Thursday, June 14, 2007
It feels surreal, and pretty damn cool, to stand inside famed photographer Edward Weston’s home on Wildcat Hill in the Carmel Highlands while looking at a black and white framed photograph of Edward and Ansel (as in Adams). They’re standing on the deck outside this same house, some 55 years ago. Meanwhile, Edward’s grandson Kim tells stories about Edward and Diego (as in Rivera), who became friends during Edward’s sojourns in Mexico in the early 1920s, and the parties thrown by three generations of Westons inside these walls, which, says Kim, have “no insulation. Board and bat—that’s it. It’s a very simple house. It cost $1,000 to build. This was Edward’s home.
“They used to clear out the couches and have big parties and dance,” Kim says. “My dad loved to tango. My uncle loved to waltz.”
Kim is the third-generation of arguably the most influential American photography family. He himself learned photography while working with his father, Cole, in the darkroom, making gallery prints from Edward’s original negatives. Kim also worked for years as an assistant to his uncle Brett.
Today, a handful of Pacific Grove photography students and a few parents crowd into the home’s darkroom, where Kim shows off the three-minute egg timer Edward used when developing film. “He was very, very low tech—which I like,” Kim says. “He knew his film. He knew his paper.”
The students are among the 15 Weston Scholarship winners for 2007. Gina and Kim established the fund four years ago to support high school and university or college students studying art photography in Monterey County. The contest is open to students practicing analogue processes—digital cameras aren’t allowed. Each submits a portfolio of 10 mounted photographs, which are then judged by a panel of local photographers. To raise money for the scholarship fund, Gina and Kim host an annual auction with donated photographs from their friends, who also happen to be professional artists. On Saturday, June 17, the Carmel Art Association will host this year’s auction.
In its first year, 10 students entered the competition, and three earned scholarships (of $1,000, $500 and $300).
This year, about 50 entered. Carmel High School student Ryan Knight won first place, and $1,000. Pacific Grove High School’s Angelica Bongioanni placed second ($500), and Carmel High School’s Sara Britton took third ($300). PG High’s Peter Nichols won the $1,000 Julian P. Graham Award, from the Pebble Beach Company Foundation, and judges also selected 12 honorable mentions, who each received $200. “This is to keep the excitement of film alive,” Kim says. “I’m like a dinosaur, I suppose.
“[But] this is the center of photography for this coast—Ansel, and Edwards, you could go down the list. This is something that we wanted to personally take charge of, and not let it disappear.”
Kim and Gina welcome guests into their 800-square-foot Wildcat Hill home and accompanying photography studio on a regular basis. Today, as Kim leads the students into his studio, where he does all of the mounting and finish work, he shares more than a look around. “Mounting and presentation of the work, which all of you were judged on so severely, is very important,” he counsels. “Look at the images on the wall. There are no dents, no scratches. It’s very precise and that’s how you present your work to a gallery. That’s part of photography.”
He shows the students some of his grandfather’s prints and his own prints. In “Nude in Black Tub,” a woman’s white skin seems to glow in contrast to the black tub. The tub sits on top of a checkered floor in front of a tall window that opens to a painted sky. Kim built and painted the set. “The click of the shutter,” he says, “is just a record of the process. The process is so important.”
Kim then asks the students to show their portfolios. Bongioanni, who won second place, goes first, presenting a black and white of a woman in a white coat, black leggings and white pumps. “My future model,” she says, explaining her theme: a model in costumes from the ‘20s, ‘60s and “future.” Kim says he like the concept.
“I tried to stick with my theme,” Bongioanni says. “I found out in the middle of it—it’s complex. I wasn’t 100 percent happy with it.”
“I don’t think you ever are,” Kim interjects. “What’s important is that you finished it. You followed through. It’s important to step back and say, ‘OK, this is the best I can do at this time.’ ”
THE WESTON’S SCHOLARSHIP-FUND AUCTION BEGINS AT 7PM SATURDAY, JUNE 16, AT THE CARMEL ART ASSOCIATION, DOLORES STREET AND SIXTH, CARMEL. ONLINE AUCTION AT WESTONPHOTOGRAPHYEDUCATIONASSOCIATION.ORG/FUNDRAISER.HTM