6 pictures for you

(January 11 I’m having my first photography show, at St. Gregory’s in San Francisco. One of the things I have to do is write an artist’s statement. This is the draft I’ve submitted to Paul Mahder, my curator and friend.)

I live in San Leandro with a strong-willed calico cat, too many books I rarely read any more, and almost 9000 pictures on my hard drive. I wore out my first good camera in the 1970s, took pictures at a fledgling country club in the early 1980s, and then money (the lack thereof) and life diverted my attention from photography.

July 2006 I was gifted with a Nikon digital point-and-shoot, and I had the feeling that I had come home. As good as the intervening years had been—writing and editing, painting and making collages (though making collages was sweet indeed)—I had the sense that this was what I was meant to do. The hard work felt easy and exercising my eye rejuvenated my soul. In a very real sense I came back to life.

January 2008 I was gifted with a Nikon digital single lens reflex that I carry with me almost everywhere. I take pictures of everything that crosses my vision—at a height of 44 inches, my height sitting in a chair. I am particularly fond of the homely detail, the ironic (or iconic) inconsistency, the wear and tear of urban life I can see and reach from the sidewalk or through the window of a Paratransit bus.

Throughout I try to shoot with a “benign eye” that reveals the beauty in what may not be conventionally pretty or generally noticed. Formal values—color and composition—are crucial, though I’ve never met a rule I’m unwilling to challenge. My earliest visual mentors were the Northern Renaissance painters who held everything they saw in the same pristine clarity, which I take to be a kind of love.

Wild Bunch

Note: “3808” and “Wild Bunch” appear on my photostream at Flickr.com.