Photog Jess T. Dugan explores queer identity with upcoming CONTAINER show, I want you to know my story
“I came to photography very young and in a very serious way,” Missouri-based photographer Jess T. Dugan tells SFR. “My work has always dovetailed in my own life and the communities I’m part of in a powerful way, and I’m always learning about myself through my work.”
Dugan, now 37, didn’t ultimately consider photography until the mid-point of high school, but, they tell SFR, the arts were like safe haven as a young, queer person. Thus, over the last 20 years Dugan has zeroed in on a two-pronged strategy for exploring identity in their work—both their own identity and the identities of the broader queer communities they encounter. Dugan’s secret weapon? Intuition.
To expand, Dugan is perhaps best-known for portraiture, and they identify their subjects by feel.
“I’m drawn to these people on an energetic level,” they say. “There’s just something about them I’m attracted to as an image-maker. I’m drawn to people who have a combination of strength and assertiveness, who can be really present with me. I’m drawn to the combination of strength and vulnerability, strength and gentleness—people who’ve had to fight to be who they are.”
Later, Dugan reflects upon the images they made, the emotions that came up during the shoot and the power of each image. New emotions emerge during the editing process, and of the countless shots they typically take, Dugan ends up loving a select few. Their standards have become more stringent over time, they say, but even so, they do the work in “a very organic, very visceral way.”
This is apparent in Dugan’s final pieces. With the nearly two dozen photos soon to hang at Turner Carroll Gallery offshoot CONTAINER, the truest connective thread seems to be that of authenticity. Dugan works with some subjects for years, and developing a rapport can go a long way toward making others feel more open while staring down the barrel of a camera.
“I often try to find a quiet moment,” Dugan explains. “I think about spirituality as human connectedness. I’m very interested in there being a through-line and in creating a certain kind of emotional space.” (Alex De Vore)
Jess Dugan: I want you to know my story Opening: 5-7 pm Friday, Nov. 17. Free. CONTAINER, 1226 Flagman Way, (505) 995-0012
We’ll admit that we worried the International Folk Art Market’s 2023 takeover of the Railyard Park in Santa Fe might have gone poorly, but the beloved nonprofit actually nailed it. Missed it? Or still craving more? As it so happens, IFAM also hosts an annual Holiday Pop-Up that’s already rolled around on the calendar. At the forthcoming event, find tons of options for textiles, jewelry, clothing, paintings and so much more, and all in time for the upcoming gauntlet of holiday nonsense. Not only will you be supporting artists from around the globe who make their livings through their art, you’ll have a direct hand in helping the IFAM organization continue to bring these people to Santa Fe for years to come. (ADV)
IFAM Holiday Pop-Up: 10 am-5 pm Thursday, Nov. 16-Saturday, Nov. 18; 4 pm Sunday, Nov. 19. Free (but pay for art, duh). IFAM Center, 620 Cerrillos Road, (505) 992-7600
From Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles to Stir Crazy, The Producers and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, is there any question as to the enduring legacy of actor Gene Wilder? The man married Gilda freaking Radner, for heaven’s sake—he made us laugh and cry while elevating the idea of what a comedy performance might be. Wilder died in 2016, but his impact lives on for anyone lucky enough to view his work. One such lucky faithful was filmmaker Ron Frank, whose new documentary Remembering Gene Wilder assembles a veritable murderers’ row of comic titans to pore over Wilder’s storied career. In the film, you’ll hear from the likes of Mel Brooks, Alan Alda and Carol Kane, plus you’ll get glimpses at archival footage of Wilder himself, of Richard Pryor and Radner. It’s a bit of a tribute but an important historical document for future generations. Once there was a man named Gene Wilder, and he was very, very funny. The rest, as they say, is history. (ADV)
Remembering Gene Wilder Screening: 3 pm Sunday, Nov. 19. $12-$15. Center for Contemporary Arts, 1050 Old Pecos Trail, (505) 982-1338
Downtown record shop Lost Padre continues its awesome onslaught of accessible early-evening shows with banger acts this week, this time in the form of local multi-genre solo hero Westin McDowell, Nevada-based country punk Charlie Marks and Canadian songstress Meredith Moon. To get it out of the way, Moon is Gordon Lightfoot’s daughter, but has more than created her own musical microcosm on her new record, Constellations. Moon’s voice is one of those that somehow physically reaches your metaphysical soul with its unearthly timbre. When Moon sings “I’m fallin’ out of love with you,” on the title track from the new one, it hits so hard that it’ll almost convince you she’s singing directly to you. Oh, she’s not flashy or overwrought, though. If anything, Moon proves that less can be so much more: a guitar and a voice, maybe a glockenspiel someplace in the background—folksy, rootsy heaven. (ADV)
Autumnal Affair with Meredith Moon, Charlie Marks and Westin McDowell: 6 pm Monday, Nov. 20. Free. Lost Padre Records, 131B W Water St., (505) 310-6389