Thursday, February 11, 2010

New Southern Photography: Michael Meads

Cockfighter's Son, 1992
Ogden Museum of Southern Art

Michael Meads is a painter, photographer and teacher born in Eastaboga, Alabama in 1966. Originally intended as studies for his paintings and drawings, Meads’ photographs document his friends and acquaintances. As a result, they enable the viewer an intimate look at his immediate world, and document his community with a clear sense of place and time.

Raised in the heart of the Bible Belt, Meads was drawn to the difference and decadence of New Orleans since, as a boy, he first heard a Baptist minister warn of its wickedness from a radio broadcast. In 1998, he made New Orleans his home. The floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of his work in 2005, and now Meads divides his time between New Orleans and his studio in the arid landscape of rural New Mexico.

This photograph is a vintage cibachrome print from the Eastaboga series. Twenty-two works from this series are featured in the current exhibition of recent acquisitions, New Southern Photography. They represent a sampling of a much larger body of Meads’ photographic work given to the Ogden Museum through two donors, J. Michael Parish and Charles Canada. Charles Canada has also donated drawings and paintings from every period of Meads' career.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Artist's Studio: Thornton Dial, Sr.

In March of 2007, the Ogden Museum opened Ogun Meets Vulcan: Iron Sculptors of Alabama in H. H. Richardson's Patrick F. Taylor Library. The exhibition was realized through a successful partnership with Georgia's Tinwood Alliance, and featured the work of Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, Joe Minter, Ronald Lockett and Charlie Lucas.

Prior to the exhibition, Tinwood's founder and curator, Bill Arnett, took Rick Gruber and David Houston to several of the artists' studios, including Thornton Dial. Born in 1928, Dial did not start making art in earnest until after his retirement from a career welding for the Pullman Rail Company. Since then, his work has moved beyond the realm of the "visionary" and "outsider" labels. His three dimensional work pushes the boundaries of painting and sculpture, placing him firmly in the dialogue of contemporary fine art. As Dial says, "Art ain't about paint. It ain't about canvas. It's about ideas. I have found how to get my ideas out and I won't stop. I got ten thousand left."

These shots were taken by David Houston with a Leica M5 at Thornton's home, outside of Birmingham, Alabama in the spring of 2007.

Bill Arnett, Rick Gruber and Thornton Dial's brother.