Tag Archives: art

2012 Favorites

In mid-December Mary from All Over Albany floated the idea of running a series of posts with local photographers’ favorite photos from the year. The idea was to use them while the AOA crew took their winter break, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. I sent her this one as my favorite Albany-related photo, I like how it came together and shows the public side of one of Albany’s best public spaces. I also pointed some other local photographers her way, people who I thought have great work but don’t get a lot of attention for it, and since the AOA post didn’t pan out I wanted to show what they picked too.

Empire Plaza, Albany, NY
Paul Sesink Clee

Empire Plaza, Albany, NY
Paul Sesink Clee

Paul went with these two so I figure I’ll show them both, and I remember first seeing them on flickr and especially liking the bus driver photo myself. His street work is good with a lot of interesting experimentation, and check out the Everyday Disposable series.

Untitled
Daniel Meade

Daniel does a lot of instant and expired film, something I usually find gimmicky. But in his case, the images are usually stronger than the method, so instead of being mainly about the film used it adds to the final product. This one he picked of Thacher Park is a good example, it’s a great landscape no matter what was used to make it.

MAD Irish Toast Wake
Patrick Stephenson

Drinking Buddies
Patrick Stephenson

Patrick also picked two, so here you go. The first is one of the best portraits I’ve seen, and doubly interesting since we mourned the loss of the Miss Albany Diner last year. The second is a still from a short film he created, Biollante. Check it out.

D44 crossing the Hoosick River
William Gill

Will forwarded this one to me, saying:

This photo was taken this summer on Fisherman’s Lane in Schaghticoke at 3am in the middle of a thunderstorm. This is one of the last 3 locomotives remaining in the Delaware & Hudson paint scheme. With their headquarters at the base of State St in Albany and their main shops in Colonie, the D&H was railroading in the Capital District. Their first diesel locomotives were black. The lightning-stripe scheme represented the changes of the early 1960s: they no longer burned coal in steam locomotives and increasingly knew that hauling coal from PA to Albany was no longer a future. With Pennsylvanian coal out of the picture, the D&H was free to paint their locomotives in bright blue, gray, and yellow. The Delaware and Hudson was purchased by Canadian Pacific in 1991.

He posted it on his own blog too. In addition to the excellent train photos, most taken at night, he has great lifestyle/party work and knows his way around a flash.

A few other photographers I like who I referred to Mary, but haven’t heard from: James DiBianco does mainly sports and urbex, but there’s a lot of other subjects mixed in there too, the guy knows how to hustle; Andrew Wertz has a great eye for landscape and New Topographics style which I especially like; and Chris “skippmarv” who just has an insane eye for dramatic light and shadow. If any of you guys see this, I’d love to see your favorite, drop me a line.

I do regret that I didn’t single out any female photographers. I don’t see a lot of interesting work from local female photographers who don’t get a lot of exposure, but I’m pretty sure that’s my fault for not looking hard enough, I’m going to try to fix that.

Sebastien also has a 2012 favorites post up with other impressive local work, check it out.

Art for ALS

Art for ALS 2011

edit: I’m happy to report that the ASAP Daisies raised $2700!

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, often called Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a paralyzing degenerative disease with no known cure. In fact, the actual cause is itself unknown and treatment is as much psychological and emotional as it is physical for both patients and their loved ones. The St. Peter’s ALS Regional Center has been providing care and services since 1988, and on Saturday, May 4, the ASAP Daisies hosted the Art for ALS silent auction to raise funds for the continuation of that mission.

Art for ALS 2011

I was asked to take a few photos of the event and gladly obliged. The Daisies did an excellent job here and a great selection of art and services were donated. The presentation was clean, the food was great, and Palatypus played a live acoustic set throughout the night. I have to hand it to those guys, they worked hard with only a few breaks, and the music was a great addition. They also pull a lot of great faces while singing, for their sake I deleted the more embarrasing ones.

Art for ALS 2011

Not much else to say except that it was a great time with great people for a great cause. You can get more information about ALS or St. Peter’s work at the ALS Regional Center website, including ways you can help. There’s more about the Daisies in the link above or you can “Like” them on Facebook to keep up to date. Special thanks to all of the artists, individuals, and area businesses who contibuted to this event — and extra special thanks to everyone who put up with me shoving a camera in their face all night long. You’re all great sports. More photos in the slideshow.

Art for ALS 2011 Art for ALS 2011
Art for ALS 2011 Art for ALS 2011

Mass MoCA: Taxidermy, Glaciers, and Voyeurism

Material World: Sculpture to Environment - Mass MoCA

Last weekend we took advantage of an overcast winter day to visit Mass MoCA and check out the Material World: Sculpture to Environment exhibit. Didn’t realize we’d be in for a bit of a surprise, too.

But first, this was the end of the Material World exhibit, so you won’t be able to actually go see in person what I show you photos of. Cue the trombone — wah-wahhh. It was a great exhibit, but the good news is it’s being replaced by two that sound equally interesting: Sub Mirage Lignum, some mixed media sculpture with emphasis on the mixed; and Memery: Imitation, Memory, and Internet Culture, which has to be fun. Looking forward to seeing those, but let’s tease you with the Material World stuff.

The leading photo is Re-Projection: Hoosac, by Tobias Putrih, taken from the “wrong” end. From the other direction, a spotlight illuminates these monofilament wires producing dazzling patterns of light points. I took a photo of the “right” end, but it turned out almost identical to Sebastien’ photo from earlier in the exhibit’s run, so I’ll just steer you thataway. I was fascinated by how viewers interacted with this, literally walking into and along the length of it — sure, I did the same thing. It’s great, and I hope I get to experience more installations like it.

Material World: Sculpture to Environment - Mass MoCA

Here’s Big Boss by Orly Genger. Made from miles upon miles of braided rope, it dominated the exhibit, blocking a hallway and literally bursting through a wall and spilling across a huge room. I didn’t want to take the obvious wide shot but I still wanted to express the presence of this installation and its almost physical assault, so you get the above. Did this choice have anything to do with the fact that I was testing out a 55mm f/1.4 lens? I’ll leave that a mystery…

Material World: Sculpture to Environment - Mass MoCA

The Geometry of Light by Alyson Shotz is made of hundreds of plastic lenses suspended on threads. While the presentation is similar to Re-Projection: Hoosac this tighter installation is more intimate and feels more delicate. Where you’re drawn to explore Putrih’s ephemeral display, Shotz pulls you in but keeps you wary of coming too close; seems like if you breathe on it wrong, the entire thing might fall apart, and nobody wants to be that guy. I had an instant reaction to the refractive properties of the lenses and experimented with using them in an image with nothing to show for it, but the shadows they cast were more interesting anyway so I went with those, again trying to take a nontypical approach.

There was more to this exhibit, but I either didn’t like the rest of the photos I took or they’re shots that I just don’t want to talk about on an individual basis. There’s a link to the slideshow at the end if you’re curious.

One Floor Up More Highly - Mass MoCA

One of the newer exhibits is One Floor Up More Highly by Katharina Grosse. It’s primarily made of dirt, which I initially thought was concrete, covered in technicolor spraypaint and punctuated with cut styrofoam obelisks. Grosse claims that the work is nonrepresentational, but it’s hard not to see glaciers in the huge white slabs, and the fact that they’re made of one of the most environmentally toxic man-made materials ever and casually littered with winter coats and other clothes makes it hard not to see an allegory.

One Floor Up More Highly - Mass MoCA

The piece takes up an enormous amount of room, and extends from the main area into two smaller spaces, one of which gives an elevated view of the main installation. It’s impressive, and the scale lets you walk around and really soak it in. The overspray onto the installation space itself is cheeky, and I love it.

Sol Lewitt - Mass MoCA

The highlight of Mass MoCA is the extensive collection of Sol Lewitt wall drawings. It’s worth spending a few minutes to explain these for those who think they’re just halfassed abstractions with the hard work done by some assistants. Lewitt is a pioneer of conceptual art, in the core definition of conceptual as something that is more of an idea than an end product. In fact, when an entity wanted to display a wall drawing, they didn’t actually obtain the drawing itself; instead, they would get instructions to create the piece along with a certificate. This explanation from the Virginia Commonwealth University has more details and examples.

Sol Lewitt - Mass MoCA

Lewitt is really the conceptual artist’s conceptual artist, but that’s not the real lesson here. Art is meant to be seen and Mass MoCA’s Lewitt collection is a great example of art that should be seen. Spanning three floors, the labyrinthine wall drawings not only threaten to disorient you but some of the patterns will physically distort your sense of perception. Well, they did for me anyway, and I swear I didn’t bring a flask.

Sol Lewitt - Mass MoCA Sol Lewitt - Mass MoCA
Sol Lewitt - Mass MoCA Sol Lewitt - Mass MoCA

The Sol Lewitt retrospective is a joint project of Mass MoCA, the Yale University Gallery, Williams College Museum of Art, and the artist (before his death in 2007). The exhibit was completed in 2008 and is scheduled for a 25-year tour, so there’s no rush to go see this one. But you’ll want to visit more than once, so check it out sooner rather than later.

Habit - Mass MoCA

The final surprise was Habit, a play conceived by David Levine, that puts a trio of actors in a small dwelling constructed on-site with doors and windows wide open to view by the audience. The roughly 45-minute domestic drama loops continuously throughout the day, for 7 or 8 hours, so you might wonder when the actors get a chance to break for things like food and basic hygiene. Built into the performance is a degree of freedom, so while the overall plot and script remain the same, if an actor needs to use the facilities, they just… use the facilities, and life goes on. Habit is amazingly engrossing, not only because the characters and subject matter are contemporary, but because you’re a voyeur in this vignette. You can peek through a window right above the couch where characters might be sharing an initiate moment with each other or a gourd. Few things are off limits. There’s a great punchline which I won’t spoil, but I will suggest that you explore the entire exhibit. Admission to Habit is an extra $5 over the $15 general admission, and totally worth it.

Habit - Mass MoCA

We also visited the Clark Institute, less than ten minutes away, to catch the tail end of the Albrecht Dürer exhibit; you want to see this, so hurry as it ends March 13. I didn’t grab a magnifying glass or audio tour handset but I was drawn in by the intricacy, detail, and intrigue of each piece. Even if you don’t make it in time for Dürer, the Clark’s permanent collection is captivating. You know that scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day off at the Art Institute of Chicago? It’s sort of like that. If I haven’t convinced you already, admission is free through the end of May. Go!

Oh, the taxidermy! Through April 3 Mass MoCA has Petah Coyne’s Everything That Rises Must Converge, a series of mixed media installations that feature lots and lots of taxidermied birds and maybe even a cougar? Photography of this exhibit is not allowed (I assume by request of the artist) so I can’t show you, which is kind of lame, but it’s worth seeing.

There you have it, an art filled Saturday, one which you can easily replicate. If you’re cheap like me, I suggest packing a lunch if you’re going to visit both museums and hitting Mass MoCA first, then grabbing a cookie or scone at the Clark’s cafe. There’s a small tourist strip in Williamstown, too, so you can grab an expensive bite near the Clark if you want. I’m sure it would be delicious but I can’t vouch. Make this trip soon, before the weather warms up and demands hikes and other outdoor adventures! As always there’s a Mass MoCA slideshow; I know this is an image heavy post but there’s more you haven’t seen.

Of Weeds & Wildness at the Nott Memorial

"Of Weeds and Wildness", Nott Memorial

All Over Albany was kind enough to publish some photos and an interview of mine on the current exhibit at the Nott Memorial’s Mandeville Gallery (on the Union College campus in Schenectady).

Ever since I dove back into photography I’ve been looking at a lot of photos on a day to day basis; between photography blogs I follow, people I keep track of on flickr, and personal research (both online and in print), I go through hundreds of photos every week. One of the ways to learn in a visual medium is to look, so I do as much as I can — I probably spend more time looking than the whole making of photos thing. But I also find a lot to learn in arts beyond photography, and study as much painting, drawing, sculpture, etc., as I can too.

So, it was a great opportunity to have Kara Jefts, current interim director of the Mandeville Gallery, walk me through the show. I don’t have as deep a knowledge of other arts as I do of photography, and even there I’m still in the shallow end of the pool. Having someone knowledgeable about what they’re looking at as a guide, even when they’re not consciously guiding you, is a huge bonus. I have a much deeper understanding of the work on display, and I fully credit that to Kara pointing out many details I wouldn’t have noticed on my own.

The show itself is worth seeing, especially if you’ve never been to the Nott before. My photos don’t do the place justice, it’s an incredibly gorgeous building and the structure is perfect for showing art. The gallery is on the second floor, ringing the perimeter of the building, and this circular setup lends no clear beginning or end to the exhibit. You’re left to wander the pieces in your own way, at your own pace, which ends up being a pretty good way to look at art. The hanging fabric screenprints are awesome, and really have to be seen to be appreciated. They’re constantly in motion, drawing on the natural forms printed on them in an almost animistic way.

Shooting anything in this place, on the other hand, is pure hell. I’ve had experience with interiors that are flooded with exterior light before and my solution has been to use fill flash and ritual human sacrifice. But that was with plate glass windows, here you have a few narrow windows letting in all of the light, so the very lovely detailing in the glass is completely lost in the attempt to get any decent exposure on interior subjects. My flash wouldn’t be good for wide shots as the space is just too big, and I would have felt too intrusive doing that or setting up a tripod and bracketing. See, the third floor is a study lounge for students and the shutter noise was already disruptive enough that I limited my shots as much as possible. The only thing left is to let the windows blow out and be done with it, and considering I took all of these in natural light with a manual focus 28mm f/2.8, I’m reasonably happy. I’m sure I could do better, so I’m kicking myself a bit, but you know, I went in and got the job done, so there’s that. This was a huge learning experience and I can’t wait to do more.

I was also really happy that I got to check out the Echolilia exhibit in the Visual Arts building, along with two other photo shows. I’ve been following Timothy Archibald’s progress on this project for a while and really find it a touching, soulful series (his son’s blog is totally awesome too but I’ll leave it up to you to find it, more rewarding that way). As I said while we were visiting, he’s opened the viewer up to something extremely close and personal, and if that’s not art I don’t know what is.

Some more photos AOA didn’t use below. There is a panorama but I have to warn you, there are three Sebastiens in there. It’s little scary to get a glimpse of some Bollywood robot dystopia featuring my favorite Francophone, and I apologize for that. You can see the full slideshow, and a few photos from Sebastien of a different exhibit where he had a better agreement with the windows.

The Nott is really an amazing building. I could spend hours in there with a camera. Truly a local treasure, if you’ve never checked it out, do it.

"Of Weeds and Wildness", Nott Memorial

"Of Weeds and Wildness", Nott Memorial

"Of Weeds and Wildness", Nott Memorial

"Of Weeds and Wildness", Nott Memorial

Morphology @ Albany Public Library

<div style="text-align: centerMorphology

Through December, I have three pieces on display in the “Morphology” juried exhibition at the Albany Public Library Main Branch on Washington Avenue (next to the Armory). Reception with live music from Matt Durfee and M.R. Poulopoulos is part of First Friday on December 3, 6-9pm. From the call for entries:

“Morphology”

A Juried Art Exhibition at the Albany Public Library Main Branch
December/January 2010 ∙ First Friday Event – December 3, 2010, 6-9pm

Based on the many definitions of the word “morphology,” this art show will examine local artists’ ideas of form and structure, whether political, biological, geographical, linguistic or other.

Jurors: Nicolette Callaway, Alifair Skebe, Ph.D.

Didn’t have a lot of time on this one, but I ended up choosing some photos and converting them to black & white, something I don’t do too often. The above is a little sneak peek, if you’ve been following for a while you might recognize those. This all happened really fast, including having to grab some frames and handcut some mats — choice words were involved there.

Seb and Laura also have pieces in the show, so the reception should be fun. I hope to see you there!