Published on Tuesday, February 19, 2019
AIPAD Turns 40, Members Retain Their Passion
Janet Russek and David Scheinbaum at The Photography Show in 2017, Photograph credit: AIPAD
This year marks AIPAD’s 40th anniversary. And with the 2019 installation of The Photography Show almost upon us, we’d like to take a moment to explore AIPAD over the years.
Since its founding in 1979, AIPAD has been dedicated to creating and maintaining the highest standards of scholarship and ethical practice in the business of exhibiting, buying and selling fine art photography. AIPAD membership serves as a marker of integrity and expertise for collectors pondering photography galleries — it is a credential of sorts. For the galleries themselves, it offers opportunities to mine shared industry knowledge, build mentorships and inspire progress.
Photography galleries of all shapes and sizes claim AIPAD membership — and the list of member galleries, currently boasting more than 100, only keeps growing. But even as AIPAD grows, and the market for fine art photography does with it, all the members — new and old — who comprise the Association retain the same level of passion for the medium and helping it thrive.
To prove this point, let’s travel back in time. We’ll begin around the time AIPAD first started, and ease our way back to today.
David Scheinbaum (Scheinbaum & Russek LTD)
The year is 1980. David Scheinbaum and his partner Janet Russek (currently co-owners of Scheinbaum & Russek LTD) were then assistants to Beaumont Newhall and Eliot Porter, respectively. At the time, Scheinbaum and Russek were preparing to open a professional gallery and move photographs from their living room to a gallery space. As Scheinbaum says, “We were photographers, and we worked with many local, important photographers whose work we had in the house, and because of that we had people coming over to our house asking to see photographs. Basically, our gallery started in our living room and the interest of the community gave us the incentive to start a gallery devoted to photography and works on paper.”
In 1983, Scheinbaum was helping a dealer print a portfolio of Beaumont Newhall’s photography. The dealer’s name? Harry Lunn.
Lunn saw what Scheinbaum and Russek were doing in their gallery and said, “If you want to be taken seriously as a gallery, you should join AIPAD.” AIPAD had been recently founded, in part by Lunn, only four years prior. Scheinbaum immediately said, “I don’t want to join anything.” Lunn said OK very patiently. Scheinbaum noted that when they started in 1980, Harry Lunn had invited him to Washington to his gallery. He said, “Take some photographs from my gallery back to Santa Fe, because you’ll need more work if you want to have a real gallery.” Scheinbaum was thrilled. Once in Washington, Lunn directed Scheinbaum to pick out some photos from his gallery. Scheinbaum picked out an Ansel Adams and an Edward Weston, among others, and assumed that Lunn would go through his selection and say, “Oh no, you can’t have that one or that one.” But to Scheinbaum’s surprise, Lunn didn’t so much as glance at his selection. He said, “Send me the list of photos you chose when you get home.”
In 1984, Scheinbaum accompanied Newhall to The Photography Show. He was inspired by seeing all the dealers about whom he had heard in person and getting a feel for what AIPAD meant to them — mainly camaraderie and industry knowledge. Scheinbaum thought back to when Lunn had blindly given him any photos he wanted, photos that kick-started his gallery, and he started to seriously consider joining the Association.
Beaumont Newhall, 1984 Photograph credit: Photograph by David Scheinbaum
Scheinbaum & Russek LTD became an AIPAD member. Scheinbaum was impressed with the people who comprised the organization at that time.
“With AIPAD, someone could bring you a photograph by a photographer whom maybe you didn’t know personally, and you could speak with a dealer who used to be that person’s assistant or someone who specializes in that. To be able to price things, know provenance, get history, learn about the photographs themselves … all of that information was shared amongst each other in AIPAD.”
Scheinbaum’s passion for AIPAD lives on. When asked why, he shared, “In AIPAD, we’re part of the same club, so to speak. We have the same standards, and we have the same passion for photography, and we have the same goals that we want to educate the public and we want to build a larger collector base.”
Years later, Scheinbaum has advice for newer members to AIPAD: “Get to know your colleagues. Get to know the other people who are doing what you’re doing, learn about different galleries’ expertise — get to know them. Use AIPAD as the network it’s meant to be. It’s a network of incredible information, it’s a network of vast amounts of information, and it need not just be about selling pictures. It’s the sharing for the passion we all have for photography, not just as a business, but as an art medium.”
And that passion continues on today, based on the thoughts and feelings of the newest member to AIPAD, Arnika Dawkins.
Arnika Dawkins (Arnika Dawkins Gallery)
Arnika Dawkins launched her photography gallery in 2012 during Atlanta Celebrates Photography, a large photo festival here in Atlanta. After receiving her Master’s Degree in Digital Photography at the Savannah College of Art and Design, also in Atlanta, she felt “very fulfilled and was studying photography.”
“Being a photo geek,” Dawkins said, “and studying photography brought me to AIPAD and The Photography Show. My husband and I annually attended AIPAD, and at the Show, it was wonderful to meet thought leaders in this medium: the medium of our time. It was always a pleasure to talk and learn more about photography from photography experts there. So, we started out going, and then I became more and more serious about opening a gallery.”
It was Peter Fetterman of Peter Fetterman Gallery, an AIPAD member gallery, who gave Dawkins the nudge she needed. Fetterman told Dawkins, “You’d be good at this. Why not give it a try?”
And so, Arnika Dawkins Gallery opened in 2012.
Arnika Dawkins at The Photography Show in 2017, Photograph credit: AIPAD
Six years after launching, Arnika Dawkins Gallery gained AIPAD membership, and Dawkins herself was thrilled.
“It’s incredible, and I’m looking forward to further establishing the relationships with the amazing dealers in AIPAD I already know and meeting others. I just love this ecosystem of other dealers, artists, photographers, writers, curators, it’s just… it’s just a fascinating place to be in business. And it’s an amazing opportunity for me as a gallerist and for the gallery and the artists that we represent and work with.”
Bigger, But Unchanged
Of note is the fact that Scheinbaum and Janet Russek, as well as Dawkins, spend their time taking photos and studying photography. They may have opened their respective galleries and joined AIPAD decades apart, but their passion is the same.
Says Dawkins, “We’re in a visual space now in history, and I get to show artists and photographers that are using the medium and expressing themselves visually, and it’s this amazing visual dialogue. I find that very interesting. I just love how there’s an opportunity in this industry to discuss a photograph, to come back to look at it, to have dialogue about it, to reflect ourselves in it or not; it’s just a great space.”
And now that Scheinbaum and Russek have some more free time on hand, they are devoting more hours to photography of their own.
As photography evolves and the market grows, so too will AIPAD. But the passion remains the same.