A fraternity house on the edge of the UNC golf course is being torn down. It is the perfect mix of demolition, rubble and great texture. They have even taken the time to stack different types of materials in different piles to make better pictures.
On a recent weekend afternoon, I went to the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery to take some pictures. I had not been to the website linked above, and therefore did not yet know anything about its history or layout. I only knew there was a cemetery located in the middle of UNC’s campus. I had driven by numerous times, but had never been inside.
I entered the grounds at one end and began walking. It was much larger than I imagined. Here was a large chunk of land in the middle of a large state university that was, and still is, an historic cemetery. Since I did not have a good sense of the place, I wanted to walk around and scope out some shots before just clicking away. I knew I would be changing the photos to black and white, so I was focusing on composition, not color. I had some ideas in my head, but didn’t know what I would find.
I discovered that one cannot walk through a cemetery without being affected, or even overwhelmed. The history of the Chapel Hill campus is told through the gravestones, but there is also family history and personal history. There are stones for University leaders, influential families and their wives and children. It was the markers of children that affected me the most. Many had carvings of lambs on the gravestones. There was even one with the epitaph, only sleeping. And one very short life, only 2 days, was marked with a stone that indicated her passing date was my birthday, in 1922.
I was there to take pictures of things that were old, and wound up thinking of people they honored. They walked these paths and the roamed these buildings. It is hard to dismiss their contribution to the community and their families. As I write this, I also think of Eve Carson, the UNC Student Body President, murdered this past week in an apparent act of random violence. She too is a leader who will be remembered as people walk through this place and think of how the past meets the future.
There is something about the air in a cemetery, and that even on warm sunny days, it carries a chill. On this winter’s day it seemed to get colder the longer I was there. The clouds got a little heavier. The wind picked up just ever so slightly, and I knew it was time to go.
Today was the opening reception of my Photo Exhibition. Some friends, co-workers and family stopped by. We had lots of snacks. The other artist is a local art teacher, so she had tons of folks come by.
Here’s a link to my photos again.
And here is my statement about the show:
A country is defined by both its people and its places. On a trip to Spain in 2004 I brought my trusty, manual camera and many rolls of black and white film. The digital era had begun, but I was not ready to leave the world of film. I wanted to capture the nation’s essence, and the subtlety of film was the best way to do it.
In three major cities, Madrid, Granada, and Barcelona, I witnessed the parade of life. This was a perfect time to document this country in transition. The peseta had recently given way to the Euro and many of the traditions were changing as Spain’s economy grew. Local shops and restaurants still closed for siesta, but chain stores were popping up, and they did not close in the middle of the day.
Whether in the eyes of street performers or in the detail of Barcelona’s unique architecture, the unique character and personality of Spain comes through. The vitality of life is apparent in their faces, in their postures and in the way they interact in this changing society. There is a blending of a traditional society with its produce markets, hard-working people and palaces with a modern economy that may briefly pause, but never slows down. It must always move forward.
There is a bit of nostalgia for me in putting together this show, as I am also in a transition to this new world. Since shooting these pictures, I have moved from the traditional into the digital photography world and wonder if it is possible to look back.
I have my long awaited photo show coming up next week. I am showing black and white photos that I took in Spain about 3 years ago. They were all shot on 400 speed Tri-X film (for anyone who cares) and printed on matte finish, fiber paper. I picked up the framed pictures yesterday and they look fabulous. Classic white matte and simple black metal frame.
I had them spread out in the living room and it was great to see them all together. It will be even better to see them hanging on the wall. The Library does not have a great exhibition space, but it’s still a show.
February 8, 2008 – April 2, 2008
Opening Reception February 10, 2:30 – 4:00pm
Sponsored by the Chapel Hill Public Arts Commission
Chapel Hill Public Library (lower level)
100 Library Drive (off Estes Drive)
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Here is a link to a Flickr Slideshow of the photos I will be showing.
I have a photo show coming up February 8, 2008 – April 2, 2008 at the Chapel Hill Public Library, with an opening reception, Sunday February 10 from 2:30 to 4. Stop by if you are in the area. I will be showing black and white photos that I took on my trip to Spain several years ago.
This show has been scheduled for nearly a year, although it was originally going to be in October. I have procrastinated on printing my pictures for so long that I no longer had time to do it myself, so I took them to a photo store, University Photo in Chapel Hill. They are photos that I shot on film, so I needed to find a place that still prints black and white in the way I needed them (fiber base paper, matte finish, full frame with clean black bars). This is the same way I print them. All my other prints are done full frame, which I started as a bit of an artist’s conceit (here is the photo as I saw it in the camera and it was not cropped in the darkroom), but I stayed with it because I like the way the black border frames the images. This has probably lost some of its relevance in the digital realm because you can re-size, crop an image and still put a black border around it.
Since shooting these pictures, and getting accepted for this juried show, I have moved to digital shooting. The film shots in Spain was an excuse to get back to film, and I enjoyed shooting with my heavy, metal, manual camera. I haven’t really stuck with it, and probably won’t go back. I can shoot many more digital photos without the concern for cost of film and processing. I don’t have a process for printing digital images yet, but that’s mainly because I haven’t had a need yet.
Yesterday I picked up the prints for my show and I was blown away. Since I have never seen these photos on anything other than a contact sheet or a computer monitor, it was fantastic to see them printed on matte paper. There are subtleties in the photos that are perfect for the medium. I am really looking forward to seeing them hanging together. It almost makes me want to stick to black and white film. It may be a bit of a struggle moving forward in the digital shooting world, but I think I just need a means of high end output and I will be fine.
And today I dropped off all the prints (3 – 11×14’s and 12 – 8×10’s) at the frame store to get them framed. We came up with a fairly economic solution with a simple black metal frame, white matte and regular glass, since I was getting so many framed. I considered buying materials and framing them myself, but the stress just didn’t seem worth it. I would definitely be pushing the deadline by doing that. They will be ready next Wednesday, so I will have week to spare before they are due at the show.
University Lake, Chapel Hill, NC looking east
University Lake, Chapel Hill, NC looking west
After my meeting in Raleigh yesterday, I headed to downtown Raleigh to take some photos. It was a gray day and I was taking pictures of railroad tracks and abandoned warehouses, so it was the perfect subject matter for black and white. Here’s a link to the Flickr Slide Show of the pictures.
A few months ago I saw a documentary about photographer Ed Burtynsky and his trip to China to shoot industrial landscapes. Here is a link to a Wired gallery of Burtynsky’s photos with his commentary.
I recently went on a photo outing with my urban exploration group to the Water Garden in Raleigh. This 11-acre campus is on Glenwood Avenue across from the Chevy dealer. When it was created by landscape architect, Richard Bell in 1955 this was the outskirts of town. He modeled his concept after Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin compound in Wisconsin. Not only did Bell live and work at the Water Garden, but he nurtured up-and-coming landscape architects in that environment.
This innovative office park has 2 office buildings, a maintenance shed and lots of green space. The site has been recently sold, and our meeting organizer got permission and keys from the developer. This meant we had full access to all the buildings. The buildings had been vacated in the past year, and they were pretty empty.
The design of the buildings was very forward thinking for the time. There were lots of window for natural light, similar materials on the inside and outside, and rain spouts that water plants and filled ponds. It was great to see “green” buildings from the mid-20th Century, but sad to know that they will torn down to make way for progress.
Here is a link to my slideshow on Flickr. Since I have been taking so many more pictures with my new camera, I have been looking for other ways to show them besides posting strings of pictures in my blog. I was excited that Blogger announced a slideshow feature, but it is for your blog and runs in the side bar, not in individual posts. So that’s not what I need.