July 11, 2011
Artful talents beyond the track


photo by Heather CootsSARATOGA SPRINGS — Exercise rider Heather Coots kept a disposable camera tucked between her cleavage, beneath a perspiration-soaked tank top and flak jacket.

She snapped photos of the ethereal shadows cast by majestic thoroughbreds that she galloped at dawn's early light.

"Whenever it was safe and I had an easy horse, I took pictures. I always thought the horse's shadows were cool and made interesting abstract shapes that contrasted with the dirt on the track," said Coots, 38, a rider who has worked out horses at race tracks for 13 years.

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backstretchJune 30, 2011
National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame

July 18 – December 31, 2011
“SARATOGA SPRINGS — “A View From the Backstretch,” an exhibit featuring the photographic work of several horsemen and horsewomen, will open July 18 at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame and runs through Dec. 31. The exhibit is a collaboration between award-winning photographer Dona Ann McAdams and a group of backstretch workers, including exercise riders, hot walkers, maintenance personnel, kitchen staff, and grooms.

A sneak preview of “A View From the Backstretch” will take place for the media on Tuesday, July 12 from 1-4 p.m. in the Museum’s von Stade Gallery. McAdams and several of the photographers will be on hand for interviews and photographs.

The exhibition features more than 60 color photographs taken from the unique perspective of the backstretch workers. In 2010, this group participated in weekly workshops with McAdams. They made their artwork between feeding, grazing, and breezing horses; schooling in the paddock or icing legs, harrowing the track, or riding in company. Throughout the year, they learned photographic techniques, studied the work of other photographers, work-shopped, and critiqued each other’s work.

The backstretch photographers include: Louis Garcia, Heather Coots, Alvin Davis, Frank Fodera, Shannon Geiser, Maximino and Esperanza Nolazco, Paul Perry, Steve Lockett, Veronika Laciokovo, Salvador Hernandez, Chris Stephens, Kenny Streicher, Sigrid Wallace, and Carole Williams.

Click here to view the exhibit catalogue (pdf / 5.7 MBs)

December 4, 2009
The C-Mon Q&A: Photographer and activist Dona Ann McAdams

By SanSuzie

photo by Heather CootsLast year when we spent the year slacking around Rome, we were fortunate to spend many of those hours wandering the streets with photographer and activitst Dona Ann McAdams — the artist best known for Caught in the Act, a book of photographs chronicling the work of performance artists such as Karen Finley, Eric Bogosian, Blue Man Group, Meredith Monk, Ethyl Eichelberger, Ann Magnuson, Bill T. Jones, and Allen Ginsburg, among others. McAdams, a street photographer in the tradition of Henri Cartier Bresson, was a pretty funny companion, riffing on everything she saw. But what we didn’t always notice is that even while she gabbed, she was skillfully zeroing in on her surroundings without breaking pace or even stopping the conversation, snapping away with a three-decade old Leica. “Ninety percent of what I shoot is crap,” McAdams once remarked when we happened to see the hundreds of rolls of black and white film in her refrigerator. Despite what she may say, her filter nonetheless manages to catch startlingly beautiful, humorous, unguarded moments that are intended as much to be chronicles of McAdams interest in social activism as pure beauty.

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Copyright © Dona Ann McAdams
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