OMFA opening photo exhibits with gala

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May 27—The Owensboro Museum of Fine Art is hosting a preview gala celebration of photography from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, May 27 in two concurrent exhibitions showcasing the works of regional artists.

Mary Bryan Hood, MFA director, said at least two of the six photographers — William Russell "Bud" Young, III and Wendell Thompson — have direct Owensboro ties and have had samples of their work on display there in past.

"Our objective is to present a celebration of a wide variety of styles and techniques in photography," Hood said. "That's exactly what this show does."

Hood said all of the featured photographers have spent decades crafting their skill, and their photos vary in subject matter.

"They're probably the most accomplished photographers in Kentucky and the surrounding states," she said.

The exhibition features more than 70 works of art by the artists on loan from artists' studios and private and public collections in Kentucky.

Hood said the museum also included photos from its permanent collection of both Young and Thompson.

"We put those in the exhibition as a complement to what they've sent us," she said.

Sponsored by U. S. Bank, the public is invited to the exhibition and gala but must make reservations by contacting the museum at 270-685-3181 or

The featured solo exhibition called "Soft Focus" is by Young, a resident of Floyd County, Virginia. Thirty-three recent works created in the past three years document the rural landscape surrounding Young's home. He is the founder and managing director of the Appalachian Center for Photography and holds a doctorate from Saint Andrews University in Scotland and a master's degree in photography from the University of Texas.

Young is also the author of "The Soft-Focus Lens and Anglo-American Pictorialism." Young curated an exhibition at the MFA in 2004 documenting the "Art of the American Frontier."

Young will present a gallery talk at 7 p.m. regarding his exhibition.

Thompson, of Owensboro, will have works among the group exhibition called "Photography Masters," an installation of works by five of the commonwealth's leading photographers.

Thompson has been involved in photography for 53 years, including 15 years operating a portrait and commercial studio and three years teaching photography at Brescia University.

The remaining photographers include:

—Fred D. Reaves, Hazel, an accomplished fine arts photographer and digital illustrator with complementary backgrounds in painting and printmaking.

—Carlos Gamez de Francisco is a Cuban-American contemporary painter and fine art photographer based in Prospect. Born in post-revolutionary Cuba, he was educated in an academic style heavily influenced by the Russian Academy. He now retains studios in both Florida and Kentucky.

—Ted Wathen, Louisville, founded the Kentucky Documentary Photographic Project in the 1970s and was a principal photographer for the President's Commission on Coal. His work has been exhibited at the George Eastman House, the International Center of Photography, the Smithsonian Institution's American Art Museum and the White House.

—C. J. Pressma, Louisville, who studied with Minor White and Henry Holmes Smith, founded the Center for Photographic Studies in 1970 that attracted students both nationally and internationally. It also exhibited the work of acclaimed photographic artists Ansel Adams and White. He has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Photography and an Al Smith Fellowship by the Kentucky Arts Council.

Bryan said photography is often overlooked as art form because people have easy access to cameras with their phones.

"Anyone can take a photograph, but not anyone can create a work of art from the photography," she said. "It takes a special perspective, knowledge and sensitivity."

The exhibition will continue through July 16 and is open to the public during regular museum hours of noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission to the museum is free but donations are accepted.