Group Show – Nov 5, 2010 – Art Department – Portland, Oregon

Group Show @ Department, Portland, OR

Happy to be showing work from the Sand Dollar series in a one night only  Group Show!


November 5, 2010

6-11 PM

Art Department

1315 SE  9th Ave

Portland, OR

Artists:  Jessica Breedlove, Jason Fiske, Kristen Flemington, Josh Latham, and Matt Niebuhr


Hope to see you there.


Welcome to America’s Favorite Thrift Store!

Welcome to America’s Favorite Thrift Store!  © Matt Niebuhr

An interesting quote to consider from Smith’s The Wealth of Nations: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.”

Assuming that you might qualify, how will you choose to put your economic stimulus payment to good work?


Brian Ulrich has been doing a series on the theme for some time… above and this variation below is my take on it….

Group show – December 6, 2008 – January 2009

100 x 100 PHOTO organized by the Barcelona art gallery Espai [b]

“Every Season, Every Occasion, Every Day!” – Matt Niebuhr 2007

60 cm x 40 cm – on aluminum sheet

limited edition of 100

More information:

…talk of "citizen journalism"…

(Cover attribution – Aperture no. 189 – Hara Mikiko, Untitled, from the series Is As It, 1996)

A recent post over on Conscientious about citizen journalism – considers an interesting question about the potential “use” of photographs, and ownership “rights” but I think perhaps another more important and broad question in my opinion is about why one might be inspired to try to photograph – and further to share that image in the public domain. I can’t speak for other’s and what motivates them to take pictures – whether it’s for a living or for fun – as a “professional” or an “amateur” an “artist” or a “photojournalist”. But I can elaborate a little bit on what motives me.

With the utmost of serendipity and completely by chance, I have a concrete recent example to consider and I’d like to share my thoughts about this topic.

“Vote Here” article and photograph selections by William Drenttel and Jessica Helfand – Aperture no 189 – Winter 2007

At this time, I feel compelled to note that I am not affiliated with Aperture – (I am a basic consumer with a subscription) – nor am I affiliated with AIGA or the Winterhouse Institute.

In the context of this post, I am an interested citizen with a camera.

I learned of the “Polling Place Project” through a post on Alec Soth’s blog. I did my due diligence and “read the fine print” which by the way is an important aspect to consider: “In the spirit of public access and broad dissemination, all photographs are contributed under an “Attribution No Derivatives” Creative Commons license.” This type of license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you. I am in support of this method of “allowing” the usage of photographs while retaining the copyright and credit.

I felt the project was (and is) a worth while exercise to see what I might see. So, I got out there, voted, and took some pictures. But, more importantly, and now in hindsight, is to see what other citizens pictured. I felt – and still do feel – that the solicitation for “citizen photographs of the places we vote” was an interesting topic. It remains to be seen what the “anthology of photographs” may tell us. I look forward to seeing, reading, and hopefully learning more about the project.

Exit - DM 8
Exit – Precinct Polling Station – DM 8
Westchester Evangelical Free Church (West Entrance)
Des Moines, Iowa
November, 2006
Matt Niebuhr
© All rights reserved

I can’t “tell you” what to think about the particular selection of photographs, it’s important to think about the “curatorial” role in all of this. It’s up to you to decide – to test the sensitivity of your perceptions. I can say that I was surprised by the realization of the location / juxtaposition of signs and symbols – overt and covert – public / private spaces. The most striking irony to me, became apparent in the degree of the ‘supposed’ separation of church and state. But of course these are my views – my personal perceptions of these particular polling places. What do you think?

DM 13
Precinct DM 13
Moore School
Des Moines, Iowa
November, 2006

Matt Niebuhr

© All rights reserved

In summary, in the context of a discussion regarding “citizen journalism” , the currency of exchange is not based upon money, but rather, it is hoped, that the currency is based upon the exchange of my view as presented through my photograph(s). There-in lies the real potential value: a critical visual cultural exchange – one based upon the particulars here of what to me is the most valuable of our democratic of experiences – the right to vote – and further – the opportunity to exercise that right.

PS: The King is dead. Long live the King!

Crib [near Rockwell City, Iowa]

A special thanks to FILE magazine for presenting a selection seen here from Portraits: Faces and Profiles of Utility.

More of this may be seen here:

Village View Farm 1904 [West Central Iowa 2006]

One in a series entitled Portraits: Faces and Profiles of Utility

Pictured this way, this particular subject grouping becomes iconic – almost too much so perhaps. For me it is precisely this issue. This is the quintessential farmstead of 1904 pictured in 2006. Do we really see these farmsteads as symbols anymore or has this way of life receded into personal memory only?

More of my project work here:

Untitled [Barn, North elevation, North of Aurelia, Cherokee County, Iowa]

Untitled [Barn, North elevation, North of Aurelia, Cherokee County, Iowa], 2006, Matt Niebuhr

North of Aurelia, along county road about 4 miles north of hi-way 3, a barn.

All by itself.

From the series Portraits: Portraits: Faces and Profiles of Utility, a vestige of another time and another farmstead, slowly vanishing from the Iowa Landscape. I’ve made it a concern of mine now to look closely for these old structures – most are relatively insignificant examples of rural utility in action, but in the aggregate become an alarming signal of an end of an era. Gone (or slowly vanishing) are the old wood barns and corn cribs. There usefulness – that rural utility is disappearing, replaced by modern steel structures – faster, bigger, cheaper… and soulless.

Only occasionally can you find one of these old guys re-purposed and thus maintained… A few are being saved most likely out of a certain defiance of changing times. Its been changing for some time now. Mega farms – mass industrialized farming is the economic reality. More to come on this subject as I am contemplating an assembly…

One in a series entitled Portraits: Faces and Profiles of Utility