Thursday, June 17, 2010

collect/support opportunities

Powerline, 2010  Daniel Shea

Daniel Shea has announced his 2010 print sale.  Two prints from Plume as well as a (very) few (remaining in the editioned category) from Removing Mountains are being offered to help fund his ongoing work documenting and considering the use of coal to feed our desire/need for energy.  The BP disaster in the Gulf has the headlines, Daniel has spent years making me understand the full and ongoing cost of coal.

Another opportunity to collect and support is the Acre Artist Residency project on Kickstarter.  You can participate for as little as a dollar but larger donations (but still a bargain!) are accompanied by buttons to t-shirts to prints.  Daniel Shea will be attending a session at Acre this one of each would be a fully rewarding venture.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Madrid, Spain (Woman With Red Hair And Blue Dress Outside of Carrefour)

This is the print that came home with me at the end of I 95.  This is the print that the Lookers, which I have been posting the last 3 days, were regarding.  When offered the option of taking a piece, just one, from an exhibit it is easy to start to be a little crazy.  With more than 200 prints available (minus the one Ruben had staked out early) I ran through the list of considerations.  Iconic?  The boy doing a flip on the mattress, the red steps which became the cover of America, If You Reading This...?  One that references historic photographs?  The green ceiling of angles which nods to Eggleston as well as Weston but is so beguiling in its own right?  It is easy to become childish in the sense of "I Don't Want to Choose!!"  "I Want Them All!!"

I loved this image from the first time Zoe posted it while in Spain.  It is a portrait which embodies all of the humanity of the subject as well as the artist.  The gaze is direct, the posture bold but there is no confrontation in this woman.  She is.  The backdrop includes the faded/wiped out/disconnected text which runs through so many of the I 95 images.  Text as information, text as symbol, text as landscape.  Formally, the balancing of the red and green bags with her dress and fabulous hair creates movement which belies the dead center composition.  This is one of the most recent images included in the final I 95, a photograph made in the 10th year of the project.  Made in Spain it is an indicator that the project took Zoe from the freeway which runs through her neighborhood (and has served as the metaphor and gallery for this work) to the bigger world, yet has found/stayed within that which unites us all.  I don't know this woman, and probably never will, but I love everything this photograph tells me about her.  She makes me smile.  What better gift could she and Zoe give me?

Technical notes:  The tissue surrounding the print is acid free tissue brought along to place the print on.  All of the prints are laminated and given a full adhesive backing to mount them to the pillars.  When 4:00 comes and they are all peeled down it is best to have something to stick them to.  If you look closely there is a chip of paint from the pillar stuck to the bottom right edge of the print itself.  I have no idea what it will do to the life of the print but love that it adds a bit of terroir.   The 4 round objects are 2 pound weights (think bean bags with beautiful leather covers) that are holding the print flat since I had to roll it and place it in a tube to safely transport it on the plane.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Looking at I 95 (3)

Here is the third installment of Looking at I 95 2010.  Tomorrow I will post the print that is being regarded.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Looking at I 95 (2)

Here are 6 more images from I 95 2010 as a continuation of yesterday's post.

Again, click on image for larger view.... 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Looking at I 95

I returned from Philadelphia yesterday.  The final Zoe Strauss exhibit/installation/happening of I 95 was absolutely brilliant.  The final hour (from 3:00 to 4:00) I took up residency beside the print which I had chosen to bring home.  I decided to make pictures of people as they stood to look at "my" print.  Trying to photograph the show as a whole is a useless exercise.  The scale, the crowds, the light do not lend themselves to the long view.  It occurred to me that making pictures of people looking might be the best way to describe the event.  Zoe's ability to engage people in looking, and through looking to transcend the "facts" of the image and arrive at meaning, places her among the gods.  Today I am posting the first 6 of 18 Lookers.

I will post the rest as the week goes on.  At the end of the week I will post a picture of the print that came down, complete with paint chips which testify to its inclusion in the final iteration of I 95.  I am grateful for and humbled by the opportunity to experience I 95. 

As always click on each image for a larger view.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


And now for your favorite Sunday afternoon game show...Will It Leak?!?!

Locked and loaded...what, you thought I was going to put in the G10?  Ha!  Fat chance!

I really should have filled this with warm water...

Dry as a bone!  Next stop the Carribbean!

Mel tested, Mel approved!  (still a little queasy but no guts, no glory)

Friday, April 23, 2010

I 95 the culmination...

Wiki dictionary defines culmination as, "The attainment of the highest point of altitude reached by a heavenly body; passage across the meridian; transit; Attainment or arrival at the highest pitch of glory, power, etc."

A decade is a fairly long time.  A decade is how long Zoe Strauss has been exhibiting her work on the concrete support pillars which carry Interstate 95, and its travelers, over her home ground on the first Sunday in May.  The nexus of the work is her home of South Philadelphia but has grown to reflect our country and finally, this year, the world.  This is the last year that this work will be shown in this way, in this (its rightful) place.

On Sunday, May 2 at 4:00 PM a wave will begin on Front Street and roll all the way to the back (a very long block away) with the 231 prints coming down and going home with those who have, whether faithfully or recently, come to know Zoe and her work.  They will be carefully carried from this gallery of noise, fumes and dirt to be cherished as much as any million dollar piece in a collector's vault.  It is a wonder to behold.

I am able to make the trip again this year.  This is not a Photography Show.  This is not an Art Show.  This is an event which enriches and engages the eye, the mind and the spirit in a way that the aforementioned so rarely attain.  If you are going to be there and would like to meet for coffee or a drink email me.  If you're not going/able to be there I am sorry.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A little something

Here is a little something to get us through to spring.  Tom Waits and Tootie Ma do it for me.  You can purchase the album and support both Preservation Hall and their Outreach Program here.

via flavorwire

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Art and Fashion

Alfred Palmer, 1942

"In fashion, the right thing at the right time is the right thing.  The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing."    Tom Ford  

When I heard Tom Ford say that in an interview recently I couldn't help but draw a correlation between fashion and the commerce driving contemporary art (much less politics).  Perhaps something to consider at your next portfolio review?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Don't mess with me Phil.  I am ready for winter to be over.

(This post was supposed to go up automatically yesterday and I am annoyed with Blogger for the scheduled post setting not working.  How often do you get to use a picture of a ground hog?  Once a year is how often!)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Care package


There has been a good bit of talking about the future of photography books recently.  Some interesting ideas, some not so much.  Noah Beil's artist book This is Not My Sky stands as an example of taking control of your own destiny.  The care with which he has hand set the type for the cover and colophon, printed the images and hand tied the binding informs the assembled photographs.  The photographs, of a place which is not his home, become a portrait of a photographer with a careful eye.  Someone who wants to show the same attention to the way the images will be experienced as that shown to their composition.  This is Not My Sky is a visual and physical inspiration.  He has made this book under the imprint Extant Books.  Lovely since extant is defined as still in existence; not extinct or destroyed or lost.  Care in art making should not be extinct or lost.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


 Pouring Down has re-posted a video (no embedding, click the link).  Franny and Zooey was my favorite.

"But the thing is, you raved and you bitched when you came home about the stupidity of audiences. The goddam 'unskilled laughter' coming from the fifth row. And that's right, that's right--God knows it's depressing. I'm not saying it isn't. But that's none of your business, Franny. An artist's only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else's. You have no right to think about those things, I swear to you. Not in any real sense, anyway. You know what I mean?"
                                                                                             j.d. salinger

Friday, January 29, 2010

Street Seen

Lisa Hostetler has put together another outstanding exhibit of photography at the Milwaukee Art Museum.  Street Seen: the Psychological Gesture in American Photography 1940-1959 opened last night to an overflow crowd in both the lecture hall and the overflow video feed venue (when the overflow is overflowing on a night when the temperature was around 4 degrees F you have a lot of interest).  Her talk once again was aesthetically and historically informative while never crossing into the arcane or hopelessly academic.  She invites people to see and consider more than lectures what to see or consider.  The exhibit remains through April 25th which gives ample time to examine the photographs, paintings and objects without the opening night crowds.  Take a look at the calendar of events for details on gallery talks, a symposium in early March and a talk by Phillip-Lorca diCorcia in April.

The beautiful catalog (New York Times review here) is available both through MAM and here.  I love that I was able to have mine signed last night by both Lisa and Saul Leiter.

The night ended with dinner with Kevin, Andy, and Sonja. Wine always helps when sorting out the contemporary photographic world. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Curtis Mann, Lately

untitled, foldings (guided tour, Golan Heights)  [95" x 58]

Curtis Mann's blog has been quiet for a while.  He updated last week with new work, perhaps for the 2010 Whitney?.  Watch the video for insight into his process.  He has refreshing praise for digital photographs and the lack of editing in vernacular collections.


Curtis Mann // Photography from Alan Del Rio Ortiz on Vimeo.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ctrl A

Did you know that hitting Ctrl A apologizes for everything?  Thanks Tommy!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Muscle Memory

It is the dog days of January.  Traditionally my most difficult of the year (if you don't include February, March and occasionally a chunk of April).  I haven't been shooting with my camera and find it increasingly difficult to shoot my mouth off here.  This video of the world record holder for blindfolded free throws reminds me that nothing succeeds like persistence.  To borrow what has become a cliche...just do it.

NOTE:  It seems either Blogger's new interface or You tube have made sizing wonky.  Apologies all around.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Wearing your heART

SFMOMA and Gap have teamed up to make t-shirts.  This one is a fitting tribute to Larry Sultan using an image from Evidence.  There are others represented including Kerry James and Ed Ruscha.  If you don't live in the San Francisco Bay area you can order one here.

Friday, January 8, 2010


from McSweeney's Open Letters;  Author, Jamie King

I'm having one of those weeks and this letter from McSweeney's provided relief.  The kind of relief that comes from finding you are not alone.  The kind of relief that comes from a good laugh. I plan to print it, insert the appropriate photographic terms in place of performance related content, read it aloud and finally burn it.  Then I'll make work.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Douglas Wolk's Kant's Critique of Aesthetic Judgment:  Drastically Condensed Awesome Version is wonderful!  The audio is terrible!  Watch it at least 2 or 3 times!

Friday, January 1, 2010


Thanks to inspiration from Jason Lazarus I hereby resolve to OWN 2010!  And also to clean up my desk....

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

Greater Atlanta

I failed to post a month ago when Greater Atlanta arrived.  I now see it on the Best of '09 lists put together by Alec and 5B4.  Steinmetz' trilogy is now complete and the constituent parts create a sum of beauty.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas cookies!

Hope your home smells as good as mine does today.

Friday, December 18, 2009


LACMA has made a Google map identifying or approximating the locations of the photographs in their New Topographics exhibit.  It is an opportunity to revisit the sites and discover/re-discover their visual message as well as the change that 30 years has wrought since the work is tied to time as much as place.

A very cool use of technology... 

Monday, December 14, 2009


Ok, now bear with me.  Last week I received an email from The Impossible Project updating their status and announcing a call for submissions for an Impossible Billboard in Times Square.  Last night I was in another part of the house and heard a crash accompanied by a very odd noise that I didn't immediately identify.  I looked from room to room hoping to discover what had fallen and couldn't see anything out of place.  I decided to check the hall closet and found that an old SX70 had fallen from a shelf and in the process fired the shutter.  I had no idea there was still film in the camera and don't know what made it shift and fall on its own.  Of the 4 remaining exposures I now have one of a dark closet taken by the camera itself.

The basis of the entire project is Edward Land's statement "Don't undertake a project unless it is manifestly important and nearly impossible".  I think I'll make a scan and send it in.

(I am not addressing finding the ShakeIt Photo app on Saturday to make it an all Polaroid weekend)

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Art school students are such fun....

Friday, December 11, 2009

Life imitating art


For the last week or two I seem to be living in an Amy Stein photograph.  The fox was in the back yard and the turkeys came to the feeder that normally hosts squirrels and Blue Jays in the front a few days later.  Highly unusual.  It would seem the "passage and barrier between domesticated space and the wild" has gotten closer.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Benefits of Membership, Update

This morning I received this email:

Hello Mel,
An internet search brought your recent post regarding your Art Institute of Chicago Member Card to my attention. I want to apologize for the error in the way your name appears on the card, and for the clearly incorrect assumptions made by whomever entered your information into our database.
If you would kindly provide me with an alternate salutation (Miss, Ms., Mrs. etc.), I would be happy to reissue a corrected card. Please feel free to contact me directly at (312)499-4128 or the Email provided.
Best Regards,
Lorien Steere
Member Relations Representative

I think that is just the greatest! A quick restoration of my faith in my fellow man person!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Benefits of membership

It would seem that one of the benefits of membership at the Art Institute of Chicago is...

gender reassignment!  The unfortunate part is I filled out the application in person.  Anyone care to bet that the person who took it listed "attention to detail" as one of their job qualifications?