Sunday, December 20, 2009

You are, Number 6.

Today reminded me of an Ansel Adams story. Paul Strand came to visit in Yosemite for a week. The weather wasn't co-operative, he seemed depressed and cold. Adams offered him use of any camera but all offers were declined. At the end of the week, Strand said,"I saw a stump I want to photograph sometime."

Life gets in the way of living all too often. After digging out for 2 days, I am tired. There are so many projects that can't seem to get started with any momentum, that I think I understand how Strand felt. There is just so much. So much to photograph, edit, and print. Too much to do at my day job. SO much to do at home before the holidays. So much to get ready for upcoming shows. And then the snow comes. And comes. And comes........Just another thing to get done before enjoying life and all its gifts. Catholic Guilt ? Being TOO responsible ? Doomed to "Have to... ?"

I took 1/2 hour to go out for myself and shoot this morning before the shoveling began anew. I was struck by the wind-swept snow drifts by my lake and the forms they created. The same, yet not. Always changing yet remaining essentially the same. Slogging through thigh high snow. Never realizing how cold and uncomfortable I really was until I was almost home. It's nice to be able to focus that hard. It was a good thing.

email me if you don't get the title reference (here's a hint: the recent remake was atrocious !)

Bon Chance !


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Portrait of the Tools of an Artist

I was thinking of "portrait of the artist as a tool..." but I figured that would NOT work out as well as I hoped. Even though we all know some "artist tools," it somehow just didn't feel right. I can remember as a child I loved the paint, brushes, palette, easel, and smell of my mother's oil painting. I loved watching my father make prints. In retrospect, I think the appeal was in the actual tools used. Here are these objects that are designed for a specific purpose being used for that purpose. "What does THAT do ?" I would pester my folks with endless questions. I guess they knew that when all of my questions were answered, I would go about my business and they could go back to what they were doing. So, I thought I would take a page from the great Andy Ilachinski and create a series with a purpose, rather than a seemingly random set of images. I am still in the process of collecting images, these are from my first three forays into my new found project. Right now, I need to thank the Fiber Artists of Building 6 and Sean Donlon in Building 9 at the Workhouse Arts Center for being so gracious and allowing me to invade their space for 15 minutes or so today. It really means a lot to meet and work with such great artists and people. Very inspirational and I thank you again. I hope to have a showing of this collection somewhere. Maybe a show with my wife ( ). Who knows what will happen. I just know the possibilities are only limited by my own insanity.

Photography is fun again.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

getting back into a groove

Thank goodness for Autumn ! I was beginning to think that I hated photography, that the only good photography is of the photojournalist variety, that art photography is crap, that a monkey could be as good if not better at photography. The list goes on and on. You get the picture.......(teehee !)

Then Fall arrives with a palette worthy of the Gods and all is well in the Universe. I reminded myself that I take photos for myself and for sharing what I see. These are from the campus of RPI where our genius son is attending school. I am most pleased to have two events happen at the same time: 1) Seeing our boy again; and 2) starting to get my enthusiasm back.

I have taken up abstract painting as a side project. Nothing great, but it is fun. I like the fact that I know exactly zilch about technique. It makes the process of discovery so much the better. I can do pretty much whatever I want however I want (like photography) as long as the result is there. I am not bound by convention in this or any medium. It is a question of how. So far I have used sponges, toothbrushes, credit cards, nuts and bolts, screwdrivers, cardboard, 2" brushes, and pieces of paper to apply paint. Now to apply this mindset to my photography.

The only limits are those you set for yourself.



Thursday, October 8, 2009

Surprise ! No Photography Allowed !

Truly one of my favorite signs, especially at a photography exhibit.

As I take a moment from fighting the New Dumb, I felt it necessary to spit out a few things:

1) Life without art is simply not worth it. The joy of creation and sharing one's view is unparalleled in both its simplicity and complexity. I enjoy it every single day. The day that I don't is one that I never want to face.

2) It is what you make of it. It can be whatever YOU choose, be it photography, sculpture, painting, music, cooking, quilting, writing, or simply being you. Is it the destination or the trip itself ?

3) As long as you have one person that likes what you do, you are successful. I have been fortunate in this life to have a supporter that will never have an equal. Every day I am thankful for this. I can only hope that you are as lucky as I am.

Don't let the bastards win.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Visit

Springfield Art Guild has their annual show @ Greenspring Gardens in NoVa this month. Guess where I was. I have 3 pieces there. I thought it was cool that a photographer received BIS for a change (not me, though). I guess I could feel bad/sad/mad but accolades are not really that important to me. If my wife likes it and I like it, that is just fine by me. What does frost my goat is when a piece wins that is simply crap (not in this case, btw). Just what IS the criteria for art judging ? Is it like baseball or football where blindness is a prerequisite and cranial-rectal inversion an asset ? Or more like basketball, where it is who you are and not what you do ? Read a story on the interwebs that a gentleman called a gallery hosting an international art show and asked the employee(s) to collect the trash left behind from the unboxing of the other entrants and put it in a pile with tape around the border. That would be his entry !!! You bet your last dollar he won first prize and several thousand $$$ for it. So I don't really get angry or sad at not winning. I am far more concerned with getting better at photography in my own mind and having fun with it.

It is becoming apparent that I still have an intense love for photographing plant life. It provides so much opportunity to explore color, lighting, and composition. I threw in a black & white for texture and form to see if anyone noticed. The bottom one is one of my favorites from the day.

I am thinking about a "photography excursion" in October where me and a couple of other photogs find a place one Sat or Sun to go shooting together and have some coffee or lunch or something to talk shop or whatever. Kinda like "real" artists ; ) No pressure, just out and about in a positive and supportive artistic environment for a few hours. Let me know here or via email if you are interested. I would like to do this maybe once a month, maybe not. Who knows ? Let's do one and find out, shall we ?


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Gee, Photos.....Really ? What a surprise...

So, after a while you just have to say,"Quit it !" and go do something fun. Enough with the mind games and have to's and jackassery and all this crap we all deal with on a daily basis. Whatever that fun thing is that you like to do, go do it. I turn off my phone and grab a camera and go for a walk with my wife. Whether I take pictures or not is irrelevant. What IS relevant is that I am sequestered from the shenanigans (thanks Norma !) and can just be. I even have a place I can walk to right across the street. These photos are representative of my escape.

Anyway, I have become addicted, ADDICTED, I SAY !! to Art Wolfe's "Travels to the Edge." have supped the kool-aid and am a believer. Worth it for the enthusiasm and the attention to what is important and the subtle lessons on photography. He just seems to have so much freakin fun doing what he does and I want that too. So, I go for A WALK, take pictures and leave no trace behind.

The spots on the photos are bugs and sticks and stuff that floats in the lake I walk around. Living in Virginia, these things are a fact of life on our man-made lakes. I like them for the subtle colors and composition. If you would like, YOU can photoshop the hell out of them. Not this kid. I know what it looks like and it is cool by me. I have the mosquito bites to prove it.

Anyway, go do something FUN...... For YOU....... You need to before you can't.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Deciderer

Visited Pittsburgh this weekend for family and baseball. Woke up and thought I would hit the streets for some early AM photography before checkout. Leaving the hotel, I felt for sure that I would come back with dozens of dazzling street scenes, that the spirits of Winogrand and Cartier-Bresson would bless me with untold fantastic compositions. The light would be perfect and magical experiences would play out before my willing eyes and a "defining moment" would present itself and I would be there to capture it. With my hopes high, I left the hotel and set out upon a journey of fantastic discovery. "This is going to be the GREATEST !" I told myself.

I took pictures of a concrete wall.

I tried so hard to find the moment I had in my mind. Through streets and alleyways. Up and down the avenues. High and low. But, as much as I would like to be heartbroken and disappointed, I do not think I can be. It is but a simple concrete wall and yet it seized my attention with an iron grip and would not release me. I tried to go forward in my pursuit of what I had envisioned, but it was all for naught. This had pounced on me like an angry cheetah and I was done. It has so much to explore. Tone. Texture. Symmetry. Truly fascinating. Just lying in wait @ 7th St. Patiently anticipating its victim.

I guess my moment found me after all.

"Men plan, God laughs."

Truer words have never rung in my ears quite so loudly.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Really ?

OK, a little more normalcy here. About time. Needed to get this one done. Despite my mac freezing AGAIN during this process, I came back without frustration and finished it. I think it is kinda strange that, although I have resigned from the Workhouse, all of the above images were taken there. My wife still shows there (for now) and I guess I need something to do while she attends her business there. It all goes back to what I and many others have felt for a long time; that there is much to see in our own backyards and that travel to exotic places is not a necessary element of capturing interesting/beautiful images. Or maybe I am merely rationalizing. We may never know...

I was accused of being a luddite this week. Odd, since I have worked in and with technology off and on since 1976 and continuously for the past 10 odd years. I guess I have a different perspective than most. I love what tech can do, the possibilities, the speed of information. It was the advancement of digital technology in cameras that brought me back to photography. I, however, do not worship technology. I don't "need" GPS. I know where I am and I can read a map. It is a tool. Or a complete waste of time. Either way I use it almost every day for what it is; the coolest hammer in the toolbox.

Lots of art happening around, lots of local shows and opportunity. Go support your local artists.

I do.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

having fun !

Went to ARTSCAPE in Baltimore today. CAKE, my current favorite band in the universe, was playing and really, the only reason other than baseball, to go to Bmore. Great time to be had by one and ALL. And I mean ALL ! I mean, just look at the pictures. How many of you have seen THIS many people at an art show ? It was crazy crowded. The photo van pic is for my photography friends. I can imagine Andy rolling in this with some phat 24" chrome and air suspension and the bass just THUMPIN ! I like the guard pic. Poor girl, she had to stay until 11 pm with these crazy people. I am glad that the statue was welded solid. Art does have a permanent place in society. Evidently it can also be used to garner a better vantage point as well. Got lost going there, had to find a restaurant that was open (WTF?!?!?!?), and spilled a margarita on my camera making it all sticky. It was AWESOME !

Met a lady associated with Wulf Zendik. Interesting. The point of view they espouse in the magazine I received struck a chord. Here are some quotes:"Ninety-some percent of all the art I see says absolutely nothing to me....""I'm bored with eloquence without substance; please take all of art and shove it up your collective asses-sick to death I am of this constant rumble and chewing and pawing the dirt about art."".....hope lies not in your culture but in yourself..."

As you can see, the negative aspect is what I found. But is it negative ? How about a call to arms for artists ? Photographically, it has all be done, or very near to it. I very rarely see anything new anymore. Who is setting the example ? Who is setting the new baseline for the next generation ? I pray to all the beings held holy by mankind that it is NOT f@(%ing photoshop filters ! THAT shit is NOT PHOTOGRAPHY, it is DIGITAL ART. Learn the difference for crying out loud !

I choose what I think is art and what I think is fun and what is a waste of time. Nothing you see on this post is meant to be an artistic expression, nor is it meant to be. It is simply fun and an attempt at telling part of the story of my experience today. What I choose to hang , however, is serious business. It is not commerce, it comes from within and must be allowed to exist. What I do, I do because I love it, because I am compelled to, because it feels right. I don't do it for the $$$. If I did, it would be more of a job and I already have one of those that pays the bills and don't want another on top of it. HOWEVER, I am not so stupid that I would not consider an offer on ANYTHING seen here : )

This is not the post I wanted to do. My computer crashed before I was finished with the photo prep and I just couldn't deal with it again. I promise to put away my soapbox ( well, maybe make it a bit smaller) next time and go back to what I've been told are "Roy shots."


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Insomnia Part 2

Hope the freaking text doesn't bleed over like last time. Do as I want, not as I do, stupid program. Can't sleep again. Two days in a row. Something must be bothering me, but I do not know what. Other people have tangible problems, I tend to have existential problems and they are a pain in the ass. I secretly want to be selfish, yet I absolutely abhor that trait in others and the entire "look at me !" society. I secretly want the spotlight, yet my meditations tell me to quell my ego. I would have liked to be a world traveling photographer in the 1920's, yet I rarely leave the state in which I live. I live in a world of color, LOVE color, and yet I am shooting more and more in black and white (happily, I might add). I think I am a pain in my OWN ass. Wrap your brains around THAT one.

The uppermost picture says a lot about how I currently feel about people and society in general. There is no reason why ALL the chairs cannot be straight and in line. Started out pretty good but eventually just slapped it together and said, "whatever (sigh)" and went on not caring a whole lot about anything. It's not OCD or any other acronym or label, it is sometimes called a "work ethic." Some people actually take pride in how things look and how well they do their assigned task. The world is filled with 80 percenters, people that do 80 % of a task and then mysteriously fade away. Just finish it.

In the world of art stuff, the current "picture of the month" is on tour. Currently in small form @ the USGS in Reston through the end of July and its larger version will be @ the W-16 Gallery @ Lorton in August for the Juried Photographic Show (I won't call it "annual" as it is the first one and there are no guarantees that it will happen again as no one knows what the future holds. Men plan, God laughs). On a REALLY cool note, my friend Dan Davidson was accepted to the juried show @ Lorton as well. It will be his first juried show and I hope he wins. He has a very interesting perspective and the ability to capture your attention with it. NOT cookie cutter or stock, truly very cool stuff. I look forward to hearing more positive things from his camp. I will also be hanging a few things @ the Fairfax County Government Center in July and August. First floor starting July 11th. Trying to get my act together to get some bin work @ Strathmore in Md. We'll see if I make it this month. Definately in September. A few more things are on the horizon that I will keep posting as they are more concrete.

Be nice and be more.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Just Browsing, Thank You

That's right, I am just browsing. NOT interested in talking to you or commenting to you or purchasing anything I do not understand. It's not my fault. I simply do not have the courage of conviction to go out on a limb and place something in my home that I like, regardless of what anyone else thinks. It's OK. I know what my limitations are and I am not interested in broadening them in the least for fear of rejection. So I will sit in my little mediocre puddle of bleah and kinda sorta enjoy what I have. This is what I think a large portion of people have going through their heads as they wander around, looking at all the pretty things.

Meanwhile, the artist is looking for validation. A purchase is very nice, but some thoughtful conversation about their work is also appreciated. How about a question regarding the particular motivation, influence, or technique used for their work ? A bit of banter if you will. Speak up, you might learn something or meet someone really quite interesting. You won't know until you try.

All of the above selections were chosen today at the Lorton Workhouse and surrounding fence line. I like the reflections in the first along with the ever present guard tower looming in the background. My friend James Gordon Meek, a Journalist for the Daily News, indicated that the space HE would want to show in would be the guard tower. Can't argue with THAT ! How cool would that be ? "What building are you in ?" "I am in the GUARD TOWER overlooking all of the PRISONERS of the WORKHOUSE !" How many prisoners saw this almost exact image on a daily basis ? Something to work on, something to do and maybe feel proud of but under the watchful eyes of the tower guards. Something to ponder.

I think I must be on a leaf binge or something. At least the "earth abstract" is different.

Photo abstracts don't sell. THAT was reaffirmed today by an independent source. Great. Rumor mill has it that several "important people" do not consider photography an art form in the art world (around these parts, anyway). Super. I get to pay you to be a greeter. FANTASTIC ! It was pointed out that people shouldn't use CAPS because it appears that you are YELLING. No shit ! I am some kind of PISSED OFF and I tend to YELL when that happens. ARRRGH !!! And yet, I still continue the artistic passion despite the petty nonsense that permeates this atmosphere.

I digress. Browsing is for the bookstore or library. Enjoy art. Embrace art. It is one of the things that separates us from the rest of the animals. Talk to an artist. It can be one of the most fascinating conversations you may ever have. If you don't, you will never know.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Feeling a bit Nauti......

Sorry, couldn't resist. Bad joke, brain hurt. Still chuckling over it though, aintcha ! Both of these were taken in Camden, Maine, for what it is worth. While there, we went to a local bookstore and struck up a conversation with this lady who worked at same. Talked for 10-15 minutes about everything and nothing. Found out she was from Reston...we are from Northern Va as well. I can't seem to go anywhere without meeting someone from either Va or Pittsburgh. My long suffering wife and family is from the Western Pennsylvanias. Former boss' wife, Western Pa. It just goes on and on. Crew member on the boat we were on out of Camden.......Yep, Western Pa. They run deep, people. Thank God they are all pretty cool. Otherwise, we would all be in a world of shit.

Stock, Photojournalism, Art. What photographic "label" would you like ? Being the evolved species, we like to (have to) LABEL EVERYTHING so that we can have a better grasp of what it is. This is wrong, some things just are....enjoy them for what they are or are not but don't box them up. Art needs to be free of the encumbrances placed upon it by an ignorant populace (WOW, how do like me now ?!). I hate stock photography. Partly because I don't "see" that way. It simply isn't inside of me trying to get out like the other things I create. Like asking Coltrane to play major scales only...not to push forward...not to expand the art... not to challenge what is the "norm." Do not misunderstand me, there are stock photographers that are AWESOME at their craft and make an ass-ton of money at it. Good for them, but that is not me. I am pissed off that people are passing off stock photos as "ART." That is a barrel of bullshit being foisted off on an unsuspecting and ignorant populace and I sure wish they would just stop it. Both the victims and the perpetrators. Just quit it. Go buy a Conde Nast Travel mag and look at the ads and articles if that is what you want to look at. And quit hanging it at galleries under the guise of "art." All of you should be ashamed.

Photojournalism. God how I wish I had the courage to do that. It is the true use of the medium. The old LIFE magazine photo essays..... magic on the page. Nat. Geo. What photographer would NOT want a spread ? No, really, try and name one. I cried like an infant watching James Nachtwey's documentary. Like a baby, sobbing at the images playing out before me. May your God bless all of you. I can only offer my heart-felt thanks for what you do for all of us.

Go out and do something radically different with your art.....someone may thank you for it. That someone may be you........