Recently I was asked a very tough question from a friend and fellow artist in regard to some images I had posted from my trip to Mana Contemporary’s open house studio tour. The question “How do you go about photographing someone else’s art?” was about as good as question as they come. The fact that it was coming from an artist I respect and love gave the inquiry weight and importance that deserved a thoughtful answer. Photographing another artists passion and hard work may not be as easy as it sounds. From my early days in the late 90’s photographing paintings and sculptures for Cooper Union students on the streets and rooftops of the east village and the lower east side of NYC. I’ve always made it a point to portray the artists vision without giving it the look and feel of a carbon copy office memo. I’ve found that lighting, contrast shadow and unique angles all add to the depth and personality of the chosen piece. As a documentarian, adding my own understanding, perception and appreciation of the piece helped warrant such intrusion. Photographing another artists passion and hard work may not be as easy as it sounds.
From my early days in the late 90’s photographing paintings and sculptures for Cooper Union students on the streets and rooftops of the east village and the lower east side of NYC. I’ve always made it a point to portray the artists vision without giving it the look and feel of a carbon copy office memo. I’ve found that lighting, contrast shadow and unique angles all add to the depth and personality of the chosen piece. As somewhat of a documentarian, adding my own understanding, perception and appreciation of the piece helped warrant such intrusion. Thanks for the thoughtful question Jenn. You are an inspiration.
During an open studio tour this weekend. We had the chance to visit many of the varied creative spaces housed in Mana Contemporary. One particularly memorable exchange came during visit to Omorphy Photos. Just minutes before, I ran in to my neighbor and friend Kevin. During an exchange that lasted all but thirty seconds. His eyes widened as he said “Go upstairs to have your mind blown. “Knowing full well our common interests in fashion and studio photography. I quickly made my way upstairs. As I entered the room my jaw began to drop as the drool rushed from the bottom of my gums to the tip of my lips. A deep, spacious studio with ceilings high enough to touch the Gods filled with a candy store of studio lights, equipment, backgrounds and enough inspiration to last two lifetimes. Against one of the walls, large prints displaying the results from that setup. I sighed as I confessed how, while I always loved working with black seemless paper and muslins. I never had enough room to distance the subject far enough from the background to create the separation needed without compromising the space needed between myself and my subject. Lessons, that for me, came the hard way. His warm, engaging personality and the patience he displayed while listening to and even laughing during my rant. While the exchange gifted me with a lot of inspiration and creative energy. It wasn’t until I got home until I began to recall some of the times when I really got to test the limits and boundaries of the space my apartment / studio space offered.
When my wife and I originally moved to Hoboken. We quickly realized the limits of the space. Though a two bedroom. The awkward layout and the simple fact that we only had two small, badly designed closets made had me run out to the town’s Gothic Cabinet Craft and buy an armoire for the bedroom. For years that piece held my entire wardrobe as well as books, portfolios and many other odds and ends.
During one particular shoot I decided to test the limits of the space and replace all the junk with a beautiful woman. Short story long. That dingbat idea made me feel just a bit more grateful for the 12 x 12 space I was shooting in. Since then my wife and I have moved from our shoebox size 400 ft. apartment to a spacious 1,400 loft. In the end I am incredibly grateful for the change of scenery and space. And while our space has more than tripled. We have less than half of the furniture that once occupied that space. Call it room to breathe.
This past Friday I had the pleasure of attending the opening of Sculpture Day at Jersey City’s home of the arts Mana Contemporary. Since moving in next door in August I’ve had the pleasure of visiting numerous times. Most notably, the Open Studio Tour and this particular opening. While I’ve been a part of many shows and exhibits as a photographer. Art has always had a way of leaving me both speechless and humbled. Being able to see how someone else interprets art and beauty is one of life’s greatest gifts. Listening intently while holding back your own words and endless array of questions while an artist describes his or her art and the things that make them so passionate about taking that emotion out for a creative walk is what I’d consider a life skill.
As I entered the building and observed some of the sculptures. I was greeted by Carole A. Feuerman. I was asked “Are you the photographer?” before being ushered on to the elevator and towards her 4th floor studio. Her work, as well as the work of other artists were breathtaking and real. Along the way, I made friends with a fellow photographer who shared the same given names as well as interests. I really appreciated Carole’s energy, warmth and courtesy. I broached the idea of doing an interview with her for this blog when she returned from Italy. She seemed open to the idea, but I won’t push the issue. I can’t begin to describe the benefits of having such an abundant amount of energy and creativity thriving right next door to me. It’s a constant inspiration, as well as a reminder to stay creative and live an artful life.In the end art is community and community is art. Plant the seeds and let it grow.
I felt very grateful to be a part of this past weeks Jersey City Artists tour. What made it even more rewarding was having the chance to display a couple of my own recent photos in the lobby here at Canco Lofts. Since I’ve already included both of my images they included in the exhibition in prior posts. I figured I would share some of my favorites from some of the other artists residing here.
Since early August, when we first moved to Canco, I’ve taken a lot of photos of the yet to be restored and renovated building next to where I reside. I’ve also taken my share of pictures of the old factory building I now know as Mana Contemporary. And though I’ve shot these beautiful urban landscapes from many degrees and angles. Being able to do so from the inside of Mana Contemporary gave me a serious rush of adrenaline. With mana’s impressive five floors. I was able to shoot at the best levels possible thus far. Since I was a pre- schooler going to the junkyards behind Flushing’s Shea Stadium. I’ve had an appreciation for things of beauty that so many others find ugly and disposable. For me personally, they hold a sense of character and history. Telling a story about the people that were there before. Their live, their struggles and the work they did. I really feel at home here. In a sense, the best of both worlds. I can’t get enough and I hope to stay awhile.