The National Geographic Magazine several months ago included an interesting fact in an article they published about world population. All the people in the world, all 6+ Billion of us, could fit shoulder to shoulder inside the city limits of Los Angeles, California in the United States of America. Might not want to, but we could. There is still room for everyone with examples of Mediterranean communities in which people who embrace various religions live happily side by side, worship as they please, live their daily lives with friends with other life styles. If even one little town can live this way, we all can.
Pinched face, stoic, stone.
Eyes with no intellect,
Not to mention sight but,
It is a tomb decoration.
He was never here and is not, here.
Spectral sojourner, lost, searching?
All that is left here is ashes, stone,
Candy wrappers and mutilated paper cups.
To say I was here and,
I saw it, only the tomb, intimates,
I was late to a final encounter.
But, hey, I saw it, the tomb, at least, here in Paris.
It has to be protected, the tomb.
Those who care too much deface it.
Or maybe some of that might be derision, still.
Makes no difference now, he's never here.
Damn, the sun is bright.
The birds cannot be subdued,
Voices intrude to redirect reverie,
A plastic shield renders the design abrogated, tawdry, because,
As tribute to his contested gender, the sculpture offered testicles, a penis,
Here, on the statue.
In jest, admiration or meanness a tool ripped them off.
Silver metal replacements were made, perhaps to make a more lasting statement.
They've vanished as well,
Why no outcry Oscar?
What say ye about these lost symbols, nothing?
This proposed footnote, soaked in mirth and hope, renders silence.
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde
Graffiti everywhere is interesting to me… true graffiti, not signing or balloon letters which are boring as hell world-wide. In the graffiti in Florence, Cologne and Paris there are some lyrical messages and some which are quite ominous. From a design standpoint many are really fun. I keep telling myself I should stop with the graffiti because… Hmmm, for no good reason, I guess. So, graffiti it is, from time to time.
We’ve been wandering, albeit in a rather organized way. Germany to France and finally to Italy.
The photographs vary widely as one might expect given the subject matter. Now we’re here in Pietrabuona, home.
We went through the Leica factory in Wetzlar, to Cologne and a couple of great art musems. To Namur, I had never heard of it but it was halfway between Cologne and Paris and turned out to be a nice city and interesting. Then to Paris, me for the first time. The people were kind, helpful, never rude. How is that? I’ve heard nothing for years but how rude the Parisians were. Not so much.
After 10 days or so in Paris we went to Lyon, Torino and here, with a sigh of relief, not because we didn’t enjoy those cities, it’s just peaceful, quiet and familiar.
After a while to Mantova, Graz, Vienna, Erding then home to Atlanta.
Later this week we should have a brick bread/pizza oven in the back yard. After travels to Italy, mostly, I realized that with rare exceptions we don't have bread much here. There are local places in Atlanta that do a good job but I think it has to come from home. Tuscan bread is saltless so the ingredients are flour, yeast and water... how difficult can it be? It's quite difficult to do well. And after using the Bosch for years with a pizza stone I concluded the road to good bread was making it the "old fashioned way."
I found a company in Australia, Melbourne actually (Ben Guilford), that makes "kits," several, different sizes and characteristics. It has been an adventure in the construction. I have a really good stone mason to work with and after a "reset" to be more specific and follow the directions to a tee, the oven is coming into being. It's a beautiful thing as well. I've made photographs along the way and I'll share them as time permits and after I get them organized a bit.
In addition to the bread products you can cook most things that require an oven. Looking forward to the discovery.
I've decided to change direction a bit. I'm going to photograph for myself mostly and not enter shows as much. I've established an Instagram presence. If that seems to be rewarding after a while I'll continue. I'm not really sure how my photography is being received and, at 77, I wonder if I'm being indulged. Then too, after these years of making images I look at "contemporary" photography and a lot of it seems distant from the art. So the "Exhibitions and Awards" section will be briefer, I suppose, but the work will go on.
You know, like where it's going, for instance.
Historically I've been an "art" photographer since 1967. That's when I started to learn the processes and came under the influence of Ralph Eugene Meatyard. Gene was never cruel but he had an eye for craft standards and an aversion to making the same photographs over and over. Not to say he never followed a theme now and again but sunsets, cats in windows and reflections in still waters didn't show up much.
My budget in the early days was limited... very limited. If I hadn't been able to pick up great equipment while I was in Vietnam I doubt I could have continued. The only real trouble having no money caused was not having presentation materials, mounting board, things like that. But the condition forced extreme scrutiny concerning what I did print. Worked out OK.
Since those early days in Kentucky I've always photographed "my stuff" but I also had to contribute to the household income which meant working, sometimes at photography. I had a string of photography based jobs from Maisel Photochrome to Georgia Tech finally to Grafica, Inc. as a graphic designer and a photographer. Only since "retirement" have I been totally concentrated on my own work. Here is what I have found to be the world of photo.
Success in art photography is as much about who you know as anything. I would like to say it helps to be proficient in the craft but that's not consistently true. After you have a fairly extensive portfolio, or big stack of photographs, you can start entering shows around town or around the country. You pay an entry fee, usually $35 to $50 to enter from 3 to 8 images. If you're accepted you have to print, mat and frame the selected images and then get them to the show on time. There is a juror, maybe two or three, besides the gallery owner or museum curator of photography. I'm never sure who makes the final decisions or if there is a "this is the way it is" session before the judging begins, but I'm seeing some strange selections, mediocre photographs, bad craft, sameo-sameo. For people who are the movers and shakers in the world of museum quality photography very often the images chosen I've seen many times before.
Of course you can hope that exposure to the same jurors after a while might call attention to your work once they've chosen it, not so much. The "blind"system could guard against that kind of recognition, if it does... The goal for most serious photographers, all the while, is gallery representation or a museum show, purchase by a museum, maybe a book...
I conclude, you must do it for the love of it.
There are a couple of rather maligned words in our language, maligned because they are often misread as punishment and belittlement, the words discipline and critique. The concepts these words represent, especially in art, are desirable and necessary. Without discipline the basics are confounding, repeatability or the development of style become impossible. Critique, that requires trusting another artist or group of artists to be as objective as possible and at least illuminate the road if not travel with you, can become the tool that moves an artist forward, helps them see themselves and their work more clearly, provides a path for creation and improvement in craft. South Street has become that for me, critique. The discipline part is a tenet of my existence.