Tia Olivia's Quinceañera

September 16, 2009

Tia Olivia's Quinceañera from raul gutierrez on Vimeo.

I've been digitizing family home movies. This is the earliest I've found. It's my Tia Olivia's 15th birthday. The year should be 1958/59 if my calculations are correct. There is no sound although I've been thinking I should add some period music... Love the bit around 3:10 of all the men sitting on the porch. That's how I remember parties from my childhood in the 70's. Same porch, same cowboy hats. It would be different now. Most of the adults in this video of my grandparent's generation are gone. I miss that world so much and this little movie—more than any movie I have of my own childhood— brings the world of my grandparents all back to me.

Charlie Roberts

September 12, 2009


Someone asked me today if there's anything I miss about LA. After my wife's kitchen garden, morning swims in my own pool, and the good eats, my final answer was stopping by the Richard Heller gallery. While it's been a few years since I've been back to LA, at I can at least visit the gallery online for inspiration. Their artist lineup is top notch... hard to choose a gallery favorite, but if you forced me, it might be Norway based American painter/sculptor Charlie Roberts. I've wanted to own one of his paintings for years.

You can find a good interview of Roberts at Beautiful Decay. A radio interview can be found on KUHF.

More of Robert's work can be found at Kravets |Wehby (click on images for bigger sizes) and Vous Etes Ici,

Not Related: There's another artist named Charlie Roberts who makes videos of himself covered in peanut butter. Worth watching for the sheer horror.

The Politics of Kahlo

September 9, 2009

The LA Times art critic Christopher Knight's article titled Fighting over Frida Kahlo is the best summary I've read yet on the controversy raging around the book Finding Frida Kahlo which documents a purported cache of Kahlo ephemera. As always Kahlo is a polarizing figure and if anything the article understates the ferocity of the politics around find. The debate is curious to me as cache is broad enough that serious scholarship should be able to provide definitive answers. Many of the items documented are simply knickknacks—the type of thing an obsessive collector has a hard time throwing away, only valuable because they belonged to an icon, but the letters and drawings should be placeable within the known canon if they are legit. Full disclosure, while we haven't seen them in many years, Carlos Noyola and his wife, Leticia, the art dealers who found the cache, are family friends. The Noyolas are art obsessed, a couple who live a life almost absurdly chock full of art, and who have intimate knowledge of each of the thousands of pieces in their homes

I tend to be wary of found caches of art and found diaries, especially when they are purported to be from famous figures (most especially when the found work contains salacious material that confirms things we already believe about those figures). Double scrutiny is reserved when the origins of the artwork are shady, but then again then again the Mexican art world is small, clubby, and strange and it's easy for wonderful things to sit in boxes or hang on walls for years without a paper trail. Frida's life was not ordinary and it's certainly plausible that she would hide boxes of drawings and papers away. The Noyola's involvement has only heightened my interest as they would be the first people to be be skeptical of something that seems too good to be true. I concur with Knight, only serious scholarship will tell the tale and I look forward to seeing how this one plays out...

More on the controversy: The Guardian, New York Times, The Art Newspaper

Sidenote: For years I've heard that there is a Diego Rivera mural under several layers flat colored paint on the wall of a dining room 79th and Park Avenue. No idea if the story is true, but it would be fun to investigate someday.

Update: NY Times Article

Allie Mount

August 28, 2009

I have a weakness for western landscapes perhaps born of childhood of 16 hour drives between Texas and Mexico. This was the era before parents used car seats or seat belts and we would turn the back of the station wagon into private forts padded with sleeping bags and stocked with binoculars, Hardy Boys, and flashlights (the flashlights were for shining out the window at night). In my memory of those journeys, after the initial excitement of the trip had worn off, and after we had counted our 100th Volkswagen Beetle and spied everything we were going to spy with our purple eyes, my brothers would always lie down staring out the back window engrossed in endless debate about the nature of things whereas I would gravitate to the window obsessing over flashes of light, large marooned rocks, strange trees, and lone figures out in the distance. I don't remember ever getting tired of that rolling view and even today a long western drive nowhere is one my my favorite things in the world.

Many of Allie Mount's polaroid projects work for me as visual mnemonics allowing me to trace backwards in time to that view from the station wagon window and for this I am grateful.

Carlos Jiménez Cahua

August 28, 2009

Carlos-Jimenez-Cahua2.jpgCarlos Jiménez Cahua graduated from Princeton last year with a thesis exhibition was titled Lima. Of this body of work he writes:

"I am Peruvian by blood and birth, but I've grown up an American. In the US, and in most places, I feel like I am in a city, region, or nation—those intangible creations of people. But in Lima, I felt not like I was in a city, in Peru, or even South America, but atop the Earth herself."

His recent one man show just closed. I'm sad I missed it.

Kennedy & the Ocean

August 26, 2009

It's 4am. Edward Kennedy died a few hours ago. On hearing the news, I immediately thought back to second time I saw the man in person. It was a black tie event here in New York. He was stuffed into a tuxedo, red faced, tired, and seemingly bored with the gaggle of bejeweled dowagers surrounding him. This was in the early 90s. I had seen him many years earlier on a junior high trip to Washington D.C. We were on a tour of the Capitol building. This was well before the era of 9/11 and you could pretty much roam the halls. The group was looking for our local congressman's office, and while navigating a narrow hallway, Kennedy hustled by, a man in a hurry, carrying nothing and being trailed by several young aides. A teacher in my group shouted "Senator Kennedy!" Perhaps it was her thick East Texas accent that made him turn. He brightened, "Welcome to the Washington everyone," he said in that voice. That voice was startling, it made him real. I waved and he waved back. I could have sworn the wave was for me even though the rest of the class waved as well. That stuck with me.

So when I saw him all those years later, stuck at that table I had the ridiculous thought that a wave from the crowd would lighten his mood. I convinced my date to wave with me. Kennedy seemed to notice us for a second, but then quickly went back to looking bored. The second memory started to color the first.

The third time I saw Kennedy in person was a few years later, I had flow to Hyannis Port from from California for a fall wedding. After arriving I escaped the hotel/wedding party for a walk along the shore. It was drizzling and cold, not good walking weather, or good beach weather, but I needed to stretch my legs. The beach was empty save for a solitary figure in the far distance. I wasn't until I got close that I realized it was Kennedy. He was wearing a windbreaker and staring out to sea, hands in his pockets. He was a big hippopotamus of a man, wind whipping his hair around, but he was calm. He stood there for a very long time. What does a guy with that much incident in his life think about in those moments? Policy? Fending off enemies? Family? His aches and pains? I thought about how in the tiniest way I had been part of the noisy background of his life and how nice it must be for someone like him to look out into the empty ocean without yappy people constantly vying for attention.

Later that weekend I remember trying to take pictures of the sea. This is something virtually everyone who owns a camera does at some point no matter how banal the results. Virtually all of us have sat there staring out at the sea and wanted to hold on to that feeling. The sea connects us in some strange way because that mental frame of sky / horizon / water is so powerful. Sugimoto suggests (rightly) that that frame is one of our most primal visions.

Here are three seascapes. I could have just as easily picked 6 or 16. Here are 3 more and some more. I believe we all carry these images around even when we are landlocked, even when can't take solitary walks in the rain.

wolfgang.jpgWolfgang Uhlig

yumiko.jpgYumiko Kinoshita

olaf2.jpgOlaf Otto Beck

Adventures in Hair

August 25, 2009

Photo 1
1. Koreans of a certain generation/ilk dye their hair into their 80's. It's normal, like cutting your fingernails. So anyone with grey hair, especially anyone under 50, at least in the eyes of this group, looks a) ancient b) ungroomed to the point of being disheveled.

2. My mother in law is Korean and of this certain generation/ilk.

3. For almost a decade she's been urging me to "Look younger. Feel better."

4. For a recent family wedding I decided to make my mother in law happy.

5. And that is how I found myself in the Jung Won Beauty Salon. The dying procedure was observed by my mother in law, her father, her sister, her sister's husband, a Pastor, and a couple of kids.

6. Afterwards:

Mother-in-law: "You look sooo handsome now. Not like old man. Before you look sooo old."

Grandfather [laughing]: "Before you were older than me. Now, not so bad."

Mother-in-law's sister: "Yeah, you looked terrible. This is so nice."

Pastor Shin: "I really like the reddish color." It looks great!"

7. I forgot to mention that the hair lady decided to make my hair an unnatural looking dark red color. Yup.

Photo 2

1. After 3 weeks of hiding under a baseball cap, the correction.

**What I actually looked like 20 years ago vs normal me

Jason Florio

August 14, 2009

Jason Florio's portfolio site is full of top notch reportage. The image above is from a set titled Beijing Artists. I also especially like a set he titles "The Poets of Bagdhad". He writes in his bio:

"Over the past nine years I have been arrested by the Taliban and enjoyed a tea with them, I have ridden into far-flung Afghan valleys in search of nomads with mujahideen as my security, dressed as a woman to cross a border, was at the foot of the Twin Towers as they collapsed, enjoyed the ‘comforts’ of a Cuban hospital, hunted bats in Surinam, chatted with Somali pirates over Coke and biscuits and danced like a fiend in Beirut nightclubs…..........among other things."

That's about what I expected from the photos.

Tim Berners-Lee on the personal home page circa 1996

August 12, 2009

"With all respect, the personal home page is not a private expression; it's a public billboard that people work on to say what they're interested in. That's not as interesting to me as people using it in their private lives. It's exhibitionism, if you like. Or self-expression. It's openness, and it's great in a way, it's people letting the community into their homes. But it's not really their home. They may call it a home page, but it's more like the gnome in somebody's front yard than the home itself. People don't have the tools for using the Web for their homes, or for organizing their private lives; they don't really put their scrapbooks on the Web. They don't have family Webs. There are many distributed families nowadays, especially in the high-tech fields, so it would be quite reasonable to do that, yet I don't know of any. One reason is that most people don't have the ability to publish with restricted access."

Lies I've told my 4 year old recently

August 11, 2009

The mole men live in the subways.

The bird men live in the skies.

The monster doesn't actually live under the bed (he's hiding somewhere else nearby).

There are 71 flavors of snow, but only 63 flavors of water.

If you sing enough, you will never grow old.

Don't worry, I lock up bad dreams in little cages.

Every good room has a ghost.

When we made you, we left part of ourselves behind so you would never be lonely.

Your shadow knows your secrets.

Books hide when they don't want to be read.

Time moves faster when close your eyes.

You knew everything, but then you were born and forgot, and now you have to learn everything again.

Be nice to your brother, he will always be your best friend.

We're not lost.

Moms and Dads never really get lost.

We know exactly where we're going.

Related: Lies I've told my 3 year old recently

The Laugher

August 6, 2009

I've always loved the opening paragraph of Heinrich Böll's The Laugher.

"When someone asks me what business I am in, I am seized with embarrassment: I blush and stammer, I who am otherwise known as a man of poise. I envy people who can say: I am a bricklayer. I envy barbers, bookkeepers, and writers. All these professions speak for themselves. They need no lengthy explanation, while I am forced to reply to such questions: I am a laugher. Then I am always asked, "Is that how you make your living?" Truthfully I must say, "Yes." I actually do make a living at my laughing, and a good one, too. My laughing is - commercially speaking - much in demand. I am a good laugher, experienced. No one else laughs as well as I do. No one else has such command of the fine points of my art."

Greg Girard's Early Work

July 14, 2009

One of my favorite photography books of the last few years was Greg Girard's Phantom Shanghai. Girard, who is based in Shanghai, has recently updated his site with a set of knockout portfolios he collectively titled "Far East / Far West 73-86".


"Far East / Far West 73-86" features sets of images taken before Girard was a professional photographer. Of the work he writes:

"From 1973-1986 I photographed the familiar and unfamiliar parts the city where I was born, Vancouver, and made my first visits to Asia - when it was still more commonly referred to as the Far East, eventually living in Tokyo and later in Hong Kong. These are the photographs of an amateur, unschooled except by early exposure to Popular Photography magazine and the novels of Graham Green, Peter Handke and Paul Bowles, and inspired by the imagery and stories of films of the 70s. "

What strikes me about these images is not that they are unschooled but that they are all so consistent, the product of someone with a keen cinematic vision... and that the photographs, whether they were made in Vancouver or Tokyo or Las Vegas, each hold something of Shanghai within. So perhaps Shanghai was beckoning Girard all along and these images are a kind of visualized déjà vu, pictures of a place he already knew, but had yet to experience...

How many more times will you watch the full moon rise?

July 12, 2009

"Death is always on the way, but the fact that you don't know when it will arrive seems to take away from the finiteness of life. It's that terrible precision that we hate so much. But because we don't know, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless."
— Paul Bowles The Sheltering Sky

In Which I Am a Giant

July 8, 2009

I've been keeping very long hours lately have been bone tired pretty much all the time.

My 4 year old to me tonight: Dad you look tired.

Me: Yeah.

Raul Andres: I could tell you a story so you could take a nap.

Me: I like that idea.

Raul Andres: Once upon a time there was a daddy who was a giant.

[I close my eyes.]

Raul Andres: You can't sleep yet. I have to get to the best part. The giant was you! Wouldn't it be so much fun to be a giant?

Me: Why would it be so much fun?

Raul Andres: Because if you are a big giant everything is the size of a toy. The whole world. That's the story.

Me: I like that story.

Raul Andres: You can sleep now, but not too long because we have to play hide and go seek. Ok dream you are a giant now.

Edgar Martins

July 8, 2009

There's quite a kerfuffle brewing about Edgar Martins photoshopping some an image for a story in the NYTimes.
Specifically he mirrored an image to create symmetry and then changed a few things in photoshop to cover his tracks.

This is a story because Martins states emphatically that he does not use photoshop (or other "darkroom manipulations") and because he apparently duped the Times (he should have labeled the picture an editorial illustration rather than editorial photojournalism). I find the whole thing amusing because there are many images Martin's portfolio that are obviously photoshopped using exactly the same technique.

This is easily provable on a suspect image simply by taking half the image, flipping it horizontally and layering it over the other side of the image with say 80% opacity... At that point it's obvious which parts of the image are flipped and which parts are photoshopped in.

Here are two more examples of his work that easily debunk his "no photoshop" proclamation:



For the record, I like Martin's work, and I'm not anti-photoshop (and I'm certainly not anti-darkroom work) but I am anti-hypocrisy.

Nadav Kander

July 5, 2009

I've known for a long time that Nadav Kander was a photographer of broad and varied talents but I don't think understood how broad or how varied until I sat down to go through his website thoroughly tonight. From his always sharp editorial work (Obama's People) to large scale art projects (Yangtze, the Long River), to small personal projects (The Parade) Nadav produces striking picture after striking picture. It is curious that his projects while internally consistent lack a signature style. I don't think I've ever seen a specific image and said, "Oh that must be by Nadav." He reminds me of those filmmakers of the classic era like Howard Hawks who could direct a stylish gangster picture followed by western followed by a sci-fi flick and get them all right. All this is a long winded way of saying, spend some time getting to know Nadav's work because even if you think you know it, there is probably much more you are unaware of.

Tessa's Bookshelf

July 4, 2009

I love it when a single dusty bookshelf can telegraph so much about a person, even if that person has been gone for years.

These are just a few of the books found found on the shelf of an English woman who led a colorful young life and lived out her last years in the Mallorcan hills:

Claret And the White Whines of Bordeaux - Healy
Hedgerow and Pond - Lodge
A Short History of the English Peoples - Green
Annuals in Color and Cultivation - Mensfield
The KING of the DARK CHAMBER - Tagore
In Search of England - Morton
A History of Classical Scholarship - Sandy's
Poetic Works - Scott
The Twyborn Affair - Wythe
Winnie the Pooh - Milne
I Saw it happen in NORWAY - Hambro
Far Eastern Agent - Moore
The English Kings - Fowler


June 30, 2009

Imagine how much more fun the iOS video camera would be if it had a pause button. In camera cuts!

Editions at 20x200

June 24, 2009


We released 4 editions today from yours truly on 20x200... All are from my project Travels Without Maps. Many of you have asked for small affordable prints, and now they are yours for the taking.

Additionally, I've seriously revamped my portfolio site and have now made it easier to grab big prints there. I have several new projects waiting in the wings will be putting them online in the coming weeks, so stay tuned, things are afoot!


June 23, 2009

I saw this bus the other day and it reminded me of something and I couldn't put my finger on it... was it a tattoo, something my wife drew in a letter, an old logo? I just couldn't place it...
hearts-nyc.jpg...and then tonight during a wander it struck me. A few years ago I spent 6 hours on the back of a bike decorated with those hearts:
Mystery solved.

Your Secret Age

June 20, 2009

I believe most of us have a secret age separate from our actual age. It might be 4 or 8 or 62. If you want to know someone's secret age, watch them ride a bike.

I still enjoy reading a real newspaper...

June 13, 2009

I prefer my newspapers to be real things I can hold in my hands. Why?.. partially, so I can happen upon stories I would never read on the web (on the web I tend to self select stories I already know will hold my interest; in a real paper I read almost everything. Why? Because it's comprehensible. There is an end.)...

Anyway, I digress... Here are a few choice snippets from an article titled "An Independence Claim in Nicaragua" which I found the other day while reading the newspaper on the couch so you can read it here on the web...

Commercial sales of turtle meat, which has long been a delicacy here, is restricted in Nicaragua because of declining populations of endangered green sea turtles — one of many cultural clashes that the people in this remote corner of Nicaragua, who have eaten turtle for generations, say have propelled them to create their own country, which they have dubbed the Communitarian Nation of Mosquitia.


Fed up, the separatists seized the region’s ruling party headquarters on April 19 and appointed Héctor Williams as their wihta tara, or great judge. Mr. Williams, a local religious leader whose thin black mustache stretches out toward his deep dimples, said the region suffered from a variety of woes — devastating hurricanes and rat plagues to a mysterious disease known as grisi siknis, which is marked by collective bouts of hysteria.


The only weapons visible during a recent visit — before the weekend eviction — were slingshots, although the separatists said they were seeking financing to train and equip an army of 1,500.

“We’ll defend our natural resources,” vowed Guillermo Espinoza, the movement’s defense minister, who was known as Comandante Black Cat during the contra war. If no guns can be found, he said, the separatists will make weapons themselves.

Mike Sinclair

June 7, 2009


I love photographers who see beauty in the mundane and then make you see what they see. Mike Sinclair is one of those photographers. I blogged one of his images 3 or 4 years ago and was pleased to come across his work again while helping judge the most recent Hey, Hot Shot! competition.

Requiem for Kashgar

June 3, 2009

Part of me doesn't believe I'll never be able to see Kashgar's old city again, but then again part of me doesn't believe a government would destroy old Beijing, and yet it's gone.

Read the New York Times story on the plan to flatten Kashgar's old city and be sure to check out the audio slideshow. The pictures below are mine.


John Thomson

May 12, 2009

Don't know if I have many readers left in Beijing, but if so, be sure to head over to the Beijing World Art Museum to check out an exhibition of work by Scottish photographer John Thomson, one of those great intrepid 19th century traveling photographers. Many of the 150+ images in the exhibition have never been shown before... Go if only to see pictures of old Beijing. Wish I could go see the show in person or at least look at more images online.

More Images: Portfolio 1, Portfolio 2, and many more hidden out there on google image search.

Mother's Day

May 10, 2009

My wife was out of town this mother's day. For her card I asked my kids to close their eyes and tell me why they love their mom. As she was on their mind, the results I think were especially true. Here are the unedited results:

Raul Andres - Age 4

Happy Mother's Day.

Dear Mom,

I love you to not wear clothes. You are like a... like a... lamp. You make me feel happy.

I want you to go in the milk and the salt.

Love Raul Andres

Now go in the sugar.

Gabriel - Age 2

Dear Mommy,

Yes. Yes. Yes. I love mommy. I love mommy, one, two, three, four, twelve!
I eat her all up.

Me Gabriel

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