Free presentation on photography appreciation at Upstairs Artspace

Published 1:18 pm Monday, October 30, 2023

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Local businessman and photography buff Mike McCue will present a one-hour presentation on “How to See Modern Art Photography” on Sunday, November 5, starting at 3 p.m., at Upstairs Artspace in Tryon. To better appreciate the art of photography, the community presentation is being offered as part of the current exhibit, ‘Uncommon: Elizabeth Matheson Photography 1970-2018.’

“Millions of people take billions of pictures, but very few create images that are art,” McCue said. “Photography has become so much a part of art that every art museum wants it and shows it. Numerous artists who work in painting, drawing, or digital media now even produce photorealism works that look like photographs. Other professional artists, like Kevin Sprouls of Tryon who originated the Hedcut technique for The Wall Street Journal, deploy photography in their creative process, in his case to evoke old-time portrait engravings.”

McCue, the past owner of PhotoGraphia Gallery in Tryon, served on the National Endowment for the Arts grants panels in Washington, was first juror of Upstairs Artspace’s photography biennials and was a trustee of North Carolina Humanities Council. McCue is well known for his entertaining and informative lectures on many subjects revolving around Tryon’s rich artistic heritage. He has also written two books on the topic: Tryon Artists 1892-1942, and Paris and Tryon. 

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‘Uncommon’ is a survey of more than 70 images drawn from Elizabeth Matheson’s 50-year career ranging from her early vintage gelatin silver prints to her stunning self-portraits and contemporary large-scale color work. Among her many accomplishments and recognitions, in 2004 Matheson received the North Carolina Award for fine arts, the highest civilian honor given by the state.

Upstairs Artspace is a nonprofit contemporary art gallery with community roots reaching back to 1977. It is open for public viewing Tuesday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. It is supported in part by the Polk County Community Foundation and the NC Arts Council. For more information, visit