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Griffin Museum Hosts 8th Annual Focus Awards

by Kay Bourne
Contributor
Friday Oct 25, 2013
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Subway cars, glossy and hard as the Lone Ranger’s magical bullet, glow as passengers rush to get aboard or to settle in for a high-speed trip. On the gallery walls at Winchester’s Griffin Museum of Photography, Adam Magyar’s configured images magnetize the viewer, riveting the eye and triggering the imagination.

That show, "Kontinuum," along with two others, "The Burn: Photographs by Jane Fulton" and Diane Meyer’s "Time Spent That Might Otherwise Be Forgotten" hang at the Winchester museum through Dec. 8.

Last weekend, however, the Griffin, which has been exhibiting top of the line photographers in its four galleries since 1992, swung its klieg lights elsewhere.

At its 8th annual Griffin Museum Focus Awards the illumination was instead of those individuals who make it possible for photographers to purvey their work, have a great exhibit or get a grant, maybe, or take photography into the future. World renown, Boston based photographer Lou Jones emceed the prestigious affair.

The first so honored was a local star, Phillip Prodger, an art historian, writer, curator, and head of the photography department at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem. The New England Beacon Award was presented to him by arts reporter and critic Jared Bowen of WGBH TV and radio, who complimented Prodger’s curatorial strength in particular for striking a balance between educating you on the photographer and supporting the aesthetic values in the photographer’s work.

The Boston Public Library, fondly known as the BPL, won the Commonwealth Award for upping its aim to give prominence to the local photographic scene through the Digital Projects. These dedicated librarians archive in such a way as to put photos (and other materials) into a statewide digital library system.

An emerging force in the world of photography is Somerville resident Shane Lavalette, who took home the Rising Star Award. He produces handcrafted books and is the publisher and editor of "Lay Flat," a periodical devoted to contemporary photography. Of interest as well, he oversees awarding grants in his work as the director of Light Work in Syracuse, New York, which annually invites 12 and 15 artists to come to Syracuse to devote one month to a creative project. Thus far, some 360 artists have participated, any of them going on to achieve international fame. The residency includes a $5000 stipend, a furnished art apartment, 24-hour access to state-of-the-art facilities, and generous staff support.

The Lens Blog New York Times, which got the Spotlight Award, advances photojournalism in an age where many news outlets are cutting back on the use of street photographers. It’s a site you may well want to visit daily (Emcee Jones said he gets a frisson of excitement when he heads for the on-line site in anticipation of its offerings of photojournalism from the world’s trouble spots).

The Lifetime Achievement Award went to an advisor to artists and arts organizations who ups the reach and impact of those services, a saleswoman so to speak par excellence who betters the financial picture for photographers. Mary Virginia Swanson, affectionately nick named Swanny, helps make photography "go" as a career.

Founder of the Griffin Museum, Arthur Griffin, "Boston Globe," "Life Magazine" and "Time Magazine" street photographer, was surely saying "cheese" as these outstanding individuals came to the podium to be recognized for serving the world of photography so well.

The Griffin Museum is located at 67 Shore Road, Winchester MA. For more information about current exhibits or the Spirit Awards, visit the Griffin Museum website.

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