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Big shot: Sponsors sought to underwrite famous photographer visit

January 25, 2019

Legendary New York street photographer Bruce Gilden is coming to Brownsville in March to deliver two lectures — a rare chance for local photographers to learn from a master, and very expensive.

Bringing Gilden will cost around $7,000, according to BMFA board member Eduardo Martinez, who is also a photographer. Martinez said he hopes to attract enough sponsors to underwrite a substantial portion of the cost in order to keep ticket prices relatively low.

Gilden, part of the international photographic cooperative Magnum, who works, lectures and exhibits his photographs around the world, will give presentations at BMFA on March 13 and 14. The cost of admission will be $60 per seat, a bargain considering Gilden charges $1,700 for his master class. The lectures will include a slide show of the photographer’s work.

“ We’re looking to fill all seats,” Martinez said. “We have 60 seats available. I’m going to have to roll the dice here and pretend that it’s going to be covered by sponsors.”

He said he’s beating the bushes for financial support from the city’s business community, and has talked to several potential sponsors who have committed to helping but not to specific dollar amounts.

Gilden’s appearance signals a new emphasis on photography at the museum, Martinez said, adding that he thought it was important to feature a big name for the inaugural event. Gilden is famous for his raw, spontaneous close-ups of ordinary people. He’s published a number of books beginning in the 1990s, including, most recently, “Syracuse, 1981.”

Gilden’s style has had a big influence on photographers — including event and wedding photographers — even if they themselves don’t realize it, Martinez said.

“I thought it was important to get somebody down that, unbeknownst to us, we’ve been emulating for many years,” he said. “Bruce Gilden is the epitome of street photography. He is a living legend.”

Martinez said aspiring shooters who attend Gilden’s lecture likely will be “inspired to maybe up your game or even learn different techniques.”

“He’s not only going to shake everybody’s hand and welcome everybody, but he’s going to tell them how he went about it,” Martinez said. “He’s going to be talking about some of his failures.”

Sponsorship brings certain perks, including free museum rental, which usually costs between $4,000 and $5,000, he said. Anyone interested in being a sponsor should contact Deyanira Ramirez, BMFA interim director, at (956) 542-0941 or dramirez@brownsvillemfa.org.

“Gilden is just one component of what’s going to be an ongoing photography lecture series,” Martinez said. “To kick it off with Bruce Gilden is probably one of the best things that has happened here.”

sclark@brownsvilleherald.com

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