Mark Steinmetz – the Greater Atlanta series

Calhoun, GA, 2000_Mark Steinmetz, Gelatin silver print

Calhoun, GA, 2000 (Greater Atlanta series)
Mark Steinmetz
Gelatin silver print

Highly recommend a visit this week!  But hurry…(exhibition through June 12, 2010 – at Charles A. Hartman Fine Art, in Portland, Oregon).

Your time will be rewarded with some very nice prints from Mark Steinmetz, Greater Atlanta.  This is Steinmetz third photobook forming a visual trilogy about the area from which the series takes its name. South East, and South Central are two previous books related to the series and were released and printed through Nazraeli. With each copy, the quality is very high as can be expected, at least from everything I’ve ever seen coming from Nazraeli.


Rt. 316, Barrow County, GA, 2005_ Mark Steinmetz Gelatin silver print
Rt. 316, Barrow County, GA, 2005  (Greater Atlanta series)
Mark Steinmetz
Gelatin silver print

Having picked up my own (signed) copies of the books back in early 2009 and being able to look at them as a group for a while – it is terrific to finally get to see select prints up on the wall from the Greater Atlanta series. The prints are both stunning and modest – much like what I might project upon the people, landscape, and urban scenery that Steinmetz presents.

I have to say that having the books and being able to see how well the prints are represented in the book as compared to the prints on the wall means that for my limited means, the books are absolutely valuable and worthy representations.  I can’t stress enough how terrific it is to be able to look again and again and again through the trilogy to appreciate the photos. Each time something new seems to catch my attention.


Mark Steinmetz_Barrow County, GA, 1994 Gelatin silver print
Barrow County, GA, 1994  (Greater Atlanta series)
Mark Steinmetz
Gelatin silver print

In some ways Steinmetz’ Greater Atlanta series – recalls parallels to some work by Robert Adams – sensible, in the moment pictures, that seem to be almost too perfect in composition and with a similar sort of dignity and presence held still within the pictures. These are “candid” shots – it seems mostly that the subjects in the pictures clearly recognize a picture’s being made.

My best at describing what I like about the series (my projection) is this:  If,  I was trying to describing what my place might look like to an outsider, I’d do well to show them these books about my neck of the woods.  But, it strikes me that unless I told them where I was from before hand, the stranger might miss a lot about the locations of the pictures. Something I imagine that I probably am missing as an outsider to the south.

There is an interesting passage in “Beauty in Photography” the collection of essays by Robert Adams, published by Aperture. From the essay “Truth and Landscape”, where Adams is describing how making photographs has to be a personal matter, somehow the photographer has to be in the picture…

“…what we hope for from the artist is help in discovering the significance of a place. In this sense we would in most respects choose thirty minutes with Edward Hopper’s painting Sunday Morning to thirty minutes on the street with what was his subject; with Hopper’s vision we see more…there seem to be moments of revelation…there is a sense of comprehension.” – Robert Adams

Adams goes on a bit before this into the three elements landscapes should offer: geography, autobiography and metaphor – the intensity of which these three are present raises the artistic act of what we all “work to keep intact – an affection for life.”

Mark Steinmetz_Athens, GA, 1995 Gelatin silver print

Athens, GA, 1995,  (the Greater Atlanta series)
Mark Steinmetz,
Gelatin silver print

Mark Steinmetz work on the Greater Atlanta series, as a group of photos, presents a lot more than just a picture of the “south” – and for this reason, I keep affectionately returning to the books.


More from Mark Steinmetz – website

Darwin, without the car…

Robert Adams_Frame for a Tract House

“Frame for a Tract House, Colorado Springs, Colorado”
1969 – © Robert Adams

“Something had to change,” he added. “You just can’t keep going with that many cars.” – source

Same might be said for houses (sprawl)…

Instead of feeling deprived of having a new car every other year (the marketing of personal identity wrapped up in the car one owns – needs a new twist – like the obnoxious “I own the road” Tahoe driver… we all hate them really don’t we?) –    one might feel freedom…  The car as a form of personal transportation is both a blessing and a curse – – obviously, now we must find alternatives that have less impact…

I wonder what (or if) Robert Adams would have found “The New West” – without the car.  Would Robert Frank have been able to make  “the Americans” ?

What purpose is a photograph?

What purpose is a photograph? 

 

Southwest from the South Jetty, Clatsop County, Oregon, 1990 A - Robert Adams

Southwest from the South Jetty, Clatsop County, Oregon, 1990 A - Robert Adams

We take them or make them. Maybe it does not matter to try not to forget  – a mark in time always, a promise perhaps – an insane attempt to address the inevitable next with optimism.

Three important and beautiful series of black-and-white landscape photographs will be showcased in Oceans, Rivers, and Skies: Ansel Adams, Robert Adams, and Alfred Stieglitz.

National Gallery of Art, October 12, 2008–March 15, 2009

What’s New? A belief in a search for Beauty…?

After reading a bit on GalleryHopper and looking a bit at this review – among other things….This quote:

“The birds are always marvelously dressed, progress is a word stripped of its meaning, and a cow that nourishes the world will always go two miles an hour.” – Joseph Fernand Henri Léger

attributed to Fernand Leger, it sticks with me. I read it in the context of “Making Art New” by Robert Adams – in his book collection of essays – “Beauty in Photography”…

Léger observed that “If pictorial expression has changed, it is because modern life has necessitated it,” adding that “the thing that is imagined is less fixed, the object exposes itself less than it did formerly. When one crosses a landscape by automobile or express train, it becomes fragmented; it loses its descriptive value but gains in synthetic value. The view through the door of the railroad car or the automobile windshield, in combination with the speed, has altered the habitual look of things. A modern man registers a hundred times more sensory impressions than an eighteenth-century artist.” – Jodi Hauptmann – catalogue essay –

Above as qouted from a review / comment a by Carter B. Horsley in “The City Review”.

Imagine what today might look like to someone like Leger in this hyper-world of ours. Add planes, cell phones, the Internet…. and soon you could imagine a jittery and brief encounter – pseudo real in global time – a position of being both local and global – personal and non-personal… take a breath.

Think about the habitual look of things. What things might we see in common anymore? A sunset ? A moonrise ? The cool breeze and a raindrop.

I wonder about all this in the context of “What’s New?”… in photography – perhaps nothing is able to really be “new” or “groundbreaking” in the sense that to me, it seems it is useless to measure the worth of a new photograph or a photographer’s work by the distance it may try to establish from what has been done already. To question of what might be “groundbreaking” is to miss the point in my opinion. To be searching for what is “fresh” is along the same lines. Life is fresh.

So “What’s New?” is today – what is right now. Good pictures of that content alone, I believe, can become what we care about seeing tomorrow or the next – and that is something that is impossible in a way to predict or construct. It just happens – and by chance becomes noticed.

Perhaps thought it is already all around us – beauty that is – and it’s up to us figure out how to tease that experience – or recognize it – or just feel it a little bit – in of our daily lives.

Early Sunday Morning – A model for something more…


Hopper, Edward
Early Sunday Morning
1930
Oil on canvas35 x 60 in.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

I’ve always been drawn to the work of Edward Hopper. Something about the beauty of a quiet calm moment and the pause that I feel when looking over the work.

There is an interesting passage in “Beauty in Photography” the collection of essays by Robert Adams, published by Aperture. From the essay “Truth and Landscape”, where Adams is describing how making photographs has to be a personal matter, somehow the photographer has to be in the picture…

“…what we hope for from the artist is help in discovering the significance of a place. In this sense we would in most respects choose thirty minutes with Edward Hopper’s painting Sunday Morning to thirty minutes on the street with what was his subject; with Hopper’s vision we see more…there seem to be moments of revelation…there is a sense of comprehension.”

Adams goes on a bit before this into the three elements landscapes should offer: geography, autobiography and metaphor – the intensity of which these three are present raises the artistic act of what we all “work to keep intact – an affection for life.”

There is something in the painting “Early Sunday Morning” that resonates with me. Perhaps it is the title of the painting that sets up the framework for entering the quiet moment he chose to portray. I imagine being there alone in the first warmth of the sun, separated by the empty space of the street and before the activity of the day sweeps us up into the constant motion of the day to come – you have the chance to just see the quiet poetry of the storefront. The rhythms of windows, doors, curtains… awaiting the activity to follow, a haircut, a drink – a place to eat. If, as Adams writes, Art asserts that nothing is banal, then a work such as this is definitely a model for something more enduring in our everyday existence and it is worth searching for these moments in photography.

Turning Back – Robert Adams


Southwest from the South Jetty at the Mouth of the Columbia River, Oregon – Robert Adams

In looking through and absorbing the images made by Robert Adams in the book “Turning Back” – I can’t help but feel a sense of loss. In my own exploration of this new region – as an “outsider”, I am amazed at the varied landscapes that I have had the chance to glimpse so far out here in the Northwest. The edges of things in the landscape are so dramatic.

“Turning Back” – What a great title to a selection of photos that portray our influences upon this region. The relationships that we form with the landscape are of particular interest to me – how we picture them – what we value – how we inhabit – what we use – natural law – life cycles are so readily visible. So many of the landscapes invite a moment of quiet contemplation and of inevitability. I am tuned in to a feeling of both awe and disgust – of hope and despair about this.


Robert Adams, Sitka Spruce, Cape Blanco State Park, Curry County, Oregon, 1999–2003.

But, the Largest Sitka Spruce in the USA: 6 miles east of Seaside, Oregon; 2 miles east of Hy. 101 – there is a park sign, a road, a nice board walk and a memorial plaque I’m sure just waiting to be seen….


Robert Adams – Clear Cutting – Oregon

As I’m learning about the region – and on a recent trip back from Seaside, I was thinking about the history of the Lewis and Clark explorations – the notion of “Turning Back” must have been a difficult. To be credited with establishing the ability of American commerce to pioneer it’s way to the west edge of the territory – is a heavy credit…