Tagged: PRC

Boston area photo roundup

It’s an incredible time for Boston photo fans. I’ll never blog it all properly, but here’s a passel of updates on photography stuff of the recent past, present and near future.

The DeCordova (sculpture park and) Museum has three (three!) photography shows up right now: a solo exhibition by Lalla Essaydi, a wonderful collection of Jules Aarons‘ work, and an array of portfolios curated by ace photographologist Leslie K. Brown.

The Photographic Resource Center just opened an exhibition of the winners of the Leopold Godowsky, Jr. Color Photography Awards, named in honor of a co-inventor of the recently canceled Kodachrome film.

Also at the PRC, the Fall photography lecture series continues next week with Roger Ballen.  Ballen follows Keith Carter, who last week delivered a charming lecture that conveyed and illustrated “seven mantras” for creativity and life.  Carter observed, “The search for beauty is huge in peoples’ lives. Not so large in graduate schools.” It reminded me of both Arno Minkkinen’s bus station and Andrea Robbins and Max Becher’s travel philosophy, both observed at past PRC lectures.

Gallery Kayafas is showing the work of Caleb Charland right now.  Charland makes beautiful prints that play with concepts from physics using elemental substances like water, ice, fire, and oil. The work reminds me a bit of that of John Chervinsky, whom I first met at the PRC satellite gallery at the MIT Center for Theoretical Physics.

Continuing a line from Charland through Chervinsky, we can’t help but arrive at the MIT Museum’s new Harold “Doc” Edgerton Digital Collections, opening this weekend.

And lastly for the moment but surely not leastly, next week, the MFA opens an exhibit of Harry Callahan’s photographs.

Feast for the eyes

After a brief tour of St. Lucy’s feast, I was joined by Professor M at Nebo, a a nice little enoteca and restaurant at the cusp of the North End.  We enjoyed a crisp Gavi bianco, eggplant timballo and a pizza bianco con rucola.

Next to the bar was a painting that looked oddly familiar and we racked our brains but couldn’t quite place it except that it had something to do with the PRC.  We asked the waiter and he brought us the names of the artists of both sets of paintings in the restaurant.

On the far wall were three by Arlayne Peterson, landscapes with an inset of another version of the same landscape, but those weren’t the ones we were wondering about.

Arlayne Peterson Before Spring Richard Eherlich Sand House

Next to the bar, the painting was by Richard Ehrlich, depicting the interior of a house filled several feet deep with sand.  Both artists are represented by the Miller Block gallery on Newbury street, but neither one quite rang the bell.

Hours later with a little googling and distance, I finally realized — I had seen photographs of the same sand house (in Namibia) by Cary Wolinsky at the PRC’s satellite at the MIT Center for Theoretical Physics.  Small art world indeed.

Sand House by Cary Wolinsky

I suppose the sand houses of Namibia might be like the Slot Canyons, one of those iconic spots that lots of photographers have shot over the years.  A quick Flickr search shows enough slot canyons and sand houses to fill a class on postmodernism.

We met our PRC fundraising goal!

If you’ve been following my microdrivel lately, you know that I’ve been actively fundraising for the Photographic Resource Center at BU. On Monday, we (by which I mean all my donors and I) hit the $2,000 goal. This is a big step, achieved ahead of schedule, and I wanted to take a moment here to recognize that.

Thank you to all 40+ donors. There were several gifts of $10 or less and some of $100 and more, and some came from people whom I know are out of work right now. I’m also especially grateful to those who gave even though I didn’t email you specifically, probably from a referral or a tweet or facebook status message.

A special shout-out to some of the businesses that donated. If I’ve missed yours, drop me a line.

If you gave – or are about to – and work for a company with a corporate matching program, I encourage you to take advantage of it. I know that many of my donors do, notably those at Ipswitch and Firstgiving. You’ll need the PRC’s EIN, which is 04-2610466.

Persistence and some use of social media paid off, but mostly it’s all about people’s generosity even in tough times. $2,000 will make a difference at the PRC but more is needed there and elsewhere. I’m going to keep the fundraising page open at least through my next birthday, and will continue to offer print raffles at every $1000 raised. I hope that limeduck readers will be generous and also visit the Photographic Resource Center and enjoy its programs.

Pulling out all the (f) stops for the Photographic Resource Center

The Photographic Resource Center is an organization that’s very important to me, and one that serves fans and practitioners of photography around town and around the world. If you haven’t been, I urge you to visit. There’s a lot going on.  I had planned to raise money this summer for the PRC, but times are tough for all nonprofits, and I’m concerned that if we don’t raise some money now, the PRC won’t see my 29th birthday again.  So I am advancing this year’s birthday fundraiser, and I hope both of limeduck’s loyal readers can be generous.

Please visit www.firstgiving.com/11th29th or use the fundraising widget in the blog’s sidebar to learn more and make a donation.  Every dollar you donate to this page will serve as a raffle ticket for a photograph from my collection that I will give away when we raise the $2000 goal.  [UPDATE 3/30: I’m going to raffle one photo at $1,000 and another at $2,000 so the earlier donors will get two chances!]The more you give, the better your chances. The winner will have his or her choice of these three framed and matted photos.  [UPDATE 4/3: hit the $1k point, did the first drawing and Jason chose the Stupich print – two prints left, next drawing at $2k!]

Frazier King -  Brassia ondontglossam Longlen, selenium-toned GSP, Ed. 8/20, image 18.5"x14"

Frazier King –  Brassia ondontglossam Longlen, selenium-toned GSP, Ed. 8/20, image 18.5″x14″

Mary Parisi, Boiled Chicken, 2005, ed#1/20, C-Print, signed in pen on front of print, 19½x20”

Mary Parisi – Boiled Chicken, 2005, ed#1/20, C-Print, signed in pen on front of print, 19½x20” (actually, this one isn’t framed right now but I can fix that easily enough)

Martin Stupich - Old Colony Rolling Lift Bridge, Fort Point Channel, Boston, 2007. K3 Inkjet print on rag paper, open edition, signed recto, 22x10.5"

Martin Stupich – Old Colony Rolling Lift Bridge, Fort Point Channel, Boston, 2007. K3 Inkjet print on rag paper, open edition, signed recto, 22×10.5″ [4/3 TAKEN!]

Please spread the word to others who might be interested and able to help.  And remember, the raffle won’t happen until we hit the $2000 goal!  www.firstgiving.com/11th29th

Fink photogaphs like a frog

Earlier this week I was lucky enough to see and hear photographer Larry Fink show and discuss his work in a lecture sponsored by the Photographic Resource Center.  The event was beset by awful weather and several technical difficulties but Fink’s genius and geniality shone through it all.

The man is a legend and deservedly so.  I remember meeting him in a similar setting in Woodstock many years ago.  He advised students about how to get close to subjects who seemed intimidating, for example, to photograph a member of the Hells Angels, one might open with “hey that’s a nice bike…”

Fink showed a body of work called The Democrats, shot on the campaign trail with Obama and Clinton.  Not quite a part of the regular press corps – he was working for Vanity Fair – Fink was seldom able to get as close to the subject as he likes, so he developed new ways of working and created some impressive pictures of the relatively ordinary people on the margins of the candidates’ lives.  He held forth on the various types of security guards and their characteristic postures and hand positions.  He found a sign attached to an Obama podium with the words “white balance” on it.  (It’s a photographic thing)  He found new ways to make Hillary Clinton look scary.

He shoots only film, only black and white, and he uses a short lens and an off-camera flash.  Like many great photographers of the decisive moment, Fink has incredible timing, both photographic and comic.  Contrasting himself with digital colleagues shooting hundreds of frames, he said, “I shoot like a frog” then very slowly scanned the crowd and then just as we were getting nervous and wondering what he was up to, he flicked out his tongue, capturing an imaginary fly.  They don’t make guys like this anymore.

Double exposure with PRC: Fusco and Wolinsky at BU and MIT

It was a photographic version of the colorful phrase, drinking from the firehose.  Thursday night I attended a lecture by Magnum photographer Paul Fusco and then Friday, an opening of a show by National Geographic photographer Cary Wolinsky, both events presented by the Photographic Resource Center.

Paul Fusco spoke softly but passionately to a packed BU auditorium where he discarded the podium and sat on the stage, insisting on near-total darkness so the images (projected from an authentic slide carousel) could be seen best.

First, Fusco showed images from his RFK Funeral Train project.  In 1968 (a time, he noted, that was full of both hope and uncertainty, not unlike the present) he was assigned to photograph Bobby Kennedy’s funeral and boarded the train carrying RFK’s casket from New York to Washington.  It turned out that nearly the entire route was lined with mourners, and Fusco photographed them from the train window.    It’s an incredible slice of history and a collective portrait of the people of America at the time.  Buy the book or at least look at the website.

Next, he showed work that has not yet found a publisher, a series he calls Chernobyl Legacy.  The beauty of Fusco’s composition and use of light does little to make these pictures any easier to look at, but at the same time you can’t turn away. In Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, Fusco photographed the hospitalized and institutionalized childen and adults terribly damaged by the fallout from the 1986 nuclear accident. Fusco’s passion for looking this event unflinchingly in the face and sharing it with the world was evident and contagious.

Among others, I ran into Jason Liu, one of the artists in Hudson Street Gallery‘s current show, and David Strasburger, one of whose prints I bought at the PRC’s auction last month.

The next day, I attended the opening of the second exhibition of the MIT-PRC joint gallery space at MIT’s Center for Theoretical Physics.  That’s 6-304 for your Institute types, just go to the end of the Infinite Corridor and go up to the third floor, you can’t miss it.  Nor should you.  A new space has been constructed by enclosing the courtyard of building six, and the design of the space, even without the excellent artwork, is both inspiring and livable.  I wrote about the first exhibition in this space last year.

Cary Wolinsky showed work from two series: Sand House and Varanasi.  In Sand House, he documents a colonial-era house in Namibia that has been invaded by the adjacent desert and filled halfway up with sand.  You have to see this to fully understand the surreal beauty of it.  (And you should also check in with Max Becher and Andrea Robbins on how surreal the German presence in Namibia can be)  Varanasi is an Indian city on the Ganges and home to the fabric-dying industry documented in Wolinsky’s photos.  It’s part of his wider ongoing interest in textiles and fabrics and a body of work called “Fabric of Life.”

Besides the PRC show of Wolinsky’s photos, the MIT CTP space also has art and photographs by Sol LeWitt, Ansel Adams, director emeritus Robert Jaffe, and others.  Also don’t miss the LeWitt floor installation that you can see from the bridge to building 6C.

There’s ace photographologist Leslie K. Brown at left, setting the story straight on B&W films.  Also present were PRC director Jim Fitts and Jason Landry, currently the PRC’s interim education manager.  I was also lucky enough to see photographers John Chervinsky and Peter Vanderwarker, and one third of conceptual/political art trio Triiibe.  The official opening of this show is next week, so check it out.

Young artsy types convene in Boston

Once again, I’m in danger of falling seriously behind on posting about events that I’ve attended or noted, so I’m going to get proactive and blog about some events that are upcoming and maybe drum up a few more attendees.  Perhaps I’ll see you there.

First up, next Thursday, October 16, is the Photographic Resource Center’s Young Professionals kickoff event, a cocktail hour and informal gallery talk focused on the beginning or thinking about becoming beginning photo collector.   It’s $10 and you can sign up by getting in touch with Cate at the PRC.  I’ve seen the PRC auction preview exhibition, and I can tell you it’s spectacular.

You’ll have just a week to recover from that and then it’s time for the DeCordova Museum’s Young Members of DeCordova (YMOD) Gallery walk around the South End on October 23.  It’s also $10 ($15 if you’re not a member of the museum) and you can sign up by getting in touch with Joanna at the DeCordova.

YMOD is a more established group with a good lineup of events planned (I attended a great one back in May), while the PRC’s group is just getting off the ground.  It’s a good thing that we don’t have to choose.

The Minkkinen Helsinki Bus Station Theory

Tonight I had the privilege of hearing (and seeing) Photographer Arno Minkkinen speak at the Photographic Resource Center’s Polaroid Spotlight Lecture. If you haven’t experienced Minkkinen’s photographs, please immediately go outside and prance around naked in the snow. Or buy one of his books right away. Your choice.

Plenty of others have analyzed and praised his photographs better than I can, and I’m sure many will for years to come. I’m going to try and reproduce an anecdote that came from Arno the teacher, something I’m calling the Minkkinen Helsinki Bus Station Theory. It goes a bit like this:

When you’re a student or otherwise starting out, your work – be it photographic or otherwise – will probably resemble that of an influential practitioner who came before you. Wanting to be original, you’re likely to try and break away from that influence. And you’ll probably end up showing some other influence.

Ready for the heady metaphor? Good. Here it comes.

Pretty much every bus line in Helsinki starts at the central bus station. And many bus lines travel the same route for some distance from the central station before eventually diverging. If every time you see that your bus is traveling along another line’s route, you go back to the central station and get on a different bus, you’ll never get out of town.


Not to put too fine a point on it, but at dinner after the lecture, I found myself seated across from Adam Marcinek, a local photographer. I recognized the name because I had bought one of his prints at an auction a couple of years ago, a piece that reminded me a lot of the work of Aaron Siskind. Of course it’s not fair to either artist to dwell too much on one phase or type from their varied bodies of work. I certainly can’t afford a Siskind, but I wonder what my Marcinek will be worth when Adam finds his bus’ final destination. I’m enjoying it right now in any case.

marcinek-untitled-2004.jpg <-> siskind-kentucky-5.jpg

Adam Marcinek, Untitled 2004 <-> Aaron Siskind, Kentucky 5

I’m not sure if I’ve done justice to Arno’s anecdote or his philosophy, but I hope the germ of the idea gets through to those who need it. If you happen to stop by the PRC’s Student Show, you can try and figure out what bus lines those kids are on, and also marvel at how far out of town some are already. When you’re done making nekkid snow angels, get over there – the show closes March 16.

Blackboards and Whiteboards

timemachine.jpgMore synchronicities and reveries.

Last week, I joined some good folks from two of my favorite TLAs, PRC and MIT for a reception at the new gallery space at MIT’s Center for Theoretical Physics, which was created in collaboration with the Photographic Resource Center. I found my way to building 6 and eventually to the spiffy new space where there would be an exhibition of photographs by John Chervinsky.

I had seen some of Chervinsky’s work that featured chalkboards and allusions to scientific principles, so I knew it would be right at home in an MIT physics setting, but I did not expect that the space would include several large chalkboards in the common area, full of, sure enough, fancy physics equations. Actual chalk and slate boards, not glossy whiteboards, not fancy interactive printing wallboards from the MIT Media Lab. How quaintly low-tech for MIT.


At right, Time Machine by Chervinsky, Chervinsky (not me!) in front of a board of physics stuff at the MIT CTP, and Blackboard #11 by Meggan Gould, an artist featured in PRC’s Northeast Exposure Online (NEO) this month. Click for more on each.

Physics and art, arguably poetry – where was Alan Lightman? PRC/CTP, please invite Prof. Lightman to the next event!

gould8.jpgBack to black. Boards, that is. Talking with photographer and professor Robert Jaffe, I learned that these were no ordinary blackboards – MIT had these boards specially made with sound baffling to make the constant clacking of chalk less bothersome – and further, that physicists have a violent disdain for whiteboards, exactly why I’m not sure.

Myself, I have a different kind of MIT backgroud and a different feeling about whiteboards. When I went to business school at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, I entered a world where would-be consultants and other future masters of the universe could barely hold a conversation without using either powerpoint or a whiteboard. I drank heavily of the kool-aid and inhaled deeply of the marker fumes and was converted. I can barely function in the office without my board and markers, and often think about installing some at home, possibly even in the smallest room. Plus, as someone who wears black a lot, I am always apprehensive around chalk and chalk dust.

"In order not to go blind, you have to travel"

Last night I attended an excellent photo lecture by Andrea Robbins and Max Becher sponsored by the Photographic Resource Center in affiliation with the New Center for Arts and Culture at the BU Photonics Center. (Photonics Center?? What goes on at such a place?) And after, I was able to join some PRC people for dinner with Max and Andrea. (Yes, he’s the child of Bernd & Hilla Becher, but we weren’t there to talk about them.)

A married couple, Andrea Robbins and Max Becher work individually as well as collaboratively using photography, film, video, and digital media, to create highly conceptual and critically acclaimed images. The primary focus of their work is, what they call, “the transportation of place” — situations in which one limited or isolated place strongly resembles another distant one. Whether the subject is Germany in Africa, Germans dressing as Native Americans, American towns dressed as Germany, New York in Las Vegas, New York in Cuba, or Cuba in exile, their interest tends to be a place out of place with its various causes and consequences. They will discuss examples of this work from their two recent books Transportation of Place and Brooklyn Abroad .

I won’t go on at length about their work, you can check it out yourself (buy the book buy the book) but I will mention what was a somewhat offhand comment – Becher or Robbins said, “In order not to go blind, you have to travel” (it’s characteristic of them that which one said what is not entirely clear after the fact, and they have no interest in helping you figure it out) Meaning that if you stay in one place too long, you cease to really see it, and that only by traveling to new places and returning can you maintain real vision of your own place.

You can see that this idea appeals to me.


Among other great topics of conversation and presentation, Robbins & Becher showed photos and short film about St. Pierre & Miquelon, a small island part of France that’s located in North America just off Newfoundland. Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about American islands or towns that dress up as French or have French heritage, this place is in fact part of France (see how they voted in the recent French election!) just 800 miles Northeast of Boston. I must visit.

And finally, I found this on Becher’s web site. Early work, but I must cite it here because it speaks to so many limeduckian themes: Chocolate Broadway.  I can see the block where I grew up.