It’s An Art Exhibit Summer

As of this writing, it’s too hot to stay outdoors for an extended period–even for photographing–not unlike sub-zero blizzard weather. Fortunately, our major museums and galleries are air-conditioned, and there is an array of exhibits waiting for you and your mates to visit.

This is as good a place to begin as any: and the “Contemptible” is free to Illinois residents on Tuesdays. There are six or eight engaging exhibits; here is a page, containing 95 more theses, from the Molly Zuckerman-Hartung exhibit handout (this text is reproduced on one wall of the gallery):

Martha Schneider’s Gallery is featuring an important group show which includes Patty Carroll and Thomas Kellner:

The Catherine Edelman Gallery has a major group show called Installed.

The ‘tute has Roy Lichtenstein, Dawoud Bey, and Film and Photo in New York:

MCOP has Peripheral Views: States of America, which includes a contribution from Harry Shearer(!).

DePaul’s show is called Drawn from Photography.

Don’t forget that Metra has a weekend rate, and you can always contact me for help.

W. o’ W.: James Elkins

From Why Art Cannot Be Taught: “There is a cave chamber in Sarawak so large that it could hold five football fields—the largest subterranean chamber in the world. When it was first discovered, the spelunkers had no idea what to expect. They were walking up an underground stream when the walls diverged and left them staring into darkness. The room is so large that their headlamps could not pick out the ceiling or the walls, and they spent the next sixteen hours working their way around the room, keeping close to the right-hand wall, intending to keep going until they got back to the entrance. At times they were fooled by “house-size” boulders that they mistook for walls of the chamber, only to find that they were giant boulders fallen from the ceiling. At one point one of the cavers panicked, but eventually they all got out. Pictures taken on later surveying expeditions show the spelunkers’ lights like little fireflies against a measureless darkness.

“I think of this book in the same way. Like the people on that first expedition, we are not about to figure out very much of what takes place in art classes. There is still a good probability that we will get badly lost thinking about art instruction—and I think parts of this book do get lost. Perhaps that’s the best way for things to be. The cave will certainly be less interesting when it has electric lights and ramps for tourists. Isn’t the cave best as it is—nearly inaccessible, unlit, dangerous, and utterly seductive?”

Start Here.

If you need a starting point with America’s music, this one is as good as any and better than many: 

It features a veritable pantheon: Vic Dickenson, Danny Barker, Doc Cheatham, Freddie Green, Rex Stewart, Milt Hinton, Roy Eldridge, Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins, Thelonious Monk, Gerry Mulligan, Pee Wee Russell, Jimmy Rushing, Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Ben Webster… and the oh-so-telegenic Jo Jones.

 Watch it all the way through, in one sitting. Better video copies exist but the music is intact.

Esse In Memoriam

Am I the only one who sees a beloved’s tombstone in the lead picture on the BHS website?

Hale County, Alabama, 1936

Walker Evans began work on a project documenting the Great Depression on this date 76 years ago today. He was working for the Farm Security Administration in the photographic section (he was granted a leave of absence to work on a summer assignment for Fortune magazine, on the condition that the pictures he made would be considered government property). Writer James Agee accompanied Evans toHale County,Alabama, to document the effects of the Depression on tenant farmers. For two months that summer, they traveled among the poor white cotton farmers, getting to know three families in particular. They didn’t want the images to be used for political or artistic purposes, but rather as a “documentary style” record.

Fortune declined to publish the piece as it was submitted. Agee refused to make revisions, and eventually he and Evans published it as a full-length book in 1941. It didn’t sell well, and went out of print, but it was reissued in 1960, three years after Agee’s death. Evans’s photographs are now among the most famous images of that era.

Same Old, But Olympian Proportions

Here’s the latest instance of a perennial problem:

…and sardonic references to same:

W. o’ W.: David Hockney

Martin Gayford has written an excellent new book titled “A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney.” (I added the colon.)

“Photoshop is intended to polish photographs, and the consequence is those dreary magazines where everybody looks the same… This is what’s happened to photography. Have you ever seen Hello or OK? Everything is now evened out, polished.”

“[Henri] Cartier-Bresson fitted perfectly into a technological period. To do what he did you needed the development of the faster film and the handheld camera — which was the Leica around 1925. That was the first practical and popular 35mm camera. Before the handheld came in, you needed a tripod for everything, so photographs couldn’t be made quickly. The Leica made it possible to snap high-quality images. So Cartier-Bresson’s era was the technological epoch between the invention of the 35mm and the beginning of the era when computers began to have an effect around 1980. He was the master of that period: a fantastic eye. He began when the Leica was invented, and he gave it up a little before Photoshop was invented. His rules — don’t crop the picture, for example — would be incomprehensible to a young twenty-first-century photographer. You couldn’t have a Cartier-Bresson again, because you would never believe it. Today it would be artificial.”

“Most people think time is the big mystery, don’t they? But you can’t have time without space. There’s a marvellous Wagnerian line, in Parsifal: ‘Time and space are one.’ That’s from 1882, before Einstein. It’s inconceivable to us to imagine that space might end, isn’t it? What’s there if there’s no space? And when you are looking at the furthest places in the universe, you are looking back in time. Your brain begins to burst when you try to think about it seriously; you could make yourself a bit mad.”


Somewhere in the Spectrum of Styles

I picked this up the other day; you can decide for yourself if this will be useful as a role model [we’re reluctant to include any images (all typography guaranteed verbatim)]:

“As a Passionate Artist and Capturer of Images, _ _ _ has raised the ‘Act of Seeing’ to the highest level of acuteness and discrimination. With his unique vision, compassion and mastery of Light, he is able to bring out the inner beauty of a person, place or experience and create an Expression of Light and Love!”

If you must, contact us for a link. Or an explanation of Oxford commas.

Submit Your Portraits to SHOTS

Good ol’ SHOTS Magazine falls somewhere between the pop photo publications and, say, Aperture: it’s not full of not gear geeks or techies, nor does it aspire to the worlds of universities or galleries. It’s full of earnest enthusiasm and well-made pictures. If you’re enthusiastic enough to hit their August 1 deadline (or if your name is Ernest), send your pictures for the theme issue.

Everybody makes portraits, right?

Viva Vivian

Here are some images from vintage prints by Vivian Maier that you have not seen before. Some are as small as 3×3 inches; any of them would fit in your hand. They’re not from the collection that prompted the blockbuster Cultural Center show and the book.

Go look at the collection, but ya gotta hurry. The Corbett vs. Dempsey Gallery is above Dusty Groove America; perhaps you already know where that is. Read all about it at and contact me here if you need directions/encouragement. At the gallery, you might see Ben, who was so nice to everyone at the Tony Wight Gallery on the day of the AP “Power Walk In The Noonday Sun” field trip.

Here’s a little deep background on some of the work: