An Interview with Cali Hobgood
from SLICE, Ann Arbor, MI's Art and Entertainment Blog
Lakefront Festival of Arts 2012
Cali Hobgood-Lemme, from the Heartland blog
Artist I'm Loving: Cali Hobgood-Lemme, from the mimi and meg blog
Interview with Uptown Art Fair’s 2006 Featured Artist
First of all, congratulations on being selected as Uptown Art Fair’s 2006 Featured Poster Artist. That’s quite an accomplishment!
Yes, what an exciting thing it is to be the featured artist! It’s very gratifying—and a little nerve-wracking—because Uptown has a great reputation and I need to be sure to live up to the honor.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a photographer from Champaign-Urbana, Ill. I studied photography at the University of Illinois with an emphasis on the theories of visual representation and art history. I’ve been in business as an art photographer since 1986. This will be my 14th year exhibiting at outdoor art festivals.
Describe your creative process.
The pieces I exhibit are hand-colored black and white photographs. The techniques I use shooting, processing and printing the black and white negative yield a high contrast print that I paint with high quality artists’ oils, using techniques that vary from brushwork to applying paint with cotton swabs. I do all of my photographic work by hand, using standard silver processes in the darkroom.
Have you ever exhibited at the Uptown Art Fair?
This will be my first time exhibiting. I’ve been to the Uptown Art Fair before, and have been very impressed with the quality of the work exhibited. I loved the atmosphere of the show. Minneapolis is a great place—it reminds me of a cleaner, more comfortable Chicago. And isn’t it home to American Public Media and Minnesota Public Radio? One of the best parts of my day is 12:48 in the afternoon when Garrison Keillor does “The Writer’s Almanac.”
How would you describe the photo being featured at the Uptown Art Fair?
The piece that’s being featured is called “John Taylor’s Shirts,” it’s a hand-colored black and white photograph of a stack of men’s dress shirts. It was such a precise and complete vision in my head—it was just there, all of a sudden, provoked by the “I don’t know where that came from” school of thought. I know that it’s about fathers, and that fresh smell of a clean shirt, and precision, and the mystery about why all of those things together are good.
Why—in general terms—do you think people should visit art fairs? What are the advantages of this environment compared to, say, a gallery or studio?
People have always shopped in the open air—strolling, fresh air, the panorama of everyone else doing the same thing—it makes us feel connected, like we’re part of something, a community. Bringing art and artists to the people, away from the kind of rarified air of galleries and museums, can make for great moments of connection and understanding.
In your opinion, what is your job as a photographer?
That’s a good question. When asked for an introduction for one of his books, e.e. cummings wrote that he was “abnormally fond of that precision [in his case with words] which creates movement.” If I have a theory of technique, it would be that I am abnormally fond of that precision which creates movement in your perception—to move the viewer from the familiar to provoking a thought. With my work people often have a feeling, a memory associated with an iconic object, often of someone’s past, their parents.
What kind of feedback do you receive about your work?
As with all artists, I’m sure, when someone loves something and connects with it, the stories they share with you can be really personal, or funny, or intriguing. I’m always surprised when people admire my wit or my life as they imagine it from looking at my work. My work and its presentation is very simple and clean-looking, and often funny—my life, on the other hand, especially during creative production, can be very different!
What was the nicest compliment you ever received from a customer purchasing your photography?
One time, many years ago, a man who’d bought a piece for his daughter wrote me a poem about how he felt certain elements in the image reflected the good things in his daughter’s life.
When you’re not taking photos, how do you like to spend your time?
Well, my father coined a phrase, “Cali-ing,” when I was in college—it involved a lot of floating in the pool with cocktails. My favorite New Yorker cartoon is by Danny Shannahan, there’s a guy sitting on the examining table at his doctor’s office wearing boxers and holding a glass of wine and a cigar, and the doctor is saying “You should relax less...”
But seriously, I have a husband, Eric, and a 10-year-old son, Stirling, and when I’m not working I like to have fun and enjoy my family and friends.
copyright © 2016, Cali Hobgood, all rights reserved