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