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April 2014 Print Issue

Month-long festival comes to Calgary, Banff and Canmore

thumb copyIntention. Care. Commitment.

These were some of the words George Webber, a prominent Calgary photographer, used to attribute the success and endurance of a photograph.

"This is the type of work that increases the chance of a photograph to connect with people," Webber says.

Exposure 2013, a photography festival running Feb. 1-28 in Calgary, Banff and Canmore, aims to make these connections and to celebrate the art of photography.

In a world where anyone can manipulate a photo with the click of a button — or  "add a filter via Instagram" and call the product artsy — festivals like this seek to acknowledge photographers' hard work.

A big deal

Wes Lafortune, co-ordinator for Exposure, says the festival — in its ninth year — will be the largest in its history. It includes 60 exhibitions, 12 events and new initiatives hosted in venues like galleries, museums and alternative spaces spanning across the three cities.

"This is an exhibition highlighting the practice of creating something out of passion and pure commitment to the craft," Lafortune says. "The exhibitors and artists in festivals like this usually study photography and are very much devoted to what they do."

What to expect

Webber says Exposure looks to showcase mid-career photographers that have done really interesting work.

"I'm looking forward to an exhibition by two students of mine, Maureen Hills-Urbat and Brian Wing, called 'Black Magic,'" Webber says of the Jan. 12-Feb. 28 show at Lougheed House.

"Their work is really perceptive and handsome, with fresh distinctive approaches bringing to light a mix of Gothic architecture and the Alberta Badlands," he adds.exposureAu Vieux Fanal, 2012, by Heather Saitz is just a glimpse into her exhibition called Rooms for Tourists. This will be her third solo exhibition, premiering in Calgary at Exposure and in Toronto for the Contact Photography Festival in May.

Photo courtesy of Heather Saitz

Webber says he's also excited about an exhibition by Heather Saitz, the award-winning, Calgary-based photographer and graphic designer.

"Her photography reflects a cool and iconic element. Artists at Exposure create powerful, personal, and enduring work; these qualities add value to photographs that can't be forgotten," he says.

Saitz has been involved with Exposure since 2008. This year, she was accepted in a local gallery to showcase her "Rooms for Tourists" exhibition.

"Rooms for Tourists" — running Feb. 15 to March 9 at Calgary's UAS Satellite Gallery — captures the essence of Canada's mid-century roadside motels in the present day.

Saitz travelled across five provinces through the course of two years for the project.

Saitz anticipates a bigger and better year for Exposure and says it's great to see the festival gaining momentum.

"People and places that hadn't contributed in the past are getting on board and the general participation in the community is much higher," she says.

A market for photography

Peter Duthie, chair of the board for Exposure, says more and more people are encouraging galleries to "stick their toes in the water" and see that there is an audience and market out there for photography.

Duthie, also known as the main man behind Exposure, first became involved with photography in 1983 when he owned the Folio Gallery Inc. — an active exhibition space for 12 years showcasing photography.

"It's important to have festivals like this to serve as an opportunity for people to showcase their passions and learn from one another," Duthie says. "We want Exposure to speak to something unique about the area. You could say we're starting to cross borders between photography, music and film."

And who better to feature this year at the National Music Centre than artist John Cohen, an 80-year-old photographer, filmmaker, and folk musician from New York.

The National Music Centre presents John Cohen "In Conversation: Pop Culture" Feb. 21, and John Cohen "In Concert" Feb. 22. Cohen will also be exhibiting his black-and-white portraits of iconic musicians Feb. 7-28.

Photography as an art form

Duthie suggests visiting the 2013 Vistek Emerging Photographer Showcase and the Brentwood LRT Station mural, which brings the art of photography to the city's "commercially inundated" streets.

"Photography, for the longest time, was under scrutiny and it took a while for it to be recognized as an art form," he says. "Now, for young people, it's in their blood; while previous generations really struggled with this."

Duthie says it is art because it comes down to the way people express themselves through photographs.

"Exposure is an opportunity to put photography on a platform and ask questions."

The majority of events are free of charge. For listings, dates, and times available, visit
Exposure Photography Festival.

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