Sunday, January 24, 2016

Romanian Festival in Naples.

Finally we  feel we have reached a place in our incredibly complicated move from Hickory, NC, to Naples, Florida, that we can take an evening  to attend one of the many events taking place in Naples.  We chose a visit to Études de Ballet and take in the annual Romanian Festival held there.  

First thing we saw when we arrived was an art exhibit by Viorica Ghetu-Vuono.  Lovely work, with amazingly deep emotional details, particularly with respect to some of America's darkest involvement in matters of the soul, like slavery, the Orphan Trains, and the attack on Hawaii in 1941.  I found the work to be probing, full of thought and emotion, yet tempered by the acknowledgment  of historical unfoldment.  I met her and talked with her and was very impressed with her work.  She is from Moldova, in the eastern Czech Republic, and has studied art in Russia, Moldova and Ukraine.  Currently, she is living and studying in Conneticut.  More information on her work and photographs of her art can be found at

Once inside the festival hall, we found wildness unfolding in the form of dancing, singing, shouting, stomping, swirling, all at a very LOUD level of musical noise.  However, the people were obviously enjoying themselves and almost all of the announcements were made in some language other than English.  The food was good, and we sat with another couple at at table in the far rear, away from the awesome sounds.  During a lull in the music we found out that they were from Asheville, NC.  So – our first excursion out to meet the people of Naples, after our trip from Hickory, NC, turned up two:  One from Moldavia, and another from Asheville.  An awesome beginning.  Actually, kind of the way everything else has gone so far!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Beyond Reality        Be bold.  Can photographs tell a real story? Can they match up with the other artistic mediums?  Yes! Photography is the most powerful and dynamic form of art known to mankind.  
We have all known that the earth is part of the solar system for some time; we had seen artists’ renditions of that imagined sight for more than fifty years, but when we saw that first photograph of our earth floating in space, the earth changed, and we changed. The earth could never be the same earth again.  
Artists, poets and writers introduced us to the pleasures and joys of war for countless generations, and we loved it.  Then Mathew Brady brought us some bad news, and war has gone down hill ever since.  
We all know about how many children die of starvation every day, and we feel sorry for them.  But when we see Kevin Carter’s incredible photo of the starving Sudanese child, covered with flies, collapsing to the ground, still crawling in the dirt, completely abandoned except for his last earthly companion: a huge vulture, the size of the child, walking behind him, watching, waiting.  We have been told that one picture could take ten thousand words to explain; here’s one that would take ten million years to explain.  And you don’t even have to look, all it takes is a quick glance, and you can’t ever be the same again as you were before you saw that.  Yes, photography can be too powerful.  
The Wizard, Ansel Adams, took us to another planet - the most beautiful place in the universe!  “Where are we?” we asked him.  He pushed his glasses up on his forehead, smiled, wiped his hands on his apron, and said:  “Welcome home.”

You will encounter other artists out on the trail.  When you set up your tripod, be kind, be quiet, and be sensitive.  The painter, you may see out there is dabbing, looking for realism; the writer is searching for ten thousand words.  You hold realism and ten thousand words in your hands, and you are not going to stop there. 

Page 41 of the book "Methods and Procedures of Outdoor Photography"  by John Womack. Available from author at  $10 + postage.  

Monday, December 14, 2015

Last summer, the old man, who owned these trees
was sitting on his riding lawnmower.
He watched as his trees were all cut away
by a tree-removal company.

I asked him what was wrong with his beautiful trees,
were they ill, or sick, or beset with evil maggots
perhaps, or something I had never heard of.
He said it was even worse than that:
“They make such a mess when their leaves fall off
every year in the fall and I have to clean up that crap.”

Now it's the following spring, and the weeds and the grass and I gather
to share our sad memories together. 

Friday, November 13, 2009

Shepard Fairey and the Great Picture

Shepard Fairey did a no-no. But it was an interesting no-no. First of all, in April, 2006, Senator Barack Obama was with George Clooney and Sam Brownback at the National Press Club meeting in Washington DC. They talked about Darfur and human rights. Several photographers made hundreds of photos of the contestants, none of which photos seemed remarkable at the time. Mannie Garcia, a freelance photojournalist was there to photograph the famous guy, Clooney. Some of his photographs did include Barack Obama. Garcia later said that one photograph which later became so important was one of 275 he shot that day. All of the photographs apparently went unnoticed and unheralded.

The presentation was nothing, the photographs were nothing, the write-ups were nothing. But 18 months later, as the political campaigns began to develop we all watched the spectacle of a number of candidates trying to emerge from their pack. Of course, Obama did well, so well in fact that the nation was just getting ready to “notice” - officially - that he really “could not be elected” and so therefore should not be selected to run. The reason he couldn’t be elected was that he had just been "noticed" to be BLACK.

That week commentators were beginning to comment about Obama’s blackness. How it was too bad because he was such a good candidate otherwise, BUT he was black - and that was a fact. Meanwhile, in October of 2007, Shepard Fairey agreed with an Obama aid, Yosi Sergant, to provide a poster, and after running a Google Image Search found the Garcia image which later that same day Fairey turned into his stunning picture of Barack Obama. Fairey never approached Garcia about using his photograph even though it almost certainly was copyrighted. Whether it actually was copyrighted at that time, and whether by Garcia or the AP is still under discussion by a number of lawyers in several courts. Very possibly, Garcia would have given permission to use it had he been approached - but of course that is forever now in the land of conjecture. The picture Fairey constructed out of Garcia's photograph showed Obama not as a black man, but as a red-and-blue man, with enough white in the picture to show he was one who could unite the country, appealing to republicans, democrats, whites and blacks and even bring new voters to the polls. It had a stunning effect on the world and history.

The New Yorker art critic, Peter Schjeldahl said the picture was “the most efficacious American political illustration since ‘Uncle Sam Wants You’”. In January 2009, the picture was acquired by the United States National Portrait Gallery and made part of its permanent collection. And it can be fairly claimed now to be an integral part of the story how the first black man became elected president of the United States. It was clearly one of the greatest pictures of all time.

But the “no-no” had to do with the fact that Fairey made his picture out of one of the nondescript photographs made at that nondescript meeting way back in April of 2006. Garcia made the photograph which Fairey used, but Fairey made the great picture. Garcia had reviewed his photographs on the day of the original shoot and sent 16 them on to the Associated Press, one of which was the one Fairey later found on Google. The AP has now also positioned themselves in the case, claiming that they have a right to it too. But when the poster came out it was not recognized by anybody including Garcia who later was quoted "It never occurred to me it was my picture".

So what is the story here? Probably it is a good representation of America. Nothing could be more American that this story. A photo made, a photo lost, a photo found. Who owns it? What would the photograph be worth without the picture? What will happen to Fairey? Well, he’s hired a lawyer, more Americana, and is already safely sealed in the history books for all time. The only question seeming to remain now is how much money will he have to pay for taking a useless photograph and making out of it one of the great pictures of all time? And it will remain a great picture because Obama will always be the first black president of the United States, and Fairey's picture will always be part of that story.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Morning Cool

Walking through the early dew
bare feet clad in Tevas,
showering toes in night-wrung water
still lying cool
in morning shadows.
Great blue sky arcing wide
crossed like watercolors running
long white cirrus feathers, streaking
cross the sky as if morning might be stretching
and inviting me to dance
while we both still have our cool

Friday, July 24, 2009

Silly Gal Lilly

Silly Gal Lilly talks too much
She rattles along,
all day long, and
when she runs out of words,
she makes them up.
One day she talked so much
the world went deaf.
And she never has any
thing to say,
but you gotta admit -
she’s awfully pretty!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer Solstice

On Midsummer Day the Earth bows low before the Sun, sweeping in gracious curtsy before her Lord and Sovereign as they celebrate together their Summer Solstice.

She proudly presents her sweet grasses, pure waters, great trees and precious flowers to her master in thanksgiving for protection during the winter just past, and for passage through a cold and windy spring. The Sun, clearly pleased, bestows benediction upon his bride and beckons her to rise and fulfill her destiny. Joyfully, the Earth turns in stately pirouette, as in a waltz, slowly lifting and slowly turning, rising and gracefully whirling and spinning into the days and nights of creation and celebration which lie ahead.

For the ceremony, Earth has prepared a soft breeze filled with the song of birds, and spun together upon the air the familiar smells of warm earth and flowing water - those precious treasures forever denied her lord; thus presenting the Sun’s own Fire back to it, now transformed into Life. In the warm blue afternoon sky, the Honey Moon, three-quarters full, sails high above the unexpected hoot of an owl.

Midsummer Evening slowly rises from under the flowers like a great sea, lifting and floating the petals and leaves on its soft darkness - this happy night will be rich in singing and dancing; it will be filled with fairies and devas, and the song of the mockingbird will charm the silver moonbeams. Ah, what magic lies right before our eyes! Will it be on TV? No? Oh, why not?