28 February 2010

Of Monuments and Memorials

"The dead have no remedy in law; all they can do is haunt you"
Hilary Mantel
"Monuments differ in different periods. Each age has its own."
Phillip Johnson

While Theodore Gericault may recline in elegant splendor, palette and brushes in hand, surmounting his memorial, surveying his neighbors in Pere Lachaise's cemetery, here in the Hudson Valley anonymity and stolid muteness marks many a memorial.

Theodore Gericault

Two squared off blocks of stone, their inscriptions mostly washed away by time and rain, stand together as plain-spoken monoliths, family memorials of kin long-vanished from our community.  
Two Headstones, Stuyvesant

Others lean against themselves still displaying some local sculptor's vision of eternal grief in the bas-relief of urn and weeping willow. While Gericault has his 'Raft of the Medusa' as memorial to both his art and their lost lives, these simpler forms mark lives ended in the 1820's and 1830's - at about the same time that he died.

 In the Butler Cemetery, Stuyvesant Landing

And some lost cemeteries have all but returned to forest, their Civil War veterans' status noted by Grand Army of the Republic markers, but more often covered by the cast off leaves of the encroaching trees.

Abandoned cemetery in the woods


24 February 2010

The Two Landscapes/Les Deux Paysages

The few moments of communion with the world are worth the pain, for it is a world for others, an inheritance for others, a gift to others in the end. When you make a world tolerable for yourself, you make a world tolerable for others.
Anais Nin
What is it that has drawn my eyeto the vineyards of Bordeaux and the espalier of the dwarf apple trees of the Hudson Valley?

Barns and Orchards, Orchard Road
The Vineyard of the Chateau 'Le Clavier'

Or the monumental archetectures of Brooklyn and Paris? Their weight, their gravity?
And the persistence of nature: the last tree in Brooklyn and the skeletal dancers before the great Arc?

The Last Tree in Brooklyn

Arc de Triomphe from Av Foch

Though the cultural and historic differences of each region are abundantly clear, thers is much to find in the landscape that sees a similarity of purpose in design and intention to cultivate, arrange and domesticate an environment.

St Emilion from Rue Couvent

Gleason's Farm, from the Southwest

20 February 2010

Sing in me O Muse...

"To say to a painter that Nature is to be taken as she is, is to say to the player that he may sit on the piano"
James McNeill Whistler

"I do not photograph nature. I photograph my visions."
Man Ray

Muses come in many forms. Each is a manifestation of visions received. Between the accidents of time and light, I never know what may strike the film. And will that energy be sufficient to leave more than a trace? And will the vision be compelling? Will it speak to me and what story will it tell?
Sing in me O Muse...

Zephyra II


Succubus II

Madonna and Child

15 February 2010

And portraits?...yes, and portraits...

“A photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows he’s being photographed.”  
Richard Avedon

“There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportions.” 
Francis Bacon

The effigies of the dead in mortuary stillness, their tombs, their inscriptions, are not the only portraits that interest me: these faces of the living, in their studied preoccupation with their encounter with the camera, the length of exposure, the stillness and concentration to record their likeness and what may result, the stories that they do not tell, but imply, these also inspire my work.
Jamie S. 
 Kristina K.
Mariette, in ecstasy
Diana B.

07 February 2010

Paris-Pere Lachaise Cemetery 2007

By means of an image we are often able to hold onto our lost belongings.
But it is the desperateness of losing which picks the flowers of memory,
binds the bouquet"

From some of the photographs made in Paris in March 2007 on a particular day in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery, the day happened to be Passover. At one point, in passing the memorial to the victims of Auschwitz, I took a stone, a flat stone, and placed it at the base of the memorial. It was one of the small flat stones that I carry in my bag to level out the base of the pinhole cameras as they sit on the tripod. It seemed to be the appropriate thing to do.
Oscar Wilde and his neighbor M. Papeil

Un Ange, au repos

Chopin's grave - Pere LaChaise Cem
Alfred de Musset

06 February 2010

Other Views... the familiar landscape of my town

“The real tradition of great things is not to re-do what others have already done, but to recapture the spirit of those great things and to recreate them in another time” Paul Valery

It may be apparent that I consider Atget a mentor.
And like him and many other photographers, we revisit things that we have photographed previously, sometimes as a conscious, intentional attempt to record the passage of time on objects and at other times by the simple habit of the daily to-an-fro. Proximity and happenstance, habit and occasion draw us past familiar locations or treasured points of view. Like Atget’s photographs of the corner of the rue de Seine and the rue de l’Echaude or any number of parks and petit coin, I pass by places familiar and yet ever changing. Here are some variant views of the local landscape.
       The Mills, Stuyvesant Falls

Scott Ice House Ruins, Nutten Hook
   Ice on the Hudson, Nutten Hook 
VanAlen House, c.1737