Earlier this month I had a gallery opening at 9 Gallery in Portland, OR. While out there, my cousin (once removed), Kay, and I drove out to Cannon Beach for an afternoon. Was a great, short trip. The beach towns are getting far less weird and more disappointingly commercial. But Haystack rock didn’t disappoint.
Long exposures taken just after noon using Neutral Density Filters, something I’d wanted to expirement with for a long time. Even with the bright mid-day sun, the ND filters allow me to use exposures as long as 30 seconds. This makes the crashing surf appear weirdly smooth.
My cousin took some photos of these dead birds on her iPhone. I couldn’t resist capturing them as well.
I stayed at my Second Cousin’s house in St. Johns. The full moon after my show pulled me out to photograph on the river. A huge ship was being tugged down the river when I got all set up.
I was a little unsure of how I’d feel having my first independent gallery opening with photographs that are so incredibly different from the work (and the fine art) I typically make. Six years ago, I photographed my grandmother’s house on the day of her funeral. She was a bit of a hoarder. I thought it would be good to capture the state of the house before family members cleaned it out for the sale (though the cleaning had already started). I posted the series on my blog and thought that was the end of the photos’ lives.
My cousin (once removed), Kim, saw the series and thought it would make an interesting installation in her gallery Co-Op in Portland, OR. She curated, printed, framed and did the entire installation. In the center of the “reliquary chapel” was a collection of Kim’s father’s things (my grandmother’s twin brother), surrounded by photos of my grandmother’s things. (You can see the collection here: The Stuff We Save)
The gallery was packed the whole night, and people’s reactions to the photos blew me away. Strangers spent time digging through the images, playing I spy. There were whispers of, “I’m going to go clean!” and “This reminds me of my grandmother.” A woman from Iran said it took her back to being a kid. Another picked out the piano and other items that her grandmother also had. I wanted to eavesdrop on all the conversations, wish I would have set up voice recorders to document the voices.
I have never seen people interact with my photographs on this level, relating to holding on to physical things long past their usefulness with emotional attachment. It makes me think that this series has far more life than I imagined while I was taking the photos. It also makes me want to create more art that connects with people’s emotions like this. @ Blue Sky/Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts