Thursday, March 27, 2008

New “Romance of the Tropics”

This one is number five, and I just finished it. The four previous “Romance of the Tropics,” numbers one to four are in a show at the Meyerhoefer Gallery in Lake Worth that opens tonight. The show is part of the Palm Beach Pride Fest celebration. Peter Meyerhoefer decided to use the works upon first seeing my portfolio two weeks ago. I’m putting forth all the positive thought I can summon because I know this is an extremely strong series of photomontages.

“Number Five” has thirty layers, and I’ve spent the past week working on it. Like the other works in the series, it was created using Adobe Photoshop. However, there are two new additions to this artwork, one a reoccurring element, the flying saucer located at the airport in Sussex County, Delaware, an image I captured with my old Sony camera four years ago. The other completely new element is a photograph I took at Butterfly World In Broward County, Florida last year. Removing these images from the surrounding original photograph is an extremely tedious process taking many hours to complete. Never the less, I really like the way the butterfly works in “Number Five,” so I will definitely use more of the butterflies in future photomontages.

As I write, Minnesota PBS is playing the Butterfly Lover’s Concerto by Chen Gang and He Zhanhao. I am taking this as an extremely good omen. Thus, there will be more than five images in "Romance of the Tropics."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Two months ago I made a photomontage based in part on my own life, (January 23, 2008). In that photomontage there is an old photograph made by my grandfather, but completed as a studio portrait. I wish I had had the wherewithal and understanding to ask all the questions I have about this photograph when my grandparents and my mother were alive. Alas, I did not, so now I can only make educated guesses as to how a photograph taken in the parlor was converted into a studio pasteboard photograph. Was that a common practice? Additionally, my mother often told me that the dog in the photograph was named Laddie and that the book of the same title was inspired by the pet she remembered from her childhood. Unfortunately I do not recall Mom telling me the author’s name, so I googled it and found several books written during the first two decades of the 20th Century with that title, the most prominent of which was by Lily M. Wesselhoeft. Neither can I find a plot for the story through Google sources, but other references to it include a listing of a copy of the book in a Website for collectors. The book is valued at seventy-five dollars. Another reference includes a brief biography of Lily M. Wesselhoeft that places her in Boston during the second decade of the 20th Century. Thus, the author appears to be located in the right time and place to have written a story inspired b y my Grandmother’s dog, Laddie. If so, the photograph would be of interest to more persons than myself. If not, I still love the picture of my “Grand mom and Laddie.”

So, what is this ramble about an old photograph for? And, what does it have to do with Art, or my art? “Well,” he said. Old photographs, and that includes those taken yesterday, or ten seconds ago, are fascinating. They are particles extracted from the stream of time, and preserved for our perusal. Even the oldest of the spotted and damaged daguerreotypes inspire us to create narratives about the persons imprisoned in their deteriorating red velvet prisons. The most ordinary photographs in this genre, “family photographs” demonstrate how people lived dressed, and behaved in a particular time and place. Whether by accident or on purpose, family photographs relay the character of those in the photograph, and they even instruct us as to the intent of the photographer at the moment the photograph was taken (perhaps beyond). The best are artistic creations with marvelous composition, and beautful lighting. This particular photograph fascinates me because of the questions it makes me ask, and of course, because it is about a person I knew and love deeply to this day. It may be of historic value, if it is about the appropriate Laddie. But most importantly, it retells the story my mother told to me about a dog and her own mother, both of whom she loved dearly.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Morning Shadows

I often enjoy a cup of coffee and a short walk outside early in the morning. The other day the sun was at the perfect angle to cast these palm tree shadows on one of the walls of a nearby building. I ran back to the condo and grabbed my camera so I could shoot some photographs from every conceivable angle before the light changed. I often shoot 40 to 100 frames of one subject looking for the perfect image. This picture, though it is also about perspective and the perfect blue of the early morning South Florida sky was the best. I’m so thankful I took the time to go back for the camera because it has been cloudy with showers and thunderstorms ever since. What with daylight savings time, and the changing angle of the sun as it progresses north toward the spring equinox and summer solstice the conditions probably won’t be exactly the same for another year if ever.

If I were a photographer instead of an artist concentrating on pastel, I might decide to mark the spot with chalk and go back one morning every week at the same time to the same spot, use the tripod and shoot the same location from the same angle for an entire year just to see how light, weather, and seasonal changes effect the images. I suppose I could do that anyway. Would that be the appropriate subject for a photography exhibit?

I’m not patenting that idea, so if an actual photographer happens upon this entry in the “cybervoid,” and you like it, you are welcome to use it. I like the idea because it refers to the original mid nineteenth century obsession of photographers with (scientific) classification, categorization and record keeping.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Our 40th Anniversary Celebration Sculpture Walk

A visit to the Fourth Annual Season of Sculpture in Sarasota, Florida

This past week my partner and I went to Sarasota, Florida to celebrate our 40th anniversary. We were to meet up with two women friends who were on vacation from our former cold haunts in Pennsylvania, and staying on Lido Key. We did meet with them this past Tuesday evening and had a wonderful celebration dinner, but the best part of the trip – after being with our friends, and that wonderful anniversary celebration - was Sarasota’s Fourth Season of Sculpture, a garden setting of public sculptures located on the city’s bay front walk. We spent all of Wednesday morning walking around the sculptures and viewing them against the urban setting on the one side, and the spectacular Sarasota bay on the other. I know I’m being really corny. Never the less, I will always remember the set of photographs I took that morning as images of our 40th anniversary celebration sculpture walk. I have included several of the images and brief personal commentary here. The first, Seward Johnson’s “Comprehension” (above) is art that makes comment about art, a sort of critique of Art, and the relationship between art and viewer, or the lack thereof.* The second, Malcolm Robertson’s “Wave 2 Me” makes light of itself, and I certainly did not expect to read that particular title after viewing the elegant metallic vortex from all sides.
I don't like to sound smug, however, something like “Elegant Metallic Vortex” would have been a more appropriate title. A third artwork, “Happy Birthday Andy” by Jack Dowd was the most colorful, and the most immediate because, let’s face it, it was so Iconic, it was so Andy Warhol, and there on it’s cubic base was Andy’s “Marilyn.” It was, however, regrettably made to last but one season - some of the thin stripes around the colorful graphic of Andy’s name already coming unglued – it was more of a sculptor’s manqué next to the other works displayed. On my second perambulation I decided that it was like a beautifully frosted cake self-destructing in the hot sub-tropical sun.

There were twenty sculptures in all, and I’m glad I had the reason, the time and the means as a retiree to find myself in the presence of such impressive works of contemporary public sculpture, I highly recommend a trip to Sarasota to view the exhibit. Hey, it’s still winter. Come on down and make a vacation of it. Enjoy the warm weather, the beach, and all the culture that Sarasota has to offer. Above and beyond that the Fourth Season of Sculpture ends May 26th, and the sculptures will probably never be together in the future, and quite likely none of them will ever be in such a marvelous public setting again.

* Incredibly there is no Website for Seward Johnson though once I typed his name in Google there was a huge list of museum and public showings of his sculpture.