June 15, 2017 – Swindy

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Randall Swindell has been on the music scene in Tucson for years. I was fortunate enough to meet him several years back when he was the front-man for Ensphere. The ambient/progressive rock team has been through a couple of iterations throughout the years and have recently begun performing again. Randall also began his own solo project, Swindy, in July 2016 after teaming up with drummer Mike Jenney(Alter der Ruine & Assemblage 23) and guitarist Jeff Sargent (vocalist for Industrial Band 51 PEG).

Randall is a consummate performer, having also worked with Flam Chen, a pyrotechnic theater troupe here in Tucson. Swindy has shared the bill with Orgy, Powerman 5000, Trapt, Otep, Dope, Combichrist, William Control, and many others. He is a hard-working performer, an incredibly kind and generous personality, and continues to book shows out for 2017 while working on an upcoming full-length record.

Check out Swindy’s acoustic set of “Reflection” at KFMA below and hit them up on Facebook here.

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June 08, 2017 – All Souls

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There really isn’t much that I have to say about All Souls. For anybody who has lived in Southern Arizona, you already know about it. For everybody else, the All Souls Procession is a Tucson tradition that culminates in a community-wide procession through the downtown area, ending with a grand finale of pyrotechnic theater, live music, and acrobatics. The event first began in 1990 by a local artist, Susan Kay Johnson, who wished to express her sadness over the loss of her father; she wanted to ritualize her grief and create an event, much like Dia de los Muertos, to honor the dead.

Tens of thousands participate every year. People start to gather along 4th and 6th avenues before sun-down, arriving in costume, tailgating and helping paint each other’s faces in a fashion reminiscent of Day of the Dead. Jugglers and street performers, musicians and stilt-walkers weave through the throngs of people. Participants are encouraged to write notes to the dead on pieces of paper and deposit them into a giant urn that leads the procession – once the urn reaches the end of the procession, it is elevated above the crowd and set ablaze.

I have never seen a not-for-profit, grass-roots community event like this anywhere else. It’s an amazing thing to see.

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June 07, 2017 – Carlos Arzate

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Living in Tucson for a majority of the past fifteen years, I saw a lot of bands come and go. Many of my college buddies had garage bands and a few of them had it in them to hit the downtown music scene. Most of them have scattered to the wind these past few years as degrees were earned, families begun and careers established. There are some,though, who have had some serious staying power here in Arizona, and Carlos Arzate is one of them.

Carlos Arzate is a singer-songwriter, native to Tucson, whose songs draw inspiration from his personal life growing up in the Sonoran Desert. I believe I read an article in The Tucson Weekly that described his style as “Sonoran Soul.” It’s got a ring to it, but it implies a softness that, while present in many of his songs, doesn’t communicate the dynamism of his work.

Arzate is just as expressive and kind in person as he is on stage, and he’s deeply anchored in the music scene, collaborating with other prominent musicians. I have enjoyed every performance and would absolutely recommend checking out Carlos Arzate & The Kind Souls. The songs tell a story, communicate an emotion and paint atmospheric pictures.

This is one of my favorites, written as a first person narrative of a laborer who chooses to risk the dangerous journey across the desert to the United States in search of a better life.

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May 27, 2017 – Walkabout

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“It’s often about the simple things, isn’t it? Painting and photography are first about seeing, they say. Writing is about observing. Technique is secondary. Sometimes the simple is the most difficult.”
~Linda Olsson

I’ve collected a lot of portraits like this during my bike rides and walkabouts in Tucson. North Stone Avenue is rich with old barber shops, auto repairs shops, and unique private markets. In an urban and suburban landscape increasingly swallowed-up by Levittown-style housing homogeneity and glossy corporate businesses, it’s nice to see small, privately owned businesses. Sometimes the character is rustic, and many of these businesses are struggling, but they have a salt-of-the earth quality that I will always appreciate.

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May 26, 2017 – Downtown Tucson

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“Photography is simultaneously and instantaneously the recognition of a fact and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that express and signify that fact”
~Henri Cartier-Bresson

Originally known as the Willard Hotel, this property on South 6th Avenue – a stone’s throw away from the heart of downtown – was renamed the Pueblo Hotel in 1944. This weathered sign was installed in the 1950s. The hotel and apartments closed in 1984, when I was only one year old, and is currently home to a law office. The sign remains, though, even if it might be a little misleading. It was restored to like-new condition back in 2012 and I’m really pleased that I photographed it before the change.

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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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