Hours of Idleness-A Photographer's Journey in St. Louis

My Best of 2015

Posted in art, black and white, cruise, F-Stop Gear, family, Hawaii trip, Jason Gray, photography, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on December 13, 2015

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St. Louis Zoo zookeeper cleaning the reticulated python exhibit

What a crazy year 2015 has been! In January, I assumed a part-time role with f-stop Gear as their St. Louis Community Manager. This company designs expedition and backcountry packs for adventure photographers (landscape, action sports, nature, travel, etc.). As well, I took over curation duties at The Dark Room Photo Gallery and Wine Bar on behalf of my other employer, the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum. The first exhibit that I would mount there was James Palmour: Reclaimed, a solo show of urban interior images by the St. louis-based, architectural preservationist photographer.

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installation image of James Palmour: Reclaimed

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installation in process of St. Louis Architecture: A Proud Heritage

Also in January, I would install the last exhibition under my watch as the Director of Exhibitions at IPHF, St. Louis Architecture: A Proud Heritage. (By April, I had made the decision to leave this position with the Museum, and in May, I started a full-time role at f-stop as their Community Manager for North America.) For this last exhibit with IPHF, I also facilitated two speaking events, Invisible Buildings: Photography, Memory, and Architectural Destruction by Michael Allen and Exploring the Forgotten Corners of St. Louis by Chris Naffziger.

At The Dark Room, I further curated Sarah-Marie Land: Crime Scenes, which went up in March and was covered on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” and “Morning Edition”, and Chronicle::Ferguson, Photographs by Santiago Bianco, which debuted in June and was featured on an episode of “City Corner with Steve Potter” on STL TV. In August, a joint exhibition concept that I envisioned and curated, called Sound and Vision: An Art Tribute to Rock and Roll, opened at the Kranzberg Arts Center and The Dark Room simultaneously. This exhibit opening featured fifty-one paintings and drawings of rock icon David Bowie, by artist Mark Dethrow, a group show of concert photography by Kenny Williamson, John Paul Torno, and Abby Gillardi, an audio/video installation by Eric Hall, and live music performances throughout. Enormously popular for both venues, this exhibit concept is planned to return annually, and was reported on by several local news outlets, including a segment on St. Louis Public Radio. In November, I was invited to join the newly formed Exhibitions Committee for the Kranzberg Arts Center, alongside Juan Chavez and Stefanie Kirkland.

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installation image of Sound and Vision

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from opening of Photo Flood Saint Louis at WhiteBox Gallery

Several exciting things happened this year for Photo Flood Saint Louis. In April, we were the focus of an exhibition at WhiteBox Gallery (keeping up our once a year exhibition schedule), and in August, we unveiled our custom-built website, PhotoFloodSTL.org, which had been a yearlong effort to bring together our member forums, image galleries, events, and opportunities announcements. In November, we introduced a monthly meeting which will provide members with guest speakers, print critiques, and more.

In June, partway through the related exhibition that I curated for The Dark Room, I was asked to join the Chronicle::Ferguson team, as their Image Content and Community Manager. This non-profit book project’s mission is to present an international, first-person photo document of the public responses to August 9, 2014. Alongside, we are identifying major themes and historical precursors to be included in a teaching curriculum that will accompany the publication. Once published, the book will be distributed for free to all public secondary and post-secondary schools and libraries in the St. Louis area. Since coming on board, I have worked hard to organize a stellar Advisory Committee that represents some of the best and brightest minds focused on the civic, social, educative and business climates of the region. So far, this list includes Dr. Michael Pressimone (President, Fontbonne University), Michael Butler (Missouri State Representative), Patrick Sly (Executive Vice President, Emerson), Ellen Curlee (Independent Arts Professional/Gallerist), Vanity Gee (Director of Community Programs, Craft Alliance at Grand Center), Leon Williamson (Marketing, Radio One), and Malissa Shaw (President, Urban League Young Professionals of STL). Our Kickstarter is expected to launch in mid-January, so stay tuned!

Sadly, with all of these side projects going on, I had to conclude for now, my stint teaching photography in the continuing Education Department at St. Louis Community College. I had so much fun, and met so many great students during this time that it was truly hard to quit.

On the personal side, we took our first major vacation as a family to Hawaii last Spring, which was a definite highlight of the year. Harper experienced his first dip in the ocean on Maui (not a bad place to begin!). In September, we closed on our first house, an ode Arts and Crafts in beautiful Holly Hills.

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Harper getting his feet wet on Maui

Now for the remainder of my 23 best images of 2015:

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middle of the Pacific Ocean

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a foggy Carondelet Park Boathouse

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from Photo Flood in Ferguson

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Forest Park reflection

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from Photo Flood in Kosciusko

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from STL Mag article on George Arzt House in Soulard (under renovation)

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St. Louis Hotel, Bridgeton

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from Maurice Sendak exhibition at St. Louis Public Library

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from Photo Flood in Hamilton Heights

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from Mini-Flood at Grand Center Arts Academy

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image of author, Elsa Hart

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happy stranger at Tower Grove Farmers Market Mini-Flood

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shoppers at St. Louis Swap Meet Mini-Flood

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“Danny”, met on Photo Flood in Downtown West

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“White Knight Diner” from Photo Flood in Downtown West

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Grand Center, St. Louis

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Springfield, Illinois

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meeting of old/new hulls from Goldenrod Showboat Mini-Flood

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subterranean lake in 150 year old German lagering cellars, shoot for STL Mag article

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performer, Maui

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Circus Flora, St. Louis

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Waimoku Falls, Maui

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