Tuesday, September 30, 2014

From Maine to Spain!

There is nothing like a travel adventure to make you look at the world and yourself a little differently.  When I received the news that I was a finalist in the Julia Margaret Cameron Competition that was certainly a feather in my cap.  But when I was invited to exhibit that fine art photographic collage at the 3rd Biennale of Photography in Malaga, Spain (a place I had never been) I was over the moon and began plotting a way to get to the artists' reception.  At first we hoped that Mimmo, (a foreign exchange student who lived for a year with my husband's family in Wisconsin in 1969-70 who is now a dear friend) would be able to meet us there.  But as luck would have it, a work situation interfered and he was unable to get to Malaga but suggested that we come visit him in Palermo.  
It had been four years since our last visit to see him when I first when to Bacau, Romania to judge the Gala Star Solo Show Competition.  That was the same year the volcano in Iceland was spewing such ash into the atmosphere that flights over Northern Europe were cancelled.  JK's tickets to meet me there (and then travel to Venice to meet Mimmo) where cancelled and we ended up meeting up in Venice through sheer determination.  I was able to get on the first flight that was cleared to get out of Bucharest and JK ended up in a circuitous route going from Sacramento (where we lived at the time) to New York to Casablanca to Rome to Venice.  I had injured my knee in Bucharest and hobbled my way around Venice which wasn't ideal as walking is really the only way to get anywhere.

Luckily we didn't have as many strange events happening this time.  We used points to upgrade to business class on Delta and were sorely disappointed after having been spoiled by Lufthansa accommodations, especially by the food.  BIG Delta FAIL as it was terrible.   Only got about 3 hours of sleep on the plane so we were jet-lagged when we arrived about 9:30 in the morning.  Luckily at the Madrid airport duty free shop I spotted a bottle of Havana Club rum from Cuba - one of my favorites.  Granted it wasn't the seven year old, but it was a reserva and better than the aged rums we had tried to find in Portland after our first trip to Cuba.

By the time we got to the hotel, we knew we needed to stay up most of the day so we headed out after unpacking to explore our neighborhood, the La Latina district of the city where most of tapas bars are located.  Since it's an old part of the city with buildings dating back to the 17th century and some to the days of the Moorish Muslim Empire, they were a bit of a maze - like downtown Boston.  
Coat of arms for the city showing a bear with fore paws on a strawberry tree

Apparently the Spanish, like New Englanders, paved the cow paths that wandered everywhere.  So, like cows, we grazed our way around.  A tapa here with a drink and a tapa there with Sangria and agua no-gas until we were exhausted and figured an hour or two disco nap wouldn't hurt.  So after a short siesta, we ventured out to have even more tapas for dinner.  In JK's research, he discovered a restaurant that translated in English was House of Mushrooms.  It was a grotto like place with only a few tables but a piano player squeezed in amongst the tables. They only had one sort of mushroom, large caps stuffed with garlic, olive oil and Iberian ham - deliciouso!  they also have a roast pig that is very good and we might go there again when we go back to Madrid for a few days before we fly home.
Graffiti Madrid

In Spain they talk about staying out so late they "kill the night", at least according to our Cuban photographer friends.  So we decided to give it our best shot and walked over the Plaza Mayor.  It really reminded us of the plazas in Cuba and shows how much Cuban architecture was influenced by the Spanish.  But we each had only between 3 to 5 hours of sleep, so after another glass of fabulous Spanish Rosato -all the ros├ęs we had there were wonderful, some better than others but all very quaffable - it was remembering our way back to our hotel.
More graffiti in Madrid in La Latina district

 The small hotel we stayed, at Posada de Dragon, was very Spanish in that they served a small buffet  breakfast until 11 each morning.  Matter of fact I could easily slip into the Spanish way of life staying up to 1 or 2 in the morning, sleeping in to 10, lunch at 3 and dinner at 9.  Maybe I was Spanish in another life time!  Another great feature of our Dragon hotel was that it was a bar/restaurant as well.  We could always bring a nightcap up to our room.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Critical Mass

Did I ever tell you about my days as a critic?  During my final days at KGNR in Sacramento, I approached the General Manager (the Big Guy) after seeing all the automated equipment coming into the station, with an idea - I was quitting the morning drive news job but it wouldn't look like another rat leaving a sinking ship if I stayed at the station on a part time basis and did theatre and movie reviews!  (We call him the Big Guy because he did remind much of the staff of the GM on WKRP in Cincinnati.)  I only did that for a few months (I had to keep the reviews way too short) before I went over to KXPR, the public radio station where I knew the News Director (Russ Heimerich who is a PIO for the state of California) who used to work with me over at KGNR. 

Of course they weren't paying me squat so after doing a great job for a year or so, I asked for a raise and was refused - so I quit to become a PR Consultant for small businesses and non profit groups.  But reviewing theatre is a very different animal than reviewing art and there's also the distinction of being a critic or being a reviewer.  When I got into critic mode, they always pulled me back even though I was careful to put the good with the "didn't work very well" comments.

I wish I had heard (and had the time and money to spend some time in NYC) for a free class on art criticism run by the Bruce High Quality Foundation University.  You can read about it here.

Wonder how they would have reviewed my latest little painting - it's from an idea I had back in the 90s and even though a very wonderful artist (Margaret Nomentana) is currently showing work in a group show at UNE where she's done the same thing - using acrylic paint skins on canvas - I had to realize my idea as well.  But I had to blab about it on the canvas first and then paint over that.

My photo is not that good as you can't see the golden shine on it... will tray for a better one later.  Letting Loose is only 8 x 6".  What would be a fair price for it?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Come Celebrate with Me

 When I  was chosen as a finalist in the 2014 Julia Margaret Cameron Awards, I was also invited to exhibit that work at the 3rd Biennale of Documentary and Fine Art Photography in Malaga, Spain at the Municipal Museum beginning September 18th and running to November 20th.  A reception for this and other new works is coming up -  Wednesday, August 27th from 5 to 8 pm at Constellation Gallery, 512 Congress St in Portland.

I've been doing some experiments with digital prints:  printing them out on Japanese mulberry paper and infusing them with encaustic wax so they have a translucency that is really amazing.  They are iPod photos that have never seen Photoshop!  They were enhanced (or manipulated or what you will) on an iPad then just transferred to the computer for printing. Here's one of them

Sunset Low Tide on the Cape Neddick River

here's the rest of the event release that I sent out to media....
Tracy has returned from New York where she showed her digital mixed media paintings based on historic artworks "The Green Graces Series" as well as new work based on her recent trip to Cuba this past January with Bilhenry Gallery at Art Expo New York 2014, on Pier 94.

She got to Cuba earlier this year on a people to people cultural exchange led by internationally renowned photographer Elizabeth Opalenik and organized by the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops.  Tracy is also a member of the Maine Artists Collective.  She has also been vetted by U.S. Artists, a nonprofit group in Los Angeles, and successfully used their unique fundraising program for her "The Three Graces For Environmental Awareness" project which was shown in Portland at Akari and at the Spectrum Art Fair in Miami this past December.

This is the second time Tracy has shown work in New York City since moving here almost three years ago.  Although she grew up in Maine, NH and Massachusetts, her family moved to Colorado in 1969.  She most recently lived in Sacramento CA where she not only exhibited in many venues such as the Center for Contemporary Art and Asylum Gallery but her work has also been shown in galleries and museums in California, New Mexico, New York and Maui.  Her fine art photograph "Behind the Water: Mystery" was a juror's choice in the New York Center for Photographic Art's "Water" show which was exhibited at the Soho Digital Gallery in October of 2013.

In addition to her fine art, Tracy is also a portrait and editorial photographer.  Her studio is located within Running with Scissors, 250 Anderson St, Portland Maine.   Her studio is open by appointment by calling 916-804-6095 or emailing anntracy51@gmail.com.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Digital Magic

Last night it was a foggy sunset at the Cape Neddick Lobster Pound where we were having dinner with our good friend Bob Walters.  18 hours later, this homage to JMW Turner! 

I'm learning more and more about using the apps for the iPod Touch.  The photo was not taken into photoshop at all.  All the manipulations were done in camera.  I've half a mind to get a iPad so I can see the work better and have better control over the stylus.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

I'm Back....

Who says blog posts need to be in chronological order?  I haven't posted in over a  month because I had wanted to blog about going to a Surrealist photo show at the little museum at Bowdoin College in Brunswick with my friend and neighbor Christine before posting anything else.  Silly me.  Life seems to be happening at the speed of light these days but now I find myself having a little mini vacation with JK up at Highland Lake Resort (cough) which is only about an hour away in Bridgeton up Rt 302.  They call it a "resort" because there's a small swimming beach and you can take their canoes or kayaks out on the lake which I hope we do tomorrow.

It's really beautiful up here low 80s with a light breeze to keep the bugs away while JK & I sit out on our shared porch sipping some white wine after taking a dip in the lake.  The water was bracing but I did get used to it enough to paddle around with a foam noddle.   We did have a swimming companion
Loons generally aren't so close to shore so JK thinks maybe there's a nest nearby.

Unfortunately my cousin Linda and her hubby can't connect with us even though we're only an hour away from their house on Kezar Lake because of his work schedule and then grandkids coming up.  Internet is very dodgy up here, but I've learned how to make my phone a mobile hotspot. 

So how was your 4th of July?  We started the weekend at the Damnationland party at Possible Studios on Thursday night.  Each year they produce shorts in the horror or psychological thriller vein and host a screening at the State Theatre in downtown Portland.  Not only did folks sign a Declaration of Independence in Film

They also announced the scripts that had been chosen and the directors.  I'm going to be playing a character part in one of them.  More on that later.

We got rained out in Portland on the 4th so we cooked some chicken bratwurst in a grill pan inside along with bacon and red wine infused sauerkraut and a salad.  It was amazing how good the brats where as they got the seasoning right on and you'd think you were eating the heavier pork ones.  We were supposed to go to our neighbors Bill & Mary Frances' house for a paella cookout but it got postponed to the following Sunday. 

The next day found us at Logan Airport so I could get my finger prints and photo taken for my TSA Trusted Traveler Card.   Yeah, it's pricey but if it will keep the TSA petty bureaucrats out of my hair while flying, it's priceless.  I can finally keep my shoes on!  We got there early and it didn't take long at all so we decided to come back home via Newburyport, a place I had never visited when I lived out here as a kid.
After a stroll through downtown, we decided to have dinner out on Plum Island, accessible by a causeway over some streams and marshes. 
What was surprising about the water at the beach was how warm it was compared to beaches just a few minutes south of Portland...which is about 50 miles north of here.  Had a lovely dinner at the Plum Island Grill and hit the road to go home, as tomorrow was Paella Sunday!

Bill Forster and his grilled paella... was wonderful!  I made a delightful little Spanish salad of tomatoes, onion, white beans and (my addition of) cucumber dressed with a lemony oil and vinegar and dusted with paprika and garlic.

Time to get out of the wet swimsuit and onto a culinary adventure of dinner in the Bridgeton area... until then, have fun....

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Fast and Furious

Has it ever felt like life is almost speeding away?  Sure has for me in the past several weeks since the last blog post.  I kept thinking that I would find the time to finish posting the rest of the Havana Dance photos but my good friend Kate Maney met me in NY the beginning of the month of May where we spent several days including a trip to Winterthur (ancestral home of the DuPonts in Maryland) with a group from the Professional Women's Photography group.  It was great fun being with these ladies who I have only had email and phone contact with since I joined.  The tour itself was kinda dumb in that the docent kept trying to hurry us up as another group was behind us.  Right, a group of uppity lady photographers who have to wait for people to get out of the way to get their shots?  Come on.... 
I was still recovering from my bunion surgery (now I'm just able to put full weight on it) so I kept limping slowly and giving our docent dirty looks and (you know me and my big mouth) telling her what she was asking wasn't about to happen really.  None of the other photographers were too happy either.  And then you have to consider the fact that we actually paid to see the mansion of one family from the 1%.   All I can say is that the DuPonts must be greedy bastards not to help with the upkeep of the family manse.
Parlor for entertaining - note the wallpaper

You can see how beautiful it still is, but you know it cost a pretty penny.
It wasn't just the trip to see a rich family's home, but also a chance to see some of the great costumes from Downton Abby! 

And to take a little open air bus ride around the grounds where they have an "Enchanted Woods".  Of course all I could think about was how much fun it would be to bring a group of figure models there and do a shoot.  I just don't think they'd like to have naked people lounging about there.  Yes, they are stuffy!

If you're in Portland, come on by to Constellation Gallery where I have one of the pieces from the Cuban Power series on exhibit.  It's First Friday, June 7th from 5 to 8 pm...  I'll be at Constellation towards 7:30 or so.... I want to get out there and see the work of some other artists too!

Monday, April 28, 2014

TGIF in Havana and the Rest of the Weekend

Finally I'm back in the blogging saddle again!  Won't bore you with the excuses of a bunion surgery and 
going to an art fair in New York on a knee scooter (yes, I'm pretty fearless).  But let's close our eyes and go back to Cuba, with the temperatures in the 50s here on Easter Sunday, I sure could appreciate the warmth of Havana!  Our first photo session was with some Rumba dancers at their studio, which was actually a series of rooms at the front of the building which looked like it also housed some artists studios.  Because of the configuration of the rooms, it wasn't the most ideal situation within which to shoot photos. 

 I was fascinated by these clay sculptures....they reminded me of little worlds behind the concrete walls...

See what I mean?  If you weren't aware of scale,  it would seem that little rooms had been hollowed out of the wall... and then it was portrait time with some of the more interesting dudes.

Then it was back to the hotel through the streets of Old Havana doing some street photography.

The bar where Hemingway purportedly hung out and drank mojitos... or at least that's what they tell the tourists who pack this place.  Every time I was there it was packed to the gills with a waiting line....so since I don't like to wait in lines, I never made it in the joint.

Our next shoot for the afternoon didn't pan out for some reason - it's complicated, it's Cuba.  So we were told about a display of water ballet in the pool of the hotel next door.  Although it seemed kinda cheesy,  I decided to give it a go.

 That night was the birthday of one of my photography mates - Florence Rodale, so I joined them in a visit to Paladar La Esperanza.  We had the best dinner of the entire trip there.  It was an old house that contained familial relics from the 1920s onward.  Beautiful place and highly recommended.

This photo of Paladar La Esperanza is courtesy of TripAdvisor because even though I know I took photos, I can't find them.

After dinner it was on to the Irene Rodriguez Flamenco show at this marvelous old theatre.  Irene is a force of nature and of the stage.  Amazing technique and presence combined with choreography that was a "take" on classical flamenco.  The place was packed and the company got a deserved standing ovation.

Sunday we had part of the day off and then when to a rehearsal in the most interesting place.  It was like the courtyard (but inside) of a 4 story building where the stories had what looked to have been balconies looking down.  The dance company (sorry I've forgotten the name) we were to photography was rehearsing for a show they would do later that evening.  Here's a short video.

But what I failed to include earlier on Saturday morning was our visit to a small, young Flamenco company's rehearsal in a small orange room.  The dancers were ferocious as you can probably tell from the following photos

This one reminds me of  modern dance choreography.  Next post up, our last two days there.

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