Really?!

As I mentioned in my last post, I was recently deluged with new subscribers, over 150 in two days and three or four a day since. I am really suspicious of this. I apologize to anyone that has somehow been subscribed to this blog without their knowledge. I cannot imagine a motive for a sign-up scam. None the less, I do have something worthy of posting. The “Third World America” series of paintings had a debut exhibition in March at the Nevada Humanities Program Gallery here in Las Vegas. Here is a link to a video review/interview that was made during the...

What is Happening?

Yesterday around 11:00 AM I started receiving email notices of new subscribers on this blog. And they just kept coming. After allowing this blog to lie fallow for over a year I was more than a little surprised. I have been considering abandoning this effort due to lack of public interest. So 63+ new subscribers in less than 24 hours suggests that somewhere out there in the ether something was posted that increased the visibility here. Would any of you new users please be so kind as to share with me how and where you found your way here? It is looking like keeping this blog alive has value after...

Post # 7 Catching Up

Well it has been many months since I updated this blog. It is not so much the act of updating as much as the WordPress interface I must use. I find it awkward and unfriendly. This makes the act of adding new posts such an unpleasant chore. I must also say that initially this blog attracted so few followers (despite my efforts ) that I felt very few people were interested. The last week has proven far more encouraging with a significant number of new users. I can only guess this is the result of exposure from the paintings in their second showing at Ray Herrera’s office in the Holsum Lofts. So I need to backtrack considerably here and fill in some missing events. Third World America had its first showing on December 12, 2015 at Eden Gallery in the Arts Factory, downtown Vegas. The show was well attended and we were covered in a two page newspaper story by the Review Journal on Christmas Eve. The show was originally to run until January 1st but some popular demand extended the closing date until Jan 12th. There was also a food and clothes drive in conjunction with the art show. I sold five paintings from the show and I must express a special thanks to Carole Carter, who purchased four of the five sold canvases for her collection. Her generosity is greatly appreciated. It was a great feeling to write a check to the “National Alliance to End Homelessness” for $4,855.00! I want to share a few of the reactions from the viewers that are most meaningful to me....

Post # 06: Drive by Shooting (photos that is)

Having adopted the telephoto lens, it was time to get some images to work from. With a friend at the wheel and me in the backseat, we returned to the same area we went to on the first foot bound photo shoot. This time we drove around slowly and I shot at my hearts content. So far, from that first “drive by photo shoot” I have generated three paintings. There is good material for even more. Since then, I have tried to keep this camera with me whenever possible. I often stop when driving to whatever destination anytime I spot an opportunity to photograph a street...

Post # 05: Photo Safaris and a Charity Breakthrough

Following the realization that upfront contact and photographing was less than ideal, I did purchase the most camera I could afford. The advantages of shooting from a distance were immediately apparent. My third painting in the series “At the Intersection” is from the first use of this new camera. Shot from about 200 feet across a busy intersection, I caught my subject in a natural state without her awareness. Now, I admit that I share with others some misgivings and discomfort at doing this without the consent of the person I’m photographing. I must also share that asking permission, either before or after is perhaps more problematic than one might imagine. The folks I am interested in shooting are often times barely capable of conversation, if at all. And, as you might imagine, sometimes the notion that they think they might have been “discovered” or have some unexpected windfall also occurs. This was present with several of my subjects that first time when I approached them with water, energy bars and cash in exchange for allowing some photos to be taken. I want to help these people, and more than any single individual, so if my transgression against some perceived violation of privacy in a public space allows for a benefit to the population at large, I’m on board. It is not my intention to create “portraits” although more than a merely passing resemblance is sometimes going to happen. I want to see, capture and relay to my audience the reality of living on the street. I want to help us become less inclined to turn away  and disassociate...

Post # 04: Charity, Please!

It is now time to recount how and why this series began. Last spring I was driving downtown to a gallery opening of my work. I passed an unoccupied commercial building and saw there, in the entry niche, a reclining homeless person. This is not unusual in itself, there has been a steady increase in the street presence of these folk for years, it seems to me. But what struck me about this scene was the simple fact that this guy was playing chess with himself. I was moved with the realization that in spite of having lost everything (by whatever events or choices) this person was still a thinking and engaged human. They all have their stories of course, but we find it so easy to look away, to disassociate them from our own reality. So, that passing glimpse lasted only a couple of seconds and in my minds eye I immediately “saw” it as a painting. The idea took hold and I felt inspired to try and do something to apply my talent to increasing an awareness of this growing embarrassment to society. This should not be happening in the wealthiest of advanced nations. I also immediately understood that to truly help I would be donating a portion of any proceeds I might generate to some organization dedicated to bettering the lot of the homeless. So rather than directly benefiting my individual models, I would hope to aid the greater population through those that already know the best methods. So, I thought this pairing with a charity would be easy, and after the first three paintings were...

Post # 03: Learning the Way

So following that first photo foray into "Skid Row" I worked on trying to make the best of my new collection of images, in spite of the self conscious subjects.This painting "I was once a working man" was extracted from a group shot.This group was interesting in that they seemed to have a "manager". As we approached and explained our purpose, the gentleman in the plaid shirt acted as spokesman for the others, negotiated a higher group rate of dollars for them all to be photographed and directed the moment. He was quite the operator, and based on his cleaner clothes and fresher demeanor I felt skeptical of his homeless status. Nevertheless, the man in the blue scrubs was not in question.After giving this approach some thought, it occurred to me that I needed a better way to get source images. I decided that a better result might be obtained if I used a long telephoto lens and took the photos from a distance without the awareness of the subject. Something similar to the setup wildlife photographers...

Post # 02: The Search for Reference Images

Below is the second painting in the series. I resolved that to get more reference photos to work from, I needed to go down to the Las Vegas equivalent of “skid row”, where the “Free People” could be found in some numbers. My girlfriend and I went on a Saturday, to Owens and Main where the salvation Army and other support organizations are located. I have to say that on arrival, the only thing appearing out of context with a disaster scenario was that the buildings were intact. I was taken aback by the numbers present. The homeless were massed on the sidewalks around the facility, waiting, talking, sleeping and basically camping out. I admit my initial reaction was rather intimidated. We left the car armed with bottled water, energy bars, some cash and of course, my camera. The idea was to approach these folk, ask them a bit about themselves and offer water and or a few bucks in exchange for allowing a photo or two to be taken. This we did, and for the most part it went well. It was obvious we were out of place in this environment. There were a few rowdy and less than relaxed reactions to our presence. I took 20 or so photos of 5 individuals and a few groups. The basic disadvantage of our approach became evident pretty quickly. Like most anyone, the Free People became self conscious before the camera. Even if it was subtle, they were not their normal selves and “posing” to some extent was apparently unavoidable. The reference image for the second painting  is one I...

Welcome to my Blog

OK, please bear with me, this is all new for me and I’m far from getting this all set up and functional. I have begun a series of oil paintings with the purpose of calling attention to the alarming increase of the homeless population in America. I live in Las Vegas and in recent years I have seen more and more people seeking a “living” by panhandling, dumpster diving and depending on shelters for survival. This is happening in major cities across our country. Each of these individuals has a story, and the humanity of their condition should not be ignored. Those of us who are fortunate in our economic status find it all to easy to look away and pretend that we are not connected. I don’t know if trying to call attention to this issue by painting images of these people, the “discards” of our culture, will have any value. I’m struggling with who would want art of this nature hanging on their walls. Regardless, I have to try, and it is my hope that I can create images that are compelling enough to overcome any visceral discomfort yet still hold onto the stark reality of the subject. I want to donate a portion of any proceeds for future sales to some charity that helps the homeless population. This has been problematic. I have attempted contact with numerous local organizations to attempt to establish a relationship, and to date none have responded. The choice of which charitable organization is important to me. First I want one that really does do the right things, and a lack of...