First Place- Amy Becker
SEASIDE DINO by Amy Becker
First Place
(Click on image for larger view)

Review by curator Anne Eder:
"In first place is Amy Becker's Seaside Dino, selected for its contextualizing of the monster in the mundane with empathy and gentle humor. 

Seaside Dino is quietly affectionate, and deceptively commonplace, but this juxtaposition of the monstrous with the ordinary is exactly why I chose it.

The ubiquity of monsters is such that they go almost unnoticed---we are used to them being present, we take them for granted. They appear in advertising and in all sorts of media from books to movies to video games. Living in the open, out of the shadows, as in this image, they are at once both strange and familiar.

This image taps into my own fondness for photographs of a vernacular sort that display a suburban ownership and domestication of the monstrous, and though the expression on the dinosaur’s face is fierce, there is also something quite vulnerable about this prehistoric giant. It is unclear if the creature caused the destruction pictured, or was simply left behind with the detritus of an environment built and forsaken in the larger cycle of trends and fashion, in vogue for a moment and then forgotten.

I feel sympathy for the creature whose time and purpose seems to have passed, who might, perhaps, even be lonely. Empathy with the monster is a primary function of the monstrous; it is through empathy that we gain access to our own darkness, fears, rage, fragility, and in this case, eventual extinction or death.

In looking at this image, I feel the genuine affection of the photographer for the creature and for its familiar surroundings, and this tenderness serves to underpin and give depth to the notion of MONSTER."

Question for Amy: "Your submissions tapped into a genre that I find iresistable on a number of levels, but the juxtaposition of decay, suburbia, and fantasy can easily cross the line into cliché or simple nostalgia. How will you deal with that particular danger as you move forward with this series?"

Amy Becker, "Thank you so much for selecting Seaside Dino for first place. I’m truly honored.

I read your interesting and somewhat layered question a number of times before and during composing my response. I carefully noted you referenced all three of my submitted images. They were all captured at urban or seasonal beach town boardwalk amusement parks during peak summer weekends. Rooted in a boardwalk amusement park experience is a strong element of fantasy, a quality each image shares. 

Specifically, Seaside Dino is part of an ongoing project of the Seaside Heights, New Jersey boardwalk I’ve been working on since 2007. Seaside Dino is among the images that depict Hurricane Sandy’s impact on the resort community’s beach and boardwalk amusement area.

Given Seaside Heights’ historic and somewhat visceral connection to living in New Jersey, the issue of nostalgia may arise.

Having said that, nostalgia is among the sentiments that might emerge when an implied or explicit “before” and “after” dialectic appears in my work. My three “monster” images fit that profile. However, the works’ immediate visual and psychological contrasts lend itself to multiple perspectives, and not solely an emotionally-driven one such as a yearning for something long gone.

I don’t consider evoking nostalgia as an intent of this project, whether my images show urban fantasyland “monsters” or creatures from the black lagoons of remote wildlife preserves.

These are simply contexts in which respect for the subject leads to the possibility of depicting its truth. That approach mitigates an embrace of cliché, propels my own artistic journey, and hopefully encourages viewers to expand their appreciation of wonder."

Review from curator Susan Spiritus:  "Monsters have never been a part of my life, especially since I raised two daughters who never played with or had ‘monster toys’ in their life. The closest I think I have ever come to a monster was probably seeing the lifelike, but fake dinosaur alongside the #15 freeway heading towards Palm Springs.  

Perhaps I did dream of monsters during my childhood days as I had an older brother who always put the fear of death in me before bedtime. 

However, it was the most recent incident in Parkland, Florida where 17 innocent children were gunned down, did that word ‘monster’ come back into my consciousness —as I thought about this person being sick; being bad and being evil. This is a monster.

Fast forward to today when I saw Laurie Freitag’s request for a review of the first place choice of image by Anne Eder, for the submission of ‘Monsters’, “Seaside Dino” by Amy Becker.

As I already had my ‘monster’ opinion well formed, I quickly scrolled down to see the image Anne Eder had selected, and was delightfully surprised to see such a friendly ‘monster’ in a scrap heap obviously headed for the recycling dumpster along with the other scrap materials that were dumped there, all that have had their life once before and were now headed for perhaps a new life once these materials were recycled. 

I was pleasantly surprised and I even smiled when I saw the image, “Seaside Dino”.  It definitely was not what my mind had conjured up. - Susan Spiritus
twitter: @susanspiritus

Review by curator Jane Szabo:
The first place image, Amy Becker's Seaside Dino, strikes me as a fitting metaphor for our times. Humans have defiled our planet, leaving behind a footprint of ecological damage and waste. We are the monster in this scene, leaving behind discarded industrial materials, and even a sideshow attraction. - Jane Szabo
Review from curator Lynn Bianchi:
The photograph is comical, scary and surprising.  Our world continues to be overrun by waste and refuge; our environment and air waves by both intellectual and physical pollution. We often feel that the disorder of the world has overtaken us.

The refuge in which the monster walks is set against a sky of placid and peaceful blue and gray clouds, and although somber, the background is peaceful. Our monsters grow from within, but they live and walk on their own. Here our monster stands with open mouth, almost jauntily posing within the refuge. He appears to be confronting some form of mechanical shovel, possibly symbolizing the conclusion of mechanization gone astray in our uncontrolled society.   

Unabashed in his purpose, our likeable monster is unafraid of the what he sees. There is a man in the foreground, relaxed and unperturbed by the presence of the T-rex behind him. What is the artist saying with this character? Is it that a person, the only human in the image, is a metaphor for our apathy, our indifference to the world in which we live? Or within this allegory is it the author’s desire to express her feeling of disenfranchisement from the world about her?- Lynn Bianchi

Amy Becker says, "My work explores what we see and how random everyday objects interact by chance and juxtapose with their surroundings.

I’m particularly interested in carnivals, state fairs, and boardwalk amusement parks. Their oddities and funk, colorful rides, shifting lights, mixed aromas, diversity of people, and cacophonous sounds of barkers, screamers, and laughter enchant me year after year.

In contrast to brand-driven entertainment, I see these venues as dream landscapes where everyone implicitly rejects a hermetic approach to fun. I try to make pictures that celebrate the spirit of this world, embracing its uninhibited atmosphere, accidental humor, unspoken visual stories, and found beauty.

In keeping with that spirit, the images submitted here depict scenes where make-believe monstrous creatures lurk in plain sight."

Amy Becker is a New Jersey-based photographer. Her work has appeared in nationally recognized fine art photography galleries and exhibitions around the country, including Center for Fine Art Photography in Colorado, SoHo Photo in New York City, Houston Center of Photography, and Chicago’s Filter Photo Festival.

Additionally, her work has been included in exhibitions in Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Providence, Vermont, and Oregon, as well as regional museums and educational institutions.

Ms. Becker is trained in both traditional and digital photography. Her formal background includes coursework at the International Center of Photography, as well as numerous workshops. A graduate of Boston University’s School of Communications, she enjoyed a career as an advertising copywriter before becoming a photographer.


■ Photography: A Facility for Photogenia, Alfa Art Gallery, New Brunswick, NJ. First Place Award. Juror: Andrew Darlow 
■ What's Next?, Pro Arts, The Gallery Space, Rahway, NJ. Curators: Mollie Thonneson and Deirdre Kennedy

■ 4th Open Call Exhibition, Providence Center for Photographic Arts, Providence, RI. Juror: Julie Grahame
■ Word Play, Therese A. Maloney Art Gallery, College of Saint Elizabeth, Morristown, NJ. Curator: Virginia Fabbri Butera, Ph.D
■ New Jersey & You—Perfect Together!, Village West Gallery, Jersey City, NJ. Juror: Robinson Holloway
■ Third Annual Group Show, Davis Orton Gallery, Hudson, NY. Juror: Paula Tognarelli
■ Soho Photo National Competition, Soho Photo Gallery, New York, NY. Juror: Aline Smithson
■ Curators Choice Show, Pro Arts, Casa Columbo Gallery, Jersey City, NJ. Selected by Evonne Davis, exhibition curated by Midori Yoshimoto 
■ TPS 26: The International Competition, Texas Photographic Society. Exhibitions at Stark Galleries, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX; Center for Contemporary Arts, Abilene, TX; Options Gallery, Odessa College, Odessa, TX. Juror: Alison Nordström
■ Portrait: Mirror, Mirror, online exhibition, Black Box Gallery, Portland, OR. Juror: Amy Arbus


■ Love,, by Duncan Miller Gallery, April 30, 2015
■ Signage,, by Duncan Miller Gallery, July 13, 2015
■ Street Photography,, by Duncan Miller Gallery, December 19, 2014, Guest Curator: Bruce Gilden 

■ Houston Center for Photography Members Exhibition, by Aline Smithson,, July 19, 2014
■ Building A Mystery!, by Elin Spring,, October 7, 2014
■ Modern technology gives everyone a shot in Perkins photo exhibit, by Fred B. Adelson, Courier-Post, February 16, 2014
■ Perkins hosts a show worth toasting, by Sally Freidman, Courier-Post, February 21, 2010
■ New Jersey Arts Annual: Local Arts, Exhibition Catalog, Morris Museum, Morristown, NJ, 2010


■ Photography: A Facility for Photogenia, Alfa Art Gallery, New Brunswick, NJ. First Place Award. Juror: Andrew Darlow. 2018
■ Photography 33, Group Exhibit, Juror’s Award, Perkins Center for the Arts, Moorestown, NJ. Juror: Peter Barberie. 2014
■ ProfessionalWomenPhotographers-37thAnniversaryInternationalWomen’s-JuriedExhibition,HonorableMention,online

■ Thirteenth Annual Gaelen Juried Art Show, Best in Photography Award, The Gaelen Galleries, JCC, Whippany, NJ. Jurors: Marjorie Frankel Nathanson, Andy Foster, Mimi Weinberg. 2012
■ 2011 Members Exhibition, Juror’s Prize, Juror: Trong G. Nguyen. Hunterdon Art Museum, Clinton, NJ
■ Eleventh Annual Gaelen Juried Art Show, Honorable Mention Photography Award, Jurors: Patterson Sims, Anne Betty Weinshenker, Walter Zimmerman. The Gaelen Galleries West, JCC, Whippany, NJ, 2010
■ 2007 Members’ Show, Merit Award, Juror: Rupert Raven. Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, Summit, NJ


Home for 'Monsters' including message from Anne Eder:

First Place:

Second Place:

Honorable Mentions:

Online Exhibition #1:

Online Exhibition #2:

Online Exhibition #3:

Best Series:

Best Abstract:

First Place- Amy Becker