2021 – As spring is turning into summer, the shuttered international art community is reviving. The Worldwide Photography Gala Awards/16th Pollux Awards acknowledged Lee Musgrave’s Winter Stratum images with an Abstract Series award judged by Julio Hirsch-Hardy and The Motif Collective listed Lee’s Light Struck abstract nature photograph as a top tier image for their Black & White project.
2020 – To start the year off, The Motif Collective, based in Florida, listed Lee Musgrave’s semi-abstract photograph Caution as a top tier image for their Minimalism project and his Compliance for their Street project. From Feb. 20 – Mar. 13 Lee Musgrave’s Nitty Gritty Crux 3 and Readymade Duchampian Equalibrium 1 abstract photographs are in The Heart Goes Nine exhibition curated by Sybylla Smith for the Rhode Island Center for Photographic Arts, Providence, RI.
Also in February, 3 images from Lee Musgrave’s Fiddle Diddle With Red Bean Series of abstract photographs will be featured in the special 3 day pop-up exhibit In Between organized by Galeria Zero for Primerent, Milan, Italy. In March Lee Musgrave’s most recent abstract photograph, Strategic, will be included in the 4th Annual Photographic Exhibition at LA Artcore Gallery, Los Angeles.
UPDATE – due to the international health crisis, the pop-up group exhibit In Between set for Milan was cancelled; the LA Artcore Gallery (Los Angeles) and Blue Sky Gallery (Portland, OR) exhibits were closed early. However, the Heart Goes Nine exhibit at the Rhode Island Center for Photographic Arts, Providence, RI remained open through to March 13 and Berlin based DekUnu Magazine selected Lee Musgrave’s Squared Up photo series as 1 of 3 finalists for its March Issue.
April, May, June – there were no requests for artwork from Lee’s studio so he has been creating new works and continues writing his second novel (see Book Debut above). Curators Kathy Ryan and Jessica Dimson selected Lee’s most recent abstract non staged photo, Line In Winter, for inclusion in the online 36th Annual International Photography Competition exhibit presented by The Photo Review Magazine..
As summer heated up, Lee Musgrave’s popular Ephemera Readymades On Ice was selected by curator Ann Jastrab for inclusion in the exhibit Still Life at Praxis Gallery, Minneapolis, MN from Aug. 21 – Sept. 15. Images from this Series have been featured in The Photo Review Magazine and F-Stop Magazine.
In September, Lee was invited to include three images from his Squared Up photo series for the exhibit Focal Point at The Foundry Centre, Saint Charles, MO from October 2 – November 19. The images were selected by curator Robin Assner-Alvey. That series has also received recognition from Berlin based DekUnu Magazine.
In October, two abstract photographs from Lee Musgrave’s Nitty Gitty Crux series are being featured in the online exhibit “Female” at www.bestpicture.com/best-of-the-month. Lee’s inspiration for the Series came from the 1866 painting L’Origine du monde by Courbet.
2019 – In February, the 3rd Annual Photographic Exhibition at LA Artcore Gallery, Los Angeles, included Lee Musgrave’s Laurels Alight 1, a staged abstract still-life image. In March, a special exhibit curated by Carolus Stoop featured three of Lee Musgrave’s popular Fiddle Diddle With Red Bean staged abstract still-life photographs at Ateller Pilar Gueil, Barcelona, Spain.
April – The good folks at Blue Sky Gallery, Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts, invited Lee Musgrave to participate in their 2019/20 PNW Photo Viewing Drawers project. Curators Terry Novak and Melanie Flood selected ten images from his Light Ring Caress Series. The prints are available for viewing and purchase from April 4, 2019 through March 31, 2020. That Series has been featured in L’Oeil de Photographie Zine, 2016, on Fusionartsps.com 2017.and can be viewed on lensculture.com.
As Spring bloomed in May, Adam Finkelston, publisher of The Hand Magazine, selected two of Musgrave’s abstract photos for inclusion in Abstract 2019 at the SE Center of Photography, Greenville, SC and Danielle Knapp, Curator at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, select one for inclusion in Artworks NW at the Umpqua Valley Arts Gallery, Rosburg, OR.
In the fall online Issue 97 of F-STOP Photography Magazine editor Christy Karpinski has organized Abstraction 2019 which includes 3 of Musgrave’s staged still life photographs.
2018 – Adam Finkelston, publisher and co-editor of The Hand Magazine selected one of Musgrave’s Sweet Reign 3, for inclusion in the exhibit Abstract at the SE Center for Photography, Greenville, SC during January.
In February, Daniel Miller, director of the Duncan Miller Gallery, Santa Monica, selected Musgrave’s Light Ring Essence 2 photo to offer on his popular YourDailyPhotograph.com listing. Miller is a noted specialist in important contemporary photographic works of art. In March, the editor of A5 Magazine (a small British publication) featured Lee’s Joyous Misbehavin’ 1 abstract photo.
The International Gala Awards honored Musgrave’s work with Second Runner-up Finalist for the 11th Pollux Award and they will include it in a major exhibit in Barcelona in the Fall. The work that got their attention was his Fiddle Diddle With Red Bean Series of abstract photos.
As Spring began, Gallery25N.com featured one of Musgrave’s very rare street photographs in the exhibit Faces of Humanity 2018. The site has over 26,000 subscribers worldwide plus you can check out their video about the exhibit on YouTube. The photograph is of a young man playing a didgeridoo on the central plaza in Adelaide, Australia. Lee really enjoyed his music.
In April, Lee Musgrave’s abstract photography was exhibited at Galerie Sehnsucht, Rotterdam, NL as part of a special exhibit curated by noted artist Rommert Boonstra. Also, Lee’s abstract photography art was honored with an award from the 2017 Tokyo International Foto Awards and featured in the 2nd Annual Black & White exhibition on www.fusionartps.com as well as in Mono Kromatik at the Praxis Gallery, Minneapolis, MN.
Lee Musgrave’s Interface Shift Series was featured in a 2 page spread of Volume 31 (June 2018) of ArtAscent Magazine. In August, images from Lee Musgrave’s CC Rider and Laurel Alight Series’ were included in the 3rd Artist’s Choice exhibition on Fusionartps.com.
Photo Review Magazine‘s online edition announced that it premiered a special exhibit curated by Sarah Meister, Photography Curator, Museum of Modern Art, New York. The exhibit includes Lee Musgrave’s Tilled Dream With Sleeping Cat #12 in the Still-Life section. The exhibit was posted in January. “It’s wonderful to have my work appreciated by Ms. Meister,” stated Musgrave. “I appreciate her interest in my work.”
From October 4-21, 3 of Lee Musgrave’s award winning Fiddle Diddle with Red Bean staged abstract photographs were in the 2018 Barcelona Foto Biennale and he was on a panel there discussing “Is Photography Booming While Dying As An Artform”. The discussion was filmed and is available on the Biennale’s website.
Artness Contemporary Magazine print and online editions includes editor Diana Fernandez‘s interview of Lee Musgrave along with 5 of his most recent staged abstract photographs.
2017 – LandEscape Contemporary Art Review, Anniversary Edition generously includes 16 pages of text and photos about Lee’s abstract photography. The article consists of an interview he gave to curators Katherine Williams and Josh Ryder. Their engaging questions focused on his approach to art and on what reactions he hopes his work generates from viewers. Each edition of LandEscape Art Review garners an average of over 300,000 readers. You can view the edition at: https://joom.ag/8gdW/p46.
Julia Dolan, Curator of Photography at the Portland Art Museum selected Lee’s Tickled Fancy #44 (see below) for inclusion in the 40th National Photography Exhibition, Larson Gallery, Yakima Valley College, Yakima, WA. “I’m very appreciative of Ms. Dolan’s interest in my work,” said Musgrave. This photo was also in the Luck of the Draw exhibit during March and April at the Foundry Art Centre, St. Charles, MO. Further, his CC Rider Series was selected as a Finalists in the 2nd Charles Dodgson Black & White Award plus CCR #7 received an Honorable Mention.
It is with great interest that we await the inaugural issue of Blended, a new collective art zine, for it will include an article about Lee’s most recent abstract photography series. Blended will be published on line and in print as well as shared on social media. It will be available soon (update: unfortunately this publication never happened).
Happily, in September, Lee’s abstract photography was exhibited in the 9th Pollux Awards Exhibition, Galeria Valid Foto in Barcelona, Spain. Joyous Misbehavin’ #10 (see Series below) is one of the images that was in the exhibition. During October, his abstract photography was featured in Abstract 2017, a group exhibit of work by 20 artists, at Gallery25n.com and it won an award in the 3rd Annual Colorful Abstractions exhibit at Fusionartps.com.
In November, Lee’s abstract photography was featured in a major article with 19 photos in the online edition of Dodho Magazine. With more than one million annual visits and half a million pages viewed monthly, Dodho Magazine has become the fastest growing photo magazine. It is published in online versions and every 6 months in a printed version. “It’s wonderful to receive such generous support,” stated Lee. A link to the article is on the Home page.
Here is a link to the article: http://www.loeildelaphotographie.com/2016/02/27/article/159892356/lee-musgrave-light-ring-caress/
From April 9 through September 30, the international invitational exhibition Novus Conceptum was at the Hannah Bacol Busch Gallery in Houston/Bellaire, Texas and featured 13 of Lee’s most recent light pad abstract photographs.
One of Lee’s rare semi-abstract landscape photos was featured in the On the Road exhibit at the SE Center for Photography, Greenville, SC… and one of his newest abstracts is in the special fall exhibit Abstracted at the Mpls Photo Center, Minneapolis from September 16 through November 13.
Two of Musgrave’s newest abstracts (see below) were shortlisted for the Royal Photographic Society’s International Print Exhibition in London. “It was an honor to have been a finalist for this exhibition,” stated Lee.
He also had a solo exhibition at the pop-up Adelante Gallery, NYC. The exhibit included several photos from his Curlicue Flourish Series (which received the 5th Place Award from the 2015 Fine Art Photography Awards) as well as photos from his Savvy Proclivities Series (which are featured in The Photo Review magazine’s 2015 Competition issue and was awarded 2nd Place in the Abstract, 7th Edition Pollux Awards). His CC Rider Series received an Honorable Mention Award from the Abstract Fine Art, Neutral Density Photography Awards 2015. The NYC solo exhibit can be seen on youtube.com/watch?v=Lfts-kuAzUQ.
LensCulture Editors Invitation features 24 abstract photographs from some of Lee Musgrave’s most recent series. Based in Paris, LensCulture sponsors international photography awards, grants, and traveling exhibitions and is recognized as a definitive resource for the latest movements in contemporary photography. Visit “lensculture.com” and type in Lee Musgrave to view the photographs. “It’s an honor to have been selected by the editors and to have my work featured on the LensCulture website,” stated the artist.
2014 – Lee’s abstract nature photography was exhibited in Fleeting Moments, a solo exhibition at the Metro Gallery, Reno, NV and he was selected from an international list of 105 artists as one of six finalists for the Abstract, 6th Edition Pollux Awards, 2014 Worldwide Photography Gala Awards.
Overview – The reality presented in Lee Musgrave’s photographs is of “found short-term occurrences” that appear on the land just outside his studio and on his studio worktable … and yet, both are evocative of abstract expressionistic painting. “I am attracted to dynamic images that occur in fleeting moments… a kind of precarious imagery that is at once lifting and exhilarating… and gone or transformed quickly,” stated Musgrave. “Whether I’m outside immersed in nature or inside my studio staring at scraps of ephemera the approach is one of serendipitous sightings.”
These “taking advantage of chance” images are recorded in-camera preserving thought provoking representation of suspended moments in time. The “found” nature images are gestures in patience as Musgrave waited for fluctuations in climate and seasons to produce them; they are shot with natural light and with all their components (rocks, plant debris, soil, mud, snow/ice) left undisturbed.
The “chance staged” studio work table images consists of finding elegance within chaos. “For me, the winsome character of a randomly created image enthralls and divulges an openness and honesty that is cheering,” stated Musgrave.
Chance staged abstract images have the ability to engage viewers emotively and intellectually for they often include optical illusions and ethereal aspects that present spatial mirages or resemble celestial visions. The incorporation of translucent materials makes the preceived structures in Musgrave’s photographs appear to consist of networks that have multi-directional spaces that liberate the viewer to journey through them … and the distortions of angles and forms become avenues of emphasis and drama.
Kinetics is a key element in the staged process for the objects seen in each photograph were tossed onto the work table allowing them to fall where they may … and they were shuffled about often without concern for how the motion re-staged the objects. In fact, Musgrave occasionally blindly shuffles the objects which makes the initial source of each image the unconscious. The cropping of the photographs is his conscious way of accentuating the dynamics of that randomness and the charisma of each individual image.
“Fate is my collaborator when I encounter the unforeseen ways chance has staged the objects on the table,” stated Musgrave. “Striking combinations of colors and textures; conspicuous shadows; a remarkable edge to an exquisite form; or a bravura of tension… I find all of these flukes to be alluring.”
Further, Musgrave has a special fondness for much of the ephemera because he collected it during his worldwide travels and from his studio activities. That is to say, the shavings from his colored pencils; crumbs from worn color sticks; bits and pieces of dried paint from the ferrule of his brushes; along with trimmings of assorted art papers and fragments of plastic containers. This limitation means that only certain outcomes of randomness will occur… and that the resulting photographs are connected to all of his studio ventures. “An unsentimental, yet deeply heartening feeling,” mused Lee.
Like the inherent qualities found in contemporary abstract art the images from both of Musgrave’s approaches to photography may appear starkly linear, richly textured and / or almost painterly … and yet, they highlight an ephemeral world that reflects upon something vulnerable and essential while speaking to the very nature of existence, and radiate a glamour that belies their chronicle of relentless change.
“My objective is to place the viewer in the moment with each image, to suspend them between imagination and reality thereby suggesting the unseen: those elemental phenomena we live by like vim, verve and oomph,” Lee stated.
Musgrave began making abstract photographs many years ago with an Olypmus OM-1 camera. “My interest was rekindled with the advent of digital cameras and the freedom they provide. Today I use a Canon and a Nikon.”
What bestows an unmistakable character to Musgrave’s photos is the transformation that occurs when he crops each image. “I favor a visual language that explores and refines the shallow picture plane,” stated Lee. By exploring the visual aesthetics within chance he conveys the spontaneity associated with contemporary art—and though his subject matter is often unrecognizable its identification is not primary to understanding or appreciating the work. “I focus on the nuances and I strive to present them as new images which stand independent of their origins.”
By selecting and isolating settings from their context, Musgrave pulls images from reality into vernacular abstraction. In this way, his photographs explore the relationship between impartial objects and personal perception, focusing on the subtleties that produce multiple layers of experience.
“Though my photography is considered abstract it is actually completely realistic. I use realism as a medium—as a means to record my personal non-verbal response to what I see before me and how immersion in it makes me feel whole,” stated Musgrave. Finding abstraction within realism is even more important to Lee as a stance for it reflects his belief that contemplation is in itself an important philosophical act. “I am primarily a romantic who through selective cropping of realistic images reveals my personal inner world of mystical experiences.”
Musgrave’s selection and cropping of specific images that seem to reference mankind’s angst is also very apparent. “Every photographic image I capture comes from something very specific in the real world—a place and a moment of time—thus I try not to question why it fascinates me,” he stated. “Everything has a kernel of reality that’s very specific which I strive to stay true to.”
When Musgrave finds a new subject he is compelled to know it fully, thus he photographs it extensively—which has resulted in dozens of individual Series … shown here are just a few. Each Series has a minimum of 10 unique images and some have 50 or more. Plus he limits each image size to an edition of 10 signed and numbered prints.
“Most contemporary photography is occupied with recurrent narrative images and probably always will be. When it turns inward to express visual aesthetic pleasure and/or contemplation it usually drifts toward surrealism and fantasy, but still well within the representational genre,” stated Musgrave. “At the root of those creative processes is the sixth sense of instinctive intellectual drive. It flashes before our eyes, holds us and pulls us in and says “don’t miss this”. That trice is what abstract photography is all about. It goes directly toward ones inner thoughts, makes us pause and takes us beyond provocation and coincidence to a visual epistle that transcends our fundamental understanding of life.”
For more information or to view more “found” nature or “chance” staged studio still-life images simply send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional photographs can be seen on the Exhibit Proposal page listed above.
Except for minor modifications in contrast or hue the only computer editing processes applied to Musgrave’s photographs is the occasional clone stamping of small spots of dust, lent, or reflective light. To view a slideshow of all of the photographs on this page just click on any photo… it will enlarge and the slideshow will begin.
Staged Series: Tickled Fancy
Staged series: CC Rider
Staged series: Light Ring Caress
“As far back as I can remember, the aesthetics of visual composition and the behavior of light have garnered my profound and enduring attention. Whether created by nature or man, their ability to affect my since of self and place is still paramount to my understanding of life. My Light Ring Caress images venture into that transformative realm.
How this series came about began with my need to make more space in my small studio trash bin… it is my habit to crush or cut up ephemera before discarding it… and often I throw some of that material onto my studio work table just to see what serendipitous surprises I may discover. If what I see holds my attention I photograph it. By chance the objects on the table on this day came out of the pockets of my favorite jacket. As a result, they were from several places in the world.
For example, the paper doily is from Adelaide and the rubber bands were given to me by a child in Perth, Australia; the large dark blue shape with light blue swirling dots is part of a shopping bag given to me in Freiburg, Germany and the large black rubber ring, I found on the street there; the blue-green wave like shape was part of a frozen yogurt cup and spoon I used in Colmar, France; the green dot and oval ring were part of a deli bag from a market in Hood River, Oregon; and the pieces of colored tissue paper are from London. I’m not sure where I acquired the other objects.
When I saw these disparate shapes together the light passing through and around them united them in an engaging way. I photographed them then shuffled them about to see if the effect still held with a new arrangement. It did, so I photographed them again and repeated that process several times … ending with a series of over 40 images.” One of the images from this series was featured in the 2016 Berlin Foto Biennale, Berlin, Germany and a major article about the Series was published in L’Oeil de la Photographie e-magazine, 27 February, 2016. Ten of the images are available for viewing and purchase at Blue Sky Gallery, Portland, OR through March 31, 2020.
Staged series: Evocative Rave
Staged series: Joyous Misbehavin’
This Series was selected as a finalist in the Fine Art, 9th Pollux Awards, Worldwide Photography Gala Awards and was included in their exhibit at Gallery Valid Foto, Barcelona, Spain during September 2017. It was also featured in the inaugural issue of Create Magazine, in the anniversary edition of LandEscape Art Review, in A5 Magazine (March 2018) as well as in Abstract 2017, a group exhibit that can be viewed at Gallery25N.com.
Staged series: Savvy Proclivities
This Series was featured in Lee’s solo pop-up exhibit in New York.
Staged series: Curlicue Flourish
This Series was featured in Musgrave’s solo pop-up exhibit in New York and received the Honorable Mention 5th Place Award, 2015 Fine Art Photography Awards, Abstract.
Nature Series: Bygum
Most of the images in this series were photographed in Adelaide and Perth, Australia.
Staged Series: Fiddle Diddle With Red Bean
Nature Series: Radiant Embrace
Nature Series: Autumn Angst
This series was selected as a Finalists in the 6th Edition of the Pollux Awards.
Nature series: Delectable Yum
Nature series: Thought Linger
Nature series: Aus Tree Line
These images where captured in Adelaide and Perth, Australia.