Sunday, April 26, 2020

No Cigar

Lost Hills California

As you are too aware. I have been sidelined for three weeks of horror and frustration while building my new website and making it function fully. There’s been precious little time for making photographs or creative writing of any kind. This is as creative as it’s going to get.

Wasco, California
Then as my website making ordeal reached its apex of failure Thursday evening, I had lost all my email for a year and I was ready to jump off the proverbial bridge, I got the news that had not been selected for the Harwood Museum of Art’s upcoming Contemporary Art Taos/2020 exhibition. I wouldn’t say I was counting on it except that I was counting on it. 

Old Dale, California
Friday morning at 7AM I didn’t have the errant email and hadn’t received any new mail since 4PM Thursday. I was, shall we say, miffed. Then at 11AM the year of old emails had populated the Inbox on my computer, my iphone and my ipad. I was getting my new mail and something was right with the world.
Imperial Dunes, California
An unintended bi-product of populating the new site was the discovery of some older photographs that I wouldn’t have identified if I hadn’t taken a look back. Some are included here. Recent stuff certainly wasn’t an option. You may pick up on the forlorn theme.That they're all from the Mojave Desert and the Imperial Valley is pure chance.

That’s all I've got.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Truncated in Taos

Here’s a truncated version of yesterday’s post. It dawned on me that my instructions on how to view my handy dandy new website were convoluted at best and impossible at worst. And inducing you to look at my pride and joy was my mission for the post in the first second and third place.

To get to the link you would have had to click on the headline get to the actual blog, page down midway and click on the Steve Immel Photography link to the right on the photograph, Book of Solemnity. My mother wouldn’t do that for me.

So, click on and you can view the new site. I hope you’ll take a look.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Brave New World

Book Cliffs from the Under A Big Sky portfolio

Making the short list of 30 for the upcoming Contemporary Art Taos/2020 show at the Harwood Museum put some bounce in my step. I wouldn’t exactly say I’d been languishing in the minor leagues of photography, but I hadn’t felt the love for a while. A while meaning 2010 when I had my work all over the place. It was shortly after 2010 that I trimmed my sails, stopped advertising and for the most part stopped entering shows. The result of those austerity measures was that name recognition and sales fell with equal alacrity.

Lines of Defense from Sketches of Winter
Then, during this shelter in place winter and with plenty of time for reflection, I shook off the cobwebs and entered a couple of shows. When I got that congratulatory mail from the Harwood my lengthy to-do list sudden seemed less daunting. Forty must-dos every week can elicit a why even bother response in the most deluded of planners. But two weeks ago with the wind of the Harwood short list in my sales I looked the number one item on my list right in the eye and said to it, “I’m not afraid of you, you son of a bitch. You’re toast.” Or words to that effect.

Book of Solemnity from the Divine Light portfolio
With that I began to build and launch a new website. “New website” had topped my to-do five years. I kid you not. My clunky old site was built my friend Jeff Fongemie, now a noted web developer, fifteen years ago and while pretty trick for the time. But it had become, let’s face it, a relic befitting a relic.

Standard Oil from The Edge of What's Left
Most of all it wasn’t web friendly so you couldn’t see the full page on the screen of your smart phone or tablet. And in a time when most site visits are done on one or the other, you’re hosed unless folks can actually use the site.

Lenny Foster from Monumental Headd
With that in mind I have been reviewing template-based web hosts for this big change. There are a myriad on choices. Photo Shelter, Zenfolio and WIX to name but a few. I liked WIX’s templates best. But all the while Peggy was hawking me to use FASO, Fine Art Studio Online. That’s a one she’s used for a decade and absolutely glorifies. She raved about its ease of use and, more importantly, she touted the hands-on technical assistance she knew I’d need.

Harjula's from The Fog Series
Two weeks, ladies and gentlemen, is what it took to build the new website, to get it recognized in the web world and to maintain my email, contacts and my website and address. And that two weeks was hell.

When I Say Jump from Street Music
I can’t express how timid I was about creating the new website. That's why it took me five years to try. I was close to panic at the start and pull my hair out anxious by Friday night. Had it not been for the resolute Becky Reynolds at FASO it absolutely would not have happened. Poor Becky held my hand like I was a four-year-old till the moment I could actually see the site on the net, that was Saturday, and I could retain my hundreds of contacts and continue to receive emails at my fifteen year old address. That finally came to pass Saturday at noon when my blighted efforts to accomplish it finally bore fruit. 

I have two bits of advice. Follow the instructions and be precise. I don't ever do the first and precise and patient are not my most apt descriptors. 

So far there are seven portfolios on my new website with The Last Shepherd to be added the first of the week. It’d be today but my article for the May-June issue of Shadow and Light is due tomorrow.

I’d love to have you take a look. Tell me what you think. Please click on the Steve Immel Photography link to the right of Book of Solemnity.

Tell me what you think.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Little things mean a lot

If I read another writer paraphrasing the title of Gabriel García Marquéz’s novel Love in the time of Cholera, I’ll vomit. You’d give a ninth grader a pass but to see such sophomoric cleverness from big name journalists is depressing and we don’t need more of that. Life in the time of Corona Virus, Love in the Time of Social Distancing, Lies in the Time of Covid-19. Make it stop.

If you’re like me you’ve had highs and lows through this tempest. I’m one hell of a lot more worried about the economy, mine, than I am about the disease. It’s been a month since we communed in a herd if you don’t count the supermarket, pharmacy and Post Office. It’s been painless and, other than eating out, we’re not missing the action. And we sure are saving money. A couple dinners, two lunches and a breakfast out each week adds up to real money. We are craving, more like dying for, a Smoky Quartz pizza and an IPA at the Downtown Taproom. We’re simple creatures after all.

We’ve indulged in a couple of virtual cocktail hours, the second of which was with John Farnsworth and Thea Swengel Saturday night. Once we got our technical difficulties sorted out it almost felt like we were physically together. I guess we shouldn’t be embarrassed that we had audio lapses. Even the Meet the Press was having sound sync issues Sunday morning. And how about those lovely folks at Zoom. Privacy concerns aside somebody is getting very rich. And all I have is this stupid tee shirt.

John just got back from four months in South America, three of which were in Buenos Aires. He told us he might have stayed six months, but the State Department warned travelers to head back to the U.S. pronto. It took the intrepid wanderer three days of planning and 24 hours of flying to make it to Albuquerque. His itinerary routed him from Buenos Aires to Sao Paolo to Newark and Albuquerque. My ass is sore just imagining it.

Then, to add insult to injury, Thea quarantined him in his studio for 14 days without so much as a hug. She fed him through a slot in the door. She said that he was hesitant to leave his cell when she unlocked the door after two weeks. I wonder how we'll react when we’re let us out of the hoosegow. Will we feel unbridled excitement or apprehension when barriers are gone? Thea thinks we’ll have an awkward transition. And what about handshakes, hugs and kisses. My hero Dr. Fauci, now on the outs with whatshisname, suggests that handshakes should disappear entirely. As far as I'm concerned a courtly bow and a direct look in the eye will do quite nicely.

And speaking about freedom, at lunch with Peggy yesterday I commenting on how precious it is and that in some small way our shelter in place regimen makes us appreciate the unfettered license we’ve always had to do whatever we want to do whenever we want to do it. It makes those balmy days in Brittany with artist friends last July seem a like a distant dream. And that studying Spanish every morning in the rooftop classroom of Escuela Ixchel in Antigua, Guatemala was only make believe. This new appreciation of what we had and took for granted stems from the realization that freedom of movement and social interaction is not a given, is not guaranteed. Boy, do I Iook forward to that woodfired pizza and a frosty beer. That’s the simplest expression of free will that I can think of.

Appreciating our good fortune is the gift these hard times have given us. Let’s accept that gift. Applying my new-found appreciation for the gifts that will follow is my goal.

Today I got an email from my friend, the photographer Marti Belcher, in Virginia. Within her Easter tidings was this nugget from author Roald Dahl.

“And above all, with glittering eyes to the world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

Words to live by.

Thanks, Marti.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Little dreams and big ones

In a post a month ago, the one called Now Look What I’ve Done, I wrote about submitting to calls for entry from The Harwood Museum of Art here in Taos and from The Albuquerque Museum. The Harwood’s call is for Contemporary Art/Taos 2020 and the Albuquerque show is called Art Thrive, formerly Miniatures and More.

I had modest expectations for getting into either show. Maybe Less than modest.

So, imagine my amazement when I received a congratulatory email last Monday morning saying that from 330 submissions, I was one of 30 artists who made the short list for the show.

The good news was followed by a request to sign up to host a virtual studio tour. This in lieu of a face to face right here at Casa Immel. I learned the tours would be held during most of April with the final decision being rendered on April 24. Tour slots would be on a first served for tour slots. And being the aggressive lad that I am, I opted for the first available tour date. That meant I got the very first slot Wednesday at 1:00pm. Somebody has to be first. And they might change their mind.

The show and tell was to be performed via Zoom, a virtual meeting platform that has erupted on the social distancing scene and that has received a torrent of press lately, almost none of it good. Privacy breaches have been abundant. The FBI is on the case.

Reservations notwithstanding I found myself sharing the screen with the new Curator of Exhibitions and Collections at the Harwood, Nicole Ashley Dial-Kay. I was a twitchy old man till Nicole told me how well received my photographs had been. Her encourgement and warmth quickly put me at ease and we were off the races.

First, we talked about the photographs I’d submitted. I spoke of my intent to offer work that was distinctly Contemporary. I suggested that the images were about shapes and the relationships between them. I said I was seeking simplicity. I had submitted them with a rounded white border to enhance the contemporary presentation. She asked why I had added the border and I responded, and I quote, “I thought it looked cool.” That’s not the apogee of artspeak but that was the reasoning. The question about the border could suggest that she thinks that the embellishment was superfluous. Hey, I’m not married to the border. It was part of the pitch.

ased on the call my understanding was that artists were to submit three works, one of which would be hung if accepted. Instead Nicole said that the overarching goal was to mount the strongest possible show and that she believed an exhibition with several works from fewer artists would accomplish that objective better than one piece per artist. In my follow-up email I agreed that strategy made sense even if it reduced my odds of getting in. And I added, I had submitted the images that I did because “I thought they hung together as a grouping.” More than one piece works very nicely.

As we wound down, Nicole asked if I had a specific project that would benefit from the collaboration and support of the museum. Open that door and I'm coming in. In a nanosecond, I had a print of Cuba and his Mauser España 1893 in front of the screen followed by one of Cuba’s “campo” on the Taos Plateau in late January. She proclaimed that they were “beautiful” and that led to a discussion of The Last Shepherd and its potential for a full-blown exhibition. We agreed it's a story that should be told. That it's the story of rural Hispanic life in Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado, a life of the Land, Water, Family and Faith. There’s nothing I want more than to tell that that story.

Nicole, being local outreach oriented, asked if I thought Cuba would attend the show. I said that he's a rustic soul who speaks no English but that I knew that the Abeytas of Mogote, Colorado who own the sheep that Cuba herds would want to be part of it. I said I hoped they would that they would bring the 80 year old herder to the opening. He should be there.

In my thank you email I warned Nicole that she’d need a bigger museum because Andrew Abeyta, the patron of the outfit has five children and fifteen grandchildren. And that’s only one of Abeyta families.

Then I promised her that she’d be receiving a full blown proposal for a The Last Shepherd exhibition at the Harwood. I began writing it yesterday.

Stay tuned.