Sunday, November 18, 2007

heading back E.A.S.T.

heading back E.A.S.T.

As I mentioned, on Saturday I went around a few studios in East Austin as part of the East Austin Studio Tour. I decided to take my camera along to do some portraiture. I've got an opportunity coming up to shoot some artists for a non-profit organization and wanted to explore doing environmental images, of artists with their work, but without the pressure of expectation on the results. I gave myself the assignment to shoot 5 portraits that I was happy with. I think I mostly got there!
I really enjoyed seeing around the various studios that I went to and I got to meet and talk to some very generous and interesting artists. There was such an inspiring variety of great work on display, too. I deliberately didn't pay any attention to which studio I was going to next - just picked an area on the map, then walked around, following the numbers. This meant I had no idea what sort of work I was going to be seeing - I wasn't bringing any preconceived notions of what I liked or didn't like, didn't skip artists that did work I wasn't interested in. So I saw a lot of new ways of seeing and expressing. A great way to spend the day. From full frontal male nude photography, to Hispanic religiously-inspired art, I saw it all. Caroline Wright (left) paints gorgeous abstract images, capturing beautiful light and scenes that I could just get lost in for hours. Lovely use of colour and space. It was intriguing to hear how sound inspires some of her work and you could really see the dynamic tempo in those pieces. Ava Sharifian (above) paints what seem to be organically inspired, colourful canvases, full of movement and life. Her work was so dynamic and lively. Spirals of brush strokes blending in to planes of colour, huge canvases that seemed just perfect. I wouldn't know how to even start creating something like that - the huge empty canvas would haunt me. Perhaps I'd have even more trouble knowing when to stop. Piercarlo Abate's studio was the first place that I stopped on the tour - he also happened to be number one on the list. He really set the tone for the whole day - warm, friendly and inviting, with some great photography of Venice and also some lovely portraiture work. We talked for a while and he made me feel very welcome. He was also shooting a project, using the people visiting his studio as part of his art - seemed like a great idea! You can see a video of the project he shot last year as part of EAST, on his web site. Jennifer Balkan (below) had a wide variety of nude studies in her studio - but a piece that she had done of a rabbit, in a Alice in Wonderland theme, really caught my eye. Deep purple drapes set off an almost blue, white rabbit. I think it was the use of colour that really caught my eye about that piece. She also does a lot of work mixing in maps with figures, combining the sense of anatomy and networks of veins in a body with the similar feeling that can be found in a map - waterways, arterial roads and the like. Really interesting work and my friend Erin was really excited to see I'd taken her picture! The final portrait I took was the one I posted yesterday, of April Bederman, who makes dramatically colourful hats. She was showing in a part of a studio that was shared with Barry George who is a sculptor, working mostly in metals. April's hats were on display on some of that sculpture and the mix of hard iron and her bright, soft fabrics was quite unusual. I visited a few other studios and artists - but these were the people who I felt I managed to make some small connection with and were kind enough to work with me on a portrait. What they didn't know was that I printed out my favourite shot of each of them and then went back around this morning to give them a print. I got quite the range of reactions to that. Everyone was very kind and positive, but most of us have a hard time when faced with ourselves in a picture. I think that's why so many photographers create self-portraits that are so abstract or hide the face. We all have our issues to deal with. It was a lot of fun to be able to turn up unexpectedly and hand over the print. I spent quite a bit of time talking to April again today and she turned the tables on me and took my picture. I suppose that's fair game! EAST was a great experience - I'm really glad that I went. Also setting myself this small assignment meant that I made more of an effort to connect with these people and find out about their art and motivations. I got a lot out of that experience that I don't think would have happened if I just went in and looked quickly, then moved on.

4 comments:

Julia said...

I found out today that there was a big movement to have people out there cycling from studio to studio. That would have been so much fun! I only found out about this year's event tonight, so I missed it all. I will have to return again. I think it's fantastic that you came back with the print. What a nice surprise!

Don and Sheryl said...

Your portraits are just great for on the spot shooting. Do you take all color and then do B&W in Photoshop?

Gordon said...

yup - I shot them all in colour, then convert to B&W in software (actually using Lightroom, not photoshop)

woode wood said...

in keeping with our earlier emails. it's all a big circle. did you send ava a link? i will.....