Thursday, March 5, 2015

Its March now, the frigid artic ice flows that choked the river are mostly melted under the stronger sun. 2014 was a rollercoaster. I traveled and was fortunate enough to be with warm, good people and had two exhibitions in widely distant parts of the world. In May my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. My parents and I waited for further tests. They would come back when I was due to have my opening in Guanajuato Mexico, in a group exhibit there at the Foro Cultural 81. I wanted to cancel the trip, but dad insisited I go. He argued with me, he wouldnt let me miss this opening, despite my sadness and wanting to be near my folks. ”Go ! Go! What, are you kidding? “ I hear his words raisng in tone, even now. Nori Mizukami went with me, managing to carry his heavy camera gear through airport security, despite every roadblock fate could fling at him, dont ask me how he does it. Nori stayed with my friend Darius and myself at Darius'' home near the Foro. He filmed a lot, made lots of friends, and went dancing, after Darius had stopped being amusing and fallen asleep after drinking a good part of the four bottles of champagne he had bought for my opening celebration. Nori told us stories about the college club scene, which seemed beyond me mainly. The trip was good really, but I was barely hanging on. The only light painting I did, was just to kill time, my heart wasn't there. I was a wreck with worry. Darius dragged me around town, trying to find a pharmacy that sold Laetrile to smuggle across the border, because its illegal as a cancer treatment here. I returned in June. My father didin't survive long and died at home on August 2. There are few comforts, but he was with us, even our cat was there sitting on his bed. My father Albert Erra- Al the Ragman - is gone. Fan of George Carlin, Gurdjieff, Kahil Gibran, the Bahagavha Gita, hater of hypocrites, patient and perplexed listener to his daughter's punk rock poetry. Now mom has her own problems with eyesight being legally blind too, and we're trying to help, its all very new, painful and things seem ok finally. Her home though, is too quiet. My friend Anton Akimov, the Russian photographer, had invited me to go to Moscow in the fall. Despite some misgivings about the conflict with Ukraine, and lingering sadness, I agreed to go. I promised him I'd participate in some project there, it was all set. We worked together, and eventually even managed to have an exhibition uf light paintings that included some of Seeing With Photography's images. These light paintings were hung in the lobby of the Moscow Provincial Theatre, at the Festival of White Canes, thanks to the generous efforts of singer Diana Gurtskaya and her husband Pyotr Kucherenko. Anton and I were both interviewed by the Russian Blind radio network, and I got to tell the TV audience there about the work we do with our light painting. A nton worked very hard to get the exhibit up in very little time scouring Moscow for supplies, and I got to see much of the vast city, hauntiong in its vitality and political rumblings that still reverberate. I was treated with great kindness and respect by nearly all Russians. There's been a real lack of images here these last months- very sorry about that. But I've found a way to transfer files to my tablet - so am ready to start posting again. This winter my cameras just been sitting in the corner getting ignored, while I'm at my keyboard. However I've returned to painting once again ...thats painting with paint, not a flashlight. Well nearly returned, but soon Im readying things to finsh half finished works again, no more half assed vaugenesss. I'll be writing about all of this soon here. Nori Mizukami and Sergey Churkin, director of the Light Painting World Alliance, have both asked me to contriute writing for them, and you might see some article from me on the U.N.E.S.C.O. International Year of Light blog, we will...see. Darius said to me yesterday, that in writing, I have freedom and independence. I don't have to rely on the assesments and filters of others to interpert for me, like unseeing people need to rely on sighted individuals to describe the visual world. He became annoyed when I told him about my plans to paint again. He understands my frustration with relying on other's personal opinions and biases, tastes and preferences, cliches or laziness, as "Authority" in understanding things, say in how a sighted person describes a film to a blind person. Every human walking the world has their "view" . But theirs isn't, cannot be mine. Darius' point about painting is a good one. Yet I love painting too much and I can't pry it away. So I'm writing more. On one hand, its all too easy to write about what you know very well, but also, theres strength in that too, certintity and experience with it all. I dont want to get too repetitive with one theme. Yet its hard to break away from it. Enough for now.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Remembering Stephen

One of Seeing With Photography Collective’s original and founding artists died recently. Stephen Dominguez hadnt been in good health but I was still shocked to learn of his death at an early age. Stephen was a gentle, thoughtful and caring person, whose character can be understood in the indelable photographs hes left us. Awhile back i posted here some of my thoughts about Stephen, in a post called Two Artists. Please take a pause to briefly encounter him again,and maybe my words can enrich your understanding of his artistic creations etched into negatives.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Ruby Bird Portfolio

Sonia Soberats is one of the subjects of Frank Amann's documentary film he's currenlty filming- SHOOTING IN THE DARK.
Sonia invited me, as well as Victorine Floyd Fludd and Hashim Kirkland to join her in shooting some of her light paintings she has planned. It's a series thats autobiographical in nature, and illuminates different memories and points in her life.
We spent a day recently in Brooklyn's Ruby Bird studio workimg on Sonia's ideas, while Frank's very nice film crew expertly scurried round and round us, moving things and adjusting all sorts of unseen aparatus.
Sonia asked me to bring in my easel, brushes and some art work for one of her light paintings, which shows me making a painting of Vicki and Hashim while Sonia sits by admiring the scene around her.
 Here's the "Ruby Bird Portfolio". These are light paintings of the work that wasn't put on the walls of the studio set, but remained in my portfolio because they needed strong gaffer tape to adhere to the brick wall, and that would have ruined the delicate paper.
These are light paintings of charcoal drawings. They're not representational often, and some use the slivers, and dimly looming globes of other worldly moons that hover above striped,  folded fabric surreally. Who sees the other side, the far side of the moon?  Even the most sharply sighted person can't ever see those bright craters and ancient lava beds -  a symbol of blindness - a symbol of...nothingness.
Another drawing depicts an x-ray of a Caravaggio painting. X rays are used by art restorers to see beneath the surface, to the underlying, rough structure of a painting's earliest stages.
The re imagaining forces the charcoal drawing into existence again after thiirty years.  I dont think I'd have made this series if I hadn't gone to the studio that day, i try to be mindful of opprotunities to make images. I'm not concerned about the purity of any media and in fact its exciting to blend photography and traditional drawing.

Monday, May 5, 2014

"Light Mind" recieces Academy Award nomination!

Jie Yi was just bursting with excitement when she told me the utterly fantastic news...her documentary film "Light Mind" made it past the semi finalists, and is an officially nominated film for none other than the Academy awards! That's the Academy awards. I mean...really! I am so proud of her. The gold, silver and bronze prizes for the Student film award will be awarded June 7.
I wish I could be in NYC  to be there with her then, but I'll be in Guanajuato Mexico for the opening of my exhibit there at the Foro Cultural 81. Things are positive lately.
I've taken a break from writing now and have to focus on photography... the new results are in the pervious post.