In 2012 the Phillips’ Mill Photographic Exhibition (PMPE) celebrated its 20th anniversary! Started in 1992 by Spencer Saunders when he could not get photography into the fall art show, 400 artists submitted work the first year. There were no digital submissions and each artist was limited to a total of 4 framed works. Peter Redman joined Spencer after a couple of years and the two childhood friends ran the show and grew it over the years, reaching an annual submission rate of about 1,000 pieces. It is now the premier annual juried photography show in Bucks County.
The PMPE is unique in the area because it receives both digital and framed submissions and because it has no annual theme. Most artists are within a 50 mile radius of the Mill but some submit from across the country, shipping art from as far away as Alaska. Feeling stifled by limitations in many of the existing photography shows, Spencer and Peter from the beginning wanted not to limit their artists to narrow themes and came up with the idea of “Photography as Art and Photographer as Artist” for the PMPE. Artists have embraced the inclusive nature of the show with submissions that include landscapes along with portraits, architecture, travel, nudes, and, more recently, various digital composites and digitally altered photographs. Some of the images are not easily categorized. Submissions are encouraged that show what the artist is currently working on and excited about with less emphasis on what will sell. This has led to many beautiful images from Bucks County and far beyond but has also yielded some much edgier submissions that give the show its exciting and unexpected quality.
In addition to the juried show that fills the main floor of the Mill, the PMPE features a juried show by local high school students downstairs. Not constrained by well developed styles and with the imagination of youth, their photographs show great skill. The high school show is judged by its own professional photographer and is free to enter through participating local schools.
Today the show continues to receive about 1,000 submissions split between digital and framed images. A jury of three photographers reviews each artist’s submission and decides which group of about 135 images will make up the show for that year. The jury changes each year but one is a photography teacher, usually at the college level, one is practicing photographer making their living with a camera, and one is a photographer who has been involved in the PMPE for years.
Location: 2619 River Road • New Hope, PA 18938