What can you tell about a person by looking at what he or she collects? All of us have peeked at a friend’s bookshelf or a neighbor’s music collection to see what they reveal about its owners. This exhibition of more than thirty photographs – ranging in date from 1865 to 2007 – not only celebrates collectors of fine photographs but offers a rare opportunity to see selections from these collections installed together, giving visitors a chance to find the stories they tell about the life and times of the people who created them.
Meet the collectors:
A dynamic woman of many interests and talents, Jane Reese Williams began to make and collect photographs in the 1970s. Attracted to British photographer Francis Frith’s photographs of Egypt and the Middle East, she purchased some of his work and decided to travel to and photograph the same sites. Williams was also passionate about women’s rights and devoted much of her energy as a collector to acquiring single, representative examples of work by female photographers. The group ranges from nineteenth-century pioneer Julia Margaret Cameron; to early twentieth-century photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White; to contemporary Southwestern artist Judith Golden. In 1996, Williams donated more than 80 photographs to the museum (including examples of her own work), as well as a purchase fund for expanding the collection. This extraordinary gift was amplified by her friends, many of whom donated additional pictures and funds to support the museum’s ongoing commitment to women photographers.
Gerald G. Stiebel and Penelope Hunter-Stiebel’s collection of 50 photographs is presently on loan to the museum for study. The couple – a fourth-generation art dealer and his wife, a curator and historian of European art -- began their collection while living in New York City and purchased many of the prints from the Witkin Gallery, which opened in 1969 and attracted many new collectors to the medium. Many of the pictures in their collection were made in Europe and America between the late 1920s and mid-1940s and this selection from their holdings includes prints by masters of the medium -- Berenice Abbott, Margaret Bourke-White, Frederick Evans, Heinrich Kühn, and others.
As one of the founding faculty members in the art department at the University of New Mexico, the photographer Wayne R. Lazorik knew or taught many of the artists who are central to the museum’s permanent collection. In addition to a fine selection of Lazorik’s own photographs, the museum has his own collection of work by friends, colleagues, and students, donated by the artist in 1996. This holding of 97 works provides a vivid picture of the photography scene in New Mexico during the 1970s and 1980s. The exhibition includes photographs by James Alinder, Kenneth Baird, Kathleen Campbell, Barbara De Genevieve, and Daniel Peebles, among others.
An inventive artist who has consistently pushed the boundaries of photography, Joyce Neimanas has also been influential as a teacher, primarily at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and more recently at the University of New Mexico. At the forefront in adopting digital photography, she is also known for addressing women’s issues in her work, particularly sexuality and aging. This rich and varied career is represented at the museum in one of the foremost collections of Neimanas’ prints, ranging in date from 1976 to 2009. Illuminating that body of work is a selection from her personal collection of prints, photographs, sculpture, and mixed-media pieces by family, friends, colleagues, and students, which she donated in 2010-2012. These works reflect the artist’s appetite for adventurous work and unusual materials as well as offering a glimpse of her interconnections with a broad community of artists including Patty Carroll, Carl Chiarenza, Andrew Crooks, Robert Heinecken, and Floris Neusüss, among others. Two additional pieces from this collection are on view in the adjacent exhibition,Collecting is Is Curiosity/Inquiry.