FotoFest Houston, 2010

The Collector’s Eye: Peers

September 23 - October 10, 2010
FotoFest, Houston, TX, USA

FotoFest opens its 2010-2011 exhibition season with a new exhibit created from the photographic collection of Fernando Castro. The exhibition, The Collector’s Eye: Peers, features conceptual and surrealist work from 39 artists from Latin America, Europe and the United States.

The Collector’s Eye opens Thursday, September 23, 2010, 6-9pm at FotoFest Headquarters Gallery, 1113 Vine Street in Downtown Houston. The exhibition continues through October 10, 2010. Fernando Castro leads a free, public tour of the exhibit and talks about the stories behind the photographs, Saturday, September 25, 2010 at 2pm.

From established masters to younger and emerging artists, Mr. Castro’s collection is an eclectic record of the personal and professional relationships he has forged over the past three decades as a philosopher, poet, photographer, and teacher. “I am not an art collector in the traditional sense,” says Mr. Castro. “My collection is an artist’s collection – the result of gifts between friends and trades amongst colleagues. These are my friends and my peers.”

Included in the exhibition are works from Edward Weston (U.S.), and Pedro Meyer (Mexico). Weston’s prints were made from glass-plate negatives discovered in Mexico. Mexican artist Pedro Meyer is a pioneering contemporary photographer and the organizer of many important Latin American photography initiatives including the renowned photography website ZoneZero ( Mr. Meyer’s print, a digital collage, combines an original portrait of acclaimed Mexican artist Manuel Alvarez Bravo with a reclining nude, the subject of one of Alvarez-Bravo’s most iconic photographs.

Younger generations of artists, including the well-known artists Luis Gonzales Palma (Guatemala/Argentina) and Alfredo De Stefano (Mexico), are also in Mr. Castro’s collection. European photographer Thomas Kellner (Germany) encountered Mr. Castro at the FotoFest Meeting Place Portfolio Review and enlisted him to write the introduction to his monograph. His photograph, 33#36 England, Stonhenge, considered among his best, was a gift given in thanks.

Houston-based Pablo Gimenez Zapiola (Argentina/U.S.) is a former architect who recently embarked on a career as a photographer and video artist. “Pablo is another kind of reflection,” says Fernando Castro. “He is different from Edward Weston or Pedro Meyer, but he completes the picture – Like my poetry collection. I have sonnets alongside poetic prose and haiku. Yes, it is eclectic, but it completes my picture.”

Peruvian-born Fernando Castro has a long and sometimes convoluted journey in photography. It is informed by excursions into other cultural practices, starting with poetry. He has published two books of poetry, including Five Rolls of Plus-X, poetic and photographic reflections on urban Peru. Later he studied philosophy, as a Fulbright Scholar, at Rice University. This journey is punctuated by seminal moments with many people, including his childhood friend and neighbor, Jay Colton, whose family and friends were an important early influence. Mr. Colton, 13 years old and the son of Associated Press and Time Magazine photo editors, introduced him to a cadre of world famous photojournalists including Eddie Adams.

In his 20s, Mr. Castro returned to his native Peru and was introduced to its growing photography community, including artist and gallery director Fernando la Rosa (Peru). Mr. La Rosa is credited with reintroducing art-photography education into Peru, having started Fotogaleria Sequencia, a photography gallery, and inviting the U.S. master photographer Minor White to conduct workshops with students there.

At this time, Mr. Castro began writing about photography, contributing critical essays to newspapers and magazines in Peru and other parts of Latin America. He is held in high regard by many Latin American artists and is considered an important scholar of Latin American photography, historical and contemporary. He has researched and written extensively on the historical archives of Martin Chambi and many contemporary photographers. His important, and sometimes serendipitous, encounters have led to many of his acquisitions – a fact acknowledged by Mr. Castro when he says that he has, “…never purchased a photograph.”

Some of the photographs exhibited in The Collector’s Eye are personally connected to Mr. Castro. Henry Brimmer’s photograph, Untitled Pair, depicting a pair of expensive, brown men’s shoes, is an inside joke between the artist and Mr. Castro. The shoes originally belonged to Mr. Castro who gave them to Mr. Brimmer because they were too small to fit his feet. The photograph is a thank-you gift.

Other highlights of the exhibition include: Jack Aeby’s Trinity photograph, the very first color photograph of a nuclear explosion, and masterworks by Mario Cravo Neto; Luis Gonzalez Palma; Lorry Salcedo and Eduardo Muñoz among others.

A number of the artists were encountered for the first time at FotoFest Biennials. The artists include Thomas Kellner, Pablo Gimenez Zapiola, Juan Travnik (Argentina), Valdir Cruz (Brazil) and Esteban Pastorino-Diaz (Argentina) among others. Mr. Castro has worked with FotoFest since the 1990s and wrote one of the essays in the FotoFest book Image and Memory: Photography from Latin America, 1866-1994.

Jack Aeby, Mariela Agois, Bill Armstrong, Gerardo de Barros, Henry Brimmer, John Calaway, Fernando Castro, Laura Cohen, Jay Colton, Mario Cravo Neto, Valdir Cruz, Luis Delgado, Alfredo De Stéfano, Victoria Díaz Azcoaga, Roberto Fernandez, Pablo Gimenez Zapiola, Luis González Palma, Lorena Guillén-Vaschetti, Lissie Habié, Roberto Huarcaya, Thomas Kellner, Fernando La Rosa, Ernesto Leal, Patricia Martín, Anamaría McCarthy, Pedro Meyer, Eduardo Muñoz, Esteban Pastorino-Diaz, Maria Cecilia Piazza, Juan Javier Salazar, Lorry Salcedo, Henry Sandbank, Philipp Scholz Rittermann, Javier Silva, Dani Tagen, Juan Travnik, Victor Vasquez, Edward Weston, Antonio Wolff

The Collector’s Eye: Peers is open to the public September 23 – October 10, 2010; Monday – Friday: 10am-5pm; Saturday: noon-5pm; Late Night Thursdays: 10am-7pm, at FotoFest Headquarters, 1113 Vine Street in Downtown Houston. Admission to FotoFest exhibits is free.

For more information The Collector’s Eye exhibit and all FotoFest programs, please contact FotoFest, 713.223.5522 ext 19 or; or visit the FotoFest website at

Fernando Castro is an artist, curator and critic. His most recent curatorial projects are Prime Years: An Exhibition about Aging (2009) and The States of Pedro Meyer (2008). His own works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Dancing Bear Collection; Lehigh University; Museo de Arte de Lima; the Harry Ransom Collection; etc. He is a contributing editor for Aperture and ArtNexus magazines, a member of the Art Board of FotoFest and of the Advisory Board of the Houston Center for Photography.

The Houston Endowment Inc., The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, The Wortham Foundation, FotoFest Board of Directors, iLand Internet Solutions, KUHF 88.7 FM, HexaGroup, Vine Street Studios

Founded in 1983, FotoFest is an international non-profit organization promoting photographic arts and education in Houston, Texas. FotoFest is recognized for its discovery and presentation of important talent, contemporary and historical, from around the world, its commitment to presenting important social ideas through the photographic arts, its groundbreaking exhibitions and its portfolio review program, The International Meeting Place. FotoFest has curated and commissioned exhibitions of photo-based art from Latin America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. In addition to year-round art exhibitions and programming, FotoFest’s school-based education program, Literacy Through Photography, uses photography to stimulate visual literacy, writing, and analytical thinking.

The FotoFest Biennial is the first International Biennial of Photography and Photo-related Art in the United States. Through the FotoFest Biennial and its year-round art programs, FotoFest is known as a platform for art and ideas, combining museum-quality art with important social and aesthetic issues. FotoFest curated exhibitions give priority to the works of important but little-known photographic artists from the U.S. and around the world.

Pictured:  Pedro Meyer, Manuel Alvarez Bravo and his good reputation sleeping, Mexico, 1974/2000. (detail above, full image below).