In this photo-essay, the first in the revised website, I’m trying to present the idea of looking-back; not with regret or through rose-colored glasses, but through a lens that sees the world 50 years later.
The thumbnail, I’m using to identify this photo-essay, is of a painting that hangs in the Blue Room of the mansion at the Brothers Center in Narragansett. It was painted in memory of Daniel Joseph Dundin Jr. who died in a drowning accident on July 13, 1955. The painting was done by Daniel’s mother.
Images in this essay are from 3 locations – Narragansett, Newport and Portsmouth. In the top row, the first 3 are from the grounds of Christian Brothers Center, the windmill-like structure is on Clarke Road and the cracked boulder is on the coast in front of the Center.
To view an image in its photo-essay page, click on the thumbnail.
In the bottom row, the first 3 are from the grounds of Salve Regina University in Newport, the last 2 are of the chapel at Portsmouth Abbey in Portsmouth. (I’ve wanted to see the cruciform sculpture for forever and I finally got there, got to see it and got to shoot it.)
For this photo-essay, I’m using the lyrics from Va Pensiero from Verdi’s Nabucco, Try to Remember from the musical The Fantasticks, Come Saturday Morning from the film The Sterile Cuckoo, As Time Goes By Herman Hupfeld 1931 classic, and Sit Down Young Stranger the lead track from Gordon Lightfoot’s 1970 album of the same title.
Being in Italy always allows me to photograph statues. Up to now most have been religious sculptures with a few war memorials. This year, because we toured Ercolano – Herculaneum – the Museo Archeologico Nazionale – National Archeological Museum – in Naples and the Forum in Rome, I was able to shoot many of the ancient statues. At the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, the bronze pieces were small compared to the colossal marbles of Hercules and Athena. I also discovered a set of bust-pieces and some of them were amazing in their facial expressions.
The issue has been to find a unifying theme that would allow me to group the statue images into one photo-essay. (I wanted to do an essay, because I could comment on the pieces rather than just display the photographs.) The solution came while thinking about a different collection, but once I had it, I hit the photographs and created the set. I’m using the lyrics from Madonna’s song Vogue.
With this group, I also used a new Photoshop process I’ve been trying to get better with. For years, I’ve wanted to capture the section of a photograph that was best shown when I zoomed into the image. (I would zoom in, discover that the zoom identified a really neat piece of the photo, but I had no idea how to capture that zoom. With some help from my Photoshop experts, I learned how to isolate the zoom and create a new image.)
I wanted to use Bill Stanies’ song River in a photo-essay, so I went looking for water images. And just as the tapestry photo became the focal-point of the color essay, the river-god – Ganges – is the focus of this grouping. Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi in Piazza Navona is spectacular and Ganges the most giant of the four titans.
This group also includes two other images that blew me away. The fist is the coast of Basilicata – the last image in the first row. Its rugged beauty and its colossal mountains mix well with Bernini’s giants. The second is a shot of the harbor at Naples – last image in bottom row. (Is the red lighthouse the location of the famous lighthouse of Santa Lucia?) In 1957, we left Italy from here and to be back to shoot it was strange.
I went through the hundreds of photographs I took over the last three weeks looking for images for a photo essay and I decided to assemble a set of shot that displayed strong colors. I’ve always managed to shoot some real colorful subjects, but I wasn’t sure if I had enough this time. Well, provided I was willing to mix subjects – ads, flowers, tapestries, bushes and candies – there were enough. From the set, my favorite is the tapestry shot. It was in the museum at Montecassino and thanks to Photoshop I was able to make its colors vibrant. And thanks to Ferlinghetti, I got to put the most contrary text with this glorious pic.
The chestnut and thistle shots are from our walk to Portosalvo. The cellophane wrapped vegetable are from Campo di Fiori. And the last shot – the marzipan – is from Modica. Not only are the hyper-colored dolci in the shot, so are 4 shadows – me, stranger, Rick and Sarah.
Often the pace and museum restrictions required an auto setting and for that I relied on a good lens and the D90.
The text for this essay is Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poem I Am Waiting. I bought A Coney Island of the Mind in 1968 at the Harvard Book Store. I signed the book Brother Mario.
On Wednesday, June 26, 2013 the Supreme Court ruled that DOMA – Defense of Marriage Act – was unconstitutional. The text in this photo-essay uses the lyrics from the Wedding Songs sung by Peter, Paul & Mary and Bob Dylan.
The top row of images are from Diane’s garden, the bottom row are from a street-garden down on North Avenue.
One would think that this photo-essay would be a default, and yet it’s taken me three years to create a page on the flowers of Kaua’i. (I suspect that one reason this essay is now here is that I wanted to add to the flowers archives.) These images really represent all three visits. And even though we went to the botanical garden this year, many of those shots ended up in the gallery.
I’m surprised to find that the plumeria and bugenvilija images (first picture in each row) from the 2011 trip have not been duplicated. Neither last year, not this year did I have the opportunity to shoot similar plants. On our drive south to Waimea Canyon, we passed these cascading mounds of bugenvilija, but there was no way of getting to them and my telephoto lens couldn’t do them justice.
My favorite image is the second one in the first row. This is a coffee plant. And for an avid coffee drinker and someone who likes all things coffee-flavored, seeing the plant live was great.
As I was preparing these images I kept trying to figure out the logic in the choices I was making. Two of the images are here, because I love the text in the banner – primaverarte – and the text on the poster – tu sei bellezza. The fresco and gargoyle were too odd; the guns too symmetrical; the bronze angels too dynamic; the shutter too inviting; the tomatoes too red; and the wooden cross too simple to pass over.
In the journal, I wrote on and on about the hypocrisy of the Church, but the poster – tu sei bellezza – was an amazing find. We were in Pesaro and walked into a church and there it was on a wall, a left over from earlier in the summer. How can something so amazing be relegated to the left-overs? The text – You are beauty – refers to Mary. The poster is an ad for a pilgrimage from Loreto to Assisi. I love the simplicity of the phrase; the rhythm of the sounds; the matter-of-factness of the statement.
The word beauty in English has been restricted, gendered, sexualized; it’s a commodity. In Italian the word bellezza is broad in meaning. It’s an endearment to a child, a mother, a grandmother. It doesn’t compare, it tells. It’s a gift, a comment freely given.
We stay in an area of undulating hills. (I learned the word undulating in my high-school French class. Father McCabe had us reading some French short-story and I didn’t know what ondulant meant. And like all anal high-schoolers, in a foreign language class, I went to my French-English dictionary and there was the word undulating – moving in smooth wave-like motion.) Central Le Marche is a landscape of smooth wave-like hills – green, brown, blue and golden in the August sun.
The first five images are from cà le cerque – Earle-and-Suzanne’s house that we stay at. The next images are from the area around Piobbico. The church steeple image is from the hills north of Pesaro.
The pictures in this photo-essay are from three different locations in Le Marche. The altar and the shadow image are from an old abandoned cemetery down the road from La Tavola Marche; the majority are from a cemetery in the north-west section of Le Marche close the border with Umbria; and the last two are from a cemetery north of Pesaro.
The most personal image is the second one in the first row. One morning I took the car and drove towards Piobbico with the intention of stopping at the small country cemetery. What I found that had me laughing was the empty champagne bottles on the shelf in the above-ground crypt. Whoever said that Italians are different from Americans, obviously doesn’t know that kids, the world over, go to cemeteries to drink. The difference is that in an American cemetery beer cans reveal the revelers, in Le Marche I found empty champagne bottles in the stipetto. (I want to drink with the guys from Le Marche. Forget the cheap beer, give me the good stuff even if I have to drink out of filthy, plastic cups.)
The last picture in the first row is typical Italian and bizarre in American terms. The image is a death-picture taken of the young girl in her coffin. (The only picture my family has of my paternal grandmother is her death-picture.)
This photo-essay uses Christina Rossetti’s poem De Profundis (1891) and Psalm 130 as the common threads.