EXHIBITION OPENING AT THE FRANKLIN SQUARE GALLERY, HANOVER THEATER, JUNE 27, 6 – 8PM. ARTIST TALK AT 6:15. REFRESHMENTS WILL BE SERVED!
I’m happy to report that an exhibition of my work from the Blackstone River will be opening at the Franklin Square Gallery at the Hanover Theater in Worcester, Massachusetts on June 27. The exhibition is produced by ArtsWorcester and I’m eternally grateful for this opportunity.
The exhibition works were taken along the Blackstone River Bikeway, in Millbury and Worcester, Massachusetts. The Bikeway, which is an even better walking trail, was created during Worcester’s “Little Dig,” i.e. the reconstruction of Route 146, around 2000. I have been fascinated by the anxious beauty there since I first explored the Path in 2013. One can see the interaction of the River, the highway and the railroad, and society in the context of an urban park.
The River is both beautiful and long suffering. The bikeway was created as part of an effort to celebrate and restore the River through the establishment of the Blackstone Valley National Heritage Corridor. The Blackstone has enormous historical significance as the engine of entrepreneurship in the new United States in the late 1700’s. Enormous wealth was created, thousands were employed, but the River was taken for granted. As I’ve described here previously, the River became one of the most polluted rivers in the country. Now, many folks are trying to help the River and the surrounding areas, but it’s tough going. I hope the exhibition contributes to raising awareness of the hidden beauty of the River even in this seemingly hostile environment, celebrating the work that’s gone into trying to help the River and at the same time demonstrating the ever present possibility that we could take our environment for granted at any moment.
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.
I’m pleased to announce that one of my “Holding Back the Water – Quabbin Reservoir” images has been chosen for inclusion in the Providence Center for Photographic Arts upcoming Exhibition, “Unseen Photography Beyond the Visible.” The Exhibition features work from the infrared and ultraviolet ends of the visual spectrum, revealing structure, shape and light that we don’t normally see. I was drawn to this kind of photography particularly in my efforts to understand the interaction between the great dam and dike that hold back the waters of the Quabbin Reservoir, and the New England countryside. Engineering melds into foothills, and beyond. This is the spillway through which overflow water from the Reservoir flows. You’ll note that there wasn’t much flowing when this image was created, and there still isn’t much flowing now. The level of water in the Reservoir is higher, but still not at 100%. We will have to learn to live with more uncertainty about what keeps us alive, particularly in the current political, dare I say, climate. There will be a opening reception at the on April 20 from 5 – 9 PM. You can get directions from their web site, by clicking the link above. Thank you.
View of the lookout from the north, dry spillway below
I want to invite any readers in the central Massachusetts area to an group exhibition and opening to be held at the Sprinkler Factory Gallery this coming Saturday, April 8 from 6 to 9 PM. The exhibition includes the work of eleven photographers who are all members of Ron Rosenstock’s Sunday Night Group. Ron’s Sunday night group has quite a history, going back three decades. Ron was a student of Minor White who taught the importance of what to me is a more contemplative approach to the experience of looking at and taking photographs. One tries to look at the image in a completely nonjudgemental fashion and experience what the photograph provokes in you. It is actually a disciplined process that is I have to say easier said than done. My recent series, “Lost in the Water” will be on display as well as the work of a terrific group of photographic artists. Stop by if you’re interested, refreshments will be served (Though I think it’s a cash bar. Hey, nothing’s perfect.) You’ll find directions at the link above.
The Sprinkler Factory Gallery by the way is a fascinating place, a wonderful repurposing of an old mill. My hat is off to the developers and proprietors. Well done. Note the closing reception April 30. You’re invited to that too!
On display in the Winter Solstice Exhibition at the Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester, Massachusetts, from December 8 through January 1.
Blackstone Canal, Uxbridge, Massachusetts – 2016.