Sin Nombre

This past weekend I went to see Cary Fukunaga’s Sin Nombre. I found it to be an amazing movie. First, the cinematography was brilliant, beautiful colors and well crafted scenes. Part of that richness can be attributed to the fact that, Adriano Goldman, who shot the film, chose to use 35mm film rather than the more vogue High Definition camera. What initially drew to the film was that Fukunaga grew up just across the Bay in Berkeley, CA, and so perhaps it was out of a desire to support the local boy that I went to see it. I think, I was also impressed that he is only 31 and this was going to be his debut feature length film. Well, whatever my initial reason for going, I am glad that I went. Sin Nombre is tough, surprising, gritty and beautiful.

“Sin Nombre” is a remarkable film, showing the incredible hardships people will endure in order to reach El Norte. Yes, the issue of illegal immigration is a difficult one. When we encounter an undocumented alien, we should not be too quick with our easy assumptions. That person may have put his life on the line for weeks or months to come here, searching for what we so easily describe as the American dream. What inspired Fukunaga, an American, to make this film, I learned, was a 2003 story about 80 illegals found locked in a truck and abandoned in Texas. Nineteen died.
- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times

The only real criticism I have is not actually with the film itself, but with the tag line on the movie’s poster. “The greatest sin of all is risking nothing.” What? This does not really have anything to do with what actually happens in the film, it seems like some ad execs bright idea to play on the word sin. Maybe they thought it would make the film seem more provocative… I don’t really speak much Spanish, but I think most people know that sin in Spanish is far from meaning the same as sin in English. Anyway, the film is still great check out a trailer here.

Hurry Harold!

If you were thinking of applying for a residency this summer, I would highly recommend the Harold Arts Residency that takes place on the Jeffers Tree Farm in Chesterhill, Ohio. I went last year and made a bunch of work (that will be up on my site soon) and also met a ton of really interesting and creative folks. I have not attended other residencies, but I am fairly comfortable in saying that Harold provides a very unique experience. If this sounds interesting you will need to hurry and submit the relatively simple application as it is due by April 30th. Come on, apply, what else are you going to do this summer that could potentially be as fun and useful for yourself and your artistic practice! To see the application go here.

Installation Shots @ MIAD

Here are some installation shots from my show over at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. I want to thank MIAD student John Lusis for documenting the show and sending me these pics. You can click on the images for larger and better views.

Peter Doig


Lapeyrouse Wall, 2004

Lapeyrouse Wall, 2004 ©Peter Doig

Lately, I have been stumbling upon some painters that are making work that I find really beautiful, interesting and inspiring. One such person is Peter Doig. For many people his name will not be new, especially since in 2007 his work the White Canoe sold at auction for $11.3 million!

White Canoe, 1991  ©Peter Doig

White Canoe, 1991 ©Peter Doig

In 2008 the Tate held a major retrospective of Doig’s work. On view were works from the beginning of his career at the end of art school all the way up to more recent works from the early and mid-2000s. What attracted me to Doig’s paintings were the way his subjects held together enough for me to understand the scene, but then it is always as if the image were about to shake apart. To me I feel this balance in tension is similar to the way memories exist. Memories for me have never been crystal clear, they generally are dim and a bit out of focus, almost more felt than seen, and to me Doig’s work reaches back and tickles that part of my brain. I also like that his work incorporates the unique geographies of his life. He was born in Edinburgh, then moved to Trinidad with his family as a child, later moving to Canada only to return to London, where he received his art education and now, he lives once again with his own family in Trinidad.

Man Dressed as Bat, 2007  ©Peter Doig

Man Dressed as Bat, 2007 ©Peter Doig

J.M. at Paragon, 2004  ©Peter Doig

J.M. at Paragon, 2004 ©Peter Doig

According to various sources Doig creates many of his scenes from photographs, both his own and found imagery. In a November 2008, article in W magazine, Doig notes that the places he has lived and spent time often are incorporated into his works but generally only after he has moved on. He often depicts scenes from unusual angles, and incorporates strange color combinations and even has been said to bring in a sort of horror film perspective. These tactics all contribute to the heightened moment that Doig’s work exudes, just as our own memories try and hold on to moments of significance as well.

Architects Home in the Ravine, 1991  ©Peter Doig

Architects Home in the Ravine, 1991 ©Peter Doig

Lay Flat

The other day I received my copy of Lay Flat in the mail and was really impressed. I thought that Shane Lavalette had done a great job in creating a beautiful little book of engaging writing and interesting images. It was definitely worth the wait.

I found the diversity of the photographers included in Lay Flat to be one of the strengths of the project. It seems that Shane and Karly Wildenhaus, the co-curator, really allowed themselves to pick images that they found to be strong and compelling, rather than sticking to some arbitrary limitations such as age or geography. The fact that the contributors range from students to established artists and their subjects from crusty dark-room sinks to sublime western landscapes creates a very rich experience in viewing this project. I also must say that I had my doubts about the print quality, when I heard that the book was going to be a collection of postcards, but I will say now that the work and colors look absolutely fabulous. This will be a little book that I will return to both for the images and the accompanying texts. Shane and Karly, thanks a lot, congrats and I hope there will be more to come!

Show at MIAD

On March 23, I will be having a solo show of work from my Gustine project on view in the Perspectives Gallery at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. I have put together a show of a little more than 20 photographs that have come from my trips to California’s central valley. Much of the work comes from the town of Gustine and surrounding area and is an ongoing project.

The work will be on view from the 23rd of March until the 10th of April. Unfortunately, I will not be able to make it out to Milwaukee for the opening, but we are going to be having a Skype artist talk sometime during the run of the exhibition! I am looking forward to it.

Marin Moca

I wanted to let everyone know that my work is currently on display at the Marin Moca as part of a juried show called Depth of Perception. The photo above is one of two pieces I have in the show and the juror Linda Connor awarded me with an Honorable Mention because of this picture. The show will run until March 1, 2009. I had never been to this museum before, but found it to be a really beautiful site. The museum is part of the Hamilton Field development, in Novato, which was formerly an army base but all of the buildings are built in a sort of Spanish Renaissance style. If you have time drive the 25 minutes out of the city and enjoy a little road trip and see a bit of photography.

Also as a side note, Linda Connor, a well known San Francisco photographer and SFAI professor has a brand new book on the shelves called “Odyssey”. It is a great collection of her photographs from all over the world. You can check out the book here.

The Collector’s Guide

The Humble Arts Foundation is announcing the release of The Collector’s Guide to Emerging Art Photography, a source book aimed at connecting new and emerging photographers with collectors, art dealers, gallery directors, photo editors, museum professionals, and independent curators. The book is 180 pages long and contains the work from 163 photographers who were invited by Humble to take part. I am thrilled to be included in this project because many of the other participants are truly top-notch photographers that I feel are doing interesting work! The book will continue to be distributed to collectors and industry professionals through the end of March with a release party to coincide with the Volta Show in NYC. I will post details as I learn them. In the mean time, show your support for another Humble project and check out the monthly online group show and solo show, which currently features the work of my friend and fellow SFAI Alum Seth Lower.

The New Year

The New Year has started out on the right foot! I have been really busy with all kinds of photo related business which has felt really great. One of the newest things to happen is that I have finally found a studio space here in San Francisco and have moved in. For those who do not know, I had been looking for place to work outside of my apartment for almost a year. I had identified a need to move my art operations out of the living room and into a dedicated space sometime around May of 2008. To make a long story short I found an amazing space down in the Mission district with my friend Andrea Wyner, but as soon as I signed the lease the building went under construction to replace the awesome warehouse style windows that we had on two walls. It was a beautiful space, and so I thought I would just hold onto it until it was remodeled, how long could that take anyway? Flash forward to October, when I finally could get in there, but some of the appeal was gone for me, the light was not as nice and it just felt stagnant because I had been wanting it for so long, The studio had become connected to a feeling of annoyance in my mind. Luckily, a few buddies(ryan, josh and nick) and I found another work space relatively quickly. It is definitely less glamorous, but it is also less money$ and cLose Weight Exercise/”>Lose Weight Exerciser to my house. However, that was around the Holidays and so we really just moved in and got going the beginning of January!

It has felt great to get in there and be working. I have used it quite a lot already in preparing for my recent Photo Alliance lecture(which went quite well I must say!), as well as making some prints for upcoming shows. Thats right, making prints! This is probably the biggest excitement for me in this new year….. I purchased a new Epson 9880 inkjet as a sort of early Christmas present to me and my practice. Epson was giving amazing rebates and prices were lower than normal probably due to the economic downturn. Luckily I had a bit of cash saved up just for a moment like this.

It feels like a big change to be actually printing my own work again, as well as having to bone up on my Photoshop skills, but the prices at local labs were just to terrible to face. Every time I wanted to create new work I would dread the dent it would put in my wallet. Plus, beyond being expensive I always walked away feeling like I was only 85% satisfied with the final product. Now I can make sure that images are finished the way that I want them to look which is really satisfying.

So, a lot of new things have been filling my time in 2009, things that feel like the right kind of work regarding photography. I am optimistic about this year and I wish the same for everyone else!

Photo Alliance

I have the pleasure of giving the opening lecture tonight at the Photo Alliance event here in San Francisco. I will be talking about my work starting at 7:30 followed by Andrew Moore as the main speaker. I know this is short notice but if you are in the city and looking for something to do please come by. The lecture will be held at the San Francisco Art Institute.