Art stuff, blog

Scary piece

In thinking about my friend, Patty, going through chemo, and ready to face the sickness associated with it, I found myself gathering image parts from the web, cutting things out, and modifying them. I needed to work with images I had not made, but with parts of pictures I found that could become part of it. An anon reprint of a witch photo, a flower, some handmade paper, some background and writing of mine: I added these and made up the whole.

As a photographer, I feel funny about using found images but ironically, I do not feel funny about isolating a subject and taking a photo. It reminds me of when Lucho and I were in the pampa of Chinchero and he was painting a tree. The man from the hut nearby came out and demanded Lucho pay him, as that was his tree.

I suppose it is because the image is made of parts I did not create that it is disconcerting to me but then every photograph or painting is made of something out there that one did not make. A creation is an interpretation with a new meaning, not a rip off. I think of Robert Heineken’s magazine page work and how he created something with a meaning and aesthetic entirely new, made from a piece of paper with images on both sides, NOT his images.

I sound like my own apologist. Anyway, I love taking bits and pieces and turning them into something else. I suppose all collage artists work that way.

In any case I am adding the photo which even scares me.

Art stuff, blog

Into the void

Making art, whatever the medium, if done from deep need, reminds me of a young bird taking wing for the first time. The difference is that the bird gains confidence and surety with each flight, until it is as much part of its routine as eating bugs, seeds, or worms. For artists, that surety never really arrives. It is a blind leap each time. Equanimity and composure are illusive; self doubt more often dogs the maker. Satisfaction comes in the doing, with success or failure a mere epilogue, as fickle as wind. 

I have been thinking about Edward Curtis these days, having just finished a very good biography about the resolute pursuit of his dream. His intensity and drive were undiminished by financial or familial pressures. He had a vision and worked to exhaustion to achieve what he could before the inevitable eradication of the cultures he admired, respected, and sought to preserve on glass. Time was his greatest enemy. He could see from year to year the choking and dying of an era, a people, sacred traditions. 

Are artists hardwired to pursue their work, despite the consequences? From what I see and know, I would say yes. It is not a vocation one can walk away from without a great sense of loss. People sometimes ask me, “Are you still taking photographs?” not understanding that making my images is as elemental to my life as breathing. I have tried to imagine how I could continue to make photographs if I were blinded or bed-ridden, though I am not someone who makes pictures every day. Far from it. But, I think about it every day and wait for the spirit to move me to act. When I was younger I had to shoot constantly. Now I need to bide my time and sprint to the finish, like a runner of short races. 

There is rarely glory, often disappointment and frustration, hardly the reward for such self sacrifice. Such it is, though. We do what we do because we cannot do otherwise. 

Gratefully I say thank you, Edward Curtis, for leaving us the stories and images of what is long gone. 


Art stuff

Here is the first post. It is a photo comic about a mid-western P.I., Calder Diamond, and a swell dame named Victoria.