Artist Round Table

In September, alumni from previous round tables were invited to participate in a workshop in Missoula with special guest William Albert Allard. We were treated to a very moving retrospective of Allard’s life work including his intimate story of the Hutterites in Montana. The rest of the weekend was sent working on our own stories which we brought with us to Missoula.

Artist Round Table Port Townsend WA

The third Artist Round Table was held in Port Townsend July 2013. Photographers from China, Seattle, Indiana, Vancouver and Port Townsend met together with sculptor Jan Hoy and writer Wes Cecil. The discussions were very passionate as participants shared their own interpretations of art and being an artist. We may not have all agreed but being transparent is an important aspect of ART. There were light moments too as people stepped outside into the “weeping garden” for a moment of quiet reflection and met in small groups at the end of the night for “debriefs”. No-one gets to bed early at any ART!
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The second Artist Round Table was held in Port Townsend at the end of June 2012. This time photographers from California, Indiana, New Mexico, Ohio, Seattle, Ottawa and Vancouver began a marathon conversation on their art and photographer together with several artists from PT. Some of the participants from the first Round Table knew what to expect while others who were there for the first time were in for a unique experience. Not for the faint of heart, these nine participants rolled up their sleeves and began the hard work of discovering how to create work with impact. Like the first ART, the comments show a transformation that can take place when photographers are willing to bear their souls to make work that matters.

I spent the past three days in Port Townsend, WA. This small town on the Olympic Peninsula was home to a veritable meeting of the minds. For the three full days, pretty much sun-up to sun-down, myself, some old friends, and a half-dozen then-strangers, now all people I’m proud to call my friends, met up to talk about the process of creating art. We’re all photographers, but the conversation was by no means bounded by the limits of that particular craft….I have no idea what’s coming next… I need to spend the next week, month, however long it takes, wrapping my head around the last three days. I can’t wait to see just what is coming next.” – Jacob Lucas

So you might ask, did I learn anything this weekend…the short answer is this. I learned that sometimes what you leave behind for someone else is what matters. It might be a conversation with someone to help them understand something they were struggling with or something they might say to help me. But in the end, artist want to leave a trace. A trace of something behind in the world.” ~ Daniel Gregory

“We talked at length about vision and voice, we looked through books of images by legends in photography, and we viewed each other’s work. By the end of Friday I was pretty certain I didn’t belong in the room and I had nothing significant to say, photographically speaking. I’m so glad ART was a multi-day experience. I don’t think even Ira Glass could have persuaded me on Friday. My epiphany came on Saturday…” ~ Dorothy Brown

“Without hesitation I would apply again to attend an Artist Round Table (ART) hosted by the amazing folks at Rear Curtain in Port Townsend…Not everyone got the answers they were looking for but they sure left with a fresh set of ideas to consider” ~ Ken Udle


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In June 2011, Ray Ketcham held an Artist Round Table in Port Townsend with several photographers from around the US and Canada and two local artists, David Nobel and Wes Cecil. Three days of non-stop conversation on art and photography ensued right up until people stepped on to the curb at the SeaTac Airport. ART participants are still exploring the ideas and continuing on their journey to uncover their visual voice. Ray hopes the connections and friendships formed during this intense time together will remain a part of each of their lives.

Here are a few comments from the Round Table:

“From the beginning, I knew this was something special. Of course, I know Ray and Sabrina pretty well, and I also knew that they would do their best to make sure everyone came away with what they needed. Not what they needed to hear, necessarily, but what each of us needed to take the next step in this journey….All week, several folks—especially Ray—had been telling me that they thought I had been making “other people’s photographs.” In other words, my voice was being obscured by my influences. I was reinterpreting photographs I had seen others make, thinking they were my own. I was not making photographs that said what I wanted to say and that reflected what I wanted to do and what I wanted to give to the world.” ~ Stuart Sipahigil

“There were many discussions at the round table and other venues but all had a core subject -FINDING YOUR VOICE. In other words, are we truly expressing ourselves? or are we echoing what somebody else has taught us? We finally decided that we all have a voice and it is like a finger print and nobody else can copy it. We must be ourselves and let our photography speak for us, not for somebody else.” ~ Chris Plante

“I cannot think of any other way to end this post than to thank Ray, Anita, Ellie, Stuart, Matt and Chris for one of most inspiring conversations on art and photography I’ve ever had. You have no idea how much your willingness to share who you are, your fears and doubts, your dreams and aspirations, has deeply touched me and will be one of the defining moments in my journey.” ~ Sabrina Henry

One of the discoveries at A.R.T., like it was for the other participants, was the sense of community we found with each other. Being together with other like-minded creatives and sharing our dreams, doubts, and being openly vulnerable in a safe and intimate space, was a liberating experience. This environment helped us all dig deeper into our craft – much deeper than we’d ever explored previously. Each of us had our own unique breakthroughs, insights, and personal revelations along very different paths leading up to them. It was both humbling and inspiring to witness and be a part of.” ~ Ellie Ericson