Friday, July 31, 2009

Portraits of St. Louis Artists: Thomas Shepherd

.Like Danielle Correll, I know Thomas Shepherd from Soulard Art Market. This is Shepherd's third appearance on STL DPB, which may be a record (see the previous posts here and here). He is working on a web site but there is an interesting display of his work on the SAM site. Shepherd is primarily a photographer but some of his creations involve sculpture and collage. I have one of his photos in my office, a square-cropped picture of the head of a man with wild hair and beard, gazing up and out of the frame, shot with a Holga. It's really cool. Not familiar with Holgas? Have a look here.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thursday Arch Series

Not what you were expecting, perhaps. Because the Arch is so monolithic, we don't think much about the details of the surface but here's one. What holds those huge stainless steel plates together? It ain't superglue. This is is a close-up shot with a Lensbaby of the welds at the juncture of four plates at a corner of the structure.

WHAT FELT REALLY GOOD: a few days ago, I received the following message in a comment to one of my photos on Flickr. The writer and I got in touch and some prints will be on their way shortly. Photography really can have an impact.
I just found your blogs on the Internet today and you have no idea what your photos mean to me personally. I am a native of St. Louis (40 year old litigation paralegal) who is currently recovering from a nearly fatal car accident on June 3, 2009. Unfortunately, I am recovering in Atlanta and I am so terribly homesick for STL. I miss my hometown more than you can even imagine and your wonderful photos really made me feel "close to St. Louis" again. I would love to have a copy of your photos in a book that I could keep by my hospital bed for those times when I am feeling truly homesick and missing my friends and family and beautiful St. Louis. You have truly captured STL in all of its magnificent glory in so many of your photos. Thank you.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Portraits of St. Louis Artists: Danielle Correll

I've known Danielle Correll from the Soulard Art Market, the only gallery where I've shown my stuff. She works in many media but I had no idea how many and how successfully until I checked her web site. She paints, draws, photographs and does a variety of graphics. If you are in St. Louis, you should go bt SAM and check it out.

I'm particularly happy with this portrait for the light, color range and sense of a competent, confident woman.

TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series, then a return to artists' portraits on Friday.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Portraits of St. Louis Artists: Scott Ernst

The summer St. Louis artists series continues with Scott Ernst, who comes here from Oakland, California. His work that I saw included scenes of both the Bay Area and St. Louis, photos that were not so much site-specific as the impressions of a moment. The long composite in the right of this picture shows details of a weathered statue. Three detailed observations say more than a glance at the whole.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Portraits Of St. Louis Artists: Sandra Marchewa

Whimsy. Sandra Marchewa stands in a little cloud of her own making, buzzing with bug-like elves, mini-monsters and flying pigs. I can imagine a huge array of these critters hanging from a ceiling for a viewer's disorientation, drifting from peripheral vision to central focus and out again. You might need some Dramamine.

SPECIAL NOTE TO THATONEGIRL: thank you for your notes and comments in Flickr yesterday. I wrote you back at the address you gave me but the message bounced - Yahoo said there wasn't a user by that name. Can you email me directly? There is a link to do that on my blog profile.

There is a new Arch photo
today on GATEWAY.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Portraits of St. Louis Artists: Amanda Verbeck

I spent Saturday afternoon beginning my tour of the St. Louis artists open studio weekend. First up in this year's series of portraits of St. Louis artists is Amanda Verbeck. Her irresistible smile swept her into the lead off spot but her work will keep your attention. She makes works on paper based on things like grains of pollen (lower right in this picture) . Sometimes part of her process is to leave objects on photosensitive plates, resulting in a printable negative on metal. It's a little like the photograms made by Man Ray and László Moholy-Nagy decades ago, but much more graphically sophisticated. Her web site is Pele Prints and you can find her on Facebook.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hail, Hail Rock And Roll

Native St. Louisan and legend, 82 year old Chuck Berry performed last night at the Missouri Botanical Garden. John Lennon said, "If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'." In a sense, Chuck invented it. He entertained the audience with many of his favorites, including Maybeline, Johnnie B. Good, No Particular Place To Go, Roll Over Beethoven and, of course, Rock And Roll Music. This guy still has what it takes. The crowd went wild.

WHAT'S ON IN ST. LOUIS THIS WEEKEND: on a midsummer weekend, St. Louis artists open their studios to the public. There are 151 participants this year. It's a wonderful opportunity to see original art and talk to its creators. For the third year in a row, I'm going from one to another, asking the artists if I can take candid portraits of them with their work. (Everyone says yes.) If you're interested, look in the archives of July 2007 and 2008 for "portraits of St. Louis artists." Got some great pix today. The first portrait will be up tomorrow but I haven't decided who yet.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Hey, This Is A Pretty Neat Trick

I subscribe to the daily email version of a very useful blog/web site called Digital Photography School. It's free. Every day they post some bit of instruction, lore or inspiration for shooters. At least two or three posts every week are interesting and helpful to me.

Yesterday's piece was about how to make a dull photo into something new and dramatic using Photomatix Pro3. Readers of this blog know that I'm fond of the HDR images you can create with this software, using three to seven shots at different exposures to create an entirely new whole. It never occurred to me that you could use Photomatix on a single image. The little tutorial in the link shows how much fun it can be.

So, this is something I shot about the same time as Monday's post at the Carl Milles fountain, The Meeting Of the Waters. The original was pretty awful. There was too much contrast between the statue and the building, I forgot my tripod, my manual focus was sloppy and, probably, the dog ate my homework. After reading the DPS piece I threw the single image into Photomatix, buffed it up a bit in Photoshop and, voilà, this is what we get.

FRIDAY AFTERNOON FOLLOW-UP: U "R" Us asked to see the original of this picture, before Photomatix and Photoshop. So, here it is.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday Arch Series

When I was a kid in New York, a common tease was an older boy asking a naive younger one, "Are you a PLP?" The questioner would refuse to define the term. If the tyro answered no, he was not a Proper Looking Person. If the answer was yes, he was a Public Leaning Post and all the other boys would pile on.

The Arch is a Public Leaning Post. This man's pose makes him look to be in dire need of support. Actually, he was waiting for a friend to set up a photo.

There is a new Arch photo
today on GATEWAY.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Don't you just love it...

...when you are about to take a stupid boring picture and a kid on a bicycle rides into the frame and you had the flash on to get some fill? I was about to shoot the St. Louis Art Museum atop Art Hill, with Forest Park's Grand Lagoon in the foreground. Somebody mowed a crude arch into the grass on the hill, which is what got my attention. I put on the speedlight to get some pop on the planters in the foreground. This would have been a dreadful photo. Then the boy rolled into the shot. Thanks, kid.

TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series, plus a new Arch photo on GATEWAY.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Citygarden - Laura Ford's Bird

This bird would not stare you down, the angle of the photo notwithstanding. It is child size, maybe a little over a meter tall. It has human legs and feet. The garden's brochure says that many of Laura Ford's works are based on observation of her own children and recollection of her feelings growing up.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Meanwhile, Down the Street...

I took some more good shots at Citygarden over the weekend. We'll get to them. However, on my way downtown yesterday I stopped at Milles Fountain. The work, by Swedish sculptor Carl Milles, is called The Meeting of the Waters. It consists of 19 nude bronze figures in two facing groups, male and female. It was originally called Marriage of the Rivers, referring to the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi just north of St. Louis. Well, the statues were nekked and the title had too many conjugal implications for the local blue noses in 1940 so the name had to get changed.

The fountain sits in a plaza opposite Union Station, 10 blocks west of Citygarden. Unlike its new neighbor, it's a bit rundown. The concrete is in some disrepair and I don't think the trash gets picked up as often. Still, the fountain is gorgeous. You have to shoot it in just the right light. This is only a detail but I'll go back.

There is a new Arch photo
today on GATEWAY.
It's about time.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Citygarden - Fountains and Pools

One of the best things about Citygarden is that you can play with it. No "keep out of the water" signs, no "do not touch or climb on the sculpture" prohibitions. It is interactive in the most meaningful way. Kids--and their parents, if they want--can run through the water, roll around in if it pleases them. In the area pictured, each of the square grates shoots up a stream about a meter high at irregular intervals.

On Saturday, children were climbing all over the sculptures, even the bigger ones. There is a Mark di Suvero work that's about three meters high (we'll have a picture of it eventually). Kids were all over it yesterday afternoon. It seems obvious that before long one of them is going to fall off and get injured. Given America's tort laws, there will be claims and litigation.

Will that change the nature of the garden? I hope not. For now, it invites everyone to dive in and experience its joy.

BONUS PICTURE: another perspective on the work in yesterday's post, Jim Dine's Big White Glove.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Citygarden - Jim Dine's Big White Glove

A few days ago I had a post about the Citygarden sculpture featuring the carpenter Geppetto and his puppet, Pinocchio. The toy didn't look anything like the Pinocchio of my childhood, which was defined by Walt Disney. Jim Dine's Big White Glove is a near-copy of the Disney cartoon character. Dine created a number of paintings and sculptures on the Pinocchio theme. Indeed, he once said that "the idea of a talking stick becoming a boy [is] like a metaphor for art, and it’s the ultimate alchemical transformation."

I really like this work for its ambiguity. Yes, it looks almost exactly like the cartoon but it has no face. The boy, even the puppet, is still in the process of coming-to-be. The pose could represent so many things: an Olympic athlete on the prize medal platform; a preacher or charismatic worshiper; an entertainer receiving the accolades of the audience. What do you see in it?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Love Among The Reptiles

.I think you could get busted in St. Louis for this 50 years ago. Whatever it is was designed by local mad genius Bob Cassilly. He's the guy who runs our very odd but fascinating City Museum. Best I can figure out is that he designed the area in this photo as a bizarre little park on a bike trail along the Mississippi, through the industrial badlands north of the Arch. These two are prominent residents.

Is this love, sex, communication or what? Actually, it kind of reminds me of a mother bird regurgitating food to its baby.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thursday Arch Series (All Star Edition)

The All Star pre-game ceremonies were, in a way, more interesting than the game itself. A company of troops recently returned from the Middle East carried a long, tightly rolled bolt of fabric onto the field, then opened it to reveal this. The flag covered the outfield as the National Anthem was performed.

Obviously, this post is not about the Arch itself but it sure is our best local backdrop.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Guy Can Pitch, Too

President Obama throws out the first pitch at last night's baseball All Star Game in St. Louis. He's wearing a Chicago White Sox jacket, his favorite team.


Top: Secret Service agents stand guard on the roof of the stadium, awaiting the president.

Middle: a stealth fighter flies over Busch Stadium, just for show.

Bottom: fans wait in line to enter the stadium. There was a lot of extra security and we waited in the queue about an hour.

TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series (All Star Edition)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

STL DPB On The Road: Chicago

Running for our plane so just a quick note. This is the sculpture Cloud Gate, popularly know as The Bean, in Millennium Park.

BY THE WAY, there is a funny sort-of portrait of me today on U "R" Us' Chicago DPB.

TOMORROW: hope to get some pix of President Obama throwing out the first pitch at the baseball All Star Game here tonight. We'll be there. The post will probably be up mid-morning my time since we'll be out late and I have a court appearance early tomorrow morning.

Monday, July 13, 2009

STL DPB On The Road: Chicago

Some readers of this blog must think I'm never at home anymore. Well, sometimes. This is the north stairwell of the outstanding Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. If you are in the area, you gotta go see the exhibit Take Your Time with work by Olafur Eliasson. It simply blew us away.

I got lots of other good shots yestersay at the Chicago Folk and Roots Festival, as well as the Cubs - Cardinals baseball game (Cards win!). It's late Sunday night as I write this. I'll post some pix as soon as I can edit them.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

All Star Fever in St. Louis

The baseball All Star Game is in St. Louis Tuesday night. It may not be a big deal to much of the world, except maybe Japan, the Dominican Republic and some other Latin countries. My city is about to br crushed under the weight of the hype, commercialisn and corporate greed. When the event was last held in St. Louis in 1966, grandstand tickets cost $6. Adjusted for inflation, that would be $40 today. In fact, the face price is a several times more. And, for Cardinals season ticket holders like my office, you can get your usual seats for the event but you also have to buy the home run derby event the night before, a boring minor leaguers game and old-timers softball game, and so-call fanfest at our convention center, sort of a baseball theme park (which I hear is actually fun). So you have to buy the whole strip of tickets even if you only want to go to the All Star Game itself.

It's turned into a "we'll soak your wallet because we can" event. Having said that, Mrs. C and I are going to the game itself because it's a once-in-a-lifetime event and mostly because President Obama is throwing out the first pitch. That might be a once in a lifetime experience, too.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Citygarden - Tom Otterness' Kindly Geppetto

A puppet and its creator: many of us know the story of the carpenter Geppetto and Pinocchio, the puppet who wanted to be a real boy. But first he had to prove that he was truthful and knew the difference between right and wrong. Geppetto doesn't look at all kindly with his frowny face; Pinocchio, not yet alive, has a neutral expression. The carpenter is about to whap his creation with a big hammer. Is this an act of creation or destruction? Can we take the violence seriously when the image is constructed of cartoonish spheres, cylinders and a cube, and the figures have only four digits, like Mickey Mouse? Tell us how you interpret this.

Up to Chicago today for the weekend to celebrate Mrs. C's birthday with our son,
Chicago daily photoblogger U "R" Us. He's got a very cool post up today. Always lots to shoot in Chicago.

TOMORROW: All Star fever

Friday, July 10, 2009

Citygarden: Steel and Water

One of the many pools and streams in Citygarden, facing part of 2 Arcs X 4, 230.5 Degree Arc X 5 by Bernar Venet. Venet believes that art should not be the expression of the artist. Rather, the concept or idea is most important. Much of his recent work is based on mathematical graphs or formulas. Does that satisfy your aesthetic sense?

Note the people wading. It's part of the concept.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thursday Arch Series

Shot of the Arch from the southwest corner of Citygarden. The monument is about 10 blocks away. The work in the foreground is Untitled (Ringed Figure) by Keith Haring. So what do you think is with an untitled work having a title?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Citygarden - Aristide Maillol's La Riviere

I went to Citygarden after work last night and got some better shots. This is a small detail of a much larger work. Click here to see photos of other castings located in New York and Paris. (New York...Paris...St. Louis... What a magical ring it has.) According to the garden's brochure,
the artist creates the feeling of instability and movement by placing the figure low to the ground and extending the head and arms beyond the pedestal. The figure, with its legs bent in a post that suggests running, is the personification of water.
More from Citygarden in the coming days.

TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series from Citygarden.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Best Thing That's Happened To Downtown St. Louis Since I Don't Know When

The first view of Citygarden, the two square block sculpture and horticultural paradise that opened last week while I was away. It was developed with private funding from The Gateway Foundation, group of civic do-gooders with a rare combination of money and taste. It replaced a couple of bland lawn-covered blocks and contains modern and contemporary sculpture, lush landscape, reflection pools, a cafe and a playful spray plaza. Wading is permitted, even encouraged in all its pools.

Sunday's New York Times swooned about it, although the beginning of the article might make you think that tumbleweed was blowing down Market Street (not so). The Times also provided a helpful interactive graphic if you would like to see more detail.

This is a photo of Eros Bendato (Eros Bound) by Polish sculptor Igor Mitoraj, an artist I must admit I don't know. It was taken in harsh noon light with a point-n-shoot. Time permitting, I'll go back late this afternoon after work with the DSLR and get some better stuff.

Monday, July 6, 2009

STL DPB On The Road: A Last Picture From New Jersey

We are back in St. Louis as this post goes up Monday morning, but this is literally the final image as we left my sister's house in New Jersey. What monsters lie there? The family keeps a wreath on their front door year-round. This summer a robin built a nest in the center. Mom went off looking for food while this little peeper, two or three days old, waited for chow. A couple of siblings were in the back of the nest, all of them with their beaks resting on the edge.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Fourth

The whole family went to the big fireworks last night here in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Pretty damn good show and I got some cool shots if I do say so myself. These photos are in a set from Flickr. More will be added soon as I get them edited.

Home to St. Louis tonight.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

STL DPB On The Road: In The Hudson River Valley

.My sister and her family live in Ridgewoood, New Jersey, in the northeastern corner of the state. It's the same town my family moved to when we left New York City in 1966. Since my father's birthday was July 7, the family always got together here on the Fourth of July weekend to celebrate. He's been gone since 1996 but we still all show up at Sue's.

Mrs. C and I took a road trip yesterday from Ridgewood up the Hudson Valley. One stop was
Bear Mountain. We went looking for views over the Hudson River. This'll do. There was a group of American painters in the mid 19th Century who celebrated this area, known, appropriately enough, as the Hudson River School. They didn't have have Photomatix but it may have been for the good.

FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME DEPARTMENT: the front page article in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch is about our city's disappearing Toynbee Tiles, featuring your humble blogger. Not familiar with Toynbee Tiles? Read the article here and check my posts on the topic here. But if this is the paper's lead article, what does that say about the state of print journalism?

Oh, and happy birthday, America. Here are some shots from Ridgewood's Fourth of July Parade this morning.

Friday, July 3, 2009

STL DPB On The Road: Toronto

Canada Day in Toronto: this man was literally wrapped in the flag. We stopped and talked for a while. He wasn't a Torontonian, but rather from London, Ontario, half-way to Detroit. Why did he dress like that? "I just really love my country," he said. He wasn't nutty, just warm and full of enthusiasm. Most Canadians are like that. And down here?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Thursday Arch Series And More

There's only so much to say about a catenary arch but what's around it is infinitely variable. Maybe that's where this series is going.

And, note from Toronto - these French-speaking Quebecois were in T.O.'s Dundas Square yesterday on Canada Day, posing for tips. What were they doing in English Canada, eh? A poll in the news today said that 90% of Canadians think that theirs is the best country of all. There's something to be said for that.

You often hear that Toronto is the most culturally diverse city in the world. The second picture below illustrates friendly local relations between Mexico and Japan.

And what says Canada Day better than dinner at a Moroccan restaurant with a belly dance show? Before the snarky comments start, this was Mrs. C's idea. The food was good, the show was fun and our waiter had actually driven through St. Louis once in the middle of the night and saw the Arch.