Wednesday, September 30, 2009

“The Spirit World” and Monarch Studio Openings

The New Orleans Photo Alliance opens tomorrow with a national juried exhibition about the spirit world. Timed to coincide with the season of Halloween and All Saints Day, the show includes documentary, fine art, and conceptual images that evoke the spiritual, supernatural, and unearthly. The images summon memories, imaginings, and the subconscious, blurring boundaries between past and present, presence and absence. Russell Joslin, Editor and Publisher of SHOTS Magazine, served as juror and selected twenty-seven images by eighteen photographers.

Visitations No. 1 © Jane Fulton Alt

Says juror Russell Joslin: “Photography, of course, is a medium most often utilized to document the material world visible before us, yet it also allows photographers to suggest what is not easily apprehended. In skilled hands, it allows for the creation of poetic, atmospheric images through process and manipulation. It permits the use of long exposures, blurring, overlapping, digital maneuvering and other distorting effects that suggest and explore the possibilities of that which may transcend the physical realm. Ultimately, it seems the photographers in this exhibition allude to our human desire to question the limitations of our existence, or to suggest the presence of another.”

Visitations No. 3 © Jane Fulton Alt

The exhibition features works by Renee Allie, Jackie Alpers, Jane Fulton Alt, Anne Berry, John Bridges, Marc Dimov, Michael Donor, Diane Fenster, Jessica Gellweiler, Kirsten Hoving, Kevin Kline, Erin Malone, Emma Powell, Jessica Skloven, Joshua Sleicher-MacCracken, S. Gayle Stevens, Cole Thompson, and Lori Vrba.

It will be on view from October 1 – November 22, 2009 at the New Orleans Photo Alliance Gallery, 1111 St. Mary Street. Gallery hours are Fridays 3-6 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 12-4 pm, and by appointment. The opening reception takes place on Thursday, October 1, from 6-9 pm.

I also will be showing a few pieces of my Burn work at Monarch Studio in Seattle for the month of October. It is a preview of what will be a solo show scheduled for September, 2010. If you are in the area, please stop by! Hope to be in attendance next year.

Burn No. 50 © Jane Fulton Alt

Friday, September 25, 2009

Liu Bolin

If you are not familar with Liu Bolin's photographic work, you are in for a real treat. He is a Chineese artist who has used the photographic image to say VOLUMES about living in China. Each piece is so perfectly conceived of and executed.

Unify The Thought To Promote Education © Liu Bolin

Government Finance Information Board © Liu Bolin

His work is now up in Chicago at the Schneider gallery and well worth the trip to see the prints in person.

Civilian & Policeman
2006 © Liu Bolin

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Birds on the Wires by Jarbas

Thank you Bob!

Birds on the Wires from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

Reading a newspaper, I saw a picture of birds on the electric wires. I cut out the photo and decided to make a song, using the exact location of the birds as notes (no Photoshop edit). I knew it wasn't the most original idea in the universe. I was just curious to hear what melody the birds were creating.

I sent the music to the photographer, Paulo Pinto, who I Googled on the internet. He told his editor, who told a reporter and the story ended up as an interview in the very same newspaper.

Here I've posted a short video made with the photo, the music and the score (composed by the birds).

Music made with Logic.
Video made with After Effects.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Haunted by Memories

Very strange day. Finished reading Zeitoun by Dave Eggers, which left me despondent for much of the day. What happened in the second half of the book was inexplicable. It brought back all the painful memories and trauma that I experienced while in New Orleans post Katrinia, including hearing one man, who was unable to sleep because of hearing looting and gunshots all night long saying to me, "Although not easy, I can live thru the trials and tribulations of nature's naturally ocuring events like hurricanes, breached levies and flooding but what I can't understand or live with is man's inhumanity to man."

Flipping thru tv channels tonight I came upon the movie, Everything is Illuminated. I had read the book by Jonathan Safron Foer and seen the movie once. Twice is better...but even heavier. It is about a young man's search for his family roots in the Ukraine. Once it ended, I checked my emails. My sister-in-law directed me to the work of Kseniya Simonova, a Ukrainian artist who just won Ukraine's version of "America's Got Talent." She uses a giant light box, dramatic music, imagination and "sand painting" skills to interpret Germany's invasion and occupation of Ukraine during WWII. Viewing Simonova's work couldn't have been more timely or potent.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

On Carl Jung, Dreams and the Creative Process

There was discussion about the creative process last week in my photographic critique group. One member said he had his most creative ideas and thoughts surfacing in his mind during that transitional time between being awake and sleeping. I suggested he keep a journal next to his bed and start recording what he remembered.

There is a wonderful, exciting article in the New York Times Magazine section today on Carl Jung's Red Book, which has been out of public view since its creation in the 1920's. The Red Book contains Jung's "confrontation with the unconscious." It has taken scholars years to get permission from the Jung family to release it because of their concern on how it would be interperted. One scholar, Shamdasani, said, "It is the nuclear reactor for all his works."

Shamdasani discovered a self published paper of a former Jungian client in which Jung told her..."I should advise you to put it all down as beautifully as you can--- in some beautifully bound book. It will seem as if you were making the visions banal - but then you need to do that - then you are freed from the power of them...Then when these things are in some precious book you can go to the book and turn over the pages and for you it will be your church - your cathedral - the silent places of your spirit where you will find renewal. If anyone tells you that it is morbid, or neurotic and you listen to them - then you will lose your soul - for in that book is your soul."

Judith Cameron, in her book The Artist Way, highly recommends keeping a daily morning journal. It is an invaluable tool for accessing your creativity AND your inner self. Lynda Barry in her book, What It Is, also provides insights on cultivating creativity.

Need I say more?
Start writing!

Friday, September 18, 2009

On Dave Eggers

I just finished reading What is the What, the Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng, one of the lost boys of Sudan. It was so compelling. The last paragraph reads...

"Whatever I do, however I find a way to live, I will tell these stories....I speak to you because I cannot help it. It gives me strength, almost unbelievable strength, to know that you are there. I covet your eyes, your ears, the collapsible space between us. How blessed are we to have each other? I am alive and you are alive so we must fill the air with our words. I will fill today, tomorrow, every day until I am taken back to God. I will tell stories to people who will listen and to people who don't want to listen, to people who seek me out and to those who run. All the while, I will know that you are there. How can I pretend that you do not exist? It would be almost as impossible as you pretending that I do not exist."

I had read a review of Egger's most recent book, Zeitooun, in the New York Times book review. In the review, Tomothy Egan states "what Dave Eggers has found in the Katrina mud is the full-fleshed story of a single family, and in telling that story he hits larger targets with more punch than those who have already attacked the thematic and historic giants of this disaster. It’s the stuff of great narrative nonfiction." Another great read.

The book cover artwork is by Rachell Sumpter and is made out of a very heavy paper. It reminds me of the 1950's elementary school primer book covers, like Fun with Dick and Jane. It is so totally cool.

Dave Eggers cofounded the Voice of Witness, a series of books that use oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. He also opened 826 Valencia, a writing and tutoring lab for young people in San Francisco's Mission District. I found a brief TED lecture in which he explains his dreams on a 4 minute TED prize talk...


Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Sparkler Saga

So I mentioned that I just attended a family wedding and I LOVE SPARKLERS... often using them in birthday cakes. I decided it would be great fun to have them at the wedding. There are fireworks stores in Wisconsin and while I was vacationing there this past summer, I bought a bunch for the wedding. I shipped them out to Seattle.

The night of the wedding celebration it was raining. It was agreed by the powers that be that it would not be a good idea to light them in the wooden lodge. However, at about 12:30 am, I saw that some of the bridal party were lighting tea lights and the next thing I knew, the sparklers were aflame, lighting up the pathway for the "get-a-way." I have never been happier to have my camera with me.

The next morning, I stopped by the lodge and what do I see???? A box full of the remaining sparklers. I can't just leave them, so I pack them in our carry on luggage.


As we go thru security at the airport, I get stopped. A report gets filed and the police are called in. I am now considered a possible terrorist suspect. The officers ask if "I am wanted" to which I reply, "yes, by my 89 and 90 year old parents waiting for me outside security to complete our travel back to Chicago." WRONG ANSWER! I also learned that it was illegal to ship the sparkers thru the US mail. I plead with them to look at my compact flash card so they can see I innocently used them for the wedding.


I am now awaiting the brown US government envelope informing me of the next step (warning, fine or court hearing).

I must say, though, I am tickled pink to have these two photographs....

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wedding Processional Music

So I mentioned that I just attended a family wedding. It was fabulous. The wedding processional music was from a Ghanian group, Wutah; Esikyire (Don't Change Your Style). The groomsman had spent a year in Ghana pursuing musical interests. The bride and groom did not tell the wedding party about the music until minutes before the processional began. Imagine our surprise. We all swayed down the aisle as the wedding guests clapped to the beat of the music. What a way to get married! You can listen to the abbreviated version or the entire song...

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Just back

Just returned from a family wedding on Orcas Island, part of the San Juan Islands in Washington state. It was so incredibly beautiful. We had a fabulous wedding photographer, Paul Joseph Brown, who masterfully managed to make what I am sure will be spectacular photographs of the wedding party, overlooking a moody sea and billowy sky. He ever so artfully placed the bride and groom on a rock with the wedding party scattered around them. I was blown away but his creativity. Can't wait to see the results.

on route to Seattle, cloud gazing out airplane window with my granddaughter

While in Seattle, I received an email with a link to an article in the Chicago Tribunes Blog, The Stew, that covered the "soft" opening of Xoco, Chicago's Top Master Chef award winning Rick Bayless's new restaurant. Now I have been traveling with the Bayless's on their staff trip for the past 12 years, taking photographs of the different regions, many of which have been hung in the entry hallway of their Frontera restaurant. Each year, the Bayless's have purchased 4-6 prints from each trip making them the most prolific collector of my work. Most of the purchased work was hung in their upstairs offices/test kitchen. What I did not realize was that they were considering using the work in their new restaurant. It was thrilling to learn the the work will have a whole new life and audience. Life is good.

Tribune photo by Alex Garcia / September 3, 2009