Topic: Featured (10 posts) Page 1 of 2

555 Gallery

I now show my work at 555 Gallery in South Boston. Over the past year, the  gallery's owner, Susan Nalband, has shown my work twice and in 2015 we will show the Monsters work in September (don't know about this new work? Stay tuned).  I am extremely pleased to say I am one of the stable of artists showing at 555 Gallery.

What does that mean, to be on a list of represented artists at a gallery? Often it means that a contract has been signed by both the gallery and the artist that stipulates the terms of their working together. This can cover how much the gallery takes of a sale, the frequency of your work being shown, the definition of the region where representation is, terms of how framing, shipping and transportation costs are handled, the nature of limited editions, how sales are handled through other galleries, exclusivity and so on. For many this relationship looks like the gold at the end of the rainbow, a career objective reached. But a gallery cannot do everything. The gallery has to take care of all the other artists too. Let's take a look at another Boston photo gallery: Robert Klein Gallery. The gallery's list of artists shows 131 all told! This is like a supermarket of photographers with an almost infinite number of choices. What this means is that Klein gallery is  the "go to" gallery in Boston for A list artists, both alive and dead, from around the world. Want a Steiglitz for your new high end McMansion in the burbs? Who are you going to call: Robert Klein. Has he got it in stock? Absolutely not, but his search machine of contacts and the network he has is large and reaches everywhere. Susan at 555 Gallery has a much shorter list and, being a new gallery, that list is still developing. Robert Klein is the established gallery in the Boston area. 555 is the new upstart gallery, able to turn on a dime, show different photographs in different ways, show younger edgier work that pushes at photography's conventions a little while still carrying a few old farts like me. I am thankful to be along for the ride.

I wonder if Robert Klein's gallery was open New Year's Eve? 555 was with a party that, quite simply, rocked. I know. I was there. I even danced!

Susan has in one short year become one of the sought after gallery owners for portfolio reviews and judging competitions and has gained respect in the community for her considered and respectful critiques of artists' work.

While the space is not large it is perfectly set up for looking at work with strong and direct light, with plenty of room to move around and see the work both close up but also from some distance. You've probably heard of a gallery's "back room". The back room is where most sales take place and if a gallery doesn't have one it may not make many sales. 555 Gallery's is spacious and set up perfectly to discuss terms and to show work in portfolios from flat file cases. 

Susan has also shown some wonderful work since opening last January while at the same time has proven willing to learn from a few mistakes. Running an art gallery is not for the feint of heart as this is a high risk business. Susan is proving to possess the necessary toughness to survive combined with accessibility, approachability and enough humanity to be able to carry on a conversation with those experienced and inexperienced alike, a very rare attribute for a gallerist.

I wish her and my work well, of course. But feel I am in good hands with a gallery owner who is straightforward and friendly with all potential clients while being a strong advocate and agent for the artists she exhibits. If you haven't been, I urge you to go.

555 Gallery is located at:

555 East 2nd Street, Boston


Topics: Commentary,Featured

Permalink | Posted January 7, 2015

Best of 2014

For this end of the year look at the best of 2014 I have decided to choose one photograph from each month. Can you imagine? I am not looking for sympathy here but out of the thousands upon thousands of pictures I have made this past year for  someone who works primarily in series this has proven to be almost impossible task.

What did I do? I just plunged in. I spent several hours just going through what I'd shot. If you photograph a lot, try it. There probably are as many interpretations of what you did this past year as there are photographs you made, but it is a worthwhile and challenging exercise.

Here we go:January: from Nantucket, visiting friends.

February: I was staying in Santa Rosa about 1 1/2 hours north of San Francisco and drove back east over the mountains to photograph in the Central Valley. This was from the air.

March: I made three large bodies of work while in California last winter. I photographed the rock formations called "Tafoni" along the coast, made aerial photographs inland and made pictures of skate parks, this one in Healdsburg.

April: by April I was back home and began photographing at a place called Costume World in Fitchburg, MA. Wigs, masks, some mannequins. This work will be shown at 555 Gallery in September, 2015.

May: I was back on Martha's Vineyard. This is one I make often, with a very long lens. It is of the clay cliffs at Aquinnah (Gay Head).

June: By then I was at Penland in North Carolina teaching. This is from the town Marion nearby.

July: I returned to The Palouse to photograph wheat, near Pullman, WA. This from the air.

August: in Boston, from my bike, near Fenway Park.

September: From the National Museum of Medicine and Health in Maryland.

October: back at Martha's Vineyard. This one from the tip of the small island Chappaquidick from the air.

November: I was in Europe and friends took me up to their place on the side of a mountain in the Italian Alps.

December: from Somerville, back home again.

I had a very good year. In this period of my life I have no job to go to and few requirements or demands placed upon me. Making art resides in the center of all I do; my activity, my travel, my thoughts, my concentration, my wishes. This is a remarkable gift, of course, that I can do this, and I try to not take any of it for granted, as it is completely what I have always wanted throughout my long career. To be free to make pictures like this is a sincere privilege. I hope some of my own experiences can benefit you in yours. I enjoy sharing my work with you and hope you enjoy looking at my photographs. 

I wish you the very best in this coming year, 2015.

Topics: Digital,Color,Featured

Permalink | Posted December 31, 2014

National Museum of Health and Medicine 2

This is the s second post on pictures I made this past week at the Museum. Post No. 1 is here.


The next group of pictures will be a little harder to deal with. If you're squeamish about photographs of human and animal remains perhaps you should stop here.

By the afternoon of Day One I was pretty well finished with photographing things in the public area. I asked Brian Spatola, the Museum's Lab Manager, if there were specimens in storage that I could photograph.  After some thought, he agreed that I could. This is a National Museum, meaning that the place is there for us as citizens of the U.S. The Museum is on an Army Base and is under the control of the Department of Defense, so there were many procedures we had to follow. One of them meant we had to move each specimen out of storage on to a cart, roll it out to the  public display area to photograph it, then roll it back again.

Over that afternoon and the following morning we did just that many times.

Gretchen Worden, the former head (now deceased) of the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia told me one of the times I was there photographing, that these preserved deformities and abnormalities are very simply a part of life and not something that should be closeted away or things that we should be denied access to.

I agree.

Here are Cailin and Amy, my two helpers at the Museum standing next to the cart they used to transport the specimens back and forth:

And here is one of the objects on the cart:

And another:

By noon on Day Two I was done. The staff needed to get back to their jobs and I needed to get home. I said my goodbyes, packed up the car with my gear and drove back home. About 7 hours after leaving the Museum I found myself in a below average restaurant south of Providence, sitting at the bar having a beer and a bowl of chili. The last frame in my camera, after shooting at the Museum for two days, is this I made as the sun went down from the parking lot in Coventry, RI before I went in to eat:

What's the significance of these pictures? What's it all mean? What's it about? Easy questions to ask. Not so easy to answer. Why am I driven to make these pictures? Do I have an agenda? A political motive? Not particularly. I would rather leave their intent and their result a little open ended, for you to establish whether they hold meaning and significance for you, personally, or not.

I drove down to DC, shot a day and a half, drove back... in three days. The day after I got back? I made a few prints and rested, literally. I slept a lot. Watched a movie, went swimming, did some errands and not much else. It was nice to be home.

Topics: Color,Digital,Featured,Northeast

Permalink | Posted September 22, 2014

River Paddle

Yesterday I drove from Boston up to the Connecticut River, the border between New Hampshire and Vermont. I hitched a ride using the service North Star provides up river several miles and put my boat in the water just above the covered bridge at Cornish to paddle back down river to where my car was parked. 

Warm air and water in mid August and only a few of us on the river. I paddled under bridges, watched  kids flying and somersaulting into the river on a tree swing, battled strong headwinds and stopped several times to photograph. In places it was so shallow you could walk right out into the middle of the river. It was glorious.

Here are a few of the pictures I made:

One of the stops I made was where a small stream flowed out into the river:

I paddled up stream as far as I could, got out and sat on a downed tree and ate my lunch, then headed up the stream for a ways, walking on rocks in shallow water, camera in hand, hearing a train go by on the New Hampshire side of the river but cut off from the world looking down making pictures. I found about equal parts of beauty and mankinds' detritus on the stream bed.

and finally, this supporting a bridge over the stream

here converted to black and white.

All this about as good as it gets: the day, the air, summer, being out on the water. This while unable to keep Robin William's suicide just a few days ago off my mind. I wasn't a big fan, as he was too frenetic and manic for me, but there were moments when you just couldn't believe what he was doing, so brilliant and so very funny.

I also liked some of the acting he did in movies like Good Will Hunting or Good Morning Vietnam or even Mrs. Doubtfire. What a talent and what a huge loss. 

Depression is awful. There has been some in my family. I think I have only really been depressed once, after I finished grad school a very long time ago. 

Imagine deciding to end it all and to not see the time yesterday along the river in northern New England as being worth living for. 


Topics: Northeast,Digital,Featured

Permalink | Posted August 13, 2014

Post Wheat 2014

I have to come up for air sometime, right? I can't be only about working on the new Wheat pictures, made over two weeks in late June and early July. Can I?

I have been so inside this work and so consumed by it that everything else feels like it takes second seat to it.

I also have been working on its various subsets which are: wheat on the ground, wheat in the air, the other stuff I shot while out there and two days in Grand Coulee in the center of the the state.

Today I am going to lead off with the aerial work which is now called American Wheat:  Function and Form and is the aerial work I made while out there.

There is now an artist statement to the Wheat work in general that also references these new aerials:

Artist Statement: Wheat

Neal Rantoul

I first started photographing in the Palouse area of southeastern Washington in the mid 90’s and have been back most years since. It is my longest running project.

The work has evolved over the years, going from first black and white to color, from large format to digital, and from being based on the ground to including pictures made from the air. I have also photographed the area through the seasons.

In earlier writing about the project I referenced some of the great contemporary landscape photographers such as Robert Adams and Joe Deal, who was a good friend, and also cited Eugene Atget for the single mindedness of his intent. As a career artist I work in many different genres but this is the one that is perhaps the core vehicle of expression for my landscape work. While it has been challenging to find new approaches to this most wonderful of places, it also has been a privilege. Looking back at so much work now, I see more subtle changes from the earlier days to the present for I believe some of the basic principles in working there still apply: it is a landscape almost without scale due to few trees and little to reference size, the pictures can convey the movement of the wheat in the breeze at the same time as show the stillness and static nature of the topography, allowing photographs that convey sharpness and blur due to movement in the same image simultaneously and finally, in the more recent work since about 2000, colors, on their own, but also in relationship to each other.

I am very excited by the newest aerial work from the summer of 2014, as it represents a shift in intention with an evolved sense of the fields' function and their form where the work is perhaps its most abstract. Some of this work references the place by including a barn, a farm machine or trees, while some does not. Hence: Function and Form, the title for the new work. Function and Form constitutes a subset, which is, I hope, a powerful one, of the overall work made over the two-week shoot.

Neal Rantoul

July 2014


and Form

Next up?

I will be posting most of American Wheat: Function and Form on the site over the next few days.

Topics: Digital,Color,Northwest,Featured

Permalink | Posted July 17, 2014