Continuing with my still life series, this time in a fascinating building in Brooklyn. Many colors and textures to explore. Interesting neighborhood. The day I arrived, there was a multiple homicide on the next block. Whew! Between that and the two story antique furniture store, I practically had to be carried back to Manhattan.
Something fishy has been going on. For those of you who don’t live in Brooklyn or have been visiting another planet, the art hub 3rd Ward closed On October 9th, 2013. The founder/owner who I won’t mention here, was accused of financial mismanagement. Poor? Don’t think so. He had 2 houses in Montauk (one for living, one to rent for MONEY which looms large in this story). Previously he told people living in a space he owned that it was up to code, then moved out himself before it was shut down by city inspectors. Knowing 3rd Ward was doomed, he continued to take money up to the (very) bitter end. One older man is said to have paid several thousand dollars for work space just before it closed. Jason Goodman (oops!), a.k.a. “The Head,” really shouldn’t have sold so many people out. Bad karma.
Now for some good. Robin Grearson, a wonderful writer, friend and enabler to many creatives, organized a meeting of artists and arts orgs last Wednesday at the Brooklyn Brewery. It was well attended, and as she writes on her website, a community was born. Check it out to see who came to offer space, classes and advice, and for some ideas on the future of the maker community. And scroll down a bit on this blog to see some pictures of the beautiful studios at 3rd Ward. It was a special place. May its spirit live on, the creative dreams of its members never die.
Once upon a time in the city, not the bright shiny part of the city, but the old rusted out rust belt section where a post industrial mood had settled in, there was a place dedicated to art. You could walk right by and except for the sign, never know it was there. True, there was a steady stream of cool-looking people going to and fro along Morgan Avenue; people who were young and/or interesting looking; people with what the fashion magazines call a “personal style.” They weren’t loud, they didn’t announce or sport designer togs, but were quietly artistic and you just knew. That somewhere along that dingy stretch of auto shops, strange nameless factories and boarded up brick, something creative and interesting was going on.
I saw it first when a dancer who wanted some pictures took me on a tour of the unfinished second floor. It was a mess, but an interesting one. If there was peeling paint and a squashed up couch, there was also space and light filtering in through the tall banks of windows.
Somehow through emails, art sites, and a certain undefinable electricity in the air, I heard about 3rd Ward around 2009 or ’10. I went out for a tour, and while interested, wasn’t sure I wanted to pay the monthly fee for photo studios I might not use. I declined, or rather postponed. A year later, I took another tour and signed up.
The studios were gorgeous. Huge, with lots of natural light and enough “nub” to make even plain walls interesting. I shot still lifes there, but really the subject was always the room.
Interesting places come with interesting histories. Ghosts from the past set up shop and continue to inhabit. I could shut myself in Studio B (my favorite) and be quite content for several hours. I never felt alone, felt quite charmed by the living artists who came and went for classes and to their work studios, and by whatever and whoever had been there in the past.
New York is a palimpsest. For everything new, there are a dozen things old. Underneath one building is another, or the markings of a settlement or a burial ground. It is constant, ever-changing history.
Like 3rd Ward which is now history, a brief marker of the outpost of artists pushing into ethnic, troubled or just poorer neighborhoods, in seach of space, a place to do their work. The march will continue, because the dream, or rather dreams, will never die.
Still doing still lifes. Really enjoying control of the light and the cloth. Very obsessive. Sometimes I do a set up and take like a gazillion images of it, each slightly different, the light a little to the left or more to the right. Sometimes I light from below, a big no no in portrait photography–who cares! Sometimes I leave the shade up and let the daylight in, other times, just shut it off.
Found these great, unusual sunflowers a few days ago on Third Avenue. Deep dark red with streaks of yellow, like a sunflower and dahlia crossed.There’s an Agatha Christie story about a murder that is set off by a secret message in a letter that seems to be about gardening. Won’t tell you what happens. Too thrilling!
You would think I could stop, but I can’t.
PDN Photo Expo is coming soon to the Javits Center. Visit us (Professional Women Photographers) at Booth 158.
That’s all for now. Happy snaps!
All images ©Catherine Kirkpatrick
I took a class in making fascinators out at that wonderful arts hub in Brooklyn, 3rd Ward. There were only two in the class and we had a grand time with the glue gun (okay, burned my fingers), feathers and trim. I have no intention of ever wearing one (would be asked to leave the street), but love the idea of photographing mannequins and people with one atop their head. Have just ordered “Mattie,” a vintage head/hat stand. God knows what people think when they come to my apartment. When they do building inspections, I spring into action and work frantically to clean and hide. It’s all very exhausting.
So I will soon welcome “Mattie” (who appears to be very soulful) and take some new snaps. Also remembered that when I was little, one of my big treats was to do down the hall to Mrs. Helt’s and collect some feathers from the cage where her parakeets lived. I guess we are all still five years old inside.
And I want you to click the link, because I’m deeply honored to have one of my images chosen an August Top 10 Pick by PDN (Photo District News) on their PhotoServe site. They have a lot of great photographers who do a lot of great work. PDN is pretty interesting too. They put out a beautiful publication (in print!), have a great website, and put together a world class expo in the fall.
I consider myself an art photographer, so signing up for a high-powered professional website was a stretch. But I’m reading a book on habits–the creation of new ones, the terrible harm of bad ones (like uncontrollable gambling)–and a very interesting subject came up: the power of weak ties. People assume that deep ties get you the most in this life, and certainly they provide you with the deepest emotional satisfaction (husbands, wives, etc.). But “weak ties,” the kind that occur in professional networks, are incredibly important as well and figure largely in hunting down jobs and professional opportunities. Art is actually an occupation. You can’t just hole up in a studio and cut yourself off from the rest of the world. Okay, maybe during the creation part. But at some point you have to go out and reconnect to the business of the world. You have to keep abreast of developments in your field, try to reach potential customers, even just identify who those customers might be. You have to put on your marketing hat.
It’s tough because photography has changed radically in the past 35 years. Opportunities have increased exponentially for photographers. Opportunities have decreased exponentially for photographers. Yes, both. More galleries than ever show photographic work. It is an accepted part of the art world, and some of the most famous living artists are photographers (Cindy Sherman).
But if many artistic possibilities have opened up, many professional ones have disappeared. Many jobs that used to be farmed out to photographers–product shots, event coverage, report and presentation photos–are being done in-house, often by an intern, with a decent digital camera. More and more pros are competing for less and less work. Refined sensibility, knowledge and networks are ways to compete on a playing field that has been leveled by advancing technology.
Weak ties, the kind facilitated by professional and online networks, allow you to open channels to people (customers, clients, patrons) you might not otherwise reach. You may not know someone, but you may have friends and acquaintances who know someone and can facilitate an introduction. Which sometimes is all you need. Weak ties also bring you news you might not hear, and information on trends and technology you might not otherwise learn about.
The more pictures I see, the more names I become familiar with, the more my network and knowledge grows, the stronger my own position will be. We all have definitions of ourselves and what we do. I see myself as an art photographer (do I sound a little snooty?). But sometimes our world is small, and it’s good to open it up, let some fresh air and sunlight in, get a different perspective. PDN is a wider world to me, with new faces and wonderful images. I love seeing other people’s work and hearing about it. Though I have only been there a short while, I feel I am in the company of very talented people and have learned new things.
I love seeing other types of photography. One of my guilty pleasures is fashion photography. I love the clothes, the crazy settings, the wild but always fabulous lighting. Though I don’t do this type of photography (and go around in clothes from Macy’s), it inspires my still life work. I realize I don’t have to take a picture of fruit sitting in the kitchen. I can move it, light it, stage it. I can make it stand in for something else. It becomes a vehicle for ideas, and is often given very fancy treatment! (some of those fabrics are expensive!) I see it differently, in terms of form, color and potential. Handymen were in my apartment the other day and saw a bunch of very dead sunflowers on the counter. I know what they were thinking: “Who the hell keeps dead flowers around?” But to me, the twisting shapes and muted colors were very beautiful. And are because they’re still here and I’m still taking pictures of them.
We learn from people who are not like us, who have different views. Photographers who photograph different things. Like the other Top 10 Pics photographers. Kudos to everyone! I look forward to learning more about them and their work. See for yourself:
Link to all the August Top 10 Pics on the PDN PhotoServe website
- Catherine Kirkpatrick (www.catherinekirkpatrick.org)
Sometimes I look at a figurine and feel the life and personality coming through the porcelain. Like humans, they are so fragile and delicate (I include men too!), so filled with hope and inherent grace. Very often they speak to me. Difficult to go through a thrift shop with my wallet unscathed because I get so excited by…everything!
Have to control myself. Passed by the window of one (that shall go nameless) recently and saw all these magnificent cushions in the window. Fabric just the way I like it–colorful, a little used, a little frayed (just like the best people!). Wow! Worth a trip inside–get that shopping bag ready! Then I saw the sign saying “starting at $400.” All the fancy ink and swirling, curling script couldn’t fix that one. Yikes! I comfort myself with the idea that maybe they had bugs that could have spread all over my apartment!
I think the lady above is at a genteel cotillion, dusk just beginning to fall. This is total fantasy because I have no idea about such things. But a lot of things take place in my mind, and I am listening to Rogers & Hammerstein’s Carousel.
And if, as the song says, if you get a chance, dance! Go for it! Maybe you’re not in Kansas anymore!
This so applies to me. Stuff coming up that scares me. So maybe just a little jig…
Flowers on a cookie sheet (Clear I’m not a foodie, eh? Eat here at your own peril!).
Mess on the table. Colors and light. Many versions, hard to choose.
Many thoughts. Big project to finish. Keep going. Hope. Pray. Press on. Do best can.
How did those shoes get in there? (scroll down)
It’s me, Satan the Cat, reporting on my weekend. I’ve been very naughty, especially Sunday night when Catherine was over. I jumped on her four times (in six attempts), causing her to lose her voice because she is very allergic. This made a lot of people happy, thrilled in fact, and they’ve promised me good money if I can keep it up.
Gloria scolded me, but I fluffed it off. I’ve got her fooled. She thinks she’s training me (that stuff with the paw), but really it’s the other way around. I lounge around the house all day on pillows and stuff while she puts together tasty meals and grooms my coat.
Sometimes friends come over and I run wild! I stand on the table, then go out into the hall and try to get on the elevator, and Gloria gets whipped up. My favorite trick is to jump on guests then run over their electronic devices, leaving paw prints all over the place. What fun! What would the world be without me? A dull and boring place.
Danny tries to teach me things, but I don’t listen to him either. I just play along. Really that’s the best way with humans. What do they know? It’s a cat’s world. Just look at all the videos of us all over the web. We far outnumber people. I’ve begged Gloria to take me to the studio, but she won’t listen. Maybe I can slip into her bag.
My moment is coming though, and someday there will be news crews lined up two deep outside the door. She’ll take notice then. One day she’ll be down at the Film Forum munching on popcorn and I’ll appear up there on the silver screen. (I hear it’s nice down there, lots of mice. I could munch on those.)
For now, I’m just going to rest up and take it easy. I work hard to maintain my beauty. And I’m so beautiful I can barely stand it. It’s too much–for me and everyone else. So that’s all for the moment. More later. Right now, I have an important nap to attend to.
Satan, the Naughty Cat