The Patra Passage ~ Art at its Best!

Linda Lowe has created an art based experiment that explores the act of giving and receiving. It is a truly inspired project.  
108 Vessel ~ The Patra Passage

“The gift finds the man attractive who stands with an empty bowl he does not own.”
LEWIS HYDE, The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World

"The Patra Passage is an art-based project that experiments with a cycle of giving and receiving. The passage centers on the gifting of 108 hand-built ceramic vessels to participants who will re-gift them to others. The giftism cycle will continue for one year until each bowl has been presented and received at least three times, creating a community of over 324 participants. At the end of their circulation, the Patra will be returned and exhibited at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA, sold, and all proceeds given to charity."

 I encourage you to learn more about The Patra Passage HERE.

between fire/smoke

between fire/smoke from Jane Fulton Alt on Vimeo.

“between fire/smoke” is an unfolding visual and textual journey through a landscape of liminality – leading to a place where all that is unresolved is imaginable…

Jane Fulton Alt – images, text and unique mixed media encaustic
Teresa Pankratz – structure and design

Printed and hand bound by the artists

Detailed description:
The limited edition artist’s book is hardcover, bound in light grey (“smoke”) Iris book cloth with silkscreened titling. The structure incorporates left and right covers with a magnet closure which, when opened, situate the text block as the center panel within a triptych of white space (Canson Ingres end sheets). The opening portion of the text block includes 4 sections (alternating between single and double-page construction) sewn to an exposed internal spine with a modified continuous pamphlet stitch. (Single-page sections are archival pigment prints on Hahnemühle photo rag; double-page sections are archival pigment prints on Niyodo Japanese paper). The attached back section of the book is an adhesive binding mounted on an internal “frame” constructed of laminated 4 and 8 ply archival Rising White mat covered with Niyodo Japanese paper. Unfolding left and right are, first, two three-panel archival pigment prints on Hahnemühle photo rag, followed by a series of four text and image single-page archival pigment prints on Niyodo Japanese paper. The final unfolding reveals a unique, mixed media encaustic mounted (on black Stonehenge) within the internal frame. The book is housed in a slip-case constructed of an archival pigment print on pearl gray Murillo by Fabriano.

Dimensions, closed: 8.5” x 8.5” x 1”.  Edition of 18. 2013.
For more information, please email me

Multiple Exposures Exhibition at Bridgeport Art Center

"The privilege of a life time is becoming more of who you are."
                                                                                         Joseph Campbell

This quote guides the focus of a photographic critique group that  I began 5 years ago....
I envisioned the group  as a way of providing a forum for sharing work with the goal of helping each photographer further refine their personal vision... Once the work is  fully realized, suggestions are offered up on how to send it out into the world. 

I am happy to announce that the group will be have an exhibition on May 17th at the Bridgeport Art Center. The artists included in the show are  Ilze Arajs, Nelson Armour, Susan Annable, Art Fox, Alan Leder, Janet Mesic - Mackie, Yvette Meltzer,  Mary Rafferty, Neil Spinner and Jessica Tampas and yours truly.

The exhibit is going to be very exciting. The show focuses on nature and humanity. The work spans psychological renderings of complete strangers, roller derby life, discarded dolls, in addition to abstractions from nature and architecture.  This compelling exhibition  will be shown in the beautiful exhibition space at the Bridgeport Art Center.
Here is a sampling...

Alan Leder ~ Architectural Elements
Ilze Arajs ~ Holding fast in ebb and flow
Janet Mesic-Mackie ~ Horses
Jane Fulton Alt ~ The Burn
Nelson Armour ~ Park Avenue Beach

Jessica Tampas ~ Unbroken

Yvette Meltzer ~ Revolutions

Mary Rafferty ~ Derby Life
Neil Spinner ~ I Am The Other

Susan Annable ~ Memento Mori
Art Fox ~ Facing the Homeless

There will also be a presentation on Thursday,  May 30th from  7-9pm on the life and work of Vivian Maier, presented by Author Rich Cahan and master printer Ron Gordon. 

I have personally been working on two books that will be released in late September on the burn. The "trade" book will be published by Kehrer Verlag in Germany.

I have also collaborated with Chicago book artist, Teresa Pankratz, on a limited edition artist made book titled


fire /smoke

I am thrilled that the artist book will be available for viewing at the Bridgeport Art Center show. We have been working all winter on the structure and design and are currently going into full production. The "book" (more like an object) will be available in a limited edition of 18. All pre-orders will include a signed copy of the trade book.

Hope to see you at the Bridgeport Art Center on Friday, May 17th from 7 - 10pm....
Refreshments and live music by Raman Hen. Come celebrate the arts with us!

1200 W. 35th Street
Dan Ryan to 35th Street, west about a mile 
(free parking on north side of building)

Guggenheim Fellows 2013

The list just came out...
and guess what...Deborah Luster is one of the fellows!
It is well deserved....
Here are other photographers...


Scott Conarroe
Bruce Gilden
Sharon Harper
Michael Kolster
Deana Lawson
Deborah Luster
Christian Patterson
Gary Schneider
Mike Sinclair
Alec Soth
Valerio Spada 

Gregory Crewdson : Brief Encounters

 It is not often that one has the opportunity to see the process of an artist's practice. A new documentary that was just released on Gregory Crewdson offers the viewer insight into what drives Crewdson to construct elaborate sets for the one moment of narrative. It is a stunning documentary and not be be missed.
 I love the fact that the film follows Crewdson over several years and shows the influences on his art from  his childhood into the present day. His father took him to a Diane Arbus show in NYC when he was 10 years old. Exhibitions in NYC of Cindy Sherman and Barbara Kruger were important in forming his work while he attended  graduate school at Yale. His father was a psychoanalyst and had an office in the basement of their home. Crewdson grew up knowing there were "secrets" contained in the office, not unlike the "secrets" contained in the orchestrated images he constructs.
Beneath the Roses, a stunning body of work, taking 8 years to complete.  I think he may have started it after a divorce (they did not go into this much in the documentary).  I can't help but wonder
how much of the longing and sense of disconnect that permeates his images over those 8 years was an outgrowth of his own pain...
The film is playing at the Gene Siskel Center in Chicago this weekend. If you don't live in the city, look for it playing near you.

For the Love of It

I have recently seen 2 outstanding documentary films that I can whole heartedly recommend. They are about extraordinary people who have pursued their passions with a disregard for fame and fortune. There is a purity of intention that is really inspirational.

Searching for Sugarman is up for an academy award this year. You can see it via HBO on demand. It  will probably be available via netflix soon. An amazing story, you can hardly believe it is real.

The second film is Dorothy and Herb. It is an older film that I just got around to seeing. I am really inspired by people who work just for the love of it.

Both films were so well made with lots of surprises in them. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

It Takes A Village...

I am in full swing now, dedicating this year to getting The Burn published by Kehrer Verlag in Germany and making an accompanying limited edition, hand made book that will include a unique encaustic piece. This process is an education. When I had my Look and Leave book published, I pretty much handed over the files and the Center for American Places did the layout, sequencing, editing and designing. George Thompson did a fabulous job. There is much to consider when creating a book and I am realizing that the photographer, whose work it is,  is not the most objective. Bookmaking is a collaborative effort and I feel so fortunate to have wonderful, talented people on my team.
  Teresa Pankratz, an incredibly talented interdisciplinary book and paper artist is collaborating with me on the limited edition book. I had a long conversation with her about how I envisioned the book. Next thing I knew, Teresa came up with this amazing structure that will delight the viewer. We have the broad brush strokes in place and are now honing in on the various papers, dimensions etc. It is VERY PRECISE work and Teresa is a master. Each book with have a "jewel" at the back...a unique encaustic piece in addition to the prints.  
I have also had the pleasure of working with Walker Blackwell (formerly of Black Point Editions).
He has started, with other passionate photographers (Maria HummelEileen MuellerAshley SingleyMatt AustinVictor Yañez-Lazcano and Kate Roger) a community darkroom for Chicago, called Latitude. Walker is going to help me convert my files so they are the European CMYK standard and make proof prints for the publisher.

Then there is the writing. I started by looking at poetry I loved, especially by Mark Strand. I sent some of the poems to my dear friend and mentor, Dick Olderman. What I got back from him was....
 "What do you have to write of your life that would be what you want to pass on, as the poetic image of a glance ... and can be reached without a camera. See what comes out of you.  Look to yourself for nothing and that's where it begins.", I have been challenging myself to write more. I am finding that if I wake up in the middle of the night, I can sometimes have access to thoughts and words without my censor at work...  a  beginning. 

stay tuned

Paul den Hollander ~ Luminous Garden

Feast your eyes! One of the many pleasures of traveling to the Noorderlicht Photography Festival in the Netherlands was learning about the work of Paul den Hollander

  I was immediately transfixed by his work. At first I thought I was looking at deep sea bioluminescence, the production and emission of light by a living organism as the result of a chemical reaction.

 But no, these images were "lit up" by the creative ingenuity of Paul den Hollander. Somehow, Paul is turns the invisible visible by bridging art and science. The electromagnetic field's of these plants are stunning.

 In his words...

 "My photographic work can be seen as an example of photography which breaks through the familiar way of looking at our physical world; it is an adventure in consciousness and perception. It is a fundamental idea though that our limited sensory capacity excludes from the field of direct awareness almost all the electromagnetic spectrum.
In the series ‘The Luminous Garden’ I penetrate deeper into the secrets of the vegetable kingdom. Showing a known physical reality in relation with the, for the naked eye, invisible electromagnetic field that penetrates and surrounds the physical plant. This creates a very different experience of ‘reality’."

Instead of using a formal scientific method in showing this unseen reality, I am using an artistic way, full of imagination, in revealing this important and vital aspect of life, this fascinating world full of magic and enchantment. "

Marie Cecile Thijs

As you may know, I was in the Netherlands this past September. I loved the country and the people I met. I was just sent a link (thank you to Deann and Frances) of Marie Cecile Thijs's work. The portraits are so well seen and remind me of the best Dutch European  paintings. The subtly and light....extraordinary!
 "Marie Cecile Thijs  specializes in staged photography (portraiture and autonomous photography). In her photographs she strives for intensity and stillness. She mingles contemporary style with classical references. "

Marie Cecile Thijs initially had a career as a lawyer, but more than fifteen years ago she rediscovered her earlier love for the camera, and decided to become a photographer. 

Mark Rothko ~ The Formula

                                 Mark Rothko ~ From a lecture at the Pratt Institute, 1958.
The recipe of a work of art—its ingredients—how to make it—the formula.

Burn No. 29 © Jane Fulton Alt
1. There must be a clear preoccupation with death—intimations of mortality...Tragic art, romantic art, etc. deals with the knowledge of death.
2. Sensuality. Our basis of being concrete about the world. It is a lustful relationship to things that exist.
3. Tension. Either conflict or curbed desire.
4. Irony. This is a modern ingredient—the self effacement and examination by which a man for an instant can go on to something else.
5. Wit and Play..for the human element.
6. The ephemeral and chance...for the human element.
7. Hope. 10% to make the tragic concept more endurable.

I measure these ingredients very carefully when I paint a picture. It is always the form that follows these elements and the picture results from the porportions of these elements...

A Meditation

©Ben Canales; The Star Trail;  Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
National Geographic 2011 Traveler Photo winning photo
What is "art" but the effort of giving permanent form---- in language, in painting, sculpture, music ---to those elemental forces in our lives, those passions, hurts, triumphs, and mysteries that have no permanence otherwise, and so require art to be known at all? Our lives, especially at their happiest moments, fly past as quickly as a mountain stream rushing along its rocky course, throwing up frothy, sparkling spray; the effort of art is to slow the rapid motion, to bring it to a halt so that it can be seen, known. All artists know either consciously or instinctively that the secret intention of their life's work is to rescue from the plunge of time something of beauty, permanence, significance in another's eyes."
                                                                              Joyce Carol Oats ; Telling Stories

The Art of Human Rights and Healing ~ Survivor Quilts

Some amazing work had transpired in Chicago under the creative brainpower of Greg Halvorsen Schreck, a photography professor at Wheaton College
Greg collaborated with Chicago’s Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center in creating a photographic/quilt project with survivors of politically sponsored torture. The Kovler Center transforms the lives of individuals recovering from the complex consequences of torture,  providing medical, mental health, and social services.

Constructing the quilt 

"We had discussed possible photography projects for years. However, the need for survivor confidentiality made conventional documentary approaches impossible. Instead of a traditional documentary project, too often cementing images of individual victims, we decided to use an approach that visualized a community of survivors. Through a collaborative group project, we were able to create a process that promoted dialogue and understanding between survivors, students, and staff members. We all wanted to create an image of a supportive community that would present survivors with dignity and beauty. Posing torture survivors for photographs might reiterate the problem of someone exerting control over them, so we allowed each person to depict themselves in ways that offered self-expression, autonomy, and anonymity. The basic set consisted of a computer monitor next to a camera, allowing the subject to see each image on the screen as it was made. Most importantly, we gave them a remote control to make their own self-portraits. We wanted the survivors to see themselves in community—in solidarity with case workers and other service providers—so the Kovler Center staff participated as well." 
"After making photographs to their satisfaction, the survivors were invited to choose two photographs that they liked the best. The images were cropped into squares and printed on-site. The photographs were then cut into strips and woven back together. The editing and weaving process allowed the participants another way to alter their identity, as needed. They could control exactly how they would appear. Finally, the completed squares were sewn together to create a quilt. Students were responsible for various parts of the collaborative process: helping with the camera; editing, cropping, and printing the images; cutting the images and weaving them back together; troubleshooting and overseeing the visual design of the quilt; and sewing the quilt together. The production room was festive and energetic, with students, survivors, and Kovler Center staff working together in various combinations. The quilt was reinforced and finished at Wheaton College."

The participants’ response was overwhelmingly positive:
 “They did the worst things to me, the worst. I have scars all over from where they hurt me. I thought I didn’t have a body anymore . . . I brought my therapist with me, and then I felt okay. I made some pictures, and I started feeling happy. I could do it by myself, without the therapist anymore. I liked the pictures I saw. I started moving and having fun.”
“I realized that I could have a body again; I could be in my body. I could move. I realized I could have a life here. I could start again. I felt like I was a model, that I was beautiful.”
“After what they did to my body, I never knew I could feel this way again.”
“You made me beautiful . . . I am beautiful!”
“I felt immortal.”
"A non-traditional intervention, the finished quilt has proven to be uplifting, empowering, and transformative, beyond what any of us could have imagined. Something magical and healing occurred when survivors took the remote control in their hands, determined how to pose their own bodies, and decided when and how their image was to be recorded."

Greg shares more ideas from this past fall on working  with another underserved population in the Chicago area...
 "I started my class this semester working with the escalating refugee population in Wheaton.  Mostly from Congo and Burundi; the civil war there is pretty harrowing.  A number of us in Wheaton donated our backyards for some of them to farm.  My students documented the gardens and we had an exhibition a few weeks back: all the African gardeners came.  There was abundant Congolese and other food that they made.  Only a few of the homeowners came.  The refugees had never been to an opening, nor had most of them seen pictures of themselves.  It was quite a wild time.  So Karen and I invited our gardeners for dinner this afternoon with another refugee family.  Talk about culture shock..."

 You can read more about the quilt project HERE.

Nina Katchadourian

I have been traveling a lot this month so thought it appropriate to introduce the work of Nina Katchadourian. Her creativity is inspirational and hysterical. I love thinking of her making these images in the tiny bathroom lavatories as she is flying thru space.

Seat Assignment: Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style

In her words...

Improvising with materials close at hand, Seat Assignment consists of photographs, video, and digital images all made while in flight using only a camera phone. The project began spontaneously on a flight in March 2010 and is ongoing. At present, over 2500 photographs and video, made on more than 70 different flights to date, constitute the raw material of the project.

 While in the lavatory on a domestic flight in March 2010, I spontaneously put a tissue paper toilet cover seat cover over my head and took a picture in the mirror using my cellphone. The image evoked 15th-century Flemish portraiture. I decided to add more images made in this mode and planned to take advantage of a long-haul flight from San Francisco to Auckland, guessing that there were likely to be long periods of time when no one was using the lavatory on the 14-hour flight. I made several forays to the bathroom from my aisle seat, and by the time we landed I had a large group of new photographs entitled Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style. I was wearing a thin black scarf that I sometimes hung up on the wall behind me to create the deep black ground that is typical of these portraits. There is no special illumination in use other than the lavatory's own lights and all the images are shot hand-held with the camera phone. At the Dunedin Public Art gallery, the photos were framed in faux-historical frames and hung on a deep red wall reminiscent of the painting galleries in museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Improvising with materials close at hand, "Seat Assignment" consists of photographs, video, and digital images all made while in flight using only a camera phone. The project began spontaneously on a flight in March 2010 and is ongoing. At present, over 2500 photographs and video, made on more than 70 different flights to date, constitute the raw material of the project. 

Nina's website has many interesting projects to explore. The site of a creative mind.

I will be traveling for the next week and a half...thinking more about what is possible when in transit.
Stay tuned!

On Books, Ragdale and Mary Ellen Bartley

I attended the opening of The Ragdale House this past weekend.
 It is a magical place where many artists have found the time and space to create works of art that have enriched our lives. The house,  designed as the summer home of Arts and Crafts architect Howard Van Doren Shaw, just underwent a $3 million renovation. I had the privilege of  touring the rooms where many authors have written award winning books. 
One of several Ragdale rooms where authors reside for the residency

It made me think about the importance of books in our lives.  Carl Sagan was able to articulate the nature of books by looking deeply into their essence.

“A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called "leaves") imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic.” 
― Carl Sagan

 Mary Ellen Bartley has studied books from a unique visual perspective.  Standing Open and Blue Books are two beautiful portfolios.  

All The More Real

A Road Divided
Sleeping by the Mississippi

Mary Ellen's artist statement for Standing Open:
"STANDING OPEN This is my fourth series of photographs looking at books. While shooting my stacks and rows of tightly closed paperback books I began seeing some of the standing books loosen up, allowing a view of the space between their pages. I was drawn into the unique interior space of the books. I began opening all kinds of books and placing them standing open around my space where sunlight might fall on them. Using the chance settling of the pages and a close up view, this quickly became a project of looking into my photography books in a new way, with my gaze falling into and out of the books and into and out of abstraction. This work interests me on many levels. First is the sheer beauty of the physical books and the unique formal discoveries of looking at them close up. Among the repeating formal motifs I’ve found are the stripes the pages create, the shadowy voids between pages that read like burns or stains, and the reflections the photos can make on the pages facing them. On another level I’m fascinated by conceptual ideas concerning appropriation and reproduction in a mechanical versus digital age that the work can’t help but throw into question. What is the unique aura or presence of a book? Finally what drives the work for me is the emotional connection I have to the books. I’m trying to evoke the sensuality and intimacy of reading and looking through books as well as the fleeting inspiration, little jolts of connection, found for readers in books they love."

 Blue Books
All Night Near the Water, 2010
Beyond Summer, 2010

Easy Hymns, 2010

Fear of Rain, 2010

 Mary Ellen was also included in the Critical Mass Photolucida's final 50 this year.

Image Maker Fran Forman

Fran Forman was a 3 time contributor to the creative collaboration, which is how I became familiar with her work. When I checked out Fran's website, I was immediately transfixed by the wonderful, fanciful images. I am so happy to be sharing her work with you as it certainly expands our thinking on what is possible. I love the imagination and creativity that is evident in each and every piece.

The following text is from Fran...

In all honesty, I don't really consider myself a 'photographer' but rather a maker of images. My background is so varied, and until I went to college, I assumed I'd "do something with art" (I loved drawing, and still do). But it was the 60s, and "doing art" felt too self-serving and anachronistic, and "saving the world" demanded community service. When I did start taking photographs (in the 70s), I was much more interested in the story-telling aspect of it, so I gravitated towards creating sequential and surrealistic images, often expressing my fascination with time and its inexorable march. I got my Masters in Graphic Design when I realized I couldn't support myself making weird photos, and Graphic Design offered the ability to combine fine art with commerce, psychology, and sociology.

While my kids were young, I made collages for and with them, and after my mom died in 1988, I found a treasure-trove of old family photos which made their way into these collages. Then, in 1992, I was introduced to Photoshop. And here we are. It seems as if I've come full circle: drawing (with a stylus), collages, graphics, old photos, weird images, all in the service of halting that inexorable march of time passing.

"The camera was the first machine of depiction, and for a time we believed it to tell only the truth. In the end, perhaps all the images we create share a strange mixture of magic, truth, and illusion. And in this soil sprouts metaphor, which is the source of meaning."      Edward Bateman

In merging photography with painting, portraiture with dreamed landscapes, technologies and generations, my images blur the boundaries between the real and the unreal, re-imagining worlds that, like our own, remain forever a mystery. I invite the viewer to look closely, to engage with me in an imaginative discourse, and to enter into a world of dreams and memory.
The visual narratives of my photo collages dissolve the boundaries of time; they connect my fantasies and dreams with the generations that have come before 
me as I attempt to bring them back to life.

My artistic process is an act of intuition, investigation, and the construction and amalgam of, at first glance, seemingly random objects. These dream-like visions and altered habitats are constructed of photographs I’ve taken with a variety of cameras, as well as discarded portraits of long-forgotten ancestors. Yet these constructed images are intended to evoke a sense of transience, longing, memory, and, despite our yearning for connectedness, the dislocation we all too often experience.

Experimenting with light, form, texture, and color In composing my images, I pay tribute to the collage artists and Pictorialists of the late 19th century, as well as to the magic realists and surrealists who followed. I also draw inspiration from color-field painters such as Rothko and from artists who use vibrant color, visual narratives and symbolism to contemplate the human condition.  I am indebted to, among others, the juxtaposed assemblages of Cornell, the surrealism of Magritte, and the poetry and photography of Duane Michals.

On Collaborations

Thank you for all who have participated in the Creative collaborations. It has been really fun to organize and see creativity at work with the multitude of interpretations. I have decided to include all 3 rounds in this post as a finale.
Enjoy the show!
Original file
Charles Mintz

(look for the hands by the top of the ladder)
Fran Forman
Nelson Armour
The Wall I Saw
Patricia Nolan
Writing on the Wall

original file

Fran Forman "The Elephant Not in the Room"

Tyler Hewitt (Tyler shares his creative process on his blog)

Panos Lambrou

Bill O'Donnell ~ Many Rooms

The creative collaboration has morphed into a fundraiser for the upcoming Ragdale benefit . All of the former residents were offered a choice of 3 images to "remix" and those will be available for purchase at the benefit. Some of the images have been posted on the Ragdale Facebook page, where I saw Bill O'Donnell's amazing interpretation of the landscape photograph.

Original file of the view from the Ragdale house overlooking the 
 prairie landscape in Lake Forest, Illinois.

Here is Bill's rendition of the image. He "nailed" the Ragdale experience for me. Many artists have taken their inspiration from the surrounding landscape. I asked Bill if I could feature his intriguing work after I checked out his website.  What follows is his Many Rooms portfolio...


Divine Number

 In Bill's words...

"These pictures are shot in a rusting tin dollhouse. At once both implausible and convincing enough, the setting is a fitting laboratory for the questions treated. The pictures address three formal concerns of the Western philosophical tradition:

Knowledge, Conduct and Governance"



"How do we know what we know?

How might one live a virtuous life?

What is the relationship between the individual and society?"







  "Through the use and reuse of a limited set of props, I’ve focused on the fragile nature of accumulated wisdom, the acquisition of some moral compass and the difficulty of negotiating the threshold between the public and private domains."




                                      Bill has also been the beneficiary of a Ragdale residency.

 I can't say enough about the organization and how it has contributed to so many artistic endeavors. I am including some information about the upcoming "unveiling" of the Ragdale house, designed as the summer home of Arts and Crafts architect Howard Van Doren Shaw, and one of the most complete examples of a turn-of-the-century retreat.  The party/celebration is going to be a blast.  If you live in the Chicago area and care about the arts, please consider attending what promises to be an amazing evening.

May 5, 2012       

Kick up your heels at this annual fundraising event with ragtime music, roaring 20’s décor, a silent auction and the grand re-opening of the Ragdale House, following a year-long $3 million restoration.  Ragdale House, the summer residence of architect Howard Van Doren Shaw’s artistic family, has been painstakingly restored to its 1926 condition. The evening benefits the Ragdale Foundation, the non-profit artist residency that has provided artists with time and space to pursue their creative work in an uninterrupted environment for over 30 years.  Funds raised at the benefit will support the residencies of writers, visual artists, composers and interdisciplinary artists.  For further information, click HERE.

If you can't make it to the benefit, consider applying for a residency. The deadline for fall residencies is May 15th. Click HERE to learn more about the application process.

Shelley Calton ~ Licensed to Carry, Ladies of Caliber

Shelley Calton is another photographer I met at Fotofest with an inside track into the world of firearms. She has turned the camera on a very sensitive and timely subject. Guns are in the news everyday and the cause of tremendous suffering. I  find these photographs very powerful and incredibly disturbing. 

That is all I want to say... the rest is for you to consider.

In Shelley's words...

"Since the early pioneer days, women have armed themselves.  As a young girl growing up in Texas, I was taught about guns and learned to shoot. My father kept a pistol in his nightstand and rifles for hunting. Today only the predators and laws have changed. There is a growing trend in the number of licensed women handgun carriers. These women are empowered and armed for protection.  They have been tested, fingerprinted, and schooled to use a firearm effectively." 

 "Until recently I have maintained an apprehensive distance from guns except through the lens of my camera. Yet, firearms have interestingly integrated themselves into my work, i.e., Hard Knocks, “Tex Offender’s Pistols” and Nécessaire “Colt 44.” In Licensed to Carry, I decided to explore the private lives of women who arm themselves and join them in becoming a licensed handgun owner. The photographs are set against everyday scenarios, the guns are prominently featured, and contrast their otherwise concealed nature." 

"Women who carry guns are unassuming: she may be the mother in line next to you at the grocery store checkout counter, the grandmother walking her dog, or the woman parking next to you at the shopping mall.  This is not an exclusive club and is open to anyone except a convicted felon."

"While owning and/or carrying a gun is not always kept a secret, it is seldom boasted or talked about.  That being said, when you ask a female gun owner to talk about her guns, she will open up, get excited, and proudly tell you about each gun.  What I didn’t expect and what I discovered through photographing these women is that many collect handguns as they would Wedgwood china or high heel shoes."