I’m very gratified to announce that Black and White Magazine has just published portions of my “Deindustrialization Portfolio.” (June 2020 issue)
Posts from the ‘Locations’ Category
We haven’t had a particularly pretty foliage season in Central Massachusetts. Not to my eyes at least. Luckily, we had an opportunity to spend a few days further north in Acadia National Park, Mount Desert Island, Maine. They were not so unfortunate! I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such intense color, so of course I spent a good deal of time working in black and white. We were with Tony Sweet and Susan Milestone and a bunch of very nice and quite talented workshop participants. I always learn a lot from them, probably because of their depth of preparation, their knowledge and their positive attitude. Tony has an ability to articulate the creative process and rationale that I always find inspiring. He has a wonderful way of validating the imagination, something I need a dose of every so often. I recommend them highly if you’re looking for a workshop experience. You won’t be disappointed.
But, no thousand words today though, on with the pictures. (And I swear, I did not touch the saturation slider on these. You get up early in the morning and shoot late into the evening with Tony. Mother nature is the one manipulating the colors at those hours, but that’s sort of her job so…)
From Eagle Lake at sunrise
Along Duck Creek Road
Boulder Beach at Sunrise, in the rain
From Thunder Hole (It really does sound like Thunder)
From Cadillac Mountain
Acadia National Park is about six hours north from our home. I can’t believe it took us this long to get there. It is a big Park, and I would recommend either going with a guide, or doing some serious research before hand, during the day time!
Tech Note: I hate writing about gear because it’s basically irrelevant at this point. But a number of these images were taken with the Nikon Z7, Nikon’s new entry into the mirrorless market place. For whatever reason, none good, it seems to draw a fair amount of criticism on the good old internet, particularly from those who have never used it. It seems to be a tribal thing, or a way for “influencers” to generate click bait. It’s sad that all you have to do these days is make something up and it becomes fact.
I thought the camera performed exceptionally well. I’ll be using it a lot for video as I have grown very tired of taking along a second system. The still image quality, video quality, still and video autofocus, all worked beyond my expectations. And we really did land on the moon in 1969.
Chris, my wife, remembers going to the Bernat Mill store in Uxbridge, Massachusetts to buy yarn. She certainly isn’t alone. If you were into knitting, that was what you did in this area. At one point, the mill was the third largest yarn mill in the U.S. (Note, the brand still exists and is in use by another yarn manufacturer, Bernat.) The mill itself had a long and exemplary career in the Blackstone River Valley. The first iteration of the Mill was built there in 1820 by John Capron. Why that location? Falling water. This is the current dam along the Mumford River that creates Capron Pond. It’s quite a lovely place with a very nice park, a nice place to think, or have a picnic.
Capron evolved to the Backman Uxbridge Worsted Company. They were the first manufacturers to utilize power loops in the U.S., a staggering change moving the industrial revolution forward. Their ability to engage in mass production doubtlessly lead to their ability to land contracts for the production of Civil War uniforms, World War One Khakis and World War Two U.S. Army uniforms. Those familiar with the U.S. Air Force dress blue uniform can take note, it was probably manufactured in that mill. That blue was chosen from the Backman Uxbridge catalogue.
As it did with so many large manufacturers in the Valley, the bust stormed into town in the form of international competition, technological change and an aging plant. In 1964 the assets were sold to the Bernat Company which refocused the mill on yarns. As manufacturing declined, the mill was repurposed over time in what was actually a very successful conversion. The class mill repurposing involves creating small spaces for retail, office and creative studios. They must have worked quite hard on the conversion because by the night of July 21, 2007, something like 400,000 square feet which had been devoted to manufacture was productively employed by numerous small businesses. Hundreds were employed there. Unfortunately, that night and for several subsequent days the mill burned.
Hundreds of firefighters fought the blaze. The complex was almost completely destroyed. Most of the businesses, worth millions, were lost. There are I would stress still a number of businesses remaining in a portion of the mill complex, but nothing like the number there prior to the fire.
The damage is still stunningly visible. Government on several levels planned to help but those plans seem to have floundered. This is of course not the first mill to burn in the Blackstone Valley. Many of those mills absorbed a century or more of a variety of chemicals. Some thought the fire at the Bernat Mill was almost inevitable. The bust of an economic surge, particularly one that lasted as long as large scale manufacturing in the Blackstone Valley is extraordinarily difficult to manage. These were very big businesses, not just for their time, but for any time.
I want to give a major thanks to ArtsWorcester, the cultural hub for emerging artists in Central Massachusetts, for the opportunity to present a solo exhibition of my work in the Franklin Square Gallery at the Hanover Center. I’ve posted about the exhibition, “Under the Highway: Blackstone River Landscapes,” recently but the opening was held on the evening of June 27th. It was a terrific evening bringing together a wonderful combination of folks interested in the arts and the environment. In particular, I want to thank Juliet Feibel, Executive Director who took the chance on staging the exhibition and guided everything from start to finish, Kate Rasche, Program Manager who got it done in the trenches, Tim Johnson, Art Preparator who hung the exhibition and Alice Dillon from Clark University who wrote a nice piece on the exhibition for visitors who stop by over the next four months. The hanging of an exhibition as many of you probably know is an art in and of itself. If the exhibition is not properly hung, including aesthetically hung, the individual pieces of art lose much of their impact. It’s very hard work to hang an exhibition. I know my limitations and Tim will never get any competition from me.
Typically, it’s helpful to get your name in the paper, though these days I’m not always so sure. But there were two nice pieces in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, pre and post opening. Press and pictures from the Opening can be seen at that link. Nancy Sheehan from the Telegram also wrote her very interesting take on the exhibition which she titled, “What nature has given us” which you can also check out by clicking on the link. Thanks to the Telegram for supporting the arts with their coverage.
I have to throw in a another more general plug for ArtsWorcester. As a business person for too many years, my eyes and ears are always assessing how a business is run. Do they know what they are trying to do and do they provide a well orchestrated operation for getting it done. ArtsWorcester gets high marks on all counts even though they are not a large organization. I’ve worked with quite a few galleries over the years, and many of them are pretty shaky on both mission and execution. As some of you may also know, ArtsWorcester has just had a very successful fund raising campaign in a very short period of time. When donors are willing to vote with their wallets, something good is happening.
Finally, thanks to everyone who attended. Your support means so much.
The U.S. Clean Water Act was inspired in part by the Blackstone River, which runs from Worcester, Massachusetts to Providence, Rhode Island. It was really the home of the industrial revolution in the U.S. because of the 500 foot drop in the River’s elevation between Worcester and Providence. It was dammed no less than 49 times along the way, to create water wheels and power for the many, many mills that began to populate the region in the early 1800’s. That was a long time ago of course and the mills have largely disappeared, chasing cheaper labor first to the south, and then globally. Meanwhile, the River, which was once known as the hardest working river in the U.S. became known as the most polluted. Keep in mind that the Clean Water Act was signed into law by a Republican President. There were other equally polluted rivers of course, but the Blackstone was up there.
Things can change. Out in the River, “rebranded” the Seekonk River at this location for some reason, just south of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, with the RiverTours Blackstone (highly recommended by the way, hit the link if you’re interested) we could see evidence of the change all around us……fish and lots of them. Hard to see at first because of the sand stirred up by the boat, and the fact that I didn’t have a polarizing lens with me to cut down the glare in the water, but they were there.
Their relative invisibility however, was also defensively useful. They were far from alone. The bird activity was intense and impressive. I’m not a bird photographer, but though I’d share a few examples.
The fish now face the challengers that they have always faced, as it should be (I’d include fishermen and women on that list as well, but not yet. You’re not supposed to eat fish from the River, yet.)
During these extraordinarily difficult times I think it’s very important to keep in mind a few successes. We can make things better, if we care to. The Blackstone River is getting cleaner.