Monday, April 06, 2009

Grand Vision and Strong Community Ties Part of the Austin Center for Photography Plan

David Keenan, Founder and President of the Austin Center for Photography, has always had a knack for bringing talented groups of people together. Growing up, his networking skills and strategic thinking flourished on the basketball court. “I always loved to get teams together, and they could be three-on-three teams or city league teams-- it didn’t matter. Our win/loss record was pretty good because it was all about finding the right group of talent and bringing them together.”

Keenan, who has built a successful career in the software industry, is now turning his attention to his passion for photography. Keenan has long carried a vision for creating a grand, top-tier photographic center in Austin that features national as well as local talent—one that provides a welcoming community for those with a love of photography. Keenan turned to the Houston Center for Photography to expand his knowledge into how successful photography-centered non-profit entities operate. “Madeline Yale (Executive Director and Curator of HCP) and many other members were extremely helpful in sharing information about how they’d made HCP successful.”

The Board members of ACP envision a uniquely-Austin center designed to celebrate the breadth of talent across the country as well as in our own backyard. Keenan states that the ACP board is filled with “a great group of people, each with unique talents, and each is committed to the success of this vision. Jerry Sullivan, owner of Precision Camera & Video, is a member of the board. There are no egos involved. They just want to see ACP grow and connect with the community.”

Keenan also states that Austin is home to many highly-regarded and talented photographers and bringing them together as a resource to celebrate the craft and connect with the community is a driving force in expanding ACP. “There are so many celebrated photographers in Austin and most people don’t even realize they live here. For example, Marianne Fulton, an ex-curator of the George Eastman house and the author of Mary Ellen Mark: 25 Years, calls Austin home. She is just one example of the rich resources we have here in our city.”

The ACP’s first Icons in Photography event, An Evening with Mary Ellen Mark, was a huge sold-out success. Ms. Mark was then interviewed by Texas Monthly Talks’ Evan Smith (this interview will air in early May). There are three more events planned this year, the next one being An Evening with Alec Soth on June 4, 2009. Future plans for ACP within the next three years include expansion into offering a national competition with possible grants and awards, two galleries that feature national and local artists, a variety of workshops and an integrated coffee shop with walls to be graced with quality photographic art. There is also some discussion about a possible youth outreach initiative to encourage young photographers to pursue their passion for the craft.

The Austin Center for Photography is still in its infancy but many see its potential as nothing less than stunning. The ACP welcomes volunteers to assist with its Icons in Photography Events and also offers memberships that start at as little as just $30per year. For more information, visit


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