Saturday, January 14, 2006

"i found your photo" - Featured in Washington City Paper

"Woman with a Bucket"
Found Photography

"Confederate Re-enactors"

Found Photograph

I would like to thank Hetty for driving all the way out to Reston to see this show. Hetty, our conversation about photography is a memory I'll always treasure. I'm also deeply appreciative of the editors of Washington City Paper for the wonderful opportunity to have this important project featured in their publication. And I'd also like to thank Washington City Paper's staff photographer, Darrow Montgomery, for treking out to the wild west suburbs of Reston to shoot my photo. Darrow, I'm extremely jealous of your Leicas, man!

James W. Bailey


From the January 13, 2006 issue, page 46.
Shutter to Think
By Hetty Lipscomb

Wearing a tight skirt, a tough, light-haired girl squats in the dirt, aiming a shotgun into the distance. Is she hunting rabbits? Firing after a boyfriend who done her wrong? We’ll probably never know: The image is a small black-and-white snapshot featured in “I Found Your Photo,” an exhibition of found photos currently on view in Reston at the University of Phoenix, Northern Virginia Campus. Curated by Reston artist James W. Bailey, 44, the exhibition features some 30-plus photographs, ranging from a turn-of-the-century portrait of a young woman in a plumed hat to a color Polaroid of a cat sunning itself in a window. The show’s aim is to uphold these random discoveries as fine-art objects, worthy of viewers’ attention and speculation.

While a number of the found photographs are donations, many are drawn from Bailey’s own archive. With a dash of Southern romanticism, Bailey describes found photographs as “mythological.” “Usually there’s no written record with them,” he says. “It’s easy to look at them and construct a history. Just let your imagination run wild.” Consider the unintended pairing of two photographs in the exhibit: One shows a statue of the Madonna bound to the interior of a moving van; the other, a dark-haired bride who, with her high veil, evokes the majesty of a devotional object.

Aside from fueling viewers’ imaginations, “I Found Your Photo” serves as a social-outreach project. “I’m very much into the concept of what’s called ‘littoral art,’” says Bailey. “Trying to develop art projects that address social issues.” When the exhibition closes, the pieces will be compiled into an archival book crafted by Reston photographer and book artist Melanie De Cola. The collection will be auctioned on eBay in spring 2006, says Bailey, and the proceeds will supplement the League of Reston Artists’ photography scholarship, awarded annually to a District public-high-school senior slated to attend an accredited arts program or fine-arts college.

The installation is enough to make an archivist wince. Contemporary color photographs, as well as sepia-toned portraits, have been pressed onto sticky cardboard pages and covered with plastic, typical of photo albums available at CVS. “What we were hoping to illustrate is the temporary nature of the photographs,” argues Bailey. He considered displaying the photos in “typical fine-art fashion,” but because most of the pictures were likely once part of family photo albums, he reasons, “they ought to be displayed in an environment that was probably part of their original context.”

For all the artspeak, the decision could have come from Bailey’s heart as much as his head. “Both of my grandmothers had huge collections of family photographs,” he remembers. “As a child, what drove a strong interest in photography was just spending endless hours going through photographs and having my grandmothers telling me history and stories behind them.”

Of course, that experience is hardly unusual—but then neither are many of Bailey’s found photos. When the collection is eventually sold, he will particularly miss the picture from the ’50s or ’60s of a woman resting on the National Mall with the Washington Monument behind her. “It may just be a tourist snapshot,” he says. “Those photographs are taken a million times a day, but it just really captures for me the essence of Washington, D.C.”

—Hetty Lipscomb

Friday, December 09, 2005

Opening Reception for "i found your photo" Cancelled Due to Weather - Will Be Rescheduled For January 2006

"Girl with a Gun" - Found Photograph from the Collection of James W. Bailey.
Due to the blustery weather today and forecast for windy and icy conditions this evening, the holiday celebration scheduled for this evening is cancelled.We would like to wish everyone a happy holiday. We look forward to seeing you at the annual membership meeting on Wed. Jan 25, 7:30-9:30 at the JoAnn Rose Gallery, Reston Community Center at Lake Anne.
Mary Bronson
President - League of Reston Artists

The reception for "i found you photo" will be rescheduled for sometime in January 2006. I'll post a notice here and on my art blog, Black Cat Bone, as soon as we, the League of Reston Artists, can confirm a date with the University of Phoenix Northern Virginia Campus.
James W. Bailey

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Three Girls in New York - Found Photograph

Three Girls in New York (Found photograph purchased at a yard sale in Washington, D.C. From the collection of James W. Bailey.)

White Dress - Found Photograph

White Dress (Found photograph discovered in a library book in Little Rock, Arkansas. From the collection of James W. Bailey.)

Girl with a Gun - Found Photograph

Girl with a Gun (Found photograph purchased at a Salvation Army Thrift Store in Jackson, Mississippi. From the collection of James W. Bailey.)

Three Confederate Prisoners of War - Gettysburg 1863 - Courtesy of the National Library of Congress

"Years ago I first saw this famous photograph of three Confederate prisoners of war captured after the Battle of Gettysburg while researching my family's geneaology during the Civil War era in the state of Mississippi. Seeing this photograph inspired me toward a deep passion for discovering and understanding the meaning of found photographs. The photographer of the photograph is unknown. The names of the three soilders are unknown. More than 140 years after the photograph was taken it still resonates with the powerful mystery of a multitude of unanswered questions." - James W. Bailey

"i found your photo" - Project Philosophy

A Littoral Art Project by Experimental Mississippi Photographer James W. Bailey

My philosophy for this project is motivated by my deep belief in the concept and practices of Littoral Art. Littoral Art is concerned with using art in creative approaches and projects to address critical social problems. The artist Bruce Barber coined the expression Littoral Art.

More can be read on this philosophy here.

Basically, Littoral Artists believe that art can and should move out of the traditional institutional structure of contemporary art museums and galleries and into the real world of real concerns by real people for the purpose of positively addressing the serious issues that confront us as a society.

I want to demonstrate through this project that it is possible to develop a wide audience of people who might normally never be interested in attending or participating in an art exhibition and to involve them in a creative way to help raise money for an issue of importance: the issue of creative at-risk youth who have limited opportunities to pursue their creative dreams.

"i found your photo" - A Benefit Exhibition of Donated Found Photographs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – “i found your photo”

James W. Bailey
“i found your photo” - Curator
Force Majeure Studios
11196 Silentwood Lane
Reston, VA 20191
Cell: 504-669-8650

“i found your photo”

Exhibition Opens Monday, December 5, 2005.

Unique Art Exhibition of Found Photographs Will Raise Money to Fund a Photography Scholarship for an At-Risk High School Senior Aspiring Photographer From the Washington, D.C. Area to Attend Art School

(Reston, Va.) Have you ever walked through a flea-market and seen one of those beat-up, badly abused and long-neglected family photo albums with yellowed cellophane pages filled with old photographs spilling out of it and wondered about who that album originally belonged to and what the lives of all the people pictured inside it were about?

Experimental photographer, James W. Bailey, a native of Mississippi who currently resides in Reston, Virginia, has long been fascinated with found photographs and believes that these missing photographic objects rise to the level of fine art. In December of 2005 and January of 2006, Bailey will present a unique curated art exhibition in Reston featuring a donated collection of these lost photographic treasures titled, “i found your photo”.

According to Bailey, this exhibition will feature donated found photographs submitted from across the country by both artists and non artists who have discovered or found a photograph somewhere that interests them: “Earlier this year a national call for submission was issued asking people to donate one found photograph to the exhibition. Donors of the found photographs were also asked to include an index card with their submission that offers a personal statement about where the photograph they submitted was found and what meaning it holds for them.”

According to Bailey, after the exhibition closes at the end of January 2006, the original found photographs, index cards and other curatorial items from the exhibition will be collected and placed into a one-of-a-kind handmade photography book. This book will be designed by the photographer and handmade photography book artist, Melanie De Cola, of Reston, Virginia.

To complete the project, the book will be auctioned on Ebay in early 2006. The proceeds of the auction will be used to fund a photography scholarship through the League of Reston Artists, a not for profit 501(c) 3 artist collective based in Reston, for an at-risk high school senior aspiring photographer from the Washington, D.C. area to attend an accredited fine arts college of art school.

Bailey explains his source of inspiration for this exhibition: “My philosophy for this project is motivated by my deep belief in the concept and practices of Littoral Art. Littoral Art is concerned with using art in creative approaches and projects to address critical social problems.

Basically, Littoral Artists believe that art can and should move out of the traditional institutional structure of contemporary art museums and galleries and into the real world of real concerns by real people for the purpose of positively addressing the serious issues that confront us as a society.

I want to demonstrate through this project that it is possible to involve a wide audience of people who might normally never be interested in attending or participating in an art exhibition and to engage them in a creative way to help raise money for an issue of importance: the issue of creative at-risk youth who have limited opportunities to pursue their creative dreams.”

Bailey says that found photographs are compelling to both the finder and the viewer because they beg questions of deep personal interest in unmasking the identity and meaning of the photograph and how that identity and meaning relates to the identity and understanding of the finder of the photograph, as well as that of the viewer.

“Found photographs generate an endless loop of probing questions that all come back to the missing identity and mystery of the photograph in question: Who took the photograph? Where was it taken? Who is in the photograph? Who did the photograph belong to? When was it lost? Where was it lost? Why was it lost? Who found it? Where was it found? Why did the finder keep it after they found it? What does the photograph mean to the finder? What does it mean to the viewer? What does the viewer think about the finder of the photograph? What does the viewer think about himself or herself when looking at the photograph? Is somebody out there still looking for their photo?”

Bailey also believes that found photographs challenge the viewer to confront fundamental concepts of fine art photography because these photographs were never intended to be the product of a specific art process; nor were they intended to be placed into the public arena of an art gallery.

“Because we don’t know who is pictured in a found photograph, or who took the photograph, we are forced to confront our biases and prejudices about the imagery of other people.

Since we don’t have the comfortably reassuring cultural compass of a known and recognized photographer to rely upon to help direct us toward a meaning or interpretation, as with a traditional photograph, we must reach outside the familiarity of the defined fine art experience and tap the uncomfortable boundaries of our prejudices, stereotypes and misconceptions about other people in order to orient ourselves to the culturally and artistically disconnected imagery we see in a found photograph.”

WHO: The League of Reston Artists and James W. Bailey.

WHAT: The League of Reston Artists presents, "i found your photo", a benefit art exhibition of found photographs curated by experimental photographer, James W. Bailey.

WHEN: The “i found your photo” exhibition will run from December 5, 2005, to January 27, 2006, at the University of Phoenix Northern Virginia Campus in Reston, Virginia. An opening reception will take place on Friday, December 9, from 6:00 - 9:00 pm. For more information about “i found your photo”, see the project web site.

WHERE: The exhibition "i found your photo" is located on the 2nd floor of the University of Phoenix Northern Virginia Campus at 11710 Plaza America Drive, Reston, Virginia 20190. For directions, please see the League of Reston Artists web site.

"Phones" by Melanie De Cola.

About The Photographer And Handmade Photography Book Artist - Melanie De Cola

"John's Grill" by Melanie De Cola.

Melanie De Cola is an artist currently living in Reston, Virginia. She has a BA in art from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She also attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She has years of experience with black and white, color and digital photography. She experiments with her photographs using alternative processes and image transfers. Some of her photographs have been turned into lithographs using photolithographic plates as well as handmade books. Urban architecture and culture have been her main photographic focus in the past few years. The layering and intimate street scenes of America's cities provide the inspiration for many of her works. She is very aware of the narratives that can be built through photographs and the impressions they can leave. She has also sustained an interest in the mystery of found photography and what it says about the craft of photography and our society. She enjoys exploring the questions that found photography raises. More of her work can be viewed on her site

"Neon Night Lounge" - Found Photograph Interpreted Through "Rough Edge Photography" - A Collaboration With An Unknown Photographer

"Neon Night Lounge" by Anonymous and James W. Bailey - Found Photograph Interpreted Through "Rough Edge Photography".

"I discovered the original found photograph of this lounge located in Metairie, Louisiana (a suburb of New Orleans) inside a box of books that was being sold at a thrift store in New Orleans. The original image was a 4" x 6" black and white photograph. I subjected the found photograph to fire and scratched the surface with a knife. The original found photograph is transformed through my 'Rough Edge Photography' process to become a collaborative work of art between me and the unknown photographer of the original image. Although we do not know each other, and will probably never meet, we have jointly experienced a moment together in the creation of this mysterious image of a beat lounge on the edge of the night." - James W. Bailey

About The League of Reston Artists (LRA)

"I joined the League of Reston Artists in early 2002. This organization provided the support for me to go public with exhibiting my experimental 'Rough Edge Photography'. In early 2004, I was invited to serve on the Board of Directors of the League of Reston Artists. I am profoundly honored to be a part of this important visual arts organization. Exhibiting my photography to national and international acclaim and recognition has been a dream come true for me. I will be forever grateful to the LRA for helping me to have the confidence to share my more challenging work with a wider audience. I hope the the money raised though the auction of the photography book, 'i found your photo', will help another photographer realize their dreams as well." - James W. Bailey

The League of Reston Artists (LRA)

The League of Reston Artists (LRA) is an all volunteer not for profit 501(c)(3) organization established in 1973 that is open to metro Washington, D.C. area artists, photographers and individuals who are interested in the visual arts. The LRA strives to generate community enthusiasm and appreciation of the visual arts through regularly sponsored juried and judged exhibitions. The LRA supports the Reston Community by sharing the varied talents of its membership through rotating exhibits in many local public and private buildings and offices. The LRA is dedicated to providing its 300+ members with opportunities for personal growth through meetings with guest speakers, demonstrations and critiques. The LRA also sponsors the Reston Photographic Society (RPS), a special interest society dedicated to promoting exhibit opportunities, as well as photographic based educational seminars and workshops, for photographer members of the LRA.

In addition, the LRA sponsors an annual scholarship program for local high school students in their senior year who demonstrate emerging talent and interest in pursuing collegiate art studies. In 2004, the LRA sponsored 10 exhibitions in 5 venues that featured more than 400 artists and more than 600 works of visual art. The LRA’s major supporting exhibition venues are: The Jo Ann Rose Gallery in the Reston Community Center at Lake Anne Plaza, The National Center Gallery of the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Phoenix Northern Virginia Campus, and Walker and Company, all located in Reston, Virginia. For more information about the League of Reston Artists, please see our web site or email us.