Originally published in the Marina Times San Francisco February 2021 edition
Photographer and Documentarian Margaret Cheatham Williams Premieres Her New Gallery Space Moxie’s Daughter
“I have faith that art is unwavering – and ‘essential’, the word of 2020!”
Opening a gallery in 2021 is indeed a bold leap of faith. Margaret Cheatham Williams is bringing her narrative photography to the esteemed Sacramento Street shopping district. “It’s either brilliance or insanity, depending on the day’s news”, Williams said when asked what moved her to open a gallery during the COVID-19 crisis, a time when retail is shuttering and stay-at-home orders are extending further into the future. “I realized I was experiencing such a dramatic wanderlust, and I spent a fair amount of time rediscovering favorite photographs from my archive. I knew I wanted to share art in a physical sense, as I think we are inundated with images on the web, and it felt important to have a tangible space in which to connect with the work and with viewers. I also was experiencing such a desire to change up my surroundings, and bring in physical reminders of the world at large, so I assumed (or hoped!) that others would feel the same way.”
Travel and the Appreciation of Smaller Things
The world at large shows up in her photography in the form of documentary-style storytelling. A craft honed during her nearly seven years as a journalist at The New York Times, Williams’ work captures moments that touch on the intersection of health, family and personal identity. Her expression is also rooted in a love of travel and the quiet capture of scenes not always noticed.
The inaugural exhibit, thor – ough fare/a way or place for passage, encapsulates the idea of the thoroughfare, featuring roadside finds from William’s cross-country adventures. “Ice Fishing” reveals two figures in bright blue coats on the white sheet of a frozen lake in the Catskills, the image bisected by a dark row of trees and moody grey skies. The black and white photo “Falcon” is dominated by a hazy sky punctuated by a single car below a dark tree line in an otherwise empty parking lot, a highway sign making a lonely appearance in the distance while the driver of the car bows his head. The viewer is the omniscient third person, a point of view suggestive of film narratives, and our imaginations fill in the details of what adventures these scenes hold. In whimsical works like “Hector” we’re rooted to the street scene by a young man’s smirking gaze behind the wheel of a classic car, while in “Driveway Sessions”, a boy with a French horn simultaneously serenades and stares down the camera. A sense of nostalgia, motion and stillness runs through the works on display.
Williams almost exclusively shoots on medium format film, bringing a texture and granularity in keeping with the realness of her character studies and discarded objects — worn and expressive like the materials in her visual field. She offers her work framed as editioned archival giclee prints, and also creates custom Lucite panels as well as custom iron work. Moxie’s Daughter showcases all three forms on display. In the future, Williams hopes to hang the work of other photographers rooted in the journalism field.
Sacramento Street and Women-Owned Businesses
Margaret Cheatham Williams is an Emmy-nominated independent film producer, award-winning photographer and editor. She is the latest female to open a business on Sacramento Street, an arts and design district which has grown into a female-owned business mecca with 62% of businesses run by women. The gallery is named after Moxie, the artist’s mother, “…my fiercest supporter, best critic and guide in all things.” Moxie’s Daughter is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am – 6pm, by appointment only. Appointments can be made online at MoxiesDaughter.com