I've been to Louisiana and back while Kurt stayed in New York. These represent some contrasting visual moments from the last four days. In art as in all things, a little black makes white more white and and a little white makes black more black. Vive la difference!
More on the project. In a funny way these images bring me closer to Ansel Adams and Brett and Edward Weston. I met Ansel in California years ago. His darkroom made me crazy because he used a loud metronome to time the rocking of the trays. I honor these photographers—their images are indelible. And so I persist, perhaps looking for my own indelible image.
"Black and White in Color" is another project I've been working on for a long time. I look for or stumble on images that are quintessentially black and white but have just a whisper of color. "What?" you say, "Another project? When will this woman quit?" I confess. It's like being a sex addict or anything else. I am addicted to images. There, I said it, so here it is.
Continuing with the idea of simplification. I visited the zoo. Can things we so easily recognize become abstract? In this case I think not. Although they are evocative, they just miss transforming into something more than themselves.
Going at it from a different angle I spent some time at the zoo trying to quick sketch animals in motion using watercolor. Here's an example. I think it is more successful even if crude. At the very least, being ecumenical in media helps one learn. What do you think? I'd appreciate some feedback.
I've been working on controlling the degree of abstraction in my photographs. Trying to figure out how much detail can be deleted while still retaining discrete shapes. Trying to push an image freed of representation into something with it's own rules and language.
I photographed this cluster of signs, because I was struck by all the floating rectangles. They seemed to be exactly the same sensibility as the "Truck Paintings." This is how I imagine the image should be.
Sometimes these days low tech is a relief. Everything is everywhere all the time. The Metropolitan Museum, home of ancient Egyptian and Summarian peoples, has a historical costume exhibition where the whole point is to blog, on the spot, about what people are seeing/thinking/narrating.
Today I've included a photo taken from my window with a lens I built myself, from components I got from Edmund Scientific. Admittedly it is now mounted on a digital camera, but there is a comfort in the idea that we still might be able to do things all by ourselves without assistance and certainly without blogging about it. Oops...
Continuing yesterday's discussion, I've been translating what Lynn said into the rubric of art. There I always try to be in the moment since I feel it is the job of the artist to be honest in what they paint. It is easier to paint what we think an orange should look like and much harder to paint the true image of a particular orange—a map of shifting color and light.
One of my favorite works is "The Green Stripe" c. 1905, a portrait of Matisse's wife. An audacious Fauvist work with what we assume to be non-naturalistic color in a human face. People were shocked. Matisse is reputed to have said that painting his wife was the same as painting a sack of potatoes. It makes one realize that Matisse was boldly looking and unafraid a to paint what he saw.
These are some of my earliest still lifes. You see how I grapple, trying for each thing to be itself.
Yesterday I met a woman who announced she was doing nothing with her life except trying to live in the moment. It seems to me a worthy goal. I can't tell you how much I am thinking ahead to what I must do next and I know many others who are the same. It is a very Zen goal and it mind floated me to an image of Buddha's hand. Writer Julia Cameron talks about opening ourselves to something greater to let coincidence, kismet or the fates guide our muse. The photo here was taken just after I left our discussion. I laughed when I saw the Don't Walk hand floating in all the red and orange glory. Perhaps there's something to this...
As promised, here are some shots from the Easter Parade. Every year the photographers get more numerous and the hat wearers fewer but we persist. We think of it as a warm-up for our true love, the Coney Island Mermaid Parade(you'll have to check back in June). Some of the hats were amazing either thematic or just colorful and floral. My fave was the stylish dog with the Koolaid hair.
I was thinking about Martha Stewart and the urge to decorate. Why bother to color eggs when the city is always so colorful? Appreciate the wild ungathered decorations. Just say no to old lace, glittered, wax resist, masked, striped, patterned and jeweled eggs. Suppress those urges. Go outside and embrace the wild Easter eggness of your home town. This is why I love New York. Here's one for you, Martha!
Today I was thinking about how we are imprisoned by space, or perhaps I should say location. I had a rare moment in a favorite café that has moved to a new location. As I was eating my crêpe salée, I looked around, visually familiarizing myself with the new place and took some images all from the single radius of seated dining. That moment I gave thanks for an LCD screen that could be manipulated remote from my puny eye. How we forget the simplest things...like what the pepper shaker saw.
This week seems to be all about spring. I happened by Macy's and stopped in to see the flower show. Masses of live and beautiful flowers everywhere. It is truly spectacular and smells delightful. Some flowers are very rare and unusual. Not so rare or unusual is the bumper crop of picture taking. Like daffodils pushing out of the earth, hands raise up clutching cameras, cellphones, PDAs and heaven knows what else. I truly saw them popping up—a new one every 7 seconds.
To paraphrase Robert Frost:
Oh, give us pleasure in the pixels today; And give us not to think so far away As the uncertain harvest of snaps; keep us here All simply clicking and pinging in the springing of the year.
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.