Program Report: Chris Ogden – The FENCE

What do Brooklyn, Boston, Atlanta, Houston, Santa Fe, and Denver have in common with Durham?

Besides innate coolness, they will all be sites of The FENCE 2017 – An Outdoor Photography Exhibition Series.

On Monday, local photographer Chris Ogden provided some background on the project which is scheduled to be on view from mid-August to November. Mr. Ogden was introduced by Past President Arthur Rogers.

Mr. Ogden is also chair of the city’s Public Art Committee and is not your average weddings and school pictures photographer.  He made his presentation in sunglasses claiming that he lost his regular glasses and needed the prescription sunglasses to see. Maybe, but it gave an artsy feel to the whole meeting that seemed appropriate. In his profile on his own website he describes himself as a fine art photographer “with a twist.” The images themselves have an abstract quality to them that is fascinating and make it worth spending a few minutes or more on his website viewing his work.

The Fence itself will encircle the block on Mangum Street directly across the street from City Hall on chain link fencing contributed by Dickerson Fencing in Durham and be about 1800 meters of large scale shots printed on black vinyl.

All the photographs were selected by a juror panel and Durham’s version will include local selections as well as national selections which are included on the fences in all the cities. The local jury included Rotarian Sarah Schroth of the Nasher and Frank Kronhaus, husband of Rotarian and architect Ellen Cassilly. A Durham photographer, Lori Vrba, is represented among the National selections.

Although the cultural benefits of such interactive events are clear, Mr. Ogden also described the economic development aspects of events like this and, in fact, one of the sponsors is the City’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.  The event is expected to draw people into the Downtown area from all over the area well beyond the Triangle. Another side benefit is that it get kids and their parents outside and walking.

One of the questions that Mr. Ogden responded to was from Rotarian Geraud Staton who was interested in how the artist/photographers were compensated. There are $25,000 in prizes that will be awarded but the event also provides the exposure to sell fine art photography and involve people in collecting and taking up this art. Durham is the sixth city on the tour for The Fence.

In the late eighties when the American Tobacco Plant closed, it would have been hard to imagine that someday Durham would be included in a list of major cities hosting a unique cultural even like this.

To learn more about The Fence there are two websites with lots of additional information. The first is which focuses on the national tour, and Enjoy the websites but also get out and enjoy the installation when it arrives later in the month.

Submitted by Jay Zenner

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