Welcome to the Camera Lucida

the picture behind the picture
somewhere between reality and fiction

I am a professional photographer and artist. (In that order? never got that right) and have been since I picked up my first camera at 16 and did a PR stint for a local hospital for hard film cash. I also insessantly sketch and write, and since I have boxes of writings filling my attic I thought I'd trannscribe a few for your pleasure. They cover the gamut, sprinked with memorabilia, sandwitched beteen photo assignments, stirrings and dreams. So with some choice gleanings, as well as new additions, I thought I'd share some of my Inspirations along the way, and a new path as I yet pursue today that mysterious realty of visual beauty.

classic review raphael

Raphael, Adam and Eve, The Vatican

Raphael  Sanzio of Urbino 1483-1520

I've never been to Europe, but I've been to Eden. Long ago and far away. Far far away. Distant.  Perhaps  a past  life, Eden invarably informs all our drives, dreams, in short everything we do. All religion tries to atone for its sin, and arise at its now lost perfection, all artists try to picture its glory,  Eden is the unconscious memory of the race. Raphael illustrates this thought magnificently here.

Clark well paints this moment of history in broad strokes:

The Arena Chapel convinces us, surely, that the highest fine art pieces are illustrations of great themes, and it has been the good fortune of European art that during its finest period it was called upon to concentrate almost exclusively on the Christian story. I cannot resist reminding you of some of the scenes of Christ's Passion in both Italian and Flemish painting that are at the very summit of European painting. They are almost all tragic. As in drama, Greek or Elizabethan, Racine or Schiller, it is the tragic element in life, and the finality of death, that lifts these painters to the highest plane.  -Sir Kenneth Clark What is a Masterpiece, Portfolio, The Magazine of the Visual Arts, February March, 1980, p42

 Our fresco by Raphael marks the pinnacle of four hundred year quest of the revival of learning, the arts. and literature. Real Life was the fuel of the quest. In contrast the medeaval worlds of the Cathedrals, the Augustines,  lay behind the new humanist thinking. (More)

a fish story

>Skunk (ed.) Fail. Empty handed. Fishing: an empty stringer, no catch,
sym., see egg >on your face. -Miohn Dictionary of Slang.

It was 1972. What do I remember of the 'Me' decade? Peanut plantations and Billy Beer? Apollo '' A New Bed? A Clock radio (Came free with the bed.) Music '' A Soapbox Derby? Black Helicopters circling my backyard, spotlight shining blindingly in my bedroom window ? At 2 Am?

[The Plumbers, G. Gordon Liddy, (Giddy?) Barbie Benton, Have You Ever Been Mellow (What does that mean? May as well be yellow, fellow, or Jello. Have you ever been Jello?) Rich Little doing Tricky Dick, Chariot of the God's and Noahs Ark. Or Daniken. And Mother Nature who apparently appears on TV eating margarine.]

It was the last week of April. My Dad announced something of 'fishing' when he came home from work Friday night. And he wanted to take his new Pinto stationwagon. He packed the car into the wee hours and woke me up at 4 am. I hadn't been fishing with my Dad since I was eight or nine. This would be a welcome adventure.

The drive through the desert was dreary. I tried to sleep and couldn't, and when I did finally doze off for a few menutes I woke with a nasty headache. And I was dizzy. So much for the luxury aspects of Pintos. 'Shake rattle and roll' brought on a whole new meaning in that car. The moon was omnious with a musky red color the shade of wrangled rust.  It reflected eriely on the meduim coral (Or was that the house?) hood. I dozed a second time (dream) -From Notes 

the checkout

Beauty is indeed a good gift of God, -St Augustine

It was just after lunch it began, there I was reaching over the counter extracting with both hands various items. The couple stood by the cart in the newest ski fashions. The guys looked buff enough, these designer thinsulate suits formed a single shell making the men tall and square shouldered. They looked good. But whether it was the fashions that year or what, woman after woman came through my isle, sporting this suit that somehow hugged their body like tights, perfectly accentuating every curve and flowered up to the breasts that were more prominently displayed than a new car in a showroom.  They were all just unzippered  inviting a compelling imagination. There was a pretty lavender, a bright yellow, this red one, and a black that on brunettes made them ravishing. I'd reach over and down, six or seven inches from such glory, and shaking just swoon. They all had absolutely perfect figures. I was dropping items. I was not keeping my eyes to myself.... -Ski Bunny

camera obscura

a darkened boxlike device in which images of external objects, received through an aperature, as with a convex lens, are exhibited in theirr natural colors on a surface arrainged to recieve them: used for sketching, exhibition purposes etc. t.LL: dark chamber-dict

Nature's poems carved on tables of stone -- the simplest and most emphatic of her glacial compositions. -John Muir The Mountains of California

When I'm ready to make a photograph, I think I quite obviously see in my minds eye something that is not literally there in the true meaning of the word. I'm interested in something which is built up from within, rather than just extracted from without. -ansel adams

The image on the groundglass.

It was however, in drawing or shading the image on the camera obscura that created a desire to make permanent the image as beautifully seen and realized in itself. Inspired by a scene and wishing to draw or paint it, an artist would but be mesmerized and entranced by the immediate beauty he saw on the groundglass which became itself evidence or seeing. The artist literally saw his whole inspiration manifestly appear on the plate.  -from my: origins of photography the camera obscura

Somebody gave me an old stationwagon. It was the man's fathers and was meticoulsy maintaned and cherished. He wanted someone to care for it. Out of respect for his deceased dad he couldn't see junking it. Few others could understand its language, It was Italian.

Spring is the time I order my art materials for the years projects. I questioned with the car, why order UPS? I idea''d:  'I'll pick up my materials in person, and do some shooting along the way.' So with the car that was tortured pulling a 20' trailer dreaerily across the alaskan highway roundtrip twice, I took off  on a two thousand mile trek through Oregon and California. My view camera was neatly paked in the back. The case of lenses beside it, and my sleeping bag and ice chest adjacent. Not AA's woody but it would do. Even had the roof platform!

My few days and dollars were winding down. I had yet to pull out the camera. Nothing seemed worthy of the required labor.There was little inspiration going on.  (more)

i died for beauty

I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
WVhen one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.

He questioned softly why I failed?
"For beauty,"I replied.
"And I for truth,-the two are one;
We brethren are," he said.

And so, as kinsmen met a night,
We talked between the rooms,
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered up our names.

-Emily Dickenson

ode to a grecian urn

O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form! dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
When old age dost this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty,"-that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

-John Keats Ode On A Grecian Urn

old mexico

'Can I drive your car.'


She told me how she could drive. She described hot wiring her grandmothers car. 'No one has keys back home' she sing-songed, then laughed, 'this is how we all drive.' Where they had lived the roads were rough dirt. In appeal, she then claimed she had been driving since she was twelve. She went on. Subjects changed. Poor, there was nothing impoverished about her personality. She was all friendly and cute.

Real cute.

She had all the good looks of her brother in what was a manifestly feminine package.She was wearing dark flare leg denims and a peasant top. A  small girl she lacked nothing in womanly adornment. She was full figured and all the more pointed for her short height.

I largely ignored her, and treated her almost scornfully. It didn't phase her, She'd continue laughingly with those long syallables and coy words where every 'ch' as an 's' There was something simple, girly, and emminently attractive about her. She was a story teller and the way of life she described I could hardly imagine. I was warming. She said she just wanted a ride in the car. 'Right'.

She too had had a rough life in old Mexico. (Texas) She was fleeing some kind of abuse, or arranged marriage situation which she described in some detail. Like an AA adiction that was past, she minimized it, she was now living with enough zeal to make an existentualist blush. She'd laugh and asked me questions about everything I was doing as I worked on my classic 1955 Ford. I played with her by making incredible assertions, 'nauoogh,' she incrediously would say, while hanging on my every word with an implicit trust at anything I would say however ridiculous. I had never seen that kind of respect and submission. Ever. I was struck with a fear that she almost idolized me. She had a sparkle in those big eyes laden with thick mascara. I was starting to feel for her. The rest was inevitable like a grand cosmic conspiracy where we are but actors of some great script. -seduction in the backyard old mexico-from my suposed life as a photographer: redactions, reflections, and revisions.

lust of the eyes

[In response to someone who had a moral (religious?) issue in viewing art and claimed classical imagery was 'not designed to arouse passion.')

Who cannot look at Rembrandt's the Jewish Bride and not feel rise of the man's passion staid as they are?

Who does not desire Titian's Danae, sense that feminine release in every luscious stroke and the colored fragrance of love, and somehow sense both her and Zeuss' private intamacies, if even in but the passion of the eyes?

Who cannot look at Ingres' Odalasque with that slithering snakelike body, and melodious puka song, and feel  but just a wee bit dirty? If not wholly seduced. Oh yeah, sure, it was not made to incite "lust in the  viewer." ...Right. -From Reinventing Eros

What I do wish to say is that unless it satisfies our tactile imagination, a picture will not exert the fascination of an ever-heightened reality;-The Florentine Painters of the Renaissance Bernhard Berenson

taco truck

It reminds me of one of those people on the streetcorner holding those signs: 'out of gas,' 'homeless,.' Vet,' 'anything helps', 'God bless;'  it looks like a homeless restauraunt from down south whose owner's only claim to fame is beef, cheese, and salsa wrapped in a a tortilla that wafts the truly authentic and fresh. There is something about the tickle on the nose of simmering pintos, wafts of garlic and that lingering appeal of corn and lime heating on the grill. They are everywhere, and you can't drive past one  without a sharp pain in the stomach flashing like a gas gauge demanding remedial attention. Stop! (more)

old diogenes knew nothing about photography

But, as traditional or classical photography, with its aesthetic of reality, who's only claim to art was its mimetic tradition, where in visible reality an authentic and viable aesthetic was to be found in the things made, in literalness, in representation, in brutal realism, in the form and nature of photography as photography, the real world as it actually and objectively existed, (no batteries required!,)  that the myth of photography as a literal deposit of reality, a transliteration of the real, a document, an evidence, an incontrovertible factual reality, is a noble confusion, forever establishing photography with its own unique aesthetic as distinct everything else, as an art, once and for all.  -Imaginary Photography A Noble Confusion

instatiable beauty

I was taken by the grace and beauty and 19th century style. And contemplating the  view gave me vision, that was again absent from my whole education. The grace, the  beauty, the form is all healing itself.  

He [Hp Robinson] claimed photography was an independent medium, therefore the photographer should rely on his own vision to capture the spontaneity of the scene.-settner history of the nude

One need not define beauty. One merely need look.

Golden Sunlight, Violet Sky, Icy Blue Lakes, Fingered Green Pines, Lemon Yellow Aspens Ablaze With Life. Magenta Lace, Grape Lupines, Pearled Snow, Azure Expanse. Colors in their own right, Colors playing the senses. Colors as Emotion flowing in concert the soul stirring still greater truth.

Form as the tree and flower, the concrete wonder of amazement in the sparkle on an alpine calm, the polished granite that sings to heaven. The tactile touch of tender caress.

The emotion in a familiar's face, a lover's eyes, a baby's cry. These are our real.

Photography is its own beautiful evidence of all these things. -From My: More Real than Real
an Artists Statement

a trace

The principle of good in art is art itself, just as right thinking to reason, and right behavior to morality -From Personal Notes: The Abyss of the Modern

It was primarily through the idealized, soft-focus images of the Pictorialists that the nude became a generally accepted photographic subject.Photographers like Robert Demachy, Frank Eugene, and Clarence White looked for new inspiration in painting, and adopted techniques like the delicate platinum print or the vigorous gum bichromate print to lend their works the richness of older art media.-Encyclpedia of Photography Rosenblum.

The object, which is back of every true work of art, is the attainment of a state of being, a state of high functioning, a more than ordinary moment of existence. In such moments activity is inevitable, and whether this activity is with brush, pen, chisel, or tongue, its result is but a by-product of the state, a trace, the footprint of the state. -Robert Henri the art spirit

WIn His Art Spirit Robert Henri speaks of an intese emotional state the artist enters, what Berensen called a 'fascination of an ever-heightened reality;'  Henri was [] His stlyle 'Hal's-Velasquez-Manet tradion of realism lends itself to an emotional catharsis not dissimilar religious ecstacy.  Henri is remembered as much for his educational approach championing freedom of expression as the externalized equivelent of the various colors of the soul, as for his painting. He remains influental today. It was in fact something of a recovery of an artistic inheritance from Giotto to Raphael over against mere academic and empty artistic exercises of copying objective verities..

One writer succinctly summarizes the revolutionary spirit that animated the turn of the 20th century and as pinnacled in 'The Eight' as 'a slashing brush stroke and lust for life.'  In spontanious expression subject matter went far beyond the four walls of academic tradition. Of course all this was ill recieved by the artistic establishment of the time, earning Henri and his followers the epitath: 'Ashcan School.'(more)

spirit of love and amorous delight

Man-like, but different sex, so lovely fair 
That what seemed fair in all the world seemed now
Mean, or in her summed up, in her contained
And in her looks, which from that time infused
Sweetness into my heart unfelt before, 
And into all things from her air inspired 
The spirit of love and amorous delight. 
-milton paradise lost

The first Protestants had made matter the mystical infusion of the Divine. The means of grace. I don't think Greeley and today's Catholics would much disagree. 

unsent letter to a lost muse

I've really enjoyed your writings. You have a real gift. Hooray!

How do you write a writer? Is that like voicing a voice, or dancing a dancer?

Forget it.

I've never written a celebrity before. Well, I did write Santa Claus once with a virtual laundry list of requests. And I think I once wrote Catwoman, that feline fiend (I always liked both the snarl and purr.) always trying to take down our superhero. -the original one with the 'smack' and 'pow' on placards between scenes. Gee, I guess that dates me!

I stood before the mirror yesterday. My hair an unruly mess standing on end like a Karsh portrait of Einstien. It seemed to have turned silver in a single night. I looked at the image staring back. I felt like Rip Van Winkle. 'I'm getting old,' I said to my wife who was standing there. It was depressing. What happened to all that 'Forever Young' music playing on the radio?
I've been writing pictures. A kind of tapestry of little short stories that go back to the beginning of time. Mine that is. What is appearing is that life is more than a list of random experiences on a disposable timeline. Chronology anyway is for watches....

If the Muse with the big brown eyes who sat
in the second row and third seat of Sister Theresa's Latin Class perchance come across this post, you know what to do. I'd love to hear from you.
Greek ideas of imitation were always modified by the overarching Greek conviction that transitory artistic imitations referred to something permanent. The highest or best likeness showed up in the statue of the perfect male nude, the beauty of which revealed that a man had the potential to be divine. The Greeks thought that by applying in art the proportions of geometry to the body, they created a link to the realm beyond and superior to the senses -sleeping beauty

a personal affair

Art appreciation, like love, cannot be done by proxy It is a very personal affair and is necessary to each individual.-Robert Henri

I looked long and far and wide for a simple definition of art. I like this for its brevity:

"Art is everything that inspires our imagination." -usegroup

For me all art is visual poetry. It is the claim of the soul over matter.
And all art is to be approached in this spirit. As Henri said:

The value of a picture rests in its constructive beauty. Its story, the fact that it is about a man, a boy, a landscape, an event which transpires, is merely incidental to its creation. The real motive, the real thing attained is the revelation of what you can perceive beyond the fact.-Robert Henri the art spirit

rare & precious

Beauty is a rare and precious thing.

I Knew her not.

Of all my experience, as a jewel, a special gift, a priceless measure, I remember her most, in sleep, in wake, in mountains, in streams in desert's bloom. In a petals tender form, In woman's irresistible dress. Times, times between, times unknown, the revelation came forth, her presence as a fragrance, all bounds broken, time himself stood still.

I in awe.  (more)

another tuesday

Tuesday Afternoon
I'm just beginning to see
Now I'm on my way
It doesn't matter to me
Chasing the clouds away

 ..calls to me
The Trees are drawing me near
I've got to find out why.

[When very young I waited for Mom and Dad's shopping at the supermarket to get the missing item for that evenings supper I waited in the car  scanning the am airwaves. I loved the Beatle's ballads and romances, but they were in short supply on the top 40s popularity list. The dial would be spinning like a 45. One night filled particularily to the brim with teenage angst, Moody blues days of future past was playing on a local station. With the word's 'something calls to me my spirit soared to distant realms. It was all like wilderness in the mountains to me. Later working in the big city at a dreary photolab the theme would reappear with an angelic like visitation.]

It was just another Tuesday, seemingly like any other. Cornflakes, commute, work. I arose before the sun. All seemed fine but there was a pinch of uneasiness in the air. Things didn't seem quite normal. For one, the baby slept all night. The milk in my cereal was not only unusually cold, it was fresh and crisp. I really enjoyed it. And the fragrances that morning, a fruity flower spice, laden with someones burning creosote. Someone's fire I told myself.  (more)

The rediscovery-of-the magic of the world under the debris of modem ideas.  -saul bellow

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