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Fred Rosenberg's new show at Touchstones has him treading in waters he has never entered

Fred Rosenberg’s photographs will be the visual anchor in Gallery B for the next two months when In Our Community opens at Touchstones Nelson this Friday (7 p.m.).

By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily

Fred Rosenberg has lost control.

For the first time in his career as a photographer — as Nelson’s unofficial photographer — Rosenberg’s work will be put on display without him having to make any of the choices.

He didn’t select the photographs for the show, didn’t do the printing nor the framing, in fact, he doesn’t even own the images contained in the exhibition.

Rosenberg’s photographs will be the visual anchor in Gallery B for the next two months when In Our Community opens at Touchstones Nelson this Friday (7 p.m.).

This is the best of Rosenberg, from 1999 to 2006, drawn from the museum’s own collection of Rosenberg’s work, printed and framed by the Nelson and District Credit Union.

It’s a whole new way of viewing Rosenberg’s work: through the eye of someone else.

However, the one thing familiar about the show of 20 photographs is Rosenberg’s trademark use of the lens as paintbrush and photographic paper as canvas to tell the story of a moment in time, slicing out quieter moments people see but don’t often acknowledge.

It’s a display of the museum’s photographs that Rosenberg has taken, but it is still very much a part of Rosenberg’s persona, his psychiatric therapy writ large on the stark off-white walls of Gallery B.

“The craft (of photography) has allowed me insights and direct experience that others would go to psychiatrists for, or take workshops for,” he said. “I’ve learned a whole hell of a lot through photographing and I would like to address that.”

These are the photos that Rosenberg donated to the museum archives five years ago. They are photos of his candid explorations in the city — at events, demonstrations, of people on the street, and on explorations of themes.

“They are not just candid pictures, but pictures of people I would spend time with, whether for an afternoon or over a period of time,” he said.

This is the fifth show for Rosenberg at the museum, but his first at the new location. In the 1980s he had three exhibitions in the old Nelson Museum Archives, curating an exhibition of Nelson’s history for the city’s centennial in 1989.

“Through that I got to see thousands of photographs from the dozens of people who have lived here or passed through,” he said. “It was some really marvelous work, some documentary and some scenic, the whole spread.”

In 2000, he printed some of his material that he had donated to the museum — 50 pictures in all — for a fourth exhibition.

“For me, that was my best work from Nelson for the last number of years,” he said.

Former Touchstones archivist Shawn Lamb chose those pictures, along with Rosenberg.

For each of his museum shows, the Credit Union had given him grants to print his photos — no questions or strings attached. So when current Touchstones co-curator Deb Thompson told him about an anniversary show they had planned for the Credit Union, it was a natural fit to include Rosenberg’s photos in it.

The 20 photographs, chosen by Thompson, were selected on the merit of aesthetics and news value from the museum’s store of 50 Rosenberg photos.

“It’s a good selection of individual pictures of people relating, people contemplating and interacting,” he said.

The show opens on Friday (7 p.m.) and runs until January in Gallery B at Touchstones Nelson. Rosenberg will be giving an artist talk on the show on Nov. 4, 7 p.m.

editor@thenelsondaily.com