"Things happen in front of you. That's perhaps the most wonderful and mysterious aspect of photography." -Annie Leibovitz-
“Music is the arithmetic of sounds as optics is the geometry of light.”
I don't know what Debussy actually knew about arithmetic or geometry...neither turned my crank. In fact, I may have been the world's worst math student (that ranking was never formally determined, but a chemistry teacher once told me that I had the lowest standardized chemistry test score that he had ever seen in his entire career).
Visually, the geometry of light is an interesting concept: that particular configuration when shape, texture, size, figure, surface, solid, the lineal/the circular, the complete/the imperfect connect…when it is right and balanced (and often when there is also a little disorder)…when the furious rhythm of architecture and patterns of cityscape and landscape and the varied motions of the sea are juxtaposed to human emotions…and sense and fact and spirit blend into a structured order in the captured angles and grace of light and shadow. These are new symmetries and new dimensions…new and old symbolic values. Eternal and absolute beauty. That is the geometry of light. This is the Italy I saw.
And, of course, there is a final relationship: the point of intersection between you and these images.
The formal organizing principal of this sequence of photographs is chiasmus: at the mid-point (#21 “Countryside, Tuscany”) the images reverse/mirror themselves in various subjective ways (subject, color, geography, contrast, feeling, light, etc.) back to the beginning again.
1. Duomo Evening, Florence 41. Duomo Afternoon, Florence
2. In the Park, Florence 40. Courtyard, Florence
3. Two Arches, San Gimignano 39. Golden Arches, Volterra
4. Museum Staircase, Naples 38. Duomo Pulpit Staircase, Siena
5. Blue Boat, Positano 37. Yellow Boat, Capri
6. Morning Bridge, Florence 36. Ponte Vecchio, Florence
7. Vintage, Volterra 35. Trattoria, Florence
8. Pantheon, Rome 34. Colosseum, Rome
9. Vatican Swiss Guard, Rome 33. Market at Night, Florence
10. Duomo Bracelets, Orvieto 32. Vatican Colonnade, Rome
11. Approaching Montepulciano 31. View of Positano
12. Vasari Corridor, Florence 30. Convent of San Francesco, Sorrento
13. Architectural Camouflage, Florence 29. Painted Façade, Florence
14. The Round Roof, Cetona 28. Mural, Siena
15. View of Florence 27. Duomo Sunset, Florence
16. Yellow House, Sorrento 26. Lemon Organ, Sorrento
17. Cupid, Florence 25. Fountain of Neptune Horses, Florence
18. Dark Woods, Montepulciano 24. Garden Walk, Siena
19. Madding Crowd at the Uffizi, Florence 23. Tomb of Bartolomeo Aragazzi,
20. Arno Reflection, Florence 22. Storm Sky, Sorrento
21. Countryside, Tuscany
Thanks to Linda Lowe, the Oz Gallery/Thornton Arts and Culture Center
and everyone who supported and attended the original exhibition.
Special thanks to Karyn Thompson-Panos for having a really good idea.
“You may have the universe if I may have Italy.”
â€• Giuseppe Verdi
This Place on Earth: the Wyoming Images
This project began in the summer of 1990 and ended "officially" in August, 2002. I revised the portfolios in 2008...and again...It is now, obviously, the never-ending project.
The completed series of black and white and color prints (currently 385 images) is an extended portrait of Wyoming as landscape, weather, habitat, artifact, history, icon, cultural assumptions, politics and propaganda, symbol, mystery, emotion, movement, spiritual fact...and, of course, it is about the SKY.
The organizing principle for the project was geographic: opening with photographs taken within 100 miles (more or less) of Casper (central Wyoming) and moving around the northwest/northeast and southwest/southeast quadrants of the state.
dix jours: France 2008
In June 2008 I spent 10 days in rural France, centered in Lafrançaise, a small village about 50 km north of Toulouse. One result is this gallery.
I don't have a profound aesthetic statement to make about these particular photographs. My intention is simply to share the beauty of this remarkable part of the world. I hope you enjoy them:
“C’est un truc français.”
I would also like to thank Pat and Patsy Medinger for letting me tourist through the French part of their lives; Johnnie Burton for her hospitality (comme d'habitude) and everyone who was polite enough to "pardon my French."
Beautiful Obsession: Santa Fe and the Southwest
Train wheels runnin' down an open track
in my memory time to take me back
are you goin'
are you goin'
to Santa Fe?
from "Santa Fe/Beautiful Obsession" by Van Morrison
The spirit of the Southwest has been a magnet for artists and photographers since the turn of the last century...I find myself always trying to get back to the light, shadow, landscape, architecture and mix of cultures and to get it right.
Alley Waltz: Behind, Between and Beneath
These photographs are about finding unexpected beauty in unexpected places. I stole the title "Alley Waltz" from a photo collage by my friend Steve Cotherman. I apologize...and for breaking your favorite record in 7th grade.
West Coast Blues: California Days
Plenty. Plethora. Myriad (William Faulkner's favorite word). California has so much...this collection shows some of it.
Stone and Blossom: Washington, DC
The title is taken from a line in "City of Monuments" by Muriel Rukeyser:
"...split by a tendril of revolt
stone cedes to blossom everywhere."
"Americano got the sleepy eye..." -from "Mexico" by James Taylo
"In Antigua I am famous. I am bathed in jasmine and pressed with warm stones." -Carnival Cruise ad in the New Yorker
"...so you needn't let that slightly funny feeling you have from time to time about exploitation, oppression, domination develop into full-fledge unease, discomfort; you could ruin your holiday." -Jaimaca Kincaid
Visually, the question is: how do you capture all that?
Locomotion: the Art of Transportation
I'm not a car guy. Most of my knowledge about hot rods and motorcycles comes from listening to Jan and Dean and the Beach Boys or watching Easy Rider. Although, when I was a senior in high school, I put some mag-type wheels covers on my '61 Chevy Biscayne until I hit a pothole and lost two of them in the first week. But I still recognize a sweet ride when I see one.
The first 70-some images in this gallery were taken over the course of several years at the annual Memorial Day "Cruisin' with the Oldies" car show in Casper. I love the owners who rev up their engines for 10 minutes at jet decibel level, then grin sheepishly at the spectators, "My wife wanted me to do that." I also love the guys with their kids who observe, "Man, we really it tore it up in one of these when I was in school."
It's not just about getting from Point A to Point B. It's about cool. It's about all the ways of getting there.
Before the Deluge: the Big Apple and the Big Easy
"...photography...is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organziation of forms which gives that event its proper expression."
Bresson taught us the importance of the decisive moment in photography and we subsequently looked at photography differently. There are living moments that are just as decisive...nothing is unchanged afterwards. Significance and expression often lag behind...but we look at the world differently.
I'm not a documentary photographer or a photo journalist. These pairs of pre-9/11 and Katrina images from New York City and New Orleans are moments suspended among my visits to both cities; those two events and whatever it all means now.
Still Is Still Moving: Still Lifes
Inanimate subject matter (mostly)...natural (or not)...in an artificial setting. The Egyptians and Romans did 'em. The Dutch perfected 'em. Warhol's soup cans and Weston's peppers were both continuations in a tradition. Artists have cranked them out for a variety of reasons: arrangement, design, content, style, symbolism and allegory, simultaneously as a celebration of prosperity/luxury and as a didactic warning against gluttony. And as pure showing off: "How clever" or "Wow, I can almost feel that fur on my tongue."
I hope these affect you like that ubiquitous little "tug" in contemporary fashion photography. You know that something's been going on (or coming off in the next second)...even if you say to yourself (parenthetically)..."but I don't know what it is."
The Fall Lines: Chasing Autumn
"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking successive autumns." -George Eliot
There isn't a more beautiful season.
In 1999 Mary and I travelled with friends to Spain. I went for partly superficial reasons: I wanted to have some fun and take a lot of photographs. (Yes, I’m the dorky guy with three cameras hanging around his neck.) But Spain turned out to be a place I really loved and Holy Week in Spain is one of the world’s most profound religious spectacles.
Semana Santa, Sevilla
On the street where Machado was born
hours blossom; benevolent winds
scent the city with astonished
flowerings of orange. Houses
painted like sunlight and ruby blood
echo the coiled processions.
Brotherhoods in purple, white and pink
mask themselves in passion and death,
bearing glass-teared Virgins and wounded Christs
with gilded cant and candle
in penitential half-steps.
I owe something to Machado’s street:
more prone to spontaneous good
song and wine, I am still learning
to move my burdens an inch at a time:
all the rest is devotion.
-Rodney Gene Mahaffey,2000-
The film from this trip was ruined by the lab. (It was actually cross-processed...and some photographers intentionally do it forthe color shift and grain...but that was NOT my vision for these images.) During the last year (+) I have been scanning the originals and trying to salvage them. The workng title has been: The Resurrection Project.
Semana Santa:Travels in Spain (in progress)
Nothing But A Burning Light