Friday, December 30, 2011

We are all a work in progress...a few thoughts for the New Year

I have just a few minutes to post before I am called away so will make this brief. I have been working on my Mexican "retablos" as of late and am constantly refining the work. I keep finding ways to improve it's presentation. I am collaborating with Luis Alberto Urrea, a wonderful writer who is providing text which I will be incorporating into the pieces, no small challenge!

I am reminded of the movie Ground Hog Day. It is about a weatherman who resisted and disliked his assignment of covering the annual Ground Hog Day only to find himself repeating the day over and over again until he gets it right....that is what it is like to create artwork and to live with awareness. We have the opportunity and challenge to do it better every moment, every day, every year.

Have a wonderful New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Jesse Rieser ~ Christmas in America: Happy Birthday Jesus

Jesse Rieser's "Christmas In America: Happy Birthday, Jesus" was one of the top 50 Critical Mass portfolios from this year. His work makes you do a double take on how our culture embraces Christmas and all the trappings. Enjoy the work...I know I did!

In his words...

"Beyond the glowing green and red lights, past the shimmering silvery tinsel, around the fragrant pine boughs, another Christmas lingers, a Christmas of contradictions."

"This Christmas is complex and at times, uncomfortable. It’s awkward and sometimes bleak. But it is also sincere and celebratory, colorful and creative."

"This is the Christmas I capture in this first chapter of a photographic exploration of the biggest event on the American calendar. I grew up in a secular home and at times felt like a Christmas outsider, never connected to the holiday’s religious importance, or its more extreme cultural trappings. But in these photos, I become a Christmas insider, working to discover and reveal what holiday magic, or mania, compels so many to devote thousands of hours to hanging lights, to carving and painting figurines, to building miniature villages, to converting their homes, yards, garages and cars into monuments to merriness."

"Initially inspired by the absurdity of a five story inflatable Santa who appeared to be guarding a tree lot, I have launched this survey of uniquely American Christmas traditions. “Christmas in America” is an unvarnished examination of the ways people mark the holiday’s meaning."

Jesse's work will be up at the Newspace Center for Photography in Portland, Oregon until December 30th.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Holidays ~ Winter Solstice

Tomorrow is Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, or the least amount of sunlight. It is really heart warming to see so many holiday lights decorating homes.

I mentioned that I was reading Driftless by David Rhodes. I just read an amazing paragraph ...

"Sometimes in the theater of winter, a day will appear with such spectacular mildness that it seems the season can almost be forgiven for all its inappropriate hostility, inconveniences, and even physical assaults. With a balmy sky overhead, melting snow underfoot, and the sound of creeks running, the bargin made with contrasts doesn't look so bad: to feel warm, one must remember cold; to experience joy, one must have known sorrow." David Rhodes in Driftless.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Yvette Meltzer ~ Picasso's Playground in Chicago

I'd like to introduce you to some delightful work by fellow Evanstonian, Yvette Meltzer. These photographs sing and it seems like a wonderful portfolio to share this time of year. This work was produced by Yvette from her office window overlooking the Picasso Statue in downtown Chicago's Daley Plaza. Yvette's creativity and photographic eye are so strong, as she captures the spirit of childhood.

In Yvette's words...

"My office window overlooks Daley Plaza in Chicago in which the Picasso Statue stands. I have been captivated by the freedom and the spontaneity of children’s movements as they play on the Picasso Statue. The children there have a willingness to venture into the unknown, to explore with joy. Their free movements stand in sharp contrast to the photos that were taken of me as a child where I posed stiffly and often against my will. These children appeared to be living dolls which also tapped into my interest in dolls and doll houses which I also collect and photograph. I was also drawn to the interplay of color and light on the form of the sculpture which changes over the course of my eight hour day in the office. The images I captured are not staged but rather the spontaneous movements that I have viewed through my office window over the last three years.

I have been taking photographs of my family since age ten. Next I included my friends as subjects and gradually in my thirties, I turned the camera to people I did not know personally. My photography reflects my interest in people, the narratives of their lives, and the environments that shape them.

Children and youth have inspired my spirit and they continue to be the subject of many of the images which I have captured both locally and in my travels. This comes as no surprise to those who know me as I have been a life long children’s advocate whose professional career has focused on protecting the rights of children, working to keep their spirits free.

I viewed the Picasso sculpture as a playground on which the children were able to exercise their initiative, determination, confidence, and courage, as well as their muscles, as they climbed, often from a running start, away from their parents or grandparents or whatever adult accompanied them, motivated to interact with their environment. I see children as intrinsically strong, competent and powerful, and I think these images illustrate that belief."

You can see more of Yvette's work HERE.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Nelson Armour

Nelson is a new member of our critique group and is proving to have a wonderful eye. The following work is from his travels to the Apostle Islands, located off the coast of northern Wisconsin.

In Nelson's words...

"Apostle Islands

In July of 2012 my wife and I charted a sailboat to explore the Apostle Islands. This National Lakeshore of the U.S. National Park Service constitutes twenty-two islands in Lake Superior within twenty miles of the northern coast of Wisconsin, off of Bayfield, Wisconsin. If you can picture the beauty of northern Wisconsin, transport these north woods into Lake Superior as numerous uninhabited islands with the exception of one.

Most of this series of photographs were taken on Julian Beach, the east side of the island. This beach faces directly into Lake Superior without the protection afforded by other islands. Thus, the storms of Lake Superior, huge and often frightening, bear down on this beach with high waves and gale force winds. The trees and driftwood on the beach bare the scares of these storms. Our morning on Julian was on a glorious summer day with a calm Lake Superior lapping on the beach. In exploring the beach, we also found as estuary colored by the tannic acid of decaying trees and organic matter. One final photograph was taken at dusk in Raspberry Bay, looking north at sundown into an eerily colored sky.

For me, photography is an act of artistically capturing something real. I attempt to see and frame a composition that will motivate a viewer to remain observing the image rather than quickly moving on. Many artists often spend considerable time in developing ideas and in executing their work. Yet, for some photographers obtaining an image occurs quickly, allowing little time to carefully compose the frame and consider thematic elements. In “post-production,” the term for digital darkroom work, the effort is often elaborate and time consuming, but the initial moment of creation can be brief. For these photographers, the challenge is to compress previous work, effort and study into a brief, click of the shutter."

You can see more of Nelson's work HERE.

There seems to be lots of art coming out of that state...I am currently reading a beautifully written book, Driftless by David Rhodes and it is about a small town of Words, Wisconsin. An amazing read...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Alan Leder ~ The Pod Project

I will now take you into another realm....that of Alan Leder. Alan has many interesting bodies of work, including The Pod Project. His painting background clearly influences how he sees and interprets the world.
I will leave the rest for Alan to explain...

In Alan's works...

"In my photography, I tend to document and study images of natural forms and industry's detritus. I'm drawn to the elements of our known world as they are transcribed through the lensing of natural light. At the same time, I am transfixed by the unknowable world, all that glitters in the infinite dark space enveloping our blue planet.

Unable to see what the far distant future might hold for us, I can only imagine; I search for hints in mundane micro matter, for hidden glimpses of a nuclear core or the striated surface of a lifeless stellar mass. The yield is a re-animated crop of primal ovoid forms, invented "astral projections" at once beautiful and mysterious. I imagine these as transformative cosmic events from a galaxy far, far away. Perhaps that galaxy was ours."

Alan will be showing this work at the Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 West 35th Street , Chicago, scheduled to open in May of 2012. Be sure to check out his website HERE.

Monday, December 12, 2011

back from New Orleans

Liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning "a threshold") is a psychological, neurological, or metaphysical subjective state, conscious or unconscious, of being on the "threshold" of or between two different existential planes (from Wikipedia). That is what it is like to be in New Orleans. There is just something about that city that is like no other. I felt like Alice in Wonderland falling down the rabbit hole into another world of reality. For me it is a city unparalleled in its music, food, art and soul.

(all photos taken with my iphone)

Treme Creole Gumbo Festival featuring the actors from the HBO Treme show

Friday night on Frenchmen Street at Snug Harbor with Ellis Marsalis

3-6pm half price oysters everyday at Luke

John Boutte at d.b.a., the composer of the Treme theme song...he doesn't sing the song, he is the song!

The Contemporary Arts Center had some wonderful work...including

Kyle Bravo, 2011 Self Portrait, "Reaching"

Club S & S (Stephen Paul Day & Sibylle Peretti), suicide notes, 2011; Mixed Media on napkins

PhotoNola had many offerings for the weekend including a photogravure demonstration at Josephine Sacabo's studio and a Tintype exhibit at HomeSpace Gallery, which included a wet plate demonstration.
Josephine Sacabo giving photogravure demonstration

S. Gayle Stevens speaking about her work at HomeSpace Gallery

Bruce Schultz giving a wet plate demonstration

and I happily went home with a tintype portrait

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Suzy Halpin ~ American's Beauty Show

Every wonder about what it would be like to be back stage as models are getting ready for the "lime light?" Take a look at what Suzy Halpin has done. The black and white photographs are beautifully choreographed by Suzy's eye and timing with the release of the shutter button.

In Suzy's words...

"Voyeurism is an unkind word, but perhaps accurate. I have always wanted to be on the inside of people and understand what they are thinking and feeling. My mind has always created stories about the people I notice. The more interesting the person looks, the more interesting the story is. Now, spending my time so often behind the lens, I find I have even more questions as I look at each of my photographs, and my stories get even larger.

This series of ‘American Beauty’ is my latest attempt to understand a group of people who all share a common interest outside of my own interests. As I look at each of these images I notice the drastic contrast between the stylist and their model. Is there something to be learned from this? Does it inspire you to create? Is beauty silent? I wonder all of these questions and many more from these images. What do you wonder?

As always, I am always grateful and encouraged by the openness of the subjects of my photos. All of these people knew they were being photographed and I would thank each of them by name if I could."

You can see more of Suzy's work HERE.