Saturday, December 13, 2008


Main Street
Binghamton, NY
December 2008

I figured it would be harder to find people on Main Street as it got colder and grayer in December, and I was right. I spent four days driving and listening to the radio and drinking coffee and searching for something almost elusive.

I was frustrated, naturally, and wrote to my friend and pen pal and mentor, a writer in Minnesota, and told him what I was up to.

He wrote back: There is a certain male beauty that's very transient, and I think that's because most men become unnecessarily hard too fast. The beauty is in the mixture of vulnerability and strength, and in most men it doesn't last much after adolescence. (Charles Baxter)

David was the only guy in Binghamton who moved me in four days. I know an overly sensitive person when I see one, and these are the kind of people who make sense to me right off the bat.

David told me he was from Philly and somehow, he ended up in Binghamton. He said he hated Binghamton. He didn't have any friends, and there was nothing to do.

I asked him if he had a job, and he said he was a cook at a school down the street. I asked him if he had a dream, and he said he wanted to start an outreach program for kids on the street, since he had been on the street himself. He said he had done enough bad things in his life and he wanted to do something good.

I thought that was a pretty important thing to figure out about yourself at nineteen years old and I was glad he was so smart.

I am leaving in the morning to travel and to visit my family and I'm checking off the blog for while, so happy holidays to all and stop by again in the new year.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


A great new store has recently opened in Brooklyn selling designer clothes, jewelry, antiques and small gifts, as well as contemporary art. The store's owner, Andrea Miller, curated an exhibition of work by emerging artists with the help of Jon Feinstein from Humble Arts Foundation.

You can read more about it in the Daily Candy: Eponomy Boutique Opens

Andrea Miller is quite possibly the nicest human being in New York City and radiates positive energy all over the place, so it is worth stopping by if you simply need some cheering up.

I even found a super soft gray t-shirt that is currently my favorite article of clothing.

And you can find a print of my White Horse on the back wall ...

466 Bergen Street between Flatbush and 5th

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Justin James Reed

Idaho Springs, Colorado
copyright Justin James Reed

Like a lot of people right now, I am struggling in a major way with getting enough work and figuring out how to pay the rent and coming up with creative solutions for Christmas presents this year. Being a freelance artist and photographer in Gotham City post market crash feels pretty anxious and scary a whole lot of the time ... but lest I add to the doom and gloom we hear on the radio just about every day, I will say, I scraped up $20 plus shipping for my favorite cause: emerging artists.

Last year, around this time just before I left for Texas - a trip I am making again on Sunday thanks to credit cards - I bought a small print of Eric Graham's Unleaded, Unleaded, Premium Unleaded from Jen Bekman's 20x200 project. This year, I fell for Justin James Reed's Idaho Springs, Colorado image, which is jam packed with just about everything I love: snow, space, a motel, a diner, mountains, a big sky, gorgeous light and a sense of what makes the American West so irresistibly romantic and sublime. It's on my wall next to Eric's gas station, and the two make a perfect pair.

And Justin James Reed ... what a cool name ... like a pioneer or a president or an outlaw, and he even lived in Minnesota.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Critical Mass

The finalists of Photolucida's Critical Mass Book Award were announced today, and I was selected as one of the Top 50 photographers, along with friends Cara Philips, Sarah Small, Sarah Sudhoff and Alison Malone. The complete list of fifty photographers, along with the six finalists can be found here: Photolucida Blog

Friday, December 5, 2008

Big, Big Bangs/ Small, Small Bucks

I was happy to have the opportunity to send prints of two images I shot in the dead of a Minnesota winter in 2003 back to the Midwest for an exhibition opening tonight at Dean Jenson Gallery in Milwaukee. The gallery's largest show ever consists of 100 works by forty artists all priced under $750.

I am also happy that I am just weeks away from a trip home to Michigan, as I love Midwestern winters even more than I hate them.

Works included in the exhibition can be found here: Big, Big Bangs/ Small, Small Bucks

Big, Big Bangs/ Small, Small Bucks
Dean Jensen Gallery
759 Water Street
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
December 5th - January 24th

Monday, November 24, 2008

Red Brick Alley

Red Brick Alley
Binghamton, NY
November 2008

I found Jacob standing on the same block of Main Street where I met him in October. I yelled "Jake" out of the car window, and he smiled and waited for me to park the car.

We walked towards the Chenango River, and he told me that he might have found some construction work in Syracuse. He was trying to figure out the best way to get up there, and we talked about the Greyhound bus.

He said he liked the picture of him that I had sent to his email address and he put it up on his MySpace page. I told him some of my friends had seen his photo and said he was gorgeous, and one of them said he could be a Calvin Klein model. He laughed and mentioned an experience with the Chippendales.

I asked him about girlfriends, and he said there was someone he liked. He was planning to help her move out of her apartment later that morning and was waiting for her phone call.

He said there was someone else who liked him, and she had a lot of money, more than $300,000. He seemed to be mulling it over, but said he had been in these kinds of relationships before, and they never last. I said I thought it was probably best to follow his heart.

We talked about New York again, and I told him how much the city made me miss things like trees and clean air, and he said he would miss that too. He told me he loved to walk, and every day, he walked miles up and down Main Street.

I asked Jacob where he got his tattoos, and he said he got some of them done in a shop, and the ones on his chest were done in jail. He lifted his shirt to show me the tattoos on his chest, and I asked if I could take pictures of them. I asked why he had spent time in jail, and he said he had been in and out of jail since he was fifteen for small things like driving without a license, and I didn't press him for more information.

We walked into a red brick alley near Main Street, and he took off his shirt. We barely spoke while I took pictures of him. At one point, I said, "You remind me of a famous German painter, Egon Schiele, with your hair sticking up like that," and I don't think he knew who I was talking about, but it felt like a compliment, and he smiled.

When we left the alley, I said I'd give him a ride to the library where he was planning to meet up with his girlfriend. I felt just slightly awkward in the car, and asked him questions to fill the silence.

I fumbled with the radio.

"What kind of music do you like?" (I hate that question).

"I like everything. Rock, country, whatever." (I probably would have said the same thing).

"Do you play any instruments?"

"No, some of my friends are in bands."

We got to the library, and he opened the door of the car. He said, "Stay in touch," and I said I would.

During the next two days, I saw Jacob on Main Street several times standing with groups of guys. He acknowledged me, but I felt like we were keeping something between us.

Tomorrow morning, I am leaving to spend Thanksgiving with my girlfriend and her relatives and to drive the wintery streets of Binghamton again.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Emerging Artists Auction at Daniel Cooney

Untitled (Shrubs)
copyright Dana Miller

Daniel Cooney has curated work by 25 photographers for an Emerging Artists Auction which is available online through December 10th. Among the participating photographers are Brett Bell, Dana Miller, Cara Phillips, Asha Schechter and Will Steacy.

All of the work can been seen and bid on here: Emerging Artists Auction

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Randall Scott Gallery at Art Miami

Randall Scott Gallery will be exhibiting at the Art Miami fair during the Art Fair Miami Beach Week December 2nd - December 7th. Randall can be found in Booth B-17.

He will be showcasing new work from Julia Fullerton-Batten, Chris Anthony, Lori Nix and Ryoko Suzuki.

He will also have some of my work, along with work by Cara Ober, Etsuko Ichikawa, Kyoko Hamada, Sarah Wilmer and Lu Zhang.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Oak Street

Oak Street
Binghamton, NY
November 2008

Binghamton High School is an old red-brick building on the corner of Main Street and Oak Street. There are police men posted at this intersection at all times, and teenagers stand in clusters on both streets. Young men on bikes hang out near the corner throughout the day in small gangs and come and go suddenly and urgently.

Whenever I made the right turn off Main Street onto Oak Street and passed the side entrance of the high school, I felt some nervousness about looking for young men. I wondered if the police men noticed how many times my car passed the high school and what assumptions they might make. I figured at worst, they'd suspect that I was looking to buy or to sell drugs, and I prepared myself to explain my photo project were I questioned.

I imagined various scenarios ... if I were a straight man photographing younger men or women, or a gay man photographing younger men or women, or a straight woman photographing younger men or women ... and the ways any of this might be understood as creepy or subversive or innocuous simply based on these different formulas of gender and sexual preference.

When I saw Paul walking alone half a block down from the high school, I was almost relieved, and even more relieved when he told me he was eighteen. Paul was extroverted, confident, friendly. He said he knew a lot about photography and video from classes he had taken.

I thought he looked like he just stepped off the set of That 70's Show, except for the Abercrombie sweatshirt. Paul told me he was trying to get work from the Abercrombie store in Binghamton, and I wasn't sure if he meant as a clerk or as a model. I said I'd send him a photo if one came out okay, and he gave me his email address, which begins, "labeledwithoutmeaning@" ...

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Main Street
Binghamton, NY
November 2008

Ernest was sitting on a step outside a downtown storefront on Main Street, and the first thing he told me was that his girlfriend was having his baby on June 9th. I got the impression that he was sitting on Main Street waiting for June to arrive and for the most important thing in his life to take place. He said he wanted a girl - boys were too much trouble. If he had a boy, girls would be calling all of the time.

When I told him I lived in Brooklyn, he said he heard it was crazy there. He heard a lot of people get shot in New York City. It's not the first time I've told people I live in New York, and they say they've heard a lot of people get shot there.

Ernest sat patiently through a roll of film and then he abruptly got up and said he had to leave. When I went back to the car and drove away, I noticed Ernest at the end of the same block on Main Street, waiting.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Chenango River
Binghamton, NY
November 2008

Michael struck me as so shy, I was surprised when he agreed to let me take pictures of him. He folded his arms across his chest and stared at me through an entire roll of film, and his expression never wavered from this slightly wounded half-scowl.

I didn't ask him many questions maybe because I was afraid to scare him away. He seemed like the kind of person who would take time to open up to someone else, and our time together was brief.

I wondered about his friends and his family, and what was behind that look on this face, but I didn't ask. I asked him how old he was, and he said fourteen.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Election Day

Kyle and Brad
Main Street
Binghamton, NY
Election Day
November 2008

Main Street
Binghamton, NY
Election Day
November 2008

Many Americans will probably remember for the rest of their lives exactly where they were and what they were doing when the election results arrived on Tuesday November 4th confirming Barack Obama as our next president. One of my friends was celebrating the victory with her neighbors on the streets of Harlem and another friend, photographer Jason Lazarus, got to be in the heart of the action in Byrant Park documenting the beauty of that historical moment. I was sitting on my girlfriend's couch in her living room in Endwell, near Binghamton, sending and receiving text messages to and from friends around the country and wiping away some tears of happiness and relief.

I spent the afternoon of election day in Binghamton driving up and down Main Street, watching people too young to vote attempt to rally support for Obama. Teenagers were shouting at cars to VOTE OBAMA and even shouting the same message at me walking around with my camera. Kyle and Brad stood stoically with their Obama sign outside a gas station on their way home from school while I took pictures of them.

At the end of the afternoon, before dusk settled over Binghamton and I picked up my girlfriend from work so she and her mom could make it to the election site to cast their votes, I found Matthew bagging dried leaves on the sidewalk outside his father's auto body shop. I noticed him watching me in the car watching him, and when I stopped to ask if I could take a picture, I approached him gently since he struck me as so delicate. He didn't say much and was perhaps less preoccupied with the significance of the day, but he seemed to appreciate the unexpected experience of being photographed.

By now, we have seen all kinds of photographs taken on this incredible day, but I recently discovered some good documentary photography on a blog, We Can Shoot You, consisting of work by ICP photojournalists capturing these latest events. The blog also includes images of supporters of gay marriage outside The Church of the Latter Day Saints near the Lincoln Center protesting the passage of Proposition 8. For as much progress as was made on election night, Proposition 8, which reversed marriage equality for gay couples in California and wrote discrimination into the California Constitution, is a huge set back for the gay community, and fortunately, is inciting protests around the country.

While personally, I would drink battery acid before I'd dress up like a bride or a groom, and hope that gays couples ultimately continue to redefine their relationship to gender roles and the institution of marriage, I'd naturally like to see gays, including myself, achieve the same rights as everyone else, and find it incredibly sad and pathetic that it is still socially and politically acceptable and even advantageous to legally discriminate against gays in this country. We may be the next minority group most in need of a civil rights movement, and those wheels are already turning.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Camera Club of New York

Chuck After Being Attacked
copyright Francesca Romeo

A number of photographer friends have contributed prints for tonight's Silent Benefit Auction to support The Camera Club of New York, an non-profit organization that provides facilities, resources, residencies and classes for New York's photo community. Among the participating artists are Brett Bell, Timothy Briner, Amy Elkins, Jen Davis, Dana Miller, Carolyn Monastra, Stuart O'Sullivan, Richard Renaldi, Sean Carroll, Christine Callahan, Sebastian Lemm, Benard Yenelouis, Bill Armstrong, Jessica Kaufman, Wayne Liu, Lori Nix and Francesca Romeo.

Francesca Romeo and I have recently been invited by Daniel Cooney Fine Art Gallery to participate in a two-person exhibition of our portraits scheduled to open on February 19th, 2009. Daniel Cooney, who belongs to the Camera Club's benefit committee, will also soon announce an on-line auction through his gallery of work by emerging artists, including some of the photographers above.

A preview of the work in the Camera Club Auction can be found here: CAMERA CLUB AUCTION

CCNY Silent Benefit Auction
at Calumet Photographic
22 West 22nd Street
Monday November 10th
6:30 - 8:30pm
$10 admission

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Democratic Camera

from Los Alamos
copyright William Eggleston

Next to Barack Obama getting elected to be our next president, the second most exciting and historical event this week, as far as I'm concerned, was the opening of William Eggleston's first retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art. I took my ICP class on a field trip to the museum, and we dissected some of the seminal works that shaped the evolution of color art photography and the attention to the everyday as subject matter. At an extraordinary moment in time where there is a sense of new hope for America, it was moving to see images shot during the last five decades by an artist who is deeply attune to the characters and places that make this country strange, complex and fascinating.

William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961 - 2008
Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison at 75th Street
November 7, 2008 - January 25, 2009

Friday, October 31, 2008


Main Street
Binghamton, NY
October 2008

I spotted Jacob on the section of Main Street that passes through the middle of downtown Binghamton. I thought he might be waiting for a bus, but when I asked him if I could take his picture, he said he had time. He said he wasn't doing anything - just looking for a job.

We started walking down Main Street together, across the river and past the high school, into a seedier part of town where drunk war veterans sit on stoops outside homes and teenagers in bulky jackets meet on corners. Jacob told me they call this "The Strip" and at night, you can see prostitutes and drug dealers.

When I told Jacob that I live in Brooklyn, he told me he planned to move there someday. He said he had friends in the Heights and he had some idea of what neighborhoods you could actually live in. He thought he might have better luck getting a job in a bar or a restaurant and he might feel less alone in the city. Binghamton felt small to him, and sometimes there was no one around and nothing to do. He said you could fit everyone out on the street in Binghamton onto one block in Manhattan.

I asked him if he tried to get a job in a bar or a restaurant in Binghamton, and he said he'd have to work in the back - washing dishes or something - on account of his tattoos. Then I asked if he could do anything, what would he do.

"What's your dream job?"

Jacob told me his dream job was to be a construction worker. I wondered how hard it could be for a strong and strapping twenty-year-old guy like Jacob to find a construction job, and he said, "It's harder than you'd think."

I asked about his family, and he said they had their own problems and he didn't lean on them for help too much. His parents lived in Florida and he had a brother in Binghamton. When I wondered aloud if he was ever tempted to use drugs, he said, "No, that stuff will mess you up real bad."

When we passed a launderette, Jacob said he'd like to buy one of those. He thought you could make a lot of money off those coin machines.

We talked about the election and if the economy might change for the better. He wanted to know who I planned to vote for and when I told him Obama, I held my breathe to see how he would respond. He said, "Yeah, I'd vote for him too."

Before we said goodbye, Jacob looked me over and asked, "Is that the hippie look or just the laid back look?"

I said I definitely didn't consider myself a hippie, so I guess it was the laid back look.

He also wanted to know what I was taking these pictures for, what I was trying to do. I told him I was interested in the struggle of being his age in a place like Binghamton.

I gave him my card and asked if he had an email address so I could send him a photo. He said he was planning to set up a yahoo address at the library, and this week, I got a message from "Joker B".

When I mentioned Jacob to my girlfriend, I said," He wants to live in New York City."

"Don't they all," she replied.

I am leaving for Binghamton again tomorrow. I voted yesterday at the Board of Elections and I plan to celebrate Obama's victory on a late night bus back to New York City on Tuesday that makes a stop in the Greyhound Station in Scranton, Pennsylvania - Joe Biden's hometown.

I hope I see Jacob again - to take more pictures, perhaps, or simply to see how he is doing.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Graham Avenue

Drawing in Journal
October 2008
Karol Radziszewski

Pawel and Karol left for Poland today and they will be missed! I loved waking up to the sound of two boys murmuring softly in Polish in the middle room and all of us drinking coffee together in the mornings. Every year, I start a new journal with names and addresses and random notes, and my goal is to ask a different artist to decorate the first page with my own information in case it ever gets lost and someone is nice enough to return it to me. So Karol left me with this cool drawing to break in the journal for 2009. Karol covers entire walls of rooms and galleries and subway stations with these drawings, bringing to mind the work of Keith Haring.

Having Pawel and Karol as guests was so much fun, it occurred to me mention that I have a room to rent very cheaply to people passing thru New York City. So if anyone reading this knows someone who needs a place to stay for a few days or a few weeks at a time, and doesn't mind the limited privacy of a railroad apartment, please put them in touch with me!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pawel and Karol

Pawel and Karol
Brooklyn, NY
October 2008

I had two house guests this week, Pawel and Karol, making their first trip to New York City from Warsaw, Poland. They are in town sharing their publication, DIK Fagazine, at The NY Art Book Fair. DIK Fagazine is "the first and the only magazine from Central and Eastern Europe concentrated on homosexuality and masculinity," and I have learned a bit from these two smart and lovely men about how much harder it is to be openly gay in Poland and about the necessity of creating a stronger and more visible community.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Main Street
Johnson City, NY
September 2008

If anyone is a maverick, it's probably Jonathon. Jonathon struck me as the kind of guy who I might have gravitated towards as a cover boyfriend when I was in high school. The combination of his sexy rebel looks and inwardness, his gentleness and sensitivity. The kind of guy who fills cheap note books with private thoughts and poetry. The kind of guy who makes you want to hide out in a treehouse with a litter of stray puppies.

After I took his photograph, Jonathon actually thanked me politely and shook my hand. He was wearing those fingerless leather gloves that felt rough, except his fingers in contrast were super soft.

It looks like I am jumping on a bus tomorrow to head back to Binghamton in hopes of finding more sad young men and one happy girlfriend. If only it were warmer, and we all got to wear less clothes.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Revisiting America

from Boonville project
copyright Timothy Briner

from Boonville project
copyright Timothy Briner

This Wednesday, an exciting and timely show opens at the Bond Street Gallery curated by the gallery's new director, Amani Olu. In light of our current political and economic climate, Revisiting America aptly draws from work by a number of talented American photographers who have examined relevant themes of consumerism, corporate development, technology, manufactured landscapes and what remains of small town America.

One of the photographers whose work is included in the show is both my friend and current teaching assistant at the ICP, Timothy Briner. I have been avidly following Tim's Boonville blog since he set off last summer to explore small towns called Boonville across the country for nearly a year. Part of what makes Tim's blog so compelling is the combination of his passion and sincerity, as well as his ability to share the internal and emotional process of making a body of work. Five prints from his Boonville project will be exhibited for the first time on Wednesday, and I am excited to see some of the fantastic results of his labor.

The opening of Revisiting America falls on the night of the final debate between McCain and Obama, so I plan to get there early to begin a long night of absorbing the complex and unsettling state of American life. I noticed in the last debate that Barack Obama quoted George Bush after 9/11 encouraging Americans to shop, a sinister statement also noted by another participating photographer, Brian Ulrich, when he talks about the motivations behind his series, Copia/Retail, which depicts zombie-like shoppers in big-box stores.

Other participating artists in the show include Jon Feinstein, Justin James Reed, Mathhew Gambler, Angie Smith and Michael Vahrenwald.

Revisiting America
Opening Reception: Wednesday, October 15th, 6-9pm

Bond Street Gallery
297 Bond Street
Brooklyn, NY

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Women in Photography

Wendover, UT
copyright Victoria Sambunaris

I am looking forward to tonight's Women In Photography Panel Discussion hosted by Aperture Gallery. Co-founders, Amy Elkins and Cara Phillips, will speak with selected photographers who have contributed to WIP, a fantastic new website featuring work by contemporary female photographers, about what it means to be a woman in photography today.

I met Cara Phillips last March when she and I participated in a panel discussion at the 3rd Ward organized by Humble Art Foundation and moderated by Amy Stein about women in photography along with photographers Sarah Small, Mary Mattingly and Dina Kantor. One of the most positive aspects of that experience for me is the lasting friendships and supportive relationships that I developed with all of the artists involved.

Cara Phillips and Amy Elkins kept the ball rolling with WIP, where I have discovered some great work by new and familiar female figures in photography. Among my favorite work showcased on the site are the evocative and epic American landscapes of photographer and explorer,Victoria Sambunaris, one of which is pictured above.

Women In Photography Panel Discussion
Aperture Gallery
547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor
Tuesday, September 30th, 6:30pm

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Arid Lands

The last time I saw my friend, Josh Wallaert, in Minnesota in 2005, he was talking about his plans to make a film with his friend and colleague, Grant Aaker, about the Hanford nuclear site in southeastern Washington State. This piece of land, where sixty years ago the government produced plutonium for the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, is currently the focus of the largest environmental cleanup in history. And now, Josh is the co-director of an award-winning, exhaustively researched and beautifully filmed documentary feature called Arid Lands that is being shown in the New York Peace Film Festival at the Anthology Film Archives on Sunday September 28th.

According to their press release, Arid Lands takes us into a world of sports fisherman, tattoo artists, housing developers, ecologists, and radiation scientists living and working in the area. It tells a story of how people changed the landscape over time, and how the landscape affected their lives. Marked by conflicting perceptions of wilderness and nature, Arid Lands is a moving and complex essay on a unique landscape of the American West.

For more information about Arid Lands, please visit:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Main Street

Main Street
Binghamton, NY
September 2008

If America slides into a depression, or even if it doesn't, can I be Walker Evans or Dorothea Lange ... pleeeease? If the government has spent $700 billion on the war and might spend $700 billion more on bailing out Wall Street, could it set aside just a little funding for a photo project examining the effects of the economic decline and job losses of the last half-decade on a vast number of Americans? Is it selfish of me to think that way at a time like this?

One can at least dream while working a day job and listening to horror stories on the radio ...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Ballad of Sad Young Men

Greyhound Station
Binghamton, NY
September 2008

Besides the many real things to be afraid of and appalled by about Sarah Palin, did she really have to liken herself to a pit bull? As a pit bull lover and former owner who made everyone who happened to land on my blog this summer confront the loss of my dog, I was not the least bit excited and turned on by picturing Sarah as pit-in-lipstick, or convinced that it was an apt portrait. As if pit bulls don't get maligned enough, and frankly, I'd venture to say that Barack possesses more of the strength, intelligence and compassion that I associate with the pit bulls I have known and loved. Not that I necessarily see Sarah as pig-in-lipstick either (that's John McCain in drag), but perhaps more like one of those little, loud, yappy, vicious, sneaky, ankle-biting dogs.

Mostly these past couple of weeks, I have been spending my time worrying. Reading ... worrying ... turning the radio on and off ... worrying ... tuning into some blogs for some shared fears as well as some positive, hopeful thinking which is hard to come by alone ... swimming even more than usual to diffuse the anxiety and to locate some faith and optimism.

One one hand, living in New York City, I can assume that I exist amongst a significant population of peers with similar politics, but it is the America between the east and west coasts that I wonder and worry about come election day, and it is also that part of the country which, as a photographer, I care about the most. I am the kind of photographer who lights up like a kid in a candy shop when I step off the Greyhound bus in anyplace that resembles small town America.

I spent Labor Day weekend in Binghamton, which is currently where my heart is, and not just because my girlfriend lives there. I love the old houses and storefronts frozen in time and a downtown where the bricks haven't entirely succumbed to big box stores. I love the sprawling green trees and the big cloudy sky of a valley in the hills of central New York. I love sitting on a back porch and hearing next to nothing and seeing stars in deep darkness.

On Tuesday after Labor Day, while my girlfriend was at work at the Tri-Cities Opera, I spent the afternoon driving around in her little blue Volkswagon trying to put some of my affinity for Binghamton into images and feeling almost desperate since who knows when I will ever escape New York City again. Actually, if truth be told, I was prowling the streets for sad young men.

At the end of the summer, one of my closest friends in Minnesota, Anthony Stanton, sent me a description for a workshop he is teaching this fall in the theatre department at The St. Paul Conservatory of Music. His class, Heartsong, encourages students to create musical performances based on songs that resonate with our stories, our past, our hopes, our fears, our dreams and our losses. The song that he referenced as his own source of inspiration, The Ballad of Sad Young Men, has been sung by both Shirley Bassey and Roberta Flack and has some resonance in the gay community.

I was sorry I couldn't take his class, though I am barely musical, except when I try to play the violin with my girlfriend. But I, too, found his song inspiring and decided to approach it instead as an exercise in photography to give me some direction as I roamed Binghamton. And I discovered there is no shortage of sad young men in Binghamton and probably in every other town between the coasts. For that matter, who isn't a little sad right now?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Fashion Week 2008

As fashion week kicks off in NYC, I got to be a fashion photographer this time around, and those super models below are none other than the gamut of employees who make up the strange and colorful world of Bergdorf Goodman. With the help of the new 5th Floor Visual Manager, Sarah Greene, I spent three days in front of a white back drop coaxing BG employees to jump, walk, dance, spin, punch, kick, juggle balls of yarn, read a newspaper, play with power tools, pretend they were in a Robert Longo drawing from the 1980's ... whatever it took to get them moving.

Thanks to the efforts of artist, Lynne Chan, also known to the art world as J. J. Chinois, the images arrived at a series of collages which were installed on panels on the 5th Floor of the store to celebrate the arrival of the new season.

If you just happen to find yourself on 5th Avenue and 58th Street, please drop by and check out the 5th Floor of the Women's Store, as well as the current windows, a tribute to New York Times Fashion on the Street photographer, Bill Cunningham.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Agnes and Phoenix
New York, NY
August 2008

Phoenix was born to my dear friend, Agnes Dahan, at Beth Israel Hospital at 9:38pm on August 8th after twenty two hours of labor. Phoenix was to be Phoenix were she a boy or a girl, and she came into the world with a lovely face and a head of dark, curly hair.

Just a few hours earlier in Michigan, my dog, Paris, passed away in a vet's office. His condition was even more dire than I had comprehended when I brought him home in July. My parents were present, and I talked to them shortly thereafter. I have spent the end of my summer grieving this loss, but I am truly relieved that his suffering has come to an end. And thanks again to everyone who reached out.

A friend asked where I think his spirit is now, and over the past three weeks, I have sought to answer that question for myself. So far, I have come up with five simple answers. His spirit is in dreams and memories. His spirit is in my heart, of course, and the hearts of many who knew him. His spirit is in dogs who I see on the streets of New York and who bring intense pangs of love and affection. And his spirit is in photographs that I cherish now more than ever - his soulful expressions, his seriousness, his silliness.

Sometimes, as a photographer, I almost lose sight of the fact that most people take photographs precisely for this reason - to preserve an impression of someone or something they love. That power and beauty of photography resonated with me in a profound way when I first opened my box of snapshots from our ten and a half years together.

As summer in New York winds down, I spent the afternoon accomplishing the last few essential things on my list of what to do in August. I watched Frozen River at the Angelika Theatre, an astonishing film about a pair of women struggling for survival on the snowy border of upstate New York and Canada. I saw black and white photographs by Scott B. Davis shot at night in the Land of Sunshine at Hous Projects. And I made it to Julie Saul in the knick of time for When color was new (vintage photographs from around the seventies), including work by early color photographers who never fail to remind me why I love this medium, like William Christenberry and William Eggleston.

Tomorrow, I leave on the Greyhound for Binghamton, NY to spend Labor Day weekend with my new girlfriend and her darling mother. I was excited to learn that not only is Binghamton the Carousel Capital of the World, it's also the hometown of Rod Serling ... creator of ... The Twilight Zone. How cool is that?

For now, my full attention goes to the radio, and to Barack Obama, and to one of those most inspiring moments in political history of my lifetime.

Cannon's Grocery
near Greensboro, AL
copyright William Christenberry

Untitled (Vizcaya, Miami)
copyright William Eggleston

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Brett Bell Reprise

Brett Bell's Birthday
Brooklyn, NY
August 2008

I confess, I have a little crush on Brett Bell. Or maybe he is like the baby brother I always wanted but never had. Brett turned twenty six last night, which means when I was twelve, he was three years old.

Brett's mom, Linda, is in town from Missouri for Brett's birthday and his MFA Thesis Show which opens tonight at Parsons. Linda made the super sweet pink birthday cake pictured above and said that she is responsible for taking Brett to flea-markets where he developed his collections of old photographs, icons and kitschy American stuff. And it's definitely no mystery where Brett's good looks and sweetness come from.

Thank god for moms who love and nurture their gay artist sons.

Other participating artists in tonight's MFA Photography Thesis Exhibition include: Mark William Fernandes, Nathaniel Harger, Meghan McInnis, Kyung Mi Park, Haley Samuelson, Sean Simpson, Kirsten Springer-delgado, Meng-Hsun Wu, Tingting Xu and Grace Yang.

MFA Photography Thesis Exhibition
Parsons The New School for Design
66 Fifth Avenue
Thru September 12th