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Week of 1 November 2002 · Vol. VI, No. 10

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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.

Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Self-portrait, Kilberg, Vardo, Norway, 1990


Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Self-portrait, Kilberg, Vardo, Norway, 1990


“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.

“But as soon as I saw it, I knew that it was perfect for our promo shot,” says Morash, executive director of the Photographic Resource Center at BU, pointing out that Minkkinen, an internationally known Massachusetts photographer -- he teaches at UMass-Lowell -- uses his own body as part of the surrounding landscape in his works, from the rugged background of the Grand Canyon to the quiet lake scenery of Central Finland. There is no darkroom trickery, no digital manipulation. Minkkinen says that the magical qualities of his photographs “are based on the visual evidence of what really happened.” So how is this seemingly impossible arrangement staged? We’ll probably never know.

Morash has been doing an incredible balancing act of his own lately, showcasing regional, national, and international talent since he came to the PRC last year -- along with preparing for the nonprofit organization’s seventh annual benefit auction. The auction, which will be held on Thursday, November 7, at 6 p.m., is the first he has planned at the PRC from start to finish. “The auction is our largest and most important fundraising event of the year, and it generally grosses about $70,000,” he says. “We ask artists who have been involved with the PRC to give us prints for this event, and we’ve had an extraordinarily generous response from them this year. There are 211 images, which is about 50 more than we usually have.”

Bradford Washburn, Mount McKinley Looms over Wonder Lake, 3454, 1953

  Bradford Washburn, Mount McKinley Looms over Wonder Lake, 3454, 1953

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.”

Catherine Chalmers, Caterpillars Eating a Tomato, from Food Chain, 1994-96.


Catherine Chalmers, Caterpillars Eating a Tomato, from Food Chain, 1994-96.


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.”

  Abelardo Morell, Toy Blocks, 1987

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.

Eric Lewandowski, Charles River Crossing, Boston, MA, 2001


Eric Lewandowski, Charles River Crossing, Boston, MA, 2001


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.


1 November 2002
Boston University
Office of University Relations