Sunday, March 30, 2014

Thursday Afternoon in Havana

Onto the bus we piled with our camera bags and about 15 minutes later were in a different part of the city at the Centro Coreografico - Compania Narciso Medina, an old theatre where we were going to work with dancers from the aforementioned company who had not been able to go with the rest of the company when they traveled to the Ukraine to give some performances.  

As we were being divided  up into groups by Elizabeth Opalenik and given a place in the theatre to shoot, this beautiful young woman walked in with her young daughter.  One of the dancers was part of her family and she wanted to see what all the fuss was about I guess.  I call this photo, Cuban Madonna and Child.

We worked with one young man, whose name I never caught, who had never done anything like this.  I think the poor kid was a bit overwhelmed by four photographers asking him to do different things and to improvise.  But good experience for him for any future PR shoots for the company.

Technique not a problem for this young dancer!
We were only using a small part of the theatre while working with this young man, but then we got to change models and places and were able to use more of the stage space with some lighting.  However, not all the lights were operational (nothing on the 1st bar for my theatre-saavy readers) so we worked with what we had mainly a few 2nd bar Fresnels and some side kicker lights with the next young dancer.  I also wanted some props so we found this interesting chair that had a very tall back.

Then we changed up models again and we got two dancers but we had to leave the building because of some other kids thing that was going to happen, so luckily for us there was this crumbling foundation of what was once a building across a side street.

 After climbing back on the bus and getting back to the hotel it was just about time to decide what to do for dinner.  Went with the wonderful Anthony and Florence Rodale and  John Mickle to a nearby place called La Terraza.  From there we watched as a huge storm blew through the city as we were (mostly) covered by  an awning high on the 3rd floor of the building.

Sorry to be so late in posting all this, but the surgery really put me back a few weeks.  I've got more photos to share from Cuba as well as the news that some of the photos have been transformed into new work that I'm bringing to the New York's Art Expo with Bilhenry Gallery at Pier 94 April 4th to the 6th.

I'm hoping to wrap up the Cuba trip in one more post and then move on to my experiences at Art Expo.  Hoping the collector Dr. Brandt comes by our booth and falls in love with my work and buys a piece!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

We Interrupt this Broadcast

of Ann's trip to Cuba to report some super-fabulous news!  Before she sent to Cuba, she submitted some work to the 6th edition of the Julia Margaret Cameron Award.  Today she got an email saying that she is a finalist and is invited to exhibit her work in the 3rd International Biennial of Fine Art and Documentary Photography which will open on September 18th, 2014 running until November 9th, 2014, at the Municipal Museum of Malaga, Spain, the home city of Picasso.  To say Ann is grateful and over the moon is an understatement.  She's currently scheming to get to Spain in September for the artists' reception.  Here is the image that will be exhibited.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Jose Marti and Me

OK, so it wasn't the Jose Marti that is considered one of Cuba's biggest political heroes for political independence from Spain, but I did get to meet this Jose Marti, an artist who was very open about welcoming a crowd of photographers into his studio.

Here is some of his work:

Love the manikin hand with one blue fingernail that served as his door handle.  Wish the language issue had not been there.  But with that and the 10 other photographers with me, it was a circus really. 

This was the start of our first morning in Havana.  Marti's studio was on the way to a national consortium of different genres of dance companies all sharing a building for rehearsal and admin space getting government support. We were allowed into a ballet class to shoot, but it had its challenges with the mirrors on two sides and other photographers trying to get that perfect shot.

This woman had one leg of her dance pants cut off with a leg warmer on it.

This woman, 2nd from right, reminded me of a young Judith Jameson who used to dance with the Alvin Ailey Dance Co in NY and later when on to lead the company when Ailey passed.

Talk about technique, this beautiful dancer could have done anything because she also had the most amazing presence.
I even got a chance to hoist a leg onto the ballet bar and was reminded of how I was booted out of a class by the Prima of the Boston Ballet back in the early 70s for improvising during the movement patterns across the floor.  I was so much a big mouth modern dancer back in the day.

Then it was on to a senior "day care" center that is part of a new program in Havana to help seniors cope with loneliness when the rest of the family is working and going to school during the day.  Many of the ladies were using paper to make flowers while most of the men were playing dominoes.

One woman was not into making flowers but was playing with the guys.

After an amazing lunch at the restaurant at the Musee de Beaux Artes, I had a wonderful seafood brochette with (of course) a mojito, we were off to an old theatre in a different part of town to work with members of a contemporary dance company.  More on that in the next post.  Wish I had taken more photos of the museum itself which is a gem and used to be the Spanish Club before the revolution. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

I Left my Heart in Old Havana

While the excitement of the new wasn't there when I first arrived in Havana with the folks from the Santa Fe Photo Workshops (SFPW), there was a sense of familiarity and fondness with returning this year.  The excitement did return when I heard about the dance troupes we were going to be able to photograph that Our Man in Havana, Kip Brundage, had scored for the group that was headed up by Elizabeth Opalenik.  While the bus took us to the same spot for lunch after our charter landed in Havana and herded us back on the bus to the same hotel, that was OK as the restaurant served good food (chicken, beans and rice) and the hotel - Parke Centrale - is nice although their wireless internet sucks the big one.  I'm not even sure if you could buy a prepaid Cuban wireless and if it's similar to DSL service in the states.  But as Reid Callahan, Jefe of the SFPW continues to remind us, "It's Cuba, it's complicated".

After getting to our rooms and unpacking, we met in the lobby and walked over to the Cuban Art Museum for a cash bar cocktail hour and then an introduction to our Cuban photographers who were to be our guides along with the official "red shirts", the Cuban government tourism agency guides.  This intro included slide shows and videos from Opalenik as well as Tony Bonnano, who was also leading a group exploring Cuban art and music.  The work of our Cuban photographer guides was truly amazing - a look at Cuba from Cuban eyes and hearts.

Courtyard of the most excellent Cuban Art Museum - go there if you get a chance

Roach on the wall, DJ at work and flowers

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ai Wei Wei: According to What?

I'm so glad that I booked an extra day in Miami to have lunch with my friend David Cool as well as see the Ai Wei Wei show at the fancy new Perez Museum there.
There we are standing in front of Wei Wei's Dog Head sculpture outside, part of his Chinese Astrology Series.
There were many old photos of him from his days in New York and his days in China.  This is the first ever North American tour of his work and I urge you to see it if it comes to a museum near you.  Perhaps because I've been a Question Authority person most of my life, his work appeals to me and because it's also filled with compassion.  I thought I had taken more photos of his photos but can't put my finger on them now. 

But here is what first got him in trouble with Chinese authorities

 He formed a group called the Citizen's Investigative project right after the May 12, 2008,  7.9-magnitude earthquake hit Szechuan Province.  Over 5,000 names of school children and others are listed on the wall and in front of the wall, rods of rebar taken from the wreckage.

How could I not add my finger?  Wish it was in front of Congress rather than the White House.

Marble Surveillance Camera 2010
Since we now know that our every move is being scrutinized by the NAS at least in our cyberspace lives, this object has resonance for those of us supposedly living in a democracy, albeit one that is becoming more and more controlled my major corporations who are controlling congress.

He is one of the bravest artists in our century who creates thoughtful, witty projects like this installation of river crabs

He calls this He Xie, which literally means river crab in Chinese but is a homophone for the word harmony, used in the Communist Party slogan.  The term He Xie has now become internet slang for government censorship.  If you click here, it will take you to his website.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Have you Shot Your Selfie Today?

Self portraits have a long artistic tradition dating back hundreds of years for both artists and photographers.  The wiki on it also shows some older Asian art works.  With the jump in people having cell phones with cameras in them, the Selfie has become popular for the past few years.  That is something that has not gone unnoticed to the Good Folks over at the Hyperallergenic art blog.  They issued a call for artists so I responded.

JK & I on our way up to Bethel to try our hand at cross country skiing after 30 years!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

New Things for the New Year

and we haven't even gotten to the Asian New Year... new studio in a new way of working.. we'll  see how that works  out...  I've been working alone for so long it will be interesting as to how I'll be able to work in a very open space... but it does feel so much more open than my tiny attic space with angled ceilings.  I've been so used to working by myself for many years.  But it may prove to be a way to work in collaboration with some other local artists which would be cool.

The  art blog #Hyperallergic had a new column about selfies.... asking artist to post them and post a description.  So I was involved with cleaning up the studio and then packing up to move over to Running with Scissors shared artist space and thought about how I usually only post selfies that are attractive and thought what about one that showed my vulnerability.... at the chaos that was happening  as I cleaned, organized and then packed the result is here. 

Running with Scissors is an artist space that is very similar to what Liv Moe in Sacramento is trying to do with Verge.

What is even more strange is that I'm out of town for 2 days to celebrate JK's birthday, then I have one day at the studio and then I go to Havana Cuba for a week with Elizabeth Opalenik and the Santa Fe workshop folks for  a dance photography week, come back and 6 days latter have a surgical procedure for my right foot that will leave me off my feet for at least 6 weeks. 

Will be posting some photos of us trying to cross country ski up here in Bethal in the next day or two.... might be funny.....

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Onward through the Fog

She dreams of barnacles and branches
I've got an interesting horoscope from Rob Brezsny's Free Will Astrology for this first week of a new year:

"During the coming months, you may sometimes feel as if every last law and formula and corollary is mutating. In some cases, the new rules coming into play will be so different from the old rules you've been used to, they may at first be hard to figure out. But now here's the happy ending: It may take a while, but you will eventually see that these new rules have an unexpected logic and beauty that will serve your future well"

This comes as I plan a move out of my home studio into the Running with Scissors space over at 250 Anderson in the Bayside neighborhood.  I will still have a presence at  Constellation (will be sharing a wall with another artist there) and will continue to be a member of the Maine Artists Collective.  RWS will be a new type of working space for me as I've never been in a coop type situation with other artists around.  However, it does open more doors for working cooperatively with other people.  They will have a few group shows a year.  So this will be a "new rule" coming into play with me.

The other thing I'm looking forward to is another trip to Cuba with Elizabeth Opalenik and the Santa Fe Photography Workshop folks.  I'm jazzed that three of the folks on our trip last year (Penny, Anthony and Florence) are going the same week.  I will be working on my street photography skills, but the focus is on dance in Havana.  Hopefully we'll get to work with Afro-Cuban, Modern and Ballet dancers in a variety of locations.  I'll be there end of Jan and beginning of Feb.  So don't count on many blog posts from there, as internet situation has not improved I'm told.

Then about a week after I get back, I'll finally have that foot surgery to fix my bunion foot.  Of course this means it will take some time to get back into the studio... sounds like it's a 12 week healing process before I can even start PT.  However, that gives me time to work on a new performance piece I'm writing based on my adaptation of  Cherry Orchard called The Vineyard.  And I will finally watch all the videos I've collected over the years waiting for the right time to watch them!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy Solstice

My digital woodcut Christmas Tree in Boat

Last night was supposed to be the longest night of the year, now we can look forward to more daylight as the new year dawns until the height of the summer solstice, when again we go round the sun.  Many new things are developing for the new year for me personally and professionally, but before we let go of 2013, how about a little Christmas music that you probably won't find on the radio or as muzak.

Bruce Cockburn's Christmas album is one of my favorites.  The following three tunes are from that album.  Rui Rui Chiu is a Spanish carol, Jesus Ahatonnia, is the first Canadian Christmas carol according to Cockburn:

"Otherwise known as 'The Huron Carol', ... It was written early in the 1600s by the Jesuit Fr. Jean de Brebeuf, who acquired fame and martyrdom soon after when he was ceremonially barbecued by members of the Iroquois confederacy, who went on to virtually obliterate the Hurons and their culture. 

They were encouraged in this by British colonial interests who were after control of French claimed territory, much of which was traditionally Huron. Those of this latter tribe who survived the wars were mostly absorbed into Iroquois communities. A few, however, stayed with the French colonies. Their descendants inhabit a couple of villages in modern Quebec, but their language has largely been lost. Special thanks are due to John Steckley for his help as translator and pronunciation coach."

I Saw Three Ships  is a British carol that I also like because you don't hear it very much.  In this post I'm experimenting with adding audio as I don't have enough time (nor Cockburn's permission to use his music) to make a video.  Since I'm crediting him for the music, I'm assuming I'm OK for that.  Will let you know if his barrister looks me up.

I'm posting links to the songs that were uploaded to Box using the word carol.  So click away and enjoy some different music of the season.  Wishing you and yours a holiday season of love and joy.   

Friday, December 20, 2013

Sunday in Miami

Sunday was closing day of the show at Spectrum in Miami and wasn't as busy as one would have expected.   I decided to take more laps around our venue since I had focused on two other art fair venues.  Outside while I was on my way to get some lunch at this really interesting tapas and sushi joint.... odd combo I know but if you like small plates it works.  I had a Spanish style tomato & bread salad and a shrimp and tuna roll that was perfect, along with the last mojito of the trip.  On the way there, a good 3 blocks, I encountered this

Yes, a mobile gallery on the back of a motorcycle.  I was wishing I had a motorcycle or a scooter or something during the week, as traffic was miserable and the Miami trolly system was NOT reliable.  There were several times we waited for a half hour and then ended up walking back to the hotel for a cab.  If I ever go back, I am making sure I rent a scooter and helmet.

Another piece of Street Art or ?
Back at Spectrum, I wandered through the venue again and caught photos of these unusual things,  but I can't ID them b/c I forgot to take a photo of the ID cards.  If you know of any of these artists and their works, please let me know so I can credit them.

This painting impressed Bruce White, one of the artists I was showing with, with the well done really flat crushed components and the unusual perspective and the tight color palette. Me, I was not so wowed by it, but I did understand what he meant.

I thought this "cine-mobile" was an interesting combo of video and sculpture and I actaully did shoot the ID card

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Fat Lady Sang...

I can't lie and tell you I don't miss the Miami weather when the high here in Portland Maine will be 25 today.  But before I do a wrap-up on my experience at Spectrum with the wonderful artists at Bilhenry Gallery in Milwaukee, let's have a look at the only other fair I got a chance to see - Miami Project.  This big top is only in it's 2nd year and includes mostly galleries from California and New York with a sprinkling of Detroit, Boston, Albuquerque, Denver and D.C.  The event is managed by artMRKT Productions which also produces art fairs in San Francisco, the Hamptons and Texas.

But like Pulse, the art seemed a little edgier at Miami Project than at Spectrum.

Synesthesia, glass, collage and  acrylic by Dustin Yellin

In 1994 my father lost his vision due to a genetic disorder. His descriptions of eidetic hallucinations from his visual memory were disturbing and intriguing, and became an impetus in my artwork. The rapid deterioration of my own eyesight instigated my concentration on exploring ideas about the perceptions of what I see versus what others may see, and what is real and what is illusion.

Kelly O'Connor's Digital Prints which have cut out areas placed over a collaged area

Another O'Connor print, which were selling like hotcakes!  Most red dots for one particular artist I had seen all day.

But I think my favorite piece in this show, other than Cunningham-Little's light installation, were these little video players inserted into bell jars by David Zimmer.

It almost looked line he had little tablets in there with no backs on them...anyone want to hazard a guess as to how he did this?

There was also this artist who was just showing his work on the street.  I never did get a chance to talk to him to find out if he sold anything.

Of course, everyone has their own opinions on what's hot and what's not, including Paddy Johnson and the folks at Art Fag City which filed this report.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pulse Miami

Before I had to report for duty at the Spectrum Miami Art Fair where I was showing with Bilhenry Gallery, I got a chance to get over to the Pulse Miami Contemporary Art Fair.  Before I even walked in the door, there was art.
Yup, evidence of Shepard Fairey, whose stickers I've incorporated into an encaustic mixed media piece called "Obey Yourself"

Near the Fairey graffti was this other huge piece, but I couldn't find any evidence of the artist's name.

The fair was located at the Ice Palace Film studio which was cavernous and a perfect place for hundreds of galleries to show their work.  But before you walk into the place, there is this

Sputnik Returned by Brandon Vickerd
(Courtesy of Art Mûr,Montreal) Described as a metaphor for the failed promises of a future predicated on scientific advancement.  (Yeah, where's my Jetson's flying car? or my individual jet pack?)  In a way that work is indicative of much of the art at this fair - more conceptual than any other genre.  Or should I say I was drawn more to the conceptual work there.

Guns made of candy

"Dinner for Getting Lost" by MK Guth - Elizabeth Leach Gallery
This reminded me of one of my art heros, Joseph Beuys.

The two portraits above are by Oleg Dou from his Mushroom Kingdom Series from Senda gallery.  There's something creepy but intriguing about them.  They're C-Prints face mounted with acrylic.  Wonder how they're wired in back.

I think this is the artist's name for the following photos of a small installation.  Brilliant idea dealing with travel and trade, but it would have been nice to know which gallery it was from.  Unfortunately the Pulse program just names the galleries and not the artists.

This acrylic painting, Plastic Bags is by Frank Webber and one of the most lyrical takes on how people are trashing the planet.

I had to stop this young woman and ask to take a photo of her and her living hat, yes that's moss and live plants on her head.  She didn't have a card with her name on it and of course I've forgotten it, but she works for a local company called Plant the Future.  I really want one of those hats.