From 2005-2009, Portland, Oregon was home to the locally infamous Sugar Gallery; a space, which devoted itself to nurturing emerging talent and thanks to curator Michael J DeMeo (who assumed the role in 2007) became known for its directional and heavily themed exhibitions – from portraits of Scandinavian death metal bands to naked girls frolicking against empty landscapes. Sugar, like many, fell victim to the recession. But the spirit of the defunct gallery lives on as DeMeo now uses his experience and contacts to produce ‘No Thoughts,’ a black and white quarterly zine championing established photographers, alongside those set to blow up in the not too distant future…
Dazed Digital: Tell us about how you got into photography...
Michael J DeMeo: My father is a photographer so taking pictures has always been a part of my life. As I grew older my interest in art and media deepened. I had a cable access television show that featured sketch comedy, I was in punk/hardcore and noise bands, and I was making weird art-punk zines and traveling the US.
DD: Why did you decide to put the zine together?
Michael J DeMeo: I was working as a photo curator and gallery manager at the Sugar Gallery helping for about 3 years. It was a place where I got to meet and work with a lot of amazing photographers such as Peter Beste, Elizabeth Weinberg, Jimmy Fontaine, Corey Smith, Mike Schreiber, and Ray Lego. Keeping an art gallery open is extremely challenging and when the recession hit here in the states we had to make the decision to close our doors. I just worked on my own photographs until about a year or so later when the idea to do the zine came to me. This is about 2009 or so when the latest boom of photozines and self published photobooks really exploded again.
DD: What kind of photographers do you showcase?
Michael J DeMeo: We've been able to publish work by young photographers like Bryant Eslava who shoots for Spin and other fashion and music magazines now; Samantha Casolari who shoots for Dossier Magazine, and Jimmy Fontaine whose work is in just about every music and lifestyle magazine out right now. They're all just exploding on the photo scene. We've also been able to feature established photographers like Mike Schreiber whose portraits of Hip Hop musicians are some of the most iconic images of the last decade. Ray Lego who was called one of the world's best photographers by Lurzers Archive, Flo Fox a blind female photographer who is famous for shooting herself for Playboy, and Brad Elterman whose prolific work in the late 70s and early 80s featured almost every major name in the rock and roll scene.
DD: It's all black and white, why's that?
Michael J DeMeo: From an artistic viewpoint colour depicts reality. Black and white is an interpretation of reality. A lot of the photographers we publish have strong roots with the fine art and documentary side of photography and Kodak Tri-X black and white film has been the film that photographers have trusted for generations. There's a drama with black and white film that just can't be achieved with colour...oh yeah, and it's much cheaper to print.
Issue 8 is available to buy now at nothoughtszine