Caution: pretty intense video. Be warned. This is Chris Jordan’s documentary on how birds eat plastic bottle caps and bags, and it gets caught in their system. I tried to not take home these plastic bags from the deli any more.
Commencement speeches seem to be all the rage lately. Multiple people sent me this today; (not sure if they were trying to tell me something or not). A commencement speech by George Saunders on kindness. Nice portrait by Damon Winter too.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jelaluddin Rumi
Banks, C. (1995). The essential Rumi: New expanded edition. New York: HarperCollins.
Really fun. Crazy kids. Tricia, Brett, Suzie, and Jackson. And Beatrice, the jump-roping queen.
Next door to my building. Beautiful gate.
This is what you get from good parenting. This woman is only 17 years old. Very strong view, and great images. Impressive.
Going overboard on the videos, but the latter part of this four minute video is excellent. Everyone knows this woman from the Ted Talks, but this video is really good too.
and then this, him reading:
Attended a film last night, titled “Griefwalker”, about author Stephen Jenkinson. And then today, an all-day workshop with him. I made this portrait after the workshop, on the grounds of Scarritt Bennett. You can stream the entire film here, for free.
(Thank you Michelle, Kristy, Kelly).
Update: Here is Kristy’s blog post about the workshop that we attended on Saturday.
I never sleep any more, it’s now about 4am. I’m lying in bed and watching an art documentary on Art21, and i hear my phone beep. It’s an email from a photographer friend who lives in Paris. We send each other b/w images back and forth. Anyway, tonight, the link is to this set of images of dogs and cats. Most people would roll their eyes and laugh; we’ve all seen the images on Facebook. But something just hit me tonight — this quality of intimacy, and love, and tenderness is what I want in my photographs. People can laugh all they want. In the end, it always comes back to love and caring.
I just had to write this down, and go public with it. I’m afraid that I’ll go back to sleep and forget this realization.
I have this good friend, and she has a wonderful puppy. A rescue. I watch them together, wrestling and laughing and hugging, and it just takes my breath away.
I also have an idea for a new body of work — of mothers and children. Again, intimacy and kindness and connection. The motivation and history behind that is a whole other conversation entirely. Lisa Donovan and Maggie will be first in line.
I’m going to do the pictures. I’ll survive the laughter.
Thank you K.R. and K.B.R.
And Diana and Waller and PoppySeed.
And Tricia and Alison too, related to a completely different topic — trying to make sense of the chaos of the storm aftermath in the northeast, and make a contribution.
“Art is a wound turned into light”. — George Braque
“I wonder if this is how people always get close: they heal each other’s wounds; they repair the broken skin.”
― Lauren Oliver, Pandemonium
“What people think of me is none of my business. My job is to live my life by my own values”. — Some smart man in Recovery.
Gratitude today. Planets are aligning.
I went to Kentucky today, to check on my mother. I got her in the car, and got her to Walgreens to get a Flu Shot. Also got her leaves raked out to the street.
The drive is almost exactly one hour, which ironically, is the length of an average Tara Brach podcast. I listened to a good one today on the way up, and it hung with me, so i repeated it again on the way home. It usually takes me twice, for it to really sink in and hit home. This one is dated September 12th, 2012, and titled “The Freedom of Yes”.
Several highlights from this podcast:
#1: “I’m going to ask you to pick times when you go past your toleration point, and we’re going to examine some. The content of the mind is usually judgement or blame, and the mind is panicking. There’s a rigidity; we can no longer plan on how to respond best to move things toward healing. We’re in really old conditioning.”
#2: “In any moment when we’re focusing our attention on ‘You’re wrong; you should be different’, we’re arguing with Reality. In those moments we are not able to access our resourcefulness. Deep empowerment, deep access to your wisdom — not possible if you’re blaming the other person.”
#3: Poem by Kaveri Patel:
“There’s a monkey in my mind swinging on a trapeze,
reaching back to the past or leaning into the future,
never standing still.
Sometimes I want to kill that monkey, shoot it square
between the eyes so I won’t have to think anymore
or feel the pain of worry.
But today I thanked her and she jumped down
straight into my lap, trapeze still swinging
as we sat still.”
#4: “People don’t want to be bad. They don’t want to be hurtful, deep down. Everybody’s got their leg in a trap if they’re causing Suffering. If you’re struggling with food addiction, or your own anger, or your own insecurity with other people, it’s not your fault — it’s genetics, or early history. It doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to wake up from it, it just means that up until this moment, the causes and conditions are in action”.
#5: Poem by Danna Faulds, “White Dove”:
In the shared quiet, an invitation arises like a
white dove lifting from a limb and taking flight.
Come and live in truth. Take your place in the
flow of grace. Draw aside the veil you thought
would always separate your heart from love.
All you ever longed for is before you in this moment
if you dare to draw in a breath and whisper “Yes.”
I went to the Green Hills Library today and voted early. It felt great. Honestly, as I was leaving, I got a little choked up. What a great country we live in. In my daily life, or reading the NY Times, or watching CNN, I can forget about that, but there’s something about going through this local voting process, with all those volunteers, and everyone so cordial and gratious there — it just makes me thankful that I live in the United States.
Very inspiring film. They want an education. Link here.
Note: This post is not about “serious photography”. This post is about me falling in love with the North Carolina mountains, here at Penland School. I just shot snapshots all day, but loved it. I have no idea where I am, but it’s about an hour and a half drive, north of Asheville. The iPhone5 GPS woman just said, “Just keep driving; you’ll get there soon enough. There’s no hurry; there’s nowhere else to be; just enjoy the view, and stay present, and keep listening to that Tara Brach podcast”.
I started out this morning, after coffee, shooting black-and-white, but the fall color just made me cave in, and switch over to processing in color. The artists in residence here are serious working artists; we toured their studios today. Very impressive work, and an even more impressive work ethic.
(Note: Updated images, posted at the top here, after the initial blog post).
Lisa Donovan kicked off the first of a series of suppers last night, at the home of Todd Burkett, in East Nashville. Multiple courses, and multiple wines. Horses, labs, and people filled Todd’s home. You can read about it on Lisa’s blog here. Jaime Miller also was there as incredible support for Lisa. Really nice night. I liked Coco, the horse.
Yesterday, fellow photographer Tamara Reynolds and I drove to Atlanta, on some kind of madcap gallery rounds. Three galleries and a museum in two and a half days. Slated: The High Museum, for the Picture New York show, and the Picture The South show, and also the Richard Misrach show in the basement; Jackson Fine Art to see Masao Yamamoto, Mona Kuhn, and William Christenberry’s barns; Marcia Wood; and Jennifer Schwartz. There were also two Gerhard Richter “squeegee” paintings at The High; an added bonus; also, a huge (very dark) Jeff Wall image.
Also, this morning, I forced her to stop at R. Thomas Grill for my hippie breakfast, and to see the birds and the flowers outside. There was this one parrot that would lay his head against the front wall of the cage, so that you could reach through and scratch the top of his head.
I saw a link on Facebook yesterday, posted by Jan Ellis, about the massive increase in the number of photographs being taken in the last few years. This is of course due to the cell phone cameras and other P/S digital consumer cameras. But it does make me wonder about the mind-numbing effect of seeing that many images, all around me. And also the effect that it has on society at large. For me, as a photographer for over thirty years, it sends a chill up my spine, and makes me want to run the other way. Below is a key graph from the article, and here is the URL for the complete story.
I start thinking about alternative approaches to image-making at times like this. People like Adam Fuss, Richard Learoyd, Abelardo Morell, the wet-plate practitioners, and John Chiara’s camera built on a utility trailer, Chris McCaw’s 30×40 inch view camera on location, or maybe the craziest of all — Dennis Manarchy’s mammoth view camera that rides in a trailer.
I don’t know all the details, but the fascinating thing about Learoyd’s work is that there is no camera involved. It’s basically a pinhole camera, with him in one room, and the model in the other, and he tapes “positive paper” to the wall. No camera, no negative — the paper is sent straight to the lab, and every image is a 1/1 original. Same thing with much of Adam Fuss’ work; most of his are photograms — no camera involved. Same is true for Morell’s work — he rents a hotel room across the street from a famous scene, and then blacks out the room, and then turns the hotel room into a giant pinhole camera! Stunning work from all these men mentioned.
Today, on Ocean Avenue, in South Beach. We met him on the sidewalk, heading north. He danced in the street, and made himself known to the tourists. He’s either a female cheerleader or a Playboy bunny; I’ll leave it up to you.
The second portrait was a very striking woman who was walking down Ocean Avenue this afternoon. Her outfit was pink; her hair was blonde; but the heart-shaped glasses just struck me — like some scene out of a Garry Winogrand thing on Hollywood Boulevard, circa 1965. She was nice enough to stop for a portrait; I got off about a dozen frames. The glasses are just great, and I love the whole vintage feel of the light.
Attended the Humane Society Benefit last night. Loads of fun. Imagine a giant hotel ballroom, filled with two hundred dogs, in costume, plus a doggie fashion show. At one point, leaving the elevator, it was like a Fellini dream — an elegant hotel lobby, but everyone in the lobby had a dog on a leash, and was dressed to the nines.
I’m sorry; none of these pictures are in focus or exposed correctly. It was just chaos in there; I had to just snap away and hope I got something.
So I’m taking some night classes at Watkins, just for fun, and to open up my head. The main class is this excellent class taught by Tom Williams, called Contemporary Art History, and then soon, begins a bookmaking class, and then a silkscreen and drypoint class. I’m just on fire with it all. Especially Art History, because of the way Tom sets up the context for how all these painters were influenced by WWII, and by the painters that came before them. Here is the textbook; a great resource.
Anyway, so I’m gutting my basement, to set up a printmaking area, and I came down the steps the other day and was reminded of these bizarre red/green blocks that are all over my 1930′s old house. Most of them are faded away, but the frame above shows them. Maybe another artist lived here at one time; maybe just some children, but I love these faded grid blocks. I also love the scratched floor in the basement.
Here are some Google Image links to some of the painters we’ve studied so far. Google Images does a pretty good job, but there’s no guarantee that every painting is accurate; who knows how the metadata is coded. The links to each artist are in bold type below.
My mother has a new ritual — she puts a chocolate chip cookie by the front door each day, and she waits for the little girl across the street to get home from school. When she sees the car pull into the driveway, she takes the cookie over, as a gift. They’ve struck up quite the friendship.
I’m a Woody Guthrie fan, (and Dylan, Seeger, Jack Elliott, and most anything Folk). I saw this a few days ago. He wrote this around 1943; amazing how many of the things still hold true today. Click image to enlarge.
Some casual snapshots from a fun day in Kentucky yesterday. It was a gorgeous day; warm and sunny. All the family met at my brother Robert’s home; a menu of grilled pork, baked beans, corn pudding, and Amber’s homemade cookies for Santa. My niece is growing like a weed.