Date: 11/15/2012 Print This Post

Ira Goldstein Stands Out at World of Art Showcase as the Only Photography-Based Artist


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 Since launching his hybrid art form in February 2011, the North Carolina-based photography artist has created thousands of works—40 of which will be exhibited for the first time at The Wynn Las Vegas December 20-22 

While the World of Art Showcase ( will bring together renowned artists from around the world, Ira Goldstein will distinguish himself from his fellow exhibitors in two important ways. Among scores of painters, sculptors and creators of other works, he is the only participating photography-based artist at this event—a unique celebration of the visual arts at The Wynn Las Vegas December 20-22.

Goldstein will for the first time be exhibiting 40 images from his “Make Believe” series—a multi-faceted project based on the merging of the images he has gathered from his years of traveling throughout the world with playful studio photographs of female models. The works range in size from 20”x30” to 36”x72”. The catalog of personal photographs that he draws from range from dynamic landscapes to gritty urban images he has captured over the years on multiple visits to New York City—not far from Long Island, where the North Carolina-based artist grew up.

“Ira’s unique fusion of figurative photography with land and cityscape images offers an exciting final image that expands the possibilities of photography in art—truly in line with the overall vision of the World of Art Showcase,” says the event’s Executive Director Mario Parga. “His growing series of ‘Make Believe’ images deserves a wide audience and we are proud to include him as the only photography-based artist at our inaugural event.”

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of Goldstein’s “Make Believe” series is the fact that he has created thousands of images in such a relatively short period of time. Since he started shooting live models and creating these works in February 2011, his concepts and methods have been in constant flux as he continues to discover new directions with each session’s fresh array of images.

While he’s been working on this series for nearly two years, his journey to create these images via his evolving artistic sensibilities is based on years of observation, study, picture making and cataloguing. The power of his NYC-based work is all the more fascinating because of the vast amount of photographs Goldstein has taken over the years on travels throughout Asia, Europe, Africa, North and South America and even the North and South Poles.

“I’d been thinking about creating this type of series for two years before I started it,” says Goldstein, “but my full time career as President of Jerry’s Artarama keeps me very busy, and it’s not easy to find big blocks of time to devote to both the model photography and the hours it takes in Photoshop to create these works. I started blocking out weekends and evenings, and my compulsion to create this very different art form just kept happening and growing. Once I started doing it, I really broke free.

I always thought it would be interesting to mix live models with my extensive work as a photographer,” he adds. “I’ve been a longtime collector of images and while I get a tremendous amount of enjoyment taking pictures, that’s not where it ends for me anymore. I take the nature and urban shots and blend those with bodyscape images. At first I loved using my landscape work but then I started to find the cityscapes even more interesting—everything from fire escapes and streets with lights to graffiti. It’s been a tremendous journey so far. I have worked with over 25 models so far, each of whom spend an hour long session with a makeup artist.”

Goldstein calls it the “Make Believe” series because in life, he believes, everyone makes believe at some point, taking on different roles in their parallel worlds. He stresses the importance of seeing the eyes and soul of the person. At first, he would take the 150-200 best shots of the model from any give session and start creatively matching them with his catalog shots, but soon it became more fun and interesting to shoot them knowing what background he was going to use.

“Sometimes it was like a puzzle I would put together later but other times I would think about what kinds of poses would work best with which background images,” he says. “Once I had the images in mind, I would ask the models to pretend they’re in certain circumstances, like play acting. Also, before the session, I would tell them what I had in mind and show them some of the last pieces I had done. Playing ‘make believe’ and dressing up is fun. Every single model shoot is fun and there’s always this cool chemistry that happens that makes the final result exciting and sometimes unpredictable. I’ve learned to trust my instinct and artistic sensibility. If it looks right and feels right and I bring it to a place where I’m happy with, that’s when I know I’ve got something special. I build them by layers, and the editing can take an hour or several days.”

Goldstein says that his passion for photography started back in high school: “I have been collecting images since 1970. That summer I went on a six-week teen bus tour of the United States with my first SLR, a Yashica Electro X, and brought back thousands of images with the idea of creating a body of painted work. This never materialized but my love of art and photography has grown larger every year. In those early days, photography helped me develop my drawing and painting skills.”

Goldstein later enrolled in a four year program in professional photography at Rochester Institute of Technology, which taught him more than just the creative side of photography; it also covered the chemistry, the physics, and the business side. he graduated with a B.S. in Photography, but—somewhat disillusioned by idea of working for an art director to create their vision rather than his own—he put down his camera for six years, choosing to work for his family’s growing art supply business rather than pursue commercial photography. His passion was rekindled when he dusted off his old Nikon F2 to take pictures of his newborn son, Michael; he describes this as a time of “magic” where his creativity began to “blossom” anew.

Over the following years, he became a commercial photographer due to the expense of outsourcing the photography when he and his brother went into the mail order business.

Goldstein’s later sense of wanderlust gave rise to many years of travel photography that now forms the foundation of his “Make Believe” series. He also turned his photos of the 2008 Beijing Olympics into a gift book. “My life experiences, including meeting so many different people and visiting many countries along the way, changed a lot of things, and I have become a more astute observer of life than I was when I first took pictures as a kid,” he says. “It’s not just about what you see in the viewfinder, it’s about becoming part of the place you’re in—tasting the food, mingling with the locals—and seeing your camera as an appendage, but not the only way you view things. As I have matured and realized what was important in life, I realized that photography is not the end all, but a component of my life – just as it is a component of the photographic art I do today.”

Aside from the opportunity to meet and gain feedback from the participating artists, art collectors and investors who attend the World of Art Showcase, Goldstein is looking forward to being part of an event that, as he says, is designed to “turn artists into superstars. I remember a time when I could rattle off half a dozen living working artists who were famous and part of people’s daily conversations. Today, that doesn’t seem as likely and that’s something that an event like this can help change. I’m very excited about the opportunity to participate.”