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Matinee: 'A Studio Visit With Barry Phipps' Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

7 September 2019

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 218th in our series of Saturday matinees today: A Studio Visit With Barry Phipps.

Barry Phipps describes himself as "an Iowa City-based multimedia artist." The Kansas City Art Institute graduate has been working as a rock musician and fine arts (and wedding) photographer since 1990.

Besides Iowa City, he did a tour of duty in Chicago. And he's shot those weddings all over the world.

But in this 4:10 video interview produced by Little Village, an independent media company based in Iowa City, we get to know the man. And learn something about the art, too.

'Every six miles there's another town.'

"Every six miles there's another town," he says at the beginning. One town leads to another. So he kept going. That's where he found "the stuff" that interested him, after all.

He tells you that's how he became intrigued by Iowa. And what he did about it. And how it morphed into a project that he spent five years on.

The project became Between Gravity and What Cheer: Iowa Photographs, a 112-page book of images culled from thousands of photos of "old things from other periods of time that still exists in this current environment."

He finds those decayed survivors interesting not just in themselves but in the greater context of the present, framing them in their surroundings, often ironically.

Like the image of the bowling alley sign rising above the freshly fallen snow that asks the timeless question, "Will summer ever end?" to promote its fall leagues. Fall leagues, one wonders, in what long-ago year?

What we found especially interesting about his unassuming discussion of the art of photography is how it reveals a photographer finds a subject and how exploring that subject can turn the photographer into an artist.

In Phipps's case, it isn't so much following your bliss as it is his appreciation for something that is still standing long after its utility has ended.

Which is precisely the moment it becomes art.


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