/16
In September I began working on an idea for an exhibition to have in February for PhotoTapas – Arizona Photography Month! Generally, I have found with curating I go through phases of meeting people or looking at their work, and naturally I begin drawing connections between ideas and artists, based things I have already been thinking about.

For the past few years, I have been fascinated with the new food movement to grow your own, responsibly source, eat organically, and just plain give a shit about what you put in your body! It is pretty impressive to me that most people (in the US) now care, at least a little more than they did before. You go to other countries where quality and tradition are the most important aspect of food, rather than the emphasis on a bulk of production. Here, that has never been the case – we have no history or ancient traditions, just the aspiration of prosperity.

Lucy for Web

Image by Jill Ison

 

One of the artists who really made me take a closer look at the idea of how each person can change food, is Jill Ison. She is a mother and incredible photographer who I’ve known for a few years now, and she is especially gifted when it comes to photographing her family and in portraiture. Her father purchased a farm several years ago and is invested in growing the best possible food, because it is more to him than a paycheck. Mostly he grows organic oats and ancient grains, which are delicious by the way! The idea of reviving ancient grains, and recovering lost strains of food, is really cool in my nerdy brain. Jill has been visiting her father’s farm regularly and photographing every aspect of the operation, as well as shooting her three beautiful daughters in their day-to-day activities there.

Scott T. Baxter_Working the Land

Image by Scott T. Baxter

Another artist who I have been working with for some time at Art Intersection to make prints, also got me thinking about the history of food, farming, and ranching. His name is Scott T. Baxter and for Arizona’s centennial in 2012, he completed a 10+ year project titled 100 Years 100 Ranchers, in which Scott spent a lot of time alongside ranching families who had been operating in the state for at least 100 years. He made beautiful portraits of them, while also photographing what was happening throughout a typical day in their boots. This project and his experience with it made him a tremendous cowboy photographer, and it sheds light on the incredibly hard-working men and women who still move cattle, and work with the animals we usually only see packaged in the meat section of our supermarkets.

Scott lives and works at an amazing facility called Cattle Track, which was established by Philip C. Curtis, one of the founders of the Phoenix Art Museum. This facility is an artist compound with local businesses, residential units, operating artist studios, and an art gallery, of course. The gallery, which I had visited many times, seemed like the perfect funky place for the show I had brewing.

Ken & Cattle_DeGideo

Image by Gina DeGideo, with original photograph by Marvin Morrison

To flesh out the show, I included the work from my Revisiting the Photographs of Marvin Morrison project, which was an insider’s view of farming life photographed by an actual farmer, shooting literally out in the field. I also invited well-known Western photographer Jay Dusard to show some work from his collection of esteemed images he’s made over the years. In the gallery hangs two gigantic black and white cowboy portraits from Jay, and also a colorful grid of action shots he made while photographing commercially.

Jay Dusard_Working the Land

Image by Jay Dusard

Our exhibition Working the Land: Arizona Farming and Ranching Families is up now through February 14, 2016, with a Closing Reception on Sunday, February 14, from 1 – 4pm. It is free and open to the public! In the end, I feel this is a well-balanced and intimate show, invested in the lives of the people who are still doing the things we might think of as being from the wild wild west and times past.

This exhibition is also part of PhotoTapas: Photography Month in Arizona! To learn more about all of the February events happening around the state in February, visit phototapas.com.

phototapas logo b&w

 

Down the Rabbit Hole…

9/20/15

"Found" ©Gina DeGideo

“Found” ©Gina DeGideo

Years ago, I made this photograph on a family day trip up to small rural town in northern Arizona for my nephew’s fourth birthday party. My son, along with a couple of his cousins and I, ventured down a pathway leading from the party for a quick walk. I carried my small point and shoot digital camera to take some snaps of the boys by the creek. I had remembered that down this path was also an amazing tree house my cousins and I had grown up climbing and playing in.

Just minutes into our hike on the trail, often used as a roadway for everyone in town to ride quads, jeeps, and dirt bikes, I stumbled upon this completely flattened and decomposing rabbit in the sand. The animal’s fascinating form, preservation, cleanliness, fluffiness, and unfortunate situation demanded my full attention. I responded to my found object by photographing it (how could I not) including my foot. Its perfect face and form make this one of my favorite photographs to date.

Then & Now – Gilbert, Arizona

9/13/15
Three years ago I graduated from my photography program at ASU and exhibited, for the first time, my thesis project Arid Zone Utopia in the show Click. The work was over a year in the making and was a heavily edited down group of suburban landscapes, from what I thought were unusually designed neighborhoods in Arizona. Of all of the images I shot, those from the Gilbert, Arizona locations worked best in my series, as I found their landscapes most contrasting from the natural desert.

As a result of that exhibition, I partnered with Art Intersection Gallery (of whom I had just finished an internship with at the time) to create a body of work from a family archive of prints and negatives on commission. The artwork and exhibition titled Revisiting the Photographs of Marvin Morrison was initially exhibited at Art Intersection in the summer of 2013, after a year of work into the project.

When Howard Morrison (son of Marvin Morrison and patron) and I first spoke about possibilities and scope of this project, we briefly mentioned a future possibility of a “then and now” show, since so many of my photographs are taken in the same locations as his father’s were, only 30-60 years apart.

Shifting Views Postcard Merge_DeGideo copy

The “then and now” of the project has finally taken shape as the exhibition Shifting Views, open now through October 31st at The Gallery at the Gilbert Historical Museum. The entire Morrison project, and nine more of my Gilbert Arid Zone Utopia images are on view, including three images never shown before. I believe the show takes an interesting look at the changing priorities and the booming expansion of this once modest farming town. If you are in the area, pay The Gallery a visit at 10 S. Gilbert Rd. Gilbert, AZ 85296.

Shifting Views Show Statement:
On exhibit, are works made throughout different periods of time, with different intentions. The similarities lie in that they were photographed in many of the same locations, 30 – 60 years apart from each other and both edited and printed by the same artist.

When I shot the landscape project Arid Zone Utopia, I was exploring and documenting many suburban neighborhoods throughout the state, but the Morrison Ranch and Agritopia areas were where I was most intrigued to photograph. At the time, being a self-admitted “desert rat”, I did not understand what these landscapes were in my desert world.

After having the fantastic opportunity to work with the Morrison family, sifting carefully through hundreds of images shot by Marvin Morrison, and listening to many family stories, I began to finally connect with the awkwardly beautiful place I had been investigating with my camera for so many years.

The result has been an unintentional collaboration between myself and the late Marvin Morrison, reflecting the changes this land has been through, and glimpse into the past and present.

– Gina DeGideo

The American Southwest at 75mph

7/25/14
I finally was afforded the one-way opportunity to be a passenger, instead of a driver, on our most recent road trip from Arizona to California. I am a natural observer of the land and I love to look! It has always interested me how while passing through the world at such a high rate of speed your eye creates a visual pattern of objects in your view. You know this to be true if you’ve ever driven by a cornfield in a car. When passing through the desert, my gaze is always focused on the far-away mountains and the curious things I can see in the distance. On the trip I found myself photographing with my cell phone. What was revealed were the patterns, shapes, colors, and alien objects that exist in the middle of nowhere. Looking at all of the images together worked even better to affirm the idea of a deconstructed view and an abstracted landscape.

SW LAndscape at 75mph WEB

 

A History of Fresh Food in the Desert

2/1/14

Kenneth and Cattle by Gina DeGideo, with photograph by Marvin Morrison

Kenneth and Cattle by Gina DeGideo, with photograph by Marvin Morrison

I am happy to be showing a portion of my work from the series Revisiting the Photographs of Marvin Morrison at Modified Arts in Phoenix, AZ. The exhibition, curated by Kimber Lanning, focuses on the history and evolution of growing food in the desolate landscape we live in. The exhibition, open now through February 15th, 2014, also features work from Heather Gill and from the extensive collection of Jeremy Rowe. Join us for the closing reception on Friday, February 7th during First Fridays!

Save the Date… for ART!!!

2/25/12

You’re invited and I hope you can make it to the opening reception on

Tuesday, March 6th from 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Gallery 100 in Tempe, AZ

I have definitely been slacking on the blogging lately, but never fear all, I still have a big mouth and a lot to say and explore! The reason is because of my upcoming show CLICK!!! My BFA in Photography show is happening next week. I’m a little stressed, but definitely excited about the culmination of my work for the past year. This project centers around my Utopian Landscape project and I am excited to finally share some of it with the world. The group show will feature a variety of photography and video projects and will not disappoint… see you there!

Gold in the Desert

1/6/12
Update on Leave Nothing, Take Only Gold Hearts

My environmental-ish Gold Hearts project was launched a couple of months ago and although I did not get as much of a response as I had anticipated, it was a great experience and helped me to understand the nature of my target audience now. I learned that the expectation of the viewer is instant gratification; that I must relay the message in seconds, not minutes. Also, I may have underestimated the nature of hikers in the desert to NOT take something found. The old saying does say take ONLY PICTURES, leave nothing behind.

I am thankful to those who did participate. Thanks for making my day and look out for other artistic ambushes in the future!

Live at Biodome… Say Whaa?

11/10/11
Last semester my professor Betsy Schneider informed us we would be taking a trip to Biosphere 2 in Oracle, AZ. This place is not too far from home for me and I have often driven past the junction to the dome on the way to Tucson, but I never thought to visit. We were going to speak with Judy Natal who was a working artist in residency at the Biosphere 2.

Although it was not at all what I had expected, the trip was great! For those of you who don’t know (or didn’t watch ridiculous 90’s movies) Biosphere 2 was an experiment performed to see if humans could sustain life on another planet inside a dome like the one built, by maintaining their own livestock and growing their own food. The project was somewhat of an epic fail, but what remains in this space is the ability to understand other ecosystems at work and an amazing muse for contemplation of future life. The interaction between man-made sterility and overtaking nature is breathtaking. I couldn’t help but to photograph a little myself via camera phone.

We visited with Judy in her home/studio nestled across from the Catalina Mountains and on the pathway to the huge biosphere. She explained how living onsite fostered the growth in her photographic project Future Perfect. She was the creator of this residency which continues on, and explained the process of how we as artists could live where they wanted to work. You have 24/7 access to your inspiration and community interaction you otherwise wouldn’t get.

I would enjoy a residency at Biosphere 2 in the future because it appeals to my interests in land use and the desert. The spiritual connection you can find alone mountain-top has always been my favorite; now to imagine living this way for weeks or months sounds like an amazing opportunity for artistic exploration. I also love the fact that it is only about an hour drive from my home, so I will not miss out on my family, which is a big consideration for an artist with young children. If I were to live here I would love to hike daily to the surrounding unpopulated areas to work. Having a home base already atop a mountain would make view camera shooting so much more feasible in the desert. I am excited to look into this residency as a future stepping stone to creating.

Judy Natal finished her project which just went on display in her hometown, Chicago. You can see more of her work from this series Future Perfect at JudyNatal.com.

             

Leave Nothing, Take Only Gold Hearts

IF YOU’VE FOUND MY LOVE YOUR ENVIRONMENT HEART IN THE DESERT

YOU WON!!!

– Just upload/or link me a photo of you with the heart through my blog post and I will send you a signed original piece of artwork!

– I will make you the 8×10” black and white silver gelatin signed photograph (unframed) of your choice from my collection.

– Multiple hearts at these locations:

OTHER VISITORS CAN WIN TOO!

– Subscribe to my blog before October 5th nd I will donate $2 on your behalf to the Arizona State Parks Conservation fund (up to   $1000).

This experience is for the other observers of the land, like me, to be rewarded and it serves as a reminder to enjoy and embrace what we have in our wonderful desert landscape. Thank you in advance to all participants! I will keep the blog updated as to the results. Good luck & happy hunting!!!

Utopia

Hundreds of thousands of gallons of water spray across empty, but perfectly manicured lawns in the desert each day. Sprinkler heads pop up from their hiding spots to create lush green grass in this arid landscape. Natural desert is torn away so agave plants, tan rock, and mesquite trees can be arranged for a more appropriate desert landscape. We relocate 100 year old cacti from their native homes to be propped up on the sides of freeways.

Does anyone ever stop and think this is odd? Why is this happening? I can understand aesthetically appealing, but is it to such an extent that we need to manufacture or re-create an entire ecosystem for our visual pleasure? Not only are the man-power and resources needed to maintain such an illusion mind-boggling to me, but in some cases these severely altered terrains have left this Arizona native feeling like I just stepped into the Twilight Zone.

While traveling around, I have come across many disturbing housing/business/recreational areas that I feel are so far out of the realm of desert life that I’ve decided to highlight them in my upcoming photographic series… Utopia.