Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ruben Natal-San Miguel curates culturehall

copyright Alex Leme

Thank you to one of contemporary photography's greatest enthusiasts, Ruben Natal- San Miguel, who worked tirelessly though the holidays towards curating an upcoming exhibition, Versus, opening on January 7th at Hous Projects, as well as our current Feature Issue 34 on culturehall. David Andew Frey and I asked Ruben to suggest four photographers for us to invite to submit portfolios to the site. He selected work that he felt communicated strong messages and reflected the direction of the medium in the new year.

Please visit culturehall to see new portfolios by Alex Leme, Gina Levay, Matthew Pillsbury and Carlo van Der Roer.

More of Ruben's steady stream of thoughts and passions can be found on his blog: ARTmostfierce

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Leaving for Austin

Mustang Jewelry & Pawn Shop
Austin, TX
July 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

culturehall news: winter

David Andrew Frey and I have been working together for nearly a year on developing culturehall into a vital resource for compelling artists’ portfolios and online writing about the arts. We look forward to inviting more artists, promoting their exhibitions and events, expanding our network of partners, and collaborating with guest curators to bring a diverse selection of work to culturehall in 2010.

As the winter looms ahead, I searched for images on the site that reflect the psychology of the season.

Mark Burnette’s photograph of a horse painting in a storefront window in Pulaski, Virginia speaks quietly of romantic longing and nostalgia. The dark and regal horse is contained by a tawdry picture-frame resting alone beneath sunlit glass dusted with fake snow. The reflection of the street in the window merges the everyday of the present with the grandeur of America’s past. Like most of Mark’s photos, this image is imbued with a love for things timeworn and specific to the small towns of his geographical region.

Jessica M. Kaufman’s recent project, Seep, explores a catastrophic oil spill that occurred in a body of water in Greenpoint and Newtown Creek between Brooklyn and Queens, NY and contaminated a neighborhood of big industry and mostly Polish immigrants who began colonizing the area about a century ago. Instead of documenting the impact of the disaster like a reporter, she has created a highly subjective and atmospheric portrait of the area with its sense of history and decay. Shot on a positive/negative Polaroid film that she allows to deteriorate before she makes her prints, Jessica’s photographs possess an enigmatic timelessness. Her untitled image of a Brooklyn stoop carefully decorated with bouquets of flowers and an American flag suggests the vulnerability of our homes and neighborhoods to natural and manmade forces. It looks much like an old snapshot from a family album weathered by decades of chemical erosion.

Photographer, Mickey Kerr, also shot Brooklyn neighborhoods – his, at night buried in snow - as well as suburban streets and residences in his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri. His series, Sights and Sounds, examines the mysterious and seductive nature of nighttime light in depopulated settings. Made with long exposures on large-format film, Mickey’s photographs capture a haunting stillness and absence. With sharp detail and dark shadows, these images seem to both reveal and conceal lurking stories and secrets.

Canadian artist, Jeff Otto O’Brien, recently contributed a portfolio of his work including selections from his series of photographs, Cache Creek, which beautifully depict a stark and dramatic winter landscape. Surrounded by snow-covered mountains spiked with evergreen trees, Cache Creek is home to the Tumbleweed Motel, a diner, tract houses, some industry and rusted automobiles. One gets the sense those cars might not start – the air is fiercely cold and crisp – and the warmest place is a lonely motel room with a flickering blue TV screen.

Newly added listings to our RESOURCES include: Daylight Community Arts Foundation, White Fungus, Nymphoto, and blogs kept by Amy Stein and Nina Corvallo

Pulaski, VA, by Mark Burnette

Seep, by Jessica Kaufman

Sights and Sounds, by Mickey Kerr

Untitled from Cache Creek, by Jeff Otto O'Brien

Saturday, December 5, 2009

"Looking: Robert Bergman's Portraits" by Kevin Romoser

copyright Robert Bergman

Of all the photography I have seen this fall, the work that has resonated with me the most are portraits by Robert Bergman that have recently surfaced in the art world after decades of the photographer's obscurity. I discovered his work shortly before the opening of his current show at Yossi Milo and was surprised never to have seen it before. His haunting portraits left a deep spell on me in the way that the best kind of artwork can.

I recently asked students in my photography class at William Paterson University to visit a photo exhibition of their choice and come back with a paper about the work to present to our class. One of my students, Kevin Romoser, read a beautifully written and insightful short essay about Robert Bergmans's show at P.S.1. It was so uncanny given my own response to Bergman's work, I took the liberty to share it on my blog.

Looking: Robert Bergman's Portraits

Perhaps more than anything else, Robert Bergman's solo show, "Selected Portraits" at P.S.1 in Long Island City is an exploration of the human act of looking. In one way, each of the 24 untitled pieces is a standard portrait photograph. Tightly framed, classically composed and shot with a handheld 35mm camera in natural light, the portraits refer back to a rich history of anonymous portrait photography. They have the pathos of Dorothea Lange's Depression-era series and the haunting atmosphere of Diane Arbus' work. However, Bergman's work accomplishes its mission of conveying the depths of human experience with a refined subtlety, relying on mood-evoking color and most importantly, the human stare.

Some of Bergman's subjects stare directly into his camera, or perhaps more accurately, directly at the viewer, while some seem to avoid it. Some appear to look right through the viewer, and others still seem oblivious to the presence of the camera or viewer at all. What their gazes all share, though, is profound but not overwrought expression. There is always emotional conflict; slight smiles betray forlorn eyes. And every subject conveys a sadness that is not maudlin. It could be the sadness of the acceptance of a burdened life. Or maybe, it is a yearning for the sense of connection that they have found in the momentary click of the camera.

The momentary nature of photography is important in Bergman's work because through the captured instant, the subjects' expressions tell of lifetimes. The photographs speak intricate stories whose details remain mysterious. The lives of his subjects are full, dimensional lives, complete with disappointment and promise. There is very little about the settings or the subjects' dress that indicate the particularities of their lives. But ultimately, for Bergman, these particularities are unimportant. It is the empathy and the connection between subject and viewer that give these portraits their poignant, haunting power.

- Kevin Romoser, November 2009

Robert Bergman: Selected Portraits
P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center
22-25 Jackson Avenue
October 15 - January 4, 2010

Robert Bergman: A Kind of Rapture
Yossi Milo
525 West 25th Street
November 5 - January 9, 2010

copyright Robert Bergman

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Camera Club of NY's Photo Benefit Auction

Back Door
New Orleans, LA

I have donated a large framed print of the image above to the Camera Club of New York's Silent Photo Benefit Auction which will take place on Wednesday at Calumet Photographic's exhibition space.

Participating artists include Erica Allen, Mariette Pathy Allen, Merry Alpern, Timothy Briner, Susan Burnstine, Megan Cump, Amy Elkins, Jon Feinstein, Larry Fink, Martine Fougeron, Samuel Gottscho, Henry Horenstein, Leigh Ledare, David Levinthal, Wayne Liu, Alex Morel, Lori Nix, Leah Oates, Nadhar Omar, Stuart O'Sullivan, Francesca Romeo, Lynn Saville, Aaron Siskind, Will Steacy, Amy Stein, Joni Sternbach, Eric Weeks, William Wegman, Susan Wides, Shigeki Yoshida, Bernard Yenelouis, and many others.

Please see an on-line preview of donated work: Silent Benefit Auction

CCNY's Silent Photo Benefit Auction
Contemporary and Vintage Photographs

Calumet Photographic
22 West 22nd Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues)

Wednesday, December 2, 6-8 pm

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Whatever Was Splendid

I have recently wrapped up the printing stage for the next show on my horizon - Whatever Was Splendid - a group exhibition curated by photographer and director/editor of SeeSaw Magazine, Aaron Schuman, exploring the legacy and influence of Walker Evans on contemporary American photography. The exhibition opens at the Fotofest Biennal 2010 in Houston on March 12 and also includes work by Will Steacy, Micheal Schmelling, Greg Stimac, Jason Lazarus, Jane Tam, Richard Mosse, Craig Mammano, Todd Hido, Hank Willis Thomas, and RJ Shaughnessy.

The broader theme of this year's Fotofest is Contemporary U.S. Photography and there are four additional exhibitions at the festival. Assembly: Eight Emerging Photographers from Southern California, curated by Charlotte Cotton, examines the region's place in the American mythos. Medianation, curated by Gilbert Vicario, explores the interrelationship between the digital image and notions of process and performance in contemporary art. Discoveries of the Meeting Place showcases ten artists discovered at last year's Fofofest Biennial portfolio review. And Road to Nowhere, curated by Natasha Egan, addresses issues of politics, surveillance, race, war, and economic insecurity in the United States. This show includes work by one of my favorite contemporary photographers, Victoria Samubunaris, who is currently making road trips in West Texas to shoot new images of the American landscape.

More information about Fotofest can be found on their website: Fotofest 2010 Biennial

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Maggots and Men

A feature film co-written and shot by one of my old friends from Oberlin College, Ilona Berger, is screening in the MIX NYC film festival on Sunday November 22nd at 8pm.

According to the film's website, Maggots and Men, an experimental historical narrative set in post-revolutionary Russia, re-tells the story of the 1921 uprising of the Kronstadt sailors with a subtext of gender anarchy. A thoughtful homage to Soviet silent era directors and artists of the Russian avant-garde, the film explores themes of re-invention, revolution, community, and corruption.

Maggots and Men
125 W. 21st Street
New York, NY
Sunday November 22nd, 8pm

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Artist's Talk at Tyler School of Art

I will be giving an artist's talk this Thursday November 12th to students in artist and instructor Leeza Meksin's critical theory class at Tyler School of Art. The talk will take place in room TA 126 in the art building at 2001 N. 13th Street in Philadelphia beginning at 12:30pm. Students in other departments are welcome to attend.

In the afternoon, I am planning to check out some photo shows in the area. Thanks to a tip from photographer Alex Segreti's great new blog, Wish You Were Here, I hope to see Personal Views: Contemporary Photographic Portraiture in Philadelphia at Gallery 339 including work by Justyna Badach, Rita Bernstein, Jessica Todd Harper, Andrea Modica, Nadine Rovner, Sarah Stolfa and Zoe Strauss.

I'd also like to visit the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center where there is currently an exhibition called Next: Emerging Philadelphia Photographers. I have included an intriguing image by Danielle Bogenhagen which I found on the gallery's website. Her image brought to mind Sarah Pickering's blazing rooms from her Fire Scene series - a poster of one of these rooms on fire is hanging in my kitchen from her phenomenal 2008 exhibition at Daniel Cooney Fine Art Gallery .

copyright Danielle Bogenhagan

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

culturehall news

For the current issue of culturehall's FEATURED WORK , I selected images from four artists who whose work employ unique surfaces and conceptual methods drawing from their interest and experience in various media.

Karen Azoulay combines sculpture, painting, photography and performance to create hybrid conceptual works. Her theatrical installations, which often involve an interaction between the artist and objects she has made in a studio, reference mythology and classical painting and conjure a heightened sensory atmosphere. Fire, water, light, rock and other elements create rich color fields and a mysterious sense of a symbolic significance.

For the her recent series of ink-and-wash drawings which were exhibited at Nature Morte Gallery in Berlin earlier this fall, June Glasson staged photo shoots based on images from a 1860’s publication, Sins of New York, depicting women engaged in scenes of violence and revelry. The influence of fashion, illustration and decorative art can be seen in these charged images that question the limits and acceptability of female behavior in urban society.

Moscow-born artist, Leeza Meksin, uses a variety of paints and textiles in her paintings and installations to create complex and metallic surfaces. Spandex predominates in her list of materials and can be found both stretched over the surface of her paintings and also within her large-scale sculptural pieces. Selections of her work were exhibited this fall in a group show at Thomas Erben Gallery in New York and in a solo exhibition at the Abington Art Center in Philadelphia.

Craig Prehn, an artist with roots in Detroit and Chicago, has ventured west and now resides in San Francisco. His most recent series of drawings, An American Western, examines the mythology and stark beauty of the western journey. Prehn, whose background is in photography, collects and views found snapshots of the American vernacular as inspiration for these simple and evocative pen-and-ink sketches.

In The Water (3), by Karen Azoulay

She Caught It Hot, by June Glasson

Splayed Rack, by Leeza Meksin

Glasses, An American Western, by Craig Prehn

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Barton Springs
Austin, TX
June 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Alberto and Jessica

Alberto and Jessica
Barton Creek
Austin, TX
June 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

April and Raleigh

April and Raleigh
Barton Creek
Austin, TX
June 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Barton Creek

Barton Creek
Austin, TX
June 2009

In August of 2007, my brother took me to Barton Springs in Austin because he knows how much I like to swim. The calm water of this spring-fed swimming hole was surprisingly cold at first despite the summer heat. I fell in love with the springs at once and found a Jesus Boy amongst the nymphs at the water's edge. Now whenever I go back to Austin, it is the first place that I go.

Barton Springs was described in The Unforeseen, a documentary film about development that threatened to contaminate the springs, as the "spiritual center" of Austin, and it's hard not to feel that on some level. Sometimes in the summer, there are hundreds of bodies lying on the grass, floating in the water, and walking along the trails.

The pool is surrounded by a fence, and it costs a few dollars to get inside. Two distinct communities are separated by the fence: those who can pay to swim and to tan on the lawn, and those who congregate at the edges where the water from the springs spills into the creek. The division is obvious - the right and wrong side of the tracks, so to speak.

The wrong side of the tracks is comprised of teenage boys and girls, pot-smokers, beer-drinkers, hippies, runaways, war veterans, dreamers, lost souls, ex-cons, low income families, young couples and more than a few pit bulls. Some of the regulars could be found there every day, and the economy and joblessness seemed to create even more of a haven for drifters from all parts of the country who found refuge in Austin.

I never anticipated my growing collection of tattooed male chests ... which were everywhere near the creek. Encountering George along the trail brought to mind Jacob on Main Street in Binghamton. They were both walkers and loners whose bodies were covered with cryptic messages and rippling muscles. Both were almost startling in their beauty and their rebel vulnerability. Both were so open and sincere and glad to be noticed. Perhaps it is the same picture in another time and place.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Annist and Rena

Annist and Rena
Reed Street
Kalamazoo, MI
August 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

culturehall news

Every two weeks, culturehall selects the work of four members for the FEATURED WORK section of our homepage. For the current issue, I browsed culturehall's archives to look for engaging images that collectively suggested a cinematic noir narrative. Louise Noguchi's falling cowboy recalls the glamorized violence of western films, while Sara Applegren's mysterious nighttime road from her Telling Stories series brought to mind David Lynch's dark highways. Lilly Lulay's elderly elisabeth takes on a sinister dimension - perhaps, the blurry and embroidered mug shot of a granny killer from a true crime episode. And Matthew Rose conjures the danger and allure of car culture with his Road Sign created in the pop art spirit with wood, paint, glue and a cutter.

culturehall will be inviting artists and curators to select work for upcoming features, so drop by for more highlights from the archives as well as new work by artists contributing portfolios to the site.

culturehall is also continuing to expand its list of ARTIST RESOURCES, our collection of international blogs and websites that provide a range of compelling information about the arts. This list of resources has the potential to be a great tool for artists, writers, educators, curators and the like to locate diverse content about the arts in a single, organized online environment. Recent additions to our list include Art Fag City, which was awarded the Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant in 2008, and ROLU, an exceptional and elegant blog about art/architecture/design/music and culture that has attracted a world wide following.

As a result of my own involvement as an artist in culturehall, two of my gas station pieces were recently discovered and leased by Warner Brothers Television Silver Cup Studios for a scene in an upcoming episode of the series, Gossip Girl, scheduled to air on Monday October 26th. As someone who is entirely out of touch with television and perhaps too dependent on the Internet to inform my reality, I had to google the program to find out what it was all about: Gossip Girl. Hmmm ... sounds a lot like my life in NYC. If someone can burn me a disc of the episode, I'd be much obliged.

Blow Back, by Louise Noguchi

Side Scene #1, Telling Stories, by Sara Appelgren

elisabeth, by Lillay Lulay

Road Sign, by Matthew Rose

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Faculty Exhibition

Roof Top Wedding
copyright Robin Schwartz

I started a new position this fall teaching photography at William Paterson University, which means I am making a trek on a bus from Port Authority twice a week to a green and lush campus in northern New Jersey. Full-time faculty member, Robin Schwartz, and I are teaching concurrent intro digital photo courses - sharing notes and transitioning the photo program into the digital era.

Robin and I are also both currently exhibiting photographs in the annual faculty exhibition in the Ben Shahn Court Gallery on campus. I first became familiar with Robin's work when she and Elinor Carucci gave presentations as featured artists in a panel discussion about Women in Photography led by founders, Cara Phillips and Amy Elkins, last fall at Aperture. Robin's highly imaginative and eccentric images depict her daughter, Amelia, interacting with exotic animals such as kangaroos, elephants, hairless dogs and cats, and various primates. Robin takes her "circus family" on tour of the country to find these strange creatures - recently, a trip to Texas in the heavy August heat to rendezvous with some monkeys. Her third monograph, Amelia's World, was published in 2008 by Aperture, and some of her images from this series were included in the newly released photo book, Hijaked: Volume One, which incorporates work by contemporary Australian and American photographers.

I had the pleasure of meeting the star of the photos a few weeks ago, and Amelia is as charming and magical in person as she appears in her animal kingdom. She showed me a small turtle shell and a lifeless mouse that she had discovered on one of their journeys, and I gather that there are more than a few living creatures at their home in Hoboken.

Faculty Exhibition
Ben Shahn Court Gallery
William Paterson University
Wayne, NJ

September 14 - October 16

Friday, September 11, 2009

Browsing the Archives of 20x200

The staff at Jen Bekman recently asked me to browse the archives of 20x200 and select some of my favorite works for their blog - which was lots of fun. Here's what I came up with: Browsing the Archives with Tema Stauffer

Rachel Hulin has already selected two of my all-time favorite 20x200 pieces, the haunting Untitled (LA20070805) by Noah Kalina and No. 13. 3/11/2006 (plane lifted by men) by William Lamson. But I also love Lamson's other photograph from his enigmatic sublunar series.

No. 6. 8/6/2005 (plane) by William Lamson

A German photographer who similarly mystifies me with her control of light in her nighttime scenes is Juliane Eirich. I saw some of her gorgeous prints at the Scope Art Fair last March and have since poured through her website. I am awed and jealous to say the least.

Bus by Juliane Eirich

Also very mysterious and sexy is a portrait by Shen Wei. The image brought to mind the pensive, lonely, intensely sexual films by Taiwanese director, Tsai Ming-liang - the mood, the setting, the isolated subject, the sense of desire and longing...

Yi, Beijing by Shen Wei

This quirky image by Kelly Shimoda, an early addition to 20x200, uses light beautifully to make kitschy pink and blue balloons strangely seductive.

Untitled (Hanoi no.2) by Kelly Shimoda

Then, of course, I must mention the two prints I purchased from 20x200, Eric Graham's, Unleaded, Unleaded, Premium Unleaded, and Justin James Reed's iconic western scene, Idaho Springs, Colorado, both of which are hanging in my apartment.

Unleaded, Unleaded, Premium Unleaded by Eric Graham

Idaho Springs, Colorado by Justin James Reed

Kevin J. Miyazaki's work seems to be influenced by the same tradition of exploring the American vernacular, and I like his understated contributions from his Fast Food series.

Jones Boulevard Location, #1 by Kevin J. Miyazaki

And Katie Baum's cool photograph of a gumball machine might have been painted by a Photo-realist in the 1970s ...

Gumball Machine by Katie Baum

So yes, I confess, I love this kind of stuff.

Finally, is there any artist out there who can't relate to the sentiment captured by Clifton Burt? I think that pretty much sums it up.

think-make-think by Clifton Burt

Friday, September 4, 2009


Mexico City
copyright Allen Frame

Untitled #101
copyright Tim Roda

I couldn't be happier that summer is coming to an end, and there is a fall buzz in the air on these early, sunny days of September. And best of all ... galleries are coming alive again with new shows, including work by some of my favorite figures in the photo community.

I developed an instant crush on photographer and photo professor Allen Frame when I met him last spring on account of his southern grace and natural sophistication - not to mention, his sweetness. I have been eager to see more of his beautiful work "live" as what I have seen from his books and website convey a sensitivity to mood in both private and public spaces that feel equally intimate. Allen makes use of the emotional resonance of light; figures emerge from deep shadows in both his earlier black and white work and his beautiful new color work that will be exhibited at Gitterman Gallery in a show opening on Wednesday, September 9th.

Three great shows are opening the following night including Tim Roda at Daniel Cooney. Omni-present art collector, blogger and enthusiast, Ruben Natal-San Miguel, has previewed the prints in Tim Roda's Family Matters series and has written a thoughtful analysis on his blog likening the images to Spanish or Italian cinema: Ruben on Family Matters. Judging from one of the comments, the show may provoke a range of impassioned perspectives on artists whose children are their subjects - historically, a heated topic in photography - especially when there is anything resembling sexual content in the work.

And I would imagine many of us are looking forward to the first New York solo show of one of the most dynamic and influential women in New York's photo community, Amy Stein. Amy's Domesticated series, which has toured the country and the world, will be exhibited at Brian Clamp ... and you can find more surreal animals and landscapes made by Simen Johan virtually next door at Yossi Milo in a show titled, Until the Kingdom Comes.

Also this month, photographer and co-founder of Women in Photography, Cara Phillips, will be exhibiting her Singular Beauty series in her first solo exhibition at the Suffolk Art Gallery in Boston. I previously had the opportunity to see her work in a Hey, Hotshot! show at Jen Bekman last winter, and her prints are stunning. There is an opening celebration on September 17th at the gallery, so if anyone is driving to Boston - let me know!

Brown Consultation Chair
Beverley Hills
copyright Cara Phillips

copyright Amy Stein

Thursday, August 13, 2009

culturehall news

It feels like summer is winding down, and I am making one last trip to Michigan before I return to New York for the fall. David Andrew Frey will be launching some new developments to culturehall in September, and we will be fully back in action looking for more exceptional artists to add to the 320 members who have already contributed work.

David and I were excited to learn this week that one of culturehall's members whose work was discovered on the site recently landed a commission through a major corporation to install one of his pieces in an office space in Stockholm. It's great to know that the site is playing a role in helping artists realize substantial opportunities in their careers.

One of my focusses has been to spread to the word about culturehall to international arts blogs and websites and to share our enthusiasm for the information they are contributing to the arts in the ARTIST RESOURCES section of our homepage. We have recently listed some new sites we like including Artcards, Light Journeys, OPENWIDEpdx, Peek, and the newly revamped blog by my friend and colleague, Barry Stone, YES YES YES. Barry has been sharing recent images as well as some wonderful images from his archives.

While David is communicating with artists working in various media, I am primarily concentrating on adding photographers to the site. Two photographers whose work was featured this summer on culturehall were Zack Seckler and Francesca Romeo, with whom I exhibited work at Daniel Cooney Fine Art this past spring. Francesca has recently been shooting some intriguing self-portraits in hotel rooms around the world or sometimes in her East Village apartment, like the one included above. Some of her newest work can be found on her culturehall porfolio: Francesca Romeo/Culturehall.

Theodore, from TRUE LOVE series
copyright Zack Seckler

Monday, August 10, 2009

Critical Mass (08) Top Profiles

Jurying for Critical Mass 2009 is underway, and you can find some picks by juror Ruben Natal San-Miguel on his blog, ARTmostfierce. I opted out of submitting work this year, primarily because I wanted to spend more time developing my current portrait series before I attempt to get it published in book form.

I was one of the fifty finalists in last year's Critical Mass and was recently interviewed by Shawn Records about my work and my experience with Photolucida.

You can find an illustrated version of the interview on Photolucida's blog: CM (08) Top 50 Profiles: Tema Stauffer

• Name, location

Tema Stauffer, Brooklyn, New York

• Is photography your day job? If not, do you want it to be?

Part of my income comes from photography, both from sales of fine artwork and some commercial jobs. I also teach photo classes at The School of the International Center of Photography, and I recently started a position as Assistant Curator for a new website for the arts called Culturehall, which promotes artists and arts writers through an online community and list of resources.

• Can you remember/describe the first print you ever made? Why photography? Why do you do this?

I remember the first roll of slide film I shot for my first photography course at The Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts. I shot some portraits of my best friend in high school on slide film sitting in a cemetery. As corny as that sounds, the light was gorgeous, and my teacher was impressed, which gave me some encouragement. I immediately responded to the medium for the experiences and adventures it inspires one to pursue. Photography is a reason to go somewhere and to develop a relationship with somebody or something.

• How did your project develop?

The images I submitted to Critical Mass are part of an ongoing project exploring the character of the American landscape. This series, American Stills, began with an image of a lonely gas station under a blazing orange sky in the year 2000, and I don’t know exactly when it will be complete as a body of work.

• It's early yet, but have you had any concrete opportunities arise from your participation in Critical Mass? Shows? Publications? Print sales? High fives at a party?

Since my participation in Critical Mass last fall, I have exhibited work in a two-person show with Francesca Romeo at Daniel Cooney Fine Art Gallery, and a group show at Sasha Wolf Gallery organized by a collective of women photographers called NYMPHOTO. However, neither of these exhibitions came as a result of my involvement with Critical Mass. Perhaps, though, some of my peers became more familiar with my work as a result of the combined exposure through Critical Mass and Flak Photo.

• Who are your favorite photographers, images, websites, projects, or blogs, etc. that inspire?

Recently, I have been particularly interested in portraits by Rineke Dijkstra and photographs of the everyday in America by Paul Graham. Some of the photographers who have deeply informed my relationship to photography are Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Joel Sternfeld, William Eggleston, Diane Arbus, and Richard Billingham. I have also listed blogs on my blog and websites on my website which reflect work by peers in the arts that I follow and admire. There are too many to list here, but feel free to take a look.

• Do you have a favorite youtube video that you'd like to share? It doesn't have to be photo-related.

A writer and photographer friend who lives in Virginia, Mark Burnette, once posted a link on his blog, Conditions Uncertain, to a music video for the song, “Kiss” - a duet by Will Oldham and Scout Niblett. I loved the video and watched it over and over again on lonely winter nights and eventually bought Scout’s album. The video is playfully dark, whimsical, romantic, funny, and sweet.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Phoenix and Agnes

Happy birthday, Phoenix!! Phoenix was born in August last year to my friend, Agnes Dahan, the same night that my beloved dog, Paris, left this earth - living proof that when one amazing and beautiful creature passes, another comes to life.

copyright Agnes Dahan

Phoenix and Agnes are visiting New York from their new home in the West Indies, bringing some much-needed joy to my anxiety-ridden life in the city. Agnes will be contributing a print of her image above to Daniel Cooney's next Emerging Artists Auction which will be available on-line this month.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Field of Sad Trees

Field of Sad Trees
Spanish Fork, UT
April 2008

Thank you to Andy Adams for featuring one of my images on Flak Photo today. I made this photograph during a trip to Utah in the spring of 2008 to explore the setting of the Gary Gilmore murders in 1976. The search for a sad tree was inspired by a passage in The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer.

One Sunday while she was digging away in her garden, Gary carved their names on the apple tree. He did it with a pocket knife, real nice, real neat: GARY LOVES NICOLE. Nobody had ever done that before.

Next day she had a lot of things to do, and kept wanting to get back. When she finally reached home, she cleaned out his car first, then climbed up the tree to a place above where he had done it, and carved out: NICOLE LOVES GARY. Then she went into the house just in time to meet him.

He came out into the backyard with a beer and she told him to look at the apple tree. He didn't see anything and she finally had to point it out to him. Then he was happy as a kid, and said she had done hers better than his. Told her it was a beautiful heart she had carved around the names.

excerpt from The House in Spanish Fork
The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Young Curators, New Ideas II

Untitled, Potash Mine, distant view
Wendover, UT
copyright Victoria Sambunaris

I've discovered a lot of great work by women photographers on Women in Photography's site - recently, some very strange and quirky or unsettling interiors devoid of people shot by Lynne Cohen. One of my favorite series on WIP consists of American landscapes made by photographer, Victoria Sambunaris. I've never met Victoria, but I have a romantic notion of an amazing woman traveling the highways and backroads of this country with a dog and a large format camera. She is one of my living photo idols, and I am excited to see her print tonight in Young Curators, New ideas II at P.P.O.W. Gallery in Chelsea.

This exhibition examines new voices in contemporary art through the perspective of seven New York-based curatorial teams including good friends Amani Olu of Amani Olu Projects and Cara Phillips and Amy Elkins of WIP.

Young Curators, New Ideas II

511 West 25th Street
Room 301

opening reception Thursday August 6th, 6-8pm