The Day After


The opening of My Baghdad at Irvine Contemporary was a grand time with a huge amount of people coming out the see the show.  Many friends and even more unknowns dropped by to see the work and to talk.

Arriving at the gallery early I had found that the folks at Irvine had done a fine job with the hanging.  With my wife Jennifer, her parents, and a long lost friend from my time in Iraq hanging out around the corner getting coffee, I had time to myself and the work to contemplate what the next few hours might bring.  Would no one show up, or would the room be filled beyond capacity?  How would the work be received?  I wondered if the work would hold attention or if those who wondered through the gallery from the street would make a fast lap around the room for free wine then split.

I am sure that if you were one of the what seemed like the hundreds that passed through the gallery you know for yourself that many people showed up to view the work.  As the night went on, the numbers just continued to climb and elbow room was at a premium.  Although I was very much happy to see the interest in the work, I hated to see that the numbers were so great as to keep people from spending much time with the images.  I also had a very hard time talking with everyone that wanted to talk, and missed even saying hello to many of my own friends that I could see across the room.  For those that I did get to talk to, the conversations were short and choppy as other questions were thrown around as the mass of people flowed around stationary clumps of people in the current.  I really wish that I could have talked with everyone who came, and in the end feel that maybe I shorted everyone that tried to talk with me. Needless to say I was overwhelmed by the number of visitors.

**Click Here for a few quick grabs by DC area artist Heather Williams**

There were number of surprises for me during the night.  Not only were the numbers of people who came a bit of a shock, but also how far some of them came from as well.  Just about everyone that I knew in the DC area came which was very cool, but there were some that put a good amount of effort into showing up.  There were friends from Kansas, the Boston area, Richmond, and Baltimore that made treks for the opening.

Before I knew it, the lights in the gallery were being dimmed, yet people were still coming in and looking around.  I suddenly realised that I had been talking for three hours and my throat was a bit sore, I was starving, and the opening was over!  In the end some work was sold, a few great stories were made, I got to reconnect with people I had not seen in a long time (up to four years), and the My Baghdad images were set free.

So now what?  Well, it is time to move on and get the next project, or projects moving!  On tap at the current moment is teaching a digital pinhole class for the Washington School of Photography at the end of January, and the continued research on what I feel is going to be my next fine art project.  I am not ready to share details of that idea just yet….I would like to get a few images made first and see how I feel then.  Right now, with this show finally off and running, I feel a bit lost.  Im sure that feeling will not last long!

2008 has started with a bang, and I thank everyone who came out for the Irvine Contemporary opening to help get  things started.  If you have not been out to see My Baghdad yet, or found the space too crowded on the 12th, the show runs for another four weeks so you have plenty of time to take it all in.

**The image in this post is a portrait of me made at closing time on opening night by Roger Cutler.  He made the image with his homemade 4×5 handheld camera **


~ by Phil Nesmith on January 14, 2008.

%d bloggers like this: