Zen Photography workshop at Apeiron, ca. 1979. Front row, 3rd from left: workshop leader John Daido Loori; 5th from left (hand above eyes): Apeiron founder Peter Schlessinger, who later helped Loori found the Zen Mountain Center in Woodstock, New York. Both were students of Minor White. (Photograph courtesy Apeiron archives)
Forty years ago, shortly after working for a year and a half as an editorial assistant at Aperture (and using many of the contacts he’d made there), Peter Schlessinger opened a photography-workshop center called Apeiron Workshops. Located two hours north of New York City in Millerton, N.Y., and based on methods of focusing attention taught by Aperture’s editor, Minor White, Apeiron offered immersive residential programs of various lengths. Its summer programs offered workshops with an A-list of creative photographers of the time, including Berenice Abbott, Robert Adams, Diane Arbus, Paul Caponigro, Linda Connor, Judy Dater, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Ralph Gibson, Emmet Gowin, Robert Heinecken, Elaine Mayes, Lisette Model, Aaron Siskind, Frederick Sommer, and Garry Winogrand, plus Magnum photographers Charles Harbutt, Mary Ellen Mark, Susan Meiselas, Gilles Peress, and Burk Uzzle. Eventually, Apeiron would also run longer (three-month) spring and fall programs, teach in the public schools, offer a selection of traveling exhibitions, run specialized workshops for teachers, and offer theoretical conferences. During its 12-year tenure, Apeiron published Linda Connor’s first book, Solos, and mounted one of the largest NEA-funded photographic surveys, The Long Island Project. Always run on a shoestring and the heroic commitment of its near-volunteer staff, it closed in 1982 as interest rates hit 18 percent and President Reagan slashed the NEA’s funding.
This coming Labor Day weekend, a reunion open to all who ever participated (as staff, students, workshop leaders, artists-in-residence, or special-project staff) is being held at a conference center in the mountains outside Asheville, North Carolina. Anyone who falls into one or more of the aforementioned categories is encouraged to contact Benjamin Porter at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 828-281-1825 for full information.