I would never have predicted the trajectory of the headlines that unfolded rapidly at the start of 2020. Since then the world has gone through a lot bringing about forced changes that have caused many of us to re-evaluate [everything]. I made a few changes, but my love and dedication to the arts only grew stronger. I’ve concluded that even though art is considered a luxury (you can’t eat it or put it in your gas tank), it has helped many of us stay sane during times dark. I believe making art and being in the presence of art is healing. Art allows us to communicate and share experiences that can be difficult to articulate in words.
As I write this in July 2022, I feel it is safe to say that we will not return to the life we knew in 2019; however, many of us have found ways to adapt – and if we’ve been lucky, we’ve learned to identify and lean into the things that make us tick. A big inspiration for me has been finding new ways to share artists and their works, which has resulted in an ongoing series of “online exhibitions” and the “Photo-eye conversation”.
Due to ongoing digital communication in an otherwise “closed” world, topics surrounding the era’s impact on artistic creation surfaced organically and frequently. I became fascinated by the range of experiences and points of view and discovered that many artists were looking for at least a silver lining.
Recently, with a series of blogs in mind, I asked a few artists featured here at photo-eye what they thought of the following statement —
“Some people think having a little fuss can be used as fuel in the artistic process.”
Today I’m excited to present Part 1 of this two-part series – stay tuned for Part 2 next week!
— Anne Kelly, director of the photo-eye gallery
The world is a crazy place right now, and it seems to be causing a lot of disruption in people’s daily lives. But the reality is that we all go through it at some point in our lives, we all handle it differently. My personal experience is that going through some type of hustle creatively distracts me – but only then.
How can I be creative when all I think about is what I read on social media, or see in the news, or worry about taking care of my family, paying the bills, COVID, the kids, maintaining the plumbing in the house, etc. These thoughts move me from the right brain (ie: the creative, imaginative, dreamy side) to the left brain (ie: the logical, mathematical, problem-solving side). So I just try to see the positivity in it; this restlessness can cause my thinking/concentration to reset.
As it refers to my art and creativity, it has always made me aware of the good things these “tormented demons” distract me from; instead of being enslaved by them, it allows me to continue to grow and find a greater knowledge of who I really am. I once read a quote that “an artist can create not because of his neurosis but in spite of it”. For my part, I only create insofar as I am alive within, centered and aware of who I am. So I guess – yes, the dramas of life can reset me and give me a chance to grow. But on the other hand, I know amazing artists, who I call “tortured souls”, who are most creative when things are hardest for them. So I guess people just handle the hustle differently – so to each their own.
As part of our new video series, photo-eye Conversations, photo-eye Gallery Director Anne-Kelly asked owner about his practice and his most recent works. Ironically, a thunderstorm passed through the Santa Fe area during the interview – it couldn’t have been better planned! Check out the blog post that features this conversation HERE or watch this stimulating conversation on Vimeo.
|Portrait of artist Mitch Dobrowner|
Mitch Dobrowner was born in 1956 in Long Island, Bethpage, New York. Worried about Mitch’s future and the turn his life will take, his father decides to give him an old Argus rangefinder for fun. He didn’t realize what a significant gesture this would turn out to be for Mitch. After doing some research and seeing the images of Minor White and Ansel Adams, he quickly became hooked on photography. Years later, in early 2005, inspired by his wife, children and friends, he picked up his camera again. Working with professional storm chaser Roger Hill, Dobrowner traveled across West and Midwest America to capture nature in all its fury, capturing extraordinary images of monsoons, tornadoes and massive thunderstorms with the highest level of skill. Dobrowner’s Storm series has generated considerable media interest (National Geographic, Time, New York Times Magazine, among others). He lives with his family in Studio City, California.
I think the hustle and bustle can be an important fuel for the artistic process, but I also think the artistic process is inspired by many sources and changes for each of us over time. Personally, I wouldn’t look for hustle and bustle as a permanent source of inspiration. Maybe it’s my instinct for self-preservation, but I always thought being an artist was a long game.
Mark Klett is a photographer interested in creating new works that respond to historical images; create projects that explore the relationships between time, change and perception; and exploring the language of photographic media through technology. He worked as a geologist before turning to photography. Klett has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and the Japan/US Friendship Commission. Klett’s work has been exhibited and published in the United States and internationally for over thirty-five years, and his work is held in over eighty museum collections around the world. He is the author/co-author of about fifteen books. Klett lives in Tempe, Arizona, and recently retired from her position as Regents Art Professor at Arizona State University.
In its first few months, the pandemic seemed to find a way to target every one of our vulnerabilities, mine included. For about 20 years, I have reflected on the words of my literary hero, John Barth:
“What we cannot make sense of, we can make art.”
I think for many of us, our artistic creation is how we understand and process what we experience. But our answers don’t always have to be explicit – and are perhaps better when they aren’t. There’s always a risk of pathos and melodrama when you’re in the middle of things. Sometimes the simple act of making art can serve to show us that we can still do something – we can still make a small difference in a world that seems determined to shut us down.
My kitchen table landscapes (Yosemite: Seeking Sublime) reflected covid isolation at home, but that wasn’t really what it was about. My project on the leaves (Reverse Photosynthesis) reflected my mother’s impending end of life – and it was the last show she had ever seen, but I was unaware of it when I started. Come to think of it, almost every one of my projects had a connection to something bigger than myself that I couldn’t comprehend at the time.
At the start of the pandemic, I watched a live zoom of Sophie Calle speaking to students. I think she wanted them to be totally in the moment – since she asked that it not be recorded. He was asked: “What advice would you give to students at this time of peril.” There was something very ingrained in his response – or at least the way I remember it. “Every moment is a moment of peril. We never know when tragedy will strike us personally. Now is always the time to practice those things that support our well-being.
Art is my way of going through things, and I’ve learned to trust it. When I have a tough day, I make art – it’s my refuge. On a good day, I make art to celebrate. And the other days? I make art just to see what will happen next. Ideas come from ideas – and from action. My experience has been that muses don’t spit the goods until they know you mean business.
Anne Kelly has joined Edward Bateman in an online view of his fantastic exhibition Yosemite: in search of the sublime in our Photo-eye Conversations video series. Among other things, they discussed Edward’s process for recreating Yosemite – at one point during the conversation, the artist found himself shrouded in a thick cloud of fog! Check out the previous blog HERE or watch this amazing conversation on Vimeo.
|Portrait of the artist Edward Bateman|
Edward Bateman is an artist and professor at the University of Utah. His practice often pushes the boundaries of photography with his use of uncommon processes and technologies such as 3D digital modeling. Through constructed and often anachronistic images, he creates alleged historical artifacts that examine our belief in photography as a reliable witness.
In 2009, Nazraeli Press published a signed and numbered book of his work titled Mechanical Brides of the Uncanny, which explores 19th century automatons as a metaphor for the camera, stating, “For the first time in human existence, our own objects create stared at us.
Bateman and his work were included in the third edition of Seizing the Light: A Social and Aesthetic History of Photography by Robert Hirsch. His work has been shown internationally in over twenty-eight countries and is in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and Getty Research, among others.
Printing charges are in effect until the time of publication and are subject to change.
For more information, and to buy prints by Mitch Dobrowner, Mark Klett or Edward Bateman
please contact gallery director Anne Kelly or gallery associate Jovi Esquivel
or you can also call us at 505-988-5152 x202
Creativity and Restlessness, Part 1
Is the tumult the fuel of an artistic process?