Topic: Martha's Vineyard (34 posts) Page 1 of 7

Virtual

I sincerely wonder what this will be like. We are now in production for an exhibition that will open in January at the Martha's Vineyard Museum.

Making prints, framing, titling, labeling, writing an artist statement, ordering frames, sending out publicity, social media, etc. Always a lot to do to make a show ready.

But wait, we are in the midst of a huge surge in a pandemic that is killing us by the   thousands every day! Plus, there are no indications that things will be better in late January or until the vaccine arrives in the spring. Add to that how many people would go to see a show at the Vineyard in the winter months, anyway?

The reality is that this will be mostly a virtual show. We will work to make the presentation of the work accessible to as many people as possible by posting it and making videos for YouTube of the installation. Although most of you won't get to actually see the physical prints we hope to make the show as available to everyone  as possible.

Meanwhile, we'll be printing, framing, titling, labeling, etc just like for any show.

Stay tuned.

Topics: Martha's Vineyard,Color,Digital,Northeast

Permalink | Posted November 22, 2020

1978

1978. A very long time ago. 42 years as I write this in 2020. Wow! Funny about time, yes?

Last week I wrote a blog about going through old analog work and throwing away most of it: Cold Wet.

In one of those boxes, I came across some work I haven't seen in over 20 years. 14 x 17 inch black and white unmounted prints from Martha's Vineyard that were in a two-person show I had with my mother in an earlier iteration of the Granary Gallery  on the island. (The full show is now on the site: MV Show 1978)

She and I showed together a few other times, but always in group shows. I remember one show in the 80s that included my two sisters and two brothers-in-law.

But this one in the summer of 1978 was just she and I. My mom was a career painter, moving in and out of making work when she could while bringing up three kids and working. One of the things I learned from her was that change was good. From watercolors to oils to acrylics to woodcuts to cut paper she liked to shake it up. The show we had at the Granary was cut up paper, specifically Color Aid, which were silkscreened color pages you could buy as a kind of book with perhaps a hundred or so beautiful colors. She made landscapes out of them layering the colors to take you through to a horizon and a sky. I wish I had one or two to show you. They were beautiful.

My work in that show? I thought you'd never ask. Black and white (that was all I did until about 2002), square pictures, of things I'd found of interest on the island the year or so before.  Not much cohesion except they were all made on the island.

I don't remember the opening very well but am sure it was primarily friends and family. I was single then and hadn't a kid yet, teaching at New England School of Photography in Boston and would begin that coming fall teaching at Harvard.

The photographs are quiet and contemplative, smart in that they are of things that render well as photographs, juxtaposing visual elements with at times a sense of humor or irony but also real love for what I saw.  My response to seeing them now, so many years later? They hold up all right. These were made a few years after graduate school by a young artist still working to find his voice and shirking off influences. I believe your work is your work. To put down earlier work because now you're " so much better"  denigrates and diminishes rather than simply looks at art from the time in which it was made. Context is all.

This one, the last in the show, needs a little explanation. About 1976 the Fogg Museum at Harvard had a show of some recent photographs by Robert Frank. Rough, blurry and scratched, many of the prints were from Mabou Mines where he spent time with his wife June Leaf. It is where he made several of his films and by then he no longer considered himself a photographer as he'd moved on to making films. One set of pictures in the show were of a post, some gray sky, some land, and the ocean. Minimal and spare.

These from Lines of My Hand, photographs by Robert Frank

He made them in response to getting the news that his daughter Andrea had been killed in a small plane crash in Guatemala. It was her winter coat he placed on the post. I had been moved to tears when I saw his pictures that day at Harvard. When I saw this single pole sitting on the bluff near a lighthouse at the Vineyard I thought of Frank's pictures right away. So I made a picture in tribute and out of respect to him and the tragedy of losing his daughter (Thanks to Michael Hintlian for setting me straight about this).

***

Finally, as I write this in November 2020, I am beginning work on a new show of my work to be at the Martha's Vineyard Museum in late January 2021. These will be color aerials, some made in 2012 and 2013 and some made in 2019. The work I donated to the Museum this past fall will also be included in the show. More details to follow soon. 

So there are three generations of my work from the island: the show in 1978, the work I donated this fall to the Museum shown in 1995 and this new show coming in January. How cool is that?

Topics: Martha's Vineyard,New England,Black and White,Analog

Permalink | Posted November 19, 2020

The Show Addendum

In The Show 1,2,3,4, I gave some perspective on photographic prints I was donating to the Martha's Vineyard Museum from a one-man exhibition I'd had on the island in 1995.

In this, the addendum, I'll share with you the handing over of the 21 prints to the Museum. 

On a bright, sunny, and very windy day in early October 2020 my daughter Maru and I arrived at the scheduled time, prints in hand, and masks on. As it turns out the Museum is open but restricting the number of visitors.

Photos are by Maru:

We put the two portfolios out on white tables and went through the prints one by one with Bonnie Stacy, the Museum's curator.

Taking masks off for a second, we held one up I took of Keith's Field in 1993.

We then went upstairs to the library for me to sign a donor's form.

This gave me a chance to ask some questions of Bonnie: how the prints would be stored, whether they would show them, and so on. She showed us a couple of galleries that would be suitable for my work and said they were considering some ideas about putting them on display.

I then signed the "Deed of Gift "form ceding the prints to the Museum, giving permission to use them in any way they wished, including selling them, but I retain the copyright. This simply means that while they now owned the original prints from the show 25 years ago I retained the rights to use and own the imagery.

Then we left. Thanks to Maru for her help throughout this project

So that's the end of the story of donating prints I made 25 years ago to a museum on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.  

Like the story? Comments? Let me know: Neal's Email

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Topics: Martha's Vineyard,New England,Black and White,Analog

Permalink | Posted October 8, 2020

Is This Ironic?

As a career photo professor and a professional "intro to photo" teacher, I got this question a lot. "Irony" was often an early assignment in my beginning photo classes. Took students a while to grasp exactly what this was. Hence: "hey Neal, is this irony?"

What got me thinking along those lines is that something happened today that was ironic. I am on Martha's Vineyard for a couple of weeks and bought one of the island papers (The Vineyard Gazette) this morning while food shopping. Reading it over lunch I turned to page 2 to find this:

(apologies for print-through)

An aerial I made a few years ago of the small island called No Mans Land off the Vineyard's coast on a flight from New Bedford. The paper paid me $25 for the picture(!).

There was my picture of No Man's Land in the local newspaper and where did I  find myself this afternoon? Shooting No Man's:

albeit from a slightly different angle. Of course, I didn't make the connection until I'd downloaded what I shot. (This shot with the Nikkor 200-500mm f5.6 on an RRS tripod, at f8. Nikon D850.)

IRONY: happening in the opposite way to what is expected, and typically causing wry amusement because of this: [with clause]: it was ironic that now that everybody had plenty of money for food, they couldn't obtain it because everything was rationed.

source: Apple dictionary

Photo can be so cool. Love comparisons, analogies, multiple images to make a statement, create a line, draw attention, or tell a story.

Topics: Martha's Vineyard

Permalink | Posted October 3, 2020

The Show 2

In The Show 1, I wrote about making pictures for an exhibition I had on Martha's Vineyard in 1995. In this one, we'll take a look at some of the work and I'll explain the foundational logic I used in making the pictures.

As the years accumulated I photographed sites built and unbuilt that were being managed by VOLF. In the properties where there were no buildings yet, I began to feel that there was a larger reason for the photographs being made. After all, my photographs would have historical importance as a record of what the land looked like before anything was built on it. While I still photographed the beaches and along the shore I found myself exploring much more of the interior of the island. Plus, VOLF was providing access to some incredible sites that otherwise I couldn't get to. 

The very poor and very old photographer Eugene Atget photographed "his" Paris in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in reaction to increasing industrialization. The Paris he knew well was being changed forever by the automobile and electricity. He took on the task of documenting the city to record it for posterity. They are some of the most poignant and heartfelt photographs I have ever seen.

I carried in my mind many of his indelible photographs as I photographed all over the island. The late 1980s and early  1990s were a time of massive increases in building on the island. I was now on a mission to document parts of the island before they were changed forever. 

Plus I was using the current day equivalent of the camera he had used, a large-format 8 x 10 camera on a tripod, making black and white pictures by developing a few sheets of film at a time and printing the pictures in my darkroom.

This was a new and heady experience. Using my photographs for something more than self-expression, meaning that these pictures were far less about me and more about my subject and the photographs' place in time.

Let's stop here. Let me set the stage for the next one, The Show 3. I'll bring us to the exhibition that opened August 2, 1995, in Edgartown at the Martha's Vineyard Museum and some of the drama around it.

Topics: Martha's Vineyard

Permalink | Posted September 23, 2020