Monday, July 28, 2008

Portraits of St. Louis Artists: Gary Passanise


When I was looking for Gary Passanise's combination home and studio, people up the hill around the spaces of Craig Downs, Sarah Paulsen and Stan Chisholm told me to follow the lane down the hill and look for the hobbit hole. Around a bend, in the lowest of the old commercial buildings built into the hillside over the Mississippi, was a door leading still further downward.

That's where I found him in an office/sitting room. The living quarters and studio were down yet more steep steps. Loft-style living and working space blended into one another.
Passanise is a painter in the tradition of abstract expressionism. The work hanging there, perhaps still in progress, reminded me a bit of Anselm Kiefer and Clyfford Still. Visit his sophisticated web site to see a variety of his work. His biography is worth a look. Besides his own art, Passanise is director of painting at the Leigh Gerdine School of Fine Art at Webster University in St. Louis.

I'm still inviting St. Louis artists to contact me if they would like to be part of this series.

WHAT I'M TRYING TO FIGURE OUT TODAY: How to use the Vanishing Point filter in Photoshop to paste text shaped in perspective into an image. Come back on Friday for Theme Day and grade my work.

TOMORROW:
St. Louis artists portraits continue with Amy Thompson, printmaker.

HEY, WAIT A MINUTE - I just realized that last Saturday was my 500th post! Are we there yet?

11 comments:

Olivier said...

belle série, cela doit être en plus très intéressant de rencontrer tous ces artistes si différent.

beautiful series, it must be very interesting to meet all these artists so different.

Kate said...

You've been treating us with somewonderful portraits these last few posts. Thanks for all the information and links, also!

Virginia said...

What? 500th Anniversary??? I'll grab the champagne, who's got the party hats???

Jilly said...

Oh yes, he has an amazing biography, doesn't he? I like his work - to me there's something gentle about it - soft easy colours.

And another fabulous portrait. I love this series, Strangetastes. If you can bear to share, do tell us how you relax your sitters. I am fine with portraits snapped when a person isn't looking but soon as I ask them to pose, they freeze. If we chat, of course I get a photograph with their mouth in the wrong position. You get such an intensity in all your sitters. I'm in awe.

As for your 500th post, I'm going to say many congratulations now, just in case I don't get back on Saturday as I've friends coming to stay. Your blog is a pleasure - one where I learn and am inspired too. Happy 500th. Well done.

Jen, aka ChinaMom2005 said...

I am loving this series. It is a side of St. Louis many never see and they are awesome portraits. Great work.

Isadora said...

What a great idea and generous act on your part to promote these artists! Thank you for the lesson.

Strangetastes said...

Thanks to all of you for your encouraging comments on this series. A couple of notes:

Jilly - I've had some training in this, which really helps. Bobbi Lane's week-long introduction to portrait photography workshop is fabulous. She gives it at a few places around the US. For those who can't do that, I strongly recommend her fabulous DVDs, Portraits Unplugged for natural light and Portrait Lighting Techniques for studio work. These are distributed by Calumet Photo, which has several stores in Europe as well as the US. I don't know if they are available in PAL television format.

I have an outgoing, friendly, humorous personality (or should I say persona?) that I've polished over 34 years of representing disabled people in my law practice. I've learned how to make people relax and like me. The key is always treating people as equals, whether I'm representing a surgeon or an ex-con. When taking a candid portrait I explain why I'm doing this, always ask permission and then keep up a pleasant chatter focused on the subject, not me. It usually works. Also, keep firing away. I took at least 10 shots of each of the subjects in this series, hoping one would catch the right expression. I always offer to send the subject a JPEG and/or print of their picture (and I follow-up).

Isadora - I'm glad that these posts promote the artists but my motivation is more selfish. I just get a big kick out of doing this and, fortunately, I make a good living from my practice so I don't charge anyone for portraits. I'm an amateur photographer and this is good for my skills. Besides, I get to meet all sorts of interesting people
and learn about their art work.

There are two more in this series ready to go for Tuesday and Wednesday. After that, the Thursday Arch Series is back and Friday is theme day (I always try to put a twist on that). There are two other artists from the open studio weekend I may get to next week. I've already had one response to my invitation for local artists to have me come to their studios and photograph them. Stay tuned.

Jilly said...

Thankyou SO much for such a detailed response. So helpful. I will buy the DVDs you suggest. My DVD player palys both US and European formats. This will be a treat as unfortunately I'd never get the chance to attend a workshop in the US.

Yes, I see now how you work. Actually, I get a better reaction from a stranger, but with friends or family, I'm still at the 'hold on, now smile' deal which is ridiculous.

Thanks so much for the time you've taken to answer.

And I notice I didn't read about your 500th posting properly - that it was last Saturday, not next, but again many congrats.

jill said...

I am enjoying your series of local artists and find it fascinating and information.

Congrats on 500 posts!

And thank you so much for the tips as I too get the posed smiles.

Bibi said...

Enjoying your series a bit belatedly. One can tell you have a way of putting people at ease to photograph them.

Ming the Merciless said...

Happy 500th ++ Post.

Mr. Passanise's public collection is quite impressive.