“Artists are workers.” -Cecil Taylor

Evan Mirapaul, over at http://fugitivevision.blogspot.com/, had a perceptive comment about Ray K. that deserves repeating.

“How Mr. Metzker organizes space is manifest in a multitude of materials that crop up decade after decade. We see chain link fencing, stairs, bricks, and the geometry of dozens of city views rendered again and again into an abstract cohesion in his viewfinder. It seems that one could organize a show just of his use of fences. Examples from every series (except the landscapes) come to mind. I posited to Ann Tucker that a difference between Harry Callahan and Metzker is that Callahan is almost always more in close and tight; the figure is more personal, while Metzker takes the more distant, objective view. She replied that she thought that Callahan was about the figure represented in a cityscape, while Metzker was more about a cityscape with a figure or figures included in this view; a subtle but important distinction, I think, especially since, even now, people conflate the student with the teacher.”

It behooves us to keep this distinction in mind the next time we work on Metzker’s (and Callahan’s) turf, the Loop, during our field trip.

“Continuing the musical metaphor, I am reminded of a quote by the French conductor and composer Pierre Boulez. He said that, after twenty years, he was finally beginning to be spontaneous. This is not a comment on stiffness and lack of inspiration: it’s a paean to the creativity that comes from discipline. If you work and work and work, you become so entwined with the material that real improvisation is possible. It’s fashionable to just ‘let it all go,’ or ‘just go up and jam,’ but this approach rarely yields true creative fruit. The best jazz artists, indeed artists in general in my view, find spontaneity from a rigorous work ethic and a strict intellectual foundation. I see this in every Metzker photograph. He is a WORKING photographer. That he can riff on his blacks, or his whites, or fences or cityscapes comes from the foundation of a language rooted in visual philosophy. By taking pictures and working in the darkroom non-stop he anneals this language into a body of work that speaks in every picture of inspiration and freedom.”