Tag Archives: photography

Flowers, Tatts & China

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I have become a Transmedia groupie.

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Syracuse University Associate Professor Laura Heyman, guest Visiting-Artist and Instructor Ira Lombardia, and Everson Museum of Art Curator of Art and Programs DJ Hellerman led students through a critique tonight at Apostrophe’s Art Gallery, 1104 Oak Street, Syracuse, NY 13203.

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I was there a couple weeks ago for a similar event.  This time it was a joint showcase of work by Han Zhao and Hangyi Zhou.

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Han Zhao’s exhibit, Flowerbility, utilizes various media to showcase a single flower.  According to his artist statement, he creates on his I-Pad and laptop, which allows his ideas to flow freely and quickly.  There is joy to this ease.  His work ethic reminded me of artist Kiki Smith.  Last year, she visited Syracuse University and talked about coming at an idea from all angles.  I enjoyed the consistency of the image and saw how its use had implications and applications to interpreting and re-imagining business logos, taking the image to its unlimited potential.  That was exciting!

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I jumped into participating in Hangyi Zhou’s critique session.  What was I thinking, lol?  I guess the teacher in me couldn’t just be a fly on the wall.  I loved being a part of this adventure.  The artist’s four-piece photography exhibit, Chinese Tattooed Women, seemed rather simplistic until she shared some back-story.

What happens in China stays in China – except when young artists relate how their view of the world is tainted by a judgmentally governed society.  In this case, the notion that tattoos suggest disreputable character, specifically in regard to women.  Finding Chinese women courageous enough to pose for these photographs was quite an accomplishment, apparently.

Each model wears black and poses to portray their emotional connection to their respective tattoos, which are similarly inked in black and were all similarly executed in China.

This series seems to be in its gestation period, and a lot of what was said in the critique was thought-provoking in a helpful way.

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20190422_190221.jpgThank you, Transmedia gang, for including me.  This SU grad loves that Syracuse University art has expanded into the off-campus community.  Utilizing this unique gallery space for student exhibitions and holding receptions on Mondays is a win-win! ❤

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The American

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In 1956, Vasil Tashkovski came to Syracuse, New York alone, as a sixteen-year-old boy, a runaway who escaped the Iron Curtain fleeing Communist Yugoslavia for Greece, an incredibly dangerous journey that led him to a refugee camp where he lived for a year while waiting for permission from the American Consulate to live his dream.  It is the story of legend – the boy who dreamed of being an American.

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He was my father.  Dad married an American girl and had three American daughters with whom he only spoke English.  Yes, he helped many Macedonians from his village come to this country including his own brother and his family, and you can argue that his life’s purpose was to help them.  But if this is true, then the desire was fueled by a belief that these others would see what he saw – opportunity, liberty and freedom to live an authentic life in the greatest country in the world.

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To just be.  Dad was always there for us.  Always healthy and strong.  I truly thought he was indestructible – until he got cancer and suddenly passed away.  I mean, I just never thought about a time that he wouldn’t be with us.  He was seventy-nine.  It happened last week, so the wound is fresh and raw.  There is never enough time with the ones you love.

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Eagles are currently wintering in Syracuse.  About seventy at last count.  It seems like the most obtuse idea.  For many years, Onondaga Lake has been the number one most polluted lake in the nation and yet our national bird is here living off fish from said lake, with families in tow soaring around in all their glory, wonder and perfection.

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It is simply amazing – and ironic to see these majestic creatures here now.  I don’t think I had EVER seen an eagle in real life before this moment.  Our national bird!  It feels like they are here for Dad.  I like to think they are.  And that Vasil Tashkovski is soaring with them.  I know he is.

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You can park at Destiny Mall and see the eagles in the trees across the railroad tracks or drive to Onondaga Lake Parkway in Liverpool, New York to see them wading on the shoreline.  Bring your cameras preferably with telephoto lenses in order to paparazzo them.  There will be a guided birding walk on March 2, 2019 from 10:00 – 11:30 am.  It is sponsored by the Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps.  This link is to their Facebook page.

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The incredible photographs accompanying this post are by my über-talented friend Julia C. Banach.  She is an award winning (and currently self-described amateur) photographer.  I am in awe of her work here.  Just so magnificent!  Thank you, Julia, for capturing the majesty of these creatures.

Find more photography by Julia on Facebook.  This is the link to her “Like” page.  Become a fan.  She has recently updated her page to include incredible animal shots from trips to the local zoo, as well as gorgeous sunsets and full-moon illustrated landscapes.  Really beautiful work!  I have no doubt that Julia’s photographs will appear in nearby art galleries and museums very soon. ❤

 

Art in Hospital

After the Happy Little Tree House art reception on Tuesday, Brandon Hall took Karmin and me to see his other hospital exhibition.  It is in the cancer center wing of Upstate Medical Center and will be up for a couple months, I think, or at least until the end of May.

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Brandon is an art teacher at Fayetteville-Manlius High School.  He scours flea markets and garage sales to find discarded photograph albums and situates these unknown strangers into wallpapered assemblage landscapes peppered with texture and color.  They are mounted on wood and double-lacquered to prevent fading.  They are really exquisite and priced at only $250!

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Also in this show are Heidi VanTassel’s photography and paintings by Kate Renetta.

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The Cuban Phenomenon

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John Dowling’s inaugural art exhibition at the Dowling Art Center is nothing short of phenomenal.  I attended the opening reception on Thursday, June 23, 2016 – the show will be up all summer (if you didn’t get a chance to make it there yet).  The new gallery is located at 1632 Hawley Avenue, Syracuse, New York (13206).  It is home to John’s photography studio where he creates his own art, as well as providing archival inkjet printing and fine art reproduction services, and is home to this impressive gallery space, which he plans to both house art shows he curates and rent the space to artists for shows, workshops and meetings.

The theme for this exhibition is Cuba.

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David Creedon is from Ireland.  He and a Spanish-speaking assistant travelled to Cuba to photograph the people.  John Dowling purchased rights to the photographs and reproduced and framed them for the art show.  Although none of the artwork in this show were yet labelled for sale, John said these are available for $300 each.

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Here I am speaking with the artist – he told me that the Cuban people were really friendly, happy people.  They welcomed him into their homes and allowed him to snap whatever he pleased.  The one of the car in the living room is particularly stunning, isn’t it?  Viewing the photographs makes me desire a trip there – as Tina Fey says, “I want to go to there.”

David said the food is delicious and the atmosphere is sort of a throw back, almost like a 1950s meets modern-day.  The people don’t make a lot of money but there are a lot of free services, like PhD level education, health care, and food and other items are not expensive so it is all relative.

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See more work by David Creedon at www.davidcreedon.com.

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Abisay Puentes, like John, is one of my Facebook and Linkedin friends.  Unlike John though, I had never actually met him until this show.  His artwork has a surreal flavor and is hauntingly beautiful!

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Here I am with Penny Santy.  We are listening to Abisay’s original instrumental music, which accompanies his work.  In this way, he creates a sort of phenomenological encounter, engaging all senses.  He has videos on youtube that you must check out!

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The other artists in this show are a combination of locals who are from Cuba – most of them live in the Eastwood section of Syracuse near the gallery, or the work has been shipped in directly from Cuba!  It really is a must see!

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Contact John Dowling for more information about the gallery space and this show specifically, including hours of operation – (315) 466-8189 or jdphoto@twcny.rr.com.

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Treasure in the Trail

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Some say there are no coincidences in life.  That everything in front of you is either a gift or simply put there as a lesson.  And it is up to you to figure it all out….

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When you check your surroundings, you can immediately be in tune to how you are feeling.  Life is a reflection of you!

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So what does it say about me, the woman who paints hearts, surrounds herself with hearts, says I-love-you all the time – even using it as one of the steps in a plaster of Paris lesson, lol  (my students know what I am talking about) that I am seeing hearts on the trail at Green Lakes?

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They are EVERYWHERE!

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It doesn’t seem real.  I mean, I never noticed them before, you know? And yet, here they are – hearts in mulch, in leaves, in stone….

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It’s just so beautiful and adds another dimension to my happy place!  I guess I am in love with love.  It is so special.  I am soooo grateful to have Green Lakes State Park in my life. It is the best! ❤

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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.

 

Combo Lesson

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Studio in Art is one of those jack-of-all-trades courses.  I cover drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics and technology.  I teach still life, landscape, portrait and abstract concepts as well, so it is a little bit of everything.

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Every so often I do this sculpture/installation/photography project based on the work of American artist Sandy Skoglund.  I love how this lesson has so many concepts all rolled into one.

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First, students create the armature then plaster and paint a rat sculpture.  I’ve always done it with rats because they can be simplified and look both uniform and unique – usually students create a tail that makes their rat easy to identify in a “police line-up” of rats, lol.

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I usually give students a small Gatorade bottle then show them how to add newspaper or paper towels and masking tape to shape the armature, adding tagboard for ears and aluminum foil for the tail. This year I drank a bunch of Simply Orange and Simply Cranberry and we used those bottles to make giant-sized rodents.

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I have fourteen students in class.  They painted the rats gold – there were three hues from which to choose.  Every time I do this lesson the rats are a different color.  We’ve done them in red, blue, yellow and green, so I thought the gold ones would look fun.  Plus, I just bought more metallic paint.  It is Sargent’s metallic acrylic. Love it!

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Next, we take a tour of the school to spot areas that we travel everyday – to make the invisible visible.  We look through viewfinders made out of index cards to see the space from a number of different angles.  There are some wonderful bits of architecture in our school that make for great photographic landscapes!

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I have the students create storyboards – just a sketch of what they want to do for their photograph and I give them a hand-out with some questions to help them solve the riddle of this project.  For example, what emotion will they convey?  Will it be funny?  A depiction of social injustice?  Romantic?  Who will be in it?  What will they do?  What will they wear?

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In addition, we talk about POV – will the camera be at eye level or above eye level (w/ photographer standing on a ladder or standing at the top of the stairs looking down) or will it be at rat level?  And is it an active or passive photograph?  Is the viewer directed to what the people are doing or what the rats are doing?  Or is the viewer looking at what the people are looking at?

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You see, there are a lot of options and a lot to think about.  Sandy Skoglund’s models wear the same color to create rhythm and harmony.  Successful images would be ones where the photographer coordinated their models to do the same.

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I assigned the dates for their photographs, which were taken during class or after school if they wanted to take the shot upstairs (no one did this year). The rats were housed on carts that they rolled out to the installation area.  They did this unsupervised (I know!  Can you believe it?  I am actually letting go of my inner control freak!  It’s a slow process but it is happening!).  I gave them the camera and they came back with the rats and several shots. They told me which one they wanted and I printed them.

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While this was going on, the rest of the class worked on a wood sculpture lesson based on the work of Marisol Escobar.

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All of the photographs are on display in the school hallway.  In addition to seeing great art, the fun of it is to view and search for their rat – is it a star or a supporting player? And of course, it is fun when they see themselves as models in their friends’ pictures.

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Artwork is assessed as follows – how closely it resembles the storyboard vision, composition, which includes how well they have utilized foreground, middle ground and background concepts, and if characteristics of the work resemble Sandy Skoglund’s.  The rats were assessed separately (armature, plaster application, paint application).

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Yeah – this lesson encompasses so much, I think.  They must create a sculpture then create an image with a point of view, make that image come to life…and there is a lot of freedom, and yet, there is also tremendous responsibility.  So many of the images were nearly spot on from the original storyboards!  It was a really amazing experience this year – for my eighth graders and for me.