Everyday Images

From Grant Street in Buffalo to Pearl Street Rd in Corfu, and various points in between, these are some images I’ve made in my travels around the area over the last two weeks.  Instagram provides a fun way to interact with new surroundings when you’re on the go.  I like the format of Instagram as a social network too, because it acts as a time capsule for collecting a mass of images, in chronological order all in one place.

Dutchess County Fair

About a year ago, I took a photo workshop at The Center for Photography at Woodstock with Alex Webb & Rebecca Norris Webb, and I never got around to posting about it until now.  The two-day hands-on workshop was about photographing the world around you in a direct and spontaneous way. Above all, it was about seeing, emphasizing the photojournalistic and documentary traditions, and developing your own unique vision. Several of us photographed at the Dutchess County Fair as part of the workshop.  We did an editing project where we were instructed to organize our favorite shots into an “A” group, and the close seconds into a “B” group.  Here are my A group results.

Driving through Brocton

After our opening at the Octagon Gallery in Westfield on Friday, we headed to Fredonia for dinner and drinks with friends.  Deb’s friend Steve rode with Allen and me to make sure we didn’t get lost.  Along the way we passed through Brocton, a tiny village within the town of Portland in Chautauqua County.  It would have been easy to overlook Brocton all together if we’d been driving through during the day, but at night its old store fronts and abandoned businesses seem fantastically lit by a combination of rickety street lights and the stars in the sky.

I quickly snapped half a dozen mental images as we whizzed down E. Main Street which cuts Brocton in half along Rout 20.  Just as we reached the end of the strip, Allen insisted we turn around so I could take a picture of something he had seen.  We circled around and I grabbed this shot.  Allen felt the connection to my work would be interesting to me, and he was right.  It’s an abandoned doll shop Called Pegg’s Enchanted Doll House and Hospital.  I can’t wait to go back some night and take more pictures in Brocton.

Opening Night of Tangled Narratives

Our opening for “Tangled Narratives” went really well.  There were so many openings in Buffalo on Friday night, I wasn’t sure what to expect for a turn out in Westfield, which is over an hour away.  Much to my delight, we had a great little crowd steadily flowing in and out over the course of two hours.  Unfortunately both Deb and I were so busy talking with guests that we didn’t take many photos.  I did manage to snap a few at the beginning however.  We were both very pleased with Nancy’s installation of our work and how it all looked together.  I’ll be sure to get some more shots when we go back in a couple of weeks to take the work down.  And while I’m back in Westfield, I plan to visit The Portage Hill Gallery, which I learned about from its owners, Donald and Audrey Kay Dowling, who were in attendance on Friday.  I’m also looking forward to attending more openings at the Octagon.  Next up at the Octagon Gallery is a group show including work by Heather Miller Kanazawa who Deb introduced me to on Friday night.  They both teach art at JCC.
After the gallery festivities, Deb and I, along with accompanying friends, took a 25 minute drive into Fredonia where we enjoyed wonderful conversation over a late night dinner and drinks.  Westfield and the surrounding communities are quite charming and I feel there is much to be discovered there.

The Pencil of Nature

My title, The Pencil of Nature, for this group of iPhone shots, pays playful tribute to the book of the same name by William Henry Fox Talbot, published in London between 1844 and 1846. These images started out as studies for another project shot using a DSLR, but as they accumulated, they took on a life of their own. The theme, which is revealed subtly in the image titles, is very much in line with my work on memory and loss, but the technology that frames the work has even more of a presence than usual. This is unavoidable, since Instagrams and their ilk remain rarely charted terrain in the world of fine art and so my use of them must enter my discussion of the work.

In the passage below from his original text, enamored of crediting nature and not the painter’s hand, Talbot muses about future photographic technologies. He seems to almost predict their many forthcoming incarnations, which we now know range from Calotypes to Instagrams, with countless points in between.

“They are impressed by Nature’s hand; and what they want as yet of delicacy and finish of execution arises chiefly from our want of sufficient knowledge of her laws. When we have learnt more, by experience, respecting the formation of such pictures, they will doubtless be brought much nearer to perfection; and though we may not be able to conjecture with any certainty what rank they may hereafter attain to as pictorial productions, they will surely find their own sphere of utility, both for completeness of detail and correctness of perspective.”