Smith Galtney: My Principal Ghost
- Date: January 22, 2019 - March 29, 2019
- Location: USM AREA Gallery, Portland
These pictures were taken between 2014 and 2018, a period when the chaos of my early adulthood somehow evolved into a calm, content midlife. I’d just finished photography school. My partner and I got married. My transition from New Yorker to Mainer felt complete. I also said goodbye to a dear old friend, who died suddenly - and rather unsurprisingly - in early 2016. Given our shared history, it’s a wonder I wasn’t buried with him.
I drive a lot. Not just around Maine, the way we all do, but regularly between Maine and New York City. I’m a Southern boy at heart, born and raised in New Orleans, so I’m in awe of New England and its dramatic change of landscape and season. The images here weren’t created with a specific project in mind - I just started shooting on black-and-white film - but like all snapshots, they’ve revealed themselves over time. Certain shadows have emerged.
This work is an attempt to show the continuance of the past by photographing its imprint on the present. As Faulkner famously said, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
Galtney is a photographer whose central themes are aging, marraige, and addiction, with rural Maine and New York City serving as common backdrops. In 2017, Smith collaborated with New York-based photographer Matthew Papa on The Loved Ones, a show about family and its many facets that hung at Speedwell Project in Portland, Maine. In the fall of 2014, he was commissioned by the Frannie Peabody Center to create SeeingME: Profiles of Resilience, a series of portraits highlighting the diverse individuals who represent the AIDS/HIV community in Maine. His ongoing project, currently titled The Ballad of Domestic Tranquility, is an autobiographical body of work that portrays gay marriage for what it is - enormous in a historical sense, yet average and unremarkable in the day-to-day.