Sunday, March 14, 2010

Seeing Red on a Gray Day

Here in Michigan, I'm embracing these gray and damp days of pre-spring. They aren't conducive to being cheery when they drag on and on but...this is my last spring in the Great Lake State so I'm determined to enjoy them. Until I have time to go out and capture the murkiness in some artistic way, I'm going to refer to some oldies but goodies. It wasn't easy coming up with red-themed photographs the other day so I scrounged around for a few more.

Above is a lotus in the Portland Japanese Garden.

Graffiti in Oaxaca, Mexico:

This makes me salivate:

"You can trust your car to the man who wears the star..." Target practice on a Texaco sign:

Autumn in my neighborhood in Michigan:

Waiting for water to spout out of the mouth at Millennium Park, Chicago:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Who is this cranky girl?

For a couple of months now I've been going through every box, envelope, album, etc. of memorabilia and although progress has been made, there is still a mountain of work to be done. I am, after all, moving to Santa Fe in July. At some point it would be nice to have everything organized and ready to ship to New Mexico or give away. July isn't as far away as I pretend that it is.

In the meantime, I'm so grateful that my parents kept their legacy in this way.

This photograph was taken in 1925. It shows my mom's 8th grade graduation class from St. Benedict's School in Carrolltown, Pennsylvania. Mom, whose name was Grace Kelly, must have been having a bad day...she's the scowling short girl in the middle row, center. This is the only photograph I have of her - and there are hundreds - where she isn't smiling or at least has a spark in her eyes.

What I'd give to know what her state of mind was at that moment. Was she excited to have her picture taken with her classmates? (Apparently not.) Was she looking forward to high school? Did she have any thoughts about her future? Did she know she would attend nursing school and then forsake that dream to become a mother of eight? Did she ever suspect that her youngest child would stare at this photograph eighty five years later and pose so many unanswerable questions?

Of course she didn't. Maybe she was just having a bad hair day.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Seeing Red

This morning, I woke up thinking about the color red. Maybe I was singing "Red Red Wine" to myself. Or perhaps "Red Rubber Ball," "Lady in Red" or "Red Roses for a Blue Lady." More likely, it was "My gal is red hot, your gal ain't diddly squat..."

The color red, the longest discernible wavelength of light, is associated with anger, passion and love. Most people have definite opinions about the color red. For instance, I would never wear red nail polish, but my hair is a dozen shades of red. A friend thinks my hair is "too arty" for her but she has a room painted red.

With red in mind, I found some favorite red-themed photographs to share.

Above is "The Man with the Red Turban" taken in Rajasthan, India.

"The Red Polka-Dotted Skirt" was taken at Millennium Park, in Chicago:

This house, in Okemos, has been for sale for a very, very, very long time:

Recognize the logo on the left? This was taken outside of Acapulco, Mexico:

This little girl adores her abuela who happens to be artist Josefina Aguilar. This was taken at their home in Octolan, Mexico outside of Oaxaca:

This young monk, in Luang Prabang, Laos, was curious about my red hair:

JoJo, one of my less scary doll photos:

Stigmata, on a statue in Cortona, Italy:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Getting close, really close

Many years ago, I spent much of my time making portraits, getting close enough to spot flaws and wrinkles and so-called "imperfections." Clearly my doll portraits are an extension of that. But the dolls, sweet as they are (yes, even the "scary" looking ones seem sweet to me) do not respond, react to a joke, blink, laugh, turn away or reflect. Are the dolls my segue to a return to portraiture?

Many of those photographs were taken with Tri-X film and have yet to be digitized. But today I dug up three that I like.

Here is my Dad. He was a kind man with integrity, dignity and a sense of humor. He was always willing to pose for me and for that I am eternally grateful.

Here is Anja, our exchange student (2000-2001) from Switzerland. She hated this photo but I love it's honesty. And honesty is the point of a photograph in the first place as far as I'm concerned.

And here is a woman I met in Santa Fe, taken with my digital camera. I love that her jewelry lines up with her eyes (which are also jewels...)

Monday, March 1, 2010

What's black and white and square all over?

This past week I've been assembling a body of work for a gallery in Santa Fe called Artistas de Santa Fe. Beginning April 1, I'll be a partner in the business and I'm thrilled to be exhibiting there even though I won't be a full time Santa Fean until July.

As I did with images for the No Passport Required exhibit at the Michigan Women's Historical Center, I'm having a blast with square format and returning to black & white. Not every image translates as well to black and white, or to a square format for that matter, but the process of trial and error makes me giddy. Many of the fractured doll images lend themselves well to both, as well as the "grainy" effect that reminds me of the good ol' days of pushing Tri-X film. You know, sometimes I really miss the smell of those chemicals...

Pulling together the exhibit in Santa Fe, returning to my blog and updating my website brings me hope. It's been a long winter, beautiful to be sure, but not artistically productive. Although I love winter, another thing has made me giddy today. Squirrels and chipmunks have quite suddenly appeared in our yard. A tad early for the official onset of spring, but close enough.

The Ice Queen

Last summer, St. Francis lost his head. I replaced it with an oversized doll head and left it on the back deck where it tolerated the season changes. (See "Making Art from a Mishap" - Tuesday, August 18, 2009). For the past few weeks she has been encased in ice, and as it slowly thaws she reveals her features once again.

No surprise, this inspires me to think towards next winter when I could line up several dolls for an icy installation. Instead of setting up lights for a shoot, a task that takes less than an hour, I'd have to wait (weeks, maybe months!) for Mother Nature to supply the effect. Oh, I do so love to anticipate!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Let It Snow in Okemos

First of all, thanks so much for voting for your three favorite doll images. I'll write more about that in the next few days. Today I'm savoring my Okemos house. Another snowfall last night has made the views from every window simply stunning! It snows in Santa Fe, so it's not as if won't experience winters, but I will miss these winters, from this house, with these views.

I trudged outside with my camera, the snow sometimes coming up to my knees. Remember snow pants? Leggings? We kids used to look like miniature Michelin men when we went out to play in the snow. I'm considering bundling up specifically to make snow angels and suck on icicles.

Above is a photo of our side yard.
Below are two photos from our neighbors' backyard. A sleeping vegetable garden and an abandoned seating area.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Vote for Three

Some of the Secret Keepers are getting a face lift! These decrepit doll faces will be shown in a smaller, square format and printed in black & white. I've always loved black & white images because they hone in on form and texture. It's been fun for me to sort through and pick those I think work better that way.

I would love your help, and ask that you choose three favorites from the following ten images. Please help me decide by naming your choices either here on the blog, or via email. If you can articulate why you like them better than the others, go for it. Don't think too hard about it, just pick the ones that strike you as more powerful.

Beginning April 1, some of these images will be exhibited at the gallery Artistas de Santa Fe. Who will make the cut?

Thank you so much in advance, and now allow me to introduce you to the contenders...




Friday, February 19, 2010

No Passport Required

On Sunday, Feb. 21, there will be an opening exhibit for my penultimate exhibit in Michigan - (at least for now!) - at the Belen Gallery, Michigan Women's Historical Center. What an honor to show at this venue!

No Passport Required showcases photographs from Myanmar, Laos, Singapore, Mexico, Italy, India and Bali. For years I've been working with these images in color, but for this exhibit I decided to present some in black and white as well. It's always a challenge to determine which images work well in black and white versus color. Here is a sneak peek at a few of them.

Watching the sun set in Pushkar, India:

The old priest crosses the piazza in Cortona, Italy:

Smoking villager on the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar (Burma):

Playing chess in Singapore:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Being resourceful

The Santuario de Chimayo, in Chimayo, New Mexico draws pilgrims, devotees and curiosity seekers from all over the world. At the site of the Santuario, crosses appear everywhere as visitors leave a bit of themselves and a prayer. Crosses come from rosaries but are also fashioned from twigs, garbage bag ties, clothespins, etc. They are found on fences, rocks, trees, ledges, statues and walls. At a glance, this is such a lovely photograph of someone's devotion. Look closely. The crosses are fashioned from chewing gum!

It's admirable to be resourceful, but can it go too far?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How my cat helped me return to my blog

Last December, when we bought the house that will soon be our full time home in Santa Fe, my creative juices dried up. My blog was deserted, my website unattended and my camera languished in its bag. The prospect of moving overwhelms me, and the process has become a full time job. When in Santa Fe, there is work to be done on the new house. When in Michigan, Dick and I go through every piece of paper, every precious artifact from our families, every nook and cranny (or as we like to say "crook and nanny") in our home for nearly twenty years. It's a time of extreme emotions, and I savor all of them. Whether it's the ecstatic feeling I get when I take it all in, or the grief of leaving family, friends and home I remember that this is what it means to be fully alive.
So here I am returning to PhotoBLOGraphy, not really sure how my mixed feelings will translate. I want to share the adventure with those who care and return little by little to photography and art in general.

This photograph of Kubaba was the first photo I'd taken in over two months that wasn't simply to document something. She rolls around on the bed like this every single day, an expression of sheer contentedness. Photographing her made me feel playful as well, and thus the lesson was learned. I definitely feel better when I take time out to lift my camera to my eye and capture an elusive moment.