With over three decades of experience at The Cincinnati Post and an accomplished career as an independent artist, photographer Melvin Grier (Cincinnati, OH) will open an exhibition at the Weston Art Gallery that serves as an expansive catalog of works that showcase his photographic journey. It Was Always About the Work is on view at the Weston Art Gallery from June 16–August 20, 2023.
With over three decades of experience at The Cincinnati Post and an accomplished career as an independent artist, photographer Melvin Grier (Cincinnati, OH) will open an exhibition at the Weston Art Gallery that serves as an expansive catalog of works showcasing his photographic journey. It Was Always About the Work features numerous photographs from his time at The Post, international travel, and images from a variety of exhibitions and projects he has worked on during the years. Select photographs from Grier’s exhibitions Homage to a Sound, a celebration of local Jazz musicians presented as part of the FotoFocus Biennial in 2016, and White People: A Retrospective presented at Kennedy Heights Arts Center in 2011, will be on view as part of the survey exhibition.
Selecting impressive images through the editing process is nothing new to Grier due to his days at The Post. This skill serves him well as both an artist and a curator, but how does one take more than 60 years of work and pare it down for an exhibition? Each image has its own story and significance.
“I have to like it,” Grier said. He expressed that one of the joys of working at The Post was the self-edit process after coming back from an assignment. This usually included selecting one photograph as the dominant image and two or three others for the jump page, where the story would continue.
“What you really didn’t want to have happen was to hand the editor something and have them ask ‘do you have anything else?’ because that meant they didn’t like it.” Not only did images have to tell a story that fit with the corresponding assignment, but, Grier said for him, “it was a physical feeling” he had when he made a photograph he liked. “I could feel when I liked it.”
Much of Grier’s international travel to places such as El Salvador, Somalia, and Vietnam occurred while on assignments for The Post; however, he and his wife, Brenda, spent their 40th anniversary on a Mediterranean cruise. Grier expressed how much he enjoyed Mykonos. “This kid jumped. I fired off a few frames. But this photograph would not work if it wasn’t for the other kid in the water because it gives it a sense of depth. It’s little things like that, you know, that could make or break it.”
As a current FotoFocus Board member and Patron, Grier has greatly contributed to the organization through his passion for photography and the many FotoFocus Biennials to which he has contributed as either an artist or curator. Every single one of them, in fact. “When FotoFocus first got started, of course I was interested […] but my particular interest was to make sure that local and regional photographers would always have a place.”
It Was Always About the Work is on view at the Weston Art Gallery from June 16–August 20, 2023, with an opening reception on Friday, June 16, 6–8pm and a gallery talk on Tuesday, June 20 at 7pm. In addition to this exhibition, Grier has a book of the same name coming out soon. This memoir is by Melvin Grier with Molly Kavanuagh, a reporter he worked with while at The Post. “We were a great team,” he said.