I miss him, my Dad, especially when the remembrance envelops and overwhelms me as it does this evening and surprises me with its power, seeming to come out of nowhere. But, that is how it is now, unexpected, heartwrenching. The first time he faltered was the last time, and as the chronometer of his days began to tick off towards the end, it measured precisely six weeks, 42 days of hope that concluded with all that love having nowhere to go, so it turned on itself, inward, and left an unfillable hole.
The years we were runners, I must ask him at dinner, does he remember? Early morning dashes across the Trinity Bridge before the sun had even come up over the skyline of Dallas. How Oz-like it appeared? Or those heated weekend mornings out at White Rock Lake when the temperature pre-dawn was 85 degrees and by 8 am too intense for anything but shade. Or the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning, all that silliness and then gorging ourselves with friends?
The pristine white of the spiny cactus, painstakingly nurtured for 40 years, surrounded by dense wet lushness presents the paradox of the garden on this rainy afternoon. I think of the duality of Eden as wilderness or paradise - one to be harnessed and controlled, the other to be cherished and protected and I question whether it must be one or the other? Context and choice have led me to a moral ecology that celebrates commonality over differences, and the belief that it is possible to live harmoniously, the cacti and the olive tree.
It has been one of the lessons of my life that when one window closes, another opens. As I began to study that which drew me photographically, I realized that windows were a recurrent theme. Learning and growing in photography taught me about internal framing and the importance of perspective. A window, by definition, is a limited perspective. I have spent time thinking about indoors and outdoors and the transitions between them. Part of my journey had me living in places where a good portion of the year, I was behind a window protected from the elements. When the time presented itself to choose where I would live, I wanted a place where I lived most of my life outside, that the windows and doors were forever open, and an endless horizon line was my companion. I have come to understand, that my perspective as a photographer, in essence, opens windows for others to see the world and themselves in a new light. So I close with gratitude, our time together with a selection from my collection of windows hoping that you, the viewer, have seen my work in a new light. I hope you will follow me @ablackbirdsphoto as I continue my photographic journey. Thank you very much to On Center Gallery for this immense honor.
Analog photography is a slow and mindful process, each step a deliberate choice that begins with the selection of the film. Each time I choose film starts with me standing before the open door of my cold and bright refrigerator, reaching for the 120 film rolls that I will use in the vintage Rolleiflex camera that I love so dearly. It is a work of art, the shiny silver lenses of the twin reflex, the polished hand crank, and the periscope-like pop-up top known as the sports finder. These cameras were first made in 1927, the nascency of mine undetermined but it is unquestionably imbued with the spirits of the light catchers that came before me. I am merely the shepherd pointing it in the direction of early morning horizontal light, or late afternoon shadows, intervals of movement and stillness interspersed with profoundly deep breaths, focus, concentration, alignment, and balance before the shutter is released. Film is mercurial, the alchemy of emulsion and light that deliver wondrous images. Today's feature is a selection of happenstance (the palm trees at the end of a roll) to the glorious broken light of a tree at dawn. In each is contained a moment, a remembrance, of light casting across my frame.
Was it six years ago that the four of us sat at this table for Thanksgiving? I looked, it was the last time we made Thanksgiving dinner in our kitchen, the old kitchen before the remodel and everything else? Wasn't that the Thanksgiving they danced to Neil Young, and he carved the turkey? Yes, I think it was. It all seems so different now.
As a photographer, I am fascinated by the unlikely marriage of water, and a camera and I find myself drawn to photographs of this precious resource since returning to California permanently after a decade of commuting to Texas. I am inspired by the manner in which water catches the light and bends it into abstraction changing white balance creating otherworldly moods to fascinate me and showing life between worlds. Water is central to my daily cadence in this seaside community, something of which I am always aware, and so it is featured in much of my work.
I enjoyed spending time with friends in beautiful Santa Barbara and being a part of a morning practice. Team USA and Bob Between Worlds are from a series shot in my mornings with the Masters Swimmers. Bob Between Worlds placed in the Artcore LA 2018 show and the @photoplace gallery's Water show juried by Ann Jastrub. Team USA placed in the California Open 2018 juried by Kim Abeles.
The fissure runs deep up the verdant hillside, a crack of considerable length and depth, dividing the herd and I wonder where and how they come together. Perhaps it is on the other side of the hill, just beyond the horizon, hidden by the marine layer. The schism snakes in front of me in stark contrast to the gentle slope of the hillside, nature making the divide a thing of beauty. Seemingly out of nowhere, a shiver runs up my body and I pull tighter my open coat and head to the car.
The bright hot light of late afternoon casts shadows across our room in this beautiful craftsman home of 100 years in this remote seaside town. Your glasses in the corner where you left them before you started our dinner. That salad. Your own concoction of vinegars and oils, sunflower seeds and cashews, grapes and goat cheese, and a mix of spring lettuce to give it shape. Tonight, he adds grilled chicken, which I know only from the smells that are rising from the deck, like the dinner bell calling me to supper.
Water management, not a sexy term at all, but an essential part of life in California. Plagued by droughts, and the subsequent and notorious fires, rain is like gold, and has, as a result, played a central role over the last years in my consciousness and my photography. I attempt to create disciplined shots within challenging conditions often using raindrops as a bokeh of sorts, blurring and whitening elements of the photograph as featured in the Unhappy Camper Series.
Winter comes like a river, an atmospheric river of long narrow flows in the sky and I wade in this river of winter. Early mornings of dark stumbling hoping the rains came or that the mist hangs heavy in the canyon, I search favorite haunts for ambiance. Through the diffused light of this whitewashed morning and the raindrops on my window, I smile at the message "slow down" wanting to relish each instant of this and each day that follows, banking all the good things someplace deep where it will join my spirit and forever be a part of me.