Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Als das Kind Kind war...

A while ago (November 2005) Susan Manger (Frostburg's grand dancer, singer, grant-writer, pilates instructor, and Mrs. to Stephen's Mr.) sent me the following email:

I'm in the midst of transferring all of our photos to an online location (our computer is dying) and since you, mr.photographer/artist, enjoy looking into other peoples' lives (i presume - i know i do, even though i'm not a photographer - it gives me a thrill to glimpse into others' lives) i thought i'd forward you my online albums to peruse if you wish, although you certainly don't need to do so...

And Susan (excellent with a pair of parentheses--I mean, how can I not feel connected to another person who uses two sets in one sentence??) has been letting me know when she uploads to the site and I go check them out. I got a message today, and amongst the many pictures of familiar faces (the Mangers' nieces and nephews, Jon Felton, and the ever-present Jeff Henry), was this picture of Nina Wollen curled up on the Mangers' couch looking like the little girl I saw in a Paula Modersohn-Becker painting at the Chrysler Museum this past weekend. I couldn't find the painting online but this one will do:

Paula Modersohn-Becker, Madchenkopf 1905

Monday, February 27, 2006

We Disappoint Similar

I've received some sublime spam in past two days. Here's my favorite (I created stanzas, added a comma or two, and got rid of a lot of periods but the order of the words is untouched.) I suggest reading it aloud and assuming your best liberal-poet schtick voice: sound unctuous and end most of the lines as if you were asking a question to an audience who delights in not knowing the answers.

we disappoint similar
raise very disappoint force find respect
added fascinate, miserable social back.
happened development, you reference turning-side
black thus he, benefit back prison raise?

arms profession social, pretty- benefit very arms turning
shining find least?

Sunday, February 26, 2006

No Place Like this Place 2

So finally here are four images from the Allegany Arts Council's 13 Annual Tri-state Photo Exhibit that I judged with Ed Dewitt at the beginning of February. My favorite is the image Stairwell by Gabriel Cramer, the seven year old son of the guy who owns The General Art Store in Frostburg (this explains the mat).

This image, Chinese Fish Talking about the Dry World, by Randall Rhodes really great. If you can't tell, it's a photo of carp with with speech bubbles (?) containing images of the dry world.

Sarah Hayes' Maternal lacks the bite that you expect before reading the text (hand written by her mom and telling of the birth of both Sarah and her brother) on the two images flanking the contact sheet. Instead, there's an unexpected tenderness, as well as the rare want to be inclusive with a work of art.

Best of Show went to Beth Piver for her sculpture/photo Untitled. Beth does a little bit of everything- jewelry, painting, sculpture, photography and these images of a woman's face are printed on transparency film and fitted into store display frames.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Charles Gustina: Harbinger at Work

All images from www.gustina.com

The above is from Charles' series, Folia. Is there anything else that needs to be said?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Travis Fullerton

Travis Fullerton, a recent graduate from VCU's MFA in Photography was included in last week's Washington Project for the Arts (WPA) auction at the Corcoran in DC. From what I understand the auction is a benefit for the WPA, an organization whose goal is to "promote excellence in contemporary art in the region by presenting experimental exhibitions and performances, stimulating dialogue between emerging and established artists, and involving artists in educational programs that benefit local residents." This being said, their annual auction (which has been going on for 25 years) showcases work chosen by curators who are solicited by the WPA and Corcoran staff. Kendall Buster, and Ashley Kistler of Richmond were chosen to select a group artists to be included in the February 11 silent auction.

By the looks of it, each curator was allowed to choose up to 12 artists whose work would be auctioned during the event. Importantly, the artists were guaranteed 50% of the sales from their work. Kendall Buster, an artist and sculpture professor at VCU (she had an awesome installation at Fusebox this past summer), chose the following artists: Fiona Ross; Carlton Newton; Suzanna Fields; Arthur Hash; Paula Crawford; Chip Richardson; Emily Hall; Ron Johnson; John Dickson; Richard Roth; Ledelle Moe; and Tim Devoe.

Ashley Kistler, the curator at The Visual Arts Center of Richmond, corralled the following: Tanja Softic; Jorge Benitez; Paul Ryan; Diego Sanchez; Sue Papa; Randy Toy; Travis Fullerton; Glen McClure; Jerry Spagnoli; Nancy Blum; Eleanor Rufty; and Myron Helfgott. All of the curators were asked to write a statement reflecting the ideas behind their choices. Ashley's is worth a read:

"...I have long been familiar with the accomplishments of most of these artists and have had the good fortune of collaborating with half of them on recent exhibition projects. With the exception of Blum and Spagnoli, who both live in New York City , everyone is based in, or not far from, Richmond . Collectively with certain selections by fellow curator Kendall Buster, their contributions reflect the vibrant artistic community that continues to grow and thrive in this region. I agreed to be part of the WPA/C's art auction because of the enhanced exposure it generates for participating artists something that each of these participants unquestionably deserves."

I think it would be ignorant, overly polite, and naive to not mention that Travis' image, Willoughby Bay, Norfolk, Virginia 2005, sold for $4,200- the highest price paid for work by any of the artists representing Richmond, as well as just $300 shy of an image sold by William Christenberry. Further, Travis' windfall comes at a time when there is a lot of press about the increasing prices that photographs at auctions are garnering. Last week, Edward Steichen's "The Pond-Moonlight," sold for $2,928,000 at Sotheby's, eclipsing the record set by Richard Prince back in November when his untitled appropriation of a Marlboro cigarette ad sold for $1,248,000. Blah blah blah... what does it all mean? First, it means that Travis is being rightfully acknowledged for damn good work (his work is undeniable as both image and object), and hopefully it means more opportunities and money for Travis and other photographers. And maybe, years down the road, this elevation of the photographic image will lead to a more visually literate population who seeks to understand (not just consume and hope it all turns out for the best), the potential, and the responsibility inherent in the exchange of images.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Mr. Walker?

My good friend and former student Brad Walker is a busy guy. He's a visual artist, a musician, and he works as a graphic designer for the company that designs the packaging for Snyder's of Berlin (my favorite tortilla chip maker and only a handful of miles away from Frostburg). Brad has released over a dozen albums since 2000 under various names (Glasses-Face being one of the best), and I have been one of the few recipients of all but two of the albums. They are interesting objects- aside from the design of each being nearly flawless (and fresh!), Brad's lyrics are an instructive couterpoint to an otherwise timid, and unassuming "I'm-not-really-a-hipster-that's-why-I-wear-brown-hipster". His writing (which none of the reviews I've read ever mention) is metaphorical, uncanny, and both giving and reticent enough to do what every pop song should do: make you think that the song was written with you in mind (Ms. Simon, please come accept yet another award). Brad's most recent album, Machete Wounds (recorded under the name Some Monastery) is (musically) a departure from his past albums, and is his most accessible to date. He is courting labels in hopes of getting some sort of support for what he does, and pointed me in the direction of the following (favorable?) review.

SOME MONASTERY "Machete Wounds" - SMR [Feb 2006]
Remember those early Beck recordings that were lo-fi and quirky and evenly divided between stunning creativity and unlistenable jive? Some Monastery not only remember but resurrect this time. What kind of quality control can you realistically expect from a band that has self-released 14 albums? Pardon me, 14 albums since 2000, and the band is really some wildly inventive 23 year old? Despite these warning signs, SM actually have some decent tunes. "Tens Of Thousands Of Times" sounds like a lo-fi Guided By Voices. The similarity does not end there, as Brad Walker has the same determined brainstorming/barnstorming of song ideas as Rob Pollard. This unfettered approach to songwriting gives Walker ample occasion to concoct songs that have nuggets hidden inside, sections that draw the listener in and reward with unexpected pleasures. "Exclamation Marks" is a song that proves this, as Walker's voice is triple tracked and conveys nasal hesistancy and emotional vulnerability at the same time.This album of course bears the marks of having been birthed at home, but Walker really does have a lot of good ideas, even if some of the lo-fi approaches eventually start tiring the listener out. So, how did Beck go from making "Satan Gave Me A Taco" to being an international superstar? Well, okay, even those early songs showed massive promise and innovation, but perhaps the biggest boost was a major label gave him a recording budget and a producer. Of course, no amount of budget or studio wizardry will make Jandek palatable to the masses, but it would be very interesting indeed to see what Some Monastery would come up with in those circumstances.--- 6/11 Leeds

From: www.culturebunker.com/noise_q_t.html#somemonastery

And I just found this review:

Brad Walker is a young musician at 23 but his sound is a mature one. Experimental lo-fi is the makeup of “Machete Wounds” and Brad’s vocals are surprisingly deep and odd yet very likable with a sort of Beck-esque pitch. The instrumentation is light and certainly breathes sighs of singer/songwriter dorm or apartment recording. Not everyone will like it since it’s intentionally lo-fi and off kilter, but I enjoy things off the beaten path that make me challenge my own listening habits. Take a listen, you might just surprise yourself. The witty yet loony lyrics alone make it worthwhile.

- J-Sin from www.smother.net/reviews/unsignedbands.php3?ID=542

Witty and loony!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Wanted: A Family Willing to...

I received this email today from Leah Lamb, a friend and aspiring documentary filmmaker. She is formerly of Richmond (Sally Bowring is her mom) and is currently living in San Francisco:

I am doing a little shout because I am hoping that you can
help me in my search for the perfect suburban family for a documentary
I am making. The fabulous family will live a suburban lifestyle, and
will have at least: 1 teenager, and 1 younger child (I think over the
age of 8). This family needs to be enjoyable to watch, quick on their
feet, and uh...here's the kicker folks, not afraid, or rather,
willing, to be filmed carrying their garbage around with them for a
few weeks. I have already found the two other families who will be
featured...but REALLY need help with finding this one.

I have many details I will give if you know of a family that might fit
the bill.

Here's her info if you have a lead:
Leah Lamb
616 Plateau Drive
Kensington, CA 94708
Tel: 510-225-8874

The opening for the AAC photo show was last night. I'm hoping that Ed will send me some images so I can post them and write more about my weekend in Frostburg.

I am writing now from my own computer. It's a first for me and it's sobering to have the machine, and the internet in the house. I resisted having a computer for so long (got through grad school without one), and then fretted for nearly two years about what I'd buy when I finally decided to make the commitment. It took a while, but it finally dawned on me that having both a color, and black and white darkroom sitting on my desk is really awesome.

Being such, I was perusing some images I have on CD that I haven't looked at for a while and found this picture of Charles from Hollywood Cemetery. Charles is amazing- I don't think I know of anyone other than myself who actually wants to spend Memorial Day where it should be spent (Hollywood Cemetery), nor anyone else who gets such a kick out of my tendency to talk endlessly about writing my obituary while I am ill, and they are ferrying pain medication between the drugstore and my gullet.

This picture is an outtake from the ongoing, erudite, and thrilling Charles Gustina Lecture Series, and for me says it all. This is what he and I do when we're together: we look into the distance (sometimes into the sun) and speculate about everything before us.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Where I Live

While walking to work this morning it dawned on me that I didn't really know where I was. Or better, I don't understand where I live until long after I've moved away.

Frostburg, Maryland 1994-2003

Richmond, VA 2003-

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

No Place Like This Place

That's Ed looking at one of the 240 entries.

I went to Frostburg this past weekend to jury a photography show the Allegany Arts Council with my former student (and current friend), Ed DeWitt. I am exhausted- could it be from staying up until the roosters were crowing each night, and trying my damnedest to put a dent in Frostburg's supply of Wild Goose Porter?

Naa... it was the drive. There is a lot to write about my visit, and I'll post about Frostburg over the next few days.

Being a juror is both exhilarating and humbling. I love to look at other peoples' pictures (OPP), but am made uncomfortable judging a show by my set of "educated" standards when the majority of the people entering the show are hobbyists. What I would like to do be brought in to do is to edit/sequence the selections for a community photography show where all work submitted would be hung. I would hang the work in groups dependent of its subject matter. The subjects would be as follows:

1. The Horizon (beach, lake, mountain scenes, and sunsets)
2. Animals
3. Trains and Rail Ephemera
4. Humans
5. Flowers
6. Sports
7. Special Effects
8. Moody Black and White Pictures by Photo Students and other "Educated" Photographs

I am not calling for this to be some kind of quasi democracy through images, but I do think it would be instructive of what people look at, and care about, and for those people in category 8, it would be instructive for them to see how their work fits into (and looks amidst) all of the work submitted. Category 8 may be different, but is it really any better than that picture of the bunny rabbit?

Art wise, aside from adjudicating (ahem...), I also got to check out my friend Stephen Manger's paintings in his studio behind his house on Uhl Street in Frostburg. I'll write what I think about them later, but here they are for now, for your enjoyment, opinion free.

Stephen's is a laborious process akin to printmaking- after cutting his painted
canvas into squares he re-assembles the painting by sewing the squares together.

And here's Stephen (look out Banks Violette!!). Keep up the good work Stephen!