The Austin Chronicle

L. Nowlin Gallery

The shutter closes

By Robert Faires, February 4, 2011, Arts

Lesley Nowlin wasn't looking to open a gallery two years ago, but when the opportunity presented itself, the photographer felt that she owed it to her fellow lens masters – an underrepresented population of Austin's gallery scene – to give it a shot. For the past 20 months, L. Nowlin Gallery has showcased work by more than 50 photographers in 15 solo and group exhibits. But now Nowlin has announced that the current show, "Storytelling," running through Feb. 12, will be the gallery's last. In advance of the closing reception this Saturday, Nowlin reflects on her journey as an accidental gallerist.

Austin Chronicle: What was your most gratifying moment in running the gallery?

Lesley Nowlin: Being able to exhibit one of my all-time favorite photographers, Bruce Davidson. I studied his work in art school, and his subject matter and compositions were so captivating. To be able to present someone of his caliber at my gallery was one of the best moments. I'd also have to say making a lot of great friends and contacts along the way.

AC: What would you say you've learned from showing other photographers' images?

LN: I've definitely learned how to approach galleries in the future and how to create a solid, cohesive body of work, something I haven't been able to do yet. Constantly viewing other photographers' work also allows me to understand my own vision as a photographer and how to view my work outside of myself. Sometimes I can get so stuck in my own visual world, as most artists can, that it's challenging to see it from a different perspective and grow creatively. Representing others has definitely allowed me to do this.

AC: What, if anything, will you miss about running the gallery?

LN: Mostly interacting with photographers and being able to curate shows, as well as talking about photography with people who care about this subject. It's been incredible to be able to help emerging photographers, because I consider myself in the same boat. I enjoy very much meeting new photographers and being able to have a dialogue about what motivates the artist. It's inspiring and permits me to explore my own art.

AC: What are you most looking forward to doing after the gallery closes?

LN: Photographing things I care about again and putting together a body of work that illustrates my vision. Twins, workers, human rights – all subjects I care about. I'd love to work on my portfolio again, so I can be on the other side of the gallery world. I miss being behind the camera very much, as well as in the darkroom.

A closing reception for L. Nowlin Gallery will be held Saturday, Feb. 5, 6-8pm, at 1202-A W. Sixth. The exhibition "Storytelling" continues through Feb. 12. For more information, visit

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