Topic: Northeast (66 posts) Page 1 of 14

Gravel No More

A couple of years back I made some work as some kind of a tangent, new photographs in an effort to push back at a perceived trend as opposed to acquiescence to present day norms, making work as a proponent of an approach devoid of a) an interesting subject, b) an overtly new aesthetic or  c) a clear intention of a positive reaction from any audience.

Furthermore, I went so far as to deny that I had made them, using the pseudonym Marc S. Myers (that I had used before) and spun an elaborate yarn about a terminal illness and a long commute from Maryland to make pictures of a pile of gravel in Athol, Massachusetts. 

Many of you readers were with me on this, and were tolerant of this writer's aberrant behavior. However, in looking over the work, I believe I had a hold of something worth showing.

Now here in the late winter of 2019 I drove out the other day to look at the location where the summer before last the photographs were made of the mounds of gravel in Athol, next to a Market Basket supermarket. I am here to report that things have changed.

But before we go there, let me bring you up to date in terms of what the project looked like and what it was about.

I hope you'll take a look and read these before going on:

Here are the photographs called GRAVEL

And here are the posts on the blog that provide the context in which they were made:

Gravel by Marc S. Meyers

and

Gravel

Now that you are up to date I can tell you that the gravel pit no longer exists. I know, very sad. In its place are a Hobby Lobby, an Athol Cinemas 8 and some vacant retail spaces that seem to be waiting for occupants. Around the circle and down the street there is a new Wendys and a Taco Bell under construction.

These made this week by me, no attempt at making art here, just clarity: 

Same place. Same hills in the background. Similar blue sky but shot in March 2019, not July 2017.

What would be our fictional hero Marc Meyers' response be to the times they are a'changin?  I think he wouldn't care. Or more accurately, he made the project with no need to play the "before and after" game. Marc was all about using the gravel to validate his approach of using classic means of landscape picture making with a content devoid of interest or value. 

I know you're concerned about Marc's health and I can report the outcome is good. He was asked if he'd participate in a radical medical trial back in Maryland.  He did and for all intents and purposes he is cured. He needs monitoring every six months or so but life's good for Marc S. Meyers and his family right now. In fact, you may see some new work from him soon as he is back to photographing again.

The gravel? Where did it go? What has happened to those impressive statuesque mountains of exquisite crushed rock? Those pristine landscapes of tonal and color beauty immortalized by Meyer? 

2017 Athol, MA


I haven't a clue.

Topics: Northeast

Permalink | Posted March 19, 2019

Hershey Revisited

Last week, Mercedes, colleague, friend and studio assistant from Penland, came up for a visit and we spent an afternoon and the next morning looking at work, lots of work. At the end we were both exhausted. You wouldn't think this would be a grueling experience, looking at sets of prints sitting in portfolios, but it is.  I admit, my work is intense. For the most part these are not just pretty pictures, but series where pictures are arranged as a narrative, making connections from picture to picture, alluding to something that has come earlier or is about to come up ahead. Think poems or chamber pieces or short stories.  I too get fatigued looking at my own work in effect over the shoulder of someone else, looking to see the work through their eyes, to read their reactions, to sense their involvement or lack of, their getting it or not, what their body language indicates.  (In looking over what I just wrote I realize you could take a very different stance about looking at all that work: the photographs of Neal Rantoul could be seen as relentlessly boring, overwrought, narrow-minded, humorless, repetitive and lacking in innovation. I hope Mercedes didn't feel that way!)

Hershey is on the site: here.

One of my favorite things to do with someone who visits the studio is a kind of game. Years ago Phillip Prodger did this. He was the curator of photography at the Peabody Essex Museum at the time. The idea is to have the visitor randomly pick something to look at from the flat files and shelves of portfolios. Mercedes chose Hershey, PA so I hauled the box of analog prints out and we took a look.

Hershey has been around. The work is represented in the black and white monograph "American Series", it gets its own small book called Hershey and it has been shown numerous times since I first made the prints in 1997. It also lives in several print versions, including a poster (as just one image from the series, the one shown above), and another as 18-inch square inkjet prints on watercolor paper and just this week after Mercedes left, as new 13-inch square prints. Why did I print the full set yet again? Because some of the original darkroom prints are missing. This isn't as tragic as you might think as in earlier days I might have sold a single print out of a series. I no longer do this of original work but will freely sell a digital version. So the new full set is from scanned film and made as inkjet prints. Easy. And before you tell me you prefer the older vintage darkroom made prints come take a look at the inkjet ones as they are very beautiful. Why? Because the quality of the scans is first rate. Quality in, quality out.

All this by way of suggesting, if you haven't been there yet, that you might like to read about the Hershey pictures. If you I do I can link you to the introductory post, that then links you to the three posts I wrote that take a closer look at a body of work of mine that I regard as being seminal. 

I hope you enjoy looking at the Hershey series: HERE

Topics: Northeast,Black and White

Permalink | Posted February 25, 2019

New Show

Boston Up

I took some photographs to the Boston Society of Architects (BSA) this week for a show that will be up through the winter. I am showing with longtime friend Peter Vanderwarker. The BSA is planning an opening reception for January 30th.

The show features work I made in 70mm black and white infrared film in the early eighties of downtown Boston. It is called Boston Up.

If you don't know of the BSA they offer a wide variety of programming, classes, lectures, and exhibitions, all centered around the built environment. They are on Congress Street in Boston.

The Boston Society of Architects/AIA is committed to professional development for our members, advocacy on behalf of great design, and sharing an appreciation for the built environment with the public at large.
Established in 1867, the BSA today consists of nearly 4,500 members and produces content for a diverse array of programs and publications, including ABX and ArchitectureBoston.
A chapter of the American Institute of Architects, it is a nonprofit, professional-service organization.
The BSA is located at BSA Space. BSA Space features more than 5,000 square feet of gallery space for creative explorations of the potential of design to inspire, create community and transform the world we inhabit. BSA Space is also home to the BSA Foundation (formerly the Boston Foundation for Architecture).

For more information and open hours please go to: Boston Society of Architecture

Topics: Northeast,Analog,Digital,infrared

Permalink | Posted January 12, 2019

26 Dollars

After spending a night in NY, we headed back to Boston by way of New Haven to see the George Shaw painting show at the Yale Center for British Art and have lunch with Phillip Prodger. Phillip is the former curator of photography at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem and has recently returned to the States from London where he did a stint at the National Portrait Gallery.

Before I tell you the $26 story let me share some of Shaw's paintings with you.

Quite often these are large, on up to  5 or 6 ft, mostly enamel on metal. Here is the      opening statement

Don't know if you can read it so small but it speaks about his inherent preoccupation with the fine art of painting and the prevailing medium of the day, photography. 

These are extraordinary paintings, "take your breath away" beautiful and, for me, they both validate present day painting but validate much of my work that points at things like fences, that allows shadows, blank walls and everyday objects pulling back in space, made earlier in my career in black and white and now in color. 

photograph: Neal Rantoul from Fences and Walls


painting: George Shaw

painting: George Shaw

Affirming is the sense that Shaw and I look at the world  in similar ways. Uncanny, really, that someone unknown to me until now has been working in a manner that is somewhat aligned to mine. 

Looking for proof? Easy. Go to Edgartown Beach Club and the blog post:

here   (hint: the author of the series is me, working under the pseudonym Marc Meyers)


photograph: Neal Rantoul

painting: George Shaw

26 Dollars: Heading back to Boston on the Mass Pike we stopped for gas. I am standing there filling up and this man comes up to me. He's got an elaborate story about a dead fuel pump in his pickup truck, a towing charge, a weekend in New London for Coast Guard veterans on a cutter, a chipped tooth, his two daughters, needing bus fare to Portsmouth that is $66 and then shows me the $40 in his wallet. He's $26 short and can I help hm out? I ask him if he's asked others before me. He says, yes, one other. I ask how'd that go? He says not well. I don't hesitate and hand him first my card saying he needs to call or email to get the address to send me the $26 when he gets home. He says he will do that. I ask him his name. He says Dave O'Malley. He's middle aged, looks together and is with me every step of the way. I hand him $26. He looks me square in the eye and says thank you, you are a life saver and then shakes my hand. It is now five days later and I have heard nothing from Mr Dave O'Malley.  I am a sucker or it is money well spent?

My email: here


Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, CT  here through December.

Topics: Martha's Vineyard,Northeast,Color,Black and White

Permalink | Posted December 17, 2018

Took the Prints

Took the three mounted prints to the studio yesterday and went over this morning to frame them: one 36 inch square and two 46 x 34 inch prints. A very small section of the"hits of the summer". Washed car, went back over to my new place later to meet up with the moving helpers bringing stuff from the storage unit in Dedham. Slow midday, with an errand to a new-for-me supermarket in Belmont in quite amazing heat, like an oven, then, in late afternoon this most wonderful light show of clouds and dark skies came through, as changing weather coming in, can hear thunder in distance as I write this. My new place has great sky, never had that in my old place. I photographed them:

What were the three prints that I framed?

The abandoned Hardee's in Spruce Pine, NC

The mother of all crops of kudzu in Hickory NC shot in May


and the newly renovated Saltonstall Bridge in Boston, made in July


add to those the two portfolios I made in the early summer called "Menemsha" and "Spruce Pine NC 2018" and the summer doesn't seem like a total wash.

The three big prints are hanging in my studio. Let me know if you'd like to see them: nrantoul@comcast.net

Heads up: next chance to see work is this year's Allston Open Studios the weekend of October 13 and 14. Hope to see you then.

Topics: Northeast

Permalink | Posted September 12, 2018