Tag Archives: photography exhibition

Rock & Roll Authenticity

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Herbert Ritts was a California boy.  Growing up, he lived in Steve McQueen’s neighborhood in Brentwood, which, according to many biographies I have read recently, was an instrumental synergy that launched his comfort level with celebrity.

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The quotes from his high profile portrait subjects include statements about how using daylight was his strength and that they felt at ease in front of his lens:

“Herb made me look how I wish I looked when I woke up in the morning.” – Cindy Crawford

“In his sweet disarming way he suggested that we work together again and I agreed to it. And that was the beginning of an incredibly long and fruitful working relationship, but it was also the beginning of a great friendship.” – Madonna

“Working with Herb was more like just hanging out with a friend. We’d joke, chatter and gossip and at the end of the day he would have captured the whole thing in the lens. He was a great guy.” – David Bowie

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Herb Ritts – The Rock Portraits is on display at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York (5798 State Highway 80, Cooperstown, NY 13326).  The photographs are on loan from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio until September 2, 2019.

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The show is a mirror of my youth.  So many images that I have seen on album covers, in music videos, in fashion magazines – Herb Ritts is like an old friend.  It is as if you know him.  Knew him.  You can envision him working because it is evident that it was not work.  It was more like a relationship, the way he presented people at ease in the present moment, not thinking about what they must do later in the week or later that day, but being in the now.  You can see this in the eye contact, in the way the light shines on their faces and in the crispness of the images.

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Ritts captures the essence of his subjects.  What I see in the photographs is the “authentic self”, the real person behind the fame.  The Bob Dylan pictures are gritty, as though the man cannot hide a lifetime of struggling with inner demons.  The Bruce Springsteen images reflect a certain shyness beneath the success.  And the Madonna images are, to me, the most iconic, spanning the ’80s and ’90s and showing us a vulnerable, little Italian girl who grows in confidence and artistic resonance with every click.  We get to witness that evolution, that living history, and that is a beautiful thing. ❤

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It is this contrast between the legend and the human spirit that gives credence to Ritts as artist rather than commercial photographer for hire, and is the reason why these photographs and videos belong in a museum.  They are evidence of the art of living, the art of performing, the art of communicating a visual language of persona, and the art of documenting artistic merit as an art.  It is all about authenticity.

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The photographs are accessorized with costumes and musical instruments, also on loan from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  This is Madonna’s.  I could totally rock this – OMG, I know it would fit me.  Unfortunately, it was on a mannequin and encased in lucite or else it would have been my #ootd.

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Trina Turk top and skirt, BCBGMaxAzria belt and sandals, Coach bag, Fossil bracelets, Marc Jacobs sunglasses

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I took these pictures yesterday, took a day trip to Cooperstown, which I highly recommend!  You must go to there!  The drive was spectacular – from Syracuse, New York, it is an hour by New York State Thruway then an additional forty minutes down Route 28.  Cooperstown is truly a magical place.  Home to so many attractions – the Glimmerglass Opera House, the Baseball Hall Of Fame, the legendary Cardiff Giant (on view at the Farmer’s Museum).

And the Fenimore Art Museum is on the lake.  It is just incredibly gorgeous there – it was my first time and I felt like Cinderella arriving at the castle for the ball.  Just spectacular!

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They are open today 10 am – 5 pm.  Call (607) 547-1400 for more information about this wonderful place. ❤

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****From the Fenimore website

HERB RITTS: THE ROCK PORTRAITS

April 2 – September 2, 2019

Known for his elegant and minimalist work, and his mastery of photographing in natural light, photographer Herb Ritts (1952–2002) had a gift for turning stars into icons. Here, in the first curated collection of his photos of some of music’s most celebrated artists, visitors will see how he captured the likes of David Bowie, Tina Turner, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Prince, Cher, Madonna and many more—the world’s biggest music stars—and in the process, helped define their iconic status for generations of fans. See many of his best-known portraits alongside stage costumes and guitars from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

As a native of Los Angeles, Herb Ritts was uniquely attuned to the natural light of the California sun, and preferred to shoot outdoors. He took work seriously and was renowned for posing his subjects in classic, sculptural styles, with little or no pros. He also had a unique, understated way of making his subjects feel comfortable in front of his camera. They trusted him and it’s often that trust and human bond that you see reflected in his portraits. When he died of complications from AIDS at the age of 50, Ritts left behind an extraordinary body of work, that when we see as a whole, demonstrates his undeniable impact on contemporary culture.

Organized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in association with the Herb Ritts Foundation

The exhibition is sponsored in part by The Clark Foundation, Fenimore Asset Management, and NYCM Insurance.

 

 

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RELATED PROGRAMS

Panel Discussion – Fenimore Rocks! Herb Ritts and the Image of Rock Music
Saturday, July 13 • 2:00–4:00 pm

Join us as Rock & Roll Hall of Fame president, Greg Harris, moderates a lively talk and cocktail party focusing on Herb Ritts and the impact his photographs had on the image of rock music in the 80s and 90s. The event also features Laurie Kratochvil, former Director of Photography at Rolling Stone magazine, John Covach, Professor of Music Theory and Director of the Institute for Popular Music at the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, and Rory Ritts, Herb Ritts’ younger brother. After, join them for cocktails and a buffet on the terrace (cash bar, weather permitting).

The talk is free for museum members; otherwise, included with regular admission (Adults: $12, Seniors: $10.50). Seating in the auditorium is extremely limited and will be available on a first come, first serve basis. Overflow seating will be available with live viewing via a flat-screen monitor.

 

Rock ‘n’ Reel Film Series – I’m Not There
Saturday, July 27 • 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:30 pm)

Several actors portray legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. (2007, R)
More info

Rock ‘n’ Reel Film Series – Burlesque
Saturday, August 10 • 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:30 pm)

A backstage musical film starring Cher and Christina Aguilera. (2010, PG-13)
More info

Food For Thought – Herb Ritts: The Rock Portraits (Lunch)
Wednesday, August 21 • 12:30 pm

with Paul D’Ambrosio, President and CEO of Fenimore Art Museum, and Kevin Gray, Manager of Arts Education
More info

Rock ‘n’ Reel Film Series – Madonna: Truth or Dare
Saturday, August 24 • 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:30 pm)

Documentary chronicling the life of Madonna during her 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour. (1991, R) Otsego County native John Draper, former Tour Manager of Madonna’s Blonde Ambition World Tour will be present for a live commentary on the film, giving a rare behind-the-scenes look of what it takes to manage a tour for one of music’s original megastars.
More info

Live Music with Wurliday
Friday, August 30 • 7:00–9:00 pm (takes place across the street at The Farmers’ Museum) FREE ADMISSION!

Hailing from Albany, NY, Wurliday brings together some of the most exciting, dynamic musicians in the live music scene for a lively injection of soul-funk goodness, direct to your ears. You’ll dance all night long! Free admission.
More info

 

® I LOVE NEW YORK is a registered trademark and service mark of the New York State Department of Economic Development; used with permission.

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Commonality

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There is a small gallery to the right of the entrance at Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center in Auburn, New York, called the Gallery Julius.  It is a space reserved primarily for emerging regional artists who send work to the art center’s curator for consideration.

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Common Places is the current exhibition: photographs by Willson Cummer of Fayetteville, New York, taken while on hiking excursions to parks near his home.  He and his wife are kindred spirits, the term for people I meet on the road-less-travelled sections of the trails at Green Lakes State Park.  We have that in common.

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These photographs also have sunshine in common, and a sense of serenity and timelessness.  There are ten similarly-sized and framed photographs in this show, all priced at $650.

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Artist Statement

These photographs are from my project called Common Places. I use a few word plays to develop the concept. First, I made these images in parks — places held in common, set aside from private development. Also, these pictures are of unremarkable places. While I love to climb in the Adirondacks this work is about common parks near my home in Fayetteville, New York. Finally, I am interested in the use — primarily in the 1700s — of the commonplace, a scrapbook of sorts in which people collected stimulating quotes, letters and printed items. These pictures are my commonplace. 

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All current spring exhibitions will be on display until May 12, 2019.  The Schweinfurth is open Tuesday-Saturday 10 am – 5 pm and Sunday 1 pm – 5 pm.  Admission is $7 and free for exhibiting artists, members and children.

Newbie

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Photographer Laura Thorne is new in town.  The former Tampa, Florida resident is having her first art exhibition at Dolce Vita World Bistro, 907 East Genesee Street, Syracuse, New York.  The show will be up until May 19, 2018.

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See more of Laura’s photographs on her website www.laurathornephotography.com.

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Here is the information from the Facebook page:

Dolce Vita presents… PerspectiVe Changes Everything, a showcase of some of Laura Thorne’s most unique and compelling photography from around the world and in Syracuse.

Donate to Believe in Syracuse by May 18th to enter a drawing to win a framed 11 x 14 print. For each dollar donated to the Creativity Crates Project fund you will receive one wanted. IE $5 = 5 chances to win.
https://mailchi.mp/192c738f9f9f/enter-to-win-an-11-x-14-framed-print-by-laura-thorne-of-absolute-revolution-gallery

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Seeing the Light

At the artist reception on Wednesday night at Light Work, I fell in love.  Yes!  This is something that I seem to do easily lately.  I am in love with life, so what can I do?

In this case, the objects of my affection are Ben Altman’s photographs, which are hanging in the hallway of this beautiful venue (316 Waverly Ave., Syracuse, NY).  They will be there until July 22, 2016, if you want to see them in person.

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Here is a link  to the whole shebang on the Light Work website –

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Altman uses an old-fashioned camera to take photographs of people using their cell phones to photograph memorial sites around the world.  He is sort of a voyeur looking over the shoulders of these tourists to create images that have an eerie-beauty to them.  The memorial site is blurred but we can see a part of it through the tourists’ viewfinders.

So, you kind of say – ohhh, that’s pretty – then you read the title and you are looking at a picture taken at Auschwitz or one taken at the site of the Oklahoma bombing.  It is just this startling feeling of, like, OMG, I just thought a place of utter sadness was so beautiful.  Then you feel totally weird for liking it.  So you go back and look again with the new knowledge and feel super weird, because it is still so hauntingly beautiful.

And by you, I mean me.

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What a profound experience.  The photos are very large.  They are all the same size, framed the same way, which alerts us to the fact that they are equally important.  I just love the concept, the follow through, the process of capturing frame-in-frame shots that are all different, yet remain in harmony.

Here is his artist statement –

“Tourists at iconic sights almost automatically photograph with their smart-phones and cameras. This act becomes more complicated at memorials, sites, and museums that commemorate episodes of mass violence. Over the past few years I have photographed visitors and their screens at many such places. The people in my images are strangers who are mostly unaware of my intention, even though I use a hand-held 1940’s 4×5 press camera. My vintage equipment fits well with thinking about the present in terms of the past.

“Raising a device between oneself and a site of atrocity can be seen as distancing and reductive. However an impulse to manage and diffuse what these places mean is understandable and perhaps necessary. Often the memorials themselves depict the appalling, chaotic events they represent with unwarranted coherence or with the blankness of preserved artifacts. They invite engagement but also obstruct it. The memorials and the photography each suggest questions: how to see these sites; how to empathize with the unknowable experiences of the people who were caught up in the events; how to understand the ways in which past horrors configure our present world; how to live with our knowledge.

— Ben Altman, March 2016″

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When I was in Jersey City, NJ, I took a picture at the memorial they have honoring the New Jersey residents who died in the Twin Towers.  It is two walls of granite with names on each side and when you walk through towards the waterfront, the Freedom Tower sits between them in your sight line.  It is an emotional experience to stand there and witness.  As a tourist, I took a picture exactly the way Ben Altman explained in his statement.  But my photographs contain my own reflection. I guess in this way, I become one with my empathy and that is a good thing.  Altman’s detachment invites the viewer inside in a way that allows us to see the light of beauty in darkness.

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For more information on Ben Altman, find his website here.

 

Captive Audience

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Every year I install art exhibitions in the Chittenango Middle School library in Chittenango, New York.  I seek out professional artists in the region – four per year as follows:  September – November/Thanksgiving-ish, November – February/Winter break, February – April/Spring Break, and April – June.

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It’s a captive audience scenario.  They go into the school library to get books, use the computer, take classes, have a study hall…and in addition, they are subliminally bombarded with art/aesthetics and all around good taste.

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They are the very people artists target – students who can learn to appreciate art at a young age and become life-long patrons of the arts – as artists themselves, hobbyists or consumers who appreciate…or all of the above!

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Steve Pearlman is my current artist-in-residence with fifteen photographs showcasing his interest in Syracuse, travel, fashion and an amazing eye for contrast, composition and perspective.

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He will give an artist talk to students during our after school time/tenth period (2:20-2:50 pm) on Tuesday, October 27, 2015. I’m sure he will share what he told me – that aside from his family, he has no greater love than the love he feels while holding his camera, pointing the lens and capturing a unique image that freezes time.  Art is sometimes the most beautiful gift you can give to yourself.  When I spend time talking to other artists about their contributions including hopes and dreams for themselves, it really feels amazing – we are more similar than different with regard to the love of creating.

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I was just talking about this with my students yesterday.  The importance of emotion as a component in a work of art.  It is always the hope that students will make these connections to their own lives in order to be happier, and in order to lead supercalifragilistic artistic futures.

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