Sunday the 17th was my second my pop up exhibition. The curator informed me that he would like to do do a second one. Of course it was good news and was very pleased at the fact. The event was later afternoon and better turn out. Even though I had a good attendance, people arrived one or two at a time. This actually worked out well becuase I was concerned that they would not be able to fit the 10ft by 10ft exhibit area and fully appreciate the images. But for the few odd occasions where there exhibit got crowded, most of the time there were one or two people three at most in the area and it did not impact them looking at the images, or getting in each others way.
One thing I did learn from this exhibit is that a big viweing area is important. My exhibit would not have been able to accommodate more than two people at a time without them running into each other. On the whole, other than a few times, it worked out well, but will take into consideration on future shows.
I did get mixed feedback. One viewer came, looked and left almost immediately. He said: “I’m a landscape photographer and don’t get any of this” Another viewer sent me an e-mail:
“Really loved your photo exhibit today! Your photo art was beautiful, mysterious, dream-like, moving. Love the abstract graphics. Not just pretty pictures. Captivating. The theme of fences and getting out of one’s own way spoke to me, and how! Getting my creativity and general attitude “out of the box” so to speak is timely for me now as I’ve been wanting to move in a more abstract direction with my photography and take some risks Dammit!!”
Some people did not comment they preferred to remain silent. One girl seemed very emotional almost teary eyed. Another person I invited is a brilliant recluse. His knowledge about film and art is beyond words. He doesn’t drive, doesn’t have much money, and lives like a hermit. He arrived very late. He took two busses and walked from Gower up into the Hollywood Hills to see my show. I felt very grateful that someone world do this, he went over and beyond what I could expect from anyone. It was very touching moment for me.
Later in the evening there was a fund raiser for Sarah Levy, I attended her talk about the homeless is Los Angeles, and I felt very moved by her speech. Homlessness is at the elbow of many artists so it is a subject I am very interested in. The problem seems to be out of hand here in Los Angeles and getting worse. Just at the foot of Hollywood Hills (some of the most expensive real-estate in the Los Angeles) live individuals who have lost it all. They live in tents and on the streets under the Gower street bridge. I passed the homeless encampment when I set up my pop-up and when I drove home at night.
Franklin Avenue is the ‘fence’ between the have’s and the have not’s. Ethically, this is not right. Just below the Hollywood sign, where some have much, others have nothing. Historically this is not new, it has been going on since the times of Kings who lived in castles, while below at the drawbridge, were peasants living in dire poverty.
I invited Sarah to look at my exhibition, and explained that fences exist in many forms and the one between rich and the poor is another one of many. I presented a few ideas to her, and she suggested I contact her through her campain manager, and should talk about the subject more.
This was nice to be able to do a show and tell. Show my work, and suggest ways I could help the cause through similar works. Dorothea Lange came to mind as did Louis Hine. Richard Avedon with his series The American’ s also closed my mind. I was nice to be able to cross reference these hero’s of the past, who as artists raised the awareness of society to those less fortunate and in some cases, as is the case with Louis Hine, the total aboloshiment of child labour.
At that moment, I realised that I have crossed the fences in my life, and opened the gate to roads ahead that offer an infinite way of working as an artist in the field of photography. I have crossed the fence from representation into the world of abstraction, but why limit myself there, when there is so much that can be done.
This week entailed getting ready for one of two exhibits. This week is on November 14th at the Hollywood Scupture Garden and Gallery.
The week began with making and finalizing all the prints for the exhibit which consists of 12, 11×14 images, 2 (16×20)’s and one diptych consisting of 2X(40×30″) images. The 11×14 images (trimmed down to 10×14) to give more space for the frame surround. The full frame images on the 11×14 paper left too wide a border and the paper white drew the attention.
I did some tests and cut down the border to approximately 1 inch all around the image and was very happy with the look. It allows the eye to concentrate on the image. This, in addition to the floating frames I used, which has a very thin black frame and black backing allowed the images to “float in limbo” which I feel gives the image the ability to pop out at the viewer. I also trimmed down the 16×20 images, giving about and inch and a quarter border, to the same effect.
All the images had to be spotted and prepared for floating, framed and signed, both back and front.
Cleaning the glass was very tedious and time consuming, in addition the cleaner the company suggested left streaks and I began to experiment with all types of cleaner from alcohol to disillled water to mixing the two. I tied various lens cleaners and various cloths all to no avail. In the end I went down to the hardware store to see if they had a solution. The sales girl suggested a product with vinegar in it, I was skeptical but desperate and to my surprise it worked very well, that to-gether with plain old (very soft) toilet paper: WORKED! I had minor lint, but rid that with a big camera bulb blower, and a wipe with lens cloth and a photograhic lens brush and finally got down a sytem that worked. I attached the spacers to the prints, and then the print and spacer to the backboard, signed the print (which also takes some practice and had to reprint quite a few images because the signature was not right, the list goes on.
I have to say that this whole process was extremely time consuming and difficult, I am glad I did it. The benefits far outweighed the problems, because I could tailor and tune the presentation of the image to the point that I was very happy with it. A professional framer would have been way too expensive, to work at this level, in addition I would not have been able to choose the look I was finally happy with had I gone that route. I experimented for weeks, no framer would do that, unless paid an exorbitant fee.
The title cards are hand made (with deckled edge, I learned how to do from the paper company) I brought out my old Olympus typewriter and typed out each title onto paper, in courier, then mounted the paper onto black cards cut from black photo matt card.
Again, very time consuming, one typo, and the whole thing has to be redone. Was a lot of fun, brought back good ‘remembrances of things past.’ figuring how to center the type. The information about the show was also made, printed onto cards and framed. I used the computer type to do this.
All this making is making me think about constructing my own book as opposed to haiving one made. I chose to print my own work, frame it, make the title cards build my own space, because I like working with materials in all forms and also in terms of making the art and housing it. For me the two are one. The frame as important as the work of art. It is through the materials that the work is transformed from the idea to the concrete, and I enjoy making that happen. I can only presume, that my meeting Ansel, had some indirect effect on me printing my show, albeit come to fruition some three decades later. I always respected the fact that he could photograph and print his own work, not may photographers can boast that skill. Even the greats of the past like Henri Carier Bresson to the contemporaries like Andreas Gursky do not have the ability to print their own work. That part of the process has to be done by someone else.
The diptych I printed (40x60inches) photochemical process on resin coated paper. However had it professionally mounted onto 1/2 inch black Gator Foam.
It is very light weight and easy to hang, but very difficult to mount unless one has a huge vacuum table. I had this done at Hadas Picture Framers in Van Nuys, it was the cut into a diptych, which I decided upon so I can transport and store it easier than one long image 40×60 inches. Hadas helped me with the hangers and I hung it at the back end of the exhibit fence with relative ease
Installation and setup.
I bought the ‘fence’ at Lowes Hardware, a 10×10 foot dog kennel with a gate. A friend helped my pick it up and install it at the HSG location. So here is also a materialization of an idea. I thought about using a fence to hang my images, searched the streets and the internet and came upon this ‘almost perfect’ cube fence with a gate. A dog kennel, repurposed to enhance the theme of labyrinth/cave/forrest in which to hang my images.
Drove up the the Hollywood Sculpture Gargen and Gallery (HSG) and set up two days before on the 12th, to give me a day in between the set up and the exhibit. I am glad I did that, as my big frames for the 16×20’s came in late on the 12th and I had the next day to frame the images. It was a close call, I almost had to go with conventional frames if the floaters did not arrive. But it worked out, albeit last minute. By this time I was very confident and experienced at framing, accomplished the task in a matter of hours.
Set up at HSG.
The decision here is: Do I leave the fence open and see through to the garage, (ie hide nothing) or do I enclose? In the end I decided to use a see through black burlap, allowing one to ‘see through the glass darkly.’
I found the length I needed at Joann’s fabric store in Los Angeles. When I saw, smelt and felt the material, I liked it right away. There is something very ancient and mystical about burlap. It takes me back 1000’s of years. Joann’s is a massive warehouse of cloth and fabric, they had the 14 yards I needed plus everything else: burlap thread to stitch it to the fence, big eyed needles, red thread. I abstarcted a careful list, to see if I could construct the whole thing without missing an item. I almost achieved it, but needed some extra hooks to hang the images, other than that I had everything I needed.
The burlap is dark black, yet see though. maintaining what I like about fences. They are always see through, one can always see the dream or nightmare ahead (foreshadowings of what is to come) At the same time it gives a feel of separation and closure symbolizing the forrest, cave or labyrinth.
While at Joann’s I selected the red thread that would provide the link between the idea and the dream, the connection between cause and effect. So we covered the fenced area with the burlap, hung the images and I ran the red thread from entrance of the cave/forrest/labyrinth all the way around to the exit.
The images are all double stranded with black annealed wire on the back.and came up with using lamp chain as links to hang the images. Originally I looked at S hooks but they did not quite extend to form a complete S and could easily unhook if someone bumped a picture. The lamp chain links are study and at the same time easily bendable into a S form with two pairs of pliers and can be shaped so as to hook onto the fence and the picture frame so it could not easily dis-lodge. I used two hooks per image.
The event went fairly well, not as many people turned up as I had hoped but could not expect much on a Thursday morning. I am hoping that the Sunday event will have a better turnout not so much people that I know but individuals who can tke the project to the next level. Other curators newspaper etc. Glad I had that day experience, It will help me prepare for the second showing on Sunday the 17th.
This is where the reality of this business is, this part is the easy part, it’d making the show move on and upwards from here that is the challenge. I am hoping to use this event as a stepping stone to the next gallery. I would very much like to tour with it if possible so putting my enertgy in that direction.