STRANGE DAYS

Yes they are. Strange indeed.

A few months ago I received an email from Lauren O'Neal, the Director and Curator of the Lamont Gallery at Philips Exeter Academy, enquiring whether I would be interested in participating in a show late in the Fall. Lauren had seen my work earlier in the year at the Somerville Toy Camera Festival and was intrigued. I'd love to be included, I said, and mentioned that in fact, two recent images were shot in Exeter:

Self Portrait, Exeter NH which became one of the pieces advertising the show:

Self Portrait. Exeter, NH 2009 Gelatin Silver Print

Self Portrait. Exeter, NH 2009 Gelatin Silver Print

and,

Eleven Plus One. 2009 Sepia-toned Gelatin Silver Print

Eleven Plus One. 2009 Sepia-toned Gelatin Silver Print

Both were shot within walking distance from Lamont Gallery on the Philips Exeter Campus. Quite a remarkable coincidence I thought.

Lauren did a remarkable job looking through my work and pulling images for the show. In fact, she chose a range of images including one from my days in art school at the Art Institute of Boston in the 70's to images shot last year. What she was looking for, and found, was my eye for the peculiar in the everyday, be it a location like Holyland USA in Waterbury, CT, Bullwinkle's shadow on a building on Sunset Strip, boulders in Dogtown, or where it all began for me, a face on a train station wall:

Salem Station. Salem, MA 1973 Gelatin Silver Print

Salem Station. Salem, MA 1973 Gelatin Silver Print

"Salem Station" was a critical image in my growth as an artist. It was in fact the the defining image for my first Boston exhibit at Enjay's Gallery at 35 Landsdowne Street in 1975 (Enjay's was one of the few photography only galleries in Boston, along with Carl Seimbab Gallery and Panopticon). "Salem Station" embodies many of the factors that continue to resonate in my work to date; a sense of presence (in this case a gaze returned), fragments of text, boundaries, and abstract elements. 

Of this image I remember pulling in to Salem Station and looking out the window at this grimy view and seeing a face staring back at me from the wall. Not only was a face staring at me but the remnants of text above the face, what was left appearing to say "God Is Here". Little did I know at the time I'd be back in college in a few years, temporarily putting the camera aside to ask epistemological questions regarding how we know what we know, what is the correspondence between language and experience, what constitutes certainty? The funny thing now is, if these kinds of questions bubble up while I'm out shooting, the game is over. Kind of like what Yogi Berra said, "You can't bat and think at the same time." The more I think while making images the more boring the work gets. Embrace the mystery of the moment, let thinking come after.

Strange Days: The Uncanny, the Curious & the Quite Possibly Magical is a four person show including Angela Cunningham, Haig Demarjian, Paulin Lim, and myself. The exhibit is in the Lamont Gallery at the Frederick R. Mayer Art Center, 11 Tan Street on the campus of the Philips Exeter Academy in Exeter, NH. It opens November 5 and runs through December 13, 2014. The Opening is Friday November 14 from 5-7, and a Gallery Talk follows on Saturday, November 15 at 10 am. General hours are Monday 1-5pm, Tuesday-Saturday 9am-5pm, and closed on Sundays.