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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Photographer Diane Bush speaks about her show at Brett Wesley Gallery...

(Photo provided by Diane Bush
All rights reserved)
I have had the pleasure of knowing Diane for more than 10 years but I never truly understood the scope of her photography until I saw her exhibition at Brett Wesley Gallery a few weeks ago. Her work instantly reminded me of the recent discovery by Chicago based photographer John Maloof of the works of the late photographer Vivian Maier. Though unlike Vivian, Diane is alive and well, I was shocked that I had not seen her amazing collection before. I thought to myself instantly why has she been holding out?

Many of us are used to seeing her recent body of contemporary work such as Warheads and Imbleachmentwhich is quite a departure from her early years, but nothing prepares you for these breathtaking images.  Studying Diane's work from England in the 1970's is looking back at an important moment in world history. Diane captures the very essence of what was happening during this most pivotal time. As a curator myself, who works day and night with black and white photography, I look upon Diane's work as truly amazing and one that left me wondering what other gems she is hiding from us.

Life & Times with works by local photographers Diane Bush and Curtis Walker runs through February 26th in the main gallery with an artist talk on March 9th and 6pm. If you did not get a chance to see the exhibition over the last few weeks I would highly recommend you get down to the gallery and muse with what is a remarkable show.

Local photographer and artist Diane Bush talks about her exhibited works and time in London during the 1970's...

These photographs were taken in the 1970’s in the U.K., while I was in my 20’s. At this time in photographic history, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Ansel Adams were the 2 big names in museum and gallery circles, as well as those who paved the way much earlier such as Steichen, Lewis Hine, Brady, Jacob Riis, Dorothy Lang, Bernice Abbott, etc.

Perhaps influenced by the famous 1950’s major exhibition and book “The Family of Man” , the phrase “Concerned Photographer” became part of the vernacular. These photographers wanted to use their skills and talents to make the world a better place, and that was also the mission of EXIT, Britain’s first photographic collective. I was one of the group’s first members. The brainchild of photographer, Paul Trevor, EXIT’s first project was a documentary project about a dock area of London that was doomed to be gentrified, but first they had to remove the working class laborers and their families that lived there. The project was called Down Wapping, and was published in book form, and exhibited at the Photographers’ Gallery in London, still the most important gallery for Photography in London. This project also forced me to turn my camera from architectural details to people. The next six years was dedicated to this genre. This show contains 11 from the 45-60 images edited down from thousands, taken over that time.

EXIT always had from 3-5 photographers, one of which, Chris Steel –Perkins later became a member of Magnum the famous international photographer-run photo agency. After the group was awarded a major grant to document poverty across the UK, the work was published in book form(Survival Programs). It also was the last project the group worked on, and EXIT later disbanded. It did however, lay the groundwork for other groups. One of the group’s trademarks was that individual photographers were not credited for each photo. Photograph captions had the name of the subject and place, but not which member of the collective took the shot. All ownership was shared.

Originally, members of EXIT worked in pairs. I resigned from the group when members were required to work alone in dangerous gang-ridden slums across the UK. I worked on subsequent projects with other women photographers: “Women by Women” and “Men by Women”. These exhibitions were exhibited in London at the Half Moon Gallery, a major non-profit exhibition area, known for socially progressive exhibitions.

If you look at work by major documentary and street photographers of the era, many of them use what was a popular method of presentation. This is the printing of the clear area around the negative, producing a black line around the image. This proves to the viewer that the photographer cropped and composed in camera, without any cropping or re-composing after the fact. The challenge to get it right, in camera, was to prove one’s talent at having a quick eye and keen sense of composition, all at the same instant. Joseph Kouldela, Bill Owens, Mary Ellen Mark, are just a few photographers who worked this way, and so did EXIT. 

The last black and white documentary project I engaged in was called MAIN STREET, which was shot in Buffalo, N.Y. from 1979- 1981, as my M.F.A. Thesis. It was later turned into a video, ala Ken Burn’s, by the local PBS-TV affiliate, and is still used occasionally as a 5 minute filler between programming.

For more information about Diane Bush please visit her site - http://www.dianebush.net/index.html

Mop in Manchester
(Photo provided by Diane Bush
All rights reserved)

Bird Cage
(Photo by Diane Bush
all right reserved)

Briefcase Man
(Photo provided by Diane Bush
all rights reserved)

Gym, Manchester
(Photo provided by Diane Bush
All rights reserved)

Nevada Public Radio
For more information on the Cultural Arts in Las Vegas please visit Nevada Public Radio. NPR has detailed listings of many cultural and civic events hosted by area non-profits click on this link http://www.knpr.org/common/psa/listNEW.cfm and if you are planning an event in the next few months, be sure to get your free listing in Nevada Public Radio's Desert Companion magazine by submitting the information here at http://www.knpr.org/culture/eventaddnew.cfm
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Brian Paco Alvarez enculturating Las Vegas into the millennium...

posted by Brian Paco Alvarez, Curator and Chronicler of Culture at


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