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Posts from the ‘Imagery’ Category

The Gift

Eleven years ago, my kidneys shut down. My death was averted through the miracle of organ transplantation. At least that’s how I felt about the disease that killed my mother but which can now be treated with dialysis. I sent my friends long, happy-hysterical, picture-filled word documents in the aftermath of my euphoric battle with death. My attacker lay strewn along the beaches of Sanibel Island, desiccated by the sun and eaten in tiny mouthfuls by sand flies.

I was dancing the gift of life. My body hummed with electricity. “Nature without check with original energy”, as Whitman would put it. Or it might have been the high doses of prednisone :)

Oo wa ditty

I dedicated my time to that gift. I saw it everywhere and tried my best to record and share it. I had a mission. I wrote a personal mission statement and took up photography as if I hadn’t left it (I had, for twenty-five years).

But death has a way of changing his tactics. We compare ourselves, becoming quick to anger, judgement and pointless debate. It eats away at simple joy, filling us with rage and frustration. It attaches itself to the soul like barnacles, waiting to apply the coup de grace.

Blue salt

Salt and ice eating its way through metal in a blue Toronto winter

I know we all feel that way sometimes. Not just me, but so many I’ve known and loved and others I’ve loved from afar. Reaching back for a mission statement is the last thing to do. I know where my mission statement is – on my desk in a folder I don’t have the heart to open. Better not compare oneself with one’s better self. Maybe it’s the loss of my dear friend Melanie after a seven-year battle with ALS, Death’s ugliest swordsman.

Mel and Jojo

Melanie in better times, delighting and being delighted by my daughter

Here’s something I’ve revisited. It often works for me. I hope it works for you.

Song of Myself (partial, 1892 version)

BY WALT WHITMAN

1

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,

And what I assume you shall assume,

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,

I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air,

Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,

I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,

Hoping to cease not till death.

Creeds and schools in abeyance,

Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,

I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,

Nature without check with original energy.

2

Houses and rooms are full of perfumes, the shelves are crowded with perfumes,

I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it,

The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.

The atmosphere is not a perfume, it has no taste of the distillation, it is odorless,

It is for my mouth forever, I am in love with it,

I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked,

I am mad for it to be in contact with me.

The smoke of my own breath,Leave of Grass

Echoes, ripples, buzz’d whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and vine,

My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing of blood and air through my lungs,

The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and dark-color’d sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn,

The sound of the belch’d words of my voice loos’d to the eddies of the wind,

A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms,

The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag,

The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hill-sides,

The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising from bed and meeting the sun.

Have you reckon’d a thousand acres much? have you reckon’d the earth much?

Have you practis’d so long to learn to read?

Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?

Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems,

You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,)

You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books,

You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,

You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.

3

I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the beginning and the end,

But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.

There was never any more inception than there is now,

Nor any more youth or age than there is now,

And will never be any more perfection than there is now,

Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.

Urge and urge and urge,

Always the procreant urge of the world…..

It Started with a Shimmer…..

Amazing post from the great Joe McNally – the passion, the creativity, the visioning and the work!! Visit him at http://portfolio.joemcnally.com/#!/portfolio/C0000VjAIFt

Photofocus (old site)

Editor’s Note: We’d like to welcome Joe McNally to Photofocus. While Joe’s a busy guy, he’ll be making some posts here from time to time. Please give a warm welcome to Joe and encourage him by leaving feedback on the article and sharing it with your friends.

It Started with a Shimmer…

Actually, a shimmer and an idea.

I don’t know why the folks at Nikon and the Photo Plus Expo administration listened to me when I came to them with Halloween ideas. For someone such as myself, raised up on comic books and the dark fantasies of Mordor, the notion of distressed trick or treaters, of small children poised on the verge of fantastical disaster and mayhem was completely normal. I was somewhat nonplussed then, when most people I tried to explain my ideas to would listen politely, tilt their head, look at me and say, “Sounds cool. You’re…

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Cold Enough For You?

Does that which doesn’t kill you really make you stronger?

During one of the worst weather days Toronto has ever seen,  1LoveTO suggested that if you found the weather too cruel, you might want to check out the AGO. They quite rightly added #Art and #Inspiration to their tweet, knowing that art can inspire us through tough times. And the Basquiat exhibition, in particular, (now on at the AGO) gives off a lot of heat.

But if spending some time at the AGO can help, would buying art be even better? And if you were buying art for warmth, what kind of art would you want?

So I thought I’d take a poll. Of the photos below, which one would you rather be spending time with today?

The Beach

The Beach

“The Beach” is where I’d be if I didn’t have a full schedule, so this photo of a painted one perks me up. I picked this one because there’s more to it than just another beach shot. There’s something odd and funny and lovely about how well the painter mapped his ideal escape onto a working stage. I love the door, the lights and the candy-colours he chose. And there’s something else that’s not in the picture but in my memory of it: It stands beside the boardwalk at Hollywood Beach, so it mimics the real beach just behind it. Unfortunately, I took this at night and never got back to capture that wider perspective.

aweandthensome,aweandthensomephotography, aweanthensome blog

“February Blues” is hardly the kind of artwork that most people want to buy. Yet everyone I’ve shown it to has said how it perfectly it captures the hardship of winter. When I ask if they identify with it, they all nod “Oh ya”, that’s me right there. <Men point to the man on the left; women to one of the hooded characters to his right> I’ve loved working on it because it reminds me of our toughness, of who we are and what we get through. And yes, getting through makes us tougher.

Art and drama are all about recognition. They were invented to connect us and to get us through. If you look at art buying that way, you may surprise yourself buying art that inspires and projects you.

And when you buy, you might want to hang it where you can see it when you most need to be reminded that you can make it through.

Embrace the cold! It’s making you tougher, stronger, better.

Richard Sherman’s Sin

I don’t write about football, athletes or race relations, so bear with me. This story really is about art and theatre, where I’ve spent most of my career.

Richard Sherman’s post-game rant with Erin Andrews on Fox Sports last Sunday has caused a stir well beyond the sports world. Twitter’s been electric with charges of thuggery and racism ever since. You see, Sherman came up with the last minute play that put his team into the Super Bowl next Sunday. It was a magnificent defensive gem. But when he was asked to take the audience through the winning play, he exploded in anger at the man he beat.

Some thought that made him a thug. His defenders crawled all over themselves to reveal the hard-working, community-building philanthropist that Sherman seems to be. Isaac Saul said, in The Huffington Post, that “This is a guy who represents one of the best kinds of sports stories there is in the world: the rise from the bottom.” But the story isn’t about that. The story is about the role football plays in the drama we call The American Dream, and the image of a winner in that dream.

Shaky_football

Football is America’s defining drama. As David Mamet, one of America’s greatest playwrights, said (and I paraphrase because I can’t recall which book it’s in) ‘The drama is about the lie – You know it’s over when the truth comes out’. And the truth last Sunday was that Sherman’s Seattle Seahawks were the best team in the NFC.

It’s not just that he looked like a braggart and a sore winner. There’s a crucial myth beneath the drama of the American gladiatorial, one of central importance to the American psyche. The myth is that winning makes you happy. And backing a winner makes you happy too.

You don't have to play to win one any more: Americans can buy their own Superbowl ring!

You can now buy your own Superbowl ring

The post-game interview is the drama’s epilogue. And Richard Sherman came on, still fuming about something that happened in the heat of battle. Winning is supposed to lay waste to all our sadness, it’s supposed to nuke all our negatives. Americans were waiting to have their central myth upheld but instead found it undermined. And they got really, really confused. How can a fan be happy if his gladiator is not?

Neither a sinner nor saint, Richard Sherman is a bad actor. And nothing in America can possibly be worse than that.

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 12.15.55 PM

Madonna knew exactly what to do last year at the SuperBowl half-time show. It was about her and yet it was bigger than her, and she knew it.

My favourite comment on that YouTube video came from one Darius Bowie who wrote “I just a watched a few parodies to this video and this one [the original] is the funniest” (sic). I have to agree.

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Ice Storm II

I’m so far behind with my monthly upload of fresh baked images that I’ve decided to upload some more shots from last week’s ice storm. It was incredible. To see read my thoughts on the storm and for more images, see last week’s post, Ice Storm.

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