Who: New East Gallery
What: Call for Entries: Photo/Film capturing life in East Austin
Where: New East Arts Gallery
1601 East 5th Street; Suite 106
Austin, Texas 78702
Saturday, August 18th at 7:00 pm
Screening at 8:30 New East Arts Gallery
In 1989, Harold McMillan founded the Austin Blues Family Tree Project as a vehicle for recording oral histories and performances of Austin musicians and their connection to the culture of pre-integration-era East Austin. Although the apparent focus of the Project is the music community, the underlying effort addresses the large-scale sparsity of collected, archival materials that document the personal lives, neighborhoods, and institutions found east of IH35. To date, the Blues Family Tree Archive contains over 100 hours of oral history and performance audio/video tapes and hundreds of still images on film.
The mission of Facing East is to continue our work documenting this culture-rich community with new images reflecting diverse views of rapidly changing—or unchanged— aspects of Central East Austin, seen through the eyes of various artists, all captured on August 6-8, 2010.
The series “reflections”, took advantage of a unique mirror which to view the East Side environs. Due to the impressive rains preceding and during this shoot, there were many puddles to seek out (or avoid). They provided a rare prospective as these temporary ponds reflected the sights of East Cesar Chavez.
The series “Selling Hats”, is a peek at the ubiquitous informal economy in the East Side. Whether it’s a taco truck on the side of the road, or a man selling hats at 11pm out of a convenience store parking lot, these informal entrepreneurs give East Austin and authentic flavor.
I have been an amateur photographer for the past decade. Most of that time, I have lived in Austin and have honed my technical and artistic skills in the city. There’s nothing like a good excuse to go on a hunt for fleeting beauty and unexpected interactions and this East Side project provided a subject with ample opportunities.
I photograph subjects that pique the interest of my eye as viewed through the confines of a viewfinder. I capture light interacting with a subject and I look for patterns, symmetry and angles when composing an image. I photograph to share with the world how I view life. I capture images that people might be able to see in person during their lifetimes or images that might be overlooked. Educated as a geologist, it was this field of study that allowed my photographic talents to emerge. Photographing landscapes came naturally as a result of participating numerous geology field trips while attending the University of Texas at El Paso.
I didn’t really know much about the culture “on the other side of I35”, but that series is so important as a source of cultural preservation. I began to walk around this area for three days, really trying to get a feel for what needed to be documented, and to find out why this project came about. I found that the culture here is full of Hispanic as well as African American Foundations that have been labeled as a place of crime and unsafe territory. This area has been plagued with crime and violence in some parts, but it is also full of rich culture that is about to disappear with the renovations. People are buying up the cheap houses to gut, rebuild or tear down completely. The downtown convenience of this area has real estate buffs seeing only dollar signs.
There is always going to be renovations to pave new roads for the future, but it is very important tat we honor each other’s cultures. This is my interpretation of what cannot be replaced or renovated.
While photographing East Austin, I ran across this creek with flowing waters from all of the recent rain we have been having. The movement of the water reminded me how fast life can pass by and how things are constantly changing. Capturing still shots of East Austin suddenly changed from just taking hold of that moment to clutching something that may not be there in a few years or even mere months. People grow and move off, business open and close. Everything in life is in constant movement, same as the flowing water.
As a native Austinite, I’ve always seen the rich culture in East Austin. Although not an intimate part of it, being raised in North Austin, I find myself drawn to the diversity and humbly proud people and neighborhoods that are East Austin. The recent development and revitalization occurring in central East Austin is a sight to behold. Initially, I met the idea with enthusiasm and excitement, and still do. My hope is that the many, many years of beautiful culture, music, and art isn’t lost in the blink of an eye, to the hands of hungry developers. Far too much would be sacrificed.
This series of photographs represents the beauty, culture, pride, and diversity – old and new – of East Austin, as seen by me.
My craving for creating something of substance and my natural desire to bring stories and moments to life with intense details, led me to photography. I look for the soul in ordinary, everyday things, people, and places. Shining a little light on the otherwise overlooked ...or just freezing a moment in time that, in a breath, might have been lost. I picked up a camera a little over a year ago and discovered my passion.
I'm a social-minded member of the new digital democracy. I use technology as a weapon of mass propaganda destruction. I am not a photographer; I capture moments of celebration and social significance in order to share a story. I am a writer, a teacher, a musician...and, in this case, a highly developed ape with an expensive piece of glass.