Alliance photographer to exhibit at art walk

Local photographer Bette Lee will be exhibiting a portion of her work at the “Last Thursday Art Walk” on May 29 in southeast Portland. The exhibit will take place at office of The Portland Alliance at 2807 SE Stark St. from 6-11 p.m.

Lee, whose images are frequently found in the pages of The Alliance (we'll have some pictures on the web soon), is considered by many as the unofficial photographer of Portland’s Left. She has been photographing the activities of mass political movements for over 20 years, starting with the anti-nuclear campaigns of the early 1980s. Since moving to Portland, the Singapore-born photographer has captured some of Portland’s most tempestuous moments, including police attacks on protesters over the last several years. Lee’s work also includes images from anti-globalization activity including the WTO protests in Seattle in 1999 and subsequent anti-globalization and anti-capitalist demonstrations in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and San Francisco.

Political protest isn’t the only focus of Lee’s camera. In addition to her work with Portland’s left, Lee has studied the city’s exotic dancer culture, producing a series of photographs that are both erotic and questioning about image and reality. Lee has also produced a series of still life pieces that are clearly a tip of the hat to Edward Weston’s highly stylized images of peppers and other vegetables.

Lee’s work won’t be found in the usual galleries around town. She is a sharp critic of the gallery system, which she sees as an agent for commodifying art and exploiting those who create it. Her photographs have been shown at the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center and other smaller, non-traditional venues.

The May 29 exhibit will include a variety of photographs representing her work and a series of postcards based on her photographs.
—Dave Mazza

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December 31, 2002