Whitewater Arts Alliance Presents Annual Fran Achen Photography Competition and Exhibition Online and at the CAC; McDonald to hold simultaneous Photography Exhibit

(WHITEWATER – Whitewater Arts Alliance Press Release)  From July 3-26 the Whitewater Arts Alliance will be hosting the annual Fran Achen Photography Competition and Exhibition both virtually at whitewaterarts.org/fran-achen-2020 and at the Cultural Arts Center on 402 West Main Street.  The Cultural Arts Center will be open July 3-26 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.:  Fridays (for at risk individuals only – age 65 and over or with immunocompromised health conditions), and Saturdays and Sundays for all others.  Visitors will be asked to participate in health and safety measures in light of COVID-19, to include wearing a mask at all times (masks will be provided), entering via the elevator and exiting via the front door (unless they require the elevator), and keeping six feet apart.  There will be a ten-person maximum in the building at all times.

Jeff McDonald, Whitewater Arts Alliance Board Member and Fran Achen Chair, said: “The Fran Achen show is truly one of the highlights of the year. Fran Achen was an exceptional photographer and his catalog of images continues to inspire. This show, organized in his honor, is an excellent opportunity to showcase the outstanding work created by both established and aspiring area photographers. Viewing each year’s collection is a real treat. It is fascinating to see the many ways these artists interpret the world through their images. I hope the needed changes in this year’s format will be well-received by everyone.”

Voting for the Viewer’s Choice Award can be done online at whitewaterarts.org/fran-achen-2020-vote throughout the run of the show until Saturday evening, July 25. The winner will be announced on the last day of the show, July 26.  

Fran Achen was a longtime Whitewater resident, teacher, and local photographer. He is most remembered for his photographic collection which chronicles the history of Whitewater.

Born in Kenosha in 1916, his interest in photography began after high school. He spent almost two years delivering cars for the Nash automobile factory. “It seemed like such fun to explore America, so that started my interest in photography and geography, which became my major in college,” he said.

In 1938, when Fran enrolled at Whitewater State Teachers College, it was the first year enrollment went over one thousand. Fran remembered being the last one to register, making the enrollment that year 1,008 students. While an undergraduate student at the college, he served as a photographer for the Royal Purple and the former Minneiska yearbook, as well as working as a freelance photographer for the Janesville Gazette, making “a buck a picture” which helped to pay his way through school.

While attending college, Fran met his wife, Lydia. They were married for 55 years and had three children – Chap, Randi, and Jim.

A person posing for a photo

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Fran Achen

Jeff McDonald Photography Display

On simultaneous display in the Cultural Arts Center Gallery with the Fran Achen Photography Competition In-Gallery show is a cross-section of photographic work by Jeff McDonald, representing his work in black & white, macro/close-up, pinhole, and creative photography.

McDonald is a Whitewater Arts Alliance board member, chairs its annual Fran Achen Photography Competition, and offers free photography workshops at the Cultural Arts Center. His photography has been recognized with awards at international photography exhibitions in the US, Australia, Canada, Europe, and Asia. His photographic interests include black and white, long exposure, landscape, architecture, street, and still-life photography.

“My objective as a photographer is to produce remarkable images. Motion, unusual visual perspectives, and interesting light intrigue me, as do the found elements of a scene that challenge one to frame them into an interesting composition.”

McDonald’s diverse artistic influences include photographers Michael Kenna, Susan Burnstine, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Sebastiao Salgado, Saul Leiter, Tom Till, Fan Ho, David Brookover, Arthur Meyerson, and Alexey Titarenko, and the painters Wolf Kahn and Albert Bierstadt.

He has been developing a new body of work, creative interpretations and re-interpretations of a selection of his photographs spanning a 15-year period.

The embodiment of this project is the book “Interpretations: Photographs by Jeff McDonald”, which is well-represented in the CAC exhibit and available online at his website, jmacpix.com.

“My goal in developing this collection has been to explore alternative methods of storytelling through photography.”

“It occurs to me, as I make more and more photographs, and as I look seriously at more and more images made by photographers whom I respect, that: Mood, feeling, emotion, warmth, vagueness, and mystery are often not part of the story line in tack-sharp, technically perfect photographs. To be sure, those images are frequently inspiring in other ways. But, at least to me, as you inch away through selective-focus, soft-focus, out-of-focus images, and maybe mix in a little abstraction for good measure, these subjective, interpretive elements sometimes show up. Not for everyone and not for every image, but some images speak in downright visceral ways.”

“Taking inspiration from the subject and composition of photography, the sharpness and precision of illustration, the soft focus of mild abstraction, and the rich textures and washes of color found in painting, in this case mainly watercolor painting, I set off to crystallize a vision, practice techniques to use in realizing that vision, and, ultimately,
to create a body of work centered on that vision.”

“The ‘Interpretations’ photographs come from different times and locations and they depict various subjects. What brought them together is how well they lent themselves to this approach.”

As he is the Fran Achen Show’s chair, Jeff McDonald’s photographs are separate from the Fran Achen exhibition and are not in competition in that show.

Big thanks to our sponsor!

The mission of the Whitewater Arts Alliance is to promote the visual and performing arts through an alliance of artists, individuals, educational resources, and organizations to promote creativity and diversity that will serve to educate and enrich the lives of the residents of the Whitewater community and surrounding areas.

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