As its 2012 Biennial creeps closer and closer, FotoFest is now offering a sneak peek of work that will be available at its renowned International Fine Art Prints Auction on March 20.
Covering two floors of the Gremillion & Company galleries in Rice Village, the preview show (which runs through March 13) concentrates on Russian photo artists as well photographers from Asia, the Americas and other portions of Europe.
Along with FotoFest founders Wendy Watriss and Fred Baldwin, photography curators Anne Tucker of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and Irina Chmyreva from the Russian Academy of Arts, led a group of more than two dozen collectors on a tour of highlights from the upcoming prints auction last Thursday.
"Fred [Baldwin] and I have been working in Russia for a long time," FotoFest co-founder Wendy Watriss said, " and we feel there is extremely good work that never makes it to the market."
"These are all handpicked prints, mostly from artists we have shown in the past or have commissioned in some way," Watriss told the crowd, noting that a number of works actually were hand-carried from Russia.
Though the Internet has allowed international cultural trends to permeate the Russian art scene, many artists of the former Soviet countries find it challenging to have their work shown outside their own country, primarily due to the high cost of travel.
"Fred and I have been working in Russia for a long time," Watriss said, "and we feel there is extremely good work that never makes it to the market.
"More than half of the work here is international and many pieces you simply never would get except through FotoFest. A number of these artists work through rather obscure galleries while others don't have galleries at all."
Revenues and proceeds from the Fine Print Auction benefit FotoFest's outreach efforts like Literacy Through Photography (LTP), a classroom-based education program for Houston-area public schools. Each year, LTP provides more than 1,000 cameras for use in a FotoFest-design curriculum aimed at improving communication skills.
In most cases, Watriss notes, the prints have been donated by the artists themselves as a gesture of support for the organization's broader commitment to photography and the photo-related arts.
The auction preview will be on display at Gremillion through March 13, when the works will be transported in preparation for the International Fine Art Prints Auction at the downtown Houston DoubleTree on March 20. Click for details.
This year's Biennial opens with a public reception March 16, 2012 at FotoFest’s Vine Street building. Visit the organization's website for more information on programming, including the 60-plus additional Biennial exhibits spaces located throughout the city this spring.