September 2, 2007

Dylan Chatain

I've mentioned Dylan Chatain on this blog before... he recently updated his website... there are no new images, but the edit is somewhat different than before and it's fascinating to see how a new edit can dramatically change the mood of a particular project... The work on the site was culled from thousands of images taken during some very long road trips in which he did nothing but shoot film for days on end....and from what I've seen there are several projects in there just waiting to be curated...

September 2, 2007



September 4, 2007

Heading West...

On my way to Texas this morning...

September 6, 2007

Still in Texas...

One thing I keep noticing: All the people my age (40) have kids graduating high school. All the people with kids the age of my kids are in their 20s.

Much more when I get a decent internet connection.

September 9, 2007

Dear Dr. J


Note this one one of three drafts discovered. Here's the text for those of you on RSS readers that don't show jpegs:

July 29, 1979

Dear Dr. J,

I think you are super! You are my favorite basketball superstar. I've got posters of you all over my room (My mom even got mad because I was putting too many holes in the wall). Around here most people like Moses Malone, not me though. I've always liked you the best. Between you and me I don't think Moses Malone is smart. I'd like to ask you for your picture and an autograph, and also for a little word of advice for a young basketball player. (If that's asking too much I'll gladly take an autograph. Dr. J, I think you are the best player ever. Someday I hope I'll be as good as you are (someday is a along time).


Raul A. Gutierrez

ps. I can't wait to see you next season. I hope you come in first place.

September 10, 2007


For the last several months I've been working with my friends Jen Bekman and David Yee on a project called 20x200. 20x200 is a company that aims to change the art world. Sounds ambitious and it is. We're starting with getting high quality prints from fine artists and photographers out into the world in a way that makes sense for the artist, for the buyer, and for the gallery. We're in preview mode now, but starting next week we'll be fully launched, shipping prints, and introducing two new editions two per week... Please check it out and let us know what you think. We'll be tweaking and polishing based on your feedback... I have a feeling 20x200 is going to be a big deal.

September 11, 2007

Has it been 6 years?


September 13, 2007

On Saying Goodbye to a House

I spent last week down in Texas packing up my childhood house. My parents built the place when I was 12 and ever since it’s been home for me. When we moved there the roads were dirt and the nearest neighbor was over a mile away. 28 years later the woods behind the house are still wild full of coyotes and snake and deer, but the city has moved closer, other mailboxes dot the road, and the nights are less dark. It is hard to pack up a house you have lived in so long. What do do with the junk drawer by the kitchen not so much full of junk, but of small memories?

And this house had another burden. It was where my mother and brother died. With them much of the life of the house was frozen. My mother was constantly reinventing the place, in fact she had planned to build a new house and sell this one, but my dad, after the deaths, perhaps out of comfort or perhaps out of a need to hold on, changed very little. So for the last 17 years the house has been almost a museum piece. My room was exactly as I left it when I drove away to college. My brother Christopher’s room remained full of his unfinished model planes, a kite ready to fly, and stacks of astronomy magazines none dated later than 1989. What do do with all this stuff, so sentiment-laden and yet inert?

I received the call that the house was sold and I was needed to pack it up at the worst possible time. We’re moving here too (just a few blocks away but of course we still have to pack everything), so instead of the normal amount of time we would give ourselves to do such a job, we only had 3 days. I was dreading the flight, dreading the 2 hour drive from Houston, dreading the drive into the dark pines. We flew into thunderstorm-the type of pounding rain and violent thunder you only see in Texas. The drive was long, but of course familiar and pulling into the driveway I was, as always, shocked by the size of the trees. The house is surrounded by forest but the trees close to the house were planted by us. I remember the magnolia as a sapling. Now it towers some 30 feet. The dogwoods have canopies. The holly tree is so big some limbs have fallen. The heat at this time of year in Texas was oppressive and lends a heavy quiet to things. The dirt dobbers were busy building their mud tubes. Hummingbirds were buzzing everywhere. There have always been hummingbirds.

Opening the door, the slight cedar smell overwhelmed. I was home. I looked down at my childhood handprint in one of the tiles on the floor. My 2 1/2 year old ran into the house, "Daddy’s old house", going from room to room, pulling toys and books from the shelves, and mixing things up that had been so carefully kept apart for years. Within minutes he had set up a fort of sorts and was happily engrossed. And seeing him playing in rooms that have not been enjoyed in so long suddenly made the whole task easier. We would be clearing the way for another family to live there—to fill the place with their stories as we once did before the house became immobilized in memory. With that thought, it became easier to give away what needed to be given away, to pack what needed to be packed, and to finally say goodbye.

September 13, 2007

Celine Clanet

Celine Clanet is a versatile photographer with a wide ranging set of portfolios covering editoral and photojournalistic work, but I'm most drawn to her personal portfolios. Check out her sets titled Maze and Une mélodie japonaise.

September 17, 2007

Because things are happening out there...

I've been looking at lots of art photography lately and realize I am, for the most part, tired of posed pictures. I'm hungry for images with the spark of life, pictures that raise more questions than they ask- those that force you to look and look again.

Two of my favorites from this week:
eliotshepard2007.jpgEliot Shepard

emilystein.jpgEmily Stein

September 17, 2007

Berkley's Japanese Historical Map Collection

I was doing research on a Meiji Era World Map I'm about to sell when I came across the Japanese Historical Map Collection at Berkley.

The collection is full of graphic delights and is highly recommended. Safari 3 users note the site uses some custom code that works much better in Firefox. This collection is but a small part of the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection which seems to be a garden of delight so vast I have yet to jump in for fear of getting lost for hours.

As a side note during my web wanderings I also came across a few sites with Meiji era photography. The best I found were this small gallery of vintage Japan photos (by Western photographers) collected by curator Richard Gadd and this larger database of photographs taken by Japanese photographers from the University of Nagasaki.

September 19, 2007

Clayton Cottrell and Jaret Belliveau

cotterell.jpgCheck out SVA MFA student Clayton Cotterell's project 'Teens'. The series is shot without the sentiment or judgment or worship so often seen in series about that age group taken by older photographers.

Cottrell's series brought to mind another somewhat darker set of portraits called The Dirt Squad by a young Canadian photographer Jaret Belliveau. Belliveau has several hyper intimate portfolios most centered around his family and their friends...

September 20, 2007

Late Last Night...

Very late last night I found myself in the City Hall subway stop with 8 other stragglers waiting for a non-existent R train. We were all spread out across the platform, all standing, but after half an hour everyone had migrated to the benches and we were all sitting in a row. Nobody had anything to read, cellphone service wasn't working, and most unusually, no one was attached to an ipod.

After a few minutes a very tall girl with long brown hair who I would later learn was a Parsons design student, broke social convention, turned to her fellow benchmates, and said, "My God, wasn't today beautiful." At first she just got a few quiet affirmations,"yeah, gorgeous", "best day yet" etc, but then a young woman in a business suit again broke social convention and revealed personal information: "It was so nice, when I woke up I decided I didn't want to feel miserable about anything, and broke up with my boyfriend. I ditched him at 7:30 in the morning. He didn't know what hit him." This revelation shattered the dam of silence and soon the entire group: a couple from Denmark, the Parsons student, the businesswoman, a somewhat scruffy writer named Mike, a lady carrying a violin, and a young tough-looking couple from Coney Island were all chatting. In short order we covered breakups, design books, Facebook, muggings (The Danish couple were surprised to learn none of us had been violently mugged...), and Thai food in Brooklyn. Another half hour passed. Finally Mike, said, "screw the train, let's walk, my car is on the other side and I can take some of you home." We immediately lost the Coney Island couple ("That's foolish man. Foolish.") but everyone else was on board. The violin woman slipped out of her heels into white tennis shoes and we headed out into the night.

Midnight walks across the Brooklyn Bridge are always beautiful, but last night, particularly so: a half moon hung low in the sky, the lower deck of the bridge was covered in little red flares which gave everything an otherworldly light, and the air was velvety cool. Perfect walking weather. Except for Mike who apparently walks the bridge regularly, and myself, for most of our group this was a new experience. "The only time I've ever walked across was going home on 9/11", said the businesswoman, "It was my first week on the job, my first week in New York."

The Parsons girl who had not known the bridge was walkable looked out over the water towards the city, "I was 13 on 9/11. Afterwards my weird reaction was that I wanted to move to New York. From then on, I knew I would end up here." Mike, who had been deep in conversation with the Parsons girl beforehand was startled. "You were 13? My God." He crossed himself.

At the second tower we lost the Danish tourists. They had been headed to the Fulton Ferry Landing and decided the view from down below couldn't be better than the view from the bridge itself. They said no goodbyes, and as we walked away they practically lunged for each other and began making out. "Name the kid Brooklyn," Mike called out after them. The conversation turned to PDAs. Mike felt they were unavoidable. The Parsons girl pled guilty. The businesswoman said, "I've never been with anyone that made me want to kiss them outside," and the violin lady just giggled.

On the other side of the bridge we all headed up Henry Street in silence into Brooklyn Heights where we found Mike's car am old Volvo. "I can walk," I said, I'm pretty close." "Me too," said the businesswoman. Mike insisted. "

It's more fun if everybody goes," said the violin woman who had hadn't said much since leaving Manhattan. We bundled into the car and rolled down the windows. "Such a pefect night," said the businesswoman sticking her hand outside. " A few minutes later we dropped her off. "Thanks," she said, "that was fun."
"You make me feel like we were on a date," Mike answered.
"Hey, I'm available now," she smiled, "and you know where I live."
We drove off leaving her waving on the curb. "I don't think she's over her boyfriend yet," noted the Parsons girl.
"No way," said Mike, she's much too happy. Can't be real."
"Nope," chimed in the violin woman.

I was the next to be dropped off. "We'll look you up on the web," everyone said. "Just google raul", I replied. We waved goodbye and I wondered what observations would be made about me when I was out of earshot. I smiled and watched the Volvo headed down Henry towards Cobble Hill marveling at how little takes to transform a group of tired grumpy New Yorkers into friends if only for the span of the Brooklyn Bridge.

September 22, 2007

Bedtime Story

You never know what you'll miss about a house until you've been gone a while— sometimes it takes years to know what was important about a place. But I know when I think about this particular house, I'll miss the pattern of lights that play across the living room ceiling as seen from the foot of my son's bed when it's my turn to tell the bedtime stories.

Related: Pepper's Ghost

September 25, 2007

A Theory

proust-on-his-deathbed.jpgProust on his deathbed by Man Ray
I've long held a little theory (unpopular amongst my friends) that great artists have only one story to tell and once they've told the perfect version of that story they are doomed. Nothing they do from that point on will ever be as good, their story has been told. Some artists escape by fashioning alternate versions of their story, never actually telling it perfectly, always leaving a bit of mystery in the center, always working their way around and around the one truth they know, but maybe these artists are doomed too as they will always fall short...

Anyway, tonight I happened upon something by Proust that suggests he had a similar conviction, "The great men of letters have never created more than a single work, or rather have never done more than refract through various mediums an identical beauty which they bring into the world."

Now he could have been saying that the great writers basically create a single universe, and that all his work is a shade of that universe, but given his other writing about the despair that comes from success I stand by my interpretation...

Don't know why I'm thinking about this at 3:14 in the morning. Enough. Goodnight.

September 28, 2007

Hendrik Kerstens

If you have to be born into a national artistic tradition you could do worse than being born Dutch. The love of natural light, the emphasis on quiet emotional portraits, and the long history of reverence of the everyday interiors gives the modern artist much to chew on whether working within the tradition or in opposition to it. I remember seeing Bert Teuissen’s Domestic Landscapes series for the first time and my first thought, was, "ahh he must be Dutch"- the national DNA is just so embedded in the work.

Another fascinating unmistakably Dutch artist is Hendrik Kerstens. For the last 12 years Kerstens has been almost exclusively photographing his daughter Paula creating photographs that consciously evoke Vermeer and other Dutch masters and yet are unabashedly modern. He’ll make a photograph of his daughter in an archaic hairstyle and in a classic pose, but then you notice her arms peeling from a sunburn. A hoodie will substitute for a 17th century bonnet, and so on... The play between the contemporary and traditional as well as the natural tensions between the photographer and his daughter give the series an unsettling frission and make it worth keeping on your radar.

Related: on tradition and tronies, on his technique, a clickable map of all the known vermeers (generally lousy scans), Vermeer's Camera

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