January 26, 2017 – Black and White

industrialabstractpostFINE ART PRINTS AVAILABLE HERE
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One of my friends – more of an activist, politically motivated, and extreme personality – once commented that my work specifically seeks to “mean nothing at all.” This was over a decade ago, but I remember the comment; it made me think a lot about the kinds of images I was making at the time. I didn’t feel insulted, but I did feel compelled, initially, to try and defend myself.

My natural instinct was to disagree (and I did disagree), but it was the first time I really sat down and tried to apply meaning to the photographs and paintings I was making. And it made me think about the utility of abstract imagery in a broad and general sense, too.

I don’t think all artwork needs to be a didactic teaching tool, or direct the thoughts and emotions of the viewer. In fact, in many circumstances, I have a contrary opinion. I am seduced by abstract compositions specifically because they can mean any number of things to any number of people. The possibilities aren’t infinite. Color, movement, composition, film grain, delicate or light brush strokes – these all guide our interpretation and emotional response. But abstract compositions allow us to think broadly about how an image impacts us, and the experience of viewing abstract art becomes very personal. An abstraction can remind us of a specific event, a movie we watched, an experience we had – and in an almost slight-of-hand kind of way, through some peculiar magic, an image made by a complete stranger can ascend to significance in the hearts and minds of the individuals looking at it.

I am compelled to make pictures like this for reasons that still evade me, but I make them because they affect me, they move me, they touch a part of my subconscious and tickle a part of my mind. I can’t expect images like this to be universally adored, but I have to have faith, as an artist, that there are other people out there, like me, who find this kind of composition interesting.

The hardest thing for an artist to do is follow their instincts. If I listened to all of the criticism, all I would do is try to mimic the landscapes of Ansel Adams or take endless ‘desert sunset’ pictures. There are plenty of those images in the world, and I just need to make images of my very own.


January 23, 2017 – Boxcar


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There are lots of clichés to either avoid or embrace when developing one’s own photographic style. Portraits with the horizontal bands of light from window blinds raking across the subjects face, looking for garbage on the ground and trying to find the ‘beauty’ in it, and then of course there’s always graffiti. And this is just to name a  few.

I guess my weakness is graffiti. Almost like compiling a mix tape, photographing graffiti is like appropriating somebody else’s art in order to express yourself. Knowing that it’s a common subject in college photography classes, I was always keen to try and document graffiti in a way that combined the tagger’s artistic sensibilities with my own. Not entirely sure how successful I’ve been – it’s always a challenge, evaluating your own work – but I’m quite fond of how this image turned out.

On the south side of Tucson, where faded murals and rusted boxcars sit under the desert sun, I always know where to go to find interesting textures to photograph. I hope you enjoy today’s picture of the day.


February 11 – Smith Pipe and Steel

02-11 Smith Steel post


In the warehouse district south of Downtown Tucson, beyond the night clubs & restaurants, Armory Park & El Barrio Viejo, one might happen upon this peculiar sight. It appears to be a life-size – perhaps larger than life-size – sculpture of a velociraptor, sitting comfortably on the corner of Euclid & East 25th Street. It keeps constant watch over the parking lot of Smith Pipe & Steel, an industrial warehouse of some kind.

Sometimes a photograph speaks for itself, and I believe this would be one of those times.

Head down to Tucson’s South Park (no joke) neighborhood. According to a GoogleMaps search, this interestingly out-of-place character was still there in 2013. Chances are, it’s still there, like so many rotting beer cans in the desert.




February 09 – Industry, Steel, And Aaron Siskind

02-09 Industry post“Stone, steel, dominions pass,
Faith too, no wonder.
So leave alone the grass
That I am under.”

~A.E. Housman

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I’m not sure who said it first, but it always stuck with me: there is nothing as unnatural as a perfectly straight line.

There’s actually some truth to this. Straight lines don’t really just occur in nature. Every natural process with the potential to create a straight line is subject to other processes that disrupt it. Theoretically, trees would grow straight up were they not subjected to wind, rain, gravity, uneven soil. If the distribution of air, sunlight, nutrients, gravity, and other factors were perfectly even, we would have straight-edge trees. These elements aren’t even, have never been even, cannot be even, and so they produce randomly mutated fractal patterns.

Interestingly, we humans now we live in environments wholly based on the straight edge; I-beams and milled lumber, the foundations of our homes, our streetlamps, television screens, windowpanes. There is no greater example that I can think of that represents the unbroken human endeavor to conquer nature.

Today’s photograph is how I present the tension between humankind and the natural world – steel beams, the skeletal structure of a half-complete hotel in Albuquerque. I made this image when I was in my “Aaron Siskind” period. It was my second or third year of college, and I refused to photograph anything other than sub-par replicas of his patented abstract style. For those of you unfamiliar with Siskind, he was a prolific American photographer considered to be closely involved with the Abstract Expressionist movement, whose works focused primarily on the details of nature and architecture. At his height in the 1950s, his works were often described as blurring the line between painting and photography – something I’m personally interested in as an artist.

I was working as a research assistant at The Center for Creative photography on starvation-level wages under the Federal Work-Study Program. At the time it didn’t bother me; access to so many wonderful, historically significant photographic prints and photographer archives was plenty enough for me. Hell, I considered it an honor (and still do).

Then, recently, I found a faded, crinkled pay stub in an old suitcase. Boy was I being robbed.
But that’s a story for another day.

They say that emulation is the greatest form of flattery. I hope Mr. Siskind was looking down on my  from high with his notoriously crooked smile. I learned a lot trying to copy the masters, and I believe this is how many artists begin their journey. Not from square-one, but on the shoulders of giants, borrowing their voice while we struggle to find our own.