How are you supposed to concentrate on work when you have a gargoyle carving an ice sculpture in your front yard? When the freeze began a few days ago it looked like this shape might turn into an apple, but now there is no doubt: it’s a heart, with teeth. Every bird in the neighborhood has come to visit and stand on his head. The morning brought a Steller’s jay and a very large crow. Hysterical to watch a normally dignified crow trying to gain purchase on the gargoyle’s icy lips, slipping and slipping again, looking up to see if anyone had noticed, and finally bending in a sly yoga pose to get a sip of water. To see more images from this sequence go to On Frozen Pond at Facebook.
This summer I was approached by an organization called Drawing Dreams to contribute artwork to their new Berkley-based non-profit that provides art supplies to children’s hospitals. In appreciation of their support, donors to the organization are given cards made from work by the site’s artists. It is a pretty stunning group of artists and I am honored to be part of the group. You can see my featured piece, called Be Happy, and other works by contributing artists here.
This morning I went to a cafe (my favorite, Fresh Flours) to inhale newsprint and caffeine and find the happiness image of the day. This man’s lovely cup-shaped ears were irresistible. On the other side of my table a gentleman looked up from his laptop and asked what I was doing and why I was photographing the back of a chair. When I told him that I was going out each day to look for an image of transcendent happiness he immediately logged onto Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project website and showed me that somebody else has been busy on this subject for quite some time. Where have I been all of my life? If you haven’t visited, do, she is quite wonderful, and her account of her year studying the theories of happiness has generated huge response and warmth worldwide.
I have been visiting the lake often in this early Autumn. The season has changed and has scrubbed this magic circle bare of fun-lovers and tourists. The colors are quiet, the birds now own the diving platform and the reeds. The mothers, the strollers, the nature stalkers and the brooding contemplatives are left to themselves to notice what they see.
I have been thinking a lot about the nature of “Photographicness.” The camera’s eye is so irreducibly clear and the screen so translucent. It seems more real than real. And yet when the artifact of this seeing makes its transition unaltered to paper it goes through a metamorphosis. In some ways it seems to die. The more “real” something is the more I recognize it. And the more quickly I look away, as though I “know” what it has to tell me already. So I have been experimenting with subtraction, reduction and what happens when you modify a photographic image through the alchemy of transfer printing. This first image is an image that lives in digital form only. The second one is an archival pigment transfer on Lustro Dull Cover.
I’m thinking today about impermanence, about flight, about how still the skies were in the absence of jets. How crystalline beautiful the days were that Autumn, with a sky razor blue and all the senses alert. This morning I went running on a ridge where I could see the mountains and the bay. Dappled light, birdsong, the marvel of flowers I’d never seen before.
And yet I found myself remembering. Today’s sky was blue, but that other sky is trapped in amber, and I carry it with me.