Monday, May 31, 2010

Upcoming, Incoming, and a Whole Lot More


TwigsAndStemsNo3-1, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

The time has come in my photography career to advance. I know this might sound strange to some of you-you probably think that I have been advancing all along, or, you know, trying to anyway. I've given it a lot of thought recently and I've decided that I'm going to try to go back to graduate school and pursue a Master's degree in photography.

I know some of you are probably thinking, "Ha! You'll be unemployed." And, yes, I probably will be. But, here's the thing-education isn't always about employment. It's about learning. Advancing. Growing. And I want to learn-I want to really push myself, to take my photography to the next level. I can't do that without school-I mean, don't get me wrong, I've gotten pretty far, so far, without a formal education in photography, but I've decided that it might just be the right time, the right place to take the next logical step. So, I'm dipping my feet into that pool.

I've started the long process of applying for colleges. I intend to pursue a degree part-time, while working (a difficult task, I know) and I intend to use my degree to possibly teach at some point, or to maybe just further my career as a photographer. It's the last of my missing credentials, and I want to be a part of a network, I want to be in a group of photographers-to have peers, all of which school can help provide for me. I want a formal background in photography. I've been doing it all along anyway, so might as well formalize it, right?

I guess it might be a good time to wish me luck. I'm going to need a lot of luck, some skill, some patience, and a lot of wisdom to get through this, but it's also going to be a fun, crazy ride too. I know I'm really looking forward to going back to school-to be with younger folks again, to feel that energy, to network, to learn about history and background, and just to be a small part of a bigger picture.

Wish me luck!

Until next time...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Like Birds on a Wire...


DistantField, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

This weekend marks the long weekend in the 'States known as Memorial Day. It's a day we pay tribute to our fallen soldiers and, let's face it, we've also turned it into a shopping/holiday/stay-at-home-and-eat-too-much day like most of the other days we have off during the year.

This year, for Memorial Day, I will be doing a lot of writing. I have a bunch of items I have to write, mostly photo-related items, but stuff I have to crack and anyway. Sometimes, writing about photography can be so effortless and, other times? It feels like pulling teeth. Usually though, once I sit down and start to bang on the ole' keyboard like a mindless monkey, the words sort of just start to come. I hope that will be the case again today, as I really have a *bucket load* of writing to do this weekend.

I'm also still getting ready for the wine show-I've got my supplies picked up, I just have to actually sit down and matte and frame everything. Oh joy! You know how much I just *love* that task. Let's just say, "I'd rather be force fed oleander stew" and leave it at that, ok? But, yeah, somebody's got to do it, I guess.

I also keep trying to buy a new camera. Every time I try, it goes out of stock or put on back-order yet again. It's frustrating and it's driving me nuts. Nuts, I tell you, nuts. (And, like, for me, that's a short drive-actually more like a neighborhood stroll then an actual drive, but, like, you get the point.)

Even so, things could be worse. It's shaping up to be a bit of travel for the summer and I'm going back to Santa Fe which is always a treat, plus I'm pondering yet another trip which will be a total surprise (stay tuned for that one.)

So, how is your weekend going?

Until next time...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Ok, What is it?


DressAndShoes, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

What is it with me and these big square black and white pictures? Lately, it seems like I've been on a big square kick. I just can't help myself! Everything I look at, I start to think, "Hmmm. That would look good square. And maybe even in black and white...." Somebody help me! Make it stop. Make it go away. Please?!?!

Do you ever have kicks like this? Do you ever find yourself doing the same thing day in and day out and wondering, stopping to wonder, is it really the right thing to do? I mean, what am I missing my Hassy so bad or what is going on? I never really liked all that 6x6 crap back in the days of film all that much anyway, why, oh why, is it coming back to haunt me now? What have I done to deserve this?

I really think I'm loosing it. Seriously. Like something has snapped. A screw has gone loose. Can you hear it too? Jingle jangle. SNAP crackle pop, there it goes!

(Maybe that's just the sound of them breaking ground on the new Formula 1 track, over which I'm completely EXCITED. In case, you know, you could not tell.)

Now, somebody please, make all this black and white and square all over stuff stop.

Sign me, "trapped in a squircle" today.

Until next time...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

This Just In


PrettyBlueJagNo1, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

This just in....the Austinist is reporting that Formula 1 Racing will be coming to Austin.

Here's a link for more details.

Yay!

Until next time...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

In The Not Too Distant Future


DistantField, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Today's been a busy day. I finished processing and printing my work for the upcoming show at the Salado winery. It's starting to come together, though I still have a lot of work to do. I just ordered the second batch of invites-yes, it's true, one of my images will, once again, become a postcard. How fun, right? Don't you just love seeing your work in print? It's even nicer when somebody else has to do all of the messy color calibration and you get to just sit back and enjoy the finished results. On demand printing is so much fun these days.

I'm still hunting a new camera for my Santa Fe trip. Starting to run out of time too. The camera I really want is like on backorder all over the known universe, so I'm seriously tempted to just blow the bank and get a giant top of the line, full frame, "everything but the kitchen sink" Canon, just for the heck of it. Think I should? Oh, God! That "buy me now!" button is just too tempting. (Remind me how expensive things are again. Please!)

It's starting to get a bit hot too, had to turn on the a/c yesterday for a spell because, well, I just could not sleep. On a more positive note though, the gardeners came to mow the lawn and it's looking really great. The back lawn actually almost looks like a green carpet-it's so lush and thick. I might have to go and photograph the grass (how boring! I know!) just so I can show it to you.

So, how has your weekend been going?

Until next time...

Friday, May 21, 2010

It's Bevo-riffic!


MooItsALonghorn, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

The other day I was driving down Highway 183, the way I always do, sort of just humming along and not really paying attention. I pulled up to a light and I noticed this silver farm trailer next to me. It had a sign on it that read: "Bevo" but I didn't think anything about it, since everything around here (usually) has a sign on it that reads "Bevo." Everything in Austin is "Bevo" this or "Bevo" that. It's hard *not* to find a Bevo sign somewhere, right? So, I kind of just ignored it.

But then, as I sat at the light and studied it a bit, I noticed that the trailer was actually quite over-sized. This trailer was way too big for a horse. And then I stopped to read the writing on the side of the truck that was pulling the trailer. It read something about the University of Texas Silver Spurs. Then, as I looked even closer, that's when I saw the giant horn. And that's when I realized it actually was Bevo, sitting there at the light next to me.

Yes, you read that right. I was actually parked next to Bevo. That Bevo. The *real* Bevo. Wow. Who knew? BEVO! Hello, Bevo! (He's kind of cute in person, though I would not want to get on the business end of those horns, if you know what I mean.)

Now, for those of you who don't know who Bevo is, here are some Bevo facts:

  • As I have already hinted, he's a horny guy.
  • Though he stands a mere five feet eight inches tall, he's quite large and not the kind of fellow you'd want to engage in a barroom brawl. Think brawn here.
  • He once got loose and created quite a ruckus, scattering an entire marching band and attacking cheerleaders.
  • He's really into body piercings. In fact, I have it on good authority he has a ring right through his nose.
  • Though he doesn't know how to cook, if he were caught inside a McDonald's, he's make quite a few hamburgers. Quite a few actually.
  • Though he's cute to look at, you should never listen to him because he's full of BS. Seriously (literally.)

In case you haven't guessed by now, Bevo is the official mascot of UT. He is a Texas longhorn steer with burnt orange coloring. You can read more about Bevo, even see his picture, here.

Until next time...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Around My Kitchen Table - A Recap of Sorts


Patio, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

It might seem like I have not been babbling all that much. It's not that I haven't been doing a lot, in fact, I've been doing quite a bit. I've been off planning, plotting, and doing a bunch of stuff that's, just, well, *stuff.*

For starters, I'm just about ready to tell you that I've signed up for a workshop in Santa Fe. To be held over the July 4th weekend, it will be at the Santa Fe Photo Workshops and will be lead by the wonderful Elizabeth Opalenik. The workshop is called "Imagination and Dreams" and centers around making images that look very imaginative and dreamy. I'm looking forward to the workshop and getting back to Santa Fe for a trip, so wish me luck.

In other news, the wine show is really shaping up. I went yesterday to get the frames and I've been doing the sort of behind the scenes press and postcards of it all. I still need to do some printing-probably tackle that this weekend.

I've been trying to get some props for some upcoming shoots and I just finished some commercial shoots that I need to wrap-up. I'm trying to secure some new camera gear-good luck finding anything in stock these days! And, I secretly (ok, maybe not so secretly) want an iPad.

What's going on around your kitchen table? Are you busy? Up to no good? Getting lots of stuff done? Or kicking back to relax a bit?

Until next time...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A New Addiction (Of Sorts)


Christmas Colors, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Yesterday, I told you about my TiVo, about how I'm "booping up" old shows and other odd assorted things that it's finding. My theory on the TiVo is that every TiVo, each and every individual one, has it's own personality of sorts. My first one was murder-literally. If there was a murder on TV, why, it would find it. Charles Manson biopics complete with body counts and bloody weapons on display? Yup, recorded it. My second TiVo appeared to like cooking shows and shows featuring top models. Obsessed with food or perhaps a case of TiVo eating disorder? I don't know, but I do know that I watched a disproportionate number of cooking shows for a long time and now I feel I can almost boil and egg, though, I have to wonder, who eats boiled eggs these days?

My new TiVo, it would appear, likes something different.

There's this show on the home and garden TV channel called, I swear I'm not making this up, "House Hunters International." Now, there *used* to be a show, on the same home and garden TV channel called "House Hunters" but this "International" show is different in so many ways.

For starters, the "House Hunters" show followed a family (couple, single dude, whatever) looking for a house. They would march through (typically) three choices, poke in the cupboards, peek under the sinks, and do all the things people did while browsing real estate. Then, we were, ahem, "treated" to them talking into the camera, saying things like "the closets were too small" or "the yard needs fixing." (How can one really "fix" a yard? Ah, but I digress.) Anyway, it was a show that was kind of...well...interesting...interesting but not too exciting. It just didn't "wow!" me, let's put it that way. I mean, often they were looking in the same subdivision and, frankly, there's not all that much different between three homes that are almost next door to one another.

Not "House Hunters International," no. For some reason, when I come home from work, and I'm eating my dinner, I'm plunked down on my comfy couch and I've got fork and bowl in hand, chowing down, I love to watch this show. This show goes everywhere, and I mean *everywhere* looking at real estate. I've seen chalets in Slovenia, apartments in Hong Kong, breezeways in Belize, I've marveled at the closest in Istanbul and pondered the kitchens in Portugal. Seriously. *everywhere.* I'm going around the globe looking at real estate all the while never leaving my couch. (It's like the ultimate in "you're lazy so we'll bring it to you" style of entertainment we all know and love so well.)

I'm so addicted now. The Italy week "marathon" was hard to get over. I mean, seriously, who doesn't want to find a cheap farmhouse in Guardia Lombardi and fix it up to their liking? And the tropics? Oh, the tropics? I mean, who would not want an eight-sided tree house with a pool in Belize or a condo in the Turks right on the beach?

Ok, it's official. I'm addicted. They don't have rehab for this sort of a "travel bug" do they?

Until next time...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Catching Up and Keeping Track of Natural Disasters


LakeNo3, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

I've finally started catching up with some items on my TiVo. Let's see, there's been several old Top Gear episodes. As you know, I love Top Gear but, watching the early ones, from like season two and three is really a bit odd.

For starters, well, Richard Hammond was so young back then-he wasn't even fully grown yet! He was actually shorter than full height and hadn't quite reached fully-grown status.

What's that you say? He's still that short?

Oh, never mind that, the fashions were so different, everybody wore completely different clothing back then. James May wore these now horribly out of fashion stripey jumpers that were just hideous to look at and oh so dated.

What's that you say? He still wears them? The same jumpers with purple stripes?

Oh, never mind that, um...A Gallardo didn't even have a stripe back then. Wow! Change like that is really radical, isn't it? Who knew the years would take such a toll on us all?

Speaking of natural disasters (and, um, actually James May's wardrobe) that uber annoying volcano (the name of which nobody in the civilized world can pronounce) is set to blow again. Crap! I hope everybody gets out of the way of Volcano Farfegnugen and nobody gets stuck in some un-Godly airport at 3 am wondering where oh where their little plane might be. Oh the humanity! Incoming! Look out for low flying ash. Don't stand downwind! All the usual warnings still apply so please do be careful out there.

And, speaking of "humanity" and, um, the BIG volcano (not to mention James May's wardrobe) there's video out on the Intertubes of none other than James May himself driving up the side of Volcano OhCrapWeCantSayItSoWhyBotherTryingToSpellIt. He rode up there in a specialized vehicle that has stuff like hoses to cool the tires, or somehow keep them from burning up in all the hot melted rock. I'm sure at least one "Look out for that Lava!" is in order, but we're left with a big unanswered question. I mean, of all the people, all the staff Top Gear must have by now, why send James May up the volcano? Don't the folks at Top Gear know that local customs usually dictate virgins get thrown *into* volcanoes? I mean, a trek like that is starting to sound really dangerous to me.

So, if you're reading this, out there in Volcano InsertNameHere-land, James, please do be careful. And, no, those centerfolds of Gallardo's with stripes don't count (at least not as far as I know) you actually have to, ahem, "do the nasty" and we don't mean using a tailpipe (well, not the kind of tailpipe you're used to playing with anyway.) At least James is somewhat at home in Iceland, since he knows something about the beer there.

And, in other good news, those good folks who make Icelandic beer can now, ahem, "borrow" that oh-so-clever slogan from the Hawaiian beer makers: "A mountain of brews from the mountain that spews." Don't laugh, it's way better than: "It's the bees knees" in oh-so-many ways. Not to mention entirely apropos given the state of the fresh rock out there. (Though I've said it before, it does bear repeating. When it comes to rock, age or, more specifically, "old" is really a very good thing. That shiny newfangled stuff is just not all it's cracked up to be, trust me on this one-we all should take our rock at least a few thousand years old, anything younger is just so uncivilized in more ways than I care to discuss in mixed company.)

Speaking of natural disasters, things British, and, um, unfortunate spewing, the oil slick in the Gulf is still going. No word on when BP will have it licked but the good folks at BP are trying just about anything, and we do mean *anything* in order to stop it. Chase went to the dog groomers this week, to get his annual summer shave, and we were told hair (clippings) would go to "help the cause in the Gulf." Yes, you read that right, they are going to attack this giant leak with hair clippings, golf balls, all sorts of junk in an attempt at stopping it. There was even a plan to float a giant "mat" or sponge-like device, in an attempt at sucking up the oil. Seriously, I'm not making this up. It's so crazy yet, somehow, I find myself reminiscing for the old Seinfeld days-you know the episode I'm talking about here. Yes, it's true, snowflakes, the Gulf, or so it would appear, is now "sponge-worthy." Who knew? A sponge! What's next? Are they going to Swiffer it out with a giant duster or maybe try one of those Magic Erasers "rub" devices? Maybe Calgon can just take it away? Oh good grief! (Who knew it would take an oil spill to make the industrial-sized dust bunnies, and other odd assorted cruft hiding in the corners of my home, look harmless?)

I felt so inspired after reading Mythopolis's blog post about the slick in the Gulf, that I had to write some poetry for the cause. (Hey, it's the least I can do, I mean, I'm too lazy to get a haircut, right?)

I call this one Ode to the Oil Spill:

Oh, oil slick, oil slick you are so large
You're even larger than a big huge barge
Onward to Texas you inch oh so near
Gosh, I hope you know how to steer!

Hey, suck that up. All that and tomorrow's Monday too. So how was your weekend?

Until next time...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Hot Wax for a Cool Saturday Afternoon


BasicDuneInBlue, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

I went to the Texas Wax encaustic artists picnic, cookout, and meeting today and it was quite nice outside. We sat under the shady trees and enjoyed some ice tea and I got to catch up with all of the Wax-based folks.

Things are really moving along in the wax world. They are doing shows, getting work out there, making some great work. It's hard to believe that there's something like 800 members of the wax group now. That's a lot of people cooking wax, don't you think? They are going to open up a new studio and I got invited to sit in on some studio time in a better studio kind of near my house-I'm very happy about that.

I will be doing a 10x10 piece for a fundraiser and probably a piece or two for a show with a very fast approaching deadline. I am also trying to organize a demo, of sorts, over at the wonderful Studio 2 gallery, because there was enough interest after the "Doors" show there to prod me into doing a demo. So much is happening in the wax world, it's hard to keep up.

All of that and I've had a few commercial photo portrait shoots going on, not to mention trying to secure some new camera equipment and some props for a personal project.

Whoever it was that said photography is a great hobby but a horrible job, well, sometimes, I fear they were so right about that-so right about that in more ways that one.

How is your weekend going?

Until next time...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Symbols


TotemPole, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Totem poles are symbols-a likeness of man carved out in wood for all to see. Totem poles are usually very large-they stand taller than man and they sometimes represent stories, legends, or other tales drawn out and carved into eternity. Some natives felt that totem poles protected them, others used them for purposes of shame-to mark unpaid debt or some other crisis of ethics. Hey, what better way to get somebody to pay up then to erect a giant scary looking fake wooden man on their front lawn? It beats whacking them in the kneecaps and, I'd guess, it gets the message across.

One of the cool things about totem poles is that, after they've been carved, nobody expects them to live on for years to come. Often, the stories behind them are forgotten, leaving odd looking sculpture, carvings from a bygone era, behind for all to see. It's kind of neat if you think about it-almost like photos themselves, only carved from wood.

Oh, and some of them are kind of mean or scary looking. Yeah, this might be one of those.

Until next time...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Photo Prompt - An Assignment of Sorts


ExitToPool, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

I'm going to try out something new for the blog-I'd like to start something I call a "Photo Prompt." What's a photo prompt, you might ask, and I'd be willing to tell you. A photo prompt is an assignment of sorts, it's something designed to get you to think about shooting, to shoot maybe a little bit outside of your comfort zone, to try something new. It's a short (sometimes even one word) prompt designed to get you to craft, to create, to design an image around.

The "rules" for this are pretty simple. If you complete your prompt and email me a link, I might highlight your work here, on the blog, and talk about how wonderful, glorious, and spectacular you are. If you don't complete it, well, nobody will tell you your feet smell. So, either way, you can't go wrong, right? (Well, unless, of course, you have unnaturally smelly feet and then, well, you're kind of hosed anyway.)

So, let's get cracking.

The first photo prompt will be: vision

Vision, you know, something you see, the act of seeing, what it means to see, insight, foresight, premonition, hindsight, all of that and more. I'll let you think about the definition and how you might craft this visually but, for now, you've got your prompt so, go! Be on your way!

Go on, what are you waiting for?

Oh, and, I'm not a fan of the "shoot everyday and take lots of pictures of your nose because you have nothing else to do" school of photography. I'd like to suggest that you have one month to complete your assignment. One month might seem like a long time but, I'd like to think that should make the images all that much more spectacular, right? And, in keeping with the long lead time, I'm going to try to craft a critique that goes beyond the "nice shot" format you see so much online as well-expect me to dive a little into the images that you send in to showcase. I intend to actually showcase them, not just splash them up and move on, and I actually plan to highlight your work in a more fitting way than what you might get in the typical on-line forums.

Vision. It's not just for breakfast anymore.

Until next time...

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Five x Seven x Doors


GateNo2, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Ok, I admit it. I've been very lax in my marketing duties as of late. In fact, just this week, I got the following email:

Dear Carol ,

FIVE X SEVEN IS ONE WEEK AWAY

...and your work is being installed at the Whitley Building as I type. First, I can't thank you enough for your contribution.

This year more than 900 artists are participating. As the Austin version will only be on display for a total of four days, we are doing everything we can to make sure we get as many people as possible to carve out time to see your work. Press has been very responsive, but we'd love your help in getting the word out as well.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Forward our emails to your friends + family with a note about your work
Post the links to any and all FIVE X SEVEN events on your facebook page. Follow @fivexseven and tweet event + exhibition details to your followers (here's a link for that in case you need one)

Quick links are below. If you have any questions at all, please don't hesitate to get in touch!

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT

+QUICK LINKS+

The lowdown
http://www.arthousetexas.org/blog/?p=2699

Art SPLURGE
http://www.arthousetexas.org/index.php?_page=load_page&_action=load&_id=367

Art SOCIAL
http://www.arthousetexas.org/index.php?_page=load_page&_id=ART_SOCIAL

Twitter
http://twitter.com/fivexseven

Facebook
http://www.facebook.com/arthousetexas

Finally, I've also got some work going up at the wonderful Studio 2 Gallery on South Lamar. The theme for the latest show there is "Doors" and I've got 3 pieces on display as part of that show, so please make it over there if you are so inclined. Here's a link if you are interested.

Yes, yes, I know, marketing, marketing, more marketing. It's all about the marketing....

Until next time...

Friday, May 07, 2010

The Coast


SoftShore, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Will you be headed for the coast this year? Plan to get in any vacation time? (Don't forget to pack your camera!)

I was born on the coast-there's something about the coast that brings about childhood memories for me. The shore, the towns that dot the landscape, the smell of the ocean, the cool breeze, the tropical drinks (Ok, so, maybe New York, really didn't have all that many cool drinks.) Seriously, I love the shore and I do miss it, living so far inland now.

Maybe this year I'll get to the coast again. I really want to go back to Hawaii, but, so far anyway, that's not in the plans. (I am plotting another trip to Santa Fe but that's all secretive and such-at least , for now.)

The storms that roll in off the coast, the power and the fury of the waves and the pounding surf. The boats, the tides, the fish, the soft gentle lapping of the water against the piers. The sand between your toes, the fresh air. Am I making you miss it yet? Do you want to go back now too?

Everybody should get to experience the coast at some point in their life. Each and every one of us is touched by water somehow, in some small, little way. The coast is that point, that place, where the water meets the shore, where the waves and the sea crash into the rocks and the land.

Go visit that place and you'll instantly know what I'm talking about. Just trust me on that one, you will. Until I can get back there, until I can experience it again, I'm going to have to live with pictures like this. But, I can tell you this much-I do miss the coast when I'm not around.

Until next time...

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Should We Slip Him a Twenty?


ShouldWeSlipHimATwenty, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Should we slip the waiter a twenty? Should we get a table here? I wonder, is the food any good? My friend Jen ate here once and she said it was good. It looks kind of packed, do you think we'll get in?

If you must know, yes, they went in.

And, in case you're wondering, yes, I just got back from another night shoot over at the Triangle. It was fun, nice night, though it's starting to get a bit hot, there was still a nice breeze. Still didn't manage to get anything I really loved but I love going over there. This time, it was nearly overrun with dogs. There were tons of people out with dogs, so much so that the restaurants have started giving out bowls of water to go along with your meal. You could probably guess by now too what else this implies...yes, you now need to watch where you step. But, you know, clouds of people, waiting to get a table, and those bright red plastic chairs make for interesting pictures, at least they should if I only knew how to work some magic with them. Eh, one day...one day, I tell you, I'll make it happen. Until then, I'm planning on enjoying the night. And the dogs. And the breeze.

So, how was your evening?

Until next time...

PS No word on my camera yet. I keep trying to order it and it keeps being "out of stock" or "unavailable" from oh-so-many places. All of my usual haunts have it completely out of stock, for some reason. Someday soon, you wait and see, I'll get that new camera.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Part IV from FotoFest-Leaping into the Void


LoneTree, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

After our trip downtown, we headed into the museum district to catch some shows in this area of the city. We knew ahead of time that this would be packed with shows, so we plotted which exhibitions to see in order to maximize our time there, and see the most work we possibly could, given the limitations of time. (Oh, how I wish I could spend more time at FotoFest!)

First, we went to the Menil collection-the Menil was sponsoring a FotoFest-related exhibition called "Leaps into the Void: Documents of Nouveau Realist Performance." According to the brochure, "On October 23, 1960, photographer Harry Shunk's camera captured artist Yves Klein hurling himself from a Parisian rooftop. The now iconic image, which has had a lasting influence on performance art, is one of some thirty works-by artists including Niki de Saint Phalle, Jean Tinguely, Christo, and Arman-gathered for the exhibition "Leaps into the Void."

The thing about the Menil is that, well, it doesn't even have to have any photography in it to make it special. It's a wonderful building, great architecture, and a great collection, without the addition of any photography. Seriously. This is like a "must see" if you ever decide to visit Houston. The FotoFest exhibit was interesting in that it explored the link between performance art and photography. I have to admit, this is one area of photography (and, in some ways, art itself) I'm not very up on (or into.) I kind of let the whole performance art thing sort of slide by me, which is probably short-sighted on my part but, hey, I have limited resources and there's only so much art even I can take, so that's how it goes. I did love seeing the Menil, and l loved the photos there, so I would not label it a waste of time, not by any stretch, but the limitations of my knowledge and appreciation here really come into play, so I won't give you a more detailed description, other than to say I enjoyed viewing the collection. The Menil has great work-the Christo piece was next to one of Mondrian's color block pieces, and I remember thinking, "oh, I'm going to have to blog about that!" In fact, I almost inadvertently backed into a Mondrian. I'm sure that must make me one of the worst art clowns who ever lived, let alone pick up a pen (or, um, "typeface" as the case may be) so let's just put that out there and leave it at that.

Ok, so now that I've bored you with the "I love the Menil. Go to the Menil. Enjoy the Menil" talk, I should also mention the Houston Center for Photography (HCP.) This little talk is going to come with a warning.

I love HCP, really I do. I think I was actually a member of HCP at one point (I might still be.) HCP usually has some of the best photography exhibits in town (Houston) and it's a great place (usually) to go and sit and enjoy work. It's a creative place, with digital darkrooms available to outsiders, learning and classes going on all the time, and almost always has some cutting edge work. This time around, we were not so much disappointed, no, some of the work was actually quite nice, but the place itself really put us off.

For starters, well, let me talk about the work I liked first. Anthony Goicolea's series "Related" explored his family-four generations of Cubans who fled to the United States in 1961 just after the Bay of Pigs invasion. Leaving Cuba with only their photographs and "wearing their Sunday best" the series was a worthy exploration of family documentation as well as a personal exploration. This was work worth seeing.

W.M. Hunt's "Regroups" was an interesting exhibition. As a collector, he amassed group photos from different periods of time, across different landscapes. Some might right off this type of work as "outsider" art, so be it, but it was interesting to see, probably more for the historical relevance than the pure "fine art" aspect of it. It too was an exhibition worthy of a look.

I had seen Beatrice Reinhardt's "American Clubs" series before and it was no less powerful this time around. The work explores social spaces-the type of spaces like VFW halls, Community halls, Gun and Hunting clubs, and the sort of places where people come together, but remain apart. It's an interesting series and she shot it well, so this work too is worthy of a look.

Perhaps one of my favorite things about HCP, which was sadly ruined this time around, is the library. Tucked in the back of the building is a wonderful photo library, complete with lots of out-of-print, hard to find, and just oddball photo books. This is a favorite spot, one I happily enjoy visiting whenever I made it down to HCP. This time, however, the space was occupied by some lady loudly talking on her cell phone. Sitting there for at least 20 minutes, she was carrying on a full conversation quite loudly, preventing myself and several others from using the space as a library (it's intended purpose.) Sadly, HCP needs to implement a complete "No Cell Phones" policy-there were people yapping on the phone in all corners of the joint, with the library being the sort of "last straw." It's rude to do this, but it really interferes with people enjoyment of the work. This type of behavior is how the "snob factor" really comes into photography-people think photographers are snobs, and we aren't, but we're viewed that way as long as photographers behave rudely and put off patrons by ignoring them and yapping loudly on their cell phones instead. Please, I'm begging you, HCP, implement a "no cell phone zone" not just for your own good, but for the good of the medium.

There I said it. Now, let's move on.

We went to the Anya Tish Gallery to view Begona Egurbide's "Precipice" exhibition. I will address this in a separate post, since it was my high point of FotoFest and deserves a full post all by itself. To avoid spoiling it, I will only say that it was followed a close second by Charles Grogg's "Reconstrucitons" which I will talk about next.

After Anya Tish, we went over to the "Gallery Row" area of Houston, to check out the shows there. Gallery Row has about 8 or 9 different galleries, arranged on a single block, it's sort of a side street. It's a wonderful palace to visit and this time around it did not disappoint. We had missed the Keith Carter exhibit at McMurtrey Gallery but they still had some of his work up and we talked with the people there for a while. It was mostly work from Keith I had seen before, with a few exceptions-he has a new figurative series and they had a few pieces left from that for us to take a look at. Keith's work is very narrative and that too was a big theme this year as well.

Charles Grogg's "Reconstructions" was a must-see. This is one of the examples I hinted at earlier, where visual artists are giving the camera a new look and moving fine art photography out of the realm of the traditional. Grogg's series was handcrafted by printing platinum/palladium images on Japanese sumi-like paper and then hand stitching them together to create a single handcrafted piece. Each single finished piece was made up of these many paper prints, and each was more stunningly beautiful than the next. This goes way beyond the "I can paint with my camera" and plants photography firmly into the visual arts media. From Grogg's website, his process is described as, "The images in this portfolio are platinum/palladium, handcoated on handmade Japanese gampi. Each piece of the nine-piece image is individually exposed under sunlight, washed, dried, and then sewn with cotton thread onto a larger piece of Japanese washi. Each print is then float mounted in a walnut, maple, or kiaat espresso-stained artist's frame." These were absolutely beautiful to see and I would encourage you to take a peek at this work on Grogg's website here. I really cannot do justice by trying to describe these prints, this just falls into the "Go! Look! Now!" category and it's one of the things I so love at FotoFest-all the little discoveries that happen along the way.

I bought a book of Michael Levin's "Zebrato" series at the Thornwood Gallery because I fell in love with this tone poet's black and white images. Sometimes, you just get taken by the tone, and that's what happened to me the moment I saw Levin's work. I'm a sucker for good tonal range, what can I say? Thornwood had some great black and white work up, as did the John Cleary Gallery.

We ended our (oh so long!) day with a stop at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston's exhibition which was also packed full of work. The gift shop there alone is worth the trip-I managed to pickup two Cindy Sherman books, one I had wanted for a long time. They had a copy of her "Clowns" book which I had wanted for a while and which is almost impossible to find on places like Amazon or even in the local bookstore. I'd have to say the prices were a bit higher this year, though last time I might have gotten lucky with the big Brassai book for $5. Of course, that almost killed me, since it was so big, but it's still a beautiful book, I'm glad I lugged it back from Houston. One of my other photographer friends, BJ, said she stopped in the Half Price Books in Houston and snagged several books she wanted for $1 so I think the bargains were still out there, just maybe I had gone book shopping a bit more this year, in the days leading up to my trip to FotoFest, so I wasn't as eager to jump in quite as much. The gift shop is still a high point of the trip for me, as they always seem to have something on sale and, even in a bad year, I wind up taking three or four books home, so it's all good there.

Still to come, my high point of FotoFest (more on "Precipice") and some of the things I managed to miss (yes, believe it or not, even seeing all of this work, I did manage to miss some things I wanted to see.)

Until next time...