I was just standing outside, with my face in the sun.
The season change is always obvious here, in the Rocky Mountains, and it’s most definitely spring outside.
Thankfully, winter is over.
I stood there, and after a moment, became aware of the musical arrangement of bird calls happening all around me.
(Mostly from the trees near the stream, as it’s no longer frozen.)
The chirp sounds were beautiful, and I noted them, but after another moment, realized they’d been gone all winter.
The bird music.
I hadn’t heard the calls since September or October. And you might not remember, but in the first week of September #2020, we had such an unusual freeze that birds fell dead from the sky.
By the thousands.
#2020 was that kind of year.
Back to the bird calls, though, and the truth is, over this evil-Covid-winter, I’d forgotten such things existed.
When you’re that deep in the hole, (or have lived in a cave for generations, like The Croods,) you begin to forget that light is a reality too, just like darkness.
And here we are.
Green grass is growing in our field.
My children are (supposedly) going back to school.
Checks are headed to many mail boxes.
After years of mental torture by you-know-who, capped off by a whopper of a year that gave us house arrest, (for some people solitary confinement,) and a half million dead people, we should all forgive ourselves if things like hope are slow to return.
It will take a while for the collective PTSD to wear off, for those who can shake it.
But spring follows winter.
That’s the way it works.
So what will you do when you emerge from your shell?
In a way, we can all honor the Americans, (and people everywhere, really,) who didn’t make it out of the pandemic alive.
We can love more deeply, cherish new experiences, embrace personal growth, make fresh things.
Because our art is an expression of our personality, our vision, our sense of self.
Even in the worst of winter, (you knew the hook was coming, right?) I was still able to look at photography portfolios, by a talented and diverse group of artists at the PhotoNOLA festival online, back in December, and today, I’m happy to share some of my favorite portfolios with you.
We’ll have a Part 2 as well, and as usual, the artists are in no particular order.
Cathy Cone showed me work that looked good on a computer screen, but is the kind of thing that I’d really love to see in person. Her work involves scanning old tintypes, and then painting directly onto the output prints.
And in the “spring is here” vibe of this column, I can only hope IRL festivals come back this year, so we can all resume the habit of appreciating art in person, with our physical senses activated.
Diana Nicolette Jeon’s work is the perfect follow up, given the tactility, as her prints are mounted to, and exhibited in Altoids tin lids.
I first saw this work at Photolucida in 2019, loved it, and meant to publish it then, but a miscommunication on my part meant it didn’t happen. Fortunately, Diana, who’s based in Hawaii, gave me a second chance.
The images come from film noir, and definitely channel that energy, minus the scary soundtrack.
Elizabeth Clark Libert showed me a set of razor sharp images, shot with a medium format digital camera, of her young boys playing, fighting, and growing together. (The first two being intimately related, when brothers are close in age.)
It’s a meditation on masculinity, as the artist grapples with how to raise her boys in a post-me-too era. There are some nudity issues, which open another set of questions, but as we’re not publishing those, we’ll save that debate for another occasion.
Nathalie Seaver showed me some work that I didn’t necessarily appreciate. But as I’ve written many times, if you have other options to pivot to during a review, it allows the situation to be salvaged. (Proper preparation is key.)
The last project we discussed was quarantine related, as Nathalie made still lives of objects from her home, (since she couldn’t leave,) and they were grouped by color.
They’re kitschy, but also cool, IMO.
Rene Algesheimer shared images of ice caves in Alaska and Iceland, and I suppose they qualify as some of the least-lockdown-pictures I saw last December.
They’re haunting, and need little explication, right?
Last but not least, Suzette Bross will help us land the idea that travel, which was practically impossible in #2020, may rejoin us again in #2021. Exotic countries, or even just the county across the State line, will become more accessible, once things improve.
Suzette’s project was shot in Rwanda, and is a reflection of the grief she felt due to a family loss. Rather than photograph the countryside, Suzette presents hacked-panorama-iPhone-images shot from a moving bus, as she crossed the country.
The resulting photographs are strange and compelling.
Don’t you think?
See you next week!