Saturday, February 26, 2005

   One of the pleasures of diving in and out of blogging is revisiting old favorites and reaffirming fondness for their offerings. I am happy to see familiar treasure troves like conscientious, eeksy-peeksy, language hat, quarlo, and wood s lot still going strong.

Another perk is discovering new enticing blogs. Probably the most memorable recent find is The Glory of Carniola, a blog by an American in Slovenia, which is filled with lighthearted observations of the idiosyncrasies of Slovenian life. It’s marvelously informative and terribly entertaining, and, I'd say, very much in the spirit of the dynamite "Tito i ja", a not to be missed comedy by Goran Markovic.

In a very weird coincidental twist, Carniola’s Michael Manske bears a mysterious resemblance to someone I cannot get enough of lately – Kevin Johansen, an Alaska-born Argentine who makes quirky, infectious, trilingual and very cool music. He just released a new album, City Zen, and while I have yet to give it a listen, I can say nothing but giddy things "Sur O No Sur", his second album.

An unexpected discovery through The Glory of Carniola was a very impressive and rather charming collection of Slovenian stamps produced between 1991 and the present, housed online by Posta Slovenije. Each stamp is annotated with information on the artist and background on the image’s subject matter. I find this resource all the more remarkable in light of the fact that usps.gov besides not sporting a similar online gallery of US stamps of the past decade is inaccessible and buggy most of the time.
"The Golden Bird", Jelka Reichman. Stamp issued 24/03/2003. "Boletus", Bernarda Zajec. Stamp issued 06/06/1996.

"Pustovi", Milena Gregorcic. Stamp issued 20/01/2000. "Primula carniolica", Grega Kosak. Stamp issued 20/05/1994.

Another feature unearthed via The Glory of Carniola is a photographic collection of Balkan Portraits from 1906-1910 by Fritz Wentzel.

Other interesting recent finds include Share by Eider Suso, an illustrator and art director. Go here for visual digs and occasional commentary in English and Spanish.

Thanks to Conscientious, I have enjoyed Kiran Master’s photo paeans to green and orange, yellow and blue, as well as Gaylen Morgan’s light-filled, gauzy work. Many of Morgan’s images capture the locale of Blue Hill, Maine, which I know from first-hand experience to be lovely, lovely. Some of her landscapes are very much in the vein of the great Eliot Porter.

"August Field", Gaylen Morgan. "Blueberry Field", Gaylen Morgan.

Speaking of Maine, who would have thought that the tango scene is thriving in Blue Hill?

And, while off the beaten path in ME, check out truck 808, a strange and rather fascinating blog, which, sadly, seems to be defunct since last November.

Also out of operation since the fall is a Bostonian’s Muddy River blog. Somewhat uneven for the most part, it does contain at least three pretty exquisite images.

"Night in Ocean City", Muddy River "Fence", Muddy River

"Emptyness", Muddy River

Across the water, in France, find splendid cross-process and double-exposure shots at le camembert magique photolog.

Closer to home, take in a keen NYC subway photoblog by Travis Ruse. Some priceless catches here.

"Paths XIII (Nexus)", Marja-Leena Rathje.

Finally, I know you’ll appreciate Marja-Leena Rathje’s part-blog part-portfolio site. It’s marvelous all around.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

   Those of you who like to rummage through online image archives of various kinds might enjoy leafing through the following sites, links to which I have assembled over the past couple of years.

The collection of Japanese photography of the Bakumatsu-Meiji Period (1860-1899) at Nagasaki University Library is very extensive in scope, featuring photos of rural life, home interiors, teahouses, temples, gardens, and beyond. Search by location and keyword is enabled. The latter boasts a peculiar collection of variables -- among the 100 or so choices, you will discover that you can search the Bakumatsu-Meiji photo archive for pictures of "fishing", "Mt. Fuji" and "historic sites" as well as for depictions of "Japanese junk" (74 results), "utility pole" (4 results) and "straw boots" (0 results).

"Cave of Yenoshima", Kinbei Kusakabe

The Photography from Central Asia exhibit, housed online by Santa Fe's Anahita Gallery, is modest in size by comparison but very spirited. Included here is a fine group of images by Georgi Zelma, an Uzbekistan-born photographer known, among other things, for his documentary photo work in WWII, namely during the battle of Stalingrad.

Photo by Georgi Zelma

More images by Zelma and his contemporaries, Khaldei, Alpert, and others, can be found at the Russian Photography Collection presented by Howard Schickler Fine Art, a Brooklyn based gallery specializing in Soviet/Russian photography and Russian avant-garde art.

Foto Tapeta is an enormous resource put together by a gallery in Warsaw that features works by primarily Polish photographers as well as interviews and reviews, some of which are translated into English. Click around at your leisure and sample artists like Anna Beata Bohdziewicz, Bogdan Dziworski, and Basia Sokolowska.

"My Wife", 1986. Miro Svolik

Czech and Slovak staged photographs -- precisely what the title of the compilation says; nothing like what you would expect.

The Netherlands Photo Archives - still a work in progress, as far as (in)completeness of many photographers' profiles is concerned, but already fairly rewarding if you are willing to spend some time poking around here.

"Asswan. February 23rd, 1924", Author unknown.

Middle East Photograph Archive at the library of the University of Chicago contains more than 200 images of Egypt, Turkey, Syria and other places in the Middle East, captured in late 19th century. Landscapes, city scenes, portraits and architectural shots from Cairo, Giza, Damascus, Istanbul, and surroundings abound.

Chances are you already know of the online photography collections at Rochester's George Eastman House. And while you are in the area, check out the archives of student work at RIT's School of Photographic Arts & Sciences and the school's Photo Purchase Prize Collection.

Know of other noteworthy photography collections online? Share the wealth, won't you?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Hello, folks. Almost an entire year has trickled by since my last appearance here, and I am tickled pink to be back. I cannot vow to post regularly and dutifully hereafter, but I will try, genuinely, to treat you and myself to fun finds now and then.

Blogging about the arts is a dangerous pursuit, though, making it oh so tempting to abandon the obligatory bustle and indulge in a by far more exhilirating pastime...

"Catherine", 2004, Valerie Hammond
The timing of my return seems fitting, as some of last year's favorites are turning up in familiar places. Valerie Hammond's mossy and ferny hands, for instance, sampled here last October, are back at the honorable Lisa Sette Gallery, and are even more exquisite than earlier collages. The latter, unfortunately, seem to have disappeared from the gallery's website but some can still be found elsewhere.

In 2004, the gallery featured the marvelous sweet witticisms of Valeriy and Rimma Gerlovin. Their distinctive creations pair up echoes of Don Quixote and Durer.

"Twilight", 1997, David Kroll
In March, David Kroll's solemn and whimsical, whimsical and solemn still lifes are due at Lisa Sette.

The J. Cacciola Gallery has a redesigned website, with lots of images reproduced for the web really well. Mark Beck's shapely seascapes just finished a run there. Do check out Daniel Morper's landscapes and James Lahey's oceanscapes, all striking, while you are in the area.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude are not alone in their preoccupation with cloaked and shrouded entities. There is something primevally comforting in mothering landscape itself and objects in general via enveloping and cradling. The act of encasing and sheltering, without smothering, can be satisfying and engrossing, and equally so -- the act of beholding something encased and sheltered.

Untitled, 2003. EKR

On display at Stephen Wirtz Gallery in SF until Feb 26 are Heide Zumbrun's photographs of sheathed forms. Equally peculiar, be they industrially sized blobs of mozarella, bleached giant bean bags, or hibernating Boohbahs. Numbers 1 and 6 are particularly compelling, bewildering images of solid interest, while the others are more annotative but still sufficiently magnetic.

While I am short of having a penchant for Zumbrun's work from 1999-2001, comprised of partially dismembered and anatomized plush toys, I am not completely indifferent to it either. Further reading may be of interest to those who wish to find out why "Zumbrun credits her dog as a catalyst for this body of work".

Among notable exhibitions of 2004 at the Stephen Wirtz Gallery were a new series of images by the gallery's regular, Todd Hiddo, reaping the fruits of his wanderlust, Alec Soth's continuing claim to fame -- "Sleeping by the Mississippi", and Masao Yamomoto's recent sepia photographs. The curators dub Yamomoto's images "visual haiku", but Basho's and Issa's 3-liners are not known to be quite this pained and contrived.

If you are in Atlanta, catch the Brian Oglesbee exhibit at the Fay Gold Gallery. His water phantasms, already mentioned in this blog, are splendid. Earlier at the gallery, visitors were treated to lavish and burnished canvases of autumnal charm by Zoe Hersey. For more of her images, check out the archives. Unfortunately, the site uses frames making it impossible to link to individual pages directly. Alternatively, you can visit Hersey's own website.

"Butterly Dreams", 2004, Zoe Hersey
Speaking of autumn and its hued delights, you might enjoy representational imagery by Greg Miller. These panoramas of the ever glorious Hudson Valley need no trickery or invented adornments.

While you are in the vicinity of the Catskills, peek at Jenny Tsai's newlyweds frolicking in its valleys.

Won't you agree that the style and palette are somewhat reminiscent of Heidi Yount's loveliness? Yount, by the way, now has more than three dozen new images on her site and as well as section on work in progress.

Cig Harvey, another personal favorite, mentioned herein earlier presents new work in a solo exhibit at the Robin Rice Gallery. I am a bit saddened by a move from the refined and intuitive in the older images to the labored and overtly orchestrated in the newer photos.

On this conflicting note, let's part until the next time.

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