A River Speaks - UNF Lufrano Gallery

A River Speaks "A River Speaks" is the current exhibition at the Lufrano Intercultural Gallery at the University of North Florida. The show was organized by artist Jim Draper and features work by Jim, Paul Ladnier, Allison Watcon and me. I developed a piece called "Sky-River" from a selection of photographs taken at the County Dock in Mandarin, a few miles from my home. I stop there now and then to catch a sunset or watch the weather change. It never disappoints.

"Sky-River" contains nine 24 x 24 images printed on satin photo paper and laminated to Sintra. I also allied an overlaminate for protection. I wanted to provide a clean "frameless" look to the pieces, and was happy with the results. I've been experimenting with various mounting techniques. It's hard to beat the classic matted photographic print under glass, but admittedly, this treatment is expensive and limited in its presentation. I feel that we should take the liberty to express another dimension to an exhibit of photographs, even if it diminishes the "fine art print" aspect of an individual piece. An individual photograph can exist as part of a installation that has a life of its own. I hope to be exploring this further.


The Lufrano exhibit is simple and straightforward, which is becoming rare. It is easy to understand and beautiful to see. Being in the company of like-minded artists is a privilege and pleasure. The exhibit is open through March 11, 2016.

A River Speaks Text

Rothko to Richter

rothko to richter book coverToday I received a copy of the book Rothko to Richter published by Yale University Press. The book is a catalog of an exhibition of abstract expressionist paintings from the collection of Preston and Joan Haskell. I got involved in the photography of the paintings earlier this year. We went on location at both the Haskell residence and offices to location shoot 27 paintings, some of which were quite large. The book is beautiful and I enjoyed reading the essays on Abstract Expressionism by Kelly Baum, the curator of the Haskell Collection at the Princeton University Art Museum. After two full days of shooting in some very tricky situations, I learned a lot about photographing large paintings for publication. I provided photography for 41 of the 43 illustrations in the book.

The exhibition is currently at the Princeton University Art Museum until October 5, and is at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens starting in February 2015.



A video reignites a project

Last week filmmaker Clif Brewer took some footage for a video on my On Fertile Ground project. When Clif approached me he wanted to do tell a story about an art project and I thought the farm series would be perfect. After the initial exhibit in September 2011 at Studio 121, I put everything away hoping that one day I would finish it. Pulling the prints and finding all of the files got my juices flowing again, and after Clif showed me what he had done with the Artist Statement I knew that this was back on the burner. Clif and Doug. Photo by Faith Brewer

Clif's daughter Faith blogged about our film session on her site, Breathe Deeply.

Here is the completed video (updated after final editing):

Old world craftsmanship

Hugos Frame Shop - Clamps

I've been doing some work for Hugo's Fine Furniture and Interiors and had the privilege of doing some personal shots in their frame shop on Phillips Hiway. I'm really interested in work areas and seeing the environments where real work gets done. This was a fascinating shop, with equipment and tools everywhere. It's fun to discover these places because products don't magically appear out of nowhere. In this case furniture is made by hand from pieces of wood. Wow! No robots, no plastic, no fancy CNC equipment. Just saws, planers, shapers, sanders, and plenty of clamps. I spoke to Steve the shop manager who has been at Hugos for over 30 years. He has an interesting perspective on the importance of making things in a quality way. This was reflected not only in the feel of the shop but in the pieces he was producing. Steve is a true artist. I hope to return because you need time to take all of this in.

Hugos Frame Shop 1 Hugos Frame Shop 2

Hugos Frame Shop 3 Hugos Frame Shop 4

Winter by Jeff Conley

book_coverI'm on the mailing list for the Ansel Adams Gallery who represents some very distinguished photographers, one of which is Je ff Conley. I started looking at Jeff's work and ended up on his site. He published a monograph called "Winter" and my copy arrived last week. It's a beautiful book published by Nazraeli Press, with 42 photographs, and introduction and an artist statement. I love when you receive a book (sight unseen) and it delights instead of disappoints. I can't tell you  how many books I've ordered on Amazon with great descriptions and comments but end up unread on the shelf. If you love beautiful photography books, you may want to consider this one.

Help Portrait 2011

help portraitFor the third year in a row I've participated in the Help-Portrait project at the Family Promise Center in Jacksonville. This year my good photo buddy, Gray Quetti stepped up to do all the shooting, and I have to admit he really knows what he is doing. We did the shoot on December 10, which is the national day for all Help-Portrait sites to shoot. Gray set up 2 Alien Bees, one in a medium sized softbox as the main and the other as fill bouncing off an umbrella centered above the camera. I usually shoot with lights on the right and left, and this is the first time I experienced the fill on axis with the lens. Gray set the white balance and tested exposure with his light meter. Call it old school but Gray did NO color or exposure corrections to over 900 shots. Typically I'm using the fill slider and tweaking the white balance on almost every shot. We managed to shoot 10 families. I was posing the groups and entertaining the kids.

Gray Quetti, Mark and Diane Landschoot, Me Family portrait

Each family received a small photo album and CD with their images. We edited down to around 24 for each one, which turned out to be a tough job. Many thanks to Dorian who tackled the editing. Then we uploaded to Costco for prints. I've been very happy with the results from our local Costco (Allen and his team keep those Noritsu printers in top shape). I ordered some small albums from Neil Enterprises. The cost per album ($2 ea) is inexpensive, but they kill you on the shipping and handling ($18).

Gray and I dropped off the albums and were met by Becky Cravey and Bruce Lipsky from the Times Union. They were hoping to run a story over the holidays, which eventually appeared on January 2. Check it out here. Being present when the families received their photos was a big thrill. There were a lot of happy moms and dads.

Bruce Lipsky of the Times Union and friend A happy dad and son Lots of pictures for everyone

If you haven't volunteered or given of yourself, especially over the holidays, I highly recommend it. I told the TU reporter that the photos taken on that Saturday will probably be cherished and appreciated more than all the photos I took during the year. It's a good feeling to know you made a difference in someone's day.

White Oak Conservation Center - Arts and the Environment

White Oak Conservation Center, Yulee FL White Oak, Annie Leibovitz

45 miles north of Jacksonville, on border of Florida and Georgia along the St. Mary's River, lay 7000 acres of pristine woodlands and fields. Housed on this compound is an amazing assortment of animals, studios, and a wildlife conservation center. This is White Oak, home to white rhinos, giraffes, okapis, cheetahs, and the Baryshnikov Dance Studio. I was asked by Cinda Sherman of Arbus Magazine to accompany her to view the Jacksonville University MFA dance troop completing a week long summer retreat. It was my first time to White Oak, although I've heard about the animals many times. I did not connect Annie Leibovitz's famous "White Oak Dance Project" with this location. Here she photographed Baryshnikov and other famous dancers back in the 90's. I was feeling the power of the place. I also met dance legend David Parsons. The facility is quite amazing but the combination of environmental and arts advocacy is what struck me as unique. And to know that this center is so close to Jacksonville! More on White Oak can be found here. I'm thankful that the Gilman family chose to invest in such a project.

White Oak Dance 1 White Oak Dance 2 White Oak Dance 3

The morning was spent photographing the dancers as they went through a warm-up and choreography exercise. The room was quite large and I brought 2 Speedlights. I really didn't know what to expect and needed to travel light. I set one up on opposites sides of the dance floor and just worked them from there. I wanted to be as unobtrusive as possible. I have gained quite an appreciation for dance and enjoy the energy and flowing controlled movement of the dancers. It is beautiful to watch. I find a great aesthetic to how the individual bodies and arms, torsos, and legs are moved into positions and then as each dancer makes contact and positions themselves in proximity to the other dancers, the composition becomes alive. This is fascinating.

White Oak Okapi 1 White Oak Okapi 2 White Oak Okapi 3

After about an hour of photography we were given a tour of the okapi area, only one of several breeding centers for endangered and threatened animals. We got to be up close and personal with a group of okapis, gentle animals related to the giraffe but partially striped like a zebra.

I was exhausted after the day, but totally inspired not only by the dancers but by the history of the facility for dance, photography, and conservation. What a legacy. I also found and ordered Leibovitz's White Oak book on eBay. Can't wait to get it.

This is a Cool Place

This is a Cool PlaceDolf James is always coming up with something new and creative to get people involved with the arts in Jacksonville. His latest project, Art In Strange Places,  includes bumper stickers that are placed all over town announcing that Jacksonville is a cool place. How cool is that? Coinciding with this is Dolf's new installation at MOCA (chair related of course), and as a teaser to all of us wondering what the heck is going on, Dolf made 3 Red Chairs and is taking these all over town for pics. I went out with Dolf on New Year's Eve and we had a blast...driving around town and finding some cool spots. We met a few new friends on the People Mover and it suddenly occurred to me what a neat way this is to meet people . I mean it is much cheaper than having a puppy! When you carry around a big red chair people notice, they inquire, and ultimately they want to sit in your chair! Bingo.  

3 Red Chairs have their day in court  Hey, follow that chair!  3 Red Chairs enjoying the fountain

Follow the expoits and adventures of the 3 Red Chairs on Facebook.

Chase Jarvis on the new Social Art

chase jarvis

Chase Jarvis gave the keynote at PDN PhotoExpo in NY in October. The video of the presentation is available here (I don't know how long this link will work, I recorded the audio and will post if they take the video down). Jarvis is a well known Seattle-based photographer who is taking professional photography is a fresh new direction, and he encourages all of us to unleash are creativity everywhere through everything you do. He shares his inspiring work and creative projects liberally on the web through his blog and videos. "A creative world is a better world."

Art Squared in Arbus Magazine

Arbus November coverToday the Nov/Dec issue of Arbus Magazine was released with a six page spread of my photographs from the Imagination Squared exhibit. I'm a little bit blown away. It seems like such a long time ago when we were all consumed with this incredible collaborative art project. When all your creative energies are focused with like-minded people, things just happen. Wow, sorta like running a marathon for the first time, and then you ask, "what's next?" I have some loose ends to tie up on the project and my goal is to write a short book documenting the process and key events. I don't want the genius of what happened to be lost. We are a society hungry for the next big thing, and the past big things can easily vanish. The inspiration of Imagination Squared for other cities and artist groups needs preservation and dissemination. I hope to be a part of that too.

I would like to thank Cinda Sherman the publisher and CEO of Arbus Magazine. She approached me soon after the exhibit with the idea of a photo essay of my best images and just left it at that.  Cinda is a visionary who "gets it" for the city and the arts community. From her tireless efforts comes a remarkable, high quality publication that supports and promotes the arts in our city. Arbus is distributed for free and paid through advertisers, a tough business model to negotiate. Bravo to Cinda and all the advertisers in Arbus.

You can experience the photographs in the Arbus spread at an exhibition in the Southlight Gallery on Forsyth and Laura. I'll be ready with everything on November 3 the night of Art Walk. Drop by to see these and some other memorable moments, and then head on down to MOCA to view the exhibit which comes down on November 14. Hope to see you soon!

The hi-res version of the article can be viewed at the Arbus website here.

Arbus page 36-37

Arbus p38-39

Arbus page 40-41

The artist as hero

Alex Renoir and his new fans"I think I witnessed some young lives being changed" I told Mr. Ramos, visual arts instructor at Arlington Heights Elementary School. We had just finished a session with Alexandre Renoir (great grandson of Pierre-Auguste Renoir) and 30 students in the Cathedral Arts Project, a non-profit organization bringing art resources to under-priveleged children in schools. I love to see children being inspired, especially through the arts. It's rare to witness the transformation from casual interest to participation and then to emotional commitment. One can always see the effect clearly with children who expose their feelings and opinions openly. The Cathedral Arts Project has many ongoing programs with local schools throughout the area. Through the efforts of Jen Jones and the RRoberts Gallery, Alexandre was in Jacksonville for a week doing special openings and giving lectures about his work and the work of other Impressionists artists. What opportunity it was for such a renown artist to visit and paint with the children. He was a rock star!

So often we forget how impressionable children are, and that they need to be inspired each day just as we seek inspiration from others. You don't have to be in sports or movies to connect to children. Artists can fill that role too.

Stories told about growing up   Lots of questions

Painting with the children   Future artists having fun

Encouragement   Some advice at the end

Brooks Jenson DVD workshop on Finding an Audience

LensWork collection Doug Eng "Emerging" artists (don't you just love that term?) are always looking for attention. For the most part most of us are shy, introverted people, who would rather spend a day in the studio or field by ourselves toiling blissfully away on our art. But ultimately, most of us feel the need to bring our art to the public. Sharing our creations fuels our production, and if we measure success, it usually comes in the form of monetary recognition. I'm a great fan of Brooks Jenson and his LensWork publication. I discovered LensWork back in 2006 when I picked up a copy of the magazine at a Barnes & Noble in Columbus OH. I now have a shelf devoted to the magazines and extended DVDs and these have become some of my most valuable and used reference material.

Jenson recently published a Visual Workshop DVD on "Finding and Audience for Your Work". It seems like all famous photographers have found their way into the education business, and the workshop format has been a staple of photographic education since Ansel Adams. Taking advice from other photographers on the business of photography is another story. Here we must rely on people who have achieved success in doing what we plan or want to do. Brooks Jenson is not a household name as a photographer, he is not part of any museum or corporate art collection (not that I know of) nor does he have multiple galleries representing him around the world. He is well know among fine art photographers for his LensWork publication (one of the best), but as a photographer, Jenson can be considered "one of us" (although he is a very talented photographer in his own right).

Jenson's workshop provides a comprehensive overview of the business of fine art photography and offers several ways to think about the relationship of business to art. As in all business endeavors, it all starts with your mission, or as Jenson puts it, "What juices your jets." Understanding what you want to accomplish with your art is fundamental to how you should be bringing it to market. And Jenson provides a "spectrum" of possibilities, with an exhaustive analysis of scenarios. You will either subscribe to Jenson's preference for "photography at real people prices" or not. Yes, our egos get in the way all the time. But this man who has sold over 40,000 prints has a point, and a quality of thought and accomplishment to back it up.

The high end "elite" art world is really elusive. Perhaps we should all aspire to being a part of it. Hey, this is America and anything is possible, right? But honestly, do you have what it takes to participate? Are you willing to do what you need to do? Or do you struggle just to find courage to show at the local art fair? This workshop offers some tangible advice and a roadmap for your journey. It's meaty, comprehensive, funny, and valuable. If you have any funds left over after your Adobe upgrades, treat yourself to this workshop. For an excellent preview, visit Jenson's promotion page for the product and watch the videos. You'll get an education just with those.

Andy Goldsworthy

At he suggestion of Dolf James, I've just finished watching the movie "Rivers and Tides," a documentary on the work of Andy Goldsworthy (and here), artist, scuptor, photographer, and environmentalist. It is a fascinating view of a remarkable man. Goldsworthy was the A. D. White Professor at Large at Cornell University for eight years, which peaked my interest (my Alma mater). His large environmental sculptures are made of completely natural materials and are fashioned by found objects as tools. Photography is used to record the various states of a piece, as it adapts to its surroundings, often floating down a river, washing out to sea, or melting in the sun. The ephemeral quality of the film and Goldsworthy's narrative makes this an extremely effective presentation. I enjoy hearing artists talk about their work and why they are compelled to create, especially if I can understand them. It's hard to believe that there are people who can create at this level. The link is to the 1st of a series of 9 videos snatched from the DVD. A worthwhile 90 minutes if you are into this kind of stuff.

Another great video of Goldsworthy's last lecture at Cornell: