In closing out my fourteenth year here at the DIA, I was most excited in 2008 to see the renovation and reopening of the Albert and Peggy de Salle Gallery of Photography on July 9, 2008. The DIA was fortunate to have for the gallery’s inaugural exhibition Kenro Izu’s Sacred Places. Organized by the Peabody Essex Museum from The Lane Collection in Boston, over 50 platinum prints were on view featuring mostly ancient sites in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.
The gallery saw a good amount of traffic over our summer months and into the fall, but two highlights of this exhibition were Kenro’s lecture to a standing-room only audience in early September as well as our first-ever online photo competition (see detroitssacredplaces.wordpress.com and flickr.com/groups/detroitssacredplaces/pool for details) that saw over eighty entries by primarily Detroit-area photographers featuring their imagery of Detroit’s “sacred places.”
The DIA showed its first permanent collection photo exhibition in seven years when In the Company of Artists opened on November 19 (it will be on view through February 15, 2009). As with most permanent collection exhibitions, new acquistions are on view for the first time in this exhibition. The department of prints, drawings and photographs received several gifts from some very generous donors in the Detroit area. Of particular note is a 19th-century albumen print showing painter James MacNeill Whistler in his Paris studio around 1892. The photograph was donated by Detroit-area collectors Leonard and Jean Walle who also loaned a number of works to the exhibition from their collection of rare 19th-century photographic portraits.
In addition to works on view in the photo gallery throughout the second half of 2008, the DIA also installs rotations of contemporary photography in the Asian galleries as well as the contemporary art galleries and contemporary African American art galleries. Works by Toshio Shibata (on loan from the Museum of Modern Art, NYC), Abelardo Morell and Edward West currently are on view and new rotations occur about every three months.
The DIA hosted a number of photo-related programs including lectures by photographer and historian Deb Willis, Getty Museum associate curator Virginia Hecket on the schools of German Photography, and a film screening of Black, White and Gray and discussion panel celebrating the life and career of Sam Wagstaff (see metrotimes.com/editorial/story.asp?id=12875 for Glen Mannisto’s essay about the event).
The DIA is looking forward to 2009 upcoming exhibitions including Of Life and Loss: The Polish Photographs of Roman Vishniac and Jeffrey Gusky opening in late April and a related May 17 lecture with Karen Sinsheimer, exhibition organizer and curator of photographs at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. A January 22 lecture with artist Ari Marcopoulos is also scheduled at 7 p.m. in the DIA’s Lecture Hall.