Kate, as most of you know, is my daughter, "Child #2" in family speak. Now, everyone believes their child is the most incredible child ever was, and that's how it should be. But I just have to say that Kate is truly extraordinary and I couldn't be prouder of the young woman she has become.
Rob will be at Pink Dog Creative, 348 Depot Street from noon until 6 pm on Friday, December 5. Nothing formal or planned, only an interest in having people stop by to talk about pictures and solve the world's problems.. Hope you can stop by and visit.
Unquestionably the most difficult photograph I've ever made in a career that includes many emotional images. Our daughter is amazing and strong. To be with her Aunt in her last days. I am in awe. We are so very fortunate.
It's always nice to take risks and have fun with your camera.
Asheville, NC 2014
click photo to enlarge
ShatterZone opened at the Pink Dog Creative Gallery in Asheville's River Arts District this past Friday, November 7. The reception was great fun with a mix of old friends and new acquaintances. It was a group effort. In addition to Randy and Hedi, Ralph, and Jamie who have been mentioned in previous posts, a special thank you goes out to Kelsey, Kate and Shu for their work at the opening, Lynn, Karen, Mark and Julie, artists at Pink Dog for their timely assistance. And mostly I want to thank all of you who came out to see the work. The exhibit will be hanging until January 11, 2015, plenty of time to get down there and take a look.
ShatterZone will open on Friday, November 7, at the Pink Dog Creative Gallery in Asheville's River Arts District. The address is 348 Depot Street and the reception runs from 5-8 pm on the 7th. This weekend is also Gallery Stroll Weekend throughout the River Arts District and most artists and studios will be open to the public. I will be at Pink Dog Creative on both Saturday the 8th and Sunday the 9th, after 10:30 on both days, if you'd like to stop by. I hope you will.
The project, ShatterZone, has been in my head for a while now, but remains a work-in-progress. This exhibit has offered me the opportunity to bring together a large grouping of images that speaks to this theme. It's been valuable in moving the whole project forward. Thanks go out to Randy Shull and Hedy Fischer, the owners and operators of Pink Dog Creative. And my friend, Ralph Burns, who stepped in at a moment's notice to handle the multiple things that go into putting on even a small show. Additionally, for me personally, Ralph's long understanding of my work, his critical comments and thoughts, and enthusiastic support made the process easy and comfortable. Lastly, I cannot say enough about Jamie Paul, my associate for over four years who had a hand in every part of this project. It simply wouldn't have come together without him.
I will be having an exhibit of photographs at the Pink Dog Creative Gallery at 348 Depot Street in Asheville's River Arts District. The exhibit will run from November 7, 2014 to January 11, 2015 with an opening reception on November 7 from 5-8 pm.
This is my first one-person exhibit in Asheville since my Sodom Laurel Album exhibit at the Asheville Art Museum in 2002 and I'm excited about showing new work from a new project. I want to thank Randy Shull and Hedy Fischer from Pink Dog Creative for this opportunity in their wonderful space. I also want to thank Ralph Burns, my long-time friend and mentor, for his work pulling this exhibit together. Finally, my assistant, Jamie Paul, has been his usual indispensable self who often leaves me wondering what I ever did before he came into my life.
I have included a short essay on the project. Galleries always want an artists statement, or introduction, or something explaining the work. Over the years I've responded to these requests in various and sundry ways. Today's version comes after the image.
These photographs are part of a work-in-progress titled ShatterZone, which is meant to accompany my two previous projects from Madison County – Sodom Laurel Album and The New Road.
Shatter zone is an 18th century geologic term that refers to an area of fissured or fractured rock. The phrase took on new meaning after World War II when political theorists began using it to denote borderlands. In this modern definition shatter zones become places of refuge from, and resistance to, capitalist economies, state rule, and social upheaval. Appalachia, and Madison County in particular, fit that definition.
Throughout its history, Madison has provided a haven for Native Americans, early Anglo settlers, Civil War resisters, Vietnam veterans, and refugees from the country’s cultural wars. The county’s present population includes long-term local families, young professionals, artists, retirees and back-to-the-landers. While the county is wired into the 21st century, many individuals understand it as a place where one can continue to resist modernity and be as “off the grid” as you want to be.
Madison County is not for everyone. It requires new skills, new tools, and new ways of interacting within your surroundings. It takes a rethinking of community and how one relates to it. And while that singular reason for being here – that idea of refuge – is almost universally felt throughout the county, there are also clear points of conflict. Zoning, land use, politics, religion, culture, language and many other beliefs and opinions offer potential for fracturing within the community, pitting newcomers against locals.
These photographs are not representative of the entirety of Madison County’s population or my work from the region. Most of the images are recent, while some are quite old, among my earliest from the county. These early images didn’t fit with other projects, but they are integral to this one, offering glimpses of a place that many continue to think of as unmapped, one of refuge and resistance.
These are the dynamics of ShatterZone.
This vignette is the final installment of the Living Portrait Series glimpse at Kelsey Green. I can't begin to thank the Asheville Citizen-Times, especially Bobby Bradley and Erin Brethauer, for their generosity and encouragement in bringing Kelsey's story to the attention of their readers. I've thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the kind words and comments I've received about the Series, but in honesty, I feel I've done very little. Kelsey has made my job all too easy - her openness, grace and honesty of expression make her the ideal subject for my pictures and words.
While this Series has focused on one person, Kelsey is in a sense symbolic of the many young people I see and engage with in Madison County. As a group they are transparent, hard working and committed to place and community. Our county, like the whole region, has experienced dramatic growth over the last decade, some of it more welcome than others. The infusion of these young people - the baby hippies, the punk kids, the artists and musicians, the pierced and tattooed - has brought fresh energy to Madison County and tells this particular old guy our county is in good hands for the future.
Here is the link to Part 5 on the Citizen-Times website: http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2014/08/28/living-portrait-series-kelsey-green-part/14764205/
This place where we live is full of blessings. If you come here from the outside world and it feels like you belong, then things will happen that make it work out. I feel that way. I stayed here because of it. Things have just happened in the sense that I’m supposed to be here. Things just continue happening to me that give me a sense of belonging. I’m so blessed to have grown up here.
People don’t always accept the new people that come in, but really, you just have to show them you are willing to do the work. If you’re willing to show you can work hard and people see that, they’ll say, “well, you can be a part of this.”
My community as a kid growing up here was church and school, but mostly, it was family. It was very much family – a lot of cousins and aunts and uncles. But now, my family has gotten bigger. I’ve made more connections and you and Leslie and Kate were a big part of that, introducing me into this community, and also working at the town watering hole, Zuma. I still get questions every day – “Where are you from?” When I answer, “right here, this is where I grew up,” people are blown away. There is a like-mindedness here that is like an invitation to stay. I think a lot of people had to leave to try to find something that was similar, or different, or whatever, looking to find that sense of community. But most everyone came back. That was what I realized - I realized that I needed to buy land to do what I wanted to do and here was the place to do that.
Kelsey and Tommy were married in Hot Springs, NC, on August 9, 2014, with close to 300 people in attendance. The following is the continuation of the Living Portrait Series from the Asheville Citizen-Times and the link to the series on the paper's website.
I feel like I’m living in a beautiful example of community right now and it feels really fulfilling. If you need anything, you’ve got people to help you. For example, planning this wedding, it’s terrifying. But then, whenever I’ve thought about it, I realize I know so many people that are gonna help. You said you would do photographs for me. And Jay, a good friend, will end up cooking our pig. Having people that can help make this happen. Ricky is going to marry us. Olivia is making my dress and Tommy and Ricky’s vests; she’s a seamstress. If I run out of flowers I can call Suzi. I got people. It’s like a family. A community is a beautiful thing, but this community is more like a family. It’s very deep and we all love each other and are willing to help each other out. I’m doing trade with Matt Hess right now. I’m working for him so he can come help me out on my place. That’s the sense of community that I think about – people that are willing to help. Moving into Sodom Laurel, we didn’t know anybody, but you start making connections and then you know everybody. That’s a beautiful community. Everybody is – “If you need anything, this is my phone number, this is where I live, don’t hesitate to call or come take a shower or use our washer and dryer. Everybody is that way around here. The majority of people are willing to help the next person.
For the last four decades, the folks at Indigo Bunting Lane Farm – Paul Gurewitz, Gary Gumz, Laurie Pedersen and Soren Gurewitz – have hosted an annual 4th of July party. Always held on the Saturday closest to the 4th, the party is the ultimate celebration of community. Paul kneads 100 pounds of pizza dough, makes sauce for 300 people and provides a wood-fired oven. Party-goers bring the toppings of their choice. Volleyball and horseshoes, walks to the river, live music for dancing, as much visiting as you can stand and fireworks always make for a truly exceptional day.
I haven’t missed many of these parties over the years. I remember the first of them in 1975. For me, it’s a time to see old friends, and meet their grandchildren, and reacquaint with folks I only see at the party.
As I age, I see more and more people I don’t know. People new to the community, or from Asheville, and some from farther away. Many young couples are there with children and I love the inter-generational sense of it all. I wonder how all these new folks make it to the party. What brings them to this hard-to-find ninety acres, set deep in the mountains? What brings them back year after year and causes some of them to stay forever?
I think about this a lot. I believe it has to do with the expansiveness of the day – the joining of disparate, yet kindred people –if only for a day, and the feeling that all is well. But also, the party offers a symbolism that speaks to our wider community. The knowledge we live in a special place – a fabric of many threads, made stronger by the singular nature of our strings.
For Paul, on his sixty-fifth Birthday on Thursday. Thank you for years of friendship and for just being you.
The Asheville Citizen-Times continues its Living Portrait Series look at my friend, Kelsey Green. Here is the link to the Citizen-Times website: This week I've included the whole piece on my blog instead of simply linking to the Asheville Citizen-Times, but that link is:
I have a strong drive. And I think my mom was a big influence in this. When you say you’re going to do something, you’ve got to do it. You’ve got to pursue it. It’s something I might be good at, but it’s also something I’ve been working on for a long time, doing the things that I say I’m going to do from start to finish. See things through. It’s something I struggle with as well. If I have a dream or a vision and I feel in my heart that’s where I’m supposed to be, that’s my destiny, then that’s what I’m going for and that’s why I am where I am.
The first time Tommy and I connected we were sitting on a rock behind his house and I thought he was so cool because he lived in the nasty Redmon house that had no electricity or running water and he was pooping in a bucket. He was considered a “dirty boy.” I thought it was really cool and I thought that’s the direction I want to go. You don’t need running water. You don’t need a flushing toilet. We sat down on a rock one day and told each other what our dreams were and what we aspired to do with our lives and they were very similar. We wanted to be able to grow our own food and be self-sustainable. Live off grid and do whatever it takes and work for it. Work for the things that you need to survive like your food and your water.
We’re both working really hard to make this dream we aspire to become real – it does cost money. The process of buying this raw land, it would almost be easier if the s___ hit the fan and we didn’t have to go to work every day and we joke about that. Sometimes we wish it would hit the fan and we could do barter and trade and work for other people and money wasn’t involved. We could actually make this thing happen more quickly, this vision. But as of right now, it is costing money so we work hard to earn what we need to not only feed ourselves and pay bills, but also to continue to put money into our place to make it so we don’t have to do that. Set ourselves up.
I think in the back of my head I had this vision and it wasn’t as clear as it is now. And going on the road trip and the lessons that I’ve learned have made that vision more clear. And now it’s a picture that I’m trying to paint and I’m in the process of painting that. It’s a twenty-year plan. It’s going to take me twenty years to paint this picture, but in twenty years I’ll get to sit on my porch and look at what I’ve created.
Friday, August 8, 2014.
The night before Kelsey and Tommy's wedding.
On the day of Teo's passing.
He, for many, the closest of friends.
A bittersweet time.
We wish it wasn't so.
But Life, like the moon, at its fullest.
Rich with joy, yet ringing with sorrow.
The stuff of legend. Or song.
Thank you to the Asheville Citizen-Times and Erin Brethauer for including my work in The Living Portrait Series. This Part Two of my five part look at Kelsey Green. Please click the link below to see the whole piece as it appears on the Citizen-Times website.
Born and raised in the suburbs, I don’t believe I had ever heard the term “Dog Days” until I moved to Madison County and heard farmers speak of them. They, of course, refer to the hot and sultry days of summer, usually in July and August, which around here meant tobacco time.
But according to Wikipedia, the term originated with the Greeks. The Romans would sacrifice a “red” dog every spring to appease Sirius – the Dog Star – which they believed to be the cause of the hot weather. The Dog Days were widely believed to be an evil time when the sea boiled, dogs grew mad, and men suffered from fevers and hysterics.
Well, my hometown of Marshall, in its post-tobacco present, has added a new twist to the definition and Friday, August 8 at 5 pm, marks the 7th Annual Dog Daze event in town. The event features music, food, and art walks with the main attraction being the Parade of Dogs from the island to downtown, which begins at 6:30.
Dog Daze is one of many quirky, playful and artistic happenings that seem to have overtaken Marshall in recent years. Scores of new people, bars, music, bakeries, bicycles and galleries have brought new life to our town, which had been languishing and mostly vacant for the previous three decades. There are people in the county who do not like the changes and I can understand their difficulty accepting what appears to be a foreign invasion. But evolution is never easy or smooth and if communities are going to thrive, evolution is inevitable and should be welcomed.
So, I stopped at Ingles the other day, needing a few groceries and needing to pee, not an unusual combination of needs for me. There is something at Ingles that seems to cause my bladder to relax. Let's just say I'm familiar with the mens room.
Imagine my surprise and joy when I entered the hallowed chamber and was greeted by a colorful and warming bouquet of fresh flowers. My bladder loved it and, at my age, having a happy bladder is both welcoming and occasionally vital. They offered a sweet fragrance and an unsaid message that said, "We value you and want your stay at our store to be cheerful and bright."
Now, I've never known the Ingles mens room, even at the old Ingles across the street, to be exceptionally nasty or repulsive. I've been in some bad mens rooms in my day - a memory from a bus station in Mexico comes to mind - and Ingles has always been better than that. An unflushed toilet here, an overflowing waste can there, but nothing truly egregious. Rather, I would have described them as utilitarian, drab, dark, not places you necessarily want to linger.
But flowers, man, over the top. I envision men meeting there to chat over coffee, admiring the surroundings, combing their hair and checking their smile. Who would've thunk it. Certainly, not me.
The Asheville Citizen-Times and staff photographer, Erin Brethauer, have included my work in their weekly Living Portrait Series, published every Friday in the Arts and Entertainment Section of the newspaper. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to join other local photographers in presenting glimpses into the lives of some of our region's residents. I've chosen to portray the same person throughout the month - a family friend and young back-to-the-lander, Kelsey Green.
Back to Portland after our week on the Olympic Peninsula. From slow to fast, quiet to noise, open landscape and forest to mountainous buildings. We like it here.
First night back we go to the Crystal Ballroom to hear our friend Mark Hosler who lives in Madison County. Mark is a founding member of the band Negativland and he was doing a show of his unique music, which I might describe as organized noise.
We mostly take it easy the last few days. Museums, food, some shopping, more food, laying around, yet more food and drinks. We hang out with Ben at Clyde Common, the bar/restaurant he works in. We meet his friends and co-workers who, to a person, treat us like visiting royalty. Ben clearly loves his work, bartender and mixologist, and I must say how satisfying it is to see one's child doing something he enjoys, where he has found his niche. Home.
Cool and rainy. A perfect respite from the heat we've left in North Carolina. Leslie walking like a champ on all terrains with her new hip. Enjoying walking together again. The beach is littered with these giant, aged remnants. So many we assumed they had once grown there when that sandy, rocky beach was part of the adjoining forest, its soil rich and loamy. "No," we were told. "Those trees were uprooted deep in the forests many generations ago. Floods brought them down the mountain in rivers, which emptied into the bay, where they were eventually washed onto the shore." Monuments from a different time and place. The woman who told us, my age perhaps, remembered playing on them as a child, as her parents and grandparents did before her.
In this place, words seem next to impossible and photographs barely passable. Nothing to fully capture the absolute power of the rainforest and deep woods. The silence. The light. The scent of a rich life living all around you. And why would you want to capture it if it is only the merest of imitations?