Sunday, July 25, 2010

Some Books

I have accumulated numerous photography books during the photographic half of my life. That is to say, I have been doing photography for over half my life and while still not as good as it as I would like, the books in my possession have had a strong influence in affecting what I view the final product of my own image-making to be. Ideally my pictures would be done in some way if they were published, but alas, given my various shortcomings and perfectionism, a book has never materialized. Currently I have about eighty photographic books, excluding photo histories and other art books, comprising mostly monographs from artists whose work has strongly influenced me, whether in my own art or in the greater admiration of seeing something created that I could never possibly emulate. For me the finality of a project would be in a book rather than an exhibition as it is in a book that most people will see the work long after the show closes.

Most of my books were purchased online, at used bookstores, or at specialty art bookstores in Santa Monica. It is one of my great pleasures in life to spend several hours looking at books at the stores Arcana and Hennesy and Ingalls when I'm able to visit the Los Angeles area to see my good friends. Generally my books are in the average condition that comes with moving from place to place over the years. Some are valuable, some are worthless in financial terms.

At times I look at the books, mostly I don't, but I do gaze upon the spines regularly as if they represented a story of my life in some small way. It's not really a collection given that I don't have very specific interests or goals in obtaining particular volumes for sake of completeness. It's an accumulation of very personal sorts, however more concise than other accumulations I have, most notably in the tens-of-thousands of comic books residing in long, white cardboard boxes in my mother's basement.

I regularly fantasize about buying more books as there is no end to what is being published or to what's already out there to be acquired. Perhaps that is the suffering of desire that comes with consumer culture, or just for us artists who always seek out new ideas against which to play. Sure, it would be fantastic to flesh out some missing artists in my stacks with books by August Sander, David Goldblatt, or Richard Avedon, but it's largely unfeasible to buy a new book for over fifty dollars every month. Rather than view this as an obstacle, now seemed like a good opportunity to take into consideration the books I have and how they came to my life to better appreciate them rather than fixate on largely unobtainable purchases.

In that spirit, my writings for this blog will take a new turn toward the printed image as I consider my books from A to Z or at least A for Ansel Adams to Y for Kohei Yoshiyuki. Maybe it will be alphabetical or maybe it won't. It's an adventure that I hope you'll join me on, especially if you've seen the particular book I'm writing about so that you can add to the dialogue. Writing also isn't something I do much of outside of work so bear with me as I struggle to leap from pictures, sentences, blogs, and back to pictures again. I love photography and have the greatest of admiration for image-makers everywhere, so let's see where those picture-books ended up for one guy whose half-life in photography meant a few Ikea-cubes worth of art-fantasy lining bookshelves somewhere in Seattle.

Your Assistance

As part of a solo art show I'll be having in Seattle this October, I am raising money to pay expenses such as ink, paper, and framing.

If you'd like to help me out, here is an image shot during my stay in China as a Peace Corps Volunteer, selling at $80 a piece in an edition of 10. The image is a pigmented, inkjet print on 13x19" paper. It's rag paper with no optical brighteners, meaning that it should look good for a long time with no changes. The image doesn't quite fit with some of my other China work, but I like it. Kids playing- always a favorite subject of mine. Currently it's untitled.

The price includes shipping. For an additional $20 I will include a mystery, proof print from the upcoming show. It will be anywhere from 8.5x11" to 17x22" large.

If you'd like to reserve a print of the China image, send me an e-mail ( and I will send you a payment request that will go through Paypal.

(Sold out)

After the Trees Have Grown