Sunday, February 19, 2012

really hanging with mrbennette

Yesterday I had the most exciting time giving a talk about Vivian Maier at Steven Kasher Gallery.A wonderful and attentive crowd that got my jokes,and could follow my stream of conscience , sentence fragments and was a lot of fun.My favorite petite J was there.

I got a chance to mention Lillian Bassman .

the 40-50 people who attended and lingered afterward seem to be very be surrounded by Vivian Maier's work that were chosen by Steve for her New York show Giving a good feeling is a good thing .I have to do this again and again

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


A little sadden today and also a little joyous .Not all of us gets a chance to meet our legends in the art world . I am not talking about being in a room with 200 people , at a book signing or in an art gallery with more people all wanting the same thing.Where not even eye contact is made.This leads to the question why do people say they know someone.

I know I believe in the joy of serendipity and generosity of spirit both of these concepts have help me to live, live much larger than I ever expected.One day out of the blue I was asked if a would like to go to a birthday party.It turn out to be a small party to celebrate Lillian Bassman's
ninetieth birthday.Wow little me facing the eternal question what to wear ,black and white was the right choice.

I carried a large bouquet of white calla lilies to give Ms Bassman .A small women who projected big, energetic, naturally glamorous, high spirited, giving. I later learned she spent the entire evening holding those flowers.I often wonder how,I wanted to leave them on the subway after I found out how much a dozen of these flowers weigh.

It is kind of funny and probably more than approprate that this is Valentine Day because one of the great love stories in the world is of Lillian & Paul . A part of it was two teenage sweethearts going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to look at painting particularly painting of the mannerists who influence some of her art and photography

Ms Bassman was a photographer a mother a art director who promoted the work of a generation of photographers of the mid century who later went on to become masters of the media.

She was funny and made me smile and reconfirmed what love could be

Friday, February 10, 2012


Builder Levy's photographs inspired me to think about and try to remember a man I hardly knew. A community I was a part of for such a short time, A world that has change because of technology. and 50 years of time. My shadowy and distant childhood .One of the great illusional powers of photograph is the trick of the remembered experience . Photography can be the great totem in lives.

Earlier this week Donna Rosser posted on Facebook a photo of her mother and grandmother stopping by a road to pick wild blackberries and I remember the times when seeing wild blackberries was very common and how my aunt and I use to pick them as kids.

When I first propose doing .an article with Builder In South x Southeast Photo magazine. My final layout was edited to 22 photographs ,most you will see in this blog in the correct sequence when putting together part three I notice a small flaw in the layout,which I intend not to address now, because I suspect you will figure it out. I also removed 2 images from the group of 22 for a tighter visual story they will be posted later.

When we started the first image was a preserved united miners banner. The struggle still exist,women now not only wait for their men, but work in the mines too.There are new and horrible techniques to get the coal that is changing the face of these mountains so the strikes and demonstrations go on. Something in my heart feels that Builder Levy will be there to remind us .

Monday, February 6, 2012


It is amazing how memory works,after deciding to write this,I remember that time had smooth out and worn over my memories of of my grandfather.I felt not even enough for a paragraph ,Let's see ,his name was John also,he was very tall and when he walked into a room you were aware of his presence. When he was quiet ,you knew he was there. He loved the spiritual "Bringing In The Sheaves"When I was telling Builder about my grandfather,I told him
it was many years before I knew the song was not about bring in sheep.I wore that like with a smile my grandfather laugh a lot ,like I did when I was a younger man .

My grandfather was a coal miner

In the evening he and his friends would gather in the kitchen to drink and discuss the day and union business.Looking back I think that maybe all of them were secretly alcoholics maybe from the grind, boredom and the unspoken fear of being down there in the mines. It was a job they had families .

Some of my memories are of place,my first train trip to Kentucky. I was born in the lush green Alabama foothills of the Appalachians mountains , so this new place with its' heights and hollows was dizzing for me. I spent a lot of time feeling safe in the kitchen, listening to tall old men telling tales and laughing into the night.

My grand father was a coal miner he died of black lungs. ,

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Late last October when I started on the newest issue of South x Southeast Photography Magazine the only certainty in my mind were about these photographs by Builder Levy.After I contacted him and we begin to discuss the work Builder sent me about 75 images that had to be edited to about 20 .

I knew thatI wanted to show them at their best for a online magazine and so I set about to create a visual and linear story line on an ongoing project, Builder has been working on since 1968.That is 44 years of dedication . I wanted to reveal in about 20 pictures the social economic and environmental details that has taken a man over forty years to sort out .Many people have gone to this region Builder keeps going back.

Someone asked me to describe Builder and of course I gave one of my wicked summations .That Builder is not just a social-documentary or a journalist he makes photographs.He is ell known here for his fine art photography.He is also a decent man with deep moral convictions about justice . Enough that it shows in these photograph

I wish that you all will truly look at these photographs and read them and see details.It was almost hubris for me to think that I could do it in 20 imagesbut give them time and you will see,maybe understand .....more to follow

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Writing has never been one of the things I am good at. I think that is why I struggle with this blog.If I could show pictures and they would become the way I communicate it would be, could be so cool.

There was more than one reason why I had stop posting .The other reason was a new magazine called South x Southeast Photo Magazine which had it first release in 2011 about the same time I stop posting.Believe it or not I have spent the last 8 months being the art director. Kinda of fun ,kinda of an adventure, those of you who know me have been privy to this part of my life.

This magazine gives me a chance to interact with photographers that I admire who were born, live or work in the region.

This month's issue is constructed around images taken in the Appalachian.A wonderful blend of young and well known artist.As some of you may know I am a fan of Shelby Lee Adams.The magazine first issue featured a 18 image portfolio of Shelby's Salt & Truth his wonderful new Book published by Candela Books. Salt & Truth was consistently voted one of the top 10 photography books of 2011.

I wanted to do something else something more about the mountains that cover such a wide area of our country's eastern side. As a child I spent a couple of summers and a year with my grandparents in Lynch Kentucky, a small mining town.My grandfather worked the mines. My memories of him and his friends are vague.But they center around the mine,the unions, that little town the fear of god and the darkness of coal.

Coal and the unions were everywhere. Those were the days of long strikes when American unions still had some power.You stood together or you and your family was doomed. Funny thing when I started to layout the new issue the first person I thought of was a photographer I had met in New York about 16 years ago named Builder Levy. I had intended to use a photograph by him in an earlier issue but no matter how I tried it did not fit the story.Glad that I waited. I got a chance to use images from " Appalachian Coal Fields" and "Revisiting Appalachia " two extremely strong and personal views of the region that were begun in 1968 .Over the next few posts I will be showing and speaking about this socially conscience photographer and his work.