From their walls to yours: PRC auction does double duty
By Brian Fitzgerald
The black-and-white photo shows a man somehow balancing on his head on the keel of an overturned boat.
“He won’t tell me how he did it,” says Terrence Morash
of the Finnish-American photographer Arno Rafael Minkkinen’s surrealist
Self-portrait, Kilberg, Vardo, Norway, 1990, on the cover of the PRC 2002
Benefit Auction catalogue.
Morash says that it is always a concern in planning such an event not to ask too much from the artists. “We’re honored that they continue to give us these great prints,” he says. Aesthetically, he adds, it’s challenging to set up an exhibition with so much material in a way that makes sense. “We have 200 works that basically have nothing to do with each other, so we’re arranging them in various groupings,” he says, pointing to what he calls the “landscape wall.” An overwhelming presence there is the 30-by-24-inch Mount McKinley Looms over Wonder Lake, 3454, 1953, taken by internationally renowned photographer, explorer, and cartographer Bradford Washburn (Hon.’96). “The tonal range is gorgeous,” says Morash, explaining that the Panopticon Gallery in Waltham, Mass., scanned the 8-by-10-inch negative and “did all the adjustments digitally that Washburn would have done in the darkroom.”
On the whimsical “fun wall” is the color Caterpillars Eating a Tomato from Catherine Chalmers’ critically acclaimed aperture monograph Food Chain, 1994-96. “It will be interesting to see how this does,” says Morash with a smile. Hopefully, patrons will be finished with their hors d’oeuvres before they examine the print up close.
Actually, the hodgepodge nature of the exhibition has been a boost for the PRC. “It’s quite well-attended and well-received,” Morash says. “Professors are using the exhibition as a teaching tool because it showcases a variety of styles and different photographers.”
The exhibition and auction features photographs from such acclaimed artists as Deborah Bright, Susan Meiselas, Abelardo Morell, Barbara Norfleet, and Olivia Parker, as well as such legendary figures as John Cohen, Thomas Eakins, and Jerry Uelsmann.
As for affordability, “there is a little bit of everything here,” says Morash, “ranging from the Abelardo Morell print Toy Blocks for $4,000 down to prints whose retail value is as little as $100.”
Serving as auctioneer will be Skinner auctioneer Stuart Whitehurst, a favorite on the PBS series The Antiques Roadshow. “You’ll be able to understand what he’s saying,” laughs Morash. “It isn’t a country auction.” By the same token, it’s not a tuxedo-only, stuffy make-the-scene occasion. “Even if you’re not buying, it can be quite an entertaining scenario,” he says. “People get caught up in it.” Expect some dueling auction paddles.
A preview reception and silent auction begins at the PRC, 602 Commonwealth Ave., at 6 p.m. on November 7, followed by a live auction at 7 p.m. Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be served. Admission is $25 and includes a copy of the catalogue. Absentee bids by e-mail, mail, and telephone will be accepted until November 7. For more information, call 617-353-0700 or visit www.bu.edu/prc.