I just returned from several days up in the area of Hunter Mountain in New York’s Catskills. A much needed sojourn to the woods with family. It was a time to slow the pace down and stop to enjoy the benefits of nature over the hallmarks of modern life – iPhones, Apps, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest…
As we were packing the car, I checked and rechecked and maybe then checked again to make sure my trusty camera was on-board. I’ve learned my lesson – forgot my camera at home on my very first trip to London. One word – devastated. Then two more words – never again. I’m sure other photographers can relate – the torture of not having your camera and seeing a billion interesting things to shoot.
We caught Hunter Mountain just as the trees were beginning their autumnal transformation. I nice mix of reds, oranges and yellow with remnants of green.
A couple hikes in the area and a ride on Hunter’s ski lift provided plenty of opportunities to satiate the photography bug.
Just what I needed.
Below are two of my favorite pictures from the weekend.
One of the benefits of late summer is the emergence of the incredible sunflower.
I recently visited a sunflower farm up in Sparta NJ with camera in tow. I could have spent hours trying to capture all of the many interesting facets of these magical plantings. The warm temperature and bright sun provided optimal conditions, though the day’s sky provided little visual interest.
The real excitement, of course, wasn’t up in the clouds but firmly planted (literally) in the ground.
Out of all the pictures I took that day, I think my favorites are the portraits of the sunflower. The one pictured below is my best shot. It has a nice composition with just the right amount of contrast.
I entered one of my iris photographs in the Art Association of Rutherford’s 66th Annual Open Juried Exhibition hosted by the NJ Meadowlands Commission located in Richard W. DeKorte Park, Lyndhurst NJ. The exhibition runs now through Friday, Nov. 29, 2013.
Most people in New Jersey have heard of the Meadowlands, but few know about Richard W. DeKorte Park – a wonderful nature preserve. The park is run by the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission which also has its offices there. The park features nature trails and provides a wonderful opportunity to see egrets and other water fowl in their natural wetland habitat.
I started photographing these stone angels about three years ago. Another hobby of mine is genealogy and family history, which I began over ten years ago. While researching for one’s roots you are invariably led to a cemetery or two or three… As I have family buried in Essex County and surrounding counties, I have visited many of these cemeteries. Almost every time there were one or two angels that I was really struck by – either the intricacy of its carving or the expression on its face or even its overall composition. So in between walking the rows searching for and documenting the final resting places of my relatives, I would capture an angel here and an angel there. Before I knew it the collection was growing.
Once it started to develop and I had decided that I wanted to create a series of angels, I became more focused on how I wanted to represent them. Typically cemetery angels and cemetery monuments are shown amongst the many other monuments and stones surrounding them. I didn’t want that effect for this series . I made a concerted effort to capture each one on its own – recognizing it as an individual artistic piece. I felt this allowed the angels to be appreciated for what it was and allowed the viewer to focus on each angel’s unique attributes.
I also decided from a visual standpoint that black & white was the right choice for these pictures. Viewing the images you can easily see that black & white lends itself to stone monuments and specifically angels.
Over a three year period the angel collection continued to grow in proportion to my genealogy excursions. Eventually I decided that it was time to exhibit these images and share them with others. The first step was of course to review everything I shot and narrow them down to the best of the best. Pouring over each of the images I started to develop a new appreciation for them beyond just the artistry. I had to remind myself that they also served an important function for those who commissioned them and placed them at their relatives’ graves. They were there to watch over them and ensure they were Never Alone. This later realization is what inspired the title of the show.
The exhibit at Oakeside is now the culmination of those three years of searching for, photographing, living with and contemplating the nature of these Angels.
Yesterday’s opening reception for Never Alone: Black & White Images of Stone Angels was a great success!
Thanks to everyone who came out to the reception. All of your support is very much appreciated. The mansion was definitely full of life yesterday as everyone perused the Angel exhibit.
The opening reception may be over, but there is still plenty of time to see the show. The exhibit hangs at the Oakeside Bloomfield Cultural Center until the end of August. If you can’t make the show you can check out the online gallery here: STONE ANGELS.
I received a lot of nice comments and had some great conversations on everything from what led me to the subject matter to questions on the use of angels in cemeteries.
In typical photographer fashion, I’m also including some pictures from the opening.
Today – August 1st – was the start of my firs solo photography show – Never Alone: Black & White Images of Stone Angels. It was a great day at the Oakes Mansion preparing, planning and hanging the angels. This beautiful turn-of-the-century Mansion is the perfect place for a photography show. If you have never been to the Mansion you definitely need to visit and attend one of the many cultural events hosted here throughout the year.
Thanks to great friends – Cindy Summers and Corinna Sowers-Adler – the angels went up very easily and look amazing.
From the first picture hung to the final one – it felt surreal to see all of MY pictures hanging on these walls. One of my dreams has always been to have my own solo art show – whether photographs or paintings. So this is truly a dream come true… a wish fulfilled.
I am very excited now to share this work with the world and to allow these angels to fly…
I am really excited to announce a dream come true… My first solo photography exhibit is going forward in August at the amazing and beautiful Oakeside Bloomfield Cultural Center in Bloomfield NJ. The show – Never Alone: Black & White Images of Stone Angels – will run at Oakeside from August 5-31 and be open to the public Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. Evening viewings are by appointment only.
Never Alone is the culmination of a three-year project I undertook to document the use of stone angels in cemeteries throughout New Jersey. I carefully selected each image for this debut show to demonstrate the beauty and craftsmanship that went into creating these funerary objects. Stone angels were often used in the beginning decades of the last century especially among the newly arriving immigrant populations from Europe.
This angel exhibit not only presents each angel as a work of art in its own right but also focuses on the vital role they play as guardians watching over lost loved ones and ensuring they are never alone.
The elegance of the Oakes Mansion’s turn-of-the-century architecture is the perfect environment for this show and I couldn’t be any more thrilled to have my first show here.
There is an opening reception on Sunday, August 11 from 2-4 p.m. which is open to the public.
I look forward to seeing everyone there to appreciate these wonderful works of art.
On Friday, April 12th the opening reception for the Grace Van Vorst Spring Photography Show 2013 was held. Two of my photographs – Mary and Baby Jesus and Prayer for Guidance – are on display and for sale until May 12th.
The show is being held at Grace Van Vorst Church in Jersey City and is open Monday-Friday, 9:30-1:00 and when Grace Church is opened. Enter at Grace Van Vorst Hall, 39 Erie Street, Jersey City. Credit Cards are accepted.