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Local photographer focuses on future after exhibit

PHIELDING+PHOTOGRAPHY+QUESTIONS+PHROM+PHANS%3A+Chip+Simone+answers+questions+from+visitors+at+his+exhibit%2C+The+Resonant+Image%2C+on+the+bottom+floor+of+the+High+Museum.++Simone+was+often+present+at+the+High+and+frequently+discussed+his+work++with+the+people+who+visited+his+show.+
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Local photographer focuses on future after exhibit

PHIELDING PHOTOGRAPHY QUESTIONS PHROM PHANS: Chip Simone answers questions from visitors at his exhibit, The Resonant Image, on the bottom floor of the High Museum.  Simone was often present at the High and frequently discussed his work  with the people who visited his show.

PHIELDING PHOTOGRAPHY QUESTIONS PHROM PHANS: Chip Simone answers questions from visitors at his exhibit, The Resonant Image, on the bottom floor of the High Museum. Simone was often present at the High and frequently discussed his work with the people who visited his show.

PHIELDING PHOTOGRAPHY QUESTIONS PHROM PHANS: Chip Simone answers questions from visitors at his exhibit, The Resonant Image, on the bottom floor of the High Museum. Simone was often present at the High and frequently discussed his work with the people who visited his show.

PHIELDING PHOTOGRAPHY QUESTIONS PHROM PHANS: Chip Simone answers questions from visitors at his exhibit, The Resonant Image, on the bottom floor of the High Museum. Simone was often present at the High and frequently discussed his work with the people who visited his show.

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PHIELDING PHOTOGRAPHY QUESTIONS PHROM PHANS: Chip Simone answers questions from visitors at his exhibit, “The Resonant Image,” on the bottom floor of the High Museum. Simone was often present at the High and frequently discussed his work with the people who visited his show. Photo by Lucy Leonard.

 

By Lucy Leonard

We stood in the corner of the photography exhibit, alternating between standing on our toes and on our heels.

“Click, click,” said Chip Simone, the photographer featured in the exhibit, as he reached the apex of his step. “That’s how I taught myself to take a picture while walking.”

People wandered around the room on the bottom floor of the High Museum of Art, stopping sporadically to lean in and admire Chip’s pictures, creating breath marks on the glass cases. They didn’t pay any attention to the two people pretending to take photos while bouncing around on their toes.

I mimicked his movements, grasping my real camera just as he did his imaginary one.

Finally, someone looked at us. Chip walked over and stood next to them as they intensely examined his picture.

“Let me know if you have any questions about the exhibit,” Chip said.

The man smiled as Chip asked him about the camera he was holding.

“Oh, my name is Chip Simone, by the way,” he added in a nonchalant manner.

The man smiled again, a bit taken aback.

“Wow, your work is amazing,” the man said.

As Chip walked toward me, I watched the man turn to his companion excitedly, his bewildered expression never faltering.

“That’s Chip Simone,” he said. “This is his work!”

This was not a strange occurrence at Chip’s photography exhibit at the High Museum, The Resonant Image, which lasted from June 18 to Nov. 6. Any person who visited the exhibit while Chip was there was sure to get this special treatment.

While I was there, Chip introduced me to Cynthia Hall, one of the security guards at the exhibit, telling her not to worry that I was taking pictures because he had gotten me special permission. Hall said Chip and his exhibition were a main attraction at the museum.

“This is what everybody comes down here to see,” Hall said. “‘Chip Simone. Where’s Chip Simone?’ they ask.”

Chip spent enough time at the High to befriend many of the museum’s employees.

“The director of the museum asked me recently, ‘What are you going to do now that the show’s coming down, Chip? What are you going to do with your life since you can’t come here all the time?’” Chip said as he watched two of the security guards laughing idly in the doorway. “I started laughing, and I said, ‘Well, I’m fine with it. But everyone’s been so nice to me that I definitely will miss it.’”

People at the High are sad to see him go, too.

“We’re going to really, really miss him,” Hall said.

When I asked him how he felt on the last day of the show, he gave me a rather surprising answer.

“I’m very excited,” Chip said. “Whatever happens next is going to be the next chapter, and there are all kinds of indications that it is going to be a very exciting time.”

There are definitely signs that the next chapter will be another pinnacle in his narrative. A week earlier, as we sat on Chip’s front porch and rested in the throws of the shade provided by the Yoshino Cherry tree that held court in his front yard, the occasional car zoomed by, and Chip’s panting white shepherd Bianca rested her snout on my knee. And then Chip’s phone rang.

“You’re going to have to sit through this,” he said. “Sorry, but it’s important.”

That’s the thing about Chip. Every conversation is important. Anything that someone has to say is the grand opening for the Conversation of the Year.

He laughed into the phone. He was speaking to the director of photography at Sotheby’s, a major art auctioneer, about his upcoming trip to New York City.

When he hung up, after a slight coughing fit and a cool glass of water, we discussed his impending projects. In January, Chip will have a show at Jackson Fine Art, one of Atlanta’s leading photography galleries, featuring work from his book Chroma.

A gallery in New York City also courted him to give a spring show at the Steven Kasher Gallery, which specializes in fine-art photography and which Chip called “the top of the heap.”

“If you show in New York, then you can show any place,” he said.

A week later, back in the museum, I sat with Chip during the final day of the exhibit.

He stared, surprisingly silent, at the “cover wall” that touted his name and achievements, and that is when I realized, maybe for the first time, how much Chip’s work means to him.

“Maybe you can take a picture of me in front of my title wall?” he said to me, as he stood up and posed in front of the red background. Apparently, even photographers like to have their pictures taken.

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