Ten years ago, Exposure: Calgary Banff Canmore Photography involved six or seven galleries and a handful of artists.
Now, the annual celebration of all things photographic has spread its wings into every imaginable space: big and small galleries, museums, coffee shops, a brewery, bookstores, pastry shops and even two private homes.
“I think it’s building an audience, like anything,” says Wes Lafortune, festival manager. “People know it’s coming now every February, including the galleries. There’s all kinds of different exhibition spaces happening. The photographic community here has definitely latched onto Exposure and is providing a lot of support.”
The festival will celebrate its milestone 10th year with Decade at Christine Klassen Gallery, which opens Feb. 6 and will act as the grand opening for the festival. It takes samples of work from artists who have exhibited since Exposure began in 2004. Photography from local artists such as George Webber and Dianne Bos will sit alongside that of Edward Burtynsky and Fred Herzog among others. But it will no nostalgia trip. The majority of work in Decade will be new.
It’s just one show in dozens that will be up and running throughout the month of February. And, as in years past, the photography will run the gamut in style and subject: from beautiful landscapes, to puzzling abstractions, to mixed medium art, to stunning black-and-white portraits. There’s even a series of photography-related films, including a screening of the intriguing documentary Finding Vivian Maier. More than 70 artists will be contributing to shows in 50 venues in Calgary, Banff and Canmore.
There will be some high-profile guests as well. Rocker Bryan Adams, a longtime photographer, will be showcasing his work at the Glenbow Museum starting Feb. 23. Bryan Adams: Exposed will include portraits he has done of his friends from the entertainment industry and those of British soldiers injured in war. He is expected to be at the Glenbow fundraising event, Schmancy, on Feb. 22.
Author and photographer Wade Davis, an explorer-in-residence for the National Geographic Society who is probably best known for his 1985 book The Serpent and the Rainbow, will present an evening of photography taken in remote parts of the world at Canmore Collegiate High School on Feb. 15.
Visuals editor at Washington Post and one-time director of photography at National Geographic, David Griffin, will be speaking at the Glenbow on Feb. 15.
And, as always, there will be photographers pushing the boundaries of their art. Emily Geen’s Between Then and Now finds the artist painting on found family photographs. Edmonton photographer Alexis Marie Chute’s The Quiet Rebuild is a series of portraits of people she found through social media who are going through a period of healing after hardship or tragedy.
“Everyone has a camera phone,” says Lafortune. “There’s literally billions of images being created now. But when you take a look at the art of photography and people who create specific imagery, that almost is becoming more precious, more rare. The other thing that is happening is photography is that it’s crossing so many mediums. People are using scanners, use film and digital work, they are painting on photographs. There’s a real collision of genres happening.”
Exposure: Calgary Banff Canmore Photography runs throughout February in various venues. Visit exposurephotofestival.com