Photojournalist Eric Mencher interprets Instagram a bit differently than most. He sees it for it is – a social media outlet meant to connect – but more importantly as a canvas.
Mencher’s interpretation of life on Instagram, using an iPhone as the capture device for the exactly 777 photos he rotates through his page, also resides physically at Photo Lounge in Philadelphia.
Ravid Butz of Photo Lounge has a long-standing professional and personal relationship with Mencher. Butz believes that his photo lab should be more than just a place where people can get their photo and fine art work reproduced; it should also reflect Philadelphia’s vibrant art community and make it accessible to its citizens.
So the two long-time partners partnered on an ongoing exhibit of Mencher’s work in Photo Lounge’s lobby printed in various formats with inkjet media.
“Eric has a substantial following on Instagram and here in Philadelphia through his work when he was with the Philadelphia Inquirer, and as a local photo artist. He’s very approachable and real and his work feels so ordinary, but is clearly so masterful,” says Butz. “I brought up the idea that we would print his entire Instagram collection and display it up on the wall. At first I thought we would print 777 5x7s and tape them to the wall, but then I started talking to people in the arts community and they said it would be more artistic to arrange them on sheets and use our Epson wide-format printer to print them. That way, it’s more about the art than just 777 print samples.”
Butz enlisted Julie Blaukopf and Alex Peltz to help curate the ongoing exhibition and create a multi-media experience designed to enhance the presentation and engage and engross people in the work.
“We wanted the show to be relevant to everyone in our community, and not just the art community. We also wanted those in the art community to take notice that Photo Lounge is seriously involved in their world and that we have capabilities that can expand how they present their art,” says Butz. “Additionally, there are pictures taken every day with iPhones and we see tremendous opportunity to bridge that gap to unique printing applications. Everyone knows how to share it through social media, but every day a lot of customers come in and are surprised to find out that we can print from their iPhone. There are a number of ways to bridge them from their phone to us, and we know they make beautiful prints.”
The focal point of the exhibit is a 100″ x 16′ wall mural featuring Mencher’s 777 images printed on LexJet Print-N-Stick Fabric. From those images Butz and his collaborators pulled out a number of photos reproduced on Sunset Velvet Rag and Sunset Photo Metallic Paper and mounted with a frame built on the back that stand out from the wall.
Moreover, four 2′ x 4′ digital tapestries were created, printed on LexJet Water-Resistant Satin Cloth and hung in the windows. “They look different at different times of the day,” says Butz. “They’re somewhat translucent, so they look stunning from the street at night with the interior lights behind them, and great from the inside during the day with the light shining in from outside.”
The exhibit is ongoing so anyone can walk in and enjoy it, with special events sprinkled in, such as seminars and workshops.
“Our regular customers and passersby are amazed that you can do this; they’re telling us that they’ll go home, measure their walls and create their own custom wallpaper,” adds Butz.
Follow Eric @emencher and Photo Lounge @photolounge_phila on Instagram