I am honored to share an upcoming exhibition in which I’ll be participating along with two outstanding photographers, Tess Davis and Scarlett Hoey. The exhibition, Captured Moments, will take open with a reception on Friday, January 17 beginning at 5:30 PM at the Aldrich Heritage Gallery, at Alternatives Whitin Mill, 50 Douglas Road, Whitinsville, MA. You’ll see an interesting collection of work which I think really speaks to the exhibitions title, Captured Moments, special times or perhaps times with meaning. You can read more about the Heritage Gallery, the exhibition, and get directions etc. by going here.
I’ll say more about my work below but first I have to give a thanks and shoutout to Alternatives/Open Sky, one of the largest providers of services to the disabled in the region. They have been working for many years to get beyond the basic challenges of providing services in an effort to develop a truly inclusive community. Their offshoot, Valleycast, provides cultural and arts programming that brings together those with and without disabilities.
I’ve been been involved with Valleycast for the past year or so and have been witness to what real inclusivity can mean, and how much we can all grow in the process. Alternatives is also one of the owners of the Whitin Mill, former home of the Whitin Machine Works, once the largest manufacturer of textile manufacturing equipment in the U.S. They along with other owners and tenants have been working to revitalize this massive beautiful mill that sits along the Mumford River, and they’ve made serious progress.
My own work includes a series of reflections on the power of water. As you know if you read this blog, I’m a committed environmentalist. I’ve had the good fortune recently to meet and work with others who share that commitment and have been impressed by their take on the problem. We’re not trying to “save the planet.” The planet doesn’t need saving. It will be just fine, different perhaps, but it is going to be there regardless of how much we screw things up. We’re really trying to save ourselves. All you have to do to get a glimpse of the power of nature is look at what nature does with water.
I’m honored to have had two images chosen by the Blackstone Heritage Corridor and National Park Service for inclusion in their 2018 Calendar. Both are from the River Bend Farm National Heritage Corridor in Uxbridge, Massachusetts. I’ve mentioned this location before. This portion of the National Heritage Corridor explores the Blackstone Canal, which was constructed in 1827-28 running from Worcester, Massachusetts to Providence, Rhode Island. The Canal was open for only two decades and was considered a business failure. Inspired by the success of the Erie Canal in New York, the Blackstone Canal was to provide relatively inexpensive and fairly rapid transportation along this developing corridor. It’s history turned out to be torturous as it was initially thought to be a boon for the growing cotton mill industry along the Blackstone River. Soon however, the Mill owners were suing the Canal owners over the use of water from the River. This on the heels of the conflicts between the areas farmers and industrialists over water use.
This section of the Canal has been restored. The tow path runs along the Canal and was used by Ox and Mules to power the boats that navigated the canal. For July:
Both of these images show an unusually wide portion of the Canal which was for the most part extremely narrow. For November:
The work of the National Park Service as well as the states of Rhode Island and Massachusetts here in the Blackstone Corridor helps us to try and grapple with the very complex intersections between the natural environment, entrepreneurship, social policy and social justice that took place and still are in play in the Corridor. As I’ve pointed out, the Blackstone River was one of the Rivers that actually provoked the Clean Water Act, signed by that noted environmentalist, Richard Nixon…(hey, he signed it, so good for him). The lessons from the Corridor are lessons that evolve over hundreds of years. It is not easy for us to understand those lessons for that very reason, but by holding the discussion, we can perhaps make progress.
Yesterday, we had the pleasure of attending the second annual Biodiversity Festival hosted by the Corridor, in Lincoln, Rhode Island. It was inspiring to see so many people, including our wonderful daughter Molly, who are engaged in trying to protect our environment. Molly works at the Northern Rhode Island Conservation District. These folks engage in a wide variety of environmental and educational activities with the goal of protecting the drinking water for a large number of Rhode Island citizens. Drinking water….kind of important I think. One lesson is clear: protect that which is essential to our lives.
I wanted to let folks know that I was fortunate enough to have one of my images selected by the Northern Valley Art League in Redding, California for their upcoming International Juried Photography Show. The juror was Jack Fulton of the San Francisco Art Institute. Northern Valley Art League is a significant supporter of the arts in northern California. I’m very grateful for their support. The image chosen was of the Spillway at the Quabbin Reservoir.
Hopefully a better one….
Tower Hill Botanic Gardens, December 2015.
I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving. We did, it was great spending time with family as always. I had much to be thankful for this year, including a more experimental attitude. Why not?
I’ve been exploring the Blackstone River area in Massachusetts over the last few months. It is striking just how much psychological as well as environmental territory the River covers. Though it remains quite polluted from centuries of exploitation, stretches of the River are quite beautiful and natural. Other stretches are, more complex. No stretch of the River though, at least that I have traveled, requires more effort to understand than the Blackstone Valley Bike Trail in Worcester, Massachusetts, where the River originates. Along this two mile or so stretch you will see the River, a super highway (Route 146), an active freight train yard and line, as well as legacy tracks, a Walmart and Sam’s Club, trees being cut by a beaver, beautiful small falls and rapids, trash and signs that say stay away from the water for health reasons. It’s all right there. Nature and civilization crash into one another at top speed in places and this is one of those locations.
I have photographed there for months, searching for the right way to capture the feel of such a complex place. I’d used most every technological trick I could think of, but ultimately wasn’t satisfied. I decided to go back and try again, this time with black and white film. Digital is just capable of making pictures that are too perfect for this location it seemed to me. Nothing about this location says “perfection.” This work, like this location, is incomplete and some of the images you see here may not survive the next cut. This is where things stand though at the moment.
Shooting on film is interesting of course. I realize that the look can be replicated in software using a digital means of capture. But that somehow doesn’t seem quite right at times. What is really different about shooting on film is the process. You do indeed slow down. You have to for economic reasons if nothing else. For a time, you have to step away from the technological (rat) race. It’s quite refreshing.
Tech Notes: Shot on Kodak TMax and Ilford Delta films using a Nikon F6. The later, for my money, remains the finest 35 mm camera ever made. Negatives scanned on a Nikon 5000 film scanner and finalized in Lightroom/Photoshop (You can’t really escape the technology can you.)