Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Juicing through the summer.

  Compared to the alchemy of the darkroom, juicing is just raw industrial-grade mechanical work.  It's about like mixing darkroom chemicals.  You have to do this to do that.  I hunt and gather the raw vegetables from the stores I shop, looking for ones with some inside secret, but I've seen enough modern farming practices that even the "organic" labels merely indicate I'm about to pay more just to have bug legs in the Kale.

  Still, you have to be organized to be an artist, so I lay out the ingredients for one concoction or another and a sharp knife and I start feeding them into the chipper.  I'm currently wearing out a mid-priced juicer with a good reputation.  I can hear the bearings and see the wear on the blades and crush surfaces.  It sings no discernible song, just a soul-less post-modern whine.

  But this is the fight I'm in and these are the weapons at hand.  Katie has a taste for this or a taste for that and I was more amazed than she when I took over the kitchen.

  I didn't ask for any of this.  Katie fighting her life out on the couch and me hither and yon like a frenzied dueling second.  I make lists, I rub feet, I peel drug patches, I move the dog, I do laundry, I toss out garbage, I clean toilets, I detect fevers.  I juice.  I live to serve this ship, but it's not a voyage I would choose on my own.  Every once in a while someone among our amazing group of support people will ask how I am doing.  As if it matters.  Who cares?  I certainly don't.  When it's over there will be time, (because humans always think they have time), to de-scale myself of whatever armor or attachments I've acquired.  In the meantime a terrific commission from the Tyler Art Museum and a few shows here and there are keeping me searching.  Plus my devotion to Katie and our little household up here on the Blackfork.  I may blanch and I may blink, but my foot.  Will not.   Be moved.

  As one might expect, some folks were moved, but now we are at the place where the souls who couldn't stand the heat and the process made excuses and quietly eased away.  I understand.  It's a private war we are waging here.  Best wishes and good luck, little hearts.

  I can't seem to find a Biblical verse that applies.  Favorites involve wastelands and wandering.  Early Job.  Genesis.  Exodus.  I'd prefer something about traversing the valley of death, without fear, because I am armed to the teeth.  Or something about God being good, REALLY good, but he drinks, see?....and there just isn't that line anywhere to be found.   Like with most everything, its there but has to be teased out.

  I'd regarded juicing as a vanity.  (Why not just EAT the vegetable?)  Experience is revealing a little more of the interplay and subtleties of mixing flavors and aftertastes.  As the mixture goes through the juicer and then filters into the refrigerator jar I keep up with the ingredients fresh off the mesh.  I hadn't understood apple sauce, (basically a by-product apparently of...juice.) and certainly hadn't tasted it fresh, much less with a touch of ginger or jalapeƱo infused.  Lately I've taken to throwing in a beet or a plum just to get them as an undertone to the main taste. Anything stuck in the filter usually gets fingered up just to monitor the process.  Always interesting stuff.  Maybe this IS healthy and good for you.  Have a sip of carrot and ginger, you T-cells, then go and KICK some molecular K-RAST ass.

  The maintainence of the whole catastrophe is a drudge, like painting or chopping wood.  Nobody is eager to do it, but when you are finished there a sense of satisfaction.  Then just like mowing a lawn, you have to do it again.

  Killing Gaia, of course.  Electricity and manufacturing and garbage bags and paper towels and water flow and soap.  Thermostat at 72 in August.  Let the power grid sing.  She's staying cool.

  And probably it will add some inflection to art-making.  I'm searching with silver and lens and light for visions never before seen in nature or culture.  Maybe some collision of kale and celery will help get a foothold to see the next thing.

Learning something you need to know.

I'm interested in ideas and where they come from and try to notice when a new one appears.  Late in the week I learned two new things, both of which I needed to know.  They weren't grippingly important- one involved building frames, and the other a film processing tip, but both were unencountered new ideas.

Once I get a visual idea I'm interested in pursuing, I work out the details of shooting it in my head and let it morph a few times, then round up the subject matter and set it up.  The details shift at every step.   For some reason, I have to actually burn a piece of 8X10 film, then immediately I see the next incarnation.  Then I shoot that an see the next one.  If I can put on the brakes enough to go process film and contact it, then there is another level staring me in the face.  Takes about three shooting sessions to get an idea worked out.  I'm interested in visual ideas that have never occurred in nature or culture.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Two sisters, stacked canoes.

Two images from a little shoot last Saturday.  

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

100 Tylerites.

Irons in the fire this year, and lots of fire.  I proposed a project for the Tyler Art Museum called "100 Tylerites.  I'm in full mortal combat with the shooting.  Using roll film and Hasselblad.  Nice to use old workhorse after a bit, though I did shoot some trail people at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon during AIR so it wasn't that dusty.

Woman with dog, Bright Angel Point Trail.

  Some of ideas I think up and build out.  Some I search and find.  Every photo shoot always has a problem and a surprise in it, even careful plans.  Hoping for delightful, never imagined images. 

  The shooting part isn't a problem, but the scheduling can be.  Usually if subjects have a list of questions its a bad sign.  I go for three cancellations, then move on down the list.  Usually chasing about five people at a time, plus going where people are and winging it. Doing this all solo.

  I'm shy, so I've learned to push through that: walking into birthday parties at the park, approaching people in grocery lines and stores.  Judges, teachers, business folks, garbage men, sickbays, wanderers, neighbors.  I missed catching a man with the most interesting and ugly face at Walmart last month.

  So far, I'm in control of the list.  I've warned the museum about the danger of having any influence on the list- folks will be mad they weren't on it.  I'd rather them be mad at me than the museum.  I do ask a few people for input, but most of it is folks I already know.

  Shooting folks everyone knows, like the mayor and sheriff, but many people that are only known in their community.  When I can, they are in a historical background that refers to the city.  Captions will be one or two sentences, saying where who they are.

  Averaging three rolls a day.  Processing every few days.  HP5 in Pyrocat on reels.  Proofing out often and looking them over with cropping bars.  Not cropping much if at all except by camera viewfinder.

Jamal Logan and grandfather.

Jamal Logan at swimming lesson.

Peace marcher.

Clowns at the park.

Master gardners.

Linda, Cox's Grill.

Rusty Mitchum, Skunk Hollow.

Sherrie and daughter.

Doc Muckleroy at Doc Witt's house.

Gibert and Gus Ramirez.

Michael McClendon, Vintner.

Councilman Don Warren boarding the Red Line.

Hayes Caldwell.

David Demic with Harry Jenkins.

Alan and Henry Bell at the Marsh House.

RobinHood Brians, recording studio.

Dennis Smith, TxDot, on Loop 49.

    Staying with square format for matting.  Printing 14X14 I think.  So far just shooting and proofing, since tap water temp is 89 degrees.  Showing proofs to museum on September 1st and wrapping shooting about November 1st.

  Images getting a little bolder as I go along.  The interior mind talk is complex.  I'm pushing into what I don't know, doing things I don't do.

Mary Jane McNamera.

Mackenzie, Village Bakery.

Emma Grace at birthday.


Matt and Breck Watson, railroad depot.

Dr. Bob Peters, weatherman.

Joe Black, farmer.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Studio risk.

  A single wasp appeared inside the screen door of my little studio a few months ago building a paper nest.  She just had one little bit of a hex for the longest, and just hung there doing nothing for days during the cool weather.  I wondered how this process worked and instead of smashing her, just let it run.  Did she eat?  Did she rest?  Would help show up?  She was there a couple of months, adding slowly to the construction.  Sometimes she would be gone for a whole day and night.  Finally, she laid and egg and sealed off a tube.  It hatched and there were two.  They both went to work.  Three, four, now six.  This started in late April and now here it is on the cusp of July.

  Red wasps.  All related.  I don't know if the original is still in the group, though I assume so.  A nest just outside the door was on the same track and schedule, but a bird or a bat took it before hatching started.

  I've taken care, propping the screen door back and ducking inside.  When it was just her, the cool weather and the repetition of experience,( I think), got her used to a little activity.  With two, the sting risk doubled.  With six, it becomes more likely and bends toward the inevitable.  They seem to excite each other, so that if one flips its wings into a ready-to-launch "V" and turns my direction it seems that others follow.  One of them actually buzzed wings yesterday, though it didn't launch.  I'm just 30 inches away.

  Though I like the risk of this, the thought of it, the danger of going into your studio, what art-making might cost, et...this can't go on.  The stakes are being raised daily.  Long ago I watched wasps attack my uncle RB at his boathouse, dipping and diving in repeatedly to get a quick grip, sting and then let go.  He was whacking them out of the air, but a couple got through.  They don't lose the stinger like a bee- they can repeat.  I sorted through my prop table and found the right glassware to put over the nest, cut it off from the door jam with a thin piece of cardboard and collect them for the Blackfork Bestiary.  Should have done it last night.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


Couple things I didn't mention on the trip.  First- I had bought a 600mm Fuji T lens just for the canyon.  Pretty early I broke it out to shoot at Point Imperial.  Since it's big it was in it's own wrap with no place in the bag.  I hand-carried it out to the overlook with an armful of other stuff and dropped it, killing it coffin-nail dead.  Aperture blades all over inside.  I wrapped it up and never gave it another thought.  It's in a box I haven't opened.  Maybe Havel Camera can resurrect.

  Second- I had a darkcloth slither away from me crossing a parking lot early one morning at the Lodge.  It was only missing for about 90 seconds before I doubled back.  Had the Z6 bag over a shoulder and the tripod with 5X7 over the other with the cloth for a pad.  It got away.  I hustled back just in time to see a white van driving out the far end of the parking.  It never showed up in lost and found.  I wonder what they thought it was.  For some reason I had packed my old darkcloth, vintage 1975.  Used it the rest of the way but the black side has gotten so rotten that it rips at a touch.  Never had two darkcloths on any trip ever in 45 years.

  Black side was made of an old blackout curtain that hung at Sam Houston State U to give cover to an old linotype machine.  They junked the machine and the curtain went as well.  We cut it into about 20 dark cloths and passed them out.  Nancy Michaelewicz could sew and put a white side on it, along with several others.  Lotta service out of that thing.  The one I lost was a much lighter and newer one from some surplused-out view cameras that the school auctioned last year.

  First film processing today.  Just cleaning out 8X10 kinetic still life film before I start on the 5X7 from the Canyon.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

  Back from the canyon.  1192 miles one way.  We pretty much just followed our standard route back.  East Texas looks lush and exotic.  One of the nice effects of the AIR is to get away from your normal working mode....and then come back to it to see how it looks to you.

Mule Girls.  

Sausage out of the pancakes I had for breakfast at the lodge.  We didn't have a candle, so this is a little field-expedient.

Last shot of the Transept.

Katie chilling at the cabin.

We got lost coming across Arizona, at least according to the Garmin.  It went nutty crossing the Hopi Reservation.  Of course.  I drove right between Oraibi and Second Mesa.  There is an incredible view to the south of a desolate horizon line.  Obviously a place of great significance.  We popped out at old familiar Ganado and dropped in to see the staff for a minute.  The archive actually had a box of prints I had left for the Canyon de Chelly staff to consider.  Nice to recover those.

  New and better place to eat on the other side of the state at Santa Rosa:  The Comet II.  Unbelievable food.  We always ate at Josephs.  Never again.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Separating Art from Scenery.

  Spectacular here in every direction....but that doesn't make it art.  Mostly had blue-sky days except for yesterday when a series of thunderstorms rolled behind the park.  Got a full days work in, but mostly looking, not shooting.  When I reloaded film holders at 2:00AM I was surprised how many sheets I had in the boxes.

  First deer mouse in the trap last night.  Was picked up by a Raven off Raven Rock almost immediately.

Nailing this in morning light.

Katie sunning on the lodge veranda after Huevos Rancheros.

Leaning tree.

From Cape Royal.

Point Imperial.

Wandering while waiting on light to roll over at Point Imperial trail.  Finally found a deer bone....but just one.  Coyote pup must have carried it a long way.

  Checking out with handler today but not leaving until Tuesday morning.  They used to give us three weeks, cut it to two.  Two weeks became 13 days....and they don't want you to arrive until after 3 on the first day and expect you to leave by lunch on the last day.  It's really 11 working days.  Just enough time to start to settle in, meet people and know your way around.  Not much internet.  Someone just mentioned a free laundry one cabin over instead of driving down the road to the campsite laundry.  Since artists don't talk to each other, it's hard to get any institutional knowledge piled up.
  Rumor is this is the last AIR class.  The problem seems to be staffing, but mostly selection of the artists.  The NPS wants that to be a group decision with many fingers in the pie but very hard to arrange and then actually work through.  Can be 200 applications.  They take 5 on the North.  So the whole program is going to be shut down.  There isn't even an archive for the North Rim.  I did three lectures, one more than they require plus a ton of interaction every time I set up the camera.  Met a lot of wonderful folks.

Time running down.

Katie at the Lodge.

Chips bought at 487 feet, driven to 8000 feet.

Transept work

On the drive to Point Sublime.

Charging Blue Grouse on the Widfoss Trail.

Supai Tunnel.
Working late light

Cliff Rose.

Modern Anasazi.

Hiking out of Cliff Springs.