Art Crawling with Mary Catherine Fehr

Walking into the club, the first thing I saw was Mary Catherine Fehr aiming her Nikon 3100 at a group comprised of Currie, Millicent, and Emsworth.  The latter two wore appropriate portrait expressions, but the corners of Currie’s mouth were turned up half a millimeter, which was as broad a smile as I’d ever seen on that worthy’s face.

Mary Catherine had obviously charmed him completely.

“Glad you stopped by,” I said to the photographic artist as the trio dispersed.  “Ready for the inaugural Art Crawl?”

“I am.  This will actually be my first time showing and selling my work, so I’m excited about the opportunity.”

An art major at the University of Montevallo, Mary Catherine is one of more than 25 artists whose work will be showcased during Birmingham’s first Art Crawl, which begins at 5 p.m. today.  Many downtown businesses will be staying open late and hosting the exhibitors, including Reed Books on Third Avenue North, where Mary Catherine will be the featured artist.

“How did you become involved with Art Crawl?” I asked her.

“I saw it on Instagram, actually.  Then I checked out their website and thought, ‘Why not apply?’”

The thought paid off, and she was selected to participate in the first of what organizers Miranda McPherson and Richard Burton hope will be a monthly event aimed at “bringing people to the cultural and historical center of downtown Birmingham to showcases local art, performers, and venues.”

Asked what patrons could expect to see from her tonight, Mary Catherine produced a few images, including these three portraits.“Is there a story behind each of them?”

“Yes and no.  I like portraiture, and I always try to capture the essence of something.  That’s why I really like black-and-white portraits.  I usually just tell models to do whatever they want and usually end up finding that the best shots are candid, but for these I wanted to convey a kind of mystery.  Who are these girls, and what is their story?”

“You succeeded in conveying that.  Terrific photo of the rose, too.”

“That one was from the botanical gardens.  I wanted to show the detail and delicacy of the rose and the fragility of it as well.”

“I like the neon look you’ve given to the now-iconic It’s Nice to Have You in Birmingham sign.”

“It’s something we see photos and t-shirts of a lot,” Mary Catherine said, “but I wanted to make it different.  I’ll have some note cards with the image on it and some large format prints at Art Crawl, and you’ll be able to select from a wide array of color combinations.”

“Do you plan on making photography your career?”

“I’ve had a lot of people tell me it’s not really a career and that I’ll never get anywhere with it, but I believe that if you have a passion for something, you should do it, without worrying about whether it’s going to make you rich.  Money is important, but if you go through your whole life in a career you don’t enjoy, money is not going to make up for it.”

“Well said, Ms. Fehr,” Currie said as he handed her a beverage from his tray.  The corners of his mouth were still turned up.

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