art

Details make patterns

Details make patterns.  Choices make habits.  Imagining makes art.  Believing makes seeing.

It’s been a while since I went out to wander and photograph just for the sake of wandering and photographing.  It felt good:  stretching my legs, stretching my imagination and shaking off this long strange summer.  This was the weekend at Open House Chicago 2016.

Sandstone held to a bell tower with metal band-aids and hair nets.  The bell tower survived the Great Fire in 1871, and still wears the blackened crown to prove it.  Saint James Episcopal Cathedral.

Six red galeros, hats of dead bishops, streaming from the ceiling of Holy Name Cathedral.  Hanging high behind the crucifix carved from one large piece of balsam wood, they wait for the day they collapse to dust and nothingness and return to the ground.

Ornate chandeliers are turned down low to let the stained glass windows tell their bible stories  in the 2nd floor chapel of Saint James Chapel at Archbishop Quigley Center.

Ivy climbs and clings to the detail on the Fourth Presbyterian Church on Michigan Avenue, in the morning shadow of the Hancock.  And in this church, at long last we get to go upstairs to the balcony…and there’s a pipe organ, gentle at first and then lighting up the guests with a loud pounce.

The 5th place was an art house in an old mansion.  Giant windows, rimmed in dark wood.  Pocket doors and white marble fireplaces in every room.  Studios for rent and live models seven days a week.  An open studio on the 3rd floor smelled of oil paint as I rounded the final set of stairs up.  The old floors were for dancing when this was a home and this level housed a ballroom. Now the wood floors showed wear from drops of paint as artists made their art.  At this moment, they were sans model, but they worked as if she were still there.  An imaginary model.  Cross breezes fluffed papers from the transom windows along the floor where the band used to sit.

The Monroe Building, with Rookwood tiles, and tiles, and tiles, and a working mail chute for the 14-story building.  This building and the one across the street, on the north side of Monroe at Michigan stand like sentinels, equal sized gate posts, greeting traffic entering Chicago on what used to be the main thoroughfare.

The chapel in the sky at the Chicago Temple.  The highest place of worship above street level.  Twenty two floors via elevator, then A through E floors via a cozy elevator, then 31 steps up to this tiny little Sky Chapel.  Stained glass windows line the room and limit views of the sky and the surrounding city.  The wood is ash, preserved forever from the Emerald Ash Borers that have killed so many trees in the Midwest.

Bell Tower details St. James Episcopal Cathedral
Sandstone held to a bell tower with metal band-aids and hair nets. The bell tower survived the Great Fire in 1871, and still wears the blackened crown to prove it. Saint James Episcopal Cathedral.
Holy Name Cathedral galeros
Six red galeros, hats of dead bishops, streaming from the ceiling of Holy Name Cathedral. Hanging high behind the crucifix carved from one large piece of balsam wood, they wait for the day they collapse to dust and nothingness and return to the ground.
Saint James Chapel at Archbishop Quigley Center stained glass windows
Ornate chandeliers are turned down low to let the stained glass windows tell their bible stories in the 2nd floor chapel of Saint James Chapel at Archbishop Quigley Center.

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Fourth Presbyterian Church ivy
Ivy climbs and clings to the detail on the Fourth Presbyterian Church on Michigan Avenue
Fourth Presbyterian Church Michigan Avenue
The pipe organ rings out at the Fourth Presbyterian Church on Michigan Avenue
Marble fireplace detail Palette & Chisel
Marble fireplace mantel detail from Palette & Chisel.

 

palette & chisel live model art studio
Palette & Chisel artists taking a break in the 3rd floor ballroom studio
palette and chisel chicago model art studio
Palette & Chisel: Imagination.
Monroe Building Chicago rook wood tiles
The Monroe Building, with Rookwood tiles, and tiles, and tiles. Muted earth tones in the foyer, just waiting to wow you when you go through those doors.
The Monroe Building Rookwood details make patterns
The Monroe Building, with Rookwood tiles, and tiles, and tiles.
The Chapel in the Sky Chicago Temple
The chapel in the sky at the Chicago Temple. The wood is ash, preserved forever from the Emerald Ash Borers that have killed so many trees in the Midwest.
Stenciling on ceiling of Chicago Temple
Chicago Temple ceiling stenciling.
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At the midpoint of the Filter Photography Festival

I’ve taken a couple of weeks off from “the career” to focus on my photography…this week a series of short workshops, seminars and presentations by Filter Photography Festival and next week an intensive workshop with National Geographic photographer, Sam Abell, in Santa Fe.

Dogs at dawn. Workers and waiting at dawn. Havana Cuba.
Dawn in Havana Cuba.  Dogs, workers and waiting.  

At the mid-point of Filter’s 4 days, here are the things sticking in my head:

1) Filter is about ART.  Photography as ART.  It’s eye-opening to see the constructed projects that may begin with photos (the artists’ or someone elses’) but certainly doesn’t end with the photograph.  For some, there’s washing out bits with bleach, or putting the photo onto plastic and warping it, or cutting precise little holes in exact spots to add meaning.  It’s also photography with WORDS.  The metaphors explained.  Artist Statements to bring the viewer along…how did the idea happen?  what’s the process?  what does it mean?  what to see?   what thoughts should ride along with the photo when you view it?

2) The PRINTs.  LARGE prints.  On RICH papers like bamboo, kozo or deckled rag.  Portfolios brought in boxes and displayed on tables.  Eric Joseph from Freestyle pointed out that when we were in the darkroom years ago, “the paper mattered.”  It was an important decision in the darkroom.  We had our favorites for their warmth or texture, or cool smoothness….Ilford, Oriental…  But somehow with digital printing, paper was forgotten.  He was at Filter to remind us, to show us…to let us feel and see the differences…(and yeah, to sell us papers).  It worked.  I’m convinced.

3) Kelli Connell’s 23 questions for portraiture.  A technique to question yourself…quickly and periodically…to see themes and threads through which you view the world, and photograph from.  Wow.  More on this later.

4) Debbie Fleming Caffery’s sweet and sassy southern voice.  I can hear it still.  Her workshop was to be on sustaining long term projects, but instead turned out to be more of a portfolio review.  I showed up with glossy and puny Walgreens prints expecting to use them only to give an idea of my work…my project that needs sustaining…and articulation.  I felt like I was a day late and a dollar short.  Regardless, I learned a lot from listening to the dialogue of the others…the Artists.  For example, making selections to tie themes or colors or moods together.  The self-published books, and again the papers and the printing processes.  The possible sources for more knowledge, more photos, more words (or videos) to add to projects.  And the outlets…ideas for my big question of “What do I DO with the projects?”

The overwhelming response…that I’m hearing across Filter Photo Festival:  GET YOUR WORK OUT THERE.  Enter contests, print large and show in festival portfolio reviews, be active in social media, blog, and JUST DO IT.  Make your own exhibits.  Be tenacious.  Make connections.  And keep on shooting…keep on creating.

Heading out for Day 3.  But first, a dawn walk with Charlie on this gorgeous Fall morning.  Let the day begin.

 

 

 

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