Shelby's Social Diary
Party atmosphere clashes with stark photographs at FotoFest opener
Although I aced photography in journalism school, I clearly failed art photography 101 at the FotoFest 2010 Biennial opening night party on Friday.
I just couldn't get into a party mood surrounded by the angst-driven, dark and brooding photography of the Whatever was Splendid exhibition that fills FotoFest headquarters for the run of the six-week festival. So, you would say, my tastes are pedestrian, uneducated and naive. So, I would say, try kicking up your heels while viewing bombed out vehicles in Iraq or a series of dreary interiors from foreclosed-upon homes or rejoicing in the image of a damaged cyclone fence or a smashed car windshield. And I won't even go into the sad, sad portraits of the New Orleans nudes.
So back we went to the VIP party tent where City Kitchen provided culinary escape from the harsh realities of Whatever was Splendid. And out to the taco trucks for escapism via earthy edible delights. Open bars throughout FotoFest's intriguing warehouse home also offered liquid relief from any unsettling images.
The party, with attendance approaching 3,000, served to officially launch FotoFest, the largest citywide celebration of photography in the country. The tariff for the massive event was absorbed by the foundations and civic institutions that support FotoFest year-round.
The prestigious festival attracts photography-world forces from across the country and around the globe. Joining the Friday night event were representatives from Le Figaro, Art in America, Magnum Photos and European Photography magazine. Also represented were the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Carnegie Museum of Art, Ransom Center in Austin, the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth and Mois de la Photo (a Montreal, Canada, festival).
Houston notables in the mix included Mayor Annise Parker, Houston Arts Alliance CEO Jonathon Glus, new University of Houston-Downtown president William Flores, Continental Airlines' Amy Shaughnessy, publicist Alton LaDay and, of course, FotoFest chairman and co-founder Fred Baldwin and Fotofest artistic director and co-founder Wendy Watriss.
At just the very right moment, as the crowd reached critical proportions the alt-country band, The Gourds, whipped into action stirring a dancy frenzy amid the artistic crowd. The party rocked.
As for my experience, I'm off and running to more FotoFest events because, with six weeks of offerings to go, even an unsophisticated photography buff like myself can find plenty that appeals.