Sixth and I Historic Synagogue

September 23, 2008 2:30 pm

Of the many venues hosting exhibits for FotoWeek, the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue is certainly a unique one. In addition to traditional Jewish services, the synagogue is host to a number of lectures, concerts, classes, trivia nights and more. Washingtonian recently did an excellent overview of its reincarnation as an extremely popular music venue, noting the high-rolling acts that could fill the Verizon Center actually prefer the intimate and gorgeous decor (stained-glass windows, for one) of the space.

As their official mission, the Synagogue states:

The Sixth & I Historic Synagogue provides a Jewish presence and meeting place for the community in the center of the Nation’s capital. It offers educational and inspirational programs and activities for current and future generations, and helps preserve part of the heritage of Jewish Washington.

[caption id="attachment_75" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Joshua Cogan at Sixth and I Synagogue"]Joshua Cogan at Sixth and I Synagogue[/caption]FotoWeek is thrilled to have Sixth and I on board for the festival, for their commitment to both community and art. The Synagogue’s featured exhibit will be Soul Cages, with the stunning photography of Joshua Cogan.

Soul Cages is a collected series of portraits from recent projects that pursues the ineffable nature of culture through visual medium. Using the camera as a tool of visual ethnography, Joshua Cogan combines the richness of travel photography with the investigative roots of anthropology. The results are wonderfully rich environmental portraits ranging from indigenous groups of East Africa to HIV victims in Jamaica’s slums, to hip hop stars right here in DC.

In addition, a smaller collection of works showcasing Cogan’s ongoing coverage of the Jewish Diaspora, “Am Olam” (people of the world), will showcase recent works from India and Ethiopia and will be presented alongside Soul Cages. The “Am Olam” project aims primarily at exploring the unknown diversity of the Jewish people by examining the history, traditions and identity of old and new Diasporic communities.

Cogan uses his training in science as a filter for his lens. As a documentary photographer, his work as appeared in The Washington Post, the New Yorker, the Pulizter Center, among other publications and exhibits. Check out a sneak preview of his show over on our Flickr page.

See his images at the Sixth and I Synagogue during the festival, November 15-22. The opening reception will be held Wednesday, November 19, from 7 to 10 p.m., with hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, music.

To see the rest of the events planned so far, visit the FotoWeek DC web site.

Contest Deadline Today!

September 22, 2008 3:31 pm

We’ve reached the second deadline today for the FotoWeek DC contest. Get your images in by tonight at 11:59 p.m.; otherwise you’ll have to pay an additional $10 fee per image to submit them between tomorrow and September 29.

Read our quick summary here of why you should participate in the contest (fantastic prizes! region-wide acclaim! honors bestowed by distinguished judges!), then get over to the official site to get those images in.

Good luck!

Critical Exposure in FotoWeek

September 19, 2008 2:24 pm

We’re going to try to feature as many FotoWeek participants as we can over the next few months, to tell you not only what they’re planning, but how their mission fits in the grander scheme of FW’s purpose.

Critical Exposure is a great example of an organization that fits in with FotoWeek’s philanthropic mission to reach out to local schools. A little about the group:

Critical Exposure teaches middle and high school students how to use photography to document issues impacting their lives and use the power of their images and their voices to advocate effectively for school reform and social change. Since our founding in 2004, Critical Exposure has worked with more than 450 students in D.C. and across the country. These students have helped to secure more than $400 million to improve public school facilities, supported campaigns to address youth homelessness and teen pregnancy, and are now working to address D.C.’s dropout crisis.

Kids involved in their programs learn a creative skill that has very practical uses. Particularly in a time when D.C’s schools are being overhauled, smart kids with first-hand insight can be powerful spokespeople and illicit much needed changes in their education.

Critical Exposure’s exhibit for FotoWeek, Picture Equality: An Evening of Empowerment through Photography, has two parts. The first is a display of professional photography, like that of Joyce Tenneson (also a judge for the FotoWeek contest), which will be auctioned off. The other part of the exhibit is, of course, images taken by the students. The proceeds from the exhibit goes “to support [their] efforts to teach inner-city youth how to use the power of photography and their own voices to address issues impacting their lives.”

We talked to Co-Director Adam Levner about Critical Exposure’s involvement with FotoWeek:

FotoWeek is a great opportunity for photographers, photography lovers, and potential photography lovers to come together to celebrate the many different ways of creating and using images. For Critical Exposure, FotoWeek is a chance to increase awareness of our efforts to teach youth about the power of photography to be a catalyst for change, to create stronger ties to the photography community, and to explore new ideas and potential partnerships in order to ensure that our students and their images have the greatest possible impact on their lives and their communities.

Critical Exposure’s gallery is located at 1816 12th Street, NW, 3rd Floor, Washington, DC 20009. Read more about the organization at their web site.

FotoWeek Announces Youth Contest

September 16, 2008 12:14 am

Everyone at FotoWeek is thrilled to launch a new way for even more people to get involved with the festival — a contest for youth, in partnership with The Washington Post. Anyone in grades K through 12, throughout D.C., Maryland and Virginia, can submit their images in four categories: portraits, animals, landscape and sports.

FotoWeek Board Member Irene Owsley is heading up this effort, and told us:

We wanted kids to be involved in FotoWeek from the very beginning. Reaching out directly to the schools and their art programs through a youth photo contest seemed the best approach, and The Washington Post offered to partner with us in this effort.

In the big picture, however, FotoWeek DC is about celebrating great imagery and about this larger community we live in supporting that. In Washington DC, we have not only some very talented photographers but we have amazingly rich collections of photography to visit and to learn from. We need to expose our kids to that, and encourage them to participate. What better way than to bring them into the fold through their own forays into image-making?

I like the idea that possibly, by entering this contest, kids could begin to discern what makes a striking or successful image.

Entering is free, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any fantastic prizes. FotoWeek will choose 37 winners in all, and each one will be displayed at our festival hub in Georgetown and in the exhibition at the Post. First place winners in each age group, for each category, will take home a cool $250, while second and third place get digital cameras. An overall Best in Show prize of $1000 goes to one lucky contestant.

Even better, perhaps, is that the art departments at the schools of the first place winners will each receive a digital camera worth about $300, to keep encouraging creativity throughout the school year. As Irene says, “FotoWeek DC has a definite philanthropic bent, and it is aimed particularly at the schools. It was always in our minds to benefit the community — whether it’s by donating equipment or by other means of enrichment.”

Click over to the FotoWeek web site for the directions for entering the youth contest, and get those entries in before October 24. We’ll be looking forward to finding our future Richard Avedons and National Geographic photographers — oh, and Jay Sumner, photo editor of the National Geographic Kids magazine is one of the jurors, so she’ll most definitely be looking out for them!

FotoWeek: How did it all begin?

September 11, 2008 5:56 pm

We sat down to talk with Theo Adamstein this week about his role in putting this enormous festival together. If you’re involved in photography at all in the region, you certainly know Theo’s business, Chrome, Inc (now the founding sponsor of FotoWeek), a professional photographic imaging studio which he began in Georgetown in 1982. Five years later he used his architectural background to found Adamstein & Demetriou: Architecture & Design (with Olvia Demetriou, his wife and business partner), an award-winning firm responsible for many of D.C.’s hot spots, including Zaytina, Zola, and Poste Restaurant at Hotel Monaco. Theo has continued to be involved in the local art community, serving on local boards and, as you can see, taking an active role in creating new opportunities for artists.

The idea for FotoWeek percolated up from Theo’s experience in the architecture scene. Every year each chapter of the AIA has a gala to celebrate local designers and their work, and it occurred to Theo that our region had nothing like that for photographers. Aside from the usual gallery and museum shows and limited contests, there was nothing that brought everyone together — amateurs and professionals, photojournalists and fine artists. He called up a couple of friends, successful photographers Paul Fetters and Irene Owsley, who loved the idea and met to brainstorm.

At first, FotoWeek started as just a contest, with a capstone gala for photographers to toast to each others’ work and encourage newcomers to continue working on their skills and bringing new ideas to the table. While there are many photography festivals around the country, few have the award and recognition aspect that Theo wanted to have. Soon the idea evolved, including a corresponding festival, with venues in the region featuring whatever photography work they chose and hosting smaller events (opening receptions, panel discussions) throughout the week. As of today, FotoWeek has over 50 galleries, museums and embassies participating in the festival, thousands of entries into the contest so far (enter now!), and tens of thousands of dollars in awards to hand out during the gala at the end of the week.

Theo described four main goals of FotoWeek DC:

1) To create a real buzz about photography in the region.
2) To create a very inclusive festival, including work from all skill levels, who work in all themes.
3) Although FotoWeek is currently a regional festival, they hope to create enough excitement — and are well on their way — to become a D.C. based national or international photography festival.
4) Most importantly, cultivate a strong philanthropic mission.

As for number four, FotoWeek has already gained a significant number of sponsors for this reason. They hope to create programs that will benefit schools in the area, including collecting cameras to give to children with the intent of encouraging creative outlets. Interested sponsors should contact the FotoWeek organizers to participate.

FotoWeek DC has snowballed significantly from last year, when it was just an inkling in Theo’s mind, to the behemoth festival it’s gearing up to be today. There are even bigger projects in the works for FotoWeek (which we’ll be covering soon), that should all coalesce to make D.C. a national hub for photographers, not only during the one week in November, but continuing on into the future. Theo told us,

I am absolutely delighted to be involved in something like this, and to watch how it’s grown. It’s ten times bigger than I ever expected and it’s been a blast to work with so many volunteers passionate about photography.

FW talks to Bill Regardie about the Spirit of Washington Award

September 3, 2008 12:07 pm

Along with our many categories for Professionals, Students and Amateurs in the FotoWeek DC contest, we have one catch-all category that anyone can (and should!) enter: the Spirit of Washington, DC.

With one image, capture the spirit and essence of Washington, D.C. Find that visual expression of what makes this city, our nation’s capitol, unique among American cities, and what distinguishes its singular character.

The whopping $5,000 prize was donated by Bill Regardie, who will also be the judge for this category. In 1981 he founded Regardie’s Magazine: The Business of Washington, which was known for both its crack coverage, breaking stories on several financial scandals in the 80s, as well as its top-notch photography. Bill told us, “At Regardie’s, both the editor and art director reported to me because I believed both kinds of content were equally important.”

Bill has lived in Washington, DC his entire life, attending both undergrad and graduate school at American University. On his staff at Regardie’s, he oversaw some amazing talent. Photographers Rhoda Baer and William Coupon snapped their shutters for the magazine, while art directors such as Fred Woodward and John Korpics cut their teeth at Regardie’s before taking the reins at publications like Rolling Stone and GQ. In other words: Bill knows talent when he sees it.

We asked Bill why he chose to fund the Spirit of Washington Award for FotoWeek.

I felt that a $5,000 (winner take all) prize would make significant statement and encourage both amateurs and professionals to go for it. Further, the concept of The Spirit of Washington would hopefully capture what I feel about the city I was born in and has given me so much. I felt that a distinctively local photo competition would be appreciated by the talented (as well as the unknown amateurs) photographers, and stimulate participation by all.

We have no doubt we’ll see some incredible images in this category. Remember the final deadline is September 22, so click over to the Contest web site and get all the info you need to submit your photos that bring Washington, D.C. to life.