May 25, 2017 – Ideal

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“Time eventually positions most photographs, even the most amateurish, at the level of art.”
~Susan Sontag

There’s little that I could even consider writing about today’s image. Sometimes simplicity and irony speak loudly enough for themselves. This image was made before a greater part of downtown Tucson was renovated. I would have to drive down to South Sixth Avenue to confirm it for myself, but I’m assuming that this business is either something completely new or has been refurbished.

Of course, it’s always possible that nothing has changed at all.

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May 13, 2017 – Tucson Rail-yard

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I have published various iterations of this image. I took a lot of pictures that day, my feet crunching through the stones alone the railroad tracks. In this particular section in downtown Tucson, the rail-line runs behind warehouses and various artist spaces. I remember going out back during a show I was performing in at a place called, at the time, The Space. It was a fashion and music showcase, and I was wearing these amazing custom-made pantaloons and a painted-on curly mustache for a little performance piece.

Booze was flowing, and we were able to override the city ordinance by accepting donations, rather than accepting cash, for liquor. Art was on the walls and the music was loud, and I was half-clothed, wandering around without my glasses, pretty-well out of my mind. Halogen track lights on red brick and a clutch of people dancing and laughing. We’d congregate on the back stoop, a small group of us, on a rickety wooden platform with three precarious steps down to the graveled ground, just ten feet from the rail line. I remember hunkering down, red wine in a plastic cup, smoking a cigarette, as the train whooshed by, drowning-out our conversation.

Ten years later, I realize that these are the stories I’ll be telling to younger people. You know, “when I was in college” or “when I was your age” type of stories. Speaking about when times were more innocent, when the rules were more relaxed, when we got away with murder and still can’t believe it. I think this happens with every generation. I’m glad I was wild and reckless and had a memorable night in a strange performance space along Congress Avenue, with a collective of creative and free spirits, huddled against the darkness, in this tiny little corner of the cosmos.

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March 20, 2017 – Coca Cola

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If you’ve never traveled to Mexico before, let me just say this: Coca-Cola has won the soda wars with our neighbors to the south. Sorry, Pepsi, but you have lost. You can’t travel to a single town in Chihuahua without seeing the Coca-Cola logo emblazoned on billboards, grain elevators, street vendor carts, store fronts, public walls, and personal apparel (t-shirts, sweaters, baseball baps, backpacks).

It’s surreal.

While I can’t confirm this, I’m confident that the average Mexican drinks more soda than water. The native Tarahumara, including the smallest children, seem to be sipping from Coca-Cola bottles more than water bottles. And this makes some sense, even though it’s tragic; a liter of Coca-Cola is actually more affordable than a liter of bottled water. Just like us Americans, diabetes and obesity have become serious health issues for an ungodly number of Mexicans, and the affordability of soft-drinks (and the lack of clean water) is likely the culprit.

Today’s photo is but one example. You cannot escape the red-and-white logo. Outlandishly, it’s everywhere.

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March 08, 2017 – Mexican Streetside

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For the life of me, I can’t remember the name of this small town. Somewhere about a hundred and fifty miles south of the port of entry in Naco Arizona (Naco Sonora). Cracked facades and faded paint jobs are common in these little towns. On the surface, these places appear inhospitable – and I’ve heard plenty of horror stories – but I’ve never had a negative experience in these places. People are friendly, the bodega owners are more than happy to take your money, and there’s always at least one fantastic restaurant or taco cart.

When traveling through the smaller villages in Mexico, there’s no “I just need to find a McDonalds” option. You pretty much have to trust the local food. Either that, or eat nothing but flamin’ hot cheetos and drink nothing but coca cola. And what’s the fun in that?

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February 09, 2017 – The Barrio

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Downtown Tucson is divided into the Presidio District, Barrio Viejo, and the Congress Street Arts and Entertainment District. You could throw a rock from one end and hit the other. But the old barrio is filled with old adobe mud-brick buildings and other rustic reminders of Tucson’s past. In the shadow of some of downtown’s taller office buildings and hotels, the neighborhood is strangely quiet, despite the fact that one could walk three blocks north or east and find themselves smack in the middle of the Rio Nuevo bar and restaurant scene.

This is a unique place, one I like to visit often, and home to a number of supremely talented artists, musicians, and other eclectic Tucson personalities.

This photograph was made using a vintage Yashica-D Twin Lens Reflex, a 1960’s-era medium format film camera. I just loaded some new film into the old beast, after several years, and started making new pictures. I look forward to sharing them with you.

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February 08, 2017 – An Antique Land

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The difficulty with making anything that could even closely be mistaken for art is that art is entirely subjective. We live in a highly interconnected world, and there are volumes of online videos, written articles, marketing books, and web pages dedicated to “hacking” yourself into financial success. That’s fine, except it reduces art to a craft – identify your niche in the market, and then do nothing but the same thing, over and over and over again until it’s time to retire.

There’s a lot of beautiful work made by incredibly talented people who adopt this model of marketing, but I can’t quite seem to hop aboard. I don’t want to sit down, do some social media research, and then spend the rest of my life making different versions of the same picture. I suppose this is why I haven’t ever struck it rich as a creative professional – but I’m definitely satisfied when I finish a piece.

This is the newest image in a series that I started about a decade ago, called ‘An Antique Land,’ a line borrowed from Percy Shelley’s poem. To me, this series of architectural ‘portraits’ taps into the impermanence of our communities. But I prefer not to comment much beyond that; I don’t like to tell people what to think about this kind of work. My interpretation, or my intent, doesn’t imbue this images with significance. I like the idea of people looking at this kind of work and bringing their own ideas to the table.

Until next time, folks. I’ll be seeing you soon.

“A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.”
Diane Arbus

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February 19 – Liberty

02-19 Liberty postOne of the little tricks film photographers sometimes employ is known as “cross processing,” in which slide film is developed using chemicals designed to for regular color film. The results vary, but are characterized by a dramatic color shift, with punched-out contrast and deep tonal saturation. These effects can be applied to digital images with relative ease using editing software like Photoshop; the film photographer, however, is forced to accept the final result rather than having the opportunity to endlessly tweak the effect in post production.

Basically, cross processing is controlled chaos. It’s a method of embracing “happy accidents.”

This photograph was made in Jerome, Arizona, a small mining town outside of Prescott Valley in the Black Hills of Yavapai County. The copper mining operation saw a huge boom in the 1920s, pushing the population to around ten thousand. Today there are only about five hundred people, but it gets a lot of traffic from Phoenix – it’s a wonderful weekend getaway. I’ve always enjoyed walking around and looking at the old buildings, the narrow alleys, and the wrecks of brick rotting on the hillsides. It is a quiet place with a rich history. If you’re lucky, you might even bump into Tool and Puscifer front-man Maynard James Keenan, who moved to Jerome to start a winery in the early 2000s.

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