Tag Archives: landscape photograph

SMITH & VALLEE GALLERY IN NOVEMBER

Mystical Woods

Mystical Woods, 2017. Zone plate photograph, gelatin silver print. 17×21″ framed.

A sneak preview of the new work I’ll be showing at Smith & Vallee Gallery, in Edison, Washington, during the month of November.

Smith & Vallee Gallery

5742 Gilkey Avenue | Edison, WA 98232

Opening Reception: Saturday, November 4, 5-8pm

Artist Talk: Saturday, November 25, 4-5pm

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LET’S CELEBRATE!

“It has been said that art is a tryst, for in the joy of it maker and beholder meet.” ~Kojiro Tomita

The gallery, of course, is the space that enables this tryst, the gallery’s exhibition that admits each to take notice of each other.

So I’m pleased and honored to be invited to Smith & Vallee Gallery’s special 10-year celebration exhibition.

Ditch

Ditch, 2014. Zone plate photograph, gelatin silver print, 17″x21″ framed (handmade frame)

 

Smith & Vallee Gallery is celebrating 10 years of representing the finest established and emerging artists in the Pacific Northwest. This group show is a celebration of over 80 artists we have worked with, marking over 80 shows since our inception. Please join us Saturday, May 6, 2017 from 4-8pm to celebrate with artists, friends and family!

 

Smith & Vallee Gallery
5742 Gilkey Avenue
Edison, WA 98232

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LOOKING BACK

Artifice, a photo by Jane Alynn.

Artifice. Photo © Jane Alynn.

It’s Throwback Thursday!

The photograph above is a very early zone plate image.

This week, in the process of updating my website’s ABOUT page, I recalled my beginnings with black and white film-based zone plate imagery.

I was living in Edison, Washington, in a dilapidated building that once had been a lumber yard and hardware store. It was cheap—affordable for us—and we had a dream of creating a live-work space there. It was large enough to accommodate our living quarters, our separate studios, and even a gallery.

Though that dream never came to fruition, and we eventually sold the building, another beginning took root there.

I saw some photographs made by a friend. They were diffuse and mysterious, and the highlights glowed. They could have been out of the early twentieth century Pictorialist movement. It was like looking at the ineffable. I fell in love with those images, and I wanted to explore those lensless creations myself.

Gratefully, our friend sent me a zone plate to fit on a camera, so that I could experiment with it.

I mail-ordered a Lubitel, a cheap Russian-made camera priced at that time, as I recall, under $25—it had to be cheap, so that I wouldn’t feel badly when I crashed the lens out of it—which I did, and then fit the zone plate over the aperture. I couldn’t wait to expose my first role of film with a zone plate.

I’ve never looked back.

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10x10x10xTIETON CLOSING RECEPTION

On Saturday I’m heading to Tieton, Washington, to attend the closing reception of this exhibition. Besides having work in the show, Tieton is where I go when I need a bit of serenity.

Mighty Tieton

Mighty Tieton warehouse, home of the 10x10x10xTieton exhibition

 
A look back at the opening reception.

2016 10x10 opening

A look back at the opening.

2016 10x10 photographs in the exhibition

Waves of Steel #2 and Waves of Steel #1

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WHO WILL SPEAK FOR THE TREES?

Remains. Stumps at Baker Lake. Photo © Jane Alynn

Remains, 2012, gelatin silver print.

If we destroy nature, we destroy ourselves.  ~ Edward Burtynsky

The Project

My fascination with trees has followed me from childhood. Surrounded by woods, my daily life centered on exploring every nook and cranny of the forest, observing, attentive to its vicissitudes, its breath. I inhaled its stories and silence, order and great energy, flexibility and persistence. The power of these life-giving experiences instilled a deep reverence for the natural world and a profound love of trees.

In my early photographs, trees claimed their rightful place in my work. Their beauty and mystery, form and spirit were, and still are, visually irresistible.

But themes of degradation of our planet have seized my consciousness. And trees are canaries in the coal mine. The alarmingly rapid escalation of tree deaths—26 million trees in the Sierra Nevada alone over the last eight months—as huge numbers of trees succumb to drought, disease, insects, wildfires, and sea-level rise, much of it driven by climate change, has brought an urgency to this ongoing project.

“Who Will Speak for the Trees” is the first line of a poem I wrote in collaboration with Ann Chadwick Reid’s exquisite cut paper triptych, “Cedar, Sage and Pine,” about our vanishing forests. Her artwork and my poetic response were exhibited together in 2011 at Graves Gallery in Wenatchee, Washington.

The Poem

In a Fleeting World

Who will speak for the trees?
The Giant Cedar, Sage, Ponderosa Pine.
Of the vanishing forestlands and steppe,
they are innocent.
They don’t even know they are
condemned by an old legend
of destruction
they cannot escape,
and may not have time to prove it.

The trees have no voice.
They are beyond expression,
heaped into gray-splintered rubble,
bulldozed slash, pyres of the ravaged.
Oh, the indescribable losses.
Grief unthought of.

The sorry truth is we go on
believing these soldierly stands
were felled for good reason.
For the peace of mind of human kind.
To satisfy hunger.
So in place of the timber,
already forgotten
we put our faith in abundant crops,
raw materials, rolling pastureland
with whitewashed estates,
an expanse of sky, unrelenting summer.
A vagueness covers everything.

Meanwhile this paradise lost
is apprehended in form,
the woods cut with clarity, naïve force,
as if to give what is otherwise evanescent
a second life, an exquisite reply.

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RESETTING YOUR LIFE

Collapsed cabin along hwy 20

Collapsed cabin along Highway 20. Photo © Jane Alynn.

Certain events in life tend to shake the ground on which you stand, upending carefully cast beliefs and habitual states of mind.

Think of losing a loved one, a serious accident or diagnosis, a breakup or job loss, things that happen in life that we neither choose nor can anticipate. These events can precipitate tectonic shifts.

Then, there are the changes we choose, such as having a baby, moving, or changing jobs. Even travel can challenge your usual way of being in the world.

Pico Iyer, in “Why We Travel,” writes: “It [travel] cracks you open, and so pushes you over all the walls and low horizons that habits and defensiveness set up.”

My recent journey to the Okanagan Country in Washington and Canada and to the Kootenay Rockies was just such an experience.

I left with a pledge I would go unplugged. Except for a few posts to Instagram, I, indeed, was disconnected from my network.

Instead, I engaged with people and place; and I made photographs.

I made photographs every day. I wasn’t checking my email several times a day or obsessively viewing posts from Facebook friends or responding to intrusive messages on my Facebook page, reminding me I haven’t posted in 25 days.

In short order, my pressure cooker mind slowed down.

Interestingly, the project I was working on was of ghost towns and the structures that remain. There’s nothing like being among old ruins to remind you of the passage of time!

So, now that I’m home and back in my studio, reflecting on my experiences, I have made a vow to reset my life, honoring my priorities above all other distractions.

Vital and thus deserving of most of my time and attention are photographing, developing projects that I love and that say something; reading and writing; giving space to thought and silence; being with family and friends; traveling; staying healthy; and making a positive contribution to the world.

That’s enough, isn’t it?

Abandoned barn along Old Toroda Road, Okanogan Country. Photo © Jane Alynn.
Abandoned homestead in Bodie

Abandoned homestead in Bodie, Okanogan Country. Photo © Jane Alynn.

Abandoned building in Bodie

Abandoned building in Bodie, Okanogan Country. Photo © Jane Alynn.

Abandoned building in Bodie

Abandoned building in Bodie, Okanogan Country. Photo © Jane Alynn.

Abandoned building in Bodie

Old building, young birch in Bodie, Okanogan Country. Photo © Jane Alynn.

Window in an abandoned building in Bodie

Window in an abandoned building in Bodie, Okanogan Country. Photo © Jane Alynn.

Abandoned cabin in Old Toroda

Abandoned cabin in Old Toroda, Okanogan Country. Photo © Jane Alynn.

Collapsing barn in Malo

Collapsing barn in Malo, Okanogan Country. Photo © Jane Alynn.

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ON THE ROAD AGAIN!

Abandoned house with red door, Loomis, WA

Abandoned house with red door, Loomis, WA. Photo © Jane Alynn.

“The open road is a beckoning, a strangeness, a place where a man can lose himself.”
⁓ William Least Heat Moon

tasting the berries
greeting the bluejays
learning and loving the whole terrain
⁓ Gary Snyder, from The Old Ways

“Most of us have a fire in the belly, a passion or desire that burns brightest in us. It’s the heat and energy from this fire that moves us forward, gives momentum to our projects, and authenticity to our voice…. Don’t you dare neglect feeding the fire in your soul; don’t for a moment allow the embers to grow cold. It’s never worth the sacrifice.”
David DuChemin, from “Tend the Fire,” posted April 1, 2015
 

Shortly after this post hits the ether, we’ll be on the road again. Some recent events woke me up to the fact that life cannot be taken for granted. If the things that stoke the fire in my soul are traveling and working on photographic projects that excite me, then now is the time. Not tomorrow, not later—now!

As a blogger, I know that consistency matters, and that long absences will lop off most of your readers. To my mind, the greater urgency is making the work. Doing work that matters imparts new vigor to the work and to your mind. And if that means being unplugged for awhile, so be it.

We’ll be traveling for about four weeks, exploring northeastern Washington State and the Canadian Okanagan Valley. Those old towns and abandoned mining sites have interested me for some time. Mostly, I’ll be using my medium format film camera fit with a zone plate to capture their place in time and timelessness, the ephemerality of dreams and memory, the dark beauty of decay.

There are certain images, of course, that are better conveyed as “straight”: the odd juxtaposition, the absurd, the ironic, the out-of-place-out-of-time characters, structures, and details. So I’ll be bringing a digital camera, too.

Just so you know, I’m still a bit of a simpleton about digital file management, and I have no experience in getting my photographs into Lightroom while I’m on the road. So I cannot promise any posts. However, I just opened an Instagram account and will at least try to post some iPhone images. You can follow me on Instagram at janealynn_photography.

Cheers!

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PICTURE AT AN EXHIBITION

Pinus contorta, Study 2, from Port Townsend.

Pinus contorta, Study 2. Gelatin silver, 17×21 inches, framed. Photo © Jane Alynn.

I’m very happy to learn this image was selected for the LightBox Heavy Metal II, an exhibition of Silver Gelatin and Platinum/Palladium prints, in Astoria, Washington.

LightBox HEAVY METAL II Exhibit

When: August 13 – September 6, 2016

Artists’ Reception: Saturday, August 13, 2016 from 6:00 – 9:00 pm

Where: LightBox Photographic Gallery, 1045 Marine Drive, Astoria, OR

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IT’S A POLITICAL AGE

Gelatin silver photographic print of stumps titled "Remains"

Remains, 2012, gelatin silver print.

Though I consciously have avoided the political in my photographs (and my poems), more and more I am drawn to projects that involve moral issues. Confronted daily with images that convey the dismantling of our human values, the death of society, destruction by killings and war, the collapse of our planet, I am led to wrestle with my own notions of what it means to bear witness and to create work that matters. What will I make of this pounding on the doors of perception, this battering of rationality? Increasingly, I think these things must work their way into my image-making. And I find myself excited by the idea of engaging new directions.

I am reminded of a poem by a brilliant poet, whose work I love:

Wislawa Szymborska

CHILDREN OF OUR AGE

We are children of our age,
it’s a political age.

All day long, all through the night,
all affairs—yours, ours, theirs—
are political affairs.

Whether you like it or not,
your genes have a political past,
your skin, a political cast,
your eyes, a political slant.

Whatever you say reverberates,
whatever you don’t say speaks for itself.
So either way you’re talking politics.

Even when you take to the woods,
you’re taking political steps,
on political grounds.

Apolitical poems are also political,
and above us shines a moon
no longer purely lunar.
To be or not to be, that is the question.
And though it troubles the digestion
it’s a question, as always, of politics.

To acquire a political meaning
you don’t even have to be human.
Raw material will do,
or protein feed, or crude oil,

or a conference table whose shape
was quarreled over for months:
Should we arbitrate life and death
at a round table or a square one.

Meanwhile, people perished,
animals died,
houses burned,
and the fields ran wild
just as in times immemorial
and less political.

Translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh

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REMEMBERING IMOGEN CUNNINGHAM

“Ansel [Adams] once said to somebody that I [Cunningham] was versatile, but what he really meant was that I jump around. I’m never satisfied staying in one spot very long, I couldn’t stay with the mountains and I couldn’t stay with the trees and I couldn’t stay with the rivers. But I can always stay with people, because they really are different.”
⁓ Imogen Cunningham, Dialogue With Photography by Paul Hill

On this day, in 1976, the world lost a very important figure in photography, Imogen Cunningham.

In an amazing career that spanned nearly 70 years she worked in almost every area of photography, and her imagery explored a broad range of photographic styles, from early Pictorialism, architectural landscapes, modern portraits, nude studies, botanicals, and later social documentary or street photography.
 

Bowed stump in the Mount Baker forest.

“Bowed.” Photo © Jane Alynn.

My admiration runs deep for Imogen Cunningham. I wish I’d known her as my husband did. But I had a close encounter. When my husband and I were in San Francisco he wanted to find the house where she lived when he had visited her. We followed a vague recollection and by some miracle happened upon it. There was no structure left, but in the middle of the lot we found a bold and prickly plant — an Acanthus — thriving among the overgrown weeds. Ironically, this plant symbolizes immortality in Mediterranean countries. Its architectural leaves surely were considered as subjects for her botanical images.

We took a cutting, and carefully packed it in an empty cup along with some of her soil. Once we were back home and got it in the ground, we named it Imogen.

Cunningham was fiercely independent and achieved what was nearly unimaginable for a woman of the 1900s. For her, gender barriers didn’t exit. She photographed whatever caught her imagination.

Photographer and writer friend Steve Meltzer, in “A Woman’s Eye: How Imogen Cunningham broke through gender barriers to help redefine modern photography,” writes: “She photographed the world with a woman’s eye, from a viewpoint far different than that of the male dominated photographic world of her time and ours. Cunningham was a true original and an essential part of the development of modern photography in America. And all her life she fought against a glass (plate) ceiling and she never gave up.”

Ancient bristlecone pine in the White Mountains, CA

Ancient bristlecone pine in the White Mountains, CA. Photo © Jane Alynn

To see archives of Imogen’s wonderful photographs, visit the Imogen Cunningham Trust archive.

“Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.” ⁓ Imogen Cunningham, Interviews With Master Photographers : Minor White, Imogen Cunningham, Cornell Capa, Elliott Erwitt, Yousuf Karsh, Arnold Newman, Lord Snowdon, Brett Weston by James Danziger

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