Sunday, October 31, 2010

People and Places and the Search for Great Faces

Wow, go away for one week and so many things change! I spent a few days on the streets of Las Vegas taking hundreds of pictures of passersby in order to find fascinating faces for my upcoming pastel show. Trying to capture people without their knowing is a very difficult endeavor. Many shots end being out of focus or framing beer bellies and bald spots rather than the features needed. One cannot just put the camera up to the eye, focus and shoot with intent as people get a bit flustered or even angry at having their personal space invaded. For that reason, I have had to develop three different stealth techniques.

First is the “hey, look at that!” faux point and shoot approach. I walk along in search of prospects. When one is spotted, I say “point” and my husband pretends to point at some object just beyond the person in question. Most of the time it works unless the subject ducks thinking he is blocking my shot. Rats. Second is to position the camera at tummy level as if just walking along and sightseeing all the while clicking the shutter and hoping for the best. Unfortunately, I get butts and guts most of the time with an occasional get lucky moment. The third method is to station myself at a spot where people are not paying attention until it is almost too late. I almost earned a dollar this time! I guess I looked pretty destitute sitting on a concrete barrier at the base of an escalator with my empty coffee cup beside me. Some old man wanted to put a dollar in my cup, but I politely declined, later putting a dollar of my own in the cup of a Vet in exchange for taking his picture. People are an interesting species for sure!

The best subjects are off limits however. Many colorful creatures inhabit the casinos, especially the slots, but picture taking is not allowed inside the casinos so I can only record those people in my memory. The other best source material is found on the streets after dark, once the liquor has taken hold, but setting off a flash might cause undo chaos or attract the cops so I keep my lens in use during daylight hours only.  Other fascinating subjects are the homeless and the beggars that inhabit every bridge which criss-cross the thoroughfares. Their faces contain such haunting expressions but out of respect, I don’t treat them as objects (or subjects) taking a photo only if a dollar can be exchanged for the action. Swimming pools provide excellent photo ops too! Believe me, I am the last person you want walking behind you, more for odd mannerisms than anything else.

My trip west was cut short by choice however, in order to be home for one of those aforeposted “lasts”  (I think I just invented a new word…..) as well as to chaperone (at 3AM!!) an event which needed more volunteers in order to take place. Sleep is for wienies!  (Every now and then however, one wishes to be an Oscar Mayer).  With rent being due, I swung by the gallery between yawns to check out my space only to find that Second April has added several new artists and “areas” in my absence.

With the November First Friday fast approaching, I encourage you all to come by and spend some time checking out the following. Sharon Charmley now shares a space with Rose Hayne. Sharon paints oil portraits in both sepia and full color pallets. She also has a few small plein air landscapes and one large diptych of figures in oil. Rose has many new 5” x 5” pieces that incorporate collage elements and pay tribute to our animal friends. They are little gems worthy of a long look at the words she inscribes on the layers of papers.  Between their studio and mine is a new ceramic artist named Rosemary Benson whose work is clustered on shelves holding whimsical birds, figures and faces.

Sublime Studios located in the front window area has rearranged the merchandise and reconfigured the layout adding many new pieces for the upcoming holidays.  Also up front is the new gift shop area which consolidates many of the smaller items featured at Second April. My fellow resident artists are all hard at work getting our gallery venues stocked with pieces for the holiday shoppers and we have many events planned for the next two months.

I found the main gallery walls filled with new works by many talented locals including some from the Akron area.  As Second April settles into its Student Union role as the social center of our artist conclave/campus, its reputation and influence continues to grow. Artists who used to be a part of the “stable”, a term that dates back to my agency days when a roster of talent was kept under contract, are now owners of their own studios and showing in more and more locations (thanks as well to the efforts of local visionaries who seek such opportunities.) Be sure to check out photographs by Amy Weiser, collages by Gail Wetherall-Sack, watercolors by Bev Stafford, and abstractions by Lynn Weinstein. Entirely new to Second April is Annette Yoho-Felts from the Akron-Canton area, a ceramic artist with a vision all her own. I plan to work on pastel portraits during First Friday hours in preparation for my upcoming exhibition “Fascinating Faces from Interesting Places”. So what constitutes a “fascinating” face?, well….that is the subject of another blog.

Thank you to all who have sent well wishes to Gary!!  Even a friend from 34 years ago has reconnected with him thanks to the power of the internet and people who care.  Bless all of you who care that really is all we have in this world after all is said and done anyway. Give a damn about something and we can make miracles happen.

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