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Six or seven years ago I sat at my first portfolio review table opposite a budding hobby photographer with a shoe box full of snap shots of lovely scenes that caught her fancy. I gave her as much consideration and thought in helping advance her work as I did in my office the day before meeting with a well-known editorial photographer or I do today sitting across the table from an artist with a highly sophisticated presentation. At whatever level a photographer is working, benefits can be had from opening up and allowing another pair of eyes to share in an artist’s work process. I learned this in art school and I believe in it today.

Books by a few of the photographers with whom I was pleased to meet at a variety of review events: Norihisa Hosaka, Cynthia Greig, Jesse Burke and Photographer Hal.

After participating as a photography reviewer in a number of festival and reviewing events, I am pleased to participate in Eyeist.com, a sophisticated new reviewing opportunity for photographers working at all levels all over the world. The experience for photographers in participating in live reviews such as Center Santa Fe, Fotofest, Photo Lucida or Paris Photo is a unique and special one for many reasons, not least of which is the sense of camaraderie one feels on both sides of the table. The fact that I often refer to the experience as being akin to summer camp for adults, in no way diminishes its value. It can be extremely motivating to spend a few days in deep immersion with other people facing the same challenges as one’s self. A glass of wine over dinner and engaged conversion with a growing pool of new friends and colleagues is irreplaceable. That said, its not always possible, physically or financially to trek to that really great live review. This is why Eyeist.com is such a special thing.

I often wince at the number of new portfolio reviews that seem to sprout like weeds. In fact I just declined an offer to organize yet another one.  I fear for the photographer who like everyone else in the world, must face financial reality that one can’t really afford attending every event, even though there seems to be mounting pressure to do just that.  The sense of missing that one chance to meet with someone who might open just the right door is extremely compelling.  These things do happen – sometimes.  Several handfuls of the work I have loved most at reviewing events are beginning to get their day in the world and that’s a really great thing.

Even so, I feel proud to participate in Eyeist, because it offers a very good option to being there.  Especially for those who need to target their time or target their money, Eyeist is terrific and if I work up my nerve, I might even send my personal work over to a colleague for their take on things.

Currently 48 reviewers are on board with a wide range of expertise from major magazine photo editors to accomplished advertising art buyers to agents, curators as well as a handful of photographers in a variety of genres.  There are people who may be able to offer direct exhibition or publication opportunities and there are people like me, who come from places of deep experience, that may be able to help photographers progress enough to open doors to new opportunities.

After a year of challenging work and dedication by Eyeist founders Allegra Wilde, Micah and Jesse Diamond and their techno-wiz developer Doug Dawirs, they have created a unique and accessible system for assisting photographers that works exceptionally well.  I’m not going to spell out the details as their website does that, but I will say that we reviewers all participated in a number of training sessions and beta tests to get the system to function with great ease.  A benefit to the reviewing process that I hadn’t anticipated was that I was able to give a far more in-depth review than I am able in live review situations due to the potential to have a little bit of advance time with the photographer’s work.  I could look, think, make notes, formulate suggestions in a quiet, non-distracting space and provide a valuable service for my test subjects.  In addition the subject’s ability to choose a specific reviewer or trust Eyeist to do so, allows an ability to target to a photographer’s unique needs.

I don’t believe that Eyeist can or should replace the live, in-the-same-room experience provided by the more reputable reviewing events, but I think it can be a terrific addition to one’s toolbox.  I continue to meet with local photographers privately and that’s a completely ideal work process and setting, but Eyeist offers an opportunity to reach out, for all of us.

https://www.eyeist.com
Press Release:  https://www.eyeist.com/pdf/Eyeist_Press_Release_120925.pdf

“Longing” from the series “Natural Selection” by Zelda Zinn (c)2010

Art dealing in mass and minimalism isn’t always a natural fit with photography. Generally I find sculpture to be more successful at conveying volume. Zelda Zinn’s photographs, to the contrary, have strong sense of sculptural shape along with a kind of appealing delicacy.

“Escape” from the series “Natural Selection” by Zelda Zinn (c)2011

When she laid them out on my review table at FotoFest, I thought first of a fluid sort of Op Art and of Bridget Riley, though I’d never been a huge fan of the movement aside from its latter influence in adorning a pair of Vans or a Punk club wall. Zinn’s images on the other hand were light, lilting things, not the optical wallop and graphic hydraulics of Op. Her series “Natural Selection” initially led me to thinking they weren’t photographs at all, but drawings – incredibly airy drawings. Evoking cloud imagery, Zelda Zinn uses an array of simple diaphanous materials like the “Plain Jane” of fabrics, cheesecloth as her muse. Normally a utilitarian cooking tool used to squeeze the water out of spinach or mozzarella, in Zinn’s hand the cloth becomes an eloquent conveyor of light, and it’s fine grid detail has a minute seductive, mathematical quality (hence the Op references).

Zinn is featured along with artist Frida Kao at Art-Merge at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood through September 29. I was glad to see the work in advance without a crowd and was greeted (a rare thing in a gallery) by the talented and engaging gallerist Jae Yang. Yang has assembled the equivalent of two solo shows with Kao’s “Lines of Desire” anchoring the large front room in a mix of grand scale sculptural work and works on paper. Kao’s installation reflects a fascination with the maps and grids of the city of Los Angeles.   The work is immensely compatible with that of Zelda Zinn who presents two bodies of work in the smaller, but not too small, Closet Galleries.

Untitled from the series “Irresistible Air” by Zelda Zinn (c)2012

Zinn presents two additional series: “Irresistible Air” and “Illuminated Letters.” In “Irresistible Air” the photographer fashions a series of air packets, like those from shipping crates into magical suspended bubbles of silvery light. She writes “There is something irresistible about air pockets. They beg to be touched, played with, and sometimes popped. I toyed with them, twisting and fashioning them into a variety of shapes, looking for something that felt right. The funny thing about these pillows was how they were transformed when seen through the camera.” I was struck by the way the photographs read as hard, dark, dense mass when seen from five or so feet and upon closer inspection at roughly one foot, “Irresistible Air” becomes just that – light and translucent.

Untitled from the series “Irresistible Air” by Zelda Zinn (c)2012

In “Illuminated Letters” we get a chance to see Zinn’s own hand beyond the camera and her constructions. Her pencil drawings on Duralene explore a fascination with camouflage.

1.27.07 from the Illuminated Letters Series by Zelda Zinn (c)2007, pencil on Duralene

“Once I began to look for disruptive pattern, I saw it everywhere, even the insides of envelopes which brought me my bills. At first, I carefully unfolded the paper, trying to preserve and faithfully reproduce what was there. Later, I ripped open the envelopes, enjoying the jagged edges and new shapes created by chance. Finally, I used the shapes of the envelopes and the patterns within as a jumping off point, letting them guide me ‘off the grid.’ The resultant images were unplanned and largely unconscious reactions to what the page presented.”

“Timekeeper” from the series “Natural Selection” by Zelda Zinn (c)2011

Opportunities to see Zelda Zinn’s work abound this month.  Her exhibition will run through September 29th at Art – Merge at the Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Avenue, Suite B256 (Blue Building | 2nd Floor) West Hollywood, CA 90069 Monday – Friday: 11:00am – 5:00pm. Saturday and Sunday by appointment only.

She also has work in the Crossroads Faculty Show, where she has been a faculty member since 1990 and art department Chair since 1995. Sam Francis Gallery, Crossroads School, Santa Monica, through October 12, 2012, 10 am to 4 pm.

At LA Center for Digital Art, Zinn’s work is included in the Electron Salon through October 5, 2012 at 102 West 5th Street, Los Angeles, 90013.

Lastly, at Center for Fine Art Photography in Ft. Collins, Colorado, Zelda Zinn was selected for inclusion in the juried group exhibition, Center Forward, showing through October 20th, 2012 at 400 North College Avenue.

Nature Morte no. 4 (Still Life Inside and Out) by Cynthia Greig, (c) 2009, chromogenic development print

While I was growing up my family moved with alarming regularity. My father, a retail clothing buyer and manager was frequently transferred and consequently our family found ourselves moving from Portland to Seattle to Los Angeles and back again at the whim of the rag business. By the time I graduated from High School I attended a total of eight schools in the span most kids go to three and I’d lived in ten different homes. Family photos were abundant and our histories in each house were duly recorded and treasured. Throughout Junior High and High School I began to cherish the school yearbook as a way of retaining memory of each place and the people I cared about within those places. In typical pubescent fashion, it was also a way of wallowing in misery in coping with loss and rootlessness. The byproduct of all this was that I found I often knew the names and two-dimensional faces of everyone in each yearbook even though the majority were barely acquaintances.

As a photo editor living in Los Angeles it is not uncommon to find myself seated in a restaurant adjacent to someone who I knew only by virtue of the fact I had assigned or taken a portrait of them at one point or another. In the case of actors or sports figures with public faces like Hilary Swank or Javier Bardem or Kobe Byrant, recognition is obvious.   With other subjects such as a Nobel Prize winning scientist or a best selling author or cutting edge architect, well, that was different. Their faces might not be so default famous. Did I know them? Were they friends, I’d half forgotten? If so, from which city? From which yearbook? Did I go to college with them? I once ran into an old college mate in the middle of the Yucatan jungle, so I know it’s possible to re-cross paths in unlikely places.

Nature Morte no. 9 (Head with Pomegranates) by Cynthia Greig, (c) 20110, chromogenic development print

Knowing someone’s face without knowing the person makes for an extremely one-sided relationship. I recognize them, but in an uncomfortably familiar way. After all, I’ve stared at every follicle trying to make a clean edit.  I know their faces too well.  I often have to flip through a mental notebook to determine why I felt I knew them without knowing them. I always remember eventually and then everything I knew about them runs through my mind. They’re ordering a nice arugula salad and the sea bass and I’m recalling which street they live on and whether they were witty or kind.  I must be careful and avoid small talk as though we’re old friends when the person may well be a film director or the designer of an electric car. Knowing is not always knowing.  I was touring an open house recently when I ran into the author James Ellroy and we did a not-so-subtle eyeing of each other across the worn-out kitchen until we realized we did in fact know each other. In that case I had taken photographs for James’ memoir “My Dark Places,” some years ago after initially meeting on assignment. That relationship was more deeply forged and small talk was warranted. I didn’t have to feel like a voyeur to say “hello, how are you?”

At Fotofest in Houston I finished a post portfolio review drink and found myself chatting with a table of photographers in the lobby bar.  I was delighted when Cynthia Greig introduced herself, as I am quite fond of her work.  Her photographs of familiar traditional still life arrangements are not unlike those that adorned my mother’s walls in each of our suburban houses, but whitewashed and stripped of most color, altering their dimension and straddling a world somewhere between painting and photography.   I think she was generally floored at my recognition; much less the fact that I once considered showing her photographs until I realized she already had representation in Los Angeles. Greig is based in Detroit and I imagine getting exposure is somewhat tough in the world beyond. Even so, I’d seen the work previously and added her to my list of people I felt were doing something unique in the medium.  Meeting her in Texas seemed to me a random lucky fluke, yet these photo events put us all together in ever expanding concentric circles.

Digital access to photography has also made discoveries that were once challenging now commonplace.  The artists and their work are not less special, but the hard won nature of finding significant art and artists in the past allowed presenters of work to feel accomplished in finding an exceptional discovery. The sense that I’m not alone now as I search the equivalent of that school yearbook makes the act of locating distinguished artwork more of an uphill battle.   Pouring over assignment contact sheets in the past was an act conducted in solitude, without audience or competition.  Today there are thousands of others alongside, somewhere in the digital ether, clicking “like” with their morning coffee.  I do find work that I’m fond of, but I miss the joy of what once felt like an exclusive hunt.

Nature Morte no. 5 (Mixed Fruit), Cynthia Greig, (c) 2009, chromogenic development print

The intimacy of viewing the art with artist at hand and stepping out of the two-dimensional into a live experience seems to be the best way of dissipating the overwhelming nature of mass access.  And so the chance introduction to Cynthia Greig created the opportunity to meet again on the occasion of her exhibition at Santa Monica’s dnj Gallery.  Showing through June 2, 2012, Nature Morte is well worth a visit.

Cynthia Greig’s statement regarding the work follows:

“I’m fascinated by the persuasive power of the photograph, and its unique role in negotiating what we believe to be real or true.

Nature Morte revisits the tradition of still life to explore photography’s relationship to the vanitas themes of death, decay, and transience while meditating on the nature of reality and illusion. Exploiting the camera’s monocular point of view, I create two-dimensional photographic documents of three-dimensional drawings, rendering physical objects to first appear as crude and simple outlines. The photographs deny expectations to encourage the observation of subtle detail as a means to examine the deceptive nature of appearance and the presumed transparency of the photographic image. Muted colors emanate from beneath the whitewashed flesh of fruit; drawn charcoal outlines and shadows fix moments in fictional time; defining lines warp, wrinkle and decay with the organic matter they represent. The accompanying videos further explore time’s capacity to unfold and reveal the illusory nature of appearance.

I make images that embrace both the limitations and possibilities of photography. They prompt essential questions about the nature of reality as well as the medium itself: what do we expect a photograph to look like? To what degree are our beliefs and realities based on appearances and misconceptions? Nature Morte investigates the malleability of representation and identity and the potential for reconfiguring the physical and imagined boundaries we impose upon the world.”

dnj Gallery is located in Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Avenue, Suite J1, Santa Monica, CA.  Gallery Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Fotofest portfolio reviews come to an end with a blow-out barbecue dance at Houston's Lawndale Art Center with Tex/Mex and Zydeco music by The Stringbenders.

Fotofest Biennial 2012 is what all bienniales are supposed to be, a vast banquet of international exhibitions, lectures, book signings and in this case, reviews of photography portfolios.  I had the good fortune to attend the Houston, Texas-based event as a Portfolio Reviewer in the International Meeting Place (which, like most Portfolio Reviews, is held in a large hotel conference room).   Along with forty-eight fellow curators, editors, gallerists, collectors, publishers, festival and museum directors from fourteen countries, I reviewed in the last of four sessions of the month-long festival.  Each reviewer is appointed fourteen different photographers to meet each of the four days in our session, but on multiple occasions we’re all called upon to take a look at work by photographers who didn’t draw our names in their official lists.  I’ve reviewed in the past for Center Santa Fe, Palm Springs Photo Festival, and the Lucie Foundation’s Month of Photography L.A., but each for only a day or two at a time.  By the end of the trip, I sat with 62 different photographers from all over the world and looked as closely at their work as the twenty-minute sessions allowed.  The goal being to find ways in which to offer support, both directly and indirectly.

The Open Portfolio night had a busy turnout from Houston's dedicated art and photography audience, in spite of a downtown that goes quiet at day's end.

Photographers present their work at many levels.  Some are college art and photography teachers.  Many have extensive exhibition histories. Plenty are only a few years into the process.  Some are in their early twenties and some are in their seventies.  All the work I saw was directed toward fine art with very few crossovers into editorial.   Photographers pay handsomely to participate and it is costly for reviewers as well, so a lot of effort is spent toward making the most of the opportunity.  I do my best to find ways to pull the rabbit out of the hat with each review, attempting to access the work, the artist and every scrap of useful information at my disposal that might assist them in their journey. Occasionally, I come up dry, but I try to give each the focus they deserve.  By the end of each day, and especially at the end of four days, everyone is considerably talked out.  And yet, the talking continues.  Everyone hits verbal and creative walls, but fortified by caffeine and cookies, the process rolls along until everyone is seriously spent and then only barbecue and beer can offer relief.

I took a few snapshots along the way:

Tamara Staples, Leah Sobsey, Cynthia Greig, Andrew Uchin and Sharon Harper, fortified. Sobsey teaches at the University of North Carolina and Harper is an Associate Professor at Harvard. Greig is based in Detroit and along with Uchin, are represented in Los Angeles at DNJ Gallery. New York's Tamara Staples is known for her book entitled "The Fairest Fowl."

Beth Lilly of Atlanta, describes her fascinating narrative-building project, "the Oracle@wifi," to Alexa Becker, Acquisitions Editor at Kehrer Verlag based in Heidleberg, Germany.

The duo of Francoise and Daniel Cartier present their elegant bodies of work which managed to be both historic and exceedingly contemporary.

Blake Gordon with his "Nightwalks" panorama landscapes taken while walking across Austin, Texas. Blake was once good enough to drive his truck and a vintage travel trailer (resembling a canned ham) all the way to Los Angeles. Here he picked up the work from his friend Brent Humphreys' exhibition "Le Tour" at my former gallery and drove it all the way back to Texas.

Jim Leisy of Oregon presents his still-life body of work entitled "Amateur Physics," executed in a combination of digital and Van Dyke Brown printing.

Photographer Ilan Weiss and Stephan De Broyer, Publisher of View Magazine of Brussels.

The vast sky walk in Houston's One Allen Center links one exhibition space to another.

Damion Berger's grand installation of "Black Powder" is included in "Discoveries of the Meeting Place," a large group exhibition of the work of prior participants of the reviews.

"Le Fiac II, Jardin des Tuilleries," 2009, by Damion Berger (74.8 x 55.9, Gelatin Silver).

Erika Diettes installation of "Rio Abajo" explores the tragedy of Colombia's disappeared.

From Erika Diettes' "Rio Abajo."

Houston's historic preservation methods make for strange juxtapositions.

Aside from the oil industry's downtown skyscrapers and a nearby shooting range, a televised scene from an old Conway Twitty performance was a rare sign of southern stereotype.

Ricardo Veira, Director of Pennsylvania's Lehigh University Art Galleries, Ute Noll Director of On Photography & Illustration, Uno Art Space, Stuttgart, and New York/Tokyo photographer Yoko Naito board the tour bus following a stop at Priya Kambli and Julie Blackmon's exhibitions at Houston Center for Photography or HCP .

Houston based photographer Emily Peacock's show at Lawndale Art Center.

Emily Peacock's "You, Me & Diane," is based on the seminal book "Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph." Peacock casts herself in recreating likenesses of the now famous Arbus photographs, including the 1967 "Identical twins, Roselle, N.J."

Emily Peacock as the comic relief version of Arbus' 1966 photograph, "A young man with curlers at home on West 29th Street, N.Y.C."

After art there's BBQ or as they say in the South - meat and three.

Ferit Kuyas of Switzerland via Turkey (right) and a smoking buddy. Kuyas' landscape work is represented in Los Angeles at Stephen Cohen Gallery.

Maggie Blanchard, Director of Twin Palms Publishers, Santa Fe, with Tamara Staples.

Photographer Wendy Sacks (center) getting jiggy. To her left is Diane Evans, Gallery Manager at Vancouver, BC's Presentation House Gallery and Fernando Brito (blue shirt), whose journalistic portraits of drug cartel murder victims delivered a powerful punch.

Allessandra Capodacqua (left), VP of Fondazione Studio Marangoni, Firenze, Italy

Daniel Cartier and Uta Noll with Monika Merva(center). The New York based Merva showed her "City of Children" in the "Discoveries of the Meeting Place" exhibition.

Sometimes a photo festival looks like a barn dance. Krzysztoft Candrowicz, center in plaid, Founding Director, Lodz Art Center, International Festival of Photography, Poland.

Photographer and filmmaker Sarah Martin (left) presented innovative work and a sense of humor in her series on Christian online dating. Leah Sobsey recently finished a residency at the Grand Canyon documenting the Park's extensive botanical collection. Both teach in the Photography Department at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

Nancy Barr, Associate Curator at Detroit Institute of the Arts, documents her BBQ brisket platter while architectural landscape photographer Philip Jones of Boston sits just beyond.

Ricardo Viera leads Fotofest volunteers and staff member Sarah Craig in one last line dance.

For more information on the festival which continues with exhibitions through April 29, see http://2012biennial.fotofest.org/.

After watching the Oscars this week, I found myself thinking of sharing my experience of attending the Grammy Awards.  I am not a music mogul. I grew out of my rock and roll dreams long ago. Attending a major award show is not something I ever expected to log into my date book – certainly not something I sought out.  Nonetheless, it was my good fortune to be a “plus 1” for the second time at the Grammy Awards.  As a cultural observer, I approached the Grammys with the caution of an interloper and a gleeful sponge for an eye.  I expect these things to be odd and they generally come through.

The Grammys, like the Academy Awards are a spectacular event – as in spectacle.  In watching both we experience love as well as loathing. There was more than one moving musical moment at the Grammys, along with the insufferably tedious, but here I choose to focus on what I saw more than on what I heard.

On television the Grammys look much like other sparkly shows, but live, the visuals make a phenomenal statement – all flashing, pulsing, kinetic mania.  The sophistication of the production, projections, audio capability and timing is really quite impressive, like a fully lit birthday cake or Fourth of July sparklers on crack.

The pre-telecast ceremony is held in the cavernous LA Convention Center.   At one in the afternoon everyone was dressed in evening attire. A large number of men and women looked wonderful and elegant and some looked so in less than conventional ways. Yet there were plenty who looked dowdy while wrapped too tightly in brightly colored satins and ill-fitting suits – trying a little too hard.  Then again, everyone seemed drug down by the Convention Center lobby.  While modern and spacious, it suffered from a kind of generic, fluorescent, corporate lack of splendor, which made everyone’s attempts at glamour seem slightly tired and in some cases, desperate.

I half expected to see large displays of hot tubs or speedboats or solar arrays – more often the featured act within the walls of this building. Even so, the lobby is the first and best spot to view the extensive array of fashion statements. While I am no budding musical genius, I am no doyen of fashion either.  I’ve directed fashion photo shoots, slogged my way through the awkward task of casting models and grew up with a father whose profession in the clothing business brought Vogue into my reach at an early age, when Peggy Moffitt and Veruschka filled its pages.  I’m not completely in the dark, but my interest in making a fashion statement at the Grammys reflects my somewhat lazy and indifferent approach.  I want to look good, but I just don’t want to put much effort into the task.

Last year I’d imagined the event to be so far beyond my personal glam-ability that I was in a cold sweat about it. This year I knew better.  I knew I wouldn’t be sharing cocktails with Paul McCartney or Diana Krall.  With that knowledge came a certain amount of relief and I managed to cherry-pick an elegant costume from the hinterlands of my closet.   I should say I culled together an outfit both fashionable AND comfortable, because comfort is important here.

The long walk through security in and out of the pre-telecast ceremony.

This woman's identical twin was identically clad, walking in step behind her.

The Grammys are spread out between two enormous buildings of stadium size and their adjacent parking lots. There is much walking to do. It’s not a scene of exiting your limo curbside and making a short stilettoed entrance with cameras flashing.  That likely happens for the stars, in a separate entrance, but the bulk of Grammy attendees have to hoof it.  We don’t even get to see that entrance. Yet even facing an event that starts in the early afternoon and goes into the wee hours, most women decided to pay the price of fashion conformity in the form of often impossible shoes. Glittery gowns and eight-inch heels abound and they screamed simultaneously for attention.

Giant colorful suits on giant colorful men and hair of all heights and lengths were scattered throughout the entry hall, yet the predominant color as one would expect, was black.  It’s ironic, but hair in this room had more volume than the music.  It’s the real and the unreal clustering around multiple hors d’oeurvre tables and cocktail bars.  The big name faces did not walk among us, not even here.  Again I realized I would not be reaching for Brie and spring rolls along with Norah Jones  or even with Kurt Elling or Levon Helm.

Inside the immense expanse of the flat-carpeted floor of the convention hall, thousands of chairs are placed in neat rows facing a stage built and lit for the awards.  As a lover of theaters, I was at first mildly shocked that such a big production happened without a real proscenium stage or raked seating.  Nonetheless, I quickly learned to appreciate the pleasure of open seating. This is an egalitarian room. One can sit wherever there is an available seat.  The trick is to get close enough to see people on stage, but not so close that a great opportunity for people watching would be missed.

Comedian Kathy Griffin, who hosted the pre-telecast last year, refers to the awards as the Schmammys.  It’s the stepchild of the main show, but also a room full of immense talent, even if that talent isn’t a large-scale headliner. You’re more likely to see T Bone Burnett than Jennifer Hudson.

Meanwhile, a rather robustly built woman walked slowly and deliberately across the mid-audience aisle in front of us – her walk timed and intended for maximum viewing and distraction.  I have no idea who she was, but she was a poser extraordinaire – a voyeur’s dream.  Super Freak, she’s super freaky!  I fumbled for my camera.  Hot pink Lycra short shorts and plunging bra strained dramatically against her brown skin and all were made the merrier by color coordinated fuzzy boot slash leggings that look like a 99 Cent store Day-Glo bathmat. One man could not resist and even while an award was being given on stage, he dropped to his knees to take her photograph.  Moments later her “manager” appeared and business cards were exchanged.  I would love to have seen what was written on that card.

Four skinny young guys in spin-offs of Beatles jackets may have been nominees or they might have been there to see their dad win a techy award.  I noticed a woman stepping into the aisle to retrieve her fallen program and within minutes that same woman, Judith Sherman, was up on stage accepting the classical producer of the year award. Back on stage Chick Corea was giving out awards and later won a couple. Esperanza Spaulding announced winners and looked as though she missed having her bass to hold onto.  Skrillex’s acceptance speech lasted too long.  I imagined a long vaudevillian hook reaching out and pulling him offstage.

Awards were given in Christian music.  I fidgeted and muttered to myself.  I have no problem when an award is given in Gospel music. There is a long-standing tradition in Gospel after all.  But these new Christian categories made me squirm.   I struggled to refrain from having an outburst.  An opera singer from Kansas took center stage.   Thankfully, saved from the saccharin “thank the Lord” acceptance speeches, all eyes and ears found rapture in Joyce DiDonato’s undeniably phenomenal solo.  The entire room erupted in a standing ovation – people from all genres – Americana, Rap, Jazz, Classical, and Rock rose to their feet in appreciation of this delightful voice – her instrument.  Minutes later she won a Grammy for best Classical Vocal solo and in her speech, passionately took up the important cause of defending arts education in America.   “There’s a war on in our country against the arts right now…we need more musicians in our lives.” Unknown to most when she first entered the room; she quickly became everyone’s darling.

A bicycle policeman pitches in to take a snapshot in front of Staples Center.

Several hours later we made our way to the Staples Center next door. This is the house the Lakers built.  The circular lobby surrounding the arena is lined with super graphics of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.    It’s a sports facility first and foremost and it’s lined with fast-food concessions.  This is where any preconceived notions of glamour fell apart.  As the smell of burgers and fries filled the air, women in Versace and men in Tom Ford huddled at stand-up bars wolfing nachos and burritos.  Maybe because I attend an occasional basketball game, I was overly aware, but the effect was unseemly.   Staples is first-rate for sports, but for a dress-up event, the lobby at least, is like Fred Astaire dancing in a tavern instead of a ballroom.  It’s a classic example of Hollywood smoke and mirrors, glitzy in the television camera lens and not so much outside of it.

Immortalized in cell photos in front of Magic Johnson's statue.

With abundant extremities of people watching all around, we stalled as long as possible in the lobby.  With the most elaborate outfits, I forgot photographs completely and found myself dumbly staring in awe.  Once seated by 4pm we were on lockdown.

At the Academy Awards, fashion reflects the classic trends in gowns and tuxedos, with only the occasional renegade bold deviation.  The music industry makes its living though, not only in song, but also in risk-taking wardrobes.  The lavish gold lame suit made by Nudie for Elvis Presley pushed some early boundaries.  Madonna’s rocket-cone bra by Gaultier or her post-punk ragamuffin re-embracing of the fish net stockings shook things up as well.  Lady Gaga proved to be a happy source of amusement throughout the evening as she could be seen skulking through the main floor audience with a huge golden scepter in hand, like a Goth Bo Peep.  Even better, when the giant video screens on either side of the stage zoomed in on her close-up, it was apparent her designer had taken Madonna’s fish nets (essentially) and strung them across Gaga’s face.  Talk about a tribute.  She didn’t perform this year.  She didn’t beam down in a glowing egg.  She didn’t even win anything.  But each time she appeared, she induced a gleeful laugh and I was glad for her peculiarity.

Pound for pound the Grammys offer a lot of entertainment and not only in terms of star power.  Thankfully, the interior of Staples Center has miraculously good acoustics, owing I’m sure to the sophisticated production team.  With two side-by-side stages, one was live while the other was built simultaneously.  Since Chris Brown’s isn’t much of a vocalist,  I largely watched the animation projections on the cubes upon which he danced and thought about him beating his former girlfriend.   Digital projection has so greatly expanded what’s possible on a theatrical stage it can be quite remarkable, but it wasn’t so captivating that everyone in the room forgot the kind of man he can be.  Still, there were mostly positive feelings in the room.  The power of a strong voice, like Adele’s, Alicia Keys’ or Glen Campbell’s or Bonnie Raitt’s slide guitar commands some healthy respect.   Bruce Springsteen’s working class ethics, the funky moves of Bruno Mars or the Beach Boys reuniting to perform Good Vibrations or the fact there was a Beatle on stage – these were wonderful gifts to those of us lucky to be in the room.

Jay-z and Diana Ross on the JumboTron.

Our seats were good ones – not the floor where the stars are seated, but not nosebleeds either. It was impossible to guess who was seated near us.  Who was the young woman a row ahead of us who struggled to keep her stretchy dress from rising up too high?  I’ve seen some short ones, but at the risk of sounding like an old fart, this one was well into Brittany territory.  Did she hope to get a gig with that dress?  She tugged at it uncomfortably while inching her way down the aisle to her seat and then tugged again.

Two couples a few rows down couldn’t get enough of taking pictures of each other with the Grammy stage in the deep background.  While cameras are banned, cell phones are permissible so outside and inside it’s a cell-photo feeding frenzy.  I always though of music people as a pretty cool lot, but cell phone cameras have carved into any sort of aloof coolness people may have had in the past.  Everyone looks just as goofy as everyone else, no matter how they’re dressed.

The Japanese couple next to me must have just gotten off a flight from Tokyo as they slept off and on through the last few hours of the awards. With her date fast asleep with head tipped back, even the woman’s authentic traditional pink kimono with its mid-waist binding couldn’t keep her fully upright.  Jet lag got the best of them, in spite of the sound wall of the Foo Fighters.  She perked up considerably when the bracelets given to us at the door for Coldplay’s set began to blink on and off in pastel fluorescent colors – the entire audience a sea of twinkly LED lights amid the blackness.

The Grammy after-party, with its Rio de Janeiro Carnival inspired theme, featured female dancers atop pedestals at the prime rib station. The irony was not lost.

After a brief tour of the after-party I noticed women removing their shoes.    Lots of them had no coats on and were wearing strapless dresses with no shawls, no jackets.  It was February.  Yes, it’s Los Angeles, but February still means chilly nights.  The long walk to parking was covered in women carrying their sequined platform shoes and seriously limping the long cold distance to their cars.

I’m thinking about the dialogues going on around Congress regarding women’s health care right now. I’m thinking of the discomfort I felt in witnessing women hobbling en masse in evening gowns.  I struggle to understand the self-infliction of injury to of a good portion of this audience. Feminism once brought to light the downside of high heels and when feminism was made a dirty word, the popularity of even more daredevil shoes snowballed.  I read recently of podiatrists reporting a huge surge in high-heel related  foot damage women are sustaining. Somehow a lot of Koolaid is being drunk.

Outside a restaurant last night my mother-in-law was complaining of her feet hurting in heels that likely were no higher than an inch and a half and we began talking to a young woman near us about shoes.  She spoke gleefully of getting dolled up with her friends all in super high heels to go clubbing and how their feet all killed them before the night was out.  She said “they make us look so pretty, but we don’t care how we look at the end, our feet hurt so bad.”  I think about her.  I think about how unsexy a herd of gimpy women looks.  I don’t get it. I end up thinking the woman with the hot pink fuzzy bathmat boots looked somewhat sensible.  She had her feet pretty much on the ground and she still managed to steal the scene.

Where's the beef? Found it.

No matter how strong photography’s attraction may be for me, I deeply enjoy mixed media exhibitions.   A combination of beautifully made objects including the functional along with the purely esthetic is an exhibition after my own heart.  This could be because I started out in craft.   Ceramics in Southern California in the 70s drew the artful suburban kids out of our ranch houses, away from the beach and to the tactile pleasures of clay.  There’s no cadre stronger than one born of earth, fire and water and the beer keg parties in the kilns at Paul Soldner’s ceramics department at Scripps College in Claremont were alive with the energy of what was then still a happening crafts movement.  My interests evolved in many directions over the years but my “form follows function” needs were happily met on a recent visit to California Design, 1930–1965: “Living in a Modern Way” at LACMA.

California Design, 1930–1965: "Living in a Modern Way” at LACMA includes a wide range of the craftsmanship that led the way for Americans to incorporate design into their daily lives.

Julius Shulman's 1959 photograph of Pierre Koenig's Bailey House (Case Study House #21, Hollywood Hills, 1958

The sultry Avanti designed by Raymond Loewy in 1961 and manufactured 1963-64 is displayed on the cool white rock often found on rooftops all over the West.

This beautifully mounted exhibition designed by architects Craig Hodgetts and Ming Fung and installed in the museum’s new Resnick Pavillion is the first major survey of mid-century modern design manufactured in California.  Featuring over 300 objects including furniture, ceramics, metalwork, fashion, textiles, and industrial and graphic design, the exhibition creates not only a window on cutting edge design of the era, but also a look at California’s role in leading the way.  Apparently most things do happen here 15 minutes before the rest of the country.

A home away from home - designers Ray and Charles Eames' living room, recreated in the museum gallery, down to the last Philodendron leaf.

Much has been written of the installation of Charles and Ray Eames’ living room staged in one end of the museum hall.  What struck me most about this room was not so much the elegance and simplicity of their design but just how much they filled it with clutter.  Every spacious architectural home in the West has been photographed with minimalist furnishings “evoking” the Eames duo, yet they themselves packed their own home with an exceedingly great amount of clutter, knickknacks, folk art and potted plants.  Surrounding themselves with inspirational objects, the spiritual parents of contemporary Southern California lived among the kinds of oddball things gathered on vacations bearing little or no similarity to their own designs.

Wallace "Wally" M. Byam, Clipper, 1936, Auburn Trailer Collection

When I asked my seventeen year-old son what part of the show he liked the most, I thought for sure he’d go for the shiny 1936 Airstream Clipper trailer.  When he immediately responded with his choice of the Polaroid Swinger, I found myself smiling.  Situated in a display case next to Barbie’s Dream House, the small, white molded plastic camera was the lust object equivalent of the iPad in its day.  In its installation at LACMA, it had the added benefit of being presented with a video of one of the television spots made for the Swinger when it was launched in 1965.

Neat, sweet and petite - the Polaroid Swinger.

Ben loves television commercials and often sings their jingles around the house.  The fact that a song like “Wear Your Love Like Heaven” was not created in order to sell fragrance, but originally was a 1967 hit record by Donovan is a difficult reality to convey. He just knows a catchy tune when he hears one.  The LACMA installation included a wonderful white conical audio earpiece, which despite its progressive design, seemed at home when scratchily emitting the pop jingle to accompany the Swinger commercial. It was so popular in my childhood that I was able to conjure up its tune and much of the lyrics even before actually hearing it again at the exhibition.

“Meet the Swinger, the Polaroid Swinger.  It’s more than a camera, it’s almost alive.  Its only nineteen dollars and ninety-five.”  Complete with surf guitar.

A Catherine Deneuve look-alike, a young Ali MacGraw and Gidget goes brunette in Polaroid.

The Polaroid Swinger at the beach in the vintage television ad.

The fact that a stunning young Ali McGraw played the lead in the commercial was lost to me in elementary school. She hadn’t yet had her big film break in Love Story.  For my teenager, she was a gorgeous girl on a beach having fun with her friends and her camera and that song, even with the crackley vintage video was infectious with its ’60s vibe.  The Swinger commercial was a window on what he calls “back then,” meaning any time before life as he knows it.  The commercial took the museum object out of the showcase and into a practical application of how it fit into life and the world, enriching the viewing experience.  The fact that it connected to my son’s life on several levels, including being predecessor to the Tasmanian Devil Polaroid camera I bought him when he was six, brought him deeper meaning.

Tasmanian Devil Polaroid, circa 2000, mouth open in the shooting position.

Upon returning home and doing a little research we found that Ray and Charles Eames also made a short film in 1972 for the Polaroid Corporation detailing the features and wonders of its SX-70 camera.  While the Swinger was geared toward a youthful audience,  this was the camera that became coveted in the art world.  Its gelatin based film emulsion stayed soft for several days, allowing artists such as Lucas Samaras to manipulate a photograph’s surface before it hardened into a fully fixed image.   Samaras’ images, along with Bea Nettles’ Breaking the Rules: A Photo Media Cookbook contributed to stretching the boundaries of what photography could be in the pre-computer era and Polaroid was a contributing force.

Ray Eames with the SX-70 in the studio

The SX-70 was like the Swinger for professionals, which made the educational film all the more interesting due to both the design genius of Ray and Charles Eames and because the camera was just so progressive in its day.  In the last decade, the evolution of photographic technology has felt as though it has turned on a dime, with digital leaving film in the dust.  Watching “SX70” I got a strong sense of the sophistication of the technology at that time and it struck me that the medium has been on more of a continuum than we might often think.  Ever in flux, always in development, photography has always been a work in progress.

A scene from SX-70.

In terms of pure visual appeal, SX70 (the film) reeks of early ’70s cool from the original Elmer Bernstein pop score to the hip scientific animations of Richard Spies.  I would not have been surprised at all to see Ali McGraw pop in again with someone in a sports car, say Steve McQueen for instance.   Which brings me to the Eames’ intriguing film crew and it’s here that I fall down a bit of a rabbit hole.   The film featured Philip Morrison, one of the youngest physicists to work on the Manhattan Project, who later became a leading voice in the drive to halt the use of nuclear weapons.  Also listed in the credits were Eames’ late furniture maker, turned steampunk prop maker Parke Meek, and the studio’s still photographer Dick Donges who later formed the design firm of Neuhart Donges Neuhart.  Also listed in the credits is photographer Peggy Gruen, daughter of Victor Gruen and Elsie Krummeck commonly known as the architects who created the shopping mall among other things.

This photo of Barton's Barbonnierre designed by Elsie Krummeck and Victor Gruen (with Alvin Lustig as graphics consultant), shows Gruen's chandeliers, one of which is at LACMA.

The idea that these masters of design, the Eames, Gruen and Krummeck were likely either friends or colleagues including a daughter in a film project, fascinates me.  Elsie Krummeck’s ceramic planters were on display about 20 feet from the Polaroid Swinger and Victor Gruen’s whimsical metal chandelier, part of an overall design he and Krummeck created for the fabulous Barton’s Barbonnierre, were just a few steps away.  In my imagination, the reconstructed living room was where the Eames shared cocktails and talked shop with Gruen and Krummeck.  Throughout the California Design exhibition there were similarly linked artists in furniture and fabric design, pottery, photography, metals and graphics.  Friends and colleagues who made wonderful things and inspired each other to do the same and forged the way we see the modern world.

It’s not only who you know, it’s what you know and what you make.  It’s more than a camera it’s almost alive.


California Design, 1930–1965: “Living in a Modern Way” is open through June 3, 2012 at LACMA.

A wonderful book accompanies the exhibition and is available through LACMA’s bookstore and in digital form at MIT Press

Jean Cocteau's The Blood of a Poet (1930)

I was surprised to find myself thinking of graduate school while traveling in Southern France this autumn.  While working on my masters in studio art, I was a teacher’s assistant for a number of classes including one with the amusing title, “Museum Problems.”  One could interpret that in any number of ways and while it sounded like a silly construct of a course, it ended up being one of those experiences that taught useful tools regarding the powers of institutions to enforce particular lines of thinking.  It also conjured up questions of what constituted a museum and what it meant when the work of a person of color or a woman was relegated to a location with poor sightlines or offered the least amount of foot traffic.  Curators, museum directors and even docents have always had the power to conduct how work is viewed, received, interpreted.

The old town and harbor of Menton, France. Photograph, Berthold Werner

In a trip planned with 1000-year-old architecture in mind and countryside full of farms and vineyards but little to do with the pursuit of gallery art, it was odd to find myself thinking about museums and their problems.  Even so, after a few days in Italy, we found ourselves taking a break from our road trip in the beautiful city of Menton, France, not far from the southern border.  Like other cities and villages on the Riviera, Menton is a mix of stunning buildings (from the medieval to modern) and gorgeous blue waters in close proximity to a mountainous coastline.  Menton also offered a welcome respite from the death-defying experience of driving the Italian freeways.  In the post-road pursuit of a restroom we ducked into the old fortress on the beach, the Bastion. Unfortunately, the fort was closed in its transition from housing a small collection of the work of Jean Cocteau to a nearby new museum built in his honor.   The Jean Cocteau Severin Wunderman Collection Museum, scheduled to open to the public later this fall, is a sprawling contemporary surrealist affair designed by Rudy Ricciotti.  Thankfully it has a low architectural profile so that it doesn’t interrupt the postcard-perfect view.

Bastion of Menton, built in 1636, where the old Musee Jean Cocteau was located.

One of Cocteau's pebble mosaics on the exterior of the Bastion.

The Severin Wunderman Museum, once located on the upper floor of the Severin Group’s Irvine, California warehouse, was one of the oddest locations for a “museum” that I’ve ever experienced.  As the sole manufacturer of watches for Gucci, Severin Wunderman had amassed an extensive collection of the works of Jean Cocteau and it was available for viewing by appointment only.  Driving through the clean winding streets of outer Irvine in the mid ’90s, there was not a pedestrian in sight.  It was the kind of neighborhood featuring the types of businesses in which there is little clue, beyond logo, of what lies within.

Jean Cocteau with drawing from The Testament of Orpheas (1959)

The group of students I took to the museum entered through the loading dock where cases of elegant watches were standing in shipping crates bound for the showcases of Gucci.  There we were met by a staff member and taken upstairs to what felt like a secret collection.  On display were a number of the French surrealist’s drawings, photographs, ceramics, books and posters, literally housed in a large over-lit office space with low acoustical-tiled ceilings and an aura of light industrial complex blandness that could not have been further from the quality or source of the work.  I’m sure my memory fails me here but somehow, I associate carpeted walls with the installation.

Visage Aux Yeux Poissons

Le Gabier de Vigie (1961)

Le Sang d'un poète (The Blood of a Poet) (1930)

The museum was clearly a collection that had outgrown its owner’s home and storage capabilities.  The beauty of it was that Severin Wunderman chose to share it as best he could.  Apparently, he once negotiated with the city of Laguna Beach, California, hoping to move the collection from Irvine to Laguna, keeping it close at hand.  Negotiations fell apart over parking issues, however, and most certainly Wunderman’s well-publicized temper played a role.  Upon his decision to return to his native Europe, he left the collection to Menton.

Cocteau at work in Menton's town hall.

The wedding room murals, Menton town hall.

Over the years Jean Cocteau traveled to Menton many times and created several major paintings there prior to his death in 1963.  The enormous murals he painted for the wedding room at the town hall, transformed the entire room into a work of art.  This history links Cocteau naturally to Menton and makes a perfect case for the Wunderman collection landing in the city.  Severin Wunderman’s bequest includes 1,800 works, 990 of which are by Jean Cocteau, including drawings, painting, pebble mosaics, ceramics, tapestries, jewelry, photography, audio and cinema. 450 works are by Cocteau’s friends including Picasso, De Chirico, Miró, and Modigliani, as well as hundreds having to do with Sarah Bernhardt, for whom Cocteau coined the term monstre sacré (referring to the hysteria inspired by divas of the stage). While 35 or so of the artworks were recently rumored to be fakes, the lion’s share should make a formidable presentation especially located in such a grand setting.

The new Jean Cocteau Severin Wunderman Collection Museum, Menton

It was an unusual coincidence to have the Cocteau collection cross my path again so far from where I’d first seen it.  I regret that it wasn’t open to see the full collection.  Nonetheless, I’m thrilled the work has a more suitable and appropriate home in a town with a historic connection to Jean Cocteau himself.  Museum problem solved.

If you’ve never seen Cocteau’s films you’ve missed a visual treasure.  All of his cinematic works are inspiring photographically and regarding his 1945 version of “Beauty and the Beast, Halloween would be a great time to revisit.

La Belle et la Bête (1946)

Ed and Tina's Farmhouse, Los Angeles, Kathleen Clark, (c) 2011

Many things in Los Angeles are reminiscent of the classic Western movie façade.  A willing suspension of disbelief allows us to imagine all sorts of fictions.  No stranger to a rapid pace lifestyle, intense work pressures and mind-numbing gridlock, longtime residents know the importance of finding their spot: a place to take shelter, to make a little green, to calm down.  It’s important.  We live in something of an illusion if we can find it.  On one side, our particular oasis borders a strip of tired old apartment buildings and newer, shoddily constructed condominiums.  The area was once low farmland fed by the runoff from the Hollywood Hills.  It had moisture the rest of the city didn’t have.  Plants were meant to grow here.

A Screen Door Sounds Like Summer, Kathleen Clark, (c) 2011

The neighborhood’s south and west sides have lovely 1920s homes with ample yards, protected by zoning that is dedicated to the single family home.  Sadly, to the north and east, the buffer of homes that stand between opportunistic development and us, is getting smaller.  As it turned out, our side of the street is zoned for both single family and multiple units. A multiple tenant building in the 1920s meant a quaint Spanish duplex, whereas now it can easily refer to a 20-unit complex of dubious design with twice that number of cars owned by its inhabitants.  When we fell in love with this house, the fluttering leaves out each and every window seduced us away from concerns about the clutter to the north.  The zoning wasn’t something we focused on, although for years we’ve directed visitors to drive here through the prettier route.  Unfortunately, growth is now encroaching and it’s not the growth of gardens, but of more cement, rebar, and lots and lots of stucco.

Up until now we sat in our house and faced away from it all.  We were able to maintain something of an illusion of spaciousness, of a natural world – the mirage of a better reality, right in the middle of the city.

The land where our house now rests is located just below the bottom left corner of this 1923 photograph of Los Angeles. Farmland covered the middle of the photograph with oil rigs dotting the fields at the Gilmore Ranch a couple of miles north and the closest developed neighborhoods nestling the Hollywood Hills at the top of the frame.

It’s amazing how a sense of calm can be immediately altered with a single phone call.  It’s not as though someone died or was harmed, thankfully, but for a household whose members have each moved enough for a lifetime, our sense of feeling settled down was tremendously altered.

The voice on the telephone said he was with a development company.  He spoke of other projects his company constructed, but wasn’t specific.  The website for the company showed grandiose condominiums – shiny steel and glass.  He offered to buy our house and would pay in cash.  First came the carrot and then, the stick.  His plan was to demolish and build a condominium of unspecified size, upon our lot.  When we recovered from the shock at the thought, we asked if keeping the house and moving it to a new location was an option.  He had no objection, yet there is so little available vacant land in the city, that the proposition of moving it would be unrealistic.

One Hundred Years, Kathleen Clark (c) 2011

How ironic to think of the house moving once again.  Ed and Tina, our 90-year-old neighbors across the street tell us of hearing an incredible rumbling one day 32 years ago.  Walking out onto their lawn they saw our little old house rolling down the street on the bed of a truck.  Their home is the first on the street, built in the early 20s when only a few farmhouses sat near Ballona Creek (now a paved viaduct).  They compliment us on the new green we used to paint the house and tell us how fond they are of looking out to the sycamore trees as they go out to fetch their newspaper each day.  I can’t imagine inflicting their last days with the unsightly view of an enormous condominium complex, not to mention the cutting down of the trees and demolition that would accompany it.

Pepper Tree, Kathleen Clark, (c) 2011

Since that phone call, we’ve gained some information but remain confused.  Not having the heart to sell our wonderful home to developers, it took no time at all to decide it wasn’t an option.  We could not willingly subject our surrounding neighborhood to the monstrosity that would surely be built and we couldn’t live with ourselves if we destroyed the spirit of this sweet house.  It’s also not possible to replace this kind of ambiance, within our means, in the city.

Apparently, the owners of the rental house next door got the call as well, and the fact that they haven’t returned our calls has us spooked.  We don’t know if any of the other five houses left on the block received calls and consequently, we don’t know if people in them have made decisions.  The chance to sell out in a diminished housing market may be tempting to some, while the potential to weaken the value of our investment is something we can’t afford to ignore, even if the light is pretty and the trees are tall.  We may find ourselves forced to offer the house for a regular sale to a person who wants the house in spite of the potential for a 3-story condo next door.  Even writing that makes me feel like a traitor.

Australian Tea Tree, Kathleen Clark (2011)

Not wanting to leave, we research options for trees that grow quickly, that won’t spread too widely and have non-invasive root systems.  We think of planting in strategic locations and staying put.  Then we remember all the cars and all the sounds and all the smells that would accompany a multi-unit building next door.  The sounds of construction and later of arguments and loud music where there have never been any.  The smell of cigarettes and bacon that would surely find their way into our windows make me want to bolt.  I don’t know the answer yet.  It may be that another home would be as inspirational as this one.  Staying or leaving – it’s a gamble either way.  Ultimately it’s difficult to imagine finding another place with such a long glistening throw of light as this one offers.

Above the Table, Kathleen Clark, (c) 2011

I was photographing the house, its grounds and light long before the developer’s call and continuing to do so feels empowering.  The work was shifting along the way, becoming more abstract.  I’m not sure what role that telephone call played in making the black and white images – possibly a need to isolate an essential element of this place.  The botanical shadows were included in many of the color photos, but the emphasis on shadows rather than on the light itself was a subtle change.  I don’t consider them darker or more sinister but perhaps they are in certain images.  Maybe it’s just seeing the whole picture this time.  I’ve always had a tendency, when others are admiring a sunset, to look the other way.  It’s my contrary nature I suppose, but I just really love the way everything looks when it’s bathed in the light falling at the end of the day.

Hummingbird's Rest, Kathleen Clark, (c) 2011

If, in the end, we decide to move on, I want a full recording of what happened here in September and December and April and July.  The light and all its changes of angle allow for different photographs every day.  Most of them I do not take.  Generally, I think the camera gets in the way of a lot of experience and I think taking it in is important in life.  For every image I grasp with my camera, a hundred more are embedded in my mind, generally the place where the best photographs live.

Summer Fruit, Kathleen Clark, (c) 2011

Uplift, Kathleen Clark, (c) 2011

Spring in the World, Kathleen Clark, (c) 2011

January Silhouette, Kathleen Clark, (c) 2011