You know how in a very fancy restaurant, they bring you a tiny mouthfull sized delicious appetizer? Well, it's called an "amuse bouche" which loosly translates as amusing the mouth. Today's column is about the same thing for your vision--eye-candy.
Last week I went to an oil color demonstration courtesy of Utrecht Art Supply. We learned about the composition of paint and how it behaves. The best tip for me was that you can mix and fill your own tubes. For a person who paints endless water, the idea of having my own tubes of water for different times of the day and depths as well as for the strange cerulean imbued flesh tone was truly exciting. Anything that speeds the work process and feeds my need to paint fast is sublime. They also showed a permanent (non-fugitive) Alizarin Crimson. It was quite lovely and I ran out and got a tube but to those who know me, they know my heart beats for Cadmium Red. Below is one of the favorite paintings I have done. "The Coca Cola Truck", it just shimmers with red.
As always in winter, one starts to crave spring. This past weekend an allergy medicine company, created the ZYRTEC® Spring Wonderland Dome in Central Park where we were supposed to "experience the joy of spring." We went expecting real grass and blooming flowers --something classy and artistic. What we got was Astro turf and fake flowers in an overheated bubble of a geodesic dome. They took a green screen photo of us in the artificial spring but when we went to their website to pick it up we got the sad message "Page not found." Morning was not a total loss though, got some pix and free umbrellas--the dog nose banner is my favorite.
I recently received a shipment of my work that had been away for at least 20 years. Some of the work dates back to 1977. It is quite a varied group. There are large scale photographic stained glass pieces, blue prints, textile pieces, Van Dyke Browns on Rives BFK, dye transfers and some sublistatic dye pieces (a process now defunct). Coming home, they brought with them the idea that you can be ecumenical in media. If you have 30 seconds, find a photograph, three minutes, do a pencil sketch. If you have a summer, work in stone, paint in oil and so on. Just commit to the making, the rest will take care of itself.
Call us fools but form factor is very seductive. Even though we figured the cost at 10 cents a picture for the life of the R.I.P. Sony T9 as compared to my Nikon which is still going strong at less than 1/100th of a cent per picture, we opted to replace the Sony with one of it's kind. I chose the pink one because it is very petite AND it has a lipstick mirror built in which none of the guys understood. Kurt then went out and bought the red one, bigger, of course, more features, a touch screen and a lash-it-on bar on the side. Venus and Mars, fools none the less.
As NYC taxi riders for more than fifty years, we've had a lot of taxi ethos in our lives. Some memorable and most not. Once I got the same driver three different times. The odds are really against that and even odder, he remembered me and told me where I went on my last trip a year earlier. On one trip I met fellow artist and veteran driver, David Bradford. He has two photography books out of images he's taken. One is "The New York Taxi Back Seat Book" and the other is "The New York Taxi Driver: Drive by Shooting." Another book of historical images I just found is The American Taxi."
However this week taxi riding hit a new high and a new low. The low was a driver who shouted at us, refused to make two stops insisting that we were going in two different directions, never mind that they were both downtown, refused to follow directions and so on. We finally got him to stop by calling 311 on cell and starting to file a complaint. The high was a driver who picked up my daughter and myself. He created a togetherness ceremony where he gave me a bangle to put on my daughters wrist and then had her do the same to me. He then gave us each a scarf to put on each other for the duration of the trip and finally he sang us a long and flowery song about feminine beauty. Hell and Heaven. Heaven and Hell. Here are some of our own taxi photos including one next door where a taxi drove right up on the sidewalk ignored by blase New Yorkers.
Our hero is down for the count and given the prices of electronics it is hardly worth fixing versus obtaining a new one. 21rst century manufacturing still requires forbiddingly priced 19th century repair. At first we were very upset as one expects somewhat longer life from an object that costs so much but we have cooled. Actually, compared to canvas, paint and the traditional artist tools, the price isn't bad. Nobody yells "we wuz robbed" when the $160 tube of cerulean blue runs out.
The pocket camera is a recorder of what amuses, amazes or is simply unexpected. So as requiem, we show you some of our favorites; shots that would otherwise have been missed, capturing the moments that wouldn't be bothered with but fleeting capture art.
The latest common occurrence for photographers and artists is an odd one. Kurt likes to photograph bald eagles. I like to watch them too so we go up to the Catskills to see them flying over the reservoirs. Shortly after 9/11 while standing at a favorite spot, we were accosted by the DEP police, questioned about our purpose and made to show I.D., never mind that there’s a sign that says’ “Bald Eagle Viewing Area” that is next to a larger than life carved wooden eagle and some benches handy for sitting. We were told we shouldn’t be photographing and to move along. I was reminded of this incident and another when I saw Sunday’s New York Times.
The article covers another artist’s work. Ramak Fazel, an artist from Indiana, decided to photograph each of the nation’s 50 state capitol buildings and dispatch a photographic postcard (made on the spot) from each city, using postage stamps from a childhood collection. Mr. Fazel drove 17,345 miles in 78 days, mailing a postcard from each city and picking it up in the next. While hailing from Indiana, Mr. Fazel describes himself as foreign looking and has an Iranian name. Looking at and photographing his government’s buildings was obviously suspicious behavior and he was picked by the F.B.I. He was questioned at or denied entrance to many of the capitols. All is not lost, he is having an opening of his photographs of the 49 capitols he managed to visit, this Wednesday at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in SoHo.
My other favorite artist project in this realm is by Elahi Hasan. It is "Tracking Transience: The Orwell Project." Check it out. After being targeted himself, he decided to self-surveil and document it all. He has a great website and he is also creating project related films and videos, still photographs (of things like his airport meals), a limited-edition DVD, and video installations.
What a world! Kurt’s Bald Eagle should stand up and squawk
Some of you know I'm included in an art exhibit, "The Four Seasons" at the Hudson Guild Gallery in NYC. As an artist I still grapple with the issues of trying to make conversation with the steady stream people at the opening. While trying, I found myself in the uncomfortable position of desperation. I heard myself tell someone who enquired as to how I kept my paints dry while painting swimming pools that I didn't add much Vermouth.
Oh well...it was a fun opening. I've included pix of some of the artists and viewers. A highlight for me was when John Goodrich came, He was my first painting teacher and is a painter and critic himself.
The remarkable part about the exhibition is that Jim Furlong, the curator, found many of the artists included in the show at such sites online as Artists Space Irving SandlerArtist File. Artists get your work out there, someone is looking!
Today's blog is all about mistakes. I forgot to reset my camera which was set to tungsten and I was walking on Wall street in the rain. I glanced at the Federal Hall building where George Washington took the oath of office as our first President and was home to the first Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Executive Branch offices. I saw a woman standing for a typical tourist snap so I took the image. When I checked the exposure, I saw my mistake in living blue color. Since my mind was turned to history, I decided that it looked o.k., like an early photographic image a la Julia Margaret Cameron. Inspired, I looked for more images that as blueprints would resonate with history. I love mistakes!
Recently I went to the Neon Museum. It’s a work in progress and a good one too. Right now it’s a fenced junkyard of old neon that represents the history of Vegas as it went from bulbs to neon. It’s a pay museum although it is a “donation.” The oddest thing however is the photo release you have to sign. It basically says that if you want to use the photos you took that you have to negotiate a fee to use the pictures you took. Personal use is o.k. but does this blog constitute publication? Do your personal images on flickr? Since the museum receives tax-exempt status, shouldn’t it allow taxpayers access to exposure of its collection? Rights management has become a central headache for our generation.
Take the recent flap about pictures of the Eiffel Tower that Kurt found on Wilipedia. Images of the tower have long been in the public domain; however, in 2003 SNTE (Société nouvelle d'exploitation de la tour Eiffel) installed a new lighting display. The effect was to put any night-time image of the tower and its lighting display under copyright. As a result, it was no longer legal to publish contemporary photographs of the tower at night without permission in some countries. It is however free to take photos in the daytime because the tower was built before the copyright laws.
Policy does not supercede laws, and where does art come into this? If they want people to come to their museum, why not let them publicize the museum? There’s been a lot of controversy about the museum’s position. So…to highlight the problem, today’s photo was taken on a public street outside the locked fenced area of the museum, technically, that makes it FREE.
Sunday I took the train over to the Jersey City Museum There was a very good panel on how to market oneself and one's art. It was called Professional Development Workshop for Artists "I've Got Talent, Now What?" As I walked to the museum, I looked to see as is my habit. What makes a photograph?
I love walking around at night and looking at the way the world is transformed by artificial light. We expect it in Vegas, and we ooh and ahh at the light shows but we don't really look at it the rest of the time. I am always struck by how transformative that artificiality can be. Construction sites imbued with religious aura courtesy of sodium vapor. A walk sign glowing like a message from Keith Haring. These are the things that strike me. I've included a very personal painting today. It is titled, "The Good Rag." The oddly glowing colors of night, in acidic loneliness with a bowl to nurture, a bottle of aspirin to ease and the remnants of a baby blankie (the good rag)for comfort.
Susan Shaw is an internationally exhibited painter and photographer. Private and public collections include the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Shaw is the recipient of two New York State Artist’s Fellowships and 2007/2009 residency fellowships at the Vermont Studio Center.
Kurt Hoss is a freelance photographer capturing the exuberance of
New York City for 35 years. A favorite project has been documenting life in south western Louisiana, culminating in two recent books, Going to Lafayette and Bosco Swamp.
Shaw and Hoss recently received an AVA gold award for video production, as producers of The Mermaid Parade.