Monday, June 25, 2012

Autobiography: Lunch Bags

After living with these for a long time, I finally resolved the presentation of the lunch bags today. The last blog post featured various printing sizes but I knew I wanted to rephotograph the bags because I couldn't try dimensions larger than 30" x 20" without detail falling away. Rephotographing meant that they would no longer look like this.  Even though I miss some of the old compositions, the new round looks a lot better. For one, my new camera is amazing! Check out the detail (and this is an iPhone photograph of a 45" x 30" print):

Secondly, Hannah pinned the bags to her studio wall for the past 8 months to paint them and they had drastically deteriorated. Some of the compositions are far more dramatic because of this.

Thirdly, I love how monumental my lowly lunch bags appear at this size. For an object that should have been trashed a long time ago, it is certainly elevated to something far greater. Typically all the Autobiography photographs feature a stark white background but it was important to have the "studio" 3-D documentation view as that makes it more ironic and perhaps significant. Below, my friend the broom makes a return visit (because it's silly and a chair wasn't quite right for scale reference).

My biggest fear is that I will be a space hog in the Atrium Gallery for the 4-person exhibition (new title!) The Echo of the Object in November. I will practice the art of reprinting (smaller) if that is the case.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Three of My New Favorite Eggleston Photographs from "Chromes"

William Eggleston, From Chromes, 1969-1974

They all feature cars. They all look like they could have been made in the summertime. They are all nostalgic to some degree. My love for William Eggleston's color photographs will never die (I haven't come around to the black-and-white ones yet).

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Swimming Pools: This Summer's Encore

Apparently I need to curate an exhibition covering this topic.

Giffen Clark Ott, James Turrell Swimming Pool, (thanks to Elise for the link) 

Astrid Kruse Jensen, Hypernatural #37

Loretta Ayeroff, Motel Series


Emily Shur, The Swimming Pool by Leandro Erlich, Kanazawa

Andreas Gursky, Swimming Pool, Ratingen, 1987

Martin Parr, From Mexico, c. 2006

Clint Baclawski, Private Cove, 2012

Paul Kranzler, From Brut

Reiner Riedler, Horizon #01, Tropical Islands, Germany, 2007

Richard Kolker, David Hockney: A Bigger Splash, 1967 from the series Reference, Referents, 2011

Shawn Huckins, 510D Hockney Splash, 2008

Samantha French, Dive In; Float, 2011

Wolfgang Tillmans, Hallenbad, Detail, 1995

Alex Webb, Ciudad Madero, Mexico, 1983

Garry Winogrand, Memphis, 1964 (there's a 2013 Garry Winogrand retrospective coming soon to a giant coastal city near you)

Indiana Arts Commission Grant

Finally some good news on the application front:

"The Indiana Arts Commission is pleased to inform you that you have been selected as a recipient of an IAP Grant for grant period July 1, 2012 - June 30, 2013 (FY2013)."

Now I have to make frames for 29 Marilyn Monroe prints and find a location to give lectures in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, and Muncie. I am excited that it's my first breakthrough in receiving a grant outside a university. May there be many more to come!

Friday, June 22, 2012

"Nine Fake Cakes..." Self Published Book: Round 1

Aside from swimming earlier this morning, I forced myself not to leave the house until my first draft of the Blurb book was complete. I am waiting for information on one image credit and I am ordering it tonight (four days and many hours later). If it was anything like the last time, I expect there will be a couple drafts before it resembles something close to perfection.

Here is a sneak peek of two of the sixty pages. I am happy the postcards are finally playing a role in this series:

The Acknowledgements is my favorite section because I was able to use many photographs that wouldn't fit otherwise. This is one of four pages:

Hopefully it will arrive next week and I will be able to have the finished version by the middle of July.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Autobiography: Teeth

The encaustic pieces are finally done!  More on what this is about as soon as I crank out a Blurb book.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Days go by...

I've been simultaneously plugging away at four projects this month which means not much progress gets made on one producing little news to post. Here are some images from this week.

Black-and-white mock-up of the self-published Blurb book on Nine Fake Cakes and Nine Bodies of Water is in the works. It's edited and now I need to resize individual images and plug into the Blurb software but instead I've spent vast quantities of time in the wood shop.

Five frames are made and six encaustics supports (2 each in case I mess up the first attempt).

I get so bored of editing images on the computer, it's great to build things. Here are the encaustics supports post sanding.

They are gessoed for greater luminosity. Hopefully tomorrow I will finish this portion of the month's activities and will move on to staining frames, matting prints and editing a book. I also need to make a cat scrapbook and a David C. Nolan artist's book.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

21 months later

There is a mock-up of a self-published book hidden in all those horrendous black-and-white copies. My deadline is my coupon expiration date: 30 June.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Ernst Haas from "Color Correction"

Yes, it's that time of year again...

Ernst Haas, c. 1970

 Ernst Haas, California, 1977

Ernst Haas, Utah, 1979

Tonight I learned that Haas took the first photograph of the "Marlboro Man" that was appropriated by one of my favorite artists, Richard Prince. Thank you interlibrary loan.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


This is the month of learning new things. Hannah showed me how to do photo transfers with encaustic wax yesterday in addition to covering digital prints with wax. I have an idea for some of the teeth photographs for the Autobiography series and this might be the ideal presentation.

In the meantime, I'm enamored with the materials. I especially like how a brush can be left to dry in the wax and when it's heated up, all is well. No cleaning brushes! Yay!

Tomorrow I am practicing on my own and if it works, I'll build supports on Monday! It's also time to build some frames. These (now much smaller versions) are going to be exhibited soon so frame-making time it is.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

RIP: Masahisa Fukase

Twenty years after falling into a coma, Masahisa Fukase died on the 9th June. James Luckett first introduced me to The Solitude of Ravens in 1997. It remains one of my favorite books that I perused regularly at the Center for Creative Photography and still show his images to my students today. The Guardian published this article by Sean O'Hagan in 2010 and the paragraph below captures his intent behind the series:

"In an essay entitled The Art of Losing Love, Oborn notes: 'Fukase's best-known work was made while reeling from loss of love.' She points out that Fukase began his pursuit of the ravens just after Yoko, his wife of 13 years, left him. 'While on a train returning to his hometown of Hokkaido, perhaps feeling unlucky and ominous,' she writes, 'Fukase got off at stops and began to photograph something which in his culture and in others represents inauspicious feeling: ravens. He became obsessed with them, with their darkness and loneliness." The Solitude of Ravens, then, is a book of mourning. (Yoko, tellingly, was Fukase's main subject before he turned his camera on the ravens.)'"

O'Hagan also writes: "In Japanese mythology, ravens are disruptive presences and harbingers of dark and dangerous times – another reason, perhaps, why the photographer was drawn to them during his darkest hour. In 1992, five years after the book was published, Fukase fell down a flight of stairs in a bar. He has been in a coma ever since. His former wife, now remarried, visits him in hospital twice a month. 'With a camera in front of his eye, he could see; not without,' she told an interviewer. 'He remains part of my identity; that's why I still visit him.'"

We lost Fukase in 1992 yet his passing in 2012 is still as sad and foreboding as his photographs.

[All images are from Masahisa Fukase's The Solitude of Ravens.]

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Library Book Scans

One thing I know: I will not cease collecting photographs of how books deteriorate.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Henry Darger & David C. Nolan

Henry Darger's apartment (image via)

More Henry Darger's apartment (via)

This is where Darger created the 15,145 single spaced work The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion.  On my list of things to do in Chicago last month was visit Intuit which has a replica of Darger's apartment (image below from their website).

It's a little deceptive because it gives the impression that the space is more vast than it actually is (and far more clean than it once was). Unfortunately, this is as close as one can get inside the reproduction which is surprisingly accurate to the black-and-white photograph above.

I was able to hover over a typewriter which is just to the left of the mirrored dresser and snap a crappy i-Phone photo. One of my favorite details was the boxes full of rubber bands from what I presume to be from newspapers. Every time I see something like this, my first thought is "product of the Great Depression."

As I type this I realized that Henry Darger lived at 851 Webster Street (Chicago) and David C. Nolan's hidden stash of Marilyn Monroe photographs resided at 104 Webster Street (San Francisco). The street name isn't the only similarity. Both Darger and Nolan were obsessed with females and amassed gargantuan collections of them over the decades. One could also call their activities perverse and were meant to be private yet both are now in the public domain. I wanted to see Intuit's version of Darger's space to get an idea what Nolan's basement could look like. As one of my dear friends and mentors told me two weekends ago, I am "interested in the weirdos." The last couple month's blog posts certainly indicate that.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Harry Wilkins Lives On

Last year, I posted a project that I completed a decade ago featuring a fictional character named Harry Wilkins.  In many ways, I still consider that series a prelude to the Marilyn Monroe photographs. A nameless person collected random lithographs from the 1950s or 1960s and stapled them together to form a narrative (Jesus to naked ladies to churchgoing families). This is the last image in the series:

When I was in Chicago over Memorial weekend, I was in a very peculiar and highly recommendable store called Woolly Mammoth.  I was shocked to discover the same family in a very different context:

It was one of those weird moments when everything I ever thought an image meant was disrupted and turned upside down. There was no perversity in the lithograph on this fan. It looked like something a religious woman would use while sitting in the pews of the church in a building lacking air conditioning. It did not have the redemptive quality of the stapled images found years ago. It was "normal" and suddenly that was the strangest moment of it all.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"Photographs Not Taken: A Collection of Photographers' Essays"

"Recently, on finishing an interview with a writer, I was asked if she could see my darkroom. 'Of course," I said, 'but wouldn't you rather see my books? They might tell you more about me.'"     - Emmet Gowin

I finally finished reading one book and it's a month into summer! The diversity of photographers asked to participate in Photographs Not Taken is a highlight. They range from photojournalists to fine art photographers to filmmakers to conceptual artists. Often after reading a passage, I felt compelled to look up their work (Laura McPhee for one). I was most drawn to Alec Soth's and Amy Stein's essays as their lack of photographing his daughter and her husband respectively felt like the most "lost" moments of all the ones included.

One downfall is that some of the photographers tried too hard (not all visual artists are writers) - inserting metaphor after metaphor, attempting symbolism for something that is monumental in their eyes but superfluous to the viewer. For instance, the first sentence of Laurel Nakadate's essay: "There was a day that the Southern California sunshine felt like suffocating lava and was replaced by a rainy night with a laughing and bruised mirage called the moon." It was the moment after reading that sentence that I, too, wanted to suffocate.

This book made me consider the images that I wish were visually represented. Two circumstances that spring to mind are:

I wish I had been a prodigy like Jacques-Henri Lartigue growing up and had a better camera to photograph my grandmother before she died perhaps in the style of Jessie Tarbox Beals. Incidentally, Beals did photograph my grandmother as a teenager.

"Russell Russell who was he? Died from serving University." was a University of Iowa professor's obituary in the Daily Iowan that my father saved from the mid 1960s. It had yellowed with age but was still tacked to his office wall in the 1990s. I either wish I had it or a photograph depicting that article today.

There are no big stories associated with these instances. I don't believe a photograph needs to exist to depict everything we experience.  I honestly like having the fluctuating image in my mind to capture many of the circumstances where photographs could have been but ultimately are not.

Monday, June 4, 2012


I've been on a postcard buying kick this year (mainly because I've been to museums that sell good ones!). Here are a few I wanted to document before I send them off into the mail. Perhaps you will be receiving one of these someday soon.

Maurizio Cattelan, Daddy Daddy, 2008 installed at the Guggenheim (Purchased here).

William Eggleston, Las Vegas, c. 1965-68 (from one of the best postcard sources and location of the following three images)

Consumer Reports Tests Shampoos, 1955

Neil Winokur, Glass of Water, 1990

Tom Wesselmann, Still Life #30, 1963 (bought here)