The Photo Diaries
October, 1998 - These images were created at Barre Vermont which is the granite capital of the world. The whole town earns it living working with granite including cutting monuments. The town cemetery is a showroom for the work of the town. This monument was imported from Italy and caused great criticism of the owner. This image was created with a Nikon F5 with a 105mm lens and anamorphic lens which distorts the aspect ratio and focus of the image.
June, 1999 - This work was done at the 1999 Coney Island Mermaid Parade June 24th. The parade is an annual affair and more than anything, I believe captures the essence of Coney Island and its rich history. Several hundred people come out for the parade dressed as mermaids, Neptune and other wondrous sea creatures. I did portraits of about 60 people and I don't think a single person declined to be photographed. The parade participants assemble several hours prior to the parade. This day presents extraordinary diversity; both culturally and ethnically. I would not be surprised if just about every country in the world is represented somewhere on the beach or boardwalk. This diversity and celebration of difference is a window on America's past and most importantly its future. Most of the work was done with a Nikon F5 and a Mamyia 7.
May, 1999 - This work The Tractor Gallery was done at Barricks Tire Sales near Newville Pa. John Barrick has a passion for tractors and restores and collects tractors. He owns perhaps one hundred full size tractors, several hundred peddle tractors and tens of thousands toy tractors. I worked with these images to explore the lines, design and shapes of these artifacts. I had made a set of prints for the owner and I was curious what his reaction will be to my particular interpretation. I found beautiful elements of line and design in these tractors. They were clearly built by people who also loved their work. When I showed the prints to the owner he looked at them very quietly and then looked up. He said "They don't look like tractors to me." This work was done with a Nikon F5 and 20mm and 105mm lens with polarizing filter on Royal Gold 100.Co
My wife and I have been visiting the York Fair for over thirty years. Over the years some of the wonderfully strange attractions have tended to disappear; the Gorilla Girl, the Hermaphrodite, The Tattoo Woman (she retired), The Headless Woman and others. This gentleman is the fire eater and has been a fair regular for several decades.
October, 1999 - In October I was invited to visit orphanages and psychiatric hospitals in Russia, Moldova and Romania. This was quite an adventure. We were very well received and I was given complete freedom to photograph in all of the institutions. October 1999 - In Bucharest Romania there are thousands of children living underground in the sewers, heating tunnels and culverts. These children live in a surreal world below the surface absent the presence of adults. The children I met were delightful, beautiful, intelligent and engaging. It was a privilege to be invited to visit and photograph their world. For a more complete text and images on this issue click on the image below. It is my hope to return and produce a documentary on the lives of these dear children. This work is available as a slide presentation and lecture and is appropriate to any audience interested in the status of children or the evolving conditions in Eastern Europe.
June, 2000 - A trip to Paris, Rome and Milan produced new images of Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris and Monumental Cemetery in Milan. We traveled on a Euro Rail pass having quite a wonderful time. These are quite remarkable places. Time was also spent in Rome including the Vatican, where some of the most remarkable memorial art in the World is found. It is my hope to publish these photographs as a book that will explore the issues being expressed in this art: salvation, mortality, rebirth, purity, fallenness and transcendence. This work is available as a twenty five print exhibit. Sensuality in Memorial Art is an essay delving into these issues, particularly the fascinating and deep connection between Thantos and Eros. Saving Graces integrates memorial art images from around the World with poetry in a further exploration of these issues.
October, 2000 - Finally I found the time to photograph several shells purchased at the shore last year. This work was done in my studio using a Nikon F5 and 105 macro lens. A series of this work has been produced on an ink jet printer on archival water color paper. Several of these sold very well at auction at the Susquehanna Art Museum. The shells are very sensuous and are wonderful examples of the common elements of design in creation.
June, 2001 - This years Coney Island Mermaid Parade was held on June 30th 2001. This was the 19th annual parade and the first year the new Coney Island Cyclone Ball Park was used. It is a rather amazing event with about a thousand people dressing up as mermaids and mermen and participating in the parade. The Mermen and Mermaids progresses down Coney Island Avenue where several hundred thousand persons watch the event. The event is a wonderful celebration with people having a very good time and being free to be quite foolish. The parade is a photographer's delight, because everyone is there to make a display and each celebrant enjoys the attention of the photographers. Coney has such a rich history of celebrating diversity and embracing different ness. Some of this history including the enduring essence of Coney Island is explored in The Soul of Coney Island. Some of the images are presented in a panoramic format in Gallery IV. The Coney Island Galleries is available in a traveling exhibit of 25 images. Please contact me for more information.
September, 2001 - This week I returned from a trip to The People's Republic of China. I was part of a professional delegation visiting with mental health professionals in China as well as visiting psychiatric hospitals. We were able to visit Tianamen Square, the Forbidden City, The Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors. I was not permitted to photograph patients in the hospitals but was permitted to photograph interiors. These images may be viewed by clicking here.
September, 2001 - This week I had the opportunity to be in Philadelphia and was able to photograph the gargoyles at he Old Philadelphia Fire House Headquarters at 1328 Race Street. The gargoyles seemed to express the heroic role of the firefighters in NYC. The gargoyles may be viewed by clicking here. An essay providing background on gargoyles and grotesques may be accessed by clicking here.
October, 2001 - This weekend was the Annual Hershey Antique Automobile Club meet. I went over to the meet two times and did an extensive project on the form, design and line of the automobiles. I found my self being particularly interested in many of the hood ornaments. These may be viewed in the Flying Lady Gallery. Several of the images have been done as panoramic images and can be seen in the Panoramic Gallery. I have had a 1954 Jaguar XK-120 since high school and seeing several was quite an inspiration to restore mine. There are about 70 images in this series and I think I will continue with this theme.
November, 2001 - This weekend we went to ground zero, it is an experience beyond a persons ability to communicate it to others. It is something everyone should do.
A visit to Eastern State Penitentiary is a very powerful and moving experience. More than any other institution I have visited, you can feel the presence of the individuals who lived their lives in the 8x12 foot cells of Eastern.
Eastern State Penitentiary embodied Quaker ideals about the nature of man and the redemptive powers of solitary reflection and penitence. The Visionaries of Eastern State believed that solitary confinement would heal the soul and allow time and opportunity to reflect on a life of crime and to repent of past sins. Within the controlled environment, it was believed that prisoner's would be able to reform themselves through solitude, work and penance, thus the new name for America's prisons; penitentiary. After being interviewed and given prison clothes, the new convict was taken, with a hood placed over his head, to his or her cell. Charles Dickens, later described this hood, used to mask the identity of the prisoners, as a "dark shroud, an emblem of the curtain dropped between him and the living world."
Over the last several years one of my major projects has been photographing memorial art in Italy, France and Russia. Upon looking at my first images of Eastern, I was struck to realize that these images were also photographs of graves. It became very clear that Eastern's cells were sepulchers - "burial vaults or receptacles for sacred relics - an alter". Indeed the Quaker philosophy at the foundation of Eastern and the Pennsylvania Plan was for the prisoner to die to self and be reborn again free of past sin. Each cell was designed with a sky light that served as the "Eye of God" an ever present alter offering the promise of redemption and salvation. The prisoners were a living symbol and often a sacrifice to a philosophical belief. As observed by Dickens, the isolation imposed by the Eastern State philosophy created an underground where the lives of the inmates were invisible to the rest of society. I had first experienced this reality when visiting children described previously living in the underground of Bucharest Romania. Like the children of Bucharest the reality of the lives of the people living at Eastern were invisible unless you were willing descend into the underground and experience the reality of the sepulcher. The records indicate that the truth for many people was that they indeed became the living dead, confined to their own grave, but salvation and transformation never came. For many, the personal experience of a living death was only that of the darkness of depression and a descent into the chaos of mental illness.
In the memorial art project, I have found that the stone images which are my subjects are a profound exploration of man's struggle to understand his mortality and ultimately are an expression of his hope for transcendence. The stone statues, as Saving Graces, express powerful themes of transformation, salvation, transcendence, loss, fertility, rebirth, purity and renewal. These were all aspirations shared by the visionaries of the Pennsylvania Plan. However, the granite and marble Saving Graces wedded to the sepulchers of classical memorial art do not experience the isolation and suffering of their human counterparts that occupied the sepulchers of Eastern State Penitentiary. To provide background on ESP I have done a brief history of ESP that can be accessed by clicking here.
January, 2002 - This week the group I study with met in New Orleans with Connie Imboden. We critiqued each others work and one of the topics of discussion was the differences and similarities between flesh and stone as a subject particularly in respect to the Memorial Art Project.
February, 2002 - Today I completed an essay on Sirens and Mermaids - Symbols of Transformation. This essay is a research project intended to better understand the role played by mermaids and sirens as symbols in myth and culture. The essay explores the strange connection between the work I have been doing in photographing memorial art, the mermaids at Coney Island, WWII bomber nose art and hood ornaments. In October I found myself photographing images of classic automobile hood ornaments that were amazingly similar to those I was doing in Pere Lachaise in Paris and Monumental Cemetery in Milan. The essay can be referenced by clicking here. I am very interested in peoples feedback on this work, please let me know what you think.
February, 2002 - Today I was able to purchase a Fotar 10x10 horizontal enlarger on eBay. The enlarger has a 2000 watt color head and operates on 20" of track. I am planning to print several mural size images from the memorial art project.
March, 2002 - Last month I came across Modern Ruins by Shaun O'Bolye. I found his work very compelling, especially his Boatyard series. About a week later, quite by accident I found an article in a National Geographic publication that had a portrait of a ship yard worker with the abandoned tub boats in the background. The title said; Staten Island, so on a recent trip returning from Connecticut, I took a turn around the perimeter of Staten Island and found the "Bone Yard". Images from this adventure can be viewed at: The Bone yard.
March 22, 2002 - Today I went to NYC to photograph more of the Bone Yard and then went to Liberty Park to photograph the "Lights of Rememberance" for the WTC. The image below duplicates an image I did about two years ago from exactly the same location. The images are done with an anamorphic lens which changes the aspect ratio of the image. Viewing ground zero and the lights is always a very profound experience.
April 20, 2002 - This weekend was Cars at Carlisle. I was able to add many images to the "Art of The Automobile" Gallery. One car in particular was very stunning a 1948 Blue Buick V8.
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Copyright 2002 Northstar Gallery
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