LAURA STRAUS turned to photography after a career in photo editing. Potent early influences included her tenure at the legendary Magnum Photos (1989-93), where daily interaction with the images of photographers such as Joseph Koudelka, Eugene Richards, Sebastiao Salgado, Elliott Erwitt, Cartier-Bresson, and Susan Meiselas helped frame her understanding of the medium. At Abbeville Press (1994-1998), Laura worked as the Director of Photography. This gave her unique access to the inner workings of art book publishing. Her grandfather, Roger Straus, founded Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 1946, and her father, also named Roger Straus, was a publisher and is now an acclaimed architectural photographer. Since 1998, she has worked with the Artists Rights Society in Manhattan representing the estates of Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georgia O’Keeffe, Mark Rothko, and 50,000+ other artists.
Her photographic monographs include A Child’s World, published by Hearst Publications (2000), as well as What Fathers Are (2002), What Love Is (2001), What Mothers Are (2001), What Girlfriends Do (1999) Girls, Girls, Girls (2001), The Bride's Book of Weddings (1999), Fathers & Daughters (2001), For Dad with Love (2002) and Classic Cocktails (1999), all published by Andrews & McMeel. Her photographs have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Elle, Parenting, People, and Parent and Child Magazine.
In 2002, she served as the still photographer for Michael Apted’s new landmark documentary project, Married in America, an A&E/New Line TV production. Selected works won entrance into the 2003 Photo Review juried by Bill Hunt, Director of Photography at New York's Ricco/Maresca Gallery. Works from her project on the American Family resulted in her winning the 2002 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Photography and teaching fellowship at Cornell University and TC3. Laura has exhibited her work at the Museum of Fine Arts, Florida in 2006, an exhibition on the subject of Family curated by Vicki Thompson Wilder, and been featured in Al & Tipper Gore’s book, The Spirit of Family.
Other awards and exhibitions include first place in Camera Club of New York's 2004 National Photography Competition juried by Ralph Gibson who says of her work, “Laura Straus had taken an idea and performed variations upon it with considerable variety and camera handling virtuosity…. Usually photographers repeat their victories and conceal their weaknesses, in this case her series showed conceptual advances from image to image”. The award included a solo exhibition, which opened in New York City on September of 2004. Laura was also included in Ceres Gallery’s annual juried exhibition (June, 2004) curated by the Museum of Modern Art’s Fereshteh Daftari, who says, “Straus explores the beauty of luminescence of the commonplace”.
Piermont Straus Gallery and Bookstore opened in October, 2011 (www.facebook.com/PiermontStraus). Opening a bookstore and gallery in a small town gave Laura a wonderful chance to grow as both an artist and a curator within a small community. Laura is currently serving on the board of the Piermont Business Council and sees this as a great opportunity to combine forces with other business owners. Each exhibition has also been a book signing, and an opportunity to meet with authors and artists. Specialized limited edition posters, silk scarves, notecards, and local honey have also been on offer.
The inaugural exhibition celebrated Paul Greenberg’s bestselling book, Four Fish and featured twelve artists. The show’s title “Oceans, Rivers, and the Fish that Swim” seemed like a fitting match for a gallery resting on the shores of the Hudson River. The second exhibition launched on December 4, 2011 featured the work of Laura’s father, Roger Straus (an architectural photographer), and his new book, America’s Great Railroad Stations. Piermont’s fascinating history, which includes a pier built for the railroads, as well as a recently restored railroad station, makes the railroad an integral part of this small village. The third exhibition opened on February 11, 2012. “Love & Heartbreak” was a multi-media valentine featuring twelve artists and opened in conjunction with Piermont’s first Valentine’s Day festival. The fourth exhibition opened on May 5, 2012, and featured Rose-Lynn Fisher’s award winning book, Bee. These black and white photographs were done with a high powered microscope, and are an otherworldly vision of these fascinating creatures. Honey tastings from Red Bee (www.redbee.com) are now a staple offering at Piermont Straus. The most recent opening coincided with one of Piermont’s most wonderful events, Bastille Day, July 14, 2012. Period costumes, French cuisine, a reenactment of the taking of the Bastille, and a pétanque championship were the backdrop for Jana Kolpen’s The Secrets of Pistoulet opening. Her book, sketches, watercolors, dinnerware, and hand-made bells can now be seen in the gallery, and the opening featured a French wine tasting provided by EC Cellars (www.eccellars.com).
What lies ahead for Piermont Straus? The next exhibition opens on September 8, 2012 and will be a celebration of Cornelia Guest’s new book Simple Pleasures. The exhibition will feature the work of multiple artists and is called “Green Acres & Simple Pleasures”. We hope you will join us to meet the artists, the author, and for a champagne tasting. Laura and her husband John Alexander have also just recently joined forces to create the Piermont Straus Foundation, and it is their hope to be able to contribute to the arts and culture of the Hudson River Valley and give back to this wonderful community.