Sponsor Sara's Marathon Run and Receive one of my Prints

February 13, 2010

My friend and 20x200 colleague Sara Distin will be running her first marathon in support of First Descents, a charity providing guidance and support young adults with cancer. The date of the race coincides with the anniversary of her dad's death. Of the charity she writes:

Had First Descents been around in 1984 when my dad was diagnosed at the age of 37, I imagine he would have been quick to sign himself up. A lifelong outdoorsman, he kept on hiking, windsurfing and skiing as long as he was able. When doctors forbade it and common sense probably should have stopped him, he slipped out of the house in the middle of the night to windsurf and wander. He lived with cancer for 11+ years. Along the way, he imparted his love for life, the outdoors and adventure to me and my sweet sister, Katie.

(Read more from Sara about the race and the charity.)

My incentive to you to make a donation is this: everyone who donates more that $500 towards Sara's goal will be in the running to receive a 20x24 print of mine titled "Father and Son" (#2 of 7, signed). Of my own images, this is one of my favorites.


I will award the 20x24 print to a person selected at random from the pool of contributors after the race in April. Additionally, every person who makes a $500+ donation via this web post will get a signed 8.5x11 print of my choosing.

To be entered in the pool:

1) Make your donation.

2) Let me know about the donation by emailing me: RAUL *A-T* MEXICANPICTURES.COM. Then let me know whether you'd like your name publicized and send me your shipping address.

3) I'll compare notes with Sara at race time and we'll select the winner of the 20x24 print from the pool of entrants. The small prints will also be sent out at this time.

By entering you help young people with cancer, sponsor a lovely human being running her first marathon, get a tax deduction, and receive a free print - possibly a 20x24. This methinks is not bad deal.

The F Train is Full of Mystery

February 5, 2010

Last year I decided each month should be marked by a project.
January Project:Shine light on the mysteries of the F train.

January 4: Saw a guy with a pinky ring and remembered a friend of mine who said she had a boyfriend who wore a pinky ring and did "pinky ring kinds of things". I never knew what that meant exactly, but I wondered if this guy would know what she was talking about.

January 5: Do women with with extremely dense, extremely curly hair use their hair as pillow on the road?

January 6: I've seen many of people in this car before. How long does one live in New York before every day is an encounter with the vaguely familiar?

January 7: The subway car is quiet, but the loudness of people's thoughts is deafening. Wonder if any people here saw Wings of Desire and are thinking the same thing?

January 8: Guy in a nice suit. Drunk. 10am.

January 11: Where does one find blue jeans decorated with AK47 silhouettes? And bullet holes! They have manufactured bullet holes.

January 12: Guy with mismatched socks. Actually not much of a mystery because the guy is me. **Bonus mystery: Why is it that one always sees people reading Marquez novels in pairs?

January 13: French people telling knock knock jokes.

January 14: On the ride home in a mostly empty subway car a girl who is about 20 sat down next to a guy who is about 20. They want to talk. Maybe when I exit

January 15: Fellow with a new Zune.

January 18: Saw a guy who reminded me of a kid I knew in kindergarten named Roderick Ross. Wondered if this guy might be Roderick grown up? I didn't ask.

January 19: A girl in a yellow coat is crying quietly.

January 20: How does a person smell like fish and peppermint at the same time?

January 21: Woman with a violin case decorated with stickers for The Cramps.

January 22: Man wearing 2 scarves.

January 25: A lady is eating black licorice on purpose.

January 26: Black coats all around then a woman in a red coat enters. Everyone turns.

January 27: Girl literally whistling Dixie.

January 28.: Fellow with mullet. Of you mulletman I ask: Where does one go to acquire such a stunning mullet cut these days?

January 29: A woman drew X's, O's, and hearts all over her hand and up part of her arm.She looks tired — not the hand drawing type. Maybe she didn't draw them. Maybe it was one of her kids. She looks too young for kids. Looks like she's going to work.

Yasuhiro Ishimoto

February 2, 2010

Talked to a photographer friend today who had never heard of Yasuhiro Ishimoto. A situation I feel I had to correct:

Ishimoto was born in San Francisco, moved to Japan at 3, and then moved back at 17 only to be put in an interment camp a few years later. After being released he lived in Chicago from the late 40's to the 60's where he made many iconic photographs. While he returned to Japan in the 60's and has been there ever since, his his best known for his Chicago work. You can get a small taste of Ishimoto's sharp eye by scanning this gallery (unfortunately on an aggressively awkward-to-navigate website). A few images can be also seen at the Museum of Contemporary Photography. To really give Ishimoto his full due you have to grab one his books. A Tale of Two Cities is a good place to start.

Vincent Fournier

January 17, 2010



I've always been something of a space geek (Many of my childhood bookplates are signed, Raul A. Gutierrez, Future Space Pilgrim) so Vincent Fournier's Space Project hits me squarely in the solar plexus. Fournier travelled to space centers worldwide including the Yuri Gagarin Space Research Center, The Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, The Guiana Space Center, and the Atcama Desert Observatories in Chile and came back with a set of pictures that tells me Vincent is a pretty big space geek himself.

David Shrigley

January 5, 2010

snowman.jpgBlack Snoman by David Shrigley

David Shrigley is a talented artists, cartoonist, and animator, but of all his talents I love his photos the most..

Good Parenting

January 3, 2010

Raul Andres [age 5]: [looking at a sticker book of planets] This is Earth! This is where we are.

Gabriel [age 2]: What's that one and that one?

Raul Andres: That's Saturn and that one is Mars. Jupiter is over here. And that's Venus. And there's Neptune, Uranus and Pluto. Pluto is so cold.

Gabriel: But where's Krypton?

A New Year, 20 Years Later

January 1, 2010

On this day exactly twenty years ago I lost my mother and my youngest brother. I've written about this on previous January 1rsts. The date because of it's neatness — January 1, 1990 — gives me an absurdly simple way measure the the time from that day this one. Sometimes in conversation someone will ask how long ago they died, and I always resist the urge to give the questioner an exact tally with months and days attached. Stating the elapsed time so precisely seems too intense, but the calculation is automatic and needs no mental machinery. Recalling death anniversaries not just by years but also with months and days was something my grandmother would do. She carried around the dates of her 9 brothers and sisters who preceded her in death. None of her siblings, except maybe Tio Tibero, fell on easily divisible days.

At the age of 22, twenty years would have seemed an eternity to me, and yet nothing about those terrible days has faded. After being told the news and summoned home, I remember standing on the corner of Lexington Avenue and 53rd Street and hailing a taxi. In the cab I spun one of the buttons on my shirt back and forth until it broke and held that button in a tightly clasped fist all the way back to Texas. On arriving to my house which was strangely full of people, an aunt hugged me deeply and whispered through tears that she would fix my shirt. Wordlessly I handed her the button.

Christopher would be 39. It's hard to imagine he's been gone a year longer than he lived. Back then I was skinny but he was skinnier. We both carried cameras everywhere. I can't picture him thick and middle aged as I am now, still lugging a camera around. When he comes to me in dreams he is always young. Sometimes 19, sometimes 12, sometimes 4. In those dreams am always 3 years older. We play, or torture each other, or look at stars as we often did. My 5 year old son, Raul Andres, with his mad creative bursts of bookmaking and deep love of robots channels him sometimes. And sometimes when I reading to Raul Andres I get the sense memory of myself at 8 reading to Christopher. Often I am reading from the selfsame heavily worn books we read as children complete with our childish crayon annotations. Raul Andres happens to love the same stories and laughs in the same places.

My mom would be 65. She was only 3 years older than I am now when she died. But at 42 my life with kids is just beginning, while at 45, her life with kids was ending. Was she really younger than me now when I left for college? She complained bitterly of empty nest syndrome when I left. The scope and shape of her life versus mine is hard to reconcile. These days in my dreams of her she is always 45 and I am whatever age I am. In those dreams I am going about my life and will suddenly notice her in the corner of the room watching silently. I find myself asking questions, trying to fill in the holes, but she vanishes when I approach. I wonder if she will remain 45 in those dreams when I am an old man.

The deaths left me keenly aware of time and it's strange fluxuations. In the immediate aftermath, my old life, the life of a few days before, was suddenly distant. Thinking a week or a month or a year into the future was impossible. With all my nerve endings exposed, I existed rather than lived suspended in an excruciating endless moment. For some months afterward, the date had a gravity which I orbited at various speeds without regard for anything else. I focused on the timeline. Days would tick by painfully and yet everything seemed to be moving at lightning speed. Then suddenly, unexpectedly, one day it was over. Through a mysterious combination of good friends, travel, art, and love I reached escape velocity. I woke up, blinked my eyes in the bright sunlight, and time itself was righted, the continuum of my own life while disturbed was comprehensible again, and I could appreciate my strange new life without being tethered to a catastrophic moment. I don't know exactly how it happened, but I think it was because I realized at that I had a choice and I choose to move forward.

Someone asked me the other day whether experiencing tragedy at a relatively young age had made me more or less able to deal with tragedy now. I answered, no. You can't compare loss. Each one is uniquely capricious and each one ricochets through family and friends in unpredictable patterns of destruction. The irony of tragedy is that it is the inverse of friendship and love. The more you give of yourself, the larger your network of potential grief, but then again, the more people you have to help pick you up when you fall. We're all more vulnerable than we know, but we're stronger too.

So it's been twenty years. Mom, Christopher, you'd barely recognize me now, but I'd hope you'd be proud of the family I've created. We have fun. I miss you guys.

The People of the Book

December 30, 2009

"We are the people of the book. We love our books. We fill our houses with books. We treasure books we inherit from our parents, and we cherish the idea of passing those books on to our children. Indeed, how many of us started reading with a beloved book that belonged to one of our parents? We force worthy books on our friends, and we insist that they read them. We even feel a weird kinship for the people we see on buses or airplanes reading our books, the books that we claim. If anyone tries to take away our books—some oppressive government, some censor gone off the rails—we would defend them with everything that we have. We know our tribespeople when we visit their homes because every wall is lined with books. There are teetering piles of books beside the bed and on the floor; there are masses of swollen paperbacks in the bathroom. Our books are us. They are our outboard memory banks and they contain the moral, intellectual, and imaginative influences that make us the people we are today."

-Part of a super speech on copyright titled How to Destroy the Book by Cory Doctorow.

Samantha Contis

December 28, 2009

I'm intrigued by Samantha Contis' project Between Rivers and Roads but wish I had a bit more context for it. Then again, I feel that way about most work I look at online and of course viewing work online is a poor substitute for seeing it in person. Bet this series is beautiful as a set of prints.

Love Trickles Down

December 28, 2009

From something my wife is writing:

"You do know, you should remember Ji-Hyon ah – love flows down. From person to person it only trickles down."
I tell her I’m not sure I understand. I’d never heard this saying before.
"It’s an old Korean saying. This is one of the ways we understand love. It moves downward, from grandmother to mother, from mother to child – this is how we take care of each other. But the one below will never understand the love of his parent so he cannot love as much. Love is always greater on top. And so is the pain."

Glass Jars....

December 23, 2009

Alec Soth has a new online treehouse... It's every bit intriguing as his old blog. Start with Glass Jars...

Alejandro Cartagena

December 23, 2009

Congratulations to Alejandro Cartagena for being selected as a Hot Shot. I've long been been a fan of Cartagena's Lost Rivers project and of his work in and around Monterrey. The image above is actually from a new project titled Between Borders. It's great to see Cartagena on a roll. Hey! Hot Shot is on roll too. Two former Hot Shots were selected for the Whitney Biennial, a very big deal indeed.

Jane Mount's Ideal Bookshelves

December 3, 2009


We're releasing another pair of Jane Mount's Ideal Bookshelves today over at 20x200. One is a shelf of Tina Roth's (aka Swissmiss') daughter's books, the other is of chef George Weld's cookbooks. Both are supergreat and I recommend snapping one or both of them up.

Because Jane is part of the 20x200 family, I was lucky enough to have my kid's bookshelf painted (see below). Makes me happy every time I look at it. You can have your own bookshelf painted if you are a bit lucky (details on the 20x200 newsletter).


Note: Every time I post anything about children's books I get parents asking me for lists of book names. I've named most of the books in previous posts. I've also put most of them up together on an Amazon Heading East Bookstore.

Update: Tina just updated her site with a list/links for all the children's books in her daughter's ideal bookshelf. Many are European favs, obscure here. It's a great list/print Go and be happy.

La Luna

November 18, 2009

While putting my kids to bed last night my four year old asked me to sing "that song about the moon I love." It's a Mexican lullaby I knew from my childhood. I sang it once and immediately received a terse demand from my two year old, "Again," he commanded. So I sang again. And again. And again. We sang the song over and over until everyone was singing it.

"Why do I love that song so much?" the four year old asked, "It's my favorite one." His question struck me, and in a flash, I was back with my grandparents on their red tiled porch on a hot August night watching lightning roll around in the clouds. My grandfather was on his green metal rocker singing the song. The crepe myrtle was full of fireflies and the air smelled of a storm. When my grandfather finished, I asked the same question, "Abuelito, why do I love that song so much?" He turned to me and said, "One day you won't have to ask why you like it so much, you'll know." Now some 38 odd years later, I did know. Now I was sitting in the dark watching my sons. Both had closed eyes. The two year old's breathing indicated sleep. It had been a long pause when Raul Andres asked "Dad?".

I leaned over and whispered to him, "I think you already know why you love that song. I think you've always known." That was explanation enough. Eyes still closed, he smiled, and drifted off to sleep.

Astrid Kruse Jensen

November 18, 2009

Busstop14cm.jpgIt seems that more and more photographers are working at night these days often for no good reason, but partially, I suppose, because over the last few years it's become much easier to work at night because of faster films, and higher ISO digital cameras. I know I've been guilty of this. And much of the night photography out there looks like the work of the handful of photography stars who have made a name for themselves shooting in the dark.

I like Astrid Kruse Jensen's work because rather than reminding me of any specific photographer, Edward Hopper's paintings comes to mind. And pretty much any photographer whose work evokes Hopper has my number.

The Mysterians

November 14, 2009

Lately I've been finding copies featuring small hands and feet by the printer.

Daniel Augschöll

November 3, 2009


Love this photo of a treehouse in Daniel Augschöll's portfolio. I was just having the thought that treehouses are one of the things sorely lacking in the lives of urban kids. I wonder how far a guerilla urban treehouse initiative would go before it got shut down.

On the Appeal of Static

October 19, 2009

We're headed for a day when static will be a thing of the past. Signals will all be binary, either there or not with nothing in-between. I couldn't be more sad about this.

Radio Static
Truly local radio was once one of the great appeals of a long backroad drives. Dime store preachers in Texas. Blues in Alabama. Punk whenever you hit a college town late at night. Ranchera down along the border. Almost as good as hitting a great station was listening to it fade away. It gave you a sense of that you were going places and it made you feel you were traveling from someplace known into the unknown.

Record Static
When I play a record I often imagine the stylus bouncing up and down along the grooves of the vinyl moving the magnets that send vibrations up to be amplified. Part of me knows that each play will inflict tiny scratches and bits of wear. One day the records will sound like like grandfathers' obscured by a warm blanket of noise. Play a record enough and noise is all that will remain.

Telephone Static
It wasn’t so long ago that most local calls were as clear as a bell, but long distance calls were progressively degraded depending on the distance you were from the caller. It made long distance calls seem special. The static volume determined the importance of the call and as those calls were often from people you loved, the high noise to signal ratio made the love seem that much stronger.

Walkie Talkie Static
We were kids in the woods with walkie talkies exploring alone but together just out each other's of visual range. The static was the tether that kept us safe.

Short Review of Where the Wild Things Are

October 17, 2009


I saw Where the Wild Things Are today: it's a movie for adults about what it felt like to be a kid—a deeply considered interpretation of the book, beautifully rendered, but not a terribly good adaptation. There's a huge distinction in my mind between interpretation, which I see as someone's distinct vision of an original work, and adaptation which is a more neutral transformation of work from one medium to another, one that allows space for you to project your own interpretation. Of course a true adaptation of this book is impossible, so a strong interpretation was the way to go and in virtually every frame of this film you are reminded that this is Jonze/Eggers' Wild Things, rather than Maurice Sendak's Wild Things.

I've been asked if I'll take my kids to the movie. I don't think I will. Raul Andres who is almost 5 has a particularly deep love of the book. I'm pretty sure for him the book is about the joy of rebellion, the power of imagination, and the love of home whereas large sections of the movie are about dread, loneliness, and the inevitable messy consequences of things. These emotions are large parts of every childhood, but for me (and I think for my son), these were not the emotions stirred by this particular book. If I were to take Raul Andres to the movie, I'm almost sure he would be scared by the film but love it anyway. Still, I would hate to have the Jonze interpretation of the story overwhelm the one he has in his head. That's the danger of movies for children. They can obliterate narratives which are still being formed. So I'll wait a few years for Wild Things to become his own. I hope by waiting his ultimate enjoyment of someone else's love for this book made real will only deepen.

Andres Gonzalez' Golden State

October 15, 2009

I've been a fan of Andres Gonzalez' work for some time. He just posted a new work in progress project titled Golden State featuring work taken around his home town of Chino. I'm eager to see how this one develops.

Related: Tarlabashi

Patrick Romero's Earthquake Weather

September 28, 2009

The longer you live in a big city, the more the city becomes your own, specific to the people in your circle and the paths you frequent. One of the pleasures of living in a large city is discovering the work of artists who experienced different versions of your city. Good work— whether it contradicts what you know or fits neatly into your schema— always forces you to look at the city with new eyes. I've found this phenomenon to be especially true in Los Angeles which in it's vastness seems to only be comprehensible in small bites. I was there for 10 years and never got a handle on the place. I think you'll enjoy visiting Patrick Romero's LA and I love the evocative title of his project Earthquake Weather..or Stranded in Los Angeles.

Langdon Lane

September 28, 2009

langdonlane1969.jpgLangdon Lane in 1969
langdonlanetoday.jpgSame house via Google maps
We lived there for 3 years. It was a little house—we always called it the little house, even back then—but it was the first house I remember, so in my memory it is vast. The front yard is an endless stretch of the greenest grass. The sky is always blue. My room is chock full of books and toys, and monsters live under all the beds.

Traveling back via Google Maps is probably just as ill advised as driving back when passing through Houston and standing in the yard, but I visit from time to time.


Here in Brooklyn we live only 4 blocks away from the place we lived for the first two and half years of my 4 year old's life. We walk by on the way to his preschool, and sometimes he asks to sit on the steps. He knows he can't go inside anymore, but sitting gives him comfort. Normally we don't talk, and after a bit he'll simply get up and continue on. Do I tell him he'll always want to sit on those steps, and that over time they will grower smaller even as they grow larger?

1979 My First Movie

September 18, 2009

1979 My First Movie on Vimeo.

So it was 1979. I had been taking pictures with my dad's Pentax for a few years and had a serious camera bug. I had always asked to shoot with the super 8 (a Canon 814 Autozoom), but wasn't allowed. The movie camera was off strictly limits and of course the forbidden status gave it a special pull (I even loved the smell of the case). One summer my parents went on vacation leaving us with our grandparents. I had recently learned about stop motion and was desperate to experiment. This was my chance. I secretly brought the camera to my room and shot a stop motion test. The next day my brothers were recruited for a guerilla shoot. I didn't have a story, I just wanted to experiment and see what happened. The movie above is the result. I was actually so scared of getting in trouble that I left the exposed film in the camera bag. The film wasn't developed for months, and when it was it became part of our family lore...That little crude shoot gave me a passion for movies that has lasted a lifetime.

Sidenote: I've always thought it would be fun to add sound to this. I'll probably take a stab at it. I'd love for someone else to give it a try. The source is downloadable for a week on vimeo.

Scene list:

Stop Motion
Ed makes magic
Ed jumps
Use dove soap 21 secs
Sideways guy
Ed wake up
Ed jumps off of Mr. Dixon's Winnebago 1min 26secs
Can't shut the camera off
Mr. Dixon
My trophies
Christopher turns into an old lady
Ed Falls backwards
Razor ad w/ Christopher
Ed lays down a long skid on his bike 2min 35secs
I catch Ed and Christopher fighting (my Grandfather intervenes)
Very bad baseball special effect
Ed jumps off the roof. 3 min 05secs
More stop motion
Crest Commercial
Stop motion shoes
Upsidedown jumping
A brief appearance by me (Tigers shirt) 3min 52secs
Football special effects
Bozo the neighborhood dog
Stop motion tree climbing
Ed as Chaplin 4min 19secs
Christopher as a mariachi
My grandmother 4min 37secs
More stop motion
A watermelon we were growing
Bad pine cone special effect
More zapping
Falling down
More roof jumping
Practical joke on Mr. Sullivan 5min 18sec
Replay of the practical joke, but "funnier"
Delayed football reaction special effect

Continue reading "1979 My First Movie" →

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