Farewell, Abe Vigoda

Abe Vigoda post

Some people manage to live long enough that their passing isn’t considered tragic, but inevitable. No passing of a beloved figure is easy, but old age is a far lesser tragedy. Abe Vigoda was the subject of a rash of internet hoaxes over the years, with fake news articles and memes prematurely declaring the ‘Barney Miller’ and ‘Godfather’ actor dead. David Letterman often made ‘Vigoda is dead’ jokes on late night television, persistently poking fun at the rumors that had stretched back as early as 1980. As it was noted in his ABC New York obituary Wednesday afternoon:

“When a published report erroneously declared Vigoda dead in 1982, he responded by taking out an ad in Variety showing him sitting in a coffin reading his obituary. Abe Vigoda, until the real end, showed a sense of humor that he flashed one honest, pained look at a time. ”

It took a slow steady tide Wednesday afternoon for the news to settle in; this time it was real. Mr. Vigoda had indeed left us, at the age of 94. Most of us probably hadn’t thought about him too terribly much, but the news is still enough to give one pause.

I didn’t watch ‘Barney Miller,’ despite an addiction to classic television that started when I was about ten years old. I can remember summer evenings spent watching ‘Get Smart’ and ‘Dick Van Dyke’ marathons on Nick At Nite, but it was only the comedies that grabbed my attention. I never knew Detective Fish.

My earliest memory of the man stretches back to a living room at a friend’s house when I was in elementary school. The VHS cassette was the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan original rom-com. It was ‘Joe Versus The Volcano,’ and I loved it. I can’t remember why, exactly. Most of the plot escapes me, but I remember that weird tribe of orange-soda obsessed villagers (an irony today that reminds me of my father) and that classic scene at the beginning of the film when Tom Hanks quits his job.

“You look terrible, Mr. [Boss Man]. You look like a bag of shit stuffed in a cheap suit. Not that anyone could look good under these zombie lights. For 300 bucks a week, I’ve lived in this sink, this used condom!”

But this is all beside the point. The first impression of that long-faced grandfather that Abe Vigoda has always been, at least during my lifetime, came from that film. He was painted up and stoic looking, with that aggrieved look, that furrowed brow and that unsmiling face which, for whatever reason, made him seem wise and lovable. At 94 years of age, I am certain that he was wise. And with a career as long and successful as his, there’s no doubt he was greatly loved.

Good night, sir! Perhaps we will meet on the other side.

FINE ART PRINTS AVAILABLE HERE
SIGN UP FOR THE NEWSLETTER HERE

(and don’t worry, pal – I won’t mention your small role in Goodburger. I don’t think anybody involved – the studio, the actors, or the audience – really want to remember)

 

Advertisements

A Self-Indulgent Birthday Post (and Claire Danes)

Claire Danes

It doesn’t always have to be serious, now does it? It’s my birthday, and I’m feeling nostalgic.

Four years ago, I had the extreme pleasure of driving hours in early-morning darkness north from the Mexico border to Tucson International Airport to visit my sister in Boston. About an hour into the drive, going through Tombstone, my car punched through a thick fog, crawling at a twenty mile-per-hour pace. Before me, like an apparition, more than a dozen deer, wreathed in fog, trotted confidently down the main stretch of road through the town like a team of brewery horses.

Watching them clop at an even unbroken pace, I felt as though I had been teleported. Steam blew out of their nostrils. My car didn’t frighten them. It was a sight.

I met my first-born nephew when I finally arrived in Boston. After climbing an ungodly number of flights up from the red-line to Harvard Square, my brother-in-law was waiting to take me to their flat. Having lived in a small southwest town for several months, it was an exceptionally peculiar transition into the bright-light bustle of Boston. Overwhelming even, but not frightening. It’s amazing how quickly we adapt to our surroundings, how quickly everything else becomes alien.

The squealing sound of the rails, the parade of lights rushing through the streets, the mass of rigid shoulders marching about, fists buried in winter coats – I had almost forgotten what winter was like for the rest of the country. I still prefer a chilly Arizona mountain to drifts of snow.

My sister and I went out for lunch the day after my birthday, a lovely restaurant with the gayest of the gayest of all hosts leading us to our table; lisping, delicate-wristed stereotypes abounded. Every café and restaurant feels like paradise when you walk in from the forbidding cold. My sis was happy to have some time away from the apartment and the rigors of raising a new-born child, and I was happy to drink a beer and warm my hands in a corner pub with my sister – someone I’m confident still knows me better than anybody else, despite years of living thousands of miles away.

When we eventually emerged onto Harvard Square, the ‘Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year’ parade was winding it’s way through. I wasn’t aware of this tradition, but it’s an event put on by the Hasty Pudding Theatricals Society at Harvard. Beginning in 1951, the society bestows an award to performers deemed to have made a “lasting and impressive contribution to the world of entertainment.” The television series “Homeland” had just wrapped it’s first season and had attracted a significant amount of acclaim, and at the head of the procession was Claire Danes.

I only managed to nab a few little snapshots, but it was still a lot of fun to walk up to the snowy street, not expecting anything, only to have a brass band and a load of wagons dig through the thoroughfare with crowds of people all about. Excitement is contagious, and the streets were lined with people. My birthdays, ever since I left home, have always attracted tragedy – break-ups, job losses, frustrations with family, work, or school. But this was a good one. The last good one I can remember. The only good one I remember since I left home for college.

I’ll never forget it. I have the pictures to remind me.

 

Trump – There’s Nothing He Can’t Say

Trump Naked post

Saturday brought more of the same from GOP front-runner Donald Trump, who was campaigning in Iowa. With the caucuses less than two weeks away, one would expect his words to be strong, calculated, and to the point. In a not surprising move, however, Trump shot from the hip, remarking at one point that his supporters wouldn’t abandon him even if he killed somebody.

“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” he said at the campaign rally.

This brand of brash confidence has been a trademark of the Trump campaign, who has launched vicious personal assaults against his competitors, journalists, and even entire ethnic groups. In a world of reason, these kinds of remarks would be identified by what they actually are: denigrating, unprofessional, and even dangerous.

A clear line, as an example, cannot be drawn between pulpit-pounding (in the name of ending federal funding for Planned Parenthood) and the shooting that occurred on November 27th, but it would be a mistake not to entertain the possibility that staunch political rhetoric may have played a role in hardening the attacker against his victims. This should be an object lesson; when politicians speak passionately, about any issue, there are a lot of people listening, and not all of them will respond with consideration and restraint.

With shootings in Colorado Springs, San Bernardino, the Northern Arizona University campus, and elsewhere during this election cycle, one of the major talking points has revolved around firearms legislation, culminating in President Obama’s executive order on January 5th. With a great deal of opposition from the GOP, it is still in poor taste for a Republican presidential candidate to invoke an image of gun violence to illustrate how politically impervious he believes himself to be.
At it’s best, Trump’s statement in Sioux Center has a callous ring to it. What does it say about the Republican electorate if Donald Trump’s statement is true? Are they that forgiving? How can a political figure ascend to an “above the law” position that allows murder? What does it say that Trump’s supporters aren’t offended by his comment?

Since the presidential race began, commentators on the political left have disregarded Trump as a non-threat, a narcissistic media whore who would eventually prove ineffectual and irrelevant. It’s been stated, on too many occasions, that it’s only a matter of time before he says something so outlandish that his supporters will turn on him. That time has not come, and it might be wise to put that notion to bed.

Donald Trump has racked-up a number of media gaffs that have proved not to be gaffs – his supporters seem to love him all-the-more for his aggressive cruelty toward anyone or anything that might oppose him. He rebounds when making offensive statements about Mexicans, when he insults the looks of his party competitors, when he mimics and pokes fun at the physically disabled. And his attitude toward banning Muslims isn’t just a slight against an entire population – it runs contrary to the spirit of the United States of America itself.

We should not forget about the neoclassical statue that sits in New York Harbor. A symbol of American values, it is a depiction of the Roman goddess Libertas. In her left hand is an engraved tablet with words from “The New Colossus” penned by American poet Emma Lazarus.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Building walls and closing doors does not a great nation make. Joking about killing people isn’t anything we should tolerate from our political leaders. Donald Trump is not irrelevant, and the other shoe isn’t about to drop. He has money and he has support, and it’s time we all start paying closer attention.

PRINTS AVAILABLE HERE
SIGN UP FOR THE NEWSLETTER HERE

Sarah Palin Endorses Trump In Iowa

Palin Trump post

Many initial responses, especially among the political left, may hinge on shrugs. After all, it’s no secret that Sarah Palin is the darling of the Tea Party movement. In her own way, she’s just as bombastic as Donald Trump. It would follow that anybody who likes Sarah Palin probably already enjoys the aggressive rhetoric of the GOP front-runner. As pitiful as the reality is, celebrity endorsements work. And this one is a big win for the Trump campaign.

Tuesday afternoon, Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska and 2008 vice presidential nominee, officially endorsed Donald Trump for the office of president of the United States. This is the first major endorsement for any candidate on either side. With narrow poll numbers between the Trump and Cruz camps , this type of endorsement may prove to have a significant impact in Iowa. Despite being a consistent and trustworthy punch-line, Palin remains well-loved and influential among Tea Party voters. This move, just thirteen days before the caucuses, may be the ammunition Trump needs to emerge victorious.

Like Trump, Palin is a successful reality television personality who is unusually gifted at deflecting negative attention and recovering quickly from scandal. A generation ago, Trump’s rhetoric would not be tolerated. Among the conservative Christian crowd, his multiple marriages alone would be enough to raise eyebrows. In today’s political climate, denying refugees entrance and promising to use nuclear arms against Islamic State are positions welcomed with applause.

This begs the question: what does it say about the GOP when authoritarian, arrogant, and often ill-informed reality television stars are knocking on the doors of the White House? Palin’s endorsement shouldn’t mean anything, but that isn’t the reality. It’s a new book deal, more media exposure for Trump, and probably renewed discussions for yet another television show. It’s all theater, we know it, and we gobble it up like hungry pigs anyway.

Just as any Hollywood celebrity endorsing a candidate shouldn’t mean anything, the American voter is more inclined to support a candidate because Johnny Depp says so, without ever so much as reading an article, watching a debate, or crunching a number. This needs to change, and it can’t happen quick enough.

PRINTS AVAILABLE HERE
SIGN UP FOR THE NEWSLETTER HERE

 

So What’s With The Iran Nuclear Thing?

Iran Nuke post

Primer: We all have that friend who appears to thrive on delivering bad news. There’s a good chance we might be that person. People love giving bad news. Negative information empowers the messenger. Giving bad news makes us feel important. The only reason why is because people listen. The information impacts people and exploits the recipient’s sense of decency to not respond ambivalently. This is what the news media has become. It tells us on a daily basis that violent crime is up, that terrorist threat levels are rising, that common household items will kill us. Bad news always grabs more attention.

A parade of talk radio personalities and editorialists know this. Once we’ve gotten used to seeing more and more negativity around us, we actually begin to actively seek it out. The more awful it is, the more we want it. This is why a myriad of misinformation has surrounded the arms deal with Iran. The truth is that world is not a vortex of despair, and the nuclear agreement with Iran has been, at least up to this point, successful.

– – –

Saturday afternoon the Associated Press reported that Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary-general, is welcoming the implementation of the nuclear agreement reached with Iran in 2015. Iran has met all of the commitments outlined in the deal. According to his statement, Saturday’s achievement shows that “dialogue and patient diplomacy are the best ways to address worries about weapons proliferation.”

The optimistic view would be that Iran will continue to respect it’s commitments and that this agreement will remain unmolested. The hope is that cooperative dialogue will continue between Iran, the United States, and the five other world powers who negotiated the fifteen-year agreement. There is enhanced possibility for security and stability in a region that has been unstable, unpredictable, and antagonistic towards the west for decades.

Saturday afternoon, President Barak Obama signed an order to lift economic sanctions on Iran. This was done only after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) certified that Iran had met its obligations to curb its nuclear program. While this deal concretely deprives Iran of pathways to develop a nuclear arsenal, critics have been loud and steadfast in insisting that this agreement will have the opposite effect.

The administration’s case has been to open dialogue and delay Iran’s nuclear ambitions. In this, the administration has been successful. After decades of contention and lack of communication between governments, the United States is engaged in active, productive dialogue with the Republic of Iran. As President Obama expressed in his address Saturday, “A strong, confident America should advance our national security by engaging directly with the government of Iran.”

VIEW THE PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS HERE

There are material benefits, as well. Two thirds of Iran’s centrifuges have been removed. More than 98% of Iran’s nuclear stockpile has been shipped outside of it’s borders; it now holds less material needed to manufacture a single nuclear bomb. After decades of expansion, Iran’s material progress towards developing a nuclear arsenal hasn’t just been stopped, it has been reversed.

The most legitimate criticism cites the time-frame of the nuclear agreement; constraints on Tehran’s nuclear program will terminate after fifteen years. With the lifting of sanctions, it is expected that Iran’s economy will expand dramatically. Over $100 Billion dollars in assets that have been frozen overseas will be released back to Iran as a result of President Obama’s executive order. New oil, trade, and financial opportunities will empower Iran significantly over the next fifteen years, and there are fears that Iran will be in a better position to quickly and efficiently develop a nuclear arsenal once the deal expires. By that time, it is also possible that Iran’s economy would be strong enough to withstand reimposed sanctions and that it’s nuclear installations would be better  protected; it is expected that Iran will increase its air defense systems with the help of Russia.

The clock is ticking. But the time-frame is concrete, comprehensible, and provides opportunities for world governments to develop strategies should diplomacy fail. Before the nuclear agreement, the global community had “it’s only a matter of time.” The anxiety generated by the unpredictable nature of Iran’s nuclear program buttressed the resolve of war hawks, and served to reinforce the idea that armed conflict would be the only solution. Nobody knows what Iran will look like in fifteen years, who it’s leaders may be, and what our relationship to their government will be like. In the interim, the United States will be in a better position to negotiate deals with Iran for the future, even after the nuclear deal expires, and maintain peaceful relations.

Misinformation has circulated that Iran will be allowed to select it’s own inspectors, allowing ample opportunity for corruption. These reports surfaced in August of 2015 and were refuted within hours by the IAEA. This did not stop radio hosts and media pundits from repeating this misinformation. This did not prevent a contingent of our political leadership from repeating this misinformation.

There are claims that the agreement protects Iran from punishment for future violations. The truth is that no aspect of the agreement prevents the United States from re-implementing sanctions should inspectors discover that Iran has violated the agreement.

A consensus of polls reflects that an overwhelming majority of American citizens support this deal, despite the near fifty-fifty divide we see on capital hill. When messages are tirelessly repeated on the airwaves, it does not make them any more factual. The call to arms from Netanyahu, Huckabee, Cruz, Kristol, et al, does not represent the attitude of the majority of Americans. These politicians, it would be important to note, were on the wrong side of history leading up to the conflict with Iraq, and there is no reason to believe that their aggressive posturing towards Iran is any more legitimate.

It is surprising that individuals often don’t take the advice they routinely give their children: use your words. Every opportunity should be made to exhaust dialogue and diplomacy with foreign governments before we commit our armed forces to lethal combat. No conflict has ever been as easy as our leadership has tried to pursued us it will be. The costs are always higher. The collateral damage is always greater. The lives lost are always much, much more.

Politicians – Willful Ignorance And Dangerous Oversimplification

Ben Carson post

“The regulation of anonymous and pseudonymous communications promises to be one of the most important and contentious Internet-related issues of the next decade.”

~ A. Michael Froomkin

– – –

Yes, it’s primary season. We all know it and it’s difficult to escape the constant pandering, posturing, and promoting. Each candidate is trying to provide their best sales pitch to the greatest number of people. At this point in the race, we are in an information loop; with so many candidates on the GOP stage, we’re hearing the same messages on repeat. If you’ve watched one debate, that’s enough to understand what the candidates stand for.

Statements from these debates are dissected, scrutinized by newsrooms,  and they’re stripped of context and converted into soundbites by radio personalities. During the GOP debate on Wednesday, each candidate spent a significant amount of time on outrage, on how President Obama has failed, and on what programs and executive orders they intend to eviscerate should they win the seat. What’s troubling about this is that very little time was committed to explaining precisely what they would do instead. It’s disconcerting, listening to ambitious political leaders pounding the podium and insisting on burning the building to the ground without explaining what they would build in its place. When fewer personalities cling desperately to the stage, perhaps we’ll be presented with a clearer picture.

One of Mr. Ben Carson’s statements stood out to me. It was emblematic of how truly uncombed the GOP’s philosophy has become. To call the GOP disconnected is a kindness; if their oversimplified statements are more calculated than they appear, there’s only one conclusion we can take from the debate: the GOP does not respect the intellect of its constituents.

– – –

Midway through the GOP debate, Ben Carson connected two dots that any reasonable person should find outlandish:

“When you go to the Internet, you start reading an article and you go to the comment section. You cannot go five comments down before people are calling each other all manner of names. Where did that spirit come from in America? It does not come from our Judaeo-Christian roots, I can tell you that.”

The auditorium, predictably, erupted with applause. If we are to paraphrase his statement, though, it would appear to condemn America for falling into an attitude of meanness and contention, and the problem comes from prevailing secular attitudes that threaten to divorce America from is great religious traditions. I didn’t hear much discussion about this particular statement following the debate, but it clearly resounds with the Republican party and with GOP supporters. The implications are important.

First and foremost, Carson unwittingly evoked the parable of the invisible man, although he missed the point entirely. He also insisted that religion, specifically Christianity, is the panacea to help resurrect civility in the industrialized world. Like many in his cohort, Carson attempted to evoke a vision of a more civilized and cooperative American past, a 1950s pastiche of “simpler times.” The problem with that is that there has never in our history been a time of social perfection, and the ethnic strife and Cold War anxieties of mid-century America are the reality that “Leave It To Beaver” denies.

What Carson failed to realize is that anonymity is a problematic concept, and the lack of accountability that it promotes will almost always result in mischief. Bank robbers wear masks for a reason. White collar criminals are good at erasing their tracks. YouTube comment sections are rife with hateful rhetoric because nobody is held accountable for the words that stream anonymously from their fingertips. No amount of religion is going to change that.

What our leaders should be doing is promoting an atmosphere of accountability, not religious piety. They should not only preach from the pulpit of truth and transparency, but they should follow it up with sound legislation that reinforces that transparency. That is infinitely more American than insisting Christianity is the answer, than denying refugees because of their race or creed, than stripping regulation from the financial sector, of which every America citizen has a stake.

Watching politicians making broad statements about the decline of culture is offensive. Insisting on a monolithic one-shot solution – be it religion, a giant wall, or a fleet of gunships – is an unrealistic and dangerous lie. We need thinking leaders who do not pander to the lowest common denominator, but instead inspire greater conversation and comprehension of our status as a nation-state. Don’t tell me about how President Obama has failed. Tell me what you are going to do that is so much better. And while you’re at it, you had better tell me why.

Photography – When Two Iceburgs Collide

Iceberg Post

“In a world of pretentious and complacent amateur snapping, we are drowning those moments of truth in an ocean of the banal.”

– – –

The echo-chamber of social media. It’s quite a thing.

I recently read an article by Jonathan Jones of The Guardian, linked here, presenting yet another analysis of our “Instagram Culture.” This particular article is in response to a dispute between two amateur photographers who – by simple virtue of being in the same place at the same time – took nearly identical photographs. Conflict only arose, of course, when one of the photographers won an award in a photography competition and managed to get her image published. When the other photographer saw this, accusations of plagiarism quickly followed.

If I believed my work had been appropriated, I would have taken issue, too.
But- yawn – that’s a bit beside the point.

In the realm of social media, accusations of this nature can lead to a landslide of criticism, denigration, and even threats. This can be accomplished without communication between aggrieved parties, without scrutiny, and without legal process of any kind. In this particular case, both photographs proved to be ever-so-slightly different, indicating two different images; we now know that both images were authored by two individuals.

The point, I believe, is that photography is an easily misunderstood practice. This is ironic considering photography’s prevalence, but I contend that it’s a practice so uniquely situated between the realms of ‘art’ and ‘science’ that we often can’t tell the difference.

Nobody could mistake a beautifully-crafted drawing of Notre Dame from a grocery list. Even if both were crafted with a No.2 graphite pencil, the aesthetic difference between the two ought to speak loudly enough. What the camera accomplishes is an unprecedented blurring of the aesthetic division between professional and amateur. Nevertheless, a distinction can still be made – in almost any circumstance – between the artful use of the camera and the pedestrian reproduction of whatever subject happens to fall in its path. This distinction is simply more nuanced.

The above-mentioned incident straddles the line. It’s always possible to “machine gun” the camera, as Robert Capa often remarked, to achieve an “eventual grand image.” I still find it necessary to bring up the ‘room of monkeys with a typewriter’ metaphor. Shakespeare may very-well emerge from such an experiment. The ubiquity of cameras, compounded by the easy-share functionality of social media, has served to buttress this idea.

The camera – and the images it produces – conform to two fundamental principles: ‘expression’ and ‘documentation’ (not necessarily one above the other). What the camera can occasionally accomplish, unlike the No.2 pencil, is an accidental merging of these principles. Such ‘accidental masterpieces’ are why the practice of photography continues to find itself under fire, stripped of legitimacy as an expressive art form. If one can ‘accidentally’ capture something beautiful and moving (as works of art actually intend to achieve), how can it genuinely be considered art?

Good question.
– – –
These ideas of ‘documentation’ and ‘expression’ will always be at odds when it comes to photo-mechanical reproduction. Take, as an example, the Mona Lisa. If a photographer makes, with his camera, a photograph of the Mona Lisa, would we ascribe great brilliance of artistic expression to this photographer?

Likely not.
And rightly so.

Many of you – statistically speaking, most of you – have never actually seen the Mona Lisa with your own eyes.

Think about that for a second.
Rather, most of you have seen photo-mechanical reproductions of the painting in books and film. In these instances, a photographer was employed. That photographer used his skill to reproduce an image made by a Renaissance artist. Despite this intervention of the camera operator, we all still recognize that the expertise of Leonardo da Vinci is of greatest import.

Does this example rob photography of its artistic efficacy? Of course not.
– – –
As a photographer, I didn’t find Mr. Jones’s article entirely insulting, but I couldn’t accept it out-of-hand. His article appears to tacitly align with the general argument that photography, by its very nature, cannot be art. He illustrates this point thusly:

“If Cézanne and Monet both stood and painted that iceberg, the results would be totally individual. Even if two amateur water-colourists painted it, their work would contrast – just as the work of every pupil in a school class would be different if they were on that cruise sketching that iceberg. Photography can easily degenerate into a pseudo-art, with millions of people all taking pictures of the same things and all thinking we are special.”

Bollacks!

If two ‘art’ or ‘professional’ photographers were hired to photograph an identical subject – be it a political figure, a beautiful flower, or somebody’s pet cat – I imagine that a similar difference would present itself. Both professional photographers, likely, would have different equipment, divergent ideas, and unique sensibilities, and would make different choices with their subject. Taken just a small step further, I imagine the comparison between the pictures of a professional against the pictures of a pedestrian photographer (with a smart phone) would yield an instantly and easily-identifiable difference.

In fact, it already has. More times than any of us could count.

Or did she actually break the internet?

Heavy pencil or light pencil, stippling or cross-hatch, muted colors or bright primes. With photography, we have just as many choices as illustrators, graphic designers, and painters. Day, night, or artificial lighting, narrow or wide depth-of-focus, color temperature, black and white. Film and digital, high-grain, high-noise, resolution, not to mention cropping, framing, and composition. As with any visual medium, the photographer has a unique language, and many choices to influence the mood, the tone, the emotional impact of his or her work.

– – –

Jones correctly asserts that “photography matters when it finds original subject matter.” This, I believe, is true in almost any case (and with any art form). What he neglects to comment on is the requisite expertise of the creator. It’s as though the subject and the creator exist independent of one another, in his analysis. But while two beautiful images can be made – by two different amateur photographers – I would remind readers that nobody is actually heralding either image, from either photographer, as a great masterpiece.  His condemnation of ‘originality’ can be applied to any visual art practice; it need not be relegated to the realm of photography.

That is his mistake. It’s a significant one.

– – –

An original painting of The Grand Canyon – or the Eiffel Tower, or The Statue of Liberty, or The Dome of the Rock – can be pleasing to the eye. The effort and skill of the artist can be seen in each individual brush stroke. But these types of image are always in danger of landing themselves in the territory of ‘kitche’ because they present nothing new or moving to the viewer. What Jones fails to recognize is that ‘original subject matter’ is more of a dividing-line between ‘art’ and ‘non-art’ than the difference between a painting and a photograph.

There’s nothing wrong with art that doesn’t challenge it’s viewer. The Grand Canyon is damned beautiful; people that paint and photograph that spectacle effectively are, in my book, no more or less brilliant than any other image-maker. They just employ their skills and passions in a certain way.

Each art form has its place. Images, made by skilled visual artists, conform to the basic idea of what we all believe art to be. There are things that people make – some profound, some religious, some common, some with skill and some with less skill, some that are themed and some that are unmistakably abstract – and they all exist under the broad aegis of ‘art.’

When articles blossom out of thin air about the happenstance and “accidental” nature of artistic photography, I cannot help but comment. There exists predictable and banal art, in every conceivable medium, and there exists great brilliance and uniqueness…in every conceivably medium. Why Jones feels compelled to direct his criticism toward photography, I’m not sure.

I don’t want to believe that it’s the actual method of picture-making that Jones is attacking, but he sure makes it seem like it. And for that reason, I feel the need to tell him that he is wrong.

– – –
Until next time.

-joe