Fotoseptiembre Pic(k)s: 5 shows not to miss at this year’s fest

These are the dog days, you guys. The post-Spurs, pre-football, 90 degrees at 10 p.m., sweat-stained, mosquito-bitten, grouchy summer doldrums. I think San Antonians experience a kind of seasonal affective disorder at this time of year comparable to that suffered by Minnesotans in March; one of these days, it won’t be unpleasant and plain dangerous to stand outside, but that day is still two months away. If we’re lucky.

Meanwhile, there’s Fotoseptiembre USA! Since its inception in 1995, local musician-digital artist-photographer-curator Michael Mehl has put together an estimable and growing international photo festival. From their website:

“Fotoseptiembre USA 2002 included a wide spectrum of innovative photographic work from 230 artists in 75 exhibits at 62 venues in San Antonio, Boerne, Kerrville, New Braunfels, Austin, Houston, Orlando, Maryland and New York. Exhibiting photographers came from Peru, Canada, Germany, Belgium, Iran, Mexico, India and the USA. From 2003 on, we stopped counting.”

For your edification, though, I’ll count five San Antonio-based exhibitions you shouldn’t miss. For variety, expansive scale, and bang for your buck (all events are free and open to the public), Fotoseptiembre’s hard to beat. Plus, pretty much all venues have AC. So you can show up to one or all of these shows while wearing something with sleeves, even. Chanclas OK.

1. “Havana Now/Habana Hoy”

San Antonio-based photog Eric Lane, who interestingly also acts as president of the SA chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, uses color-enhanced digital images of Havana to illustrate “my own evolution, philosophically, creatively, and politically, from the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 to my trip to Cuba in 2012.” Havana, like fall, is growing ever closer, tantalizing and still slightly out of reach; Lane’s street scenes and city portraiture will whet our appetites to experience the real thing.

On view 4-8pm, Tue-Thu (plus 1-4pm Sat, Sept 6 and Sat, Oct 4) through Oct 4, Southwest Workers Union, 1416 E Commerce, (210) 299-2666,;


2. “Seeds, Science, Sustenance and Snacks”

Denton-based artist Dornith Doherty has worked on her ongoing photographic series Archiving Eden since 2008, after the completion of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a secured seed bank on an island in a remote Arctic region of Norway which serves to prevent loss of genetically viable seeds in the event of global crisis. The photo series on display at UTSA addresses “themes regarding potatoes and the Irish diaspora, Texas plants” and, most intriguingly, “X-ray images of contemporary snack foods that relate the domestication of corn centuries ago to today’s chips, cereals, sweeteners and plastics.” Doherty is a 2012 Guggenheim Fellow, a 1994 Fulbright Fellow and University Distinguished Research Professor at the University of North Texas.

Opening reception: 6–8pm Wed, Sept 3, UTSA Art Gallery; artist lecture: 11:30am–12:30pm Thu, Sept 4, Art Building, Room 3.01.18A; on view 10am-4pm Tue-Fri, 1-4pm Sat through Oct 3; University of Texas-San Antonio, Main Campus, One UTSA Circle, (210) 458-4011,


3. “Altering Space”

Kathy Armstrong curates a promising batch of photographers at the Russell Hill Rogers Gallery at the Southwest School of Art: Matthew Albanese (New York), Kim Keever (New York), Kila & Rusharc (UK), Seokmin Ko (South Korea), Scott Martin (San Antonio), John Pfahl (Buffalo) and Barry Underwood (Cleveland). Their common task was to digitally construct, alter or recreate imaginary or re-invented landscapes, “whether through dioramas, hand-process or technology, and each photograph has a handmade component with visible evidence of that production.” Given the culture-wide preoccupation with meta-landscape, and the possibilities of digital technology, it’ll be difficult for this show not to be fascinating.

Opening reception: 6-8pm Thu, Sept 11; “The Artist and the Altered Landscape” lecture by SSA Photography Department Chair Victor Pagona: 7pm Tue, Oct 21; on view 9am-5pm Mon-Sat, 11am-4pm Sun through Nov 9; Russell Hill Rogers Gallery 1, Navarro Campus, Southwest School Of Art­­, 1201 Navarro, (210) 224-1848,



4. “Supply and Demand”

I am always excited to see new work by Sarah Sudhoff, a colossal talent whose photography beguiles and shocks with its frankness about the body and its deft social awareness. She can evoke viscera with folds of red plastic or infuse a series documenting sorority rush with a satirist’s scrutiny. In her first solo exhibition with French & Michigan Gallery, Sudhoff takes on (and gives out) breast milk; her difficult experience breastfeeding her son prompted her to turn her focus toward the commodification and medicalization of this most natural of womanly experiences.

Request an invitation to the private opening reception and artist performance by emailing [email protected]; on view by appointment through Oct 11; French & Michigan Gallery, (210) 378-0961,


5. “Mixing It Up”

Curated by Deborah Keller-Rihn and Melanie Rush Davis, “Mixing It Up” is a one-stop crash-course in some of San Antonio’s most innovative artists, who experiment in this show with mixed media and photographic images. Given the crazy roster of artists involved, which includes Katie Pell, Juan Miguel Ramos, Kemp Davis, Trish Simonite, Ramin Samandari, Mario Garza, Wesley Harvey, Carra Garza and the curators themselves, this could be anything. Worst-case scenario: The viewer learns a little something about a whole lot of artists at once.

Opening reception: 11am-1pm Thu, Sept 18; on view 7am-9:30pm Mon-Sat through Oct 18; Palmetto Center For the Arts, Northwest Vista College, 3535 N Ellison, (210) 486-4000,