What Happens to My Artwork After I Die?



Like many photographers of a certain age, I still have hundreds of prints from a decades long career. Not surprisingly, I ponder what to do with them as I get older and have intimations of mortality. What will happen to my work after I’m gone? What can I do about it now? Assuming that you, too, are an artist of a certain age and have an inventory of work, here are some questions to consider and, I hope, answer.

  1. What are you doing with the work that you still have?
  2. Do you have a plan for the distribution of your work after your death?
  3. Is there someone—a curator, collector, dealer—who champions your work?
  4. Do you have a friend, spouse or someone else with whom you have an agreement concerning bequeathing, trading or selling your work?
  5. Are you engaged in collaborations with other artists dealing with this or related issues?

No comments here yet, but several “likes” on Facebook.

Here’s what I have done thus far:

  • Thrown out several hundred dupes, 2nd prints and mediocre images.
  • Contacted museums that either have some of my work or others where a donation would be appropriate; e.g., a series shot in New Orleans to a museum in New Orleans.
  • Donated a series of the flood wall in Louisville to the University of Louisville’Photographic Archives. Donated works by three local photographers and a photographer from Cincinnati to the Archives.
  • Have not and will not donate the most valuable works that I own by others. Hopefully, they will benefit my heirs.

Here’s an idea: get together with some of your photographer friends and trade work, lots of work. That way you will be able to donate each other’s works at fair market value to your favorite museum or nonprofit, something tax laws don’t allow you to do with your own work.. There are more options to collaborating, which I’ll share with you next time.

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Tom Holland – 1937 – 2017

Tom Holland died August 31. He was a husband, father, grandfather, friend, and artist. In each of these, he was exceptional and wholehearted. I am so glad to have known him.

Click on any image to enlarge and sort through all.

Bill Morlock – 1925 – 2017


It was a joy to have known Bill Morlock during four visits to Wisconsin with Cathy. I made photographs of him and his family, a few of which are shown here. There is a warmhearted obituary written by Bill and Elinor’s son Jerry to which this is a link:


Click on any image to enlarge it.

Saturday Art Tour (2015)

February 13, 2016:  I hopped on my bike in Santa Fe and rode to the Lannan Foundation where there was an exquisite small show of contemporary paintings by Anselm Keifer, Morris Louis and others as well as two drawings by Sol Lewitt. As I was leaving, I photographed a lone orchid in the sunlight. Next I went to the O’Keeffe Museum, where there was a quirky and delightful show of Susan York’s carbon pieces interspersed with O’Keeffe paintings to which they related; while there I photographed the shadow of a tree on a large window shade. And, finally, I arrived at the New Mexico Museum of Art, where Shakespeare’s First Folio was on view as well as a stunning show of guitars from hundreds of years ago to the present time. Sitting in the gorgeous museum courtyard afterwards, I photographed a chile ristra hanging above some native grasses. The triptych below is my offering from that day. All photos conveniently taken with my iPhone.



James Turrell in Houston (2016)

I was in Houston in January to see the Mark Rothko show at the Museum of Fine Arts. One way to get from one of the MFA’s buildings to the other is through a tunnel/hallway in which there is an extraordinary Turrell installation.


After spending a good bit of the day at the MFA, we walked over to the Rice University campus and visited Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Skyspace in which the center of the two-story structure in open to the darkening sky. Light is projected onto the interior walls and ceiling in a changing array of rainbow colors. The effect is quite magical. The montage below was shot with my iPhone from where I was seated.


Google Earth Is His Muse

Google Earth Is His Muse, an article by Philip Gefter, in the August 28, 2015 New York Times is about the photographic work of Mishka Henner. It is part of an increasing trend of photographers using the Web to source and share images.


Poetry Matters: A Collaboration Between New Mexico CultureNet and Santa Fe Community College

In 2012, New Mexico CultureNet, the educational nonprofit organization that I founded in 1997, collaborated with the Video Services Department at Santa Fe Community College (Doreen Gallegos, Director) to videotape New Mexico poets reading and performing their work. Most of these videos are available on Youtube by searching “New Mexico CultureNet.” The objective of this project was to provide readings by a culturally diverse group of  poets for students, teachers and lovers of poetry to enjoy and be inspired by.


© Alex Traube
Poet Jasmine Sena Cuffe

New Mexico CultureNet’s Poets-in-the-Schools Program

For years, New Mexico CultureNet sponsored poets to work in public middle schools and high schools. The poets we hired were dynamic and diverse and inspiring. Below is a performances by the luminous Jasmine Sena Cuffe. You can find many more on Youtube by searching, “New Mexico CultureNet.”

Since 1997,  Poets-in-the-Schools have reached thousands of students, teachers and community members throughout New Mexico. The goals of the program are to promote literacy, student self-confidence and tolerance of people “other” than oneself. Another goal is to support teachers. Our poets have worked in schools and with agencies in pretty much every corner of New Mexico:

Alameda Middle School, Santa Fe, Albuquerque High School, Bernalillo Middle School, Capital High School, Santa Fe, Capshaw Middle School, Santa Fe, Carlos Vigil Middle School, Española, Center for the Study & Education of Diverse Populations, NMHU, Chaparral High School, De Vargas Middle School, Santa Fe, Des Moines High School, Eldorado Middle School, Futures for Children, Girl Scouts, Grants High School, Kirkland Middle School, Farmington, Lovington Junior High School, Lovington High School, Los Lunas Middle School, New Mexico Children, Families & Youth, NM Higher Education Department, NM Suicide Intervention Program, Ortiz Middle School, Santa Fe, Pecos Middle School, Pojoaque Middle School, Pojoaque Valley High School, Ratón High School, Santa Fe High School, Soccoro Middle School, Tse Bit’Ai Middle School, Shiprock, University of New Mexico Creative Writing Program, and Upward Bound.

PITS Poster-07

Click on poster to enlarge it.

Henry Holmes Smith and Cameraless Photography

Uncle Henry

Henry Holmes Smith, Bloomington, Indiana, 1973

Henry Holmes Smith taught photography at Indiana University, where he founded the first MFA program in Photography in the country. Henry had a unique way of making images, no doubt influenced by his former career as a cartoonist. He would use a thick, pitted and scratched piece of plate glass and draw on it with light and dark Caro Syrup. Under darkroom safe lights, he would place a piece of photographic paper behind the glass, stand the glass upright, causing the syrup to run, and then flash the sensitized paper with light. He would develop the print, and if he liked the results, would have it copied onto 4×5 film, which he could reproduce. He called these images Refraction Prints.

Below are ten of Henry’s Refraction Prints that are from Portfolio II: The Work of Henry Holmes Smith, produced and published by the Center for Photographic Studies, 1973.

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Anne Noggle: A Unique Talent

The Effortless Honesty of Anne Noggle


 Anne Noggle, ca. 1943 and ca. 1987

Anne Noggle was irascible, willful and tough. During WWII, Anne was a WASP (Women’s Air Service Pilot), towing targets that were used for artillery practice behind her plane. After the war, she worked as a crop duster before taking up photography. She was a student of Van Deren Coke’s at the University of New Mexico and later served as Photography Curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe.

Her photographs, specifically, her self-portraits, are among the most significant photographic art of the late 20th Century. Using herself as the subject, they address aging, self-image and emotional vulnerability in women. Noggle’s work, in my opinion, relates well to Cindy Sherman’s “Film Stills,” self-portraits commenting on stereotypical roles of women in 1950s films. Together, the photographs of Sherman and Noggle would make a splendid show. Below is a selection of Anne’s photographs.