New Review

Good Morning. I assume this will be my last post for a bit as I will have knee replacement surgery on 12/15.

Mark Feeney, the primary photo reviewer for the Boston Globe, has a review out today in the paper that speaks to works I have on display simultaneously at the Danforth Museum in Framingham, MA of the Pulaski Motel series (here

in Virginia and the Wheat work of mine currently at the Acton Memorial Library in Acton, MA 


Here is the pertinent part of his review: 

Also through Jan. 28, the Danforth is showing 14 photographs from Neal Rantoul’s “Pulaski Motel, Virginia” series. In southeastern Viriginia, Rantoul found himself driving past the Pulaski on a very hot, overcast day. This was in 2012. The motel, which had been closed for two years, would soon be demolished. The Ritz it was not.
The 14 black-and-white images are studies in gray. They’re 23 inches by 15 inches, which makes them sizable without being overwhelming. The motel looks evacuated as well as derelict. No one is visible by its doors and steps. There are no cars in the parking lot. Rantoul presents things from the outside — no inwardness here — and that’s just fine.
A couple of photos show rudimentary columns. Did the original owners want to evoke Southern plantation architecture? The sight of these forlorn-looking columns recalls Walker Evans’s differently forlorn photographs from the mid-’30s of ruined plantations in the Deep South.


There are also 14 pictures in “Wheat: New Photographs of the Palouse by Neal Rantoul.” It’s at the Acton Memorial Library through Dec. 28. The Palouse is a grain-growing region in southeastern Washington state. Rantoul has visited there to photograph nearly two dozen times, doing so for more than a quarter century.

Neal Rantoul, "Untitled, #28," 2023.
Neal Rantoul, "Untitled, #28," 2023.NEAL RANTOUL

The photographs are in color, with a dunnish yellow (the fields) and blue (the sky) predominant. People are nowhere to be seen, but the hills and fields have all been shaped by man. The setting is natural without being altogether natural.
The visual elements are simple and basic: sky, shadow, cloud, field. The simplicity is almost austere, but that austerity contributes to the grave handsomeness of these images. Eight of the photographs show the fields from above, the others from the ground. One of those is so close as to reveal stubble. It’s only then a viewer realizes how nearly painterly these photographs are, owing more to color field canvases, almost, than to the detail and specificity of agricultural photography.

I don't know the details of how a story is accepted by the Globe's editors, whether they always cut content for brevity or not. Still, it surprised me that Feeney didn't compare the black and White Pulaski series to the color wheat pictures in Acton. "Pulaski "is not a happy place, an abandoned motel slated for demolition photographed in fetid heat in rural Virginia versus the new wheat pictures which are about as utopian as they could be, pristine and isolated rolling wheat fields in a paradise pocket of the American West. Both in present day America, and both as about as opposite as I can imagine.

It was not my plan to have two series of photographs of mine shown concurrently in two local places but I was very pleased they were, for if you were to see one then the other I believe one would inform the other in truly wonderful ways. But further, I do not make my photographs without purpose or intention. If a series of works of mine have staying power it is because there is a critical view behind the work, a point being made, or a commentary on something being stated.

Topics: Review

Permalink | Posted December 10, 2023


Occasionally, the blog reprints past posts if they've kept their relevancy. I believe this one is still pertinent:

From 2016, almost eight years ago. 

Let me know if you agree.

Topics: Commentary

Permalink | Posted December 3, 2023

At the MFA

Those of you who are in the New England area might want to avail themselves of an incredible resource. The Museum of Fine Arts Boston has collected photographs for a very long time and prints from the collection are available for viewing by the public. With a little organization on your part, you can request to see some iconic works made throughout the medium's history.

Yesterday, a group of us called the Photo Lunch Bunch did just that. We met in the Morse Study Room at the Museum and looked at about 20 photographs from the collection.

Left to Right: Roger Farrington, Jim Fitts, me, Jason Landry, Lou Jones, Drew Epstein. Missing is Paula Tognarelli who had to cancel at the last moment.

What a treat! We saw original prints by Diane Arbus, Alfred Stieglitz, Gary Winogrand, Robert Mapplethorpe, Harry Callahan, Fred Sommer, Robert Doisneau, and many others.

The process takes a little planning and I suggest bringing no more than six people. 

Here's the process:

When I was teaching at Northeastern and Harvard I would often bring a class to look at work at the MFA.

By the way, many collections are available for viewing. I suggest calling the museum or archive to see if they allow the viewing of works from their collection. 

I can't stress enough seeing original works. Call yourself a student of the medium? In an era where few make prints and photography is seen most often on a screen, many don't know what an original Paul Strand or Alfred Stieglitz photograph of his wife Georgia O'Keeffe's hands looks like. It could just change your life. 

Here's your chance.

Topics: Commentary

Permalink | Posted October 21, 2023

Just Around the Corner

Busy times. 

A show:

Note: Change in date: due to getting sick with Covid the new date for the gallery talk is iec 10 at 2:30 pm

And a weekend of Open Studio:

The show is photographs I made while in The Palouse in August and therefore never shown and the Open Studio is, well, everything else! Hope to see you at both.

Too far to make the drive? Well, I've got a friend coming up from City Island, NY. Can you beat that?

As usual, questions can come right to me:

Yes, of course, work will be for sale.

Topics: Shows Coming up

Permalink | Posted October 18, 2023

Two Shows

Hello all. I've got work in two shows currently.  One, at the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover MA, in a "recent acquisitions" exhibit. Mine is a large piece I donated in 2020. It is an aerial photograph from Salt Lake, Utah.

The second is a series of black and white photographs called the " Pulaski Motel" at the Danforth Museum in Framingham, MA. These are part of another "recent acquisitions" show currently on view at the Museum.

This is a sequenced set of pictures I made on a drive to teach at Penland in North Carolina on a sweltering early summer day in 2012. Pulaski is in Virginia.

Topics: black and white and color

Permalink | Posted October 14, 2023