Northwoods Journals – Kurt Simonson

Waiting for Griffin - Reathel Geary


On Display: December 5-February 1
Opening Reception: Friday, December 5th 6-9pm
FREE Artist Lecture with Kurt Simonson: Saturday, December 6th 1-2pm


In the Main GalleryNorthwoods Journals
I must have been ten or eleven years old when I first ran across the peculiar envelope that bore my grandmother’s shaky handwriting: “not to be opened until my death.” Tucked in her top dresser drawer amidst other valuables, its striking phrase burned into my memory at a young age. I don’t know exactly when, and I don’t know how often, but I know I visited the envelope numerous times, pondering what could be inside. What could be so important (or tragic) that it must be kept secret in this way?
I have never been able to shake the hold that piece of paper had over me.  More than just a letter—I was haunted by what it represented.  Loaded with latent meaning, yet withholding its story, the letter is my experience of growing up in Minnesota.  My family roots go deep into the folklore of the rural Northwoods and retain their hold, despite time and distance. It’s a place where my grandfather was a lumberjack, and a place where cars go to die; it’s where kids have playtime adventures, and where secrets go to be buried. It is a merger of myth and memory that grows more complex as time passes.
– Kurt Simonson
About the Artist:  
Kurt Simonson (b. 1977 in St Paul, Minnesota) is an artist/educator whose work explores the longings and tensions that surround our ideas of home, community, and identity.  Whether connecting the myth and memory of his own upbringing in Minnesota, wandering the globe in search of alternate forms of community, or taking intimate portraits of his closest friends, questions about family, story, and belonging remain at the heart of his curiosity.
Kurt’s work is regularly exhibited throughout the country and internationally, including a current solo exhibition at Newspace Center for Photography in Portland, Oregon, and recent exhibits at the San Diego Museum of Art, the Center for Fine Art Photography (Fort Collins, Colorado), RayKo Photo Center (San Francisco, California), and the Foto8 Gallery in London, England.  His work has been published in the London Sunday Times Magazine,Fraction MagazineLenscratch, Dodho Magazine.  In 2012 he received a Curator’s Choice award from CENTER Santa Fe, and was shortlisted that same year in Photolucida’s Critical Mass.
Kurt teaches at Biola University in La Mirada, California, where he is an Associate Professor of Photography in the Art Department.  He lives and works in Long Beach, where you can probably find him eating breakfast.
In the Special Exhibitions Gallery – Waiting for Griffin
Autism is a separation of experience, where one is ubable to participate fully in our shared reality. My son Griffin is autistic. Much of our experience is fraught with difficulty punctuated by moments of intense emotion.
In these photographs I share what I see as a father of a little boy struggling with autism. These photographs are sometimes beautiful, often difficult and always true. Not only to the moment but also to my hopes and fears for the future.
Each photograph is printed as a photo-gravure, a process that requires a high degree of physical manipulation. Each time I wipe the plate to remove excess ink I do so with a father’s hand. As I work the plate, my son is revealed to me anew, beautiful and frightening in all his future possibilities. I see him for who he truly could be and I find myself waiting for Griffin.
– Reathel Geary

My journey as an artist started as an escape from the stress of parenting an autistic child. Working with the landscape I found a way to express my emotions that had no other outlet. In time I started photographing my son. Now I use my camera to engage, not evade life.

In keeping with the much more personal approach to my photography I now print my work as photogravures. This process is very hands on. While the end result is not as sharp or perfect as other printing processes they have a real texture and emotional presence that matches my photographic style brilliantly.

I have been very fortunate to have been recognized as a category winner in the IPA awards and as a finalist in the Px3 awards and Critical Mass. My work has been exhibited in numerous group shows. In 2013 my series Waiting for Griffin was part of the Blue Sky Drawers program.


Gallery Hours:
Monday through Thursday 10am-9:30pm
Friday, Saturday & Sunday 10am-6pm

Thank you to the Kinsman Foundation and the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation for your ongoing support of the Newspace Gallery.

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