Monday, February 26, 2007

Monday Show and Tell

A "show and tell" of this weekend seems appropriate for the Monday Show and Tell. The gang had a super time in the Berkshires. It was great to go to the mountains, eat good food, relax, attend a conference, think, and see lots of contemporary art--and not all photography! It was truly an eye-opening experience for Cowboy Steve, as you can see below from the below image selection.

From top to bottom, we have the upside down trees at the entrance to MassMoca, video art on display, and the truly amazing rice installation. On Sunday when Bruce gave a photoshop talk at Digital Days, Steve also hung out with a famous photographer by the initials of HH, who just also happens to like country music. Can you guess? Check out the new pics for the Cowboy Collaborative Assignment #2 by visiting the CC Flickr page.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Berkshires, History, and Rice

Instead of going to the NYC artfairs, we're heading west to the mountains, the Berkshires that is. Why? We need a little time in the woods. The Clark Art Institute is hosting a symposium in conjunction with MassMoca's exhibition, Ahistoric Occasion: The Uses of History in Contemporary Art. (It's also a perfect topic given Bruce's interests and his new series, Markers: History.) I am very excited to hear and meet all of the artists and speakers, but especially Greta Pratt, whose Nineteen Lincolns is pictured below (hmm, I guess it IS President's week) and who will be showing this spring at Bernard Toale Gallery in Boston. We'll be staying at a wonderful inn in North Adams. I always feel so relaxed when we go there. Maybe it's the trees, the fireplace, and the 3 hour drive?

Also at MassMoca is a performance/installation piece that is closing this weekend, Of All the People in All the World, which I am excited to see. This piece uses tons of rice -- 875 million grains to be exact, the number of people in the world (oops, my faux, just those in North, South, and Central America)-- that are continually being rearranged to represent various statistics and a variety of issues. There was a great piece in the Boston Globe just this week on it. While we are there, we'll also hit 3 other photo exhibitions at the Clark and Williams College Museum of Art, which range from ruins in photography, to Crewdson and Hopper, to photography and poetry. Here's to a full weekend filled to the brim with art...

From and

Monday, February 19, 2007

Monday Show and Tell: Photographing the presidents

In honor of President's Day, this post is dedicated to the first known photograph of a president -- John Quincy Adams -- and the only known photograph of Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg. Here is a fascinating account of Adams's daguerreotype (now housed at the National Portrait Gallery) from the White House Historical Association:

The earliest known photograph of a president of the United States is a faint and scratched daguerreotype likeness of John Quincy Adams, who served as chief executive from 1825 to 1829 and later as a member of Congress until his death in office in 1848. This likeness of the former President Adams was taken at the gallery of Bishop and Gray in early August 1843 in Utica, New York. President Adams, then 76 years old, was returning from a visit to Niagara Falls and stopped at Utica to see an old friend, Judge Ezeikiel Bacon. In his diary for August 1, 1843, Adams remarked, “Four daguerreotype likenesses of my head were taken, two of them jointly with the head of Mr. Bacon. All hideous.” Adams continued his diary entry the following day, “At seven this morning Mr. Bacon came and I went with him to the Shadow Shop, where three more Daguerreotype likeness were taken of me, no better than those of yesterday. They are all too true to the original.”

The website goes on to note how this daguerreotype was found: "In the early 1960s a young graduate student at Emory University strolled into an antique shop on Peachtree Street in Atlanta where, for 50 cents, he purchased the earliest known photograph of a U.S. president!" (In case you are wondering, James Buchanan was the first president to be photographed while in office.)

The photograph of Lincoln also involves a modern day find (giving us art historians hope!). Bruce and I went to Gettysburg last summer and it was an incredible place and experience. It truly blew me away. Here is the account from the Library of Congress and the picture (he is in the center of the detail, with the bow tie looking down) now housed at the National Archives:

The plate lay unidentified in the [National] Archives for some fifty-five years until in 1952, Josephine Cobb, Chief of the Still Pictures Branch, recognized Lincoln in the center of the detail, head bared and probably seated. To the immediate left (Lincoln's right) is Lincoln's bodyguard, Ward Hill Lamon, and to the far right (beyond the limits of the detail) is Governor Andrew G. Curtin of Pennsylvania. Cobb estimated that the photograph was taken about noontime, just after Lincoln arrived at the site and before Edward Everett's arrival, and some three hours before Lincoln gave his now famous address.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Lake Wobegon Philosophy

In honor of the big snow/sleet storm in the Northeast this past week and dedicated in part to my students, I post these aphorisms courtesy of Garrison Keillor. I was trying to give some life advice to one of my students and my eyes were drawn to a page I ripped out of the Tanglewood program on my refrigerator. For the past two Julys, Bruce and I have attended live tapings of "A Prairie Home Companion" in Lenox, MA and enjoyed the experience thoroughly.

It's interesting...when I was young my father used to listen to APHC on the radio and I thought it was the most boring program on earth. Now, in my 30s, I think it's the best. Funny how age changes things. Can I even begin to explain this shift to my students?

A Lake Wobegon Philosophy
1. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Do this before they do unto you what you don’t want them to do. Shame them with goodness. Kill them with kindness. Cut their throats with courtesy.

2. The way to do something is to do it. Persevere. If you want to become the Tallest Boy In The Sixth Grade, stick around, keep at it, and the prize will be yours.

3. Try not to talk about the relationship. And don’t refer to it as a relationship. Either it’s a friendship or a romance or an illicit affair or you’re related.

4. The rules for marriage are the same as the rules for a life raft. No sudden moves. Don’t crowd the other person. Keep all thoughts of disaster to yourself. Almost any marriage can be helped simply by having more fun. If necessary, try taking your clothes off.

5. Put a big dish by the door, next to an electric outlet, and when you come home, put your car keys and your billfold in the dish and plug your mobile phone into the outlet to recharge. Keep an extra pair of glasses in the bowl too. In the time you’ll save not looking for these things every day, you’ll be able to write War and Peace. Or the Mass in B minor.

6. All tragedy is misunderstood comedy. God is a great humorist who is working with a rather slow audience. Lighten up. Whatever you must do, do it wholeheartedly, joyfully. As you get older, you’ll learn how to fake this.

7. The secret of writing is rewriting. The secret of living is to see your mistakes and learn how to either correct them or conceal them.

8. It is nice to dream, but the urge to perform is not in itself an indication of talent.

9. You can’t live life all at once so take it one day at a time, and if you need drama, read Dickens. The lust for world domination does not make for the good life. The urge to be No. 1 is a bad urge. Charisma is an illusion and brilliance depends on who’s writing the test. Go for the bronze.

10. Life is short and it’s getting shorter. On the other hand, never buy cheap shoes.

(written by Garrison Keillor, from the Tanglewood program bulletin, July 2006)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Errol Morris and Photography

I just learned from Paul Schmelzer that Errol Morris is tackling the photographs of Abu Ghraib in his next film. I am a HUGE fan of Morris's films and was pleased as pie when I first moved here to learn that he lived in my fair city of Cambridge, MA. (Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control is one of my absolute fav flicks.)

Taking a peak at Morris's website revealed this excellent cartoon seen below by Brandy Agerbeck. (Apparently, it is technically a "graphic facilitation" as it states on the site. Here is his definition of this curious term: "large scale images created in real-time in front of a client group while they are working and conversing.") Morris spoke at the 2006 Chicago Humanities Festival and Agerbeck provides an excellent verbal and visual account of Morris's presentation on the photographs of war:

Morris introduced us to his latest project about the Abu Ghraib, and the iconic images created from the prisoner torture. It's his hypothesis that it's a handful of those photos from that we'll remember a hundred years from now about the Iraq War. He explained that this project began with the mystery of two photos by Roger Fenton described by Susan Sontag in her book, Regarding the Pain of Others. During the Crimean War, Fenton took photos of the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Two are of the same road, one with cannonballs littering the road, one with the cannonballs in the ravine. The Mystery being which photo was taken first, which was staged?

Morris's presentation mostly talked about that idea of the iconic photograph. What can we learn from them? To what extent are they posed or performance? An interesting aspect about the Abu Ghraib project is that Morris has the opportunity to interview the photographers. We have an opportunity for more context than just the images themselves.

Click on the image for a larger version. "Graphic Facilitation" by Brandy Agerbeck, From

Monday Show and Tell

This first of two Monday "show and tells" comes courtesy of my brother. Although I have already sent both videos around, I thought I'd use it as an excuse to attempt to see if I could post a link to a youtube video. I rarely go to youtube or use it, but there have been a few good sociological videos circulating as of late.

The first video is
"The Machine is Us/ing Us" -- a very interesting philosophical look at the effect of the new "web" and its effect on form and content -- by the digital ethnography group at Kansas State University. Read more at their blog. Wow look at that, I think I just put the code in correctly.

Here is another great youtube contribution on Kodak called "Winds of Change." Supposedly, "This is a commercial that was produced for internal use. But it has become so popular, especially with employees, that Kodak has released it for external viewing. It demonstrates that Kodak not only understands it's changing business but also has a sense of humor." I hope that this is the case! This is hysterical. Long live schmaltz, long live Kodak.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Cowboys gone wild....

I thought I'd give a little update on our friends at the Cowboy Collaborative. This endeavor has really taken off! Since launching less than 2 weeks ago, we already have over 100 photos on the CC flickr site, 6 posts on the CC blog, 13 active and accounted for cowboys, 1 assignment and 1 pending, and a brand/logo in the works. We have 3 orphans (I have one and Jenn two) ready to adopt and no duplicates yet! Below are some selections from the first assignment, "take your cowboy to work." It's great great to see more of what everyone does, that is, as seen through the eyes of Fisher Price "little people."

Pics from Assignment #1. On the left: Cowboy Steve had a busy week, installing a show and going to 2 openings in 2 days. Here he takes a break at the afterparty following Henry Horenstein's Close Relations opening to have a beer and enjoy the Boston skyline from a beautiful loft. On the right: Marlboro Man is on his way to work to assist Jenn as a projectionist at the local art house theatre in Rochester, NY. He also accompanied Jenn to her job at the George Eastman House

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The Quiz Madness is over and....

No one won! Alec Soth got back from Paris and posted the "Celebrity Photographers Quiz" answers. Blogging had died down on this topic and we thought we were stuck only on the silly pink photoshopped chairs. Apparently we were off on V and U! Sigh, no signed Soth print for me or anyone else. Here's what Alec said and links to the two pictures in question: "Readers worked together and came awfully close to solving all twenty-four answers. How did you figure out Nikki Sixx! Unfortunately Ric Ocasek and Tipper Gore proved too difficult."

Maybe he will concoct another quiz for his next big trip....

Monday, February 5, 2007

Monday Show and Tell

Today's post comes from my blog fishing. (Don't worry I've got a couple good ones brewing.) This is a great site from Paul Schmelzer of the Walker Art Center. It's called Signifier, Signed; it's an offshoot of his regular personal blog Eyeteeth: A Journal of Incisive Ideas.

Here is his explanation of the project and performance artist Annie Sprinkle's fabulous version of his signature:

Many years ago, my then-8-year-old friend Spencer asked a prominent jazz musician for an autograph, but when he was given the usual signature, he scolded, "Not your name... Mine!" Following his lead, I've been asking writers, artists, politicians, and movie stars to sign my John Hancock, er, Paul Schmelzer. So far more than 70 have agreed...

Annie Sprinkle doing her best Paul Schmelzer. From

Sunday, February 4, 2007

The Cowboys are coming!

We're getting saddled up and will be ready to go soon. Keep checking back with the Cowboy Collaborative blog and flickr page. We'll get an assignment once a week on the blog (you can read the CC history there too) and you'll see the results on flickr. My main hombre, Cowboy Steve, has long been neglected and is ready to dust off his hat and take his rightful place again in front of the camera. Giddy up!