Lenny Foster invited The Taos News to sit with him, not to talk about his own work, but to talk about an unusual showing of other photographers at his gallery. On Friday (Aug. 5), Foster’s Living Light Gallery opens the fine art photography exhibition of works by Marla McClymond and Alma Ortega. The reception is from 5-7 p.m. All are welcome.
When asked why host this show (after all it is his gallery; he doesn’t have to show other photographers), Foster said, “I love these two photographers. I’ve known both of them for years. We’ve done a little bit of shooting together. They are just as excited and committed as I was when I was trying to make a step forward. My first show was at Caffé Tazza in 1996. I’m happy to give these two women a hand up.”
Foster has a history of lending his space to support others in the community. For example, the Living Light Gallery has hosted poetry readings and a fashion show for locals to showcase their respective talents. When asked if this was the very first time he has shown other photographers, Foster says, “No. I hosted a show for the second graders of the Taos Integrated School of the Arts a couple of years ago. They all took photos of me.”
Other photographers do indeed approach Foster all the time requesting to show in his venue. But, he says he has more than enough going on with keeping the space filled with his own work and running a successful gallery. This fact only again brings up the question: Why host these two photographers?
“These are two single moms and they are doing a great job at just having to negotiate all of that –– and still finding the time to have something creative for themselves. Once you put up a body of work and present it for the first time, it takes on its own life; it leads you to what’s next,” Foster said.
McClymond and Ortega’s work will hang in the gallery’s Invocation Room. When asked about the unique name of the room, Foster said, “My commitment is to be more prayerful. Their work has a lot of hope and promise. This feels like the most appropriate space.”
Foster explains, “Part of the reason I am delighted to host the show is that they are both partly responsible for the Living Light Gallery being voted the ‘Best in Taos.’ When I am not there, they fill in for me and take care of everything and do it with heart. I am very fortunate that I can share a bit of my knowledge of photography and some of the gallery’s wall space.”
Marla McClymond says photography has always been a part of her life. “The passion for shooting began to naturally evolve to a serious medium for artistic expression after an international move and a split from the father of my son late last year.”
Armed with a Nikon DSLR, a timer, and remote shutter release, McClymond began photographing herself after her son had gone to bed. She studied photography with Robbie Steinbach at UNM-Taos where she learned how to process black-and-white film and print in a darkroom.
“Both Robbie and Lenny have been an integral part of my photographic beginnings,” says McClymond.
Her work has been displayed in multiple student art shows in New Mexico and Colorado. Locally, her work has appeared in Caffé Tazza, Vivac Winery, and the Taos Country Club.
“I keep the light on, hold space to share my sacred moments of regaining strength in times of vulnerability with all those who encounter my images,” says McClymond.
Alma Ortega shared her thoughts about the landscapes she photographs: “Every day reveals its own unique imagery throughout the beautiful Taos valley, the light and landscapes here have captivated my heart in ways one can only imagine.”
Ortega says she owes all of the inspiration for making this happen to Lenny Foster, whom she describes as always encouraging, always creating. “This will be the first time my work is shown, and perhaps will feel like a dappled light is shining into the obscure parts of my soul.”
And, incidentally, Foster’s most recent book, “Enchanted Land: A Taos Twenty Year Retrospective,” has just been released and is available now ($75; 154 images). Author John Nichols wrote: “This book is an inspiring act of devotion.” Lenny Foster’s Living Light Gallery is located at 107 Kit Carson Road. For more information, call (575) 737-9150.