Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Phone Booth Metaphor

It wasn't my idea to photograph the kid's inside this vintage phone booth on Thanksgiving. I think it was my daughter McKenzie's idea? Phil, Josh, and Kenzie were all game though to climb into the small phone booth, shut the door and smile for the camera. Almost like a picture booth but obviously less private.

As I continue to look at this image with two adult children and one on the cusp of adulthood I began to think about how different each of my children are. Each outstanding with unique and loving characteristics but all having different goals and ambitions taking different paths to achieve or find their place in life.

I can't help but think of this booth in the same way that Clark Kent used it to change into Superman. As young adults, what kind of character will transform in the coming years and emerge from the phone booth? As parents we all hope and wish that our kids can create a better life than we've created. Learn from our mistakes and theirs to offer a much less bumpy road for themselves. Only time will tell if that is the case.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do as a parent is to keep your mouth shut. I can just imagine what my parents were thinking when I first dropped out of college only to realize my mistake and work my way back toward that goal. What were they thinking when I said I wanted to be a Photographer instead of something that may have offered better financial security? What were they thinking when after the first date with Sue I asked her to move to CA with me? What were they thinking when we got married less than a year later? Good times, bad times but twenty five years later it seems to have been the right decision.

We all face our own forms and potency of kryptonite through out our lives. How we face those challenges help define our character. It is time for my kids to fly and for me to keep my mouth shut.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Two out of Three ain't Bad

Does the mail carrier deserve a tip? He did deliver some great news this week. Don't know why but when I saw the envelope letterhead of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center I thought for sure is was going to be one of those thanks but...

To my surprise two of my three Book Passages images that I submitted for the Eight Counties Juried exhibition have been excepted for this years show. Juror's seem to be responding to two images more than others in the series. Although, most of these Juried show's you can only submit 2-3 images and I do usually submit the same three images?

This year, 520 artists entered work for this competition culminating in over 1,550 individual works of art? The two selected are Hello...Farewell (the cemetery scene) and What The (the hotel) from the Book Passages series. The one that was not selected was Visual Haiku (the shopping cart)? That is one of my favorites from the series so I'm always interested in how and why people respond to certain pieces more than others. Oh well? One step at a time.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Welcome to the very last chapter of my Book Passages series. Chapter 20 is an excerpt from the play "Stuck" by Neil Haven. This is the only passage that I sought out instead of having it sent to me without a specific request. "Stuck" is the play that will be at the In Tandem Theater during the run of my Book Passages Exhibition at the 10th Street Gallery. The Theater and Gallery are together under one roof. In fact the Gallery is in the lobby/lounge area of the theater.

I originally was going to ask Miranda Levy, the Art Gallery Curator, to ask the theater director to pull a passage from the play once I knew that "Stuck" was running during my exhibition. Miranda had already agreed to my idea of have some of the theaters actors read the book passages during the opening of my Book Passages Exhibit on February 12, 2010. I thought that finishing the series with a passage from the play would be a fitting close to my Book Passages visual journey.

As luck would have it I was at an American Society of Media Photographers meeting in September. The topic was professional photographers who also have created a fine art career separate from their commercial work. I was speaking with a woman named Maria before the meeting started. She asked about the project I was working on. I explained the project and my intent to finish with a passage from the play, "Stuck". She said she is friends with the playwright, Neil Haven and could ask him if he would like to pull out a passage for me to interpret. Wow. What were the odds of that happening? I gave Maria my business card and about a week later I received an email from Mr. Haven expressing his interest and enthusiasm in helping me out. So the passage below was picked out by the playwright himself. So cool.

Reading the passage that Mr. Haven submitted for interpretation I was immediately immersed in the solitude of thought that would take place while "Stuck" in an elevator for six hours; in complete darkness. What would go through your mind?

I feel that ending with this passage really brings the Book Passages series to a respectable close. Even the name of the play, "Stuck", is somewhat of a metaphor for how I'm feeling as I complete this visual journey. This journey has taught me a lot as an artist. I have grown a lot during this eleven month visual journey. I feel like I have many creative paths I can take but at this time I'm uncertain what road I'll choose. I have met some talented people on this journey and I can't wait to work with them in the future. Thanks to all of the friends and family that have supported this project by showing an interest in it by viewing my blog posts and making comments along the way. Thanks also to the many new cyber friends I've gained along the way. I hope that you all continue to drop by occasionally as I will continue to have new thoughts and images to express and show.

A few things to look forward to are:
  1. The opening night of the Book Passages series at the 10th Street Gallery on Friday February 12, 2010.
  2. A LuLu book of my Book Passages images combined with poetry by a talented St. Louis writer, Michelle PG Richardson. Michelle is creating new poems inspired by the images I created during this visual journey. I think the creative process of people sending in passages for interpretation from the written word, my visual interpretation from those passages and now a new literary interpretation creates a very interesting thread of creativity, communication and thought.
AND now for the final passage, Chapter 20 of the Book Passages series.

Stuck by Neil Haven


....Anybody ever been stuck in an elevator? It happened to me last summer. There was this huge thunderstorm and the hotel got hit by a power surge. It knocked everything out for about six hours. I was stranded somewhere between the fifth and sixth floor. So I heroically called for help on my cellphone. But then they couldn't figure out how to get me out. So they were all yelling down to me, telling me I'd be fine and that I'd be out any minute. I think they were worried I would go insane and eat myself. I didn't. I was fine. It was just dark for longer than I would have wanted. So anyway, I was in there for a good eight hours before they finally got it running. When I arrived at the next floor, they were kinda freaked out. Apparently I'm the first person in history to be stuck in an elevator for eight hours and then not get out of it when the door opened.”

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Aspects of Error and Illusion

Believe it or not this is Chapter 19 of the Book Passages Series. This chapter was another very tough one to visually interpret. I received this passage submission early in the process, March 17 to be exact. I would read and re-read the words sent to me struggling to keep the character names from distracting the overall concept of the passage. I thought of skipping this passage and picking one a bit easier to interpret but to stay loyal to my initial intent of working close to the order that I received them I finally excepted the challenge and here are the results. Obviously this passage comes very late in the order that it was received but better late than never. As always, I enjoy and appreciate the dialog created from these passages and images so as we close in on the end of this visual journey please share your thoughts.

Middlemarch by George Eliot

Certainly those determining acts of her life were not ideally beautiful. They were the mixed results of a young and noble impulse struggling amidst the conditions of an imperfect social state, in which great feelings will often take the aspect of error, and great faith the aspect of illusion. For there is no creature whose inward being is so strong that it is not greatly determined by what lies outside it. A new Theresa will hardly have the opportunity of reforming a conventional life, and more than a new Antigone will spend her heroic piety in daring all for the sake of a brother's burial: the medium in which their ardent deeds took shape is for ever gone. But we insignificant people with our daily words and acts are preparing the lives of many Dorothea's, some of which may present a far sadder sacrifice than that of the Dorthea whose story we know.

Her finely-touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effects of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dear Old Dad

Today is the Fifth Anniversary of my fathers death. Not a day goes by that I don't think about him and speak to him. This collage of images show him in the many poses he'd let me do with him while I was in High School playing around with my camera. He never said no. He was a man of few words. Soon after he retired, my job was close enough to his house so for about a year I would go to work early just to sit and have a cup of coffee with my Dear Old Dad. Sometimes we talked and sometimes we just shared parts of the paper. What memories! I have many more like this but this one is one of my favs. I miss you dad. Our backyard campfire talks, our coffee outings to Alterra, our........(poem)

Victor Anthony (Mecyssne) is one of my favorite musical artists. His words and music are so smart and touching. He is an amazing storyteller. Below are the lyrics to his song Dear Old Dad from his Skinnybones CD. He also is an amazing photographer. You can check out more of his work at his blog, Leica Diary.

Dear Old Dad
Daddy had a voice like a seersucker suit on a
muggy summer day

Mama met him in a train station during World War II
Pretty soon I was on my way
He'd spin me around and around in the air
And never let me fall
Later on he was always there
All I had to do was call my

Dear old, dear old, dear old dad
My dear old, dear old dad

Cars today all look the same
They all look like orthopedic shoes
You got to squint real hard just to read the names
"Cause you can't tell a Chevy from a Subaru
He always had the finest rides
That the bank would let him borrow
When I was just a shaver he'd bend the law and
let me drive
Made me feel like a silver dollar my

Dear old, dear old, dear old dad
My dear old, dear old dad

Got a picture of him by the lake
With his stogie and a pole
Cigar keeps the bugs at bay
That's what my old man told me

We laid him down in the cold, dark ground
On a muggy summer day
Friends and family all around
All that I could think to say was

Dear old, dear old, dear old dad
My dear old, dear old dad

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Reflections by William Schulman

Welcome to Chapter 18 of my Book Passages series. A few times on this visual journey I have gone off the main road to visit some interesting passages that could only be found on the back roads of this incredible trip. Those images and passages are reflected in the radio dialog "God", the recent passage from Mary's novel and now William Schulman's poem.

For those who may not know, William (Bill) Schulman is my father-in-law and has been one of my biggest supporters on this Book Passages journey. Also for those who may not know, Bill is an incredible artist and retired educator. Even now he continues to create new work on a regular basis with his brushes as well as his pen. Check out the links I've provided which help provide some background to the man behind the poem starting with one of my favorite paintings by Bill and a brief review from Gary John Gresl on the Retrospective Show Bill had at the Charles Allis Museum about five years ago .

This visual interpretation of Bill's poem is fittingly abstract just like much of Bill's art work is. It's as much a visual interpretation to the artist as it is to his poem. I feel I nailed it. If you are looking for a narrative illustration you will probably be disappointed. If you appreciate the abstract play of his words to my visual reflection it may become one of your favorites as it has mine. Either way it should provoke some kind of response and if it does then please share your thoughts in the comment section of the blog. Your opinions help shape the dialog for others to enjoy and contemplate.

Reflections by William Schulman

Reflections hold rigid,
my Ronson fails once more.
The candle sputters but will not light.
All seems light, yet the numbing dark
interfaces my veins and arteries.
Blood has coagulated in blue-ivory,
bed-ridden fancies collapse in my coma,
Rigor mortis stains my breath,
my last follicle twitches in vain.
All parasitic lice begin to starve.

Reflections pool in my ankles in strange ways.
They stretch me out on a snooker table-
I crush the chalk with a clenched fist.
The green cloth is blue in the pockets.
Dull clicks become icier.
The Van Gogh light shade glows citron.
They rack me up.
The yellow ball hurts my eyes.
I have an immense desire
to scratch!

These are not a series but two separate options. Which one speaks to you more? Please comment.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blinded by the Light

Welcome to Chapter 17 of my Book Passages series. This image is an interpretation of a passage from a yet untitled novel by Mary Dally-Muenzmaier. Mary is the voice behind the words at a wonderful news and review blog for art and culture in Milwaukee called Crickettoes. From the brief passage that she provided to me for my Book Passages series I cannot wait to someday read her finished novel. Until then, we have this brief passage and my accompanying images. Enjoy and always think and act by sharing your thoughts on the images. Some behind the scenes images are also available by stylist Addie Kidd. Thanks to both Addie and model Kristin Sutter for creating such an enjoyable photo shoot.

"Untitled Novel" by Mary Dally-Muenzmaier:

"There are some who view the world through a very small lens and though they live in three dimensions they perceive only two. Armed with this outlook, they operate daily with a fundamental conviction that all that exists does so solely in relation to their own existence and all that happens serves a purpose of meaning.

She is not a small lens viewer, but lying there on the floor, unaware of her surroundings, her subconscious mind begins to replay a scene from her childhood. It was a time long before she had wholly grasped the truth that she was just one on a planet populated by billions, before she had fully realized that the culture she was growing in was just one in an enormous, divergent sea of traditions and beliefs. It was a time when her lens was very, very small and she needs to be back there again, if only for a moment.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Proposed Budget Cuts to Milwaukee Arts Board

If you believe in the value of ART in Milwaukee please send Mayor Tom Barrett an informed letter/email on why he should reconsider such a hefty slashing of the Art's Budget. 75% is not a cut it's a massacre.

Below is a letter by Alderman Michael J. Murphy:

Dear Members of the Milwaukee Arts Board and fellow Arts Organizations,

As you may already know, under Mayor Barrett’s proposed budget for 2010 the Milwaukee Arts Board will lose approximately two thirds of its funds. The Mayor has recommended cutting $110,000 from the 2009 allocation of $160,000. The subsequent result of this action will also be a loss of $25,000 matching grant dollars from the Wisconsin Arts Board.

I am clearly opposed to such a cut; the largest reduction in any department. This proposal would result in a total loss of almost 75% of the board’s funds. I thus encourage you to attend the Joint Public Hearing being held by the Common Council and the Mayor on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 6:00 PM in the Common Council Chambers, Third Floor, City Hall, 200 E Wells Street, to share your concerns. As many factors are taken into consideration when determining the next year’s budget, it is important that the Common Council hear your voices in opposition to the Mayor’s budget.

I look forward to seeing you at the hearing to support art in the City of Milwaukee. If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to call me at 286-3763.


Michael J. Murphy

Alderman, 10th District

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Eddee Daniel, Accidental Art

Eddee Daniel is an outstanding photographer that is at the forefront of environmental issues through his fine art photography and activism on these very contemporary issues. While working on his book Urban Wilderness: Exploring a Metropolitan Watershed, Eddee began to notice that the fences put up for various construction projects often created "Accidental Art". He used his creative eye to compose a body of work with these construction fences that are at times abstract and other times more documentary in nature. He didn't stop there. Eddee turned what could have been a traditional photography exhibition into an installation exhibition by bringing the construction fences into the gallery. These fences create unique shadows through the light streaming in from the sky light windows of the gallery by suspending them above the exhibition space. Additional fences are used as a backdrop to frame the photographic prints. The viewer is reminded of the purpose of fences and their ability to divide, keep out and partition people and things. Check it out before it closes.

Eddee's Accidental Art Installation Exhibition is on display at Carroll University through October 11. A closing reception will be held on October 10 from 10am to 12pm.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


With the Book Series winding down (only four left to create) I have been spending more time with the marketing and promotional aspects of this body of work. I have to say that I absolutely hate this part of it. Nothing drains me emotionally more than the administrative tasks of sending out query letters to galleries, filling out applications for Juried Shows, etc. Not to mention you begin to feel a bit like you are prostituting yourself with all this self promotion but it is a necessary part of the journey and development of an artist. It all becomes a bit more tolerable when you get an email like I received today saying I was selected as a Showcase Winner for an on-line Juried competition.


Our September 2009 panel includes:

Fons Welters, Director and Owner of Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam

Lee Campbell, Independent Artist/Curator, London

Lynn del Sol, Director, {CTS} Creative Thriftshop, New York City

Natasha Egan, Associate Director & Curator, Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago

Maud Piquion, Director, Maud Piquion Gallery, Berlin^photography

It helps having the wonderful support I've received from friends and family as a motivating force through this journey. Thank You All!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mass Nothingness

An excerpt from William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury completes Chapter 16 of the Book Passages series. This passage provided my biggest challenge yet in this photographic series. Heavy on character development this excerpt was very difficult to interpret without getting a better idea of the background of each character mentioned in the passage as well as an overall summary of Faulkner's complex intent of the novel. So for the third time in this visual journey I had to get some brief information on this book so that I could proceed with the interpretation. Below is my interpretation of the submitted book excerpt. Your feedback is always appreciated.

William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury:

"I could smell the curves of the river beyond the dusk and I saw the last light supine and tranquil upon tide flats like pieces of broken mirror, then beyond them lights began in the pale clear air, trembling a little like butterflies hovering a long way off. Benjamin the child of. How he used to sit before that mirror. Refuge unfailing in which conflict tempered silenced reconciled. Benjamin the child of mine old age held hostage into Egypt. O Benjamin. Dilsey said it was because Mother was too proud for him. They come into white people's lives like that in sudden sharp black trickles that isolate white facts for an instant in unarguable truth like under a microscope: the rest of the time just voices that laugh when you see nothing to laugh at, tears when no reason for tears."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Jerry Belland Original

How exciting last Sunday to have the small Art Group I participate in meet at one of our members studio. Jerry Belland has an amazing creative space on the fourth floor of an old factory building in Racine. In this space are his tools, paints, easels, couch, chairs and many, Many of his paintings and sketches. What a visual feast it was. Jerry creates some mind bending paintings that challenge our relationship with self, religion, society and morality. It was an amazing late afternoon of creative discussion. I new when I walked in that I would have to leave with a Jerry Belland Original. As an artist and a parent putting soon to be two kids through college I don't have the funds to purchase art at this time. I hope the day comes in the near future when my desire for a piece of art and my means to obtain it are equal.

So, I filed through Jerry's bin of sketches knowing that the work on the walls was out of the question given my current economy. I selected a sketch that matched a beatiful painting on the wall of Jerry's studio. When asked if I could send him a check for the sketch Jerry graciously replied, "We will work out a trade". How cool is that! So now I have a Jerry Belland original.

It is so perfect too given my long established ba humbug holiday attitude and given my personal opinions on religion. Gotta love the Pin-up!! Thanks Jerry for hosting a great evening, generously sharing your art and I can't wait to see what image of mine sparks your creative excitement.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Oil Painting

Wow! Welcome to chapter 15 of my Book Passages series. I can't believe that I've been traveling this visual road now since February. It has definitely been one of the best road trips I've ever taken to date. The excitement and enthusiasm of discovery is still there but I must admit to some road fatigue. Five more chapters left after this one. Hope you have enjoyed being a passenger on this visual journey as much as I've enjoyed being your tour guide. Enjoy the ride as we begin the last leg of our journey together. Please keep the dialog coming, it's like buying the audio tour at a Museum exhibition and I really appreciate it. Thanks!

Chapter 15 is a passage from the book, Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew B. Crawford.

"How far we have come from the hand oiling of early motorcycles is indicated by the fact that some of the current Mercedes models do not even have a dipstick... There are now layers of collectivized, absentee interest in your motor's oil level, and no single person is responsible for it. If we understand this under the rubric of "globalization," we see that the tentacles of that wondrous animal reach down into things that were once unambiguously our own: the amount of oil in a man's crankcase."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Chapter 14 of my Book Passages series strikes a very deep chord with me and my feelings about beauty, society, perceptions of self both internal and external. The pressures society has put upon us to look a certain way and create this false sense of what is "normal" or expected can make us feel very small and insecure in our own skin. Having photographed all types and shapes of people in my many years as a professional photographer one very significant thread has stood out. It doesn't matter if one is thin, large, tall, short, big nose or small nose; most everyone has insecurities about their outer shell. The most beautiful portraits come from those that have the confidence of their own self.

My visual interpretations for this passage come from Kit Reed's novel, Thinner Than Thou.
When you're alone in your mind you may think you're special, but you're only ever another dumb person driving around inside that stupid body. It's no better than a car dealer's loaner, you know? Forget what the Reverend Earl preaches. The body you are using is no temple, it's a trap for the contents of your head. You want to think about who you are and what to do about it but instead you obsess over the parts that people see. Keep it clean and keep it polished or they'll come for you. Perfect hair, you need. Perfect outfits. Perfect abs and pecs! Image is everything. You grow up with this and in case you don't happen to know, they teach it in all your classes.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Slice of Heaven

Welcome to Chapter 13 of my Book Passages Series. For anyone new to my blog and wondering what this "Book Passages Series" is all about? Please visit my first blog post introducing this idea to readers of my blog. Once you reach the bottom of that first post in February you can click on the newer post link to scroll one by one to the most current blog entry. All the posts do not pertain to the Book Passages series but you will be able to easily recognize which belong to the series. Some good news since my last Book Passages post and that is I received confirmation that the Steenbock gallery in Madison, WI. will be exhibiting this series beginning December 4, 2010 and run through January 15, 2011.

This visual interpretation is presented a bit different than the other twelve chapters. My friend Tom, from college, asked if I would except an audio file excerpt from (wish I could tell you, I've been told to remove it from my blog)? I think it's an interesting request and it really isn't that different than a book passage so I was like, sure. So here is my visual interpretation from a monologue titled (can't believe a creative person would be so petty to request I remove this association from my blog). As always I appreciate honest criticism of the interpretation. It really becomes a forum for us all to discuss, debate and learn so please consider leaving some insight for us all to contemplate. To leave a comment click on the comment link at the bottom of the post. Type in your conversation, highlight one of the choices such as anonymous, enter the encrypted word in the box and click OK. Enjoy! Tough to enjoy this interpretation since I had to remove all references to what the source material was that I interpreted. Bah.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Backyard Soul-O

What I find most interesting and challenging about these book passages is not knowing the context of the passage in relation to the larger scope of the book. So when I would read and re-read the passage from Dreams of Leaving by author Rupert Thomson I was challenged by the details of the passage. Unlike other passages that I have worked on, this passage seemed much more literal with characters and place, making my own personal interpretation a bigger challenge. My solution to a passage that has many descriptive details about a very specific act, the saxophone solo, led me to pick out some key words that I was drawn to. The title, Dreams of Leaving, the words "abandoned mansion, saxophone and solo" around the larger significance of music is what I used to build my visual interpretation.

I grounded the visual interpretation's sense of place with the abandoned mansion. It dominates this passage so much that not including it, I felt, would leave the viewer too disconnected from the passage. The rest of the interpretation deals with the physical and emotional sensitivity that can be experienced through the power of music.

Here is the book passage that inspired my visual interpretation Backyard Soul-O.
"Gloria was introducing the band. If he didn't listen to the saxophone this time, she'd murder him. He only had to wait until halfway through the next song, then Malone unleashed a sixty-second solo, and played with such raw soaring power, assembled such an intricate structure of notes, that listening to him was like being led through some extraordinary abandoned mansion. It was as if Malone somehow knew of Moses's anxiety and was building a house specially for him, a different kind of house, a house where policemen would never appear at the door. The saxophone scaled the facade, dropped into an upstairs room, tiptoed across the landing, opened a door with rusty hinges, tripped, stumbled to the edge of a parapet, peered over, stepped sharply back, ran down flight after flight of stairs, through ballrooms peopled by the ghosts of dancers, through echoing cloisters and claustrophobic passageways, past windows with vistas and hushed rooms no longer used, tore through curtained doorways and out, finally, into the open air, paused to breathe the air, ran on through gardens with peacocks and fountains, along spacious landscaped avenues, past sudden explosions of plants from South America, and back down a sweeping gravel drive to the road where Gloria was waiting with the rest of the song."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Postcards from Hell

The Wood Brothers are one of my favorite bands. They have a wonderful organic sound and very creative lyrics. One song that I can't get enough of is called Postcards from Hell. I have been thinking of another way to give back to the wonderful people that have enjoyed following along with my Book Passages visual journey and here is my solution. Postcards from hell, OK - maybe not hell but possibly purgatory. You know that place, neither here nor there but somewhere in-between that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Well that is just what my postcards will be.

This is not a new idea in fact part of my inspiration comes from my friend Frieda's hub in which she explains how to create personal postcards for yourself, family and friends ( The other part comes from this cool Wood Brothers song, i got a soul that i won't sell, i got a soul that i won't sell, i got a soul that i won't sell and i don't read postcards from hell.

Depending on the response I may have to limit the postcards to a manageable amount for both time and money. These postcards will have one of my Book Passage images and a little note that may not make a whole lot of sense if you know what I mean. So how do you get your very own postcards from hell? You need to send me your mailing address by emailing it to Please be patient and I will create my list on a first come first serve basis so get your address to me early and if the list gets too long and you don't get your very own postcard from hell, well then you can just tell me to GTH.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What the?

Wow! This becomes the fun part of not knowing or researching the book before creating the visual interpretation from the excerpt provided. When I read the passage I certainly began to go on my own visual journey based on the words. The end of my visual journey is what you see below. After looking on-line to find some information and links to the author and to the book I am surprised to find what the book is about. That is the true joy of doing this project. ENJOY!

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer:
He said, "We exist because we exist." "What the?" "We could imagine all sorts of universes unlike this one, but this is the one that happened."
I understand what he meant, and I didn't disagree with him, but I didn't agree with him either. Just because you're an atheist, that doesn't mean you wouldn't love for things to have reasons for why they are.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Come In? Come In!

If you are following the progress of this Book Passages series, this is chapter eleven. Welcome to the visual interpretation of Shel Silverstein's "Where the Sidewalk Ends".

Here is the passage:

If you are a dreamer, come in.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer...
If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Syntax of Objects

I just finished reading this small book by Tim McCreight called The Syntax of Objects. He writes about the importance of objects in our lives. It's an OK book in it's entirety but it does offer some interesting vignettes and words that are truly thought provoking. Here is one of my favorite vignettes from his book:

The world is carved out by light, created each dawn from the greasy clay of twilight, hewn as an angle of incidence grows, lending solidness to the forms of the world. To a blind person, solid is a single sense, the proven press of flesh against matter. To those with sight, objects float in a shifting current, pulled into the crisp contours of graspable form for an hour, only to drift into a murky semi-solid as the light fades.

Photographers are the choreographers of this dance; they learn the moves and practice alternate arrangements. You think it is a brick, they say, and think it would shatter that window, but see how little you know. At the moment of illumination, there is no window and the brick is a bird. It is a function of light, like dreams and sometimes, like love.

If you were told you had ten minutes to take what ever possessions you could out of your house before it was gone, what would you take? I could be wrong but I doubt that most would grab their flat screen TV off the wall and run. It probably would be objects that perhaps have monetary value but most likely offer sentimental riches instead.

As a person who makes a living photographing objects I find the subject matter fascinating. With my dad's death almost five years ago and my mom preparing to move I have been dealing with many sentimental objects recently. My mind would spin if I had only ten minutes to grab what was important to me but I can guaranty that what I'd grab would not be important to most.

Recently I found a pair of very old sunglasses of my fathers while helping out my mom. I am 44 and almost never wear sunglasses. I can't take these things off my face if I'm driving. It's not the cool factor because of their retro look. Can't beat my dad's cool factor in his day with the side burns, glasses and cigarette. He looked like a movie star. It's the energy I get from these simple plastic frames that motivates me to put them on. Objects perform for us every day. They function as invented, they offer insight into the past and sometimes they can heal.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Evolutionary Teething

Excerpt from: Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut

I will be very interested in peoples critique of this image. I find myself personally liking the visuals that are more abstract in thought and less literal in interpretation. This one follows the camp of abstract but I will defend it as being a very successful visual interpretations of the submitted passage. So here is "Evolutionary Teething", Chapter Nine of the Book Passages Series. Enjoy, digest and comment. Thanks.

Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut:
Speaking of teeth: there have never been dentists on Santa Rosalia or any other human colonies on the Galapagos Islands. As would have been the case a million years ago, a typical colonist can expect to be edentate by the time he or she is thirty years old, having suffered many skull-cracking toothaches on the way. And this is more than a blow to mere vanity, surely since teeth set in living gums are now people's only tools.

Really, Except for their teeth, people now have no tools at all.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Spotlight on Book Passages Series

Hey folks if you haven't already, please check out this great article at CricketToes that Mary Dally-Muenzmaier wrote about my Book Passage visual journey.

If you are new to the blog the series begins with the post "What have you read lately" from February of this year.

Still looking for book passages so feel free to provide one in the comment section below or email me at

Thanks and I hope you continue to enjoy the journey as much as I have.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

W.S. Merwin, in The Language of Life by Bill Moyers

This image which is posted below combines three images into a visual dialog. This dialog flows like the rhythm of a haiku and that is why it is titled "Visual Haiku". Thanks once again for all of the kind words and continued interest in this visual journey I have titled my Book Passages Series. I'm still looking for more submissions from you the readers so if you have come across an interesting passage from your current read, please pass it on and I will add it to my journey. I always enjoy your comments, observations and critique so please add to the experience for all to enjoy by sharing your thoughts. And now, here is the book excerpt from W. S. Merwin, in The Language of Life, by Bill Moyers.

Poetry, like all the arts, is an expression of faith in the integrity of the senses and of the imagination; these are what we have in common with the natural world. The animals have no doubt about the integrity of their senses - they're essential to them - and whatever the animal imagination may be, we can imagine it as being connected with their senses. Our remaining connections with what we call the natural world are our dreams, some of our erotic life, if we are lucky, and any sensual experience that we can still believe in.

We go into a supermarket and we have artificial light, canned music, everything's deodorized - we can't touch or taste or smell anything, and we hear only what they want us to hear. No wonder everybody wanders around like zombies! Because our senses have been taken away from us for awhile. A supermarket brings the whole thing into focus. The things that are there don't belong there, they didn't grow there. They have a shelf life, which being rented, so that we can buy them. It's only about selling things. This is a very strange kind of situation, but it's typical of our lives.

Poetry, like all the arts, not only reconnects us to the world, it emanates from the connection with the world of the senses and the imagination that remains. When that connection is no longer there, there will be no arts, and we won't even know what we missed - we really will be zombies walking around, if we can walk at all, in sort of eternal supermarket.

Visual Haiku

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The State of Desire

Welcome to the seventh chapter of the Book Passages Series. This visual interpretation is based on an excerpt from Tom Robbins, "Another Roadside Attraction". Before I get to the passage that I created my visual from I absolutely must praise the talent that was SO generous with their time and talent.

Like most artists, I create because I have to. It's who I am and how I move through this life. Also like most artists I rarely get any monetary reward from my creations. I rely on talent that understands the creative process and I often trade for prints, and portraits. The group of talent that surrounded me on this creative endeavor was simply amazing. From make-up to the final capture, these talented and generous individuals dedicated eight hours of their Saturday for this project. Words cannot express the gratitude I have for each and every person involved. Thanks to Ashley for her assistance on this project. Thanks Tracy, Nate, Niko and David for their visual and expressive talent. Thanks Daniel for your make-up artistry. Thanks to Mary for allowing total strangers to invade her private property for ten hours and thanks to my wife who has the patience to put up with an artist. She said she would never marry an artist yet she constantly provides me the space and time to create.

Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins

"There are three mental states that interest me," said Amanda, turning the lizard doorknob. "These are: one, amnesia; two, euphoria; three, ecstasy."
She reached into the cabinet and removed a small green bottle of water-lily pollen. "Amnesia is not knowing who one is and wanting desperately to find out. Euphoria is not knowing who one is and not caring. Ecstasy is knowing exactly who one is - and still not caring."

As always I appreciate your comments. I always learn from others insight and viewpoint.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jack in the Boxes

Well, I should finally have a new Book Passages image ready to post by Sunday or Monday? It has been a long process of finding models, scheduling models and finding locations. I started to work on two passages at a time so that maybe with luck the laps between new images will be less. The Jack in the Boxes are for my shoot I have planned for Saturday. This involves three human Jack in the Boxes and a vixen ring leader. Hope I've peaked your interest to return for another look soon.

Until then, I'm running as fast as I can. Need to remember to slow down occasionally to smell the coffee instead of just relying on it's wonderful super human attributes.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What else have you read lately?

I am currently working on two of the book passage images. Organizing models, schedules and locations has slowed my process down a bit but that's OK. I feel like what is coming will be well worth the wait. The two that I will be revealing with-in the next couple of weeks are from W.S. Merwin, in The Language of Life by Bill Moyers and Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins.

In the meantime, I am still looking for additional Book Passages to create visual interpretations from. If you've submitted one before and would like to send another please do. I'd like to finish this series with at least 25 images for a solid exhibition in the future. I currently have about 15.

If you are new to this blog and the Book Passages discussion, this is what I'm looking for:
I am interested in creating visual interpretations from a brief literary passage from books you are reading. One that is descriptive, mysterious, or ambiguous. I have completed six passages that have launched this fascinating visual journey. I share my new images here on the blog as they are created. If you contribute a paragraph please include the book title and the author. I will provide each participant who donates a passage that I interpret with a fine art print of the created image.

Thanks and happy reading!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wisconsin Photography 2009

I am thrilled to have two of my fine art photographs from a series I created last year called "Life in Miniature"excepted into the juried exhibition, Wisconsin Photography 2009. The exhibition will be at the Racine Art Museum's Wustum Museum of Fine Arts from August 9 - November 28, 2009. This series revisited the theme of family in the context of fruits and vegetables taking on the roll of family. The miniature furniture adds a familiarity people can relate to while the juxtaposition creates an air of mystery and restraint. I want this work to challenge the viewer's boundaries and experiences for their disclosure and acceptance of family. To help force this viewpoint the images are kept small (4x5 inches) so that the viewer needs to get up-close and personal with the visual.

When I work within the realm of the institution of the family I am reminded that everyone comes to these life experiences differently. Families are filled with a sense of mystery for those on the outside. Secrets, perplexities, coherent, loyal and emotional are just a few adjectives that color peoples family experiences. It is these feelings and expressions of family that I have explored visually through-out the years offering many different interpretations as I would revisit familiar and similar themes. The exploration of the family offers an institution that is always evolving while its core values and principals remain unchanged.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mishap of Fate

This image is another from the Doll Series I created in the late 90's. This image hides a very eerie tale that happened with this particular doll. This pin doll was the first doll we bought for our son when he was born and fighting for his premature existence in the Neonatal ICU. His doll's name was Bear-Bear and Josh took it EVERYWHERE. He and Bear-Bear were always together during those early years and toddler years. When Josh was about 4 he was at his daycare providers house (Rosie) with Bear-Bear in tow and Rosie's dog ripped Bear-Bears left arm off. Later, that same day, Josh is standing on the piano bench at Rosie's and falls off, breaking his left arm. Coincidence or fate?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Dreams and what they mean?

I met with my group of liberal minded friends this evening and our assignment was to bring a dream that you have often or a dream that particularly stood out in your memory that you would like to share and discuss. Interesting right. It was, especially getting different idea's and viewpoints on what it could mean.

I brought up a dream that I have often in which I am in a house that is empty except for these floating sphere like objects that follow me around the house but at the same time continue to get bigger and bigger and bigger. They keep growing until they have consumed all of the space in the house and right before I am about to suffocate from the all consuming sphere objects, I wake up.

Far back, like 10-12 years ago I wrote a poem about this all too familiar dream. During that same time period I also created two photographs that illustrate my dream as I see it. One image is titled R.E.M. and the other one is titled Dream Passage.

After talking about this dream I brought up another dream/premonition that I have had as far back as I can remember. It is a dream experience that was difficult to even say without getting a bit emotional. A feeling that has haunted my thoughts since I was 11 or 12 years old. This haunting thought was one in which I felt without a shadow of a doubt I would not survive past my 40's. This feeling has always been present and has never subsided. Turn back almost five years ago when I turned 40 and this feeling was still something that I could not shake or ignore. Almost two months after turning 40, it's 10 at night and I get a call that my Dad is ill, the paramedics are on there way and I better get over there right away. So I get there to find the medics trying to resuscitate my father who has had a heart attack. We are waiting and pacing the house waiting for a sign that he will be OK. I walk outside to be alone and am leaning against the cold garage door the weekend before Thanksgiving and a feeling of calm comes over me and without being able to explain or understand it, that premonition comes back into my thoughts but with a feeling of relief and I immediately lost that feeling I was going to die and it has never returned. To this day I don't have that feeling anymore. I face the sadness everyday that my father is no longer here and I will probably never know the answer to whether it was a coincidence or something else. Ah dreams, can they really set you free and if they do, at what price?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Happy Birthday, McKenzie!!!

Wow! My baby is 17 today. Hard to believe. Where has the time gone. I remember last year how weird but yet comforting that on her birthday she asked me to take her to get her belly button pierced. Those nuggets of time don't seem like much while in the moment but they become cherished memories. Usually about this time I pull out and read the poem I wrote for her almost ten years ago titled "Daddy Do You Cry". Well I certainly cry more now as I grow older than I did years ago but as the poem goes I usually do it when no one is around. When Kenzie was about 13 we went camping, just the two of us, and during that long weekend of now cherished memories I wrote these two poems.


These trails many feet have traveled
Even before the Ice Age, someone was walking these grounds
Looking for food, a place to shelter from the elements or
rest there weary head

I think about my father
As I walk these steep stepping stones with my daughter
My mind moves to a different place
Takes a different path, if you will
A path in which I am following behind my fathers big footsteps
Just as my daughter does in mine today
His normal stride forces me to almost run to keep up
But I will not disappoint him by making him wait or slow down

When will my legs fail me?
And force me to walk these paths with my minds eye
Or knowing what has come before me and what I'll leave behind
Am I already walking with a sense of higher purpose?
Or is this just another walk in the woods?

Campfire Serenade

No television or PlayStation tonight
Only the dancing flames
Choreographed to the busy insects buzz saw sounds
As if in hi-fi stereo
Sounds bounce from one side of the circle camp to the other
Natures stereo phonic surround sound
No loud subwoofer beat shaking everything in it's path
Only a chorus of crickets singing praises of nature
Rivaling the best of Sunday morning inner city praises
Add another log to the fire
Sixty watts of campfire flames
Just isn't enough to write these verses.

Happy Birthday my little princess. May your 17th year fulfill your curiosities, lead you on your path to adulthood and keep you grounded with the love of friends and family. Time to go and shed one more tear.

Love Dad!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Girls in Their Summer Dresses, Irwin Shaw

Below are the three variations that I create for chapter six of my Book Passages Series. This passage provided me with many challenges but in the end I am extremely pleased with the results. I have my favorite but what do you think? Please comment on the images below and vote in the poll at the top right corner of the blog. Thanks for your patience with the long wait for this visual interpretation but I do think it was worth it. Enjoy, vote, and most of all - give me the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Girls in Their Summer Dresses by:Irwin Shaw

"Go ahead", Frances said.

When I think of New York City, I think of all the girls, the Jewish girls, the Italian girls, the Irish, Pollack, Chinese, German, Negro, Spanish, Russian girls, all on parade in the city. I don't know whether it's something special with me or whether every man in the city walks around with the same feeling inside him, but I feel as though I'm at a picnic in this city. I like to sit near the women in the theaters, the famous beauties who've taken six hours to get ready and look it. And the young girls at the football games, with the red cheeks, and when the warm weather comes, the girls in their summer dresses..." He finished his drink. "That's the story. You asked for it, remember. I can't help but look at them. I can't help but want them."

I can't help but look...

The Girls in Their Summer Dresses

The Confession

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hushed Abandonment

Derrick W. Sherman, The Reunion show

I once met a man and asked him if it were true that when you get older you become wiser. He said that the only answer was to get older. Looking back to when I was a kid, I realize that my ignorance was a virtue. I saw the world in colors and shapes. Now my nerves keep me awake at night. I think about the future and what I want to do with my life. I asked that same man if he had any advice for me. He told me to quit living and start breathing. "Look around at the life you lead. Listen to the wind and the trees. Take time to smell the ocean breeze and sleep on the beach." He said that the beauty of this world was in its complexity and that our lives for the most part are ordinary. He told me to never stop painting, but mostly never stop creating. "You're as free as your mind will let you be. So, what's holding you back?" he asked, "fear or laziness??"

excerpt from one of my favorite books Revolution on Canvas, poetry from the indie music scene. Edited by Rich Balling

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Charity and Charity's Addiction

For those interested in following my Book Passage Series, please have patience. I finally found a key prop I need for my next photograph. With the holiday fast approaching and a group show to get ready for I will have the new image in about another 10 ten days. Until then I am posting images from the past. Hope you enjoy!

These two images are titled Charity and Charity's Addiction. Both photographs are based on a woman named Charity who was a friend of a friend. My friend took me to Charity's house because she had an awesome doll collection. She also had a serious heroine addiction. When we went to Charity's house she was very skeptical of me and really didn't want me in her house but because I was a friend of one of her good friends she allowed me in. She proceeded to show me all her dolls, most altered with paint and wardrobe. The first image on the left was actually taken with an SX-70 Polaroid camera of a shrine like set-up Charity had in one of her closets. I then manipulated the scanned polaroid in Photoshop.

Soon after I visited Charity's house she traveled to Nebraska to visit and get clean at a family members house. A few months later when I was having dinner with my friend she said, "You remember Charity"?, and of course I did. That house, her behavior, and her belongings are not something you soon forget. Well, Charity got clean but as soon as she came back and was with "friends" in Chicago she quickly went back to her old ways and unfortunately O.D.! So the image on the right was made after hearing the news of Charity's death. This turned out to be the second time in my life at that time where someone I hardly knew who passes away ends up having a huge impact on you emotionally. I find these images beautiful and honest in a very haunting way.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

National Poetry Month

I'm not a writer nor a poet even though I love to read great material. I've tried to write poetry and have had some success and many clunkers. Still it does not stop me from trying. I've been so busy concentration on my studio and art that I haven't written a poem in a very long time. So in honor of national poetry month I have to dig into my archives and thought I would post this poem that I wrote a few years ago for my sister.

Brothers & Sisters

big sister
little brother
sisters brother
brothers sister
who watches over who?
dishwashing saga's
butcher knife drama's
tattle tale lies
save young kid's hides
locked out, locked in
break out, break in
don't tell: alibi's
hide another
little white lie
horrorama out of control
Jason can't swim
camp counselor sins
Halloween masks
motorcycle helmet clash
childhood memories
adult maladies
Jabberwocky bitch slaps
balloons are festive
your friends
my friends
no friends
best friends
coming of age
turns a new page
adolescent innocents
gone but not forgotten
life changes
forces rearranging
no longer convenient
conventional dialog
speak with ease
path is not lost
hidden by neglect
feet step on solid ground
speak to me
I'll speak to you
together again
Brother & Sister!