Along about the end of the second day at NEPR (New England Portfolio Reviews) last weekend, my brain is fried from looking at portfolio after portfolio and I'm all talked out. I want a beer and some serenity. Second to last of the day I find Jim Nickelson sitting across from me, telling me he's from Camden, Maine and prints professionally. With what little brain I have left I am thinking this is good as looking at some well printed pictures would be really nice. Jim is pleasant, seems easy going enough and is perhaps something of a pro here in this context. We reminisce about MPW, Maine Photographic Workshops, nearby in Rockport to where Jim lives, where I taught briefly in the late 70's until David Lyman and I clashed and I never went back. I'd never met anyone quite as impossible and transparent as David and didn't want to ever have the experience again.
Jim opens up his case and pulls out two bodies of work. Some "Moonscapes" and some "Prytoechnics" pictures. We look at the fireworks prints first. Black and white, with black skies, or white skies if he's reversed the image, and the fine lines of the light from the shells streaking through the sky are in exquisite detail. The prints, I'm guessing here, are 14 or 15 inches square and are about the most beautiful things I've seen, not only over the past two days but over the past few years. This was exciting and confirming. There is high quality work out there. It is rare but Jim is one of the ones making really superb photographs. Then we look at the moon pictures, these are in color, and I am intrigued with how he's approached the material new, with eyes open, avoiding all the clichéd connotations inherent in romance novel covers and movie posters from the 40's and 50's. I am less moved by these but they are as consummate as the black and white work. I am now fully awake and tuned in:
What a pleasure. There is something truly wonderful about simplicity done at the highest of levels. Were I you I would check his site, which is unspectacular, but how could it live up the guy's prints? It can't nor should it. I will be hoping for a show nearby soon and will help this happen in any way I can.