AIPAD 2012 (part 2)

The AIPAD Photography Show
Park Avenue Armory
New York, NY
March 29- April 1st, 2012

The 32nd edition of The Association of International Photography Dealers (AIPAD) show opened yesterday at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City. The show features seventy five leading photography dealers assembled under one roof, giving collectors and photography lovers the opportunity to see more work than they could possibly desire or mentally process in one visit. Be prepared for visual overload, and I mean that in the best way. All of the dealer displays are beautifully presented and artfully arranged, but there is simply too much to absorb, even for an insatiable visual consumer like myself. Spending two hours seeing three shows at the Metropolitan Museum of Art prior to the AIPAD press preview didn't help my legs or mental stamina... I was exhausted by day's end! 

I walked this year's show with Susan May Tell and Ruben Natal-San Miguel, which is becoming a bit of an annual tradition. Last year I met Susan face to face for the first time at the AIPAD press preview and had so much fun we decided to do it again this year. It seems like every photo event I attend in NYC, Ruben is there also, and sure enough as soon as we entered AIPAD there was Ruben. So the three of us more or less walked the immense space together for the next several hours. I say more or less because I quickly discovered that we have three distinct personal preferences towards photography, and our internal magnets kept pulling us in different directions. But this is the beauty of AIPAD. There is something (much more than something) for everyone.

Susan May Tell & Ruben Natal-San Miguel
browsing prints at Barry Singer Gallery

Susan May Tell is a career fine art photographer and photojournalist, with a very impressive background. She is currently the Fine Arts Chair for ASMP/NY.  As one might expect, her magnet draws her towards classic black & white photography, photojournalism and documentary work.  Her eye zooms right in on images such as Dorothea Lange's The Defendant and The Witness, a stunning pair of photographs at Richard Moore Photographs (409).  Or a pair of Lee Friedlander photos at Etherton Gallery (415). Those Friedlanders were priced at $15,000 and $24,000, remarkable for non-editioned work by a living photographer, mused Susan, who also mentioned that Friedlander is her favorite living photographer. Also on her list of favorites were Saul Leiter's black and white work at Howard Greenberg Gallery (204), the Vivian Maier photographs at Steven Kasher (300), Vintage holiday cards from the collection of Beaumont Newhall on display at Scheinbaum & Russek Ltd (207) , the Weegee images at Richard Moore Photographs (409), and seeing work by her all time favorite photographer, André Kertész, well represented throughout the show by several galleries. One of the highlights of the afternoon for Susan was meeting, photographing, and being photographed by Bill Eppridge, surely among the greats of modern photojournalism. Eppridge is most well known for his iconic image of the busboy supporting the head of Robert Kennedy as he lay dying from a gunshot wound in 1968. His work was being shown by Monroe Gallery (419). Another image Susan noticed and loved at Monroe Gallery was Steve Schapiro's Freedom Rider Jerome Smith, Mississippi (1965).

Dressing Room Behind the Circus Ring (1944)
Weegee @ Richard Moore Photography

Ruben Natal- San Miguel is a photographer, collector and curator with a great eye who loves a wide range of genres, but tends to be pulled towards contemporary photography with vibrant color. Ruben has written a great piece on his blog Art Most Fierce, detailing his highlights from AIPAD 2012. During the walk through Ruben returned again and again to look at the work of Phillip Lorca diCorcia at David Zwirner (121),  a David LaChapelle image at Staley Wise Gallery (210), and a wonderful image by Julie Blackmon at Robert Mann Gallery (413).

Phillip Lorca diCorcia @ David Zwirner

I am in general agreement with the favorite picks of both Susan and Ruben, and also noticed a few additional works that pulled me right into several gallery spaces for closer looks.  Jessica Eaton's Cubes for Albers & LeWitt at Higher Pictures (114) are marvelous conceptual works paying homage to the art of Josef Albers and Sol LeWitt. Seemingly digitally created, these photographs are produced solely within Eaton's 4 X 5 camera using multiple exposures and lighting effects. No post processing whatsoever. The prints are 40" X 32" and priced at $4500 each.

Cubes for Albers & LeWitt
Jessica Eaton @ Higher Pictures

Julie Saul Gallery (435) has a nice little grouping of Miroslav Tichy prints mostly from the 1970's. These are small prints averaging around 5" X 7" . These are not the highly abstract work of Tichy that I really love, but it was still nice to see some of his work on the walls. I did not see any prices listed for these images.

Miroslav Tichy @ Julie Saul

Bruce Silverstein Gallery (313) commanded the largest physical space in the Armory, affording them the ability to display work in larger scale and visual impact than most other dealers. The 28 framed pages of work by book artist Keith Smith gave me a slight sense of deja vu, as it looks quite similar to the work of Nicole Eisenman currently on display around the corner from AIPAD at the Whitney Biennial. Vastly different work upon closer inspection, but the initial visual impact is remarkably similar. I am always attracted to work presented in a grid format.

Book #46 (1974)
Keith Smith @ Silverstein

I had never seen actual prints of Eliot Porter's work. Scheinbaum & Russek Ltd (207) has a wonderful collection on hand and a group of four prints on the wall. I had a conversation with Andra Russek about Porter's work and his masterful use of color. She shared her recollection of seeing some of Porter's prints for the first time and thinking that they had faded, not being accustomed to such natural subtlety and nuance that was the hallmark of Eliot Porter. I recently bought a copy of Porter's classic Sierra Club photobook "In Wildness is the Preservation of the World", and it has fast become one of my favorites.

Eliot Porter @ Scheinbaum & Russek Ltd.

Still barely scratching the surface. Just too many images to catch the eye and not enough time to furiously write notes and try to keep track of what was what and where I saw it.  Not to mention trying to remember conversations with various dealers. The collected knowledge and experience about the world of photography that is assembled in one space for AIPAD is beyond comprehension. There were a few trends I may have noticed and picked up from discussions as I walked the room. One was pricing. I got an overall impression of lower prices. I have no data to back this up, just a gut impression and several dealers who emphasized value when discussing prices. Another conversation with a gallery owner worked its way towards the 'now is the time to buy' cliche as if we were discussing real estate or stock portfolios. I have heard conflicting reports; some say the market is booming (and auction prices seem to support that), while others would say the market has bottomed out. Another related trend I noticed was in edition sizes. Small editions to bolster pricing and support buyer interest. Andrea Meislin, owner of Andrea Meislin Gallery (111) explained a unique edition method she is using for the work of Michal Chelbin. Prints are being sold in editions of seven, with the buyer being able to select from a choice of three sizes, more or less in the concept of small, medium , or large as if ordering from a menu. The unique difference is that the price is the same regardless of the print size chosen. The resulting editions will potentially all be unique as well. For a specific photograph that sells out, if four collectors purchase large prints, two collectors purchase medium prints, and one collector purchases a small print, that would mean the collector with the small print owns a unique print, the medium sized owners hold one of two, etc. etc. This is an inventive way to stimulate collector interest and a refreshing change from typical edition sizes of fifty or more. I noticed several other galleries emphasizing edition sizes of ten or less.

Migrant Family (1938)
Dorothea Lange @ Richard Moore Photographs

Can't end a review of AIPAD without a mention of photobooks.  Harper's Books (429) and Jeff Hirsch Books (433) are back again this year, both with stunning collections of rare photography and art books. While browsing the display at Harper's Books I was show a newly acquired and near fine condition example of Robert Adams book The New West, a signed first edition. ($4500). Also on the shelf was a copy of Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Stills, of which I predicted would sell during the show due to the popularity of Sherman's MoMA exhibit currently on view. Off the shelf, and in the flesh, standing at the counter of Harper's Books was John Gossage. Such a pleasure to meet a master of the artist's book format. Always uplifting to meet an artistic kindred spirit. 

I'll end with a nod to the most unusual work on the walls, the unique prints of experimental photographer Matthew Brandt at M + B Gallery (421). Brandt is known for creating photographic prints with food condiments as a replacement for ink. The group of four images on the walls here were created with chewing gum; Jucyfruit, Winterfresh, etc. The results are a soft textured pastel-like print that had me wondering about things like archival integrity. The works are mounted behind glass, so no clue as to aroma qualities. I'm undecided on like or dislike, but they did peak my interest.

Matthew Brandt @ M + B Gallery


Susan May Tell's Website

AIPAD 2012 (part 1)

AIPAD 2012 @ The Armory

The AIPAD Photography Show
Park Avenue Armory
New York, NY
March 29- April 1st, 2012

The Association of International Photography Dealers (AIPAD) opens it's 32nd edition of the AIPAD Photography Show New York today at the Park Avenue Armory. It is superbly presented and everyone I have talked to agrees it is one of the best  in recent memory. The show runs through Sunday April 1st. Seventy five leading international photography dealers are on hand to present a vast array of works with something for every variety of collector. This is a chance to see it all, and while I attempted to do just that yesterday at the press preview, it is impossible to grasp everything on display in the 3 hour window allotted to members of the media. I did my best to see it all though, and as I did last year, I will present this review in two parts. Part 1 will be an overview of galleries to look for, and part 2 will discuss some of the individual photographers and images that caught my attention.

AIPAD 2012

Yossi Milo Gallery (203) is impossible to miss, taking center stage as you enter the show. The gallery is showing works by Tim Hetherington, Alison Rossiter, Doug Rickard, Matthew Brandt, Chris McCaw, Sze Tsung Leong and Pieter Hugo. Large and impressive prints in one of the biggest spaces on the floor. Especially impressive are the images of soldiers by Tim Hetherington taken in Liberia and Afghanistan. Yossi Milo will be presenting the first US exhibition of Hetherington's work in a few weeks. The exhibition will run from April 12- May 19, 2012.

Yossi Milo Gallery
New York, NY

Danziger Gallery (401) is tucked into a corner so it would be easy to pass by unnoticed. If you do you will miss beautiful images from Karen Knorr's India Song series, and one of Chris Levine's Queen Portraits. Bruce Silverstein (313) commands the largest physical space in the show, allowing the luxury of a multi-room gallery. They have used it to full advantage with lots of images from the many artists represented by the gallery, including a nice collection of Lisette Model photographs, and a large grid display of work from Keith Smith. Staley Wise Gallery (210) presents a delight for the eyes with images of Marilyn Monroe by Bert Stern, formal society portraiture by Slim Aarons, and the intense color work of David LaChapelle.

Staley Wise Gallery
New York, NY

Jackson Fine Art (115) has a marvelous collection of work by photographers such as Chip Simone, George Georgiou, and Mona Kuhn. Gallery owner/director Anna Walker Skillman went out of her way to graciously show me her complete collection of prints on hand from both Simone and Georgiou. I was unfamiliar with both of these photographers and I think one measure of success for a show like AIPAD should be the exposure of unfamiliar work to new audiences. Jackson Fine Art represents an impressive list of photographers, both vintage and contemporary. Below Anna Walker Skillman shows prints to Ruben Natal-San Miguel

Jackson Fine Art
Atlanta, GA

Barry Singer Gallery (215) presents an impressive collection of vintage works by August Sander, Arnold Newman, Ansel Adams, Weegee, among many others. The walls are displayed with a nicely curated grouping and there are numerous unframed prints to browse through. Below Barry Singer shares a glass of presumably fine California wine with Stephen Perloff.

Barry Singer Gallery
Petaluma, Ca

Michael Hoppen Gallery (208) presents an eclectic mix of contemporary photographers including Daido Moriyama, Bruce Bernard, Zoe Sendas, and Guy Bourdin.  I wish they had more work on display at this show. They have a very large gallery in London with a a big list of represented photographers. They went with a sparse but well chosen selection for AIPAD.

Michael Hoppen Gallery
London, UK

Two Sante Fe galleries really impressed me. Scheinbaum & Russek Ltd (207)  have a beautiful collection of holiday cards made by Lee Friedlander, Jerry Uelsman, and John Szarkowski. Also on their walls are a fine collection of Ansel Adams and Eliot Porter photographs. I had never seen actual prints of Porter's work, so it was a thrill as Andra Russek gave me a personal tour of the work of this master of early color fine art photography.  Verve Gallery (404) shows a group of Henry Horenstein's Animalia series next to Brigitte Carnochan's sublime platinum/palladium botanical prints. A wonderful display of images presented by Verve.

Verve Gallery of Photography
Santa Fe, NM

I have barely scratched the surface. Just the things that pulled me in during the hectic and electric frenzy of opening night at AIPAD.  Tomorrow I'll focus on some individual images and photographers, trends I noticed in pricing and edition sizes, the thrill of meeting John Gossage at Harper's Books (429) and other assorted observations.

Link to part 2 of AIPAD 2012

Emmet Gowin

List Gallery
Swarthmore College
February 28- April 1

Emmet Gowin at List Gallery (2012)

The List Gallery at Swarthmore College is currently showing a broad career-spanning exhibit of the photographs of Emmet Gowin. The show is thoughtfully displayed in the two serenely minimal rooms that make up the gallery. The first gallery space upon entering is hung with Gowin's environmental photography ranging from 1986 to 1997. This is not the intimate family based work that Emmet Gowin is widely known for and I like the fact that the List Gallery opens the visitor's experience with the less familiar. I had seen a few of these images in books, but was completely unprepared for the impact of the actual prints. Similar to the experience last year seeing Edward Steichen's prints for the first time at the Metropolitan Museum. No book or internet search can match the visual beauty of Steichen's work, and I felt the same way looking at Gowin's prints. 

Aerial Photographs (1986-91)

The images are stunning to look at and their self-contradictory nature can be somewhat confounding. These are images of vast environmental destruction. They document enormous examples of ways that humans have negatively impacted the land, and yet the photographs are stunningly beautiful.There are images of the Nevada Test Craters at Yucca Flat that could easily be mistaken for NASA Lunar photography. Other images resemble detailed etchings of historic western landscapes, enhanced to that effect by Gowin's subtle use of toning. I loved these images and have a new appreciation for this body of work.

Edith (1967, 1971, 1994)

Upon entering the second exhibit room familiarity immediately returns with classic images of Edith, Elijah, Maggie and other family members, mostly taken in Virginia during the early 1970's.  These are the images we associate with Emmet Gowin, and the collection displayed in this exhibit does not disappoint.  Mixed in with iconic photographs such as Nancy, Danville, Virginia (1969) are several unpublished family portraits, as well as silver gelatin images of Edith from as recently as 2000 that show a beautiful continuum to the early series.

Nancy, Danville, Virginia (1969)

Working around the room, I was delighted to discover a transition into digital photography. Two remarkable images from 2002 called Edith and Moth Flight, are shot with a slow shutter speed, capturing the flight paths of moths attracted to a light placed behind Edith. They are mysterious and timeless.

Edith and Moth Flight (2002)

Digital images of Edith taken on trips to Panama from 2001 to 2005 represent a unique switch in format. These are lush gold toned salt prints on handmade paper, and are a complete departure from a recognizable Gowin authorship. (if there is one). Gowin has continued to push new territory throughout his career, never resting on trusted formula.

Edith in Panama (2001-2005)
Mariposas Nocturnas (2007-2010)

The last four images in the exhibit are presented in a grid not unlike the typology format of Bernd & Hilla Becher.  Each index in the set of four on display contains twenty five beautiful images of Mariposas Nocturnas, or nocturnal moths.  Gowin's interest in documenting a typology of moths dates back to his trips to Panama. A 2006 exhibit at Pace/Magill Gallery was titled Mariposas Nocturnas: Edith in Panama. That exhibit was a blending of Gowin's interest in family portraiture with his explorations of nature and biodiversity. The recent work displayed at List Gallery is a fantastic mix of scientific documentation and artistic beauty. I spoke with Emmet Gowin a year ago after a lecture given at Project Basho in Philadelphia and he described his work on the moth indexes with a bright twinkle in his eye. He is clearly energized by this work, and has plans to publish them in a book designed for children. I want to be the first kid on my block to have that book.

Mariposas Nocturnas, Index #16 (2007)

Emmet Gowin @ List Gallery


C H Paquette (2012)

Collage (5" X 5"):  Sun-yellowed Newsprint, Sepia Ink, Photograph
Text:  Excerpt from "Composition" by Henri Cartier-Bresson (1952)
Image: Anonymous 19th Century Photograph

New Sculpture

 C H Paquette (2012)

From an ongoing series of anthropomorphic sculptures made from salvaged natural materials. The head was found on the shore of Lake Superior in Michigan and the body is an antler found in Montana by friend and fellow artist J Randall Updegrove.  Below are some other examples. The work from 2010 is driftwood from the Atlantic Ocean along the beach in New Jersey. The work from 2009 is a piece of beaver chewed driftwood from the St Lawrence River in New York.

C H Paquette (2010)

C H Paquette (2009)

Cindy Sherman

Museum of Modern Art
The Joan and Preston Robert Tisch Exhibition Gallery
February 26-June 11, 2012

One week after seeing this extensive retrospective I am still trying to process my reaction to it.  The only work of Cindy Sherman I was really familiar with prior to this exhibit was her Untitled Film Stills series, and a few of the Centerfold images.  Who hasn't seen Untitled Film Still #21 (1978) ? It is the image used in virtually every general overview written about Sherman's work. It seems to be her iconic image. But all of the film stills are remarkable as a group and individually. I could have spent hours looking at just this set of images.  Untitled Film Stills Interactive Gallery

Untitled Film Still #21 (1978)

And Untitled #96 (1981)  was for a while last year the highest priced photograph ever sold, having set the record in May with a sale price of $3,890,500.  In November of 2011 that record was eclipsed by Andreas Gursky's Rhein II , which sold for $4.3 million.  The Centerfold series, also known as the Horizontals series, was commissioned by ArtForum to be displayed as two page spreads in the magazine. Sherman decided to create a series that would mimic centerfolds from pornographic magazines. The images were panned by critics as confirming sexist stereotypes, and ArtForum eventually rejected the series and it was never published.  Centerfolds Series Interactive Gallery

Untitled #96  (1981)

It is virtually impossible to read about contemporary art and/or photography without hearing mention of Cindy Sherman's name. She is universally recognized among the giants of the contemporary art world, and is also being compared to the likes of Pablo Picasso and Jasper Johns. (see Roberta Smith, NYT Review) A recent review on Art Net goes even further and claims Sherman to be the "successor to Cézanne, Picasso, Pollock and Warhol.". 

Untitled #137  (1984)

Whether or not these comparisons hold any truth or stand the test of time, I think they represent one of the reasons I am having difficulty processing a cohesive reaction to the more recent work. And that is because Sherman has transcended photography, much like other photographic artists such as Gursky, Jeff Wall, or Thomas Demand. Artists working with photography as a medium. Photography as a genre becomes secondary to the Art object being produced.

Untitled #222  (1990)

I entered the exhibit with a preconceived notion of Sherman as a photographer in the traditional sense, and was unprepared for the visual reality of her work post-Centerfolds. Most are enormous. The History Portrait series from the 1990's is a stunning example of this shifting away from photography. Large scale images loosely based on classic European paintings (Old Masters), they are hung in ornate wooden frames appropriate to the period. Can you say Painterly?.  History Series Interactive Gallery

Untitled # 413  (2003)

Other work from the nineties includes experiments with props and prosthetic devices. Images that explore bizarre pornographic scenes and others involving combinations of food, vomit, garbage and other unknown elements.  The exhibit touches only lightly on these disturbing images, but give credit for a full representation of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sherman's full career span is represented, although intentionally non-chronologically. While that seems to have bothered some critics, for me it wasn't an important issue in absorbing the work.

Untitled #476  (2008)

I'm not willing to agree with Michael Fried, who wrote in his book Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before (2008), I find almost all of her work after the centerfolds to be of relatively little artistic interest.” I do find it interesting. That doesn't mean I like it. My gut reaction walking around the exhibit was that I simply didn't like the majority of the work post-centerfolds. All week I have been asking myself why ? I think part of it is the transition of her work away from my own notions of what photography ought to be. But if I am completely honest I think it has a lot to do with a male reaction to powerfully feminist art. I am comfortable with the visual product in Film Stills and Centerfolds. Everything else becomes increasingly uncomfortable. I am being asked to re-evaluate my perceptions and assumptions about the objectivity of women in photography, as well as that of women as artists. It is a language as difficult to navigate as abstract expressionism or cubism, demanding investigation and further study. In that context, Sherman may well deserve her place on the pedestal with the masters of contemporary art.

Cindy Sherman @ Musuem of Modern Art

Documents Pour Artistes

Museum of Modern Art
February 6- April 9, 2012

It was a huge mistake to walk through this exhibit immediately after seeing the Cindy Sherman extravaganza. Compared to the massive and glaring Sherman tableau's, the small and dark Atget prints seemed to be fading  away into the walls. I kept wanting to ask someone to turn up the lights. But that is a complete injustice to Atget. This is a full career survey with many prints I had never seen before. These were prints Atget sold for pennies to artists and architects. No thought was given to their own artistic value. The design and detail in these images is extraordinary. They have a jewel-like quality to them, and as my eyes began to adjust, these prints sparkled. Here is the exhibit description from the MoMA website, along with photos I took of some of my favorite images- 

This exhibition presents six fresh and highly focused cross sections through the career of master photographer Eugène Atget (French, 1857–1927), drawn exclusively from the Museum’s unparalleled holdings of his work. The sign outside Atget’s studio read, “Documents pour artistes,”—declaring his modest ambition to create images for other artists to use as source material. This humility belied the visual sophistication and distinctive vision that characterized much of Atget’s own work.

 Whether exploring the urban texture of Paris’ fifth arrondissement throughout the first quarter of the 20th century, or the abandoned grandeur of the parks at Sceaux during a remarkable creative outburst in the spring of 1925, Atget captured the essence of his chosen subject through the camera’s lens with increasing sensitivity throughout his career. Also featured are his photographs made in the Luxembourg gardens, as well as a concise selection from Atget’s sustained investigation of Parisian and rural courtyards. 

Two final sections of the exhibition highlight Atget’s attention to the human figure, a rare but significant aspect of his work, as well as his “Surrealist” photographs of mannequins, store windows, and street fairs that so intrigued the Parisian avant-garde in the 1920s.

Atget began making photographs in the late 1890s, and the photographs featured in this exhibition span the breadth of his career. However, more than two-thirds of the over 100 works on view were made after World War I when Atget’s photographic vision had fully matured, and these remain taut, essential, and surprising pictures to this day.    

* Exhibit description text courtesy MOMA web site.

The Art of Kissing

Nan Goldin


David LaChapelle

Zoe Strauss

Whitney Biennial 2012

"This Could Be Something If I Let It" are words hung from the wall of Dawn Kasper's installation at the Whitney Biennial. The words could easily stand as the motto for the entire biennial. It could be something... Kasper's room consists of supposedly everything she owns, shipped from her studio in Los Angeles. After reading Peter Schjeldahl's review in The New Yorker that stated Kasper "lives in her installation: a combined bedroom and studio", I thought it would be one of the more interesting things to see. Turns out she only "lives there" during museum hours. Oddly enough, the last time I visited the Whitney, Corin Hewitt was conducting a remarkably similar on-site performance/theatre/live sculpture exhibit, resulting in a weird case of Whitney deja vu.  Kasper's room was indeed fascinating to browse around in, she has quite an amazing collection of stuff. But performance art based upon someone "living" in the Whitney museum from nine to five seems a bit too contrived and scheduled in these days of 24/7 occupations happening in every town square across the country. Ho hum.

Dawn Kasper

Speaking of the year of the protest, Latoya Ruby Frazier has the only remotely political or economics related work in the biennial. Not much sign of discomfort in the Whitney. I overheard a tour guide explain that the lack of any context to the occupy movement in the 2012 biennial was because of the long lead time required to curate the exhibit. Frazier's work is created in retaliation against the recent Levi's Jeans campaign, Go Forth, shot by Ryan McGinley in her home town of Braddock, Pa. The McGinley images were shot to make Braddock look like an old school, hard working, gritty steel town. In reality, the town's mills have been shuttered, along with the only medical center that was providing care for a population suffering from generations of industrial pollutants. Braddock is one of the hardest hit rust belt communities in the United States. Frazier's series is strongly documentary, thereby making it look uncomfortably out of place among the other work in this show.

Latoya Ruby Frazier

There is plenty of simply awful and laughable work throughout this biennial, but also more than enough to satisfy. Clearly, one visit to this expansive survey of contemporary art isn't enough. I didn't have time to see any of the several films, music, dance or theater included this year. Several visits would be needed to grasp the entirety, and my single Sunday afternoon was limited to a visual overview. Nicole Eisenman's grid of abstract portraits draw from a touch of Edvard Munch mixed with a little Yoshitomo Nara, with delightful end results. The work stood out above all others in my view.

Nicole Eisenman

Jutta Koether's "Four Seasons" are strikingly mounted on glass panels, appearing to float in space. The large canvases are delicately colored, graffiti influenced abstracts. Even a child barely old enough to walk was captivated by them, having to be gently pulled away repeatedly.

Jutta Koether

My own sense of child-like curiosity was tweaked by Sam Lewitt's strange floor mounted installation called "Fluid Employment". Resembling a science project run amok, Lewitt's creation consists of creepy dark brown blobs of goo that shake and shimmer under the spell of magnets and electric fans. The result is a Jackson Pollack on steroids. Get down on your hands and knees to check it out from eye level.

Sam Lewitt

I'll be back to the Whitney Biennial for another viewing at the end of the month. There was too much I missed in one visit. The AIPAD preview is coming up on March 28th, so I'll take advantage of another trip to NYC to get a second look at the biennial as well. Should be well worth it.

p.s.  No trip to the Whitney would be complete without a trip to the 5th floor to see Alexander Calder's circus!

The 2012 Whitney Biennial
March 1- May 27

Drive-Thru Pharmacy

Yardley, Pa.  (2012)

The more I look at this the more I love it. This is a location I pass by frequently. In fact, the hills in the background are part of False Mountains. I have been love/hating and observing this CVS store ever since they broke ground on the construction. It is monumental. A shrine to the world of pharmaceuticals. Everything about this image is what I have wanted in finally photographing it. The compositional balance... two telephone poles, two brick pillars, two arrows. The soft lighting... the color of the sky (straight out of a Joel Meyerowitz photograph) The double usage of the word exit, and the font on "Drive-Thru" that looks as if it were salvaged from a KFC warehouse. It all comes together in this one.

Volume Control

Montgomerville, Pa. (2012)

Today marks two weeks since giving up all forms of social media for Lent. I am one third of the way through the six weeks I have committed to stay away from FacebookTwitter, and Google+.  These are the big three. There are many other social media sites of course. Just prior to Lent I deleted my accounts with TumblrLinkedinSchoolFeedPinterest, and a few others. When I gave it some serious thought these sites were serving me no purpose whatsoever except being a huge waste of time. I consider Flickr to be exempt from the Lenten sacrifice. Maybe that is cheating, but I don't look at Flickr as a form of social media. It is a pure photography viewing resource.

I don't want to come across as being smug about it, but I think my internet time has become quite a bit more intelligent and useful in the past two weeks. Without the time suck of Facebook, I am actually doing some serious research for several essays I am writing. My productivity has increased ten fold. Instead of following random links posted by other people, I am consciously deciding where I want to go on the internet. I am using Google Reader on a daily basis and find myself keeping up with photo blogs that I had neglected for lack of time. I feel more in control of my internet time versus being led around by the internet, if that makes any sense.

Am I missing anything? I think that was the biggest concern I had. I will be missing out! Missing out from what I couldn't say, just being away from the general buzz and noise I guess. Its a very juvenile concern I realize. Of course I'm missing out. Certainly there are things I haven't heard or seen. Events I am being invited to that I will never know about. Facebook sends me an email every few days now with the subject.... Christopher, You have notifications pending. They are worried about me?  They don't want me to miss out!

Another concern I had was that visits to this blog would go way down without the help of social media. Each new article on PHOTO/arts Magazine has always been posted as a link on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ as a way to drive new traffic and promote readership. As of the start of Lent I am no longer posting these links. I was convinced that page views would drop without the help of these promotional links to social media sites. So far, there has been no effect at all. Average page views have remained unchanged at around 300 per day with no dip at all in the past two weeks. Obviously this is a small readership level. If the numbers were much higher, one might expect to see at least some adverse effect from an elimination of social media promotion. But I am still surprised at the lack of impact. My assumptions about the necessity of social media marketing are in doubt.

I'm not against social media. I think it has a valuable role to play. We all need to find a level of personal involvement that doesn't tip us out of balance. My decision to give it up for Lent is a part of a bigger picture for me. My New Year's resolution of 2012 was to Turn Down The Volume.  That applied to everything.  TV, Music, Talk Radio, and the Internet. Noise. Chatter.  I drive for a living. Eight hours in the car every day. For years I listened to the radio all day long. I started meditating with a group once a week last Fall, and found that after driving around with the radio on all day that I couldn't stop the noise inside my head during meditation. The internal buzz was impossible to turn off. Since New Year's I have been driving all day without turning on the radio. No chatter. No jingles. I listen to the hum of my engine and the sounds of the road. When I meditate now I can reach a deeper level than I ever could before. I am no longer battling the internal noises. The volume has been lowered.  Two weeks away from social media and the volume has come down even further. I haven't decided where my volume level needs to be on a permanent basis. I do know that mine was way too high.  For the moment I am enjoying the peace and quiet.