What a year.
So much pain, so much suffering, so many dead.
For many, a year to get past, to be done with, to move on from. But I wish you all the best of holidays. Stay close, hang with family and loved ones. Be safe. We will be past this soon.
Four years ago this same time, just before Christmas, I wrote a blog that sought to make connections between things disparate. I was working on a book called "Trees, Sand and Snow." The blog is: here. I just reread it and believe it's worth taking a look at.
And, I will leave you with this:
Perhaps not the most upbeat views of Xmas views, but not a total disaster either. Two wreaths hung high (so as not to be stolen?) in a mall parking lot, the store a Bed Bath and Beyond and gray wintery skies.
Wishing you the best.
Mountain View Estates: what comes to mind? A series of Tyrolian style cottages nestled in a pasture looking over the Swiss Alps, perhaps? Or a gated community of high-end homes with a grand view of the snow-capped Colorado Rockies?
Not at all. Mt View Estates is a housing development sitting on a hill above a gravel pit in White River Junction, Vermont.
I found it in 1991:
It blew me away and became an obsession, as these things do, for about a year. Here are a few more:
Hypothetical: local builder gets word that the old gravel pit up the hill is going on sale. His uncle is on the town planning board so they cut a deal that will allow the builder to buy the land cheap and put houses on it around the perimeter of the actual pit. Rules are bent. There is only a passing discussion about whether some of the new homes might slide into the pit. They both make out like bandits.
Last picture in the series:
A dead bird.
Prints are about 12 inches square and are analog, printed by me, and archivally processed. They are in A+ condition. There is only one set.
Box where the negatives are stored.
The full series is on the gallery page of the site: Mt View Estates
Wishing you a warm, safe, and excellent holiday. May 2021 bring us all relief from this godawful pandemic. I do believe things will start to improve on January 20th.
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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.
Four years ago I made some pictures during the season's first snowstorm in Cambridge, MA where I lived at the time. They are: here.
Later on, I folded some of those into some other work made that winter into a book I called Trees, Sand and Snow
Well, here we are almost four years later on almost the last day of October and we've just had our first snowstorm. Of course, I went out and made some pictures.
The last time I photographed snow it was close to home and this time was too. I no longer live in Cambridge but moved last spring to Acton, a western suburb about 40 minutes from Boston.
By March all this will be the worst, we'll be fed up with snow, everything will be colorless, frozen, and dead-looking. But this early and the first of the season I can't imagine anything more beautiful than fresh snow.
BTW: the first one, of the swamp? I photographed there throughout the summer.
Stay safe and well.
This post will conclude the series of articles about a show of my photographs at the Martha's Vineyard Museum in August 1995.
I applied for and was granted a sabbatical leave for the fall semester in 1994 and chose to spend it on the island. I rented a place just a few miles from the family home, choosing independence over staying with my mother. It was a good decision. Up early each day, out shooting all day, back as the light died, unloading and loading film holders when it was dark, only to repeat the next day. I was in heaven. One of the lessons I learned that fall was that if your source for making pictures is close by you can get more done.
By this time I had finished the VOLF project and was photographing on my own, knowing the show was coming up the next summer. That fall I probably shot 500 or 600 sheets of 8 x 10 film.
All that work edited down to 21 prints for the show in 1995. No way is that representative of what I did over the years 1988-1994. Just the very tip.
Finally, after the show I worked over the next couple of years to process and print my best images of the island from that period with the intention of getting the work published into a monograph, to no avail. One publisher said that the book was of "regional interest-only" and felt there would be too small a readership for a national press. Another didn't buy the tie-in with Atget's work of Paris in the early twentieth century. It was never clear to me that he'd ever heard of Atget's work.
Now the 21 prints from the show will go to the MV Museum for their archive. I have hopes for stewardship that will care for them, that will respect the work and my intention to make photographs that showed the island at a certain time in its history and development. I also hope they will store them well. I will mourn the loss of this work from my collection but, as we age, it is incumbent on us to part with work that can have a life under others' care.
Thanks for riding along on this journey about my work shown on the island of Martha's Vineyard in 1995.
Any comments welcome: Neal's email