Aleppo-based filmmaker and photographer Issa Touma will screen his short film “9 Days From My Window in Aleppo,” about his experiences in Syria, on Oct. 23 at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum as part of Atlanta Celebrates Photography.
Photo: For the AJC
Photo: For the AJC

Atlanta Celebrates Photography speakers, shows you won’t want to miss

For photography fans, October is a busy, eventful month, thanks to Atlanta Celebrates Photography. This annual event blankets the city in photo exhibitions at area museums and galleries, portfolio reviews, public art and some impressive speakers who approach photography from a number of vantages: as fine artists, journalists and in the case of filmmaker John Waters, with tongue firmly in cheek.

The headliners at the 19th ACP event are a thrillingly diverse lot. There are Waters, who will hold forth on how his off-kilter film sensibility has translated to his photography, and New York-based photographer Marilyn Minter, who will speak about work that often comments upon and assumes the glossy, sexy look of advertising, fashion and pornography. Below are some of our picks for shows and talks you won’t want to miss.

Paul Graham’s “Pittsburgh (detail)” captures the typically overlooked effort of a man mowing the grass on a steep hillside at a generic highway exit of cheap motels and gas stations. Graham’s “The Whiteness of the Whale” exhibit is at the High Museum of Art. COPYRIGHT PAUL GRAHAM / CONTRIBUTED BY PACE/MACGILL GALLERY, NEW YORK
Photo: For the AJC

Paul Graham lecture

It was overshadowed by the attention-grabbing Andy Warhol print show, but now that the great wigged one has moved on, run don’t walk to British photographer Paul Graham’s remarkable, often heart-wrenching show “The Whiteness of the Whale,” which is focused on the enormous divides, mostly economic, sometimes racial, between Americans. Like potent short stories, Graham’s photographs are startlingly sensitive and beautiful contemplations of someone else’s reality. On Oct. 21, Graham and the High Museum’s assistant curator of photography Gregory Harris will discuss, among other issues, Graham’s use of color when it was unpopular among British photographers.

2 p.m. Oct. 21. Free, but tickets must be reserved at Woodruff Arts Center, Rich Theatre, 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-733-4400,

“The Whiteness of the Whale.” Through Oct. 22. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays and Saturdays; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Fridays; noon-5 p.m. Sundays. $14.50, free for members and children 5 and under. High Museum of Art, 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-733-4400,

RELATED: Review of Paul Graham’s exhibit at High Museum

Filmmaker and visual artist John Waters will speak on Oct. 20 at the Woodruff Arts Center’s Rich Theatre about his photo work like “Reconstructed Lassie” as part of Atlanta Celebrates Photography.
Photo: For the AJC

John Waters, ‘Low Definition’

Director John Waters’ films were midnight movie fixtures for decades. The “pope of trash” director of “Pink Flamingos” and “Polyester” and more contemporary pop culture exhumations like “Hairspray” will go down in film history as one of the most profane, silly, original filmmakers of the 20th century. But Waters has also long nurtured a fertile side career as a photographer, often manipulating existing still or television images and turning them into commentaries on the American obsession with fame, beauty and celebrity. Waters will speak about his artwork in what promises to be a witty and very visual evening at the Woodruff Art Center’s Rich Theatre.

7 p.m., Oct. 20. $15 and up. Tickets can be purchased at Woodruff Arts Center, Rich Theatre, 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta.

‘Landscapes and Interventions’

A selection of photographers including Laura Noel, Bill Yates, Noah Kalina and Amanda Greene examine the landscape through a contemporary lens in this exhibition at the Westside contemporary art gallery, Hathaway.

Through Nov. 4. Free. Hathaway Gallery, 887 Howell Mill Road, NW, Suite 4, Atlanta. 470-428-2061,

‘Dennis Dinneen: Small Town Portraits’

An Irish taxi driver and pub owner, Dinneen operated an informal photo studio out of the back room of his bar from the 1950s to the 1970s, taking portraits of hundreds of his fellow residents in his hometown of Macroom, County Cork. Priests, children in First Communion dresses, drunken revelers and families all lined up for these intimate, revealing black-and-white portraits. Many of the images show strange details of the room’s background, from cans of pineapple and girly calendars to a framed photo of John F. and Jackie Kennedy, giving a slice-of-life feel to these compelling portraits of another era.

Through Dec. 23. Free. Jackson Fine Art, 3115 E. Shadowlawn Ave., Atlanta. 404-233-3739,

Photographer Marilyn Minter’s “Torrent.” Minter will speak as part of Atlanta Celebrates Photography on Oct. 12 at the Woodruff Arts Center’s Rich Theatre.
Photo: For the AJC

Marilyn Minter lecture

New York photographer Marilyn Minter’s images of brightly lipsticked, lewdly gaping mouths dripping pearls or food or glitter are arresting, strange melds of glamour and horror. For some time, the often controversial photographer has offered up commentaries on our advertising-dominated age in images that often mimic the look of ads, displayed on billboards and glossy and glamorous enough to be mistaken for the real thing.

7 p.m. Oct. 12. Free, but tickets must be reserved at Woodruff Art Center, Rich Theatre, 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta.

Michael James O’Brien

In its “Spotlight on Local Talent,” ACP features the Savannah College of Art and Design Atlanta Associate Chair of Photography, Michael James O’Brien. The longtime commercial photographer’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, Rolling Stone and The New York Times Magazine, among many others. O’Brien’s wildly diverse career has included studying with famed FSA photographer Walker Evans and also producing the still photography for the legendary art world conceptualist Matthew Barney’s “Cremaster” series.

7 p.m. Oct. 18. Free, but tickets must be reserved at SCADshow, 173 14th St. NE, Atlanta. 404-253-2740,

‘9 Days From My Window in Aleppo’

Moving images are the focus of Issa Touma’s you-are-there documentary “9 Days From My Window in Aleppo,” which the art curator and photographer shot from his apartment window, capturing the civilian experience of war, caught between the crossfire of Syrian rebels and Bashar Assad’s Syrian army. Collaborating with filmmakers Floor van der Meulen and Thomas Vroege, Touma turned his footage into a documentary short, which won a best short award at the 2016 European Film Awards.

7 p.m. Oct. 23. Free, but tickets must be reserved at Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, Cecil B. Day Chapel, 453 Freedom Parkway NE, Atlanta.


2017 Atlanta Celebrates Photography

Various venues, October,


There are great photo exhibits beyond those linked to Atlanta Celebrates Photography.

As the country grapples yet again with the divisive issue of race, an upcoming High Museum exhibition, “A Fire That No Water Could Put Out: Civil Rights Photography,” looks at civil rights 50 years after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Featuring more than 40 images, the show includes both historic and contemporary photography centered on race. Much of the work is drawn from the High Museum’s own civil rights photography collection, considered one of the most important in the world.

Nov. 4-May 27, 2018. $14.50, free for members and children 5 and under. High Museum of Art, 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-733-4400,

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