Thoughts on “Finding Vivian Maier”

My two cents about Vivian Maier.

I saw the documentary of Vivian Maier’s life a few months ago and it rattled me, deeply, so much so it’s taken me this long to assimilate it. Watching this movie, I distinctly identified with her need to capture precious real moments, glimpsed in an instant, composed between seconds. She devoted herself to her craft in private, never sharing her images with others but ubiquitously known to have the camera with her at all times. I am certain if she knew all of the scrutiny she was receiving now she would be mortified. And yet, I was intrigued to discover, she left a clear trail of clues for and of herself. A dizzyingly cluttered trail, of 1000s of photo prints and negatives, newspapers and receipts, boxes and boxes of undeveloped film, all patiently  just waiting for the world to discover her. Bold enough to photograph fearlessly, yet so timid about possible rejection that she would craft letters of submission and then save them, unsent, among her collections. It screams, “Find me!”

What would become of any of us in such circumstances? An intensely private single woman, with a passion for art and a true eye for photography, a beloved skill learned from her mother. Living in a time when women of her “station” were primarily hired for domestic opportunities and jobs for “odd” unattached older women as she aged, rarer still. Living among the lives and children of her well off employers, always to be locking them out of her privacy, yet always the voyeur of theirs.  Ultimately, for most of these people, she was little more than a convenience, like your dish washer or an iron and they pay her just about as much attention. Meanwhile Vivian displays a penchant to pursue, capture and portray stories of the marvelous mundane as well as the macabre in the every day. Taking the rich people’s children to the rough parts of town to see & photograph real every day life playing out in the streets and alley’s of Chicago.

As she ages and the commodity of her passion’s aggregate begins to make her upper floor bedroom sag noticeably into the ceiling below, realizing that time and space are limited, she must have been panicked about what would happen to her precious collections. Her sanity and ability to control her circumstances slowly ebbing away until she dies alone and unknown, taken away to the hospital after a fall, never to return.  Within months of her passing she is discovered by John Maloof, a complete stranger who bought a box of her things at a warehouse auction and who is now the steward of her “photographic estate”. In the end, of all the people they interviewed who knew her, some friends, some employers, some children she had cared for now grown, all tried to  explain from their perspective who she was; but I don’t think any of them really did.

Just wow. What a story! It truly spoke to me about the importance of putting your passions out there fearlessly. Would really love to see her work in person someday. . .

I made this a few years ago as a reminder to myself to keep making and pushing myself to be better. As I walked out of the theater it kept floating back to me again.

Exploring A New Direction of Art Photography

Playing with art photography lends a fresh look to old shots.

I have spent many years playing with my photos, usually I turn them inside out and upside down. Or I’ve handed over the bones of my photos to a designer who tricks them out for whatever commercial project I happen to be contributing to.  But keeping my photos fresh and fun, to continue to challenge my eyes and brain to look at things artistically and not fall into a mechanical response to certain situations, is a challenge some days.  I’ve been working toward a deep understanding of photography from every angle for over 10 years.  While I continue to be passionate about it the time has come to start breaking the rules and making my own rules about how to use them. By giving myself permission to explore a new direction in my art photography I feel excited when I create something new out of picture that was ok but not much more.  Creating images out of layers and textures I’ve captured over my last 4 years here is putting old images to work on a new level.  I’ve been putting these images aside and saving them up for “someday” when I’ll make something from this shot that’s really special.  Let me tell you, between the Photo of the Day project I did with this blog for 2 years, my regular work and family photos, that is a deep well to draw from.  I’ve seen a lot of digital photo “art”, some of which looks like a total train wreck but others I have seen realize something so much more grand than the original image. So that’s where I’m going to head, train wreck or no. Feel free to comment and let me know what’s “on track” and what’s not. Someday is finally here.

“Postcards From Asheville” Series

Prints are available of each in a limited run of 10, printed poster style, on heavy paper, unframed, 16 x 22.

$25, if interested contact me through the website for availability.

 

Thanks for the show!

Just took down my show of framed prints at 1st Congregational United Church of Christ in downtown Asheville.  I was the featured artist for the month of March in their gorgeous atrium gallery.  It was an honor and privilege to share my art with this fine congregation!  Thank you so much for the opportunity!

 

My husband Cass did the framing for all of these using weathered tobacco stakes and reclaimed barn wood.  He and I created this series of agricultural and rural scenes as the featured artist project for Blind Pig Underground Supper Club‘s November 2012 dinner “Preserve”. [See photos from the event here.] The entire series can be viewed here: Preserve Series

There are still several matted and framed prints available as well as a few smaller matted prints from my Asheville CLicKs series.  I am always looking for new spaces to hang my work if you’re a small business in the Asheville area who would like to host a show please feel free to get in touch!

Portraits

Looking at this blog it may appear as though all I do is travel, go to concerts, fashion shows and social events and eat amazing food.  Actually, while I truly love event and concert photography and amazing edibles I have always enjoyed the more private sessions I have with clients who need their portraits made, either for themselves, their families or on a professional level.  Jamie needed a portrait of herself for her new website in a natural setting and I’m very glad I could be of service!

Need a beautiful photo of yourself or your family that shows you at your best?  Click here to see more of my portfolio or send me an e-mail.

I Brake for Chocolate. . .

. . .as long as it’s in front of the French Broad Chocolate Lounge!  

I took the girls out for an afternoon cuppa of real hot chocolate this week and it certainly did the trick of turning a nasty rainy day into something to smile about!  They each had a plain hot chocolate but I had the Cayenne & Cinnamon which is sweet, spicy and completely delicious! It was a small, yet excellent, luxury to sit with my daughters in this cozy space, listen to them talk about their day, drink the most magical of concoctions and dream about what we will order the next time we return.

  

 [Click an image to see it larger.]

Radiant for Christmas!

You can find large and small prints of my Rorschachian Abstract Radiant series for sale at two great local shops here in Asheville this year.  I have a variety of sizes for as little as $15 each at the Circle on Haywood Rd in West Asheville.  Many of my larger pieces from the same series are downtown at the Goldworks Gallery on Wall Street.

Signed, matted, numbered and ready to go with an amazing variety of colors, textures and images.  The large pieces (10×15 and up) also come with our custom framing that lets you spin your Radiant on the wall so you can inspect it from any orientation.

With images like this the question isn’t ‘What is it?’ but ‘What do you see?’

Autumn Ripples

 

12.5.11: The Apple Valley Cafe

Excited to find out I’ll be putting up some photos for consignment at the Apple Valley Cafe (re-opening under new managent) on Chimney Rock Road in Edneyville.  The photos are all of local sights in the Apple Valley and the orchards.  Looking forward to having another regular place to show my work and I’ll be updating the prints regularly as I continue to photograph in the area.  If you’re out that way, stop in and have a look.

Green Apples, Red Basket

Apple Crates

Last of the Season
Picker’s Ladders
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