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Expat Life

A series of decisive moments

Brian and Edie Buckner planning their exhibit.

According to Noah Webster, a plan is a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something. As a verb it describes the action of making said detailed proposal. Suffice it to say, I have been deeply involved in the “planning process” since October of 2017.

The process of planning what, you ask. Well, the posters are up, the media campaign begins next week, and my solo photography exposition, Decisive Moment, opens on the evening of Thursday, June 28, at 7 p.m. at The Museo Central, corner of Benigno Malo and Gran Colombia in Cuenca.

But, let’s back up for a minute and get an inside peek at all of the hard work that has gone into this project and all of the fine and talented people who have been involved.

This year, Cuenca is celebrating the “Year of the Culture.” The city is shining a huge spotlight on the uniqueness of the traditions and technologies of the Andean people. Workshops are being offered on a variety of Andean crafts from cooking methods to creating bamboo sculptures. The city also wished to invite the people of this area to view photographs of the mountains and communities which surround the basin. With that idea, months of detailed planning for my art exhibition, Decisive Moment, began in earnest.

Although I have working knowledge of how these sorts of projects are realized in the U.S., I had no idea of how the municipality and the arts shook hands in Ecuador. I have been greatly blessed with a team of passionate, enthusiastic, talented people who have been dedicated to the fulfillment of this dream from the very beginning. The first team member who I met was Gabriela Vasquez. One of her associates had seen my work and asked me to consider showin it in the museum. That led to meeting Gabriela and sharing some of my portfolios with her. Gabriela’s next question was whether I would mentor my artistic skills to other Ecuadorian artists using photography as their medium. I told her yes.

The exhibition planning team

After looking at the many images I have created since I have been in Cuenca, my team agreed that presenting some of my landscapes in large format would best support the theme of “Year Of The Culture.” Many of these scenes are more familiar to me than to the people who have called Cuenca home all their lives. They tell me that’s because there are few people anywhere who travel the backbone of the Continental Divide on foot with a camera. Hmm, you know, I just don’t recall seeing anyone when or where I was making almost all of my photographs. Some of the areas are indeed very remote and I usually go in alone.

Images selected, it was time for a return trip to the printer I had chosen to partner with. Back in October 2017 when our project was in its infancy, I had invited several printers here in Cuenca to provide samples. It was necessary to see if their quality was sufficient to move forward with the exposition. Initial reviews of color accuracy and general overall quality were scary. Then, I met the great folks over at SeñalX. Paul, the manager of the business, and I hit it off just fine.

Later this year, when I returned to SeñalX to finalize on the printing, Paul was traveling in the U.S. At first, I was caught a little off guard but it was for no reason. I met and had the supreme pleasure of working with Alexandra Ulloa. I am difficult to impress because I’ve seen a lot. However, her attention to detail and professionalism were of a level that inspired my complete confidence that we would achieve a successful outcome. Though we changed mediums and mounting systems several times, the final sectional proofs were printed for their intended full-size format and they looked great.

Last week, Alexandra arrived at the Museo Central with a full size piece, ready for a test installation. She was met with excitement by my team at the museum and me. Yair Garate handles the big art installations for the municipality and he was there to insure correct interface of my art and the walls that will support it. Thanks Yair for your expertise.

Another planning meeting

Well, back at the museum while all those printing decisions were getting made, Gabriella Vasquez, Art. Noé Mayorga, Dis. Diego Lara and Lcob. Sebastían Lazo have all been working relentlessly behind the scenes to insure a successful project. All of these people are also talented artists besides being professionals in all that they do for the municipality.

And, let me be quick to point out another significant artist on my team, my amazing wife, Edie Buckner. Edie has  been supportive of my art from the first shutter click and her insightful commentary is always welcomed.

My team members at the municipality wear so many hats! Gabriela is the person who is directing the project, Noé provides all the technical expertise, Diego handles the graphic arts and Sebastían is in charge of the education end of the project. I am impressed with my team members abilities as artists, as planners, as directors and in their great skills as communicators. What began as a relationship of colleagues became a relationship of friends with a like-minded purpose. Each one of these people is a joy to work with; they are contributors on multiple levels.

Recently, the artists call for my mentoring was extended. I had a blast reviewing the statements that answered the written questions I had posed to the applicants. And, reviewing their portfolios was great also. The responses to the artist call were excellent in both the understanding of art they demonstrated and the technical and compositional quality of the work. My selection process was difficult and I was the sole reviewer of the calls. The ten mentor-ees I’ve selected already have excellent skills with their cameras and they embrace the arts. Their seats in the mentoring workshop are well deserved.

The municipality expects a great turnout for opening night and that’s part of where the expositions name, “Decisive Moment” was born. The city of Cuenca feels that this is a “Decisive Moment” as the arts become an even more important part of creating cultural bridges between different peoples that foster multi-cultural understanding and creativity. I am so excited to be a part of that thrust.

On opening night, nine of my landscapes, primarily taken in the Andes, will be shown in very large format, about six feet on the longest side. I plan to give the viewer the sensation of standing where I was standing when I captured each shot. There will be refreshments and I promise that the speeches will be short.

Come help me celebrate the beautiful and surprising country which we all call home.