The idea for Slideluck Potshow was cooked-up in the Seattle backyard of photographer Casey Kelbaugh. The concept was simple: have a bunch of fellow artists over for a potluck dinner and show off their recent work through a multimedia slideshow.
Kelbaugh knew about the unifying power of food, but he hadn't predicted the strength of its range. Strangers became friends while ladling egg noodles and chatting about aspect ratio. Projects were born. And by the night's end, more than 50 artists communed over crockpots and portfolios. It was a success.
Now Slideluck Potshow is a registered non-profit, with events popping up all over the globe, from Bogotá to Toronto.
Dallas is sharpening its utensils, preparing to slice into its first serving of the phenomenon, which happens Saturday at the Power Station. Anyone is invited to attend (bring a dish, a jar of peanut butter for the Food Bank, or $10 dollars to get in), and dig into the potluck from 6 to 8 p.m., then digest a lovely, 45-minute slideshow of work by great local artists.
We got this event by chance. It's a sort of vacation souvenir brought back by the event's main organizer, photographer Leila Wright. She wound up at a Slideluck Potshow on a recent trip to New York and became enamored by its ability to unite and give peers a leg up. "It was really inspiring," says Wright. "It's not too often that an event connects people like that and breaks down all of the barriers."
The added benefit, of course, is exposure. Everyone, regardless of professional status, is invited to submit work to Slideluck, all of which is sifted through by some very sought-after eyes. Dallas' Slideluck organizers cast a finely woven net for curation talent. They pulled in Stacey Clarkson, art director at Harper's Magazine, Guy Reynolds, photo editor at Dallas Morning News, Thorne Anderson, a UNT photojournalism professor and director of the UNT photo scholarship, and a handful of other resources from print publishing, academia and gallery worlds that would otherwise be unapproachable for many.
"That gives [Slideluck] a whole other level of value," says Wright, "because you know that by submitting, these people will see your work." Submitters can also enroll in three 20-minute portfolio-review sessions with the curators of their choosing for just 30 bucks. From a professional standpoint, that hour of one-on-one meetings has more real-world practicality and is far more financially achievable than any college course.
But for Wright, tomorrow evening isn't just about breaking into the next stage of a career. She's excited to see the area's typically free radical photographers find one another and show off their goods as a group.
Dallas' photography community is fractured, she says. I suggest that lone wolf mentality is a side-effect of the job, where camera toters race and push ahead for the best shots. She disagrees.
"Wolves travel in packs," reminds Wright, who adds that their are limited resources here locally for those pursuing a career with a camera. We have only one gallery, PDNB, dedicated to the form (and even they have recently branched out a bit), and paid gigs are competitive and scarce. "Especially for a young photographer," says Wright, "it's a difficult landscape to navigate because there's no infrastructure to support you.
She hopes that events like tomorrow's will spur others, and that all of those lone wolves might pack up.
What can you expect to see presented? According to Wright, the show will blend the very near with the distantly exotic. "There are some really beautiful things that people submitted," says Wright, who goes on to explain that the show is a balance between Dallas-centric shots and photos brought back by local photographers who have traveled to areas like Juárez. "It has a very Tex-Mex feel to it."
Sounds delicious. I'll bring the queso.