18 hours with William Greiner in Baton Rouge

After attending PhotoNOLA, I detoured to Baton Rouge while en route to Mississippi, for a brief sojourn with  one Mr. William Greiner who is no Bill.  He is a very fine photographer, often categorized as one of a triumvirate of southern color people named william: – eggleston, christenberry,  and perhaps that up-and-coming non-william c patterson – but he himself cites Bill Owens as a large influence on his personal photographic development.

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William Greiner at leisure

Wm., for those of you who do not know Wm runs a very fine and sometimes poignant blog of his own. It was from reading his blog that I was reeled in to the W. Greiner orbit, as it is a delightful mix of headline and art and a perfect marriage of words and images – in that they become stronger from the pairing. This is ironic because I often quote one of Wm’s artist statements, “It doesn’t matter what I say, all that matters is what you see. Or his current one, “No explaination (sic) can make a photograph better art.”  I believe this, but I am enjoying well-crafted articulations of work as in Alison Nordstrom’s introduction to Amy Stein‘s new monograph, Domesticated, or unexpected pairings as the titles in Colin Blakely‘s work, Somewhere in Middle America.

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Outside the beautiful State Capitol Building in Baton Rouge

When I let William know I was planning a southern excursion he graciously offered me some high thread count guest accomodations and the chance to find out what motivates the photographer that is Wm Greiner.  After a pleasant evening spent chewing the photographic fat (his wife, Stephanie said, “It’s so nice when your little photo friends come over “- and I adore anyone who uses the diminutive in reference to me, so Peruvian!) we rose early the next AM and William gave me a brief tour of some notable Baton Rouge landmarks including Jim Leming’s parking space at the state capitol building.

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Jim Leming’s parking spot at the beautiful State Capitol Building in Baton Rouge

We also toured the wall of bullet holes of assasinated presidential candidate Huey Long before I enjoyed this photographic body of work:

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Louisianian Politicians in the State Capitol Building

William is a very astute man.  He holds an MBA and sells fine art (not photography though).  In a way he has presupposed the US Government in that he uses his photographs has a post-modern shekl to barter fantastic vacation homes in Telluride, CO.  Now that our quaint dollar is being printed in the zillions, the future devaluation of it will leave us all scratching our heads wondering how we are going to pay for the necessaries.  Look no further than your art, folks.  Follow the man with the MBA.

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Cheesy shooting each other moment.

We made a field trip to his office which is in an office park in Baton Rouge and looks nothing like his photographs.  I got to see some of the prints from his last exhibit at KlompChing Gallery in Brooklyn.  They were beautiful and large and framed in white.

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Entering William Greiner’s office: think what you must, the man is completely sane.

His office is also decorated with lots of old oil paintings and such that is his inventory. You can even use the powder room visit as a viewing opportunity:

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He has beautiful art in his office bathroom and it’s for sale.

But a man must have his passions that inform his art.  Currently, I get the feeling that William and his delightful wife, Stephanie are both obsessed by tennis.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been greeted at the breakfast table in tennis whites, and I think that the Greiners are probably a pair to be reckoned with on-court.  They are very serious tennis players:

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Rivaling his photographic excellence is his prowess on the tennis court.

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Beautiful Surprise: Harvest Magazine of Australia

A few months ago I got an email from Imogen, art director of Harvest Magazine, a literary magazine published out of Victoria.  She asked for permission to publish a photograph from my series on Southern writers, A Sense of Place, to go along in conjunction with a piece they had.  I sent off the photo and thought nothing more of it.  Today I got issue two of Harvest magazzine, the spring/summer 2008 edition which is of course, my fall & winter.  It is a garden of delights.  I have not had time to read any of the text yet, (I am inundated with new christmas photobooks and reading and no time to indulge!), but the illustrations & design are so beautiful it breaks my heart how much effort these people have put into their product.  Well done and where can I get copies to send to my friends? Please sample for yourself:

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Illustration by Luci Everett

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illustration by Elsa Mora

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Illustration by Merethe Tingstad

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Illustration by Nghiem Tran

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Illustration by Yours Truly

Job Opportunity: Video

It’s the beginning of tough times indeed. Instead of giving in our to natural inclinations and standing like a deer in headlights as the carnage approaches those with video experience in the area may be interested in taking advantage of this opportunity:  My talented friend Page Carr, at NOVA’s photo program in Alexandria is seeking an adjunct video instrunctor. The ideal candidate will:
• have a college degree in the field of Photography or Video, or something clearly related, OR a college transcript with plenty of courses in those subjects.
• have at least two years full time professional (applied) experience in the field, documented by employment records, letters of reference, and / or IRS records.
• pass a background check conducted by the college.
• have prior college teaching experience, but this is not required.
The more education, applied experience, and teaching experience the candidate has, the higher the pay will be. Our pay scale for adjuncts is very good compared to other schools in the area, including Universities.
The class could be scheduled Mornings, Afternoons, or Evenings, M-Th, and possibly Friday Morning or Afternoon. Fall classes run from the end of August through mid-December, meeting 16 times (probably once a week for 3.5 hours)

Shoot me a pm if you are interested and I’ll forward the info along.

Photographers’ Visits in New Orleans

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© Louviere & Vanessa

I think I mentioned my friends Jeff & Vanessa of the alt country band/photographic artists otherwise known as Louviere & Vanessa.  Vanessa also goes by the name Vanessa Brown, which gives her no street cred, as no one realizes that she is Louviere & Vanessa instead of Vanessa Brown.  I’ve highly encouraged her to change her name to Vanessa Louviere because that is such a beautiful name and it’s not patriarchal if you choose it for yourself.  ; )

Blood is a very Anthropomorphic Critter

Blood is a very Anthropomorphic Critter

Anyways, the Jeff & Brown’s are crazy German Shepherd people and currently have two, Blood & Bodoni (who I refer to with a heavy southern accent, Beaux Doney) who were quite fun to walk around with in an abandoned golf course near their Bywater neighborhood. We “dog people” can recognize each other by our heightened sense of smell and our propensity to carry a sticky dowel around with us to pick up shedders.

Friday night Bruce Davidson came into town and gave the keynote presentation for the weekend.  I missed this because aforementioned hosts were having a fete at A  Gallery for Fine Photography on Chartres Street, which I can’t even pronounce without sounding like a hopeless hick, and where they had a solo show installed on the second floor, Instinct Extinct, or was it the other way around? Anyhoo,  a lot of the next day’s reviewers were attending, and though official oscar rules forbid reviewees and scallawags like myself from mingling with their interlocutors reviewers I was able to enjoy some jambalaya, interesting conversation and many rare and fine photographs.

Eccentric Eddie of A Gallery of Fine Photography. Check out that Arbus on the left!

Eddie of A Gallery of Fine Photography. Check out that Arbus on the left!

The  owner of the gallery, one Mr. Joshua Mann Pailet, owns a treasure trove of vintage photography.  I am talking Josephine Baker by George Huron (?), Moonrise over Hernandez by Ansel Adams, Jerry Uelsman, Irving Penn, Diane Arbus, Eliot Erwitt, Sokolsky, Karsh, great vintage large format landscapes, Meatyard, just a bunch of to-die-for stuff.  It really reignited my appreciation for Karsh, his prints were the best there imho – just really beautiful.  It was all laid out salon style, not a modern clean aesthetic, but rather with reclaimed boards from old buildings housing clever built-in storage. A really beautiful space.

owner josh van pelle, maggie taylor, jerry uelsman, keith carter, richard sexton, L+V, and eddie. © George Griswold

The Living Artists Represented by A Gallery of Fine Photography: owner josh van pelle, maggie taylor, jerry uelsman, keith carter, richard sexton, L+V, and eddie. © George Griswold

More breathing room was upstairs at  Jeff & Vanessa  solo show. They’ve created gold leaf prints, which are very much in keeping with their conceptual fanciful aesthetic,  with now a sort of Gustav Klimtian look. The end result is a very beautiful large scale piece that is getting collected by big shots and famous celebrities, whose names I am not at liberty to disclose here.  (But one of whom’s first name starts with an “A”. Yes, first person you think of is probably right.)  Huge!

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© Louviere & Vanessa

Anyway, I really love their work. In fact I own a piece, not from this current series,  and it’s one of my favorites.  (Did I mention their new work employs gold leaf? It’s at a bit higher price-point than what I myself have a budget for now).  In New Orleans, I came to terms with the fact that I am at heart a collector, after hanging out in Josh’s gallery and feeling what it must be like to just live, literally, surrounded by great art. No more blank walls! Bah humbug!  I have already begun the process of some acquisitions which I will reveal as they are completed.

Jeff is also this genius gifted graphic designer who designed all the materials for PhotoNOLA as well as their own artist books and promotional stuff. How nice it is to be so exceptionally gifted and be able to earn a decent living on something NOT related to your photography. Vanessa works in the studio of another NO photographer.  Of course they would just rather be making a living selling their work, grass is always greener I says.  I think the friction and battle keep you honest, but it’s nice not to STRUGGLE every minute of every day – still I think we can all safely incorporate a bit of angst and uncertainties as long as we stay focused on the fundamentals: the process and making enough to eat and pay rent however that happens.  And  it seems to me to be a  good idea to have outside work when you are a married couple that lives, loves, and produces their art together.  Unless you’re one of those happy loving couples epitomized in songs by joe jackson, drunk on the kool-aid of your love.

So these are my friends Jeff & Vanessa, artists making beautiful images with their two german shepherds, Blood & Bodoni, all of whom are Katrina survivors, among many other things.  If you have any lucrative and creative design projects in your future I suggest you contact Jeff. He really is an inspired designer.   It’s fun to be around people like this.  You sit and bat around crazy ideas and ultimately just a bit of gossip about people who are just not nice and phony or really nice and genuine. Any scene has a few, and Photo NOLA was a scene.

Ted Jackson working the Telephone Shot

Ted Jackson Working the Phone

One person who is no such phony is Times Picayune photojournalist Ted Jackson, who is just a good decent man trying to navigate the difficult terrain of post-Katrina New Orleans.  It’s really sad, and I was heartened to hear about people like Brad Pitt, who are starting these green initiatives in helping to rebuild the 9th ward.  I saw this is an article for Architectural Digest which featured what I found to be almost hideous photos by Harry Benson.  Sorry.

All I can say is that all that misery is an opportunity for some people to perform some really heroic work and god bless them all each and every one of them. They have my support.   Ted very kindly made time for coffee with me during a shoot and I grilled him about his Katrina story which is truly fascinating and, if not heroic, definitely a story of someone making some hard choices and facing difficult situations while consistently making good decisions and being guided by innate goodness and common sense. I will spare you the details because I am developing a screenplay based loosely on Ted’s story and employing magical realism and some good biblical themes of catharsis and redemption.  Watch out Dreamworks! And when I say loosely based I mean that one of the Jonas brothers will play Ted. Did I mention it is a musical?

We squeezed just enough time in for me to catch up with him and makewhat I used to refer to as the telephone shot in my days covering members of congress for Roll Call newspaper.  The subject is working!  He is talking on the phone, making the wheels of government roll!!!  It was an ouevre I am sometimes nostalgic for as evidenced in the work above.  Ted over-obliged as evidenced by his toothy grin.  What can I say? He radiates the joy I wish for you this holiday season and as we begin our new year.

Finally, new photographic idol Michael Wilson sent me a postcard with this awesome quote on the back:

Walk ye,

The while ye have light,

That Darknesses

Catch you not.

Dean Jensen Gallery Installation

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Thanks to photoblogagraphers Mel Trittin and Kevin Miyazaki for sending me photographs of the Dean Jensen gallery’s Big, Big Bang, Small, Small Bucks show in Milwaukee. His biggest show ever, I hope it was a success and that the red dots were ubiquitous!

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I am busy preparing for the Christmas season and will be writing a bit more about my trip to Louisiana.Heading out to show my work to some editors (it never ends!) and then over to the White House for the egg nog bacchanal that is the White House Press Christmas Party.  Stay tuned in the coming days for an exciting holiday quiz and give-away.

Unlimited Edition Opening at Arlington Arts Center this Friday!

Finger-Lookin' Good, London, Kentucky, 2007  © Susana Raab

Finger-Lookin' Good, London, Kentucky, 2007 © Susana Raab

I’m pleased to announce a very exciting opening Friday, Dec. 12 at the Arlington Arts Center, a fantastic converted elementary school now impressive arts venue on Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, metro accessible and with (gasp) parking.  Exhibiting artists for this show about consumer culture, mass consumption, and ubiquity are:

Kathryn Cornelius, performance
Susana Raab, photography
Krista Birnbaum, graphics/prints
Cynthia Connolly, performance w/bicycle & postcard rack
Christine Bailey, drawings made w/heat-set photocopier toner
Carolina Mayorga, performance selling faux product line: lipstick
Joanmarie Turbek, installation w/ceramic cakes and boxes

This is not just one opening but more like ten because of a special event we’ll be hosting with local art scene-maker Philippa Hughes’s PINK LINE PROJECT.

TEE PARTY @ TIFFANY’s will run from 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm on the evening of December 12. The event will include artist-made clothes featured in an unconventional fashion show: an actual tea party. Models will serve tea to gallery-goers seated at several small tables in the AAC’s Tiffany galley throughout the night.

Additionally, there will be live art-making: Using airbrush and artist-made decals, artists will create one-of-a-kind t-shirts for purchase by anyone attending.

Add to that the fantastic art on view in three shows:

UNLIMITED EDITION
WINTER SOLOS–featuring Philadelphia artists Alexis Granwell and Josh Rodenberg, transforming our Meyer gallery with architectural interventions
A SPATIAL DIFFERENCE–a show of new work by three of our fabulous resident artists, Jill Romanoke, Monica Stroik, and Sabyna Sterrett (go to http://www.arlingtonartscenter.org/studios to see their work!)

The Arlington Arts Center is located at 3550 Wilson Boulevard Arlington, VA 22201.  I hope to see you there!