From the Archives

We're going to try republishing some older posts for a bit as the blog now goes back 10 years. I'd be willing to bet that most of you haven't read earlier efforts so I thought it might be worthwhile to bring some back for re-exposure. Let me know if you like or dislike the idea in the comments section below.

For the start of this project, I refer you to Luna Park, a series made in the fall of 2012 near Voldatavo, Italy of an amusement park. The post itself is very short but contains a link to the full series of pictures. They have never been shown.

Topics: Commentary

Permalink | Posted January 18, 2022

Again?

In March 2020 I wrote a piece in response to what downtown Boston looked like as we were shut down. I called it "Ghost Town".

https://nealrantoul.com/posts/ghost-town

Well, here we go again.

Omicron has put us right back into submission, freaked out to be out, worried about being too close, and seeing those around us getting the virus, more so than last year, less severe though it may be.

Staying home more, working from home more. The only difference I can see is that no government is telling us to shut down. We are doing it on our own.

In our third year......

Again, just as then, I wish you good health.


Topics: Commentary

Permalink | Posted January 15, 2022

Seminal 3

Continuing with the third installment in examining works made throughout my career that formed a precedent or that were crucial to my development as an artist. 

Seminal is: (1) here

Seminal 2 is: here

Pulaski Motel, 2012

In the early years of working digitally, I stayed working in color but later on, I made several series in black and white, most notably: Pulaski MotelBenson Grist MillField, and, San Jose Squares. It is important to note that my career from student days to the early 2000s was only in black and white. 

By 2017 another shift was taking place in my work. I spent several winters in California, spending time in San Diego, Malibu, San Jose and Santa Rosa photographing.  It was impossible to dismiss the extensive fire damage and mudslides while there. I began photographing the damage on the ground and from the air. Later, in 2019, with two trips, I concentrated on documenting the devastation that was the town of Paradise.

The Paradise work culminated in a show at the Harvard University Portal Gallery in Brighton MA of the Paradise pictures. We made a book as well:

A shift from making art to documentary photography? Yes. It began with the Mutter Museum photographs in the early 2000s and perhaps with the Cabelas work as well

where I believed just showing the specimens clearly and without bias was called for. There have been many times over my career where it seemed important to be clear-eyed and with good technical skills and that was enough. 

While in California I made a series with an altered tonal scale in an effort to describe what it felt like to be driving through the arid mountains inland from Malibu during a drought. I called the series Washed Out:

And, finally, Martha's Vineyard has been a revelation and a constant to me throughout my career, and the work reflects that, progressing from urban and rural work in black and white in the 70s through to present-day digital aerial photographs of the island culminating in a show last winter at the Martha's Vineyard Museum 

Is there other work of mine I regard as being seminal? Yes. As you might expect there is work that exists as subsets or tangents from the mainstream ones I've shown here. I often told students "pictures make pictures". That is a lesson for me to heed as well. 

I have tried to give you a sense of my core interests and proclivities. One thing is for certain, as artists we have to follow our ideas and dreams, follow our inclinations, our curiosities, our whims.  Without this "I wonder what it would be like if I...?" driving us we have nothing. 

As a young man, I was working in an unrelenting structure of scrutiny and criticism (being on a tenure track as a young professor). As an old man, all that is by the wayside. I am free to do anything I wish now.

Stay tuned.

Topics: Seminal

Permalink | Posted January 5, 2022

Best of 2021 Part 2

In Part 1 (here) we looked at the best of my work in the early part of the year. Here we'll continue from May on.

Medfield State Hospital

This one, from a junkyard near Albany NY in May. Feeling bad, this was six weeks before I had open-heart surgery, weak and easily winded. I wrote about photographing in junkyards and my forty years of experience: here.

Peaked Hill, Chilmark, MA, the highest spot on Martha's Vineyard, in June.

In Lawrence, MA in August in a diner.

Holyoke, MA

Fitchburg, MA

By October and November, I was photographing at Lake Dennison Recreation Area in Winchendon, MA. The Miller River cuts through the park.

In December I continued at Lake Dennison until the gates were closed for the season near Christmas. 

That about sums it up, 2021. I tend to think in terms of "before surgery" and "after surgery" in that some priorities are a little different now.  While still highly motivated to make work I think less of how my work will be accepted and more of what peace and pleasure it brings me. If that, in turn, brings something good to your days then it is all for the better. Certainly, I am less for the noise and more for the quiet these days.  

Topics: Color,Commentary,Digital,Northeast

Permalink | Posted January 3, 2022

Best of 2021

A random selection of this year's favorites:

What a year. Feels almost totally dysfunctional. Looking back, it seems I did shoot quite a bit, mostly locally, probably like you.

It was the first winter in my new home in Acton, so I explored quite a bit nearby.

American Heritage Museum, Stow, MA

That gets us through until late April so clearly this will need another post.

One more:

Remember, you can now write a comment. Please do that.

With wishes for a truly wonderful year in 2022 and the sincere hope you will stay healthy...

Topics: Best of

Permalink | Posted January 1, 2022