A 365-Day Project

"We Are All Mozart"

A project to create
new works and change
the perception of the
music of our time.

Mantra Canon score pages Dennis

previous   July 23, 2006   next

The draft of the productivity survey article is done. That's good, because I thought this day would slip by without a blog entry. But I am kind of musicked out. Yes, it happens.

It's the third week of July, and today we saw the first golden leaf. The weather has chilled at the edges: It's thirty degrees cooler tonight than it was yesterday afternoon. Plenty of summer remains ahead, but we looked at each other knowing that six weeks from today is the official date of first frost. Each flower now comes into view with a particular and poignant beauty.

As readers of these commentaries know, words -- though I may write many of them -- are my least favorite artform. Film, yes, where the words are a participant. Music, food, dance, gardening, photography. The last has been with me longer than music, and (along with food) is the only art that is a challenge almost graspable. So here are some photographs, beginning with my first camera, a little Kodak box that took rolls of 620 film. This 13-year-old saved coins to buy a few rolls, and with my toy microscope, tried to take some photos. I took the back off the camera, but instead of loading the film, I put in a piece of waxed paper so the camera could be focused through the microscope's eyepiece. Sure that it would work, I loaded my very first roll of film, jabbed my finger for a little blood, put it on a glass slide, eased the camera onto the eyepiece, and snapped.

My blood 1962
My blood, 1962

New Jersey was caught in a big snowfall during the winter of 1963-64, and it became clear how difficult it would be to capture the magic of snow on a strip of film. The same camera was used, held out the upstairs window at my grandparents' home.

New Jersey snowfall 1964
Snowfall, Plainfied, New Jersey, 1964

The camera stayed with the family as I attended college, and it wasn't until 1973 that there was enough cash to invest in an Olympus OM-1 and a used darkroom setup. It was mostly used to document the arts events presented by Trans/Media, an artists cooperative that lasted from that year until 1978. During its life it presented hundreds of concerts and three Delaware Valley Festivals of the Avant-Garde.

Richard Fredette at the first Trans/Media Minifest
Graphic artist Richard Fredette at the first Trans/Media Minifest, Trenton, New Jersey, 1973.

Just before leaving New Jersey, we were working on a comic short called Slub at Ottres. Centered on gas tanks in central Ohio, it was absurd and quickly forgotten. But a few quite remarkable portraits remain.

David Gunn posing for Slub at Ottres still
David Gunn posing for Slub at Ottres still, Ohio, 1978.

The staggering Vermont winters -- staggering for one born and bred in temperate New Jersey -- provided a new kind of subject for the lens: cold. The childhood picture of the snowfall was a prescient one. Attempting to capture the sense of cold seemed impossible, but occasionally the laws of nature would allow it.

Cat in the cold window
A cat stretches outside by the window in below-zero weather, Vermont, 1985.

The eye-opening size of the west came as a shock as much as Vermont winters had. Where the winter eluded the lens with its impossible cold, the Grand Canyon eluded the lens with its incomprehensible color and vastness.

Inside the Grand Canyon, 1990
Inside the Grand Canyon at Sunset, 1990. (Click image for a larger version.)

There followed more treks to the Canyon (which you can read about along with many pages in The Middle-Aged Hiker), hundreds of photos from European travels, friends and guests of Kalvos & Damian, more musical events, photos from the dark castle in Slovakia for the Báthory opera Erzsébet, and pictures of gardens and flowers.

Stereoscope of walls in the Arin Islands
Stereoscope of walls in the Arin Islands, 2002.

It's almost midnight, and to be honest & truthful, this must be posted within the next few minutes. So for more photos, please visit my Vermont and family photos page. You'll see why life can be such a joy.

Horses in mist
Horses in mist, late in this past winter.

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