In the American townships power has been distributed with admirable skill, for the purpose of interesting the greatest possible number of persons in the common weal… For in the United States it is believed, and with truth, that patriotism is a kind of devotion which is strengthened by ritual observance.
— Alexis de Tocqueville, from Democracy in America, 1838
Between 1999 and 2003 artist Paul Shambroom attended and photographed over 150 town council meetings across the United States. The resultant series, Meetings, includes both photographs and the minutes of each meeting, representing in text and image the most basic form of local government. Shambroom’s photographs, taken with a large format camera, capture our government at its most fundamental level and impart the gravitas and complexity that characterize the ritual and reality of community empowerment. These images present us with the enactment of our highest democratic ideals, while at the same time revealing the quotidian and mundane aspects of performing the duties and privileges they represent. Each photograph is quietly monumental, both elegiac and humorous.
Paul Shambroom was born in 1956 and has a BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He has published three photographic monographs, Face to Face with the Bomb: Nuclear Reality After the Cold War (2003), Meetings (2004), and Paul Shambroom: Picturing Power (2008). He is the recipient of a 2003 Guggenheim Fellowship. He has exhibited widely throughout North America and Europe including at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus; Julie Saul Gallery, New York City; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City. His work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, among others. He is represented by the Weinstein Gallery, Minneapolis; Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago; Stephen Wirtz Gallery, San Francisco; and Rocket Gallery, London, England.
There will be a lunchtime conversation with artist Paul Shambroom on Friday, January 25, 2013 at noon. Bring your own lunch; drinks and dessert provided.