Sunday, June 06, 2021

It's Still Life

Butternut Squash, Fryeburg, ME

Found Art, Rinconada, NM

When I made the switch to digital in March of 2002, I immediately gravitated to still lifes and headshots. In the show at Wilder Nightingale that opened May 29 there were five photographs of the former persuasion. And all five were a jewel-like 4”x 4” matted to 8”x8” and framed in white wood.

As I observed visitors to the gallery study my wall over the course of the seven-hour marathon, I noticed which images drew each victim’s attention. My friend David Michael Kennedy, the renowned Platinum-Palladium photographer and printer from El Rito, scanned all 18 photographs on the wall then moved in close, maybe 6 inches, to scrutinize Butternut Squash shown up top. I know you’re sick to death of seeing that nugget but it’s part of the story. And I can't get enough of it.

Several people asked, “What’s your favorite?” I usually responded with three contenders but always included Butternut Squash. A dozen or more times I gave attendees a walking tour of all the images including the where, why, and how the photograph was made. In the case of Butternut Squash, it went like this.

It was October 2002. We had just left the Fryeburg Fair in Fryeburg, Maine. It was drizzling and gray. On the way back to North Conway, NH where we lived at the time, we stopped at a farm stand with carefully curated displays of pumpkins and squash. Cucurbitas to the vegans among you. The squashes were held in 3’x3’x3’ wooden bins. Because there was light rain and the sky was gray, the light was diffuse, and the squashes were rendered semi-gloss.

I was taken by the rich values and the roundness of the fruits in the dark container. I stood directly above the bin and shot down at the squash. I tried to be as parallel as I could. Later, when I processed the image, the sheen, volume, and heavy shadows were even better than I visualized. Funny thing about making photographs, I remember the circumstances even the feelings I felt 20 years or 50 years ago.

This story was to be about still lifes, generally, and now I’ve spent half a post on one lonely image. I’m easily sidetracked, no?

Alignment at The Boxed Set Gallery

Alignment Statement and white glove treatment

The whole shooting match

I could fill several posts with still lifes. And to that point, my first show in 2006 was called Alignment and it was all still lifes all the time. My second, too. That one was at the Boxed Set Gallery in Santa Fe and, as the name suggests, it showed boxed sets from each photographer. And what, pray tell, was on the cover of my box?  Butternut Squash, of course.

Then in 2009 I was part of a juried show called It’s Still Life at the RayKo Photo Center in San Francisco. My image in that show was Found Art. Like Butternut Squash it’s also part of Immel² New Perspectives at Wilder Nightingale. My dear friend, the amazing painter Greg Moon, bought that little jewel last Saturday. Thanks, cowboy. Found Art was named a 2009 Singular Image in Black and White Magazine.

I may follow this with more posts and still lifes. Then again, as we’ve established, I’m easily sidetracked. 


Unknown said...

Great read Steve. Thanks!

Steve Immel said...

You are very welcome, who ever you are. Were you a player in this little tale?

Steve Immel said...

Or are you a painter who lives in Santa Fe?

Blacks Crossing said...

It is still life and it is wonderful! I have always loved the squash photograph and suspected others did too. Even in black and white, and perhaps because of it, the subject matter glows in an other worldly way. Glad you continue to revel in the image's beauty so that new readers to the blog can see it. May you have more sales as the summer season ramps up! Thanks for blogging!