Monday, December 19, 2011

Be Prepared

No, this blog is not about the season or about being a boy scout. As for the season, I’m feeling a little ahead of the game. The tree is up, the house is decorated, and there are plenty of lights outside. I’m sure my electric company would like to see more. I am behind on the shopping. Ok, I have not started but I have lots of ideas and know what I’m going to get. This knowing part is the good part. I’m partially prepared. So as I wander through the stores and weave between the shoppers that have no idea what to buy, I do. I am on a mission but always on the look out for an opportunity or some sales.

This is a nice segue into an opportunity for a sale. I was walking across a parking lot with a very large painting in tow. I had just removed it from a gallery that was closing. Hold back the tears; the story has a good ending. As I stepped off the curb with the face of the paining tucked to my side, my wife said, “Why don’t you turn it around so people can see it?”  My thoughts were if I’m bringing it out of a gallery that is closing because they can’t make the rent, what are my chances of selling it. But it was an opportunity for some unsuspecting people to see my art. I stumbled through the parking lot hoping not to ding cars and cause more damage to my ego. Then it happened; I walked past a black Range Rover. The gentlemen on the phone said, “Hey where did you get that painting?” Stunned, I replied, “It’s mine. I’m just picking it up.” And I continued to my car. Then that sound of opportunity hit me hard like a re-gifted fruitcake. I retraced my steps back to his SUV and proceeded to tell him about this fine piece of artwork I was holding. He graciously told the other person on the line he’d call them back because he was about to purchase a painting. Really?

We walked back to the gallery and completed the sale. I was still in disbelief and wondered if I could screw this up. But the sale continued to happen. He said, “All I have is a check.” To make the story better he assured me the check was good because he was the president of the bank. Really? I thought back, retraced my steps and concluded that this was way too good to be true. So I took the check and told him I’d deliver the painting Monday, making the best of an opportunity.

I drove home in amazement of the whole thing, how it all played out. I thought of all the Christmas presents I’d be able to buy, if I could just get to the stores. I was made aware of all the stores around me because of the large billboards on my drive home. One was for holiday shopping at the mall, another for Google luring me to shop online. The next billboard looked way too familiar, it was a friendly face that I had recently met telling me to put my money in his bank.

Moral of the story, be prepared…because not everything comes down the chimney

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Interview with Darcie Goldberg

I sat at the end booth at Teca perusing the extensive wine list wondering if we were going to order a bottle or order by the glass.  “Red or White?” I waited for my interviewee; photographer and CCAA executive director Darcie Goldberg. She enters; her blonde hair framing her blue eyes, and her golden tan interrupted only by her bright smile. She waves to a few acquaintances and makes her way to the end booth. I am greeted with a gracious hello, the excitement of the interview is in the air. There is so much to catch up on, and so many intriguing questions to be answered.

The waitress stops by to fill the need for libations. I ask Darcie “Red or White?” Then it happens, the most dreaded part of the interview.  I thought the world had stopped like in all those new fancy commercials where the camera pans around the actors and everything in the air has come to a stand still… Darcie says, “Oh no thank you, I have to work.” All the surrounding items that have been suspended in mid air come crashing down. The action resumes and I think, “We are artists, I’m actually working right now!”

It was inevitable; it had to happen sooner or later but not to worry. This interview is filled with inspiration, murder, intrigue, and foreign travel to exotic lands. Darcie is just as fascinating as James Bond. She seems to be at the right place at the right time capturing it on a 30 year old Hasselblad camera and the final result is a beautiful 24 x 24 inch photograph captured on a 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 negative. 


Can you describe your work in general for the readers?
I think its very traditional … black and white photography from film to the dark room. I have a photojournalist approach to my subjects and I only use available light. I feel those are the keys to my approach.

How did you get started in photography?
I always knew I’d be in the arts. I didn’t know how but I always knew I would. After graduating as a dental hygienist, I worked for a dentist then went back to school for photography and decided that was the route I wanted to go.

Did you receive any formal art training?
I went to the Art Institute in Pittsburgh. I worked as a photographer for UPI. That was my first official job outside of weddings of course. I went back, I wanted to get into art therapy. All along the way I’d been doing photography, but I wanted to just do the arts in a different way. I got into Hanuman and finished my masters with a degree in Creative Arts and a specialty in Art Therapy.

Have you embraced the digital era or are you a “purest”?
I try. I have a digital camera that I travel with and use as a back up. I know it’s the future. I am having more and more trouble getting film. I’m having more and more trouble getting through customs with my equipment. I have a really good printer in New York that prints my photographs. It’s expensive but its sweet.

How do you do choose your subject matter? 
I like people. I watch. Sometimes I just sit and watch for a minute and look for the perfect light.

What are your thoughts on the perfect photograph?
OH, ok. Lighting, composition, subject matter, I think they all go together but when you take that perfect photograph you know it. You take thousands of photographs a year. I was just in Cambodia and Vietnam and I took thousands of photographs. Out of the thousands I think you will get two really good photographs. It has to do with being in the right place at the right time.

How do you focus on a 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 inch view of the world, with the busyness of it going on around you?
Concentration. That’s when you have to really zone everything out. You have to realize when your taking that photo that that person is allowing you to take that photo and in one click you have to take that photo and in a second its gone.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life?
Oh gosh. My husband. He’s very good at supporting me.

What inspires you?
An adventure. We do so much traveling.

What was your favorite location to photograph?
Uh, the Himalayas, wait, India.

Where would you like to go next?
I am doing a base camp in Everest in April.

What tip do you have for amateur photographers?
Oh, oh. Always travel with your camera.

What are you eating right now?
Tuna. Italian tuna on lettuce. It’s really good.

What is your favorite food?

What does home mean to you?
Comfort. Family.

Your proudest moment?
 When my daughter graduated from medical school. I cried.

What was your mother right about?
I have to think about that one. That’s a tough one.  I can see where the wine can help. … She said that I have gypsy blood.

Money is OK, but it isn’t what life is about.
It’s about family. It’s about happiness and it’s about health. And art, art is in there. The Arts give us a soul.

Where did you grow up?
 Lake Erie.

How did you meet your husband?
I met my husband at a murder trial. I was a photographer for UPI and he was a lawyer.

What is the last book you read?
I read, The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell.

You collect?

Something that is important on your nightstand?
My reading light.

Your strangest possession?
Strangest possession… Maybe I should be drinking. Hm, my African charm bracelet amulets from ancients.

At your best, you are most like this famous person?
 Margaret Bourke White. She was a photojournalist years ago for Life Magazine.

Play - Alice in wonderland

Big Break – UPI

Album – Steppenwolf

Concert - Rolling Stones

Piece of art you sold - A landscape before I even went to school. It was a black and white photograph. 

In between my questions and Darcie’s fascinating stories, our waitress brought us treats from Tuscany. One of the “must haves” at Teca are the Olives Ascolane. These are best described as “little fried salt bombs.” Darcie ordered her favorite, the Insalata Teca: Tonnata, which is a generous helping of salad with a heap of Italian tuna placed on the top. I chose a spicier creation, the Diablo. This is a spicy salamino, capocollo, hot cherry peppers, with scamorza cheese pressed on a warm ciabatta.

I had some insider information on this woman of mystery; during her graduate studies she wrote her case study on a female graffiti artist. Her interview led Darcie on night adventures through the dark, train yards of NYC as her case study worked her trade. This was my opportunity to see if the statute of limitations was up on Darcie and what property she had defaced. What would her “tag” name be… something like “Blonde Razor?” Is she really Banksy? She smiled and said with a little bit of dissatisfaction, “I couldn’t it would have jeopardized my research.” I wanted to dig a little deeper but the conversation was interrupted by our Chocolate Tartufo; three scrumptious balls of gelato with crème filled centers. This Italian dessert would stop any wise guy from squealing in the heat of interrogation.

As with all Italian meals, we finished with an espresso. Darcie drank the rest of her iced tea and I drank the last remnants of my red wine. She got back to work and I meandered my way back to the studio. I’m sure Darcie wasn’t thinking about work and the expansion of CCAA. She was probably thinking of her next photographic adventure at the base Mount Everest scheduled for next year. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Wonderful Death Before Dinner

Every night we gather around the dinner table and enjoy the food our domestic goddess has prepared for us. Whatever the entrée, cheeseburgers with hand cut fries or Milenasa with Ensalada Rosa, we give thanks.  Then out of nowhere death comes. My son grabs his throat and does a wonderful death spin, looks around to make sure his sisters are watching, then takes his last gasp of air and falls lifeless on the kitchen floor. We chuckle and roll our eyes. It is a wonderful little performance. He lies there for a few minutes then we remind him his food is getting cold. After the third death scene, we have to exercise our parental responsibilities and tell him to stay seated and finish his dinner.

The best part of the dramatic play is that there is limited seating and a select audience. The dramatic scene is never played out in public or with guests. This got me thinking. When is it ok to entertain ideas, appease a few and have the freedom to express and do something unusual? I call it studio time. This is where I succeed and live while at other times it is a death spiral into a nasty mess. Nobody is around to see the performance; maybe I’ll invite a select few to the disaster scene. Occasionally a visitor will turn around a painting facing the wall to catch a glimpse of the dying. But mostly they lay around the studio. Every once in a while they get a look and I think I could revive them. This all happens without an audience. The silliness, the entertaining thoughts and freedom are played out in the privacy of my studio.

Maybe my son will be on Broadway. Maybe my paintings will appear in a gallery. The fun happens before dinner and the show. Ok now I have to go put my pants on and start painting.