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.
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.)
When given lemons, make lemonade, right? What if one is given a freight train loaded with lemons. Such is our situation here. Nothing else to do but try and create some interesting art. The lemonade I’ve come up with so far. My strategy here was to isolate and simplify, while still capturing the kind of art that only nature, sometimes in interaction with humans and sometimes on her own, can create. My most recent batch of lemonade:
Enjoy the snow. Fourteen more inches of it in the next two days. Is that really necessary?
The weather in New England of course deteriorates after Thanksgiving. We already had a brief taste of winter snow, and today it is very cold. The landscape changes under those conditions of course. I had the urge to hold on to the fall just a little bit longer. These were taken in Institute Park, downtown Worcester, Massachusetts, right before Thanksgiving. The leaves are now gone of course.
This family of Swans was doing some final business before dispersing.
The sky gave a hint of what is to come.
Events of recent days remind me that, as John Prine says, “all the news repeats itself.” Here we go again. Perhaps we’ll learn something this time.