Local Talk - Q+A with Photographer Leah Morgan

Leah, we're so excited to show your work at Local as it captures such joyful moments and expressions of a land and culture historically known for expressing their love. For me, it's a constant reminder that it's a good day to have a good day. Please tell us why you pursued this project.

Thank you for showcasing Good Morning Jamaica! I pursued this project because I absolutely love the country. The landscape is spectacular, the food is delicious, the water is warm and crystal clear, and the people, well, their smiles are contagious and their love for life is inspiring. For me, visiting Jamaica is a time to bring balance back into my life. A time for me to slow down, in a place where I am surrounded by happy people and positives vibes. Every day in Jamaica is a good day to have a good day.

Each time I visit Jamaica, my love for the people, the landscape and the culture grows stronger. I am continuously impressed by the loving spirit of the local people, their value of hard work, and most of all, their smiles.  I am inspired to give back to the people that give me so much joy. I would love nothing more than to be able to take the proceeds from this exhibition and contribute it to the local communities. Giving back to the community is always the mission that drives my work as a social documentary photographer.

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Montclair is an interesting town where there is extreme levels of wealth but also poverty just around the corner and yet there seems to be dissatisfaction irrespective of social caste. How did you find the different classes of people vs. their general mood for the people in Jamaica?

I find the mood of Jamaicans is generally happy, no matter their class. When I ask locals how they are today, their response is usually given with a big loving smile and they say they are blessed. No matter what, rich or poor, big house or small house, showering with cold water or in a river, driving or walking to work, they feel happy and grateful to live another day.

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There is one image from this Good Morning Jamaica collection of a man standing alone along the shore but he is not looking out at the ocean. He is looking inland with hand extended. What is going on here?  

 That’s William. He's blind. Every day he walks alone, along the shore of Negril’s Seven Mile Beach with his cane in tow. He stops occasionally and puts his hand out, hoping someone will give him some spare change. I will continue to try to support him because having a disability is challenging enough, let alone in a place that doesn’t have as many resources. If you meet William, he greets you with a sweet smile and genuine gratitude, not just for the donation, but also for the time you invested in talking with him. 

 

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Your work has taken you all over the world and I can't help but ask if there was one project that has had the greatest impact on your discipline.

I studied with a National Geographic Photographer in Italy for many years. She made the greatest impact on me by teaching me how to get up close and personal with my subjects, encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone which enabled me to deepen my creativity.  She helped guide me into more of a fine arts style of shooting. I'm always looking forward to my next opportunity with her.

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A topic I've discussed with many of our Local photographers is that of digital/ cell phone photography vs. the more traditional camera. Do you have a POV for how or what is used in photography?

A few years ago, I might have said using a traditional camera was the best way to capture amazing images. But that’s not necessarily true anymore.  I believe it’s easier to approach a person with an iPhone because of its unobtrusive small size, and with today's technology, come away with stunning portraits.  Many of the images here in my exhibition were shot using my iPhone. 

  

I love that you extended your discipline into a charitable cause with Cards for Kids. Please tell us how you got started with this program and what it has meant to you.

 I started Cards for Kids after visiting and volunteering for several years at local schools in the Negril area of Jamaica. I noticed they needed so many supplies and necessities at these schools. Many of these children would arrive to class without items that we take for granted such as pencils, shoes or even food, which impacts their ability to learn properly. I simply can't allow that. It pains me to see families that are struggling to send their children to school and on top of that, worry about how their children are going to eat that day. I paired up with The Rockhouse Foundation and started donating to this amazing organization. The Rockhouse Foundation not only builds schools in impoverished areas, but they also provide the children with supplies, and most importantly, breakfast daily. 

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What's next for you and how best to stay in touch with your work?  

You can learn more about my projects through my website, leahmichelephotography.com. You can also follow me on Instagram and Facebook @leahmichelephotography.

 

What is your favorite coffee or tea beverage? 

My favorite coffee beverage is iced coffee. I love it and drink it all year long, even in the winter. Plus, I'm meticulously obsessive about how it's prepared, so I make it myself, using an old-school espresso maker. First, I make the espresso in advance and refrigerate. Then, I mix 2-3 shots with a little bit of half n half, agave sugar, and ice.  Delicious...which goes perfectly with the Granola Lab Cranberry Cashew Compound that I'm constantly picking up from Local Coffee. 

Local Talk - Q+A with New York Street Photographer Scot Surbeck

Scot, let's start with the evening you hung your photographs @ Local. I was anticipating perhaps an hour or so to place all of the images and then 4 hours in, you were almost done. Clearly, there's a highly complex process driving your craft. So two initial questions:

How do you approach each project so there's a comprehensive contextual experience? 

I study the exhibit space and how people move through it, the lighting (both natural and artificial), and the sound (ambient and music). I  envision the experience of entering and first seeing the pictures, and then moving  in for a closer look.  I then try to create an exhibit that has a strong emotional and visual presence and also enhances the space.

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How did you approach the project for Local including the masterful grid display system?

The large patina metal panels and high ceiling allowed me to create a show that is relatively dense with images  and includes large scale (20" x 30") pictures mounted high that can be easily seen because of their size.  By carefully and precisely arranging the photos, a grid was created which seems appropriate for pictures taken on the grid of streets in New York City.

You have a super intimate relationship with NYC which is evident from the manner in which you capture a variety of moments. NYC is arguably the capital of the world so no surprise in selecting this market but what specific elements draw you in?

 I always feel fully alive when I'm in New York City and I look for that energy in the people and situations around me.

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Of the current collection of images @ Local, which one brings you back for re-interpretation?

I can't say there's one that I keep coming back to. They are all equally interesting to me. 

At what age did you begin your craft and what was the initial driver for you to consider photography as a path?

I've loved photography all of my working life, most of which has been spent as an architect. There was no one moment when I became a street photographer. It happened gradually, then gathered steam. Now street photography defines and nurtures me, and gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

Photography is an evolution, personal development as well as technology and equipment. Do you like where we are today and where photography is going or do you prefer a past time with arguably simpler option?

My learning curve as a photographer was greatly accelerated by the transformation from film to digital, and the development  of image processing software such as photoshop and light-room. It simply became much easier - and less expensive - to learn how to produce decent work. Technology doesn't produce fine art however. In order to do that, you're on your own.

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What's next on you journey? Is there a project that you are working on or working towards?

My journey is street photography. I want to get better, to keep evolving as an artist and a person.

What's your favorite coffee or tea beverage?

Black coffee, room for half and half, sweetened slightly by stevia.

More of Scot’s work here: https://www.scotsurbeck.com/index

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Local Talk - Q+A with Global Street Photographer Alan Holzman

What formal photography training, if any, have you had?

My parents gave me my first camera when I was 5 years old after I had my tonsils removed.  When I was in high school my dad and I built a darkroom in the cellar giving us a great opportunity to share the mutual passion of photography.   College, grad school and family had me place any serious photography on the back burner for many years.  About 5 years ago when I lost a job I really loved, in a school for emotionally disturbed kids, (I eventually earned a PhD in Clinical Social Work) I decided to turn back to photography.  Street photography helped me integrate my interest in connecting with people and and my love of making photos.  I feel I always develop a relationship with someone I photograph even it the connection only lasts a few seconds.

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I'm pretty much self taught.  I attend many lectures  on photography and have been involved in B & H's Event Space Portfolio Development program for several years.  This has helped me develop my skills considerably and also facilitated my acceptance into 3 group shows at Soho Photo Gallery in New York.  In addition, I've taken a few street photography workshops.

What camera/ cameras are your go-to for this particular discipline? 

I try to use film cameras as often as possible, however, I shoot with digital cameras as well.  My film cameras include a Yashica twin lens reflex, a Leica rangefinder and a Hasselblad.  Digitally I mostly use my Fujiflim x100t and my pocketable Ricoh GR II.

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There was a brief time when I was an aspiring photographer working on a studio in NYC and at the time, I recall the need to ‘get the shot’. Time, expense, film cost all contributed to this need. As film has moved to digital with time, expense and cost all but becoming a non-factor - are we better or worse for capturing that special shot?

I think "getting the shot" is more dependent upon the photographer than the gear.  Digital allows more flexibility and less cost no doubt, however, I find that film slows me down and forces me to pay more attention to subject matter.  I also enjoy the process of developing film.

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Images of people are very personal with the subject generally wanting to be viewed through a certain view. Who gets to decide on that view when you’re photographing someone?

When I photograph people on the street there is a combination of the subject's response and my timing.  Many of my street images, especially in India, are actually street portraits, where I ask a subject for permission and then they get to pose as they wish.  I often ask them not to smile but the rest is up to them.  I choose when to click the shutter.

We have galleries, museums and other venues like Local that aim to share artistic work with a public viewing audience. What is your favorite and/ or recommended channel for experiencing your work? 

I like seeing my images printed and hanging on a wall.  Physical images are very dear to me.  Whether in my home or a gallery or at Local, I much prefer a real, tangible photograph to a digital image on a screen.  With that said, I also find that sites like Instagram allow our work to reach a bigger audience.

What has been the most enlightening image you’ve ever captured - either at that moment of releasing the shutter or evaluating images afterwards?

I don't have one "most enlightening image."  However, photographs in which I've been able to capture emotion have the greatest impact on me.

What has been the most difficult shot to capture and why? 
You ask about the most difficult image I've ever captured. I don't have just one, but a few years ago I did a project in which I made street portraits of New York City police officers.  Initially, I was very intimidated.  Approaching  officers and asking them to pose was, at first,  quite stressful.  After some time I became more comfortable and had a really enjoyed talking with and photographing the officers of NYPD.

What do you hope comes of the public viewing your work?

I hope that people who come to Local and see my images are moved by the wonderful subjects that have become faces that I will forever remember.

What projects do you have coming up? 

Currently I'm working on a project about myself.  I'm scheduled for knee replacement surgery on January 30 and I'm attempting to document the entire process (not the surgery itself) from pre surgical visits to post surgical recovery.  

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What is your favorite coffee or tea beverage? 

Favorite coffee/tea:  I love a good cup of strong black coffee.  Also, Local makes a drink (I forget the name) with cayenne pepper that I really enjoy.  I'm also a big tea drinker.

ps. the drink is ‘Funktado’ :)

IG: @alanholzmanphoto

Inquiries: adhphd@gmail.com , Mobile: 973.985.1739

Local Talk - Q+A with Local West Coast Artist Dolores Lusitana

We're so thrilled to have you post at the shop and thank you for being so accommodating in shipping the images!  West Coast images in an East Coast space brings me happiness as we're all California dreamin' to some degree. How do you think about one coast vs. the other from an artistic perspective? 

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I was first drawn to photography while living in New York City from 1981-1997. I’ve always thought of the city as a people laboratory - everyone combating the pressures of city life, the weather, the fierce professional competition, yet somehow all interdependent in those struggles. There’s an underlying humanity that I don’t experience in the same way on the west coast. California offers a more idealized lifestyle; grand, expansive landscapes, lots of sunshine with a cultural slant towards leisure. They’re completely different ways of life. Despite being a native Californian and grateful for the relative ease here (sans the earthquakes and fires..) I’ve always felt more at home on the east coast, more alive and inspired. Perhaps ironically, I think now of New York as a periodic B12 shot, my place for ideas and inspiration, and California the place where I can hunker down without distraction and get the work done.

 

Your prints, 'A deeper look at the Venice Beach Canals' provides us with a glimpse into a special place in southern California. Why did you select this area as your focus? 

I’d stopped shooting for a time and started my business, Situation Book. I was spending a lot of time behind the computer, and starting to feel a little hollow for abandoning my own creativity. The Venice Beach Canals were within walking distance from my home and I decided to take my camera for an outing - shooting for the first time in a couple of years. I had no objectives, no real intention of making images, I just let myself walk and shoot anything and everything that caught my eye. I found the reflections in the canal waters really beautiful and started making photographs - mostly figurative images, watery reversals of the many white bridges that intersect the walkways, the towering palm trees, the people walking by. They appeared like impressionistic watercolors and it made me happy to be outside in that quiet little enclave of peace and nature hidden inside Silicon Beach. I liked those images enough to continue going back.  

It wasn’t until I starting noticing the full-frame abstractions on my computer screen that the WATERCOLORS project began. I saw things that I hadn’t in my viewfinder, and discovered that by shooting more instinctually I was creating work I found more interesting. That’s when I began to see my photographs more like abstract paintings - and I focused on that approach going forward.

Do you often work with reflections or was this approach inspired by the environment?

I’ve always been more fascinated with people in social situations, how they each inhabit a given space together, than abstract or landscape driven photography. This work came out of my need to reconnect with the natural world and not think too much. What I saw in the water was just an unexpected gift.

The reflections on the Canals are created by wind and tides and ambient light, so you never really know what you’re going to encounter, and that reinforced my inability to control the situation. The source of all the reflections are inherently the same since they’re from the homes, buildings, gardens that line the walkways. But, they’re constantly morphing in shape and color given environmental factors. The lesson for me was to stay open. There was one day when the wind was so high that I thought nothing was achievable. But that day ended up yielding a number of interesting frames, including the image I call WINGS which is at LOCAL now.

How have these images provided you with a deeper understanding and appreciation of this landscape? 

I think good landscape photography is incredibly difficult. Taking a photo of a sunset is relatively easy, but in most cases I believe the viewer is reacting to the splendor of nature rather than the artistry of the photographer. To capture how a landscape makes the artist feel, to imbue the absolute beauty of nature with an individual human emotion, that’s not easy. At least not for me. The appreciation and understanding I’ve gleaned from this work is more about the origins of perception - how and why we all see things differently. I perceive very distinct scenes or images within these photos - rather than strictly water reflections. Other people often see very different things - which makes me happy.  I try and leave them open to interpretation - and encourage people to reposition them vertically and horizontally to their liking.

 

As a self-taught artist, what can you tell other individuals who would like to pursue an artistic endeavor OR career?

I do believe that everyone should have some kind of creative pursuit - no matter what it is - something that can never be mastered but always improved upon and made more and more your own. You learn a tremendous amount about yourself in the process, and it will always provide you with something to work at, hopefully share with others, and get joy from. I hope I’m still working at something creative when I’m old and blind.

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If I can offer any advice (and I’m not sure that I or any other artist is really qualified) it’s that we all experience the world differently, uniquely - and that’s what you want your art to reflect. And I believe that can only be achieved by process, time, and personal honesty, not strictly technical savvy. Craft - as applied to digital photography - can be crucial to expanding your visual vocabulary, but if you don’t dig into your own creative process it can override your vision. I try not to seek validation from others, which is hard. I look for something that speaks to me, perhaps even for me, and keep at it. If I’m really onto something, and keep at it, it will evolve. And hopefully it will eventually start to disappoint me. That discomfort is the challenge you need to move forward. I like to think of this period as “growing pains” - both in the creative process and in life in general.

 

What other artists within or outside your primary discipline do you look to for inspiration?

In my earliest days my photographic muses were people like Helen Levitt, Louis Faurer, Robert Frank, Bruce Davidson, Bresson…the usual street art suspects. Later, I discovered the magic of color documentary when I found a book by William Albert Allard in a bookshop in NYC near Houston. Blew my mind. I then sought out the work of the great National Geographic shooters:, Sam Abell, James Nachtwey, Gerd Ludwig, Eugene Richards, Alex Webb. Now I’m more drawn to the artists, mostly painters, of an earlier time. The European Impressionists and Beat Contemporaries. Odilon Redon always take my breath away.  As does Erik Satie.  And kids. Watch for how little children see the world - and look for that perspective.

 

What's next? What other projects are you currently working on?

Right now I’m focused mostly on getting this work out into the world a bit more. I’ve really just started showing it.

I’ve also started playing around with some light abstractions taken from the windows of my mother’s bedroom. She’s 92 now, and sleeps a great deal; her room is often dark but for the light creeping through the windows. It’s a tricky subject, but it feels like there’s something there.  Maybe not.  We’ll see.

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Any other thoughts to share?

There is beauty all around us in every day things. Spend some quiet time in nature; it can nourish you in ways that nothing else can.  And, thank you for this opportunity. I hope your customers find some pleasure in the work.

Thank you!

See more of Dolores’ work at https://www.doloreslusitana.com/about/

 

 

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Local Talk - Interview with Local artist and Classic Man Barber Mike Lasovski

You are a barber by trade, and an amazing one - when did you know that you had a desire to capture and share your photography?
 

I've always had a passion for art, and I've been drawing ever since I can remember. I love fashion and music, and used to do styling for short films and sing in a progressive metal band.   Photography is just another creative outlet for me. I've been perusing it  for the last 3 years.    


In this age of cameras built into cellphones, do you take pictures on your phone or do you use an actual camera? If so, what type of camera?

I take pictures with my phone and make it more artistic by shooting different angles and using  effects. I use what I have for now, but would love to buy a camera in the near future to get better quality and details. 

Do you plan for time to go out and capture images or do you take photos here and there as you go throughout your day?

It is more about "capturing the moment" for me. If I see something interesting in the aspect of colors and angles or anything that I think would look good as a photograph, I'll stop what I'm doing and take a picture.

How does you full time job as a barber translate into your approach for taking photos? I know from hanging photos with you at the shop that your eye is quite good!

I am a perfectionist at my job as a barber and my clients know that! I don't like to leave out anything for the chance, and risk a haircut coming out not looking good. I see everything, every piece of hair. I treat my artwork the same way.

You are originally from Israel, how does your childhood in a different country inspire your approach to photography?

I grew up in the city of Jerusalem, a place that is very rich in history and culture. Jerusalem has spiritual energy, and that by itself inspires any creative individual. Also, growing up, I was surrounded by artistic friends (who later became musicians, fashion designers, photographers etc). Being surrounded by such people pushed me to develop the creative side in me as well. Photography has a universal language with which I can express myself.

What's next for building your photography craft? Are you seeking any type of arts + photography education?

I would love to take some additional photography classes and develop the skill further. I'd like to do more exhibits in the near future and reach a wider audience.

Tell us a bit about the photos you have shared with us @ Local.

The photographs reflect how I see the American culture. It is about my life as a barber. The pictures I have chosen have a dark vibe, capturing the spirit of Halloween 

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follow Mike on Instagram @mikey_thebaba.barber

Local Talk - Q+A with artist Cathy LeCleire

We're so thrilled to have you post at the shop - both as a friend and accomplished artist. At what age did you first know that you had the interest and desire to take your thoughts and create something?

I’m probably showing my age but the first time I realized that art could be anything you wanted it to be was going to the World’s Fair in Queens and seeing Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup cans and Claus Oldenburg’s huge fan made out of vinyl. I really felt I could be an artist too.

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What were the first projects that you worked on?

I’m not sure of my first project because there are probably so many. I’m a printmaker so that means I work in multiples. I first went to college and studied Political Science and went back to Art School after I graduated. I feel my first projects tended to be political in nature. Printmaking has always had a political background because it was always about protest and bringing information to the masses.


How did you take this interest and apply to greater learnings at the educational level?

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I have always enjoyed teaching and found I was good at it. Educational institutions are the greatest place for pollination and stimulation. I find my students are my greatest inspiration and I hope my mentoring and encouragement leads to greater creativity of ideas.


So, you now teach  printmaking and book art techniques  at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Given that the world has become more and more digital - how has your craft evolved?

Printmaking is always evolving and taking on contemporary mediums. We embrace the digital age with dot screens, filmmaking, zines, etc. Students are always looking for the printed word as social media. They print large editions many times that are mass-produced and can have an immediate response. I think many printmakers are at the forefront of the digital age but also enjoy traditional methods such as etching, lithography and screenprinting.

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As a teacher, what is the most interesting thing you have learned from your students?

It took me a while to trust my students and allow them to make mistakes. I once received the best evaluation from a student. She said I did too much for the student and I should let them fail because failing is the best way of learning. So now I always say “have fun and make mistakes!”


Please tell us about the work you have so graciously offered here at Local - Endangered Species.

I have recently been interested in the dangers of plastic and the fact that it cannot decompose. By using it as a printing surface I created a mural of animals that I feel are in danger of disappearing. With the use of contemporary, unmistakable and repeated images combined with global awareness, I have created statements of the ecological consequences in our daily lives.


What's next? What other projects are you currently working on?

I shouldn’t say but I’m back to political art in these dangerous times. I’ve been making sashes like what the suffragettes wore in pink with slogans for issues such as gun control, women’s rights, me too movement, etc. And as with printmaking they are controversial!

Learn more about Cathy here

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Local Talk - Q+A with Illustrator Gina Stritch

How did you learn and hone your craft?

After fifty years, I'm still learning and honing. I'd say the best way to do anything is to just do it: sit down or stand up and draw, pencil and paper, pen and ink, computer, or whatever tool you have on hand.

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You interact with so many pets and pet parents, what has been the biggest learning for you?
 

I listen to what people say and draw the best drawing I can draw. I try not to intellectualize what I do. My philosophy is simple: draw the pet and make the owner happy, but NEVER compromise. Draw as if your drawing MUST stand the test of time. I don't aim for photo images, I aim for the best, simplest drawing I can draw. It's all about the drawing: pencil, ink, maybe a little watercolor, that's it. 

 

I've noted that pet sketches can come off extremely campy OR spot-on, with the artist being able to capture not just the image but the personality and character of the pet. Each of your sketches tells a different story and are so powerful, how do you approach each subject to extract that special something?
 

Source material: the better the photo, the better the drawing. If I get a good photo, you get a good drawing.

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Are there any particular artists that have influenced your approach?
 

Honestly, no, I'm into my sixth decade and am who I am. I don't try to be anyone else. I admire John Singer Sargent and many, mostly American artists. I admire the work ethic and business sense of Andy Warhol and I like the drawings of Al Hirschfeld, just to provide a few examples. Are they all commercial artists? Yes, but they were also extremely talented and intelligent and diligent.

 

Do you have pets, if so - tell us about them?
 

I have dozens and dozens, hundreds of pets, but they're all on paper. 

 

Tell us a bit about the images you have shared with us @ Local.
 

The drawings on the magnetic wall are all originals. Some are oil pastels and ink, (but I mostly stopped using oil pastel because it's messy and smears), and the others are watercolor and ink. Some are based on professional photos, but some are just good cell-phone photos. Some are popular breeds, some are unknown breeds. Some of my favorite drawings are mixed breeds. I used the drawings I used for a practical reason: it's what I had at hand. The drawings I don't have have been sold and the best artist is one who sells his or her work.

 

What's the best way for you to work with clients? Phone call, in-person meetings, simply sharing a photograph?
 

All I need is a good cell-phone photo emailed to me. I can work with a poor (hard copy) photo, tooand sometimes, maybe that's all a person has.

 

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Local Talk - Q+A with Photographer Scarlett Givner

At what age did you learn that you had an interest in taking photos?

I am 13 years old now and I started taking pictures when I was 11.  The first photo I took from this series was P.M.A.R. in New York City.  It was taken in an alley way. The image of the stick figure against the brick just pulled me in

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In this age of cameras built into cellphones, do you take pictures on your phone or do you use an actual camera? If so, what type of camera?

I take pictures on my phone because I never had access to a camera and its easier to just press one button- I don’t need to fiddle with a lot of confusing buttons on a typical camera.

 

Do you plan for time to go out and capture images or do you take photos here and there as you go throughout your day?

I just take my phone with me and when my camera is on I see the world differently.  I see things that look like they have a story. I feel a pull to take a photo when I see the right image

 

Are there any particular photographers that you look to for inspiration?

I love photos from National Geographic and I find that inspiring.

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How important is it for your family to support your craft?

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They love my pictures and are very supportive of me. Most of my family members have at least one of my photos in their house.  I think they choose the photos they like based on their personality.  For example, my grandma likes really bright colors and is into fashion so she really likes ‘Shoe Repair’.

 

What's next for building your photography craft? Are you seeking any type of arts + photography education?

I want to be an actor when I grow up but photography comes second so I may want to pursue it later on.  I will continue taking photos when I feel  inspired.

 

Tell us a bit about the photos you have shared with us @ Local.

My collection is called Steam Punk Rainbow because sometimes when I take photos I crank up the lighting in chrome and also use the noir effect.  I like to take pictures of buildings, alleyways  pipes, statues and it reminded me of steampunk.  I like taking pictures using angles because I feel they are more unique that way.  It’s pretty cool to walk into Local and see my art on the wall.  Now people can enjoy my pictures as much as my family does.

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Local Talk: Q+A with artist Bonnie Maranz

Where were you born and raised? Describe your upbringing and impact on both your art and where you are in life today?

 My life began in an urban neighborhood in Newark, NJ. Large crowded apartment houses, small family owned grocery stores, bakeries and a soda shop on every corner dominated. When I close my eyes I can still see the dark passageways surrounding our apartment building, the tight close proximity of neighbors working and struggling beyond dark days of the Depression and World War II.  Long shadows that continued to overcast our lives. Looking back I realize it was my public education and the people living in that apartment house—389 Leslie Street—that I will never forget. Many helped forge a love of art and a vision of a life beyond the everyday.

In particular, across the hall from our first floor apartment lived a young couple—Nathan and Ruthie Kruger. Nathan Kruger owned an art gallery, Rabin and Kruger, downtown Newark where he partnered with an art conservator Bernard Rabin. Ruthie Kruger was an art teacher. Rabin and Kruger represented the famous artist Joseph Stella. Nathan helped to broker the sale of Stella’s iconic painting “The Brooklyn Bridge” to the Newark Museum. Ruthie started giving me private art lessons when I was three years old! They give me my first art book which I still have with the inscription: “To Bonnie (the little artist) we hope you will grow up to be a big artist and this book will help.”

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When did you know you were interested in pursuing an art career?

I always knew I was an artist and would continue painting and drawing, but I never really thought of art as my career. As an undergraduate, I planned to teach art to children as a creative way to make a living (combining a love of art with the need to earn money). It wasn’t until I was graduating from Kean College (studio art/education) that I decided with the encouragement of my mentor, Dr. Pearl Greenberg, to pursue a Master’s Degree in Painting. As I was preparing to graduate she said, “You are really talented, you should just concentrate on Painting and pursue a Graduate Degree”. Advice I embraced.

It was when I started classes at Montclair State University that I really began to think in terms of career—how to grow and seek opportunities, concentrating on developing series of expanded work, learning more about artists and trends and haunting museums as much as possible. At that time the requirement to earn a Master’s degree was “to do work never done before”. What a challenge! Big thank you to professors Carmen Cicero and Jonathan Silver!

 

Describe your role as professor and the enjoyment you obtain from teaching.

As a college professor I have the privilege of teaching Art (Appreciation, History, Drawing, etc.) to the most vital group of our future country. I teach the value of appreciating visual language in it’s many forms, how it intersects with history and innovative critical thinking. I help students connect patterns of revolutionary breakthroughs in the humanities starting with Cave Art. Their insights are revealing, refreshing and often revelatory!

 

What generally inspires you and influenced your work? Tell us more about the “Edge” and how you arrived at this philosophical approach.

During the five years I was studying at Montclair State—concentrating on a “breaking through”, I really began to understand how difficult innovation is to achieve. Copying is really much easier.  Getting an idea of course is exciting. Then implementing it—making technical choices, lots of disappointments and experiments, the tremendous amount of work involved. So, into the fifth year when Carmen Cicero congratulated me on making a break through I was thrilled. He told me “A lot of people don’t every breakthrough.You will leave a lot of people behind and lose their support, but not to worry you will meet the people you need to meet.”  I didn’t understand the scope of this advice but I became addicted to searching for the next breakthrough. This still colors my work.

The “Edge” is a metaphor for many things. It started when a close friend observed that “I was the type of person who would approach the edge of a precipice, stare a it, be mesmerized but never jumped in.  What does that mean? More questions than answers. Do I have to jump in? Are there real boundaries and definitive stop signs? Can I go wherever I want in my mind and imagination?

 

What artists have inspired you and influenced your work?

Just this week I watched the National Geographic series “Genius”. Albert Einstein’s story. Over and over he declared it was his imagination and visualizations that helped he come up with many equations and formulas. Like the power of a visual to “travel on a wave of light” in his mind.

Of course, the greats: Van Gogh, Michelangelo, DaVinci, Kandinsky, Mondrian, Malevich, etc,  as well as great women artists like Frida Kahlo!

More personally contemporary and modern artists are the ones I revisit all the time. Especially Yves Klein, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, Ad Reinhardt and the lesser known American Impressionist Albert Blakelock.

 

What message are you trying to communicate with your art? What do you want people who see your work to think/feel?

I want them to react to the language, color and mood I am trying to convey. Forms that verbal language cannot express.  I welcome their reactions and interpretations. Often my work is broken into modules that can stand on their own or combine. Works on walls that wander while remaining grounded as backdrop or anchor.

Ultimately I believe a painting is a state of mind.

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If an art curator came to your house tomorrow to organize and catalog your work, what are the three most important things to communicate to that person?

My work is my ongoing journey away from the ground we stand on while at the same time being firmly rooted on the horizon of our existence.

I am articulating the underpinning Modulus of life as I imagine it—using paint and canvas.

Attempting to surprise and delight the viewer and myself!  

 

Describe the medium you work in and the materials you use. Why that medium and why those materials?

Using oil paint on paper and canvas. Slow to dry, I love the fact that oil paint can be manipulated and the colors are often gorgeous!  Still works for me! I believe we all still love the seduction of   painting!

 

What’s the future direction of your art? What do you plan to do next?

Still studying and looking at Hubble Telescope images. Can’t wait for the next visual discovery out there in the Cosmos.

 

What do you want your legacy to be?

I don’t think I can predict what my legacy may be. I want to be remembered as part of a wonderful community of artists that just had to create in our time and place.

 

http://www.basemeantwrx.com/new-events/2015/7/24/bonnie-maranz-gallery-night-oil-paintings-on-canvas-paper

 

 

Local Talk: Q+A with artist Robert Carter

We recently posted the work of artist and professor Robert Carter at the shop which was followed by an exhibition in the space. Perhaps it was awareness of his career spanning over 65 years or knowing that our country's tragic past did not stop this man from honing his craft and prolifically telling his story but it was such a powerful moment for everyone involved. A heartfelt thank you to his daughter Heather for working so diligently to transport Robert's work over to Local and steward all communications related to the event.

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We hosted a Q+A during the event and at one point, I inquired as to what one factor contributed to his (Robert's) success and he surprisingly quoted Eddie Murphy, and paraphrasing here:

 

My commitment has always been there. I remember an interview with Eddie Murphy where he talked about having a plan B if his comedy desires didn’t work out and he said, he never had a plan B because he felt that allowed him to be totally committed to plan A. I realized that I too never had a plan B.
— Robert Carter quoting Eddie Murphy

 

Something about this quote is energizing and paralyzing at the same time as once you take that leap of faith in life, you must literally take a leap and not look back. I can somewhat (loosely here....no comparison to Robert's journey) empathize as opening Local took a degree of strength and belief that was at times physically and mentally difficult. All that said, you keep going and working and working until you come out the other side. Sometimes you fail and sometimes you succeed but either way - you did it and that's a powerful story.

See below for more of a bulleted Q+A from Robert followed by a link to his website. Robert's work will be proudly displayed at Local throughout the month of April.

1) Where were you born and raised? Describe your upbringing and impact on both your art and where you are in life today? 

I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky during segregation. We were poor, and I always had the support of my family. I remember a life-affirming experience I had when I was about eight or nine. We had a cheap print on our living room wall of a cottage in the woods, and I decided to copy it. I made an oil painting. My mother took the time to have it framed. At the moment I didn’t realize how important that was—by today’s standards it was a very inexpensive frame. But it was a confirming act. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be involved in this area called art. And I still have that painting today.

2) When did you know you were interested in pursuing an art career? 

I always had the encouragement of my family—my parents, my wife and children. I was also supported by my teachers at a very young age. Something I will never forget is when my high school art teacher, Mrs. Lucille Wathen, came to my house to get my portfolio and enter me in a competition for the Scholastic Art & Writing Award. To have her come to my house on a Saturday afternoon was like having an audience with the Pope. We had a reverence for our teachers and for her to go out of her way and to then be awarded was a blessing I didn’t anticipate.

3) Describe your role as professor and the enjoyment you obtain from teaching. 

I refer to myself as an ‘art coach’. The process of teaching has contributed to my personal, intellectual, and technical growth. This is how I describe how meaningful teaching has been: I taught a lesson the first time, and no one understood it. I taught it a second time, and no one understood it. I taught it a third time, and I understood it. Education has been an enriching experience for me, and when you see something working well with your students it emboldens it even further.

4) What generally inspires you and your work? 

Religion, music, social and political issues, and the subtleties of the human experience are my main sources of inspiration.

5) What artists have inspired you and influenced your work? 

Charles White, Albrecht Dürer, and Käthe Kollwitz have had great influence. 

6) What message are you trying to communicate with your art? What do you want people who see your work to think/feel? 

I use the human figure as a conduit for ideas. I would like people to experience behavioral universals that are tinted by race, geography, economics, time, etc.

7) If an art curator came to your house tomorrow to organize and catalog your work, what are the three most important things to communicate to that person? 

I would want the curator to deeply understand both the true essence of the characters in my work and how they are conduits for expression. I would want him to look beyond my work’s technical merits, and see its spirit.

8) Describe the medium you work in and the materials you use. Why that medium and why those materials? 

I use a variety of materials that lend to the personality of the composition. I juxtapose the naturalness of weathered wood with the boldness of acrylic paint to convey vibrancy, vitality and purity in my three-dimensional work. My drawings are mixed media composed of ebony pencil and collaged materials.

9) What’s the future direction of your art? What do you plan to do next? 

Generally speaking, an intensification of spirit and growth in my craftsmanship is always my goal. Ode to Joy, referencing Beethoven, is the theme for my next composition. 

10) What do you want your legacy to be? 

I would like to inspire greater sensitivity to the human experience, cultural and spiritual enrichment and, of course, joy.

 

http://www.robertcarterstudio.com/