Dec 10 2017

Jim Ellis Freeway Park – Seattle

Sometimes you don’t get what you expect when you go out taking pictures.  For a few years now I’ve been fascinated by the concept of Seattle’s Freeway park which has existed as a lid over the freeway since 1976.  Through out most of my life my only interaction was passing beneath it when travelling through Seattle, completely oblivious to its existence.  That all changed when I stumbled across it with Google maps.  The idea of this hard edged concrete park intrigued me enough that I decided to make a trip to photograph it.  I live several hours away in Canada so the easiest thing was to stay overnight in Seattle and then get up in the morning and photograph it.  A wrinkle in my early morning low light idea was that while I packed my tripod I managed to neglect taking any of my tripod plates to actually mount a camera to it.  As I write this I have only seen the digital photographs that I took the film remains undeveloped.  The park itself is around 5 acres splayed along the line of the freeway and abutting a number of buildings.  In this manner it seems less like a cohesive park and more like a number of similarly landscaped open courtyards.  There is one area near the southern end of the park that is different and the main feature.  This deep concrete canyon is the largest element and includes waterfalls.  However as I was visiting in February if the water features are still operational they were likely turned off for the winter.



In the easily accessible public spaces the park was clean and well maintained but just as it serves as a lid over the freeway it also covers a separate living space for people on the edges of society.  I’m not sure how many people call the nooks and crannies beneath the park home but once you are looking there seems to be evidence everywhere.

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Sep 5 2017

Harrison West with the Rolleiflex one year later


As I mentioned in a previous post I returned to the Harrison West area to photograph the aftermath and regrowth post wildfire. Each time I took along my Rolleiflex TLR both for its large medium format negative and because for this slower tripod set up its a joy to look at the image your composing on the ground glass.  Originally I had intended to set up the camera in the exact same location and view but I forgot to bring along the previous image so I composed the second one from memory.  Just the same you can see that the forest has begun the process of regrowth.


Some further images.  While the elapsing of one year is interesting I look forward to seeing greater changes in the future.  In some areas you can see that an effort has already been made to plant new trees among the charred remnants of the previous forest.


In the following case I took the second image not even remembering having taken an image of that particular log previously.


And finally other images from that roll of 12

Rolleiflex_Ektar100_2016_009 Rolleiflex_Ektar100_2016_010 Rolleiflex_Ektar100_2016_011 Rolleiflex_Ektar100_2016_012

Jan 24 2016

A Terrible Beauty – Edward Burtynsky in Dialogue with Emily Carr (The Reach Gallery Abbotsford)

Do not miss this!

Edward Burtynsky, Mount Edziza Provincial Park #4, Northern British Columbia, Canada

Running from Jan 21, 2016 to April 10, 2016 at the Reach Gallery in Abbotsford is the traveling exhibition ‘A Terrible Beauty: Edward Burtynsky in Dialogue with Emily Carr’ curated and pulled from the collections of the Vancouver Art Gallery.  There are eighteen large scale photographs from Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky that span multiple series from 1983 to 2012.  There are also six paintings by Emily Carr that speak to similar themes of the human impact on the environment.  In particular Emily Carr’s Loggers’ Culls, 1935 and Above the Gravel Pit, 1937 show our early impact on the British Columbia landscape.  Burtynsky’s work although it begins in British Columbia with Homesteads and Railcuts soon moves on to a more global view with works from series such as Quarries & oil. 

Emily Carr, Loggers’ Culls, 1935 oil on canvas


Emily Carr helped to shape our perceptions of the British Columbia landscape, in particular the coastal forests, however today an artist seeking out those same settings is confronted with something more like what Burtynsky presents to us, a landscape shaped and altered by human activity.

The impact of the Burtynsky photographs are aided by their physical scale.  They are large, with a focus that extends from foreground to background.  With the photographic visual language cue of focus depth removed the viewer is forced to interpret the scale of the scene through its content.  This can be somewhat jarring as you come to terms with thousands of burning tires in ‘Burning Tire Pile #1 Near Stockton California’ or uncounted circuit boards filling the landscape ‘China Recycling #9, Circuit Boards, Guiy, Guangdong Provice, China 2004’ or the more flattened scenery of  recent works from the series ‘Water’ . 

I could continue to try to write about this but my efforts would always fall short of standing in front of these works in person. The Reach Gallery Museum in Abbotsford has free admission and seeing this exhibition is well worth the trip for anyone located in the Fraser Valley and beyond.

Amusingly I visited on a day where they were hosting a Family Literacy day celebration which filled the gallery with activity and the cacophony of tiny voices.  Your visit is likely to be much quieter.

Jan 23 2016

I visited Calgary and all I saw was the tower

An amusing look at Calgary Alberta with a bow[sic] to the Calgary Tower which makes its appearance through out.
The quality of the Blurb premium magazine is great and its nice to have a tangible representation of a photographic story.  There is a mix of images from various film and digital cameras.

Jan 15 2016

Ideas of Breath

Nicole and Allison
Perhaps you’re an artist that creates just for the pleasure of it, or you hope to affect the world or maybe your reasons lie somewhere in between. In any case having your work in front of other people can be an affirmation that you’re achieving your aim. While having an online audience to share with is nice there is something special about being in the presence of art and other people viewing it. All you need to do is bring your art to the closest gallery and hang it up…what that’s not how it works? Maybe that’s how it works online but in the physical world it takes planning and hard work by dedicated people who love art.
Rather than talk about my work I would like to thank those hard working art lovers that provide opportunities for other artist to experience the joy of having their work seen. In this case I wanted to thank Allison and Nicole of Latent Image Magazine for putting together ‘Ideas of Breath’.
The call for submissions described it like this ‘We want to see what you create when you pull a theme apart, rather than construct one. Let the stream of consciousness take control and work around what the title Ideas of Breath means to you.’
The resulting show pulls together different artists and ideas in a wonderful way going places no one artist could do.

Ideas of Breath runs until Feb 8 at the Ayden gallery in Vancouver.

Jul 16 2015

Selfie or Self-portrait

Here is an easy way to help determine whether you are taking a selfie or a self-portrait.


May 29 2015

The Impressionists – An In the Gallery Presentation

I went to the movies to see paintings. It sounds counter intuitive but Cineplex has been putting on a series of documentaries called In the Gallery.

‘In The Gallery is your cinematic tour of exhibits around the world, bringing you up close and personal to the greatest art exhibitions and galleries across the globe.’

 They are like events in that the have a very limited number of showings, in the instance just two for The Impressionists. So what was my ‘Impression’?  The documentary was good and shed new light for me on the role that the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel played in establishing the Impressionists in their place in art history. Your left with the sense that without Durand-Ruel it’s possible that they may have just been a footnote in art history or at least not have had the impact that they did without his support both financial and commitment in the face of opposition to change and outright derision. The documentary itself spends the first 30 minutes setting the stage for the Impressionists as you might expect. After this though as the story continues we are presented with wonderful close-ups of their work that form part of the exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay. These close-ups provide an opportunity to see the brushwork of the painters that even seeing a painting in person does not provide, you just can’t get that close in any other way. This is where the theatre as a venue is great. Perhaps watching a 4K video from 10 feet on a large TV would be similar but of that I’m not certain. Seeing the weave of the canvas and the strokes of paint pulled across it was wonderful. What detracted for the experience was the movie format itself. A movie by nature is a linear experience curated for time. There are no opportunities to linger on a particular painting, the tour must move along. Also rather than using translation when French is spoken subtitles are used. The problem with this is two-fold it requires you to move your gaze from the imagery to reading if you want to follow the story and the text overlays otherwise exquisite images. While others I spoke to after the show liked the cinematography I found selective focus was used more than I would have liked. I think the paintings speak for themselves as presented and did not require this particular effect. I found the experience good despite these caveats with the giant close-ups providing the element that no other medium provides.
Poplars (Autumn) 1891
Even a high quality book will only get you so far such as this detail above of a Monet painting. Morisot_woman

Try to imagine this Berthe Morisot painting 50 feet across and then imagine that a small detail is enlarged to that size and you get a sense of the experience.

Again unfortunately there are only two showing and those are only separated by three days so the opportunities to see this are limited.  I will keep an eye out in the future for similar movie events but that said a good documentary on Blu-ray can be watched more than once.   And on that note this documentary is produced by Seventh Art Productions where they appear to make these available for sale.

May 24 2015

The Story of the Megapickle Race


Apr 11 2015

Sixth Street Popup + Gallery

How do you open a small gallery space with smiling happy people?
YashicaGX_April2015004The answer would seem to be, make it a community event and engage people through social media, which sounds simple enough but doesn’t guarantee success. Oh, and beer. There was beer from Steel and Oak Brewing; that probably helps. YashicaGX_April2015010 Sixth Street Popup + Gallery opened on April 9, 2015 with a show simply titled #thenewwestproject Volume 1 .  They had invited people to tag their New Westminster related Instagram photographs with that hash tag over the previous weeks.  Selected images were then printed to be sold at very democratic prices with a portion going back to the artists.    The feel good nature of seeing their images displayed publicly and selling permeated the room. The images of various sizes were curated and priced so well in fact that a good portion of them had sold by the end of the night.
I arrived half way through the evening and it was still jam packed with people spilling out onto the sidewalk.
The eclectic mix of humanity gleaned from Instagram staved off the danger of collapsing into a hipster black hole of irony.  There is clearly a nucleus of people in New West in addition to its proximity to Skytrain to support a space like this.  The Gallery nature is only one aspect. As the name suggests they will also be making an effort to bring in other ventures and shops for short terms.    I spoke to Julia Dewhurst, one of the individuals behind the Sixth Street Popup + Gallery, and her mother Jenn, and their love for art was apparent. I look forward to seeing what else may come to this space. If their launch is any indication that too will be exciting and successful.

On a more personal note I remember as a child growing up in Richmond that we would load the entire family up on a weekend to head to New Westminster to go to the Army and Navy store. As a child it seemed enormous and magical with strange things to discover.  I don’t think I had ever heard the word mall at this point let alone gone to one.  This relates to the Sixth Street Popup + Gallery in the way that I think they add much to the rejuvenated appeal of New West making it a place you want to be.  I wish them all the best.

Apr 5 2015

Lee Friedlander at PHG

FujiDLMini_Jan2015_001 FujiDLMini_Jan2015_002 FujiDLMini_Jan2015_003I’ve read about Lee Friedlander and seen some of his images in photography books, I’ve struggled to understand some of his compositions and what he was trying to convey but it wasn’t until I saw a larger group of his works in person at the Presentation House Gallery in North Vancouver that I understood the humour behind many of them. There are images of his of course that stand alone but when he has curated them by typology into books even I can grasp the concepts.  I’m not sure at what moment I came to the revelation but it was punctuated by a little laugh and surprise that I had been missing that aspect of his work.  Take for example a series of landscape pictures, some of familiar locales in the Rockies,  rather than taking the shot you would expect with a un obstructed foreground Freidlander purposefully places bushes and branches between us and the landscape.  Seeing a single Lee Friedlander photograph in isolation I think does a disservice, his books where series are brought together do a much better job and have a visual wit to them.