By Richard Stone
Avigdar (pronounced Avadar) Adams is a multifaceted artist whose talents as painter, photographer and performer are much appreciated by those who know his work. As a photographer, Avigdar specializes in human portraits typically using family and friends as models but placed in unfamiliar settings. After establishing some ground rules, he agreed to answer a few questions about the exhibit and his photographic choices.
RS: What is the focus and theme of the photographs in this show?
AA: They were all taken in a hallway in my house. It is a challenging setting—narrow, high, with a door at one end and a single light source. The setting alone is interesting to me—I took photos just of it that I like a lot. When I placed my models in that frame, I saw images with a kind of narrative possibility. I get an intuition of what might make a good picture.
RS: How do you select your models?
AA: They’re mostly people I know well. I’ve seen something in their faces or how they carry themselves that intrigues me. I call it “being photogenic,” but to me that doesn’t mean “attractive,” it means “having potential for a good picture.”
RS: How do the models react to the pictures?
AA: Some are very happy, but if the picture “doesn’t look like them” some can get upset and ask me not to show them, even though to me they’re beautiful. I try to explain beforehand that the pictures are not “of them,” but are simply pictures. But I do understand it’s hard to make the separation.
RS: What do you hope people will look at?
AA: I’m not trying to create realistic representations or reproduce beautiful objects. I hope people don’t get caught up in judging if the models are, say, pretty and graceful or not. I try to make compelling pictures using light and texture and composition as well as the presence of the models. I hope people look at the photographs as a whole, not at just the people.
Richard Stone is a Community Alliance staff writer but hardly impartial in this case, being Avigdar’s partner for more than 35 years. He is nonetheless a great admirer of the scope, skill and uniqueness of Avigdar’s images and encourages readers to visit the Adams/Ruiz-Ortega exhibit at the Spectrum Gallery in August.