Monday, December 31, 2007

What makes a Photograph

Kurt and I together make an almost perfect photographer. He is interested in subject and content. I am interested in the way things look or are arranged within the finite space of the frame. Case in point, two of my favorite photographs from our recent trip west.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

From the People who bought you ...

The inappropriate sign such as the one above taken outside of Las Vegas in open desert can be amusing simply by situation. But our folks in government, working diligently, presumably at the behest of those we elected, are working in an art form that seems to be on the rise. As the people of the world come closer together in communication, the geographical distances that had heretofore prevented clash of language and culture have become meaningless. This has never been a problem for the graphic artist but it seems that the bureaucrats are having a little trouble "getting" it.

The image at left was spied at the Hoover Dam. Lest you may think that this arcane imagery is an isolated situation, I offer instructions by the US Postal Service on correct package addressing.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hazmat Holiday

Looks like the Starbuck blend of the day got a little too bold as NYPD closed down one of the busiest corners of town in the height of the holiday season. There was an "Unidentified Spill" according to our roving reporter. Nothing is taken lightly and it was fodder for hundreds of cellphones. In the holiday spirit my guess is an overflow of eggnog latte

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Essence of Things

The holidays always bring to mind thoughts about the essence of things. What moments last year were a distillation of experience. What captures the best memories of the season. In my new photographs I've been trying to capture essence both as distillation and as abstraction. How does one remove information and detail while retaining flavor? See what you think of this busy city intersection.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Waiting for the Paint to Dry

Well, there was a big step taken towards the opening of Susan's studio today. Room was made for the canvas storage and they came up from downstairs to claim their new home. A lot more needs to be done but even the casual observer would deduce that an artists studio is in the making here. While moving the network around to make way, I thought of where the creative juices have been going for her while the studio has been in limbo. Culinary creations and music. Now these arts are very shareable and that's what she does. A sample of her work here (and a Bunny's Bakery cake called Susan's Decadent Chocolate Ganache.) I must admit this is not one of my strong points although I was an enthusiastic helper. Obviously I contributed the coffee.

Susan has now joined a band and is at practise as I write this. I feel inspired enough to look at my guitar every other sentence as I recall the other evening listening to them jam and got a shot off in someone else's flash glare They are quite enjoyable and excellent to dance to. I can't say I've accompished much myself but I have been in a state of inspiration at least and there is the knowledge that I've been pretty good with the mundane. I'm hoping for some success next week when we go out west for more material.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Accidental Favor

Yesterday I went to race in Central Park. Racewalkers must be crazy since it was alternately snowing, sleeting, hailing (not the taxi kind) and raining. As I was doing the second half of the race, I saw a wondrous event. One of the Peregrines took a pigeon off the ground and tried to fly away with it. It was too unwieldy a package so it flew down in the snow to stop for a moment. I ceased racing and tried to get closer. The falcon startled and flew up into a tree, shrieking and rasping, "Get away, get away." The pigeon didn't move. I thought it was dead. Suddenly it shook and flew off, newly elected "the accidental favor."

Friday, December 14, 2007

Why you have to love New York

No matter how grey, black or white it seems. There's always some surprising thing. Here's today's.

Migrating to the Bronx

Well it finally happened, 111 paintings to the Bronx. And even then we accidentally left some behind. Good thing though, one was requested for a show in January (details to follow) so I don't have to make the trip. Typical New York someone requested a print as we were moving so it never left Manhattan--sounds like some New Yorkers we know.

I loved seeing my images in this context. Here are the snaps.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Renovation to Reinvention?

If indeed some of the synonyms for renovation are betterment, civilization, cultivation, development, elevation, enhancement, enrichment, furtherance, gain, growth, increase, preferment, progress, progression, promotion, rally, recovery, rectification, reformation, regeneration, revision, rise, upbeat, upgrade and upswing, why does it seem like a painful process? Does one close one's eyes and imagine the best outcome?

Perhaps it is a question of scale? A small renovation, new hairstyle, new bath mat, new restaurant all seem easily manageable. But changing a personal environment--an earthquake in the making. I guess it helps to have perspective. In today's photos, the one on the left encompasses many times the space of the one on the right and in that one, well, you can see just how big I am. All is in perspective.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

In, Out and Prep

One often overlooked aspect of art, as we plan it, is the preparation. That is, for the commercial artist there must be, in addition to the care and thoughts provided to the creation, care and thought as to how to get the project started and finished. Last we spoke of Susan finally getting space to store the paintings in limbo. Well, that move is coming upon us soon but there is the other matter of preparing the space to continue working amidst this shakeup.

I was musing on this as I prepared a submission of photographs. Between the gathering, editing, agonizing over choice (the worst wretch of them all) and then postprocessing I have spent an amount of time of a magnitude so much greater than the actual creation that I couldn't tell you with a straight face. And all this work goes into a vacuum of influence; there is no way of knowing how it will be received until a) too late or b) happily accepted.

Compared to the Graffiti artist who creates on the fly with no care of space or storage (albeit with a care of guard dogs and barbed wire) one could hardly be blamed for wondering why do it. Well ... we must, it's that simple. It is embarrassing, though, to have spent these last few weeks with no creation to speak of, nor any on the horizon. We are like our own mothers chiding ourselves to finish the last project (mundane included) before we can start another as if it were vegetables before dessert. And that's as close as I can to describe the feeling. Isn't that a light I see at the end of the tunnel .. ?? Incoming ..

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Artistic Space

Or method becomes subject. Susan finally found some space for her paintings but the surrounding area is a work of art all in it's own. No doubt that a future work will have some elements of the warehouse and/or it's environment. Good choice. Meanwhile it's good to know that in the city that never sleeps, Sin City is open for lunch:
In the realm of the mundane, we decided to embark to the 21rst century and add some wireless capability. And, as luck would have it we are proud possessors of a defective router that had us down for the count yesterday. We will return to art .. promise.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Studio Dogs

Ah, the misery that is renovation. I have been running around trying to find storage for my old paintings. Grappling with the question of whether a curator might go to a cold and dreary labyrinth to ever look at work. The trouble with painting is that for the painter the work is the process and the "art" as the world knows it is just the byproduct, which requires storage and so on.

Makes you question why one does work at all. Especially since a new report, Investing in Creativity, has come out saying that 96% of all people value and are moved by art but only 27% think artists contribute to the good of society. Where do they think all that inspiring art comes from? I think we're going to need a lobby and some good PR and publicists.

My painting here is called Studio Dogs. It's one of those days...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Spending Time to Get Space

Or art takes a break for renovation. It's been a busy time at the studio as we try to organize, discard and move things (and people) around. We are now seeing the fruits of our labors after clearing out far more than we will tell anybody. Maybe it was good to take a break and go to Louisiana; get a little perspective - now there's a place that knows renovation and rebuild.
OK, so it's not this bad ! We hope to have things mostly finished by Thanksgiving when the known world drops by to eat and perform. Some pretty fair and talented friends will be there so it's something to really look forward to. Just need more time .....

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Between Time and Space

"Ma" is the Japanese term for the concept of time/spatial relationships. It may mean intervals, physical or temporal. The concept of space referred to as Ma is important in art because the space between objects is not simply a toss-away, it is defining space that may be the message.

Case in point, I really like this picture of the birds. There is action but also stillness. The visual space compresses as the birds become dark abstracts and the trees flatten against the sky. Because the birds are partially hidden, they move away from being the subject of the picture and the true subject of the picture, Ma, the interval—the space between—is revealed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

We're Back !

Flying Home

Well, back in New York, 6000+ pictures richer (hopefully). The downside being the monumental editing job ahead. Looks good for a new book, though. We are pretty much up to date archiving so we now have half a chance of finding what we want - now that's rich!
But the real richness was the experience that we treasure of music, atmosphere, friends and feast. We always find it hard to leave Louisiana. The catch up in daily things and work doesn't make it easier but we have the memories to keep us warm.

Keeping Warm

Here's Susan enjoying a November day at Grand Isle, the Gulf of Mexico at her back. We started off in Lafayette, meandering down along the bayous, meeting some characters and wound up in Grand Isle with a room facing the beach. We ate great food (particularly in New Orleans) and the mosquitoes ate us.
Now for the work; so we can go back.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Into the swamp

Tuesday evening and Kurt is back. We're off to the swamps where internet access will be sketchy at best so we may be out of touch for a few days. If anyone gets bitten we'll be sure to let you know. We leave you with a shot of one of our traveling companions.

Happy Trails to You

Kurt here. Yesterday was visit day as we said hellos and goodbyes before heading south. Preceeded by a swamp visit of course. Once again Bryan Champagne, master tour guide (use a french pronunciation and then give it a southern twist) came through and I believe our shots were quite improved since yesterday. Free of charge, we also picked up some local lingo such as "I could see your face from the back of your head".

The other day we got to witness something purely Louisiana: a trail ride party; seemingly hundreds of people on horseback riding along the highway. These rides seem to be somewhat segregated as we saw both a white and black event.

Along our travels we passed an orange grove and picked up some straight from the grove fruit. And as always we saw the unique style of house building (and state of decay) so predominant in this area which contrasted sharply with our drive at the end of the day when left the 50's and 60's for the year 2000+ of Baton Rouge.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Week in a Day

Yesterday was one of those travel days where disparate things, make a day feel like a week compressed. We started on Lake Martin photographing birds and gators with Bryan Champagne.

Had a cafe, des graton and boudin, went to a Jam at Tom and Lori's, went over to Jenerette to see Stephanie and the sugar cane fields and ended up eating vast amounts of shrimp and crab at the local.

We met Joel Breaux, a sculptor/architect who's building a sustainable house that as it is transformed by the weather, becomes a work echoing that transformation. Turns out he is also a fiddle player and turned up at the jam.
The distaff side of art was represented by Lori Henderson, a sculptor of bird and humanoid forms, and of course, Stephanie Patton, feminist sculptor/painter, who showed us some early works including the zany purses in the photo.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


Blackpot Festival was everything one could hope for. Great music nonstop, incredible food in the cook-off, beautiful weather, friendly people and dancing, dancing, dancing.

We got to see old friends like, Mr. Don Montoucet, world's great Cajun triangle maker, musician and humorist and make some new ones like, Miss Renee Angelle, a young woman of poise and charm who is sweet and friendly and Miss Teen Etoufee.

I think the same quote I heard about the Chinese could be true for the Cajuns, "Cook everything but the squeal" --things we New Yorkers do not see--everything from alligator to squirrel to hog's head cheese--something I'd only read about.

I think the purpose of the blog is coming clearer to me -- a true visual diary. A repository to the photos that are not part of any serious artistic effort but are important none the less. Perhaps they are taking the place of what Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way, calls "morning pages." I'd rather shoot than write.

This diary invites others too by way of sharing and comments. Today is dedicated to my friend, artist Jon Berge. I promised to post some photos of another artist friend, Stephanie Patton who lives down here in Louisiana. Here you go...

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Gone to Lafayette

We made it to Louisiana for the Blackpot Festival. Bands were great and it was great to see old friends. Here are a few of the first day snaps.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Spooky Public Art

Kurt and I have the opportunity to see/experience many public artworks because we live in New York city. Since I saw Kathryne Hall's work at the recent conference, I've been thinking a lot about public art.

We experienced The Gates, a site-specific art installation by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, "experience" being the definitive word. Another recent artwork that we loved was called The Encampment and took place on Roosevelt Island. It was transformative.

First you took a train, then the Tramway, then we walked past spookily lit old hospital buildings, to be met by a field of a hundred of tents, a unique private experience in each tent about the days of Bedlam. One was of a Civil War soldier's dying, another of Billy Holiday's incarceration as a girl. You could see both sides of the river, Manhattan on one, Brooklyn on the other.It was only open at night and it was mysterious and moving.

The Encampment was a project that erected 100 illuminated expedition-style tents on the south point of NYC's Roosevelt Island from 5-7 October 2007 Created by Thom Sokoloski.