Endangered Historic Houses – Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, New Jersey

My friend, Robert Williams, the Verona NJ town historian, took me on a tour of these National Park Service houses, located within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Built between the 18th and 19th century, many of these sites are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and were in live-in condition a couple of years ago when the Park took ownership. We saw doors wide open or missing, window glass smashed and some of these historically important houses sadly vandalized and trashed.

“The Shoemaker-Houck Farm was one of the premier structures in the Park,” Bob told me. “The front portion of the house was built in 1822 while the rear portion was built in the eighteenth century. Look what has happened to this house in only one year’s time!” We saw that the back door was wide open. “This is a National Register Building that was in excellent condition. How could this have happened?” Bob asked sadly.

Bob explains the history of each house we visit and recounts how the Smith-Lennington House had been in the same family since it was built. “The Smiths built the initial house in 1820 and then remodeled and added to it in 1902. When the Park Service took title of this a few years ago, it was completely intact and in live-in condition. Shortly after their stewardship began, someone took the columns off the porch and it was down-hill from there.” Read More

‘MOMENTUM: Contemporary Women’s Art’

I just received my beautifully illustrated catalogue accompanying the exhibition, ‘MOMENTUM: Contemporary Women’s Art,’ on view at the Los Angeles Art Association, February 17- March 2 2012. Three of my photographs are in MOMENTUM, curated by Rita Gonzalez, Associate Curator at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.

Multiple generations of women’s art are represented and within the selection are myriad formations of feminist thought and aesthetics,” writes Rita Gonzalez in her introduction to the catalogue. “Many of the artists engage with legacies of activism that go back to civil rights movements of the 20th century while clearly engaging with the present day.”

“Momentum is defined as the impetus or driving force gained by a course of events,” explains Janice Nesser Chu, WCA President in the catalogue. The exhibition not only investigates the diverse voices of women artists, and looks at the depth and breadth of work being created but also is a testament to the drive that got them to this point, to the things that propelled them and their work forward… their experiences, their history.” I included art work that was created between 1985 – 2010 and the descriptions are quoted on pages 113,114,115 and accompanied by the following images:

“Enter into Faust’s Study, a trompe l’oeil painted room, and be confronted by a fearless man who is empowered and transformed by the duality of his sexuality. His starkly lit, painted face and figure emerging from the shadows are a provocative contrast to the painted Adam and Eve on the rear wall. Faust’s Study directs the viewer’s attention to the relationship between the interior details and the narrative, as the gender performance artist, Frédéric Koenig, unselfconsciously dares the viewer to cross over boundaries of imagination and desire.”

Faust’s Study, 1997, Edition of 9, Archival Pigment Print.  13.3 inches x 16 inches.
Framed  24.5  x 26.5 inches  – $1300.00

“This  image is part of an ongoing series of portraits that document my fifteen-year collaboration with Frédéric Koenig, who can so naturally appear both handsome and beautiful, both masculine and feminine. Wearing nothing more than spike heels, he provocatively poses in an abandoned brewery, a gritty, industrial environment that reinforces a traditional male landscape. While his upper body exudes a masculine power, his raw and curvaceous physicality and his archetypal pin-up girl shoes challenge the viewer to explore how we perceive masculinity, sexuality and gender identity.”

Beyond XY: Inside the Abandoned Falstaff Brewery. No.2,  2010, Edition of 15, Archival Pigment Print.  11.5 inches x 17.5 inches, Framed  19 inches  x 25 inches – $1300.00

“I’ve explored feminist, LGBTQ and social justice issues over four decades by producing images that depict gender ambiguity and transformation. In the seventies, my studio in downtown New York City was a haven for my female friends to pose dressed up and naked, in leather outfits and swathed in boas, with hand-painted mustaches and masks, amidst barbed wire and tulle. I’ve photographed women’s erotic pleasure, role-playing and butch/femme identity. Objects of Special Devotion depicts a muscular, androgynous bodybuilder who defies conventional female beauty and challenges the sexual, cultural and erotic representation of women.”

Objects of Special Devotion, 1985, Edition of 9, Archival Pigment Print. 13.3 inches x 16 inches. Framed 24.5 x 26.5 inches -$1300.00

Brown Memorial Baptist Church, Brooklyn New York

This post congratulates Roz Li, Zach Rice and Li/Saltzman Architects, PC for their beautiful restoration work of the Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Brooklyn NY.

Li/Saltzman has been working with this church since 2001. They started with the restoration of the exterior – restoring the brick, replacing the roof, recreating the missing stone turrets and the structural stabilization of the roof trusses. Once the exterior envelope was stable and watertight, the restoration of the sanctuary interior began.

“Saturday, February 4, 2012, was the Re-Dedication Ceremony of Li/Saltzman Architects’ latest project completion, the interior restoration of the Brown Memorial Baptist Church, a landmark church built in 1860,” Preservation Architect, Roz Li, proudly told me. “It was a memorable moment to witness the first religious service attended by the African-American congregation after several years of restoration work. The ceremony was enlivened by songs from the church’s great choir. The church was really vibrating! It was so joyful.”

Roz explained more about the history of the project, “Before the restoration the plaster walls and ceilings were cracked, and we had to net the heavy plaster ornamental medallions for fear of them falling. There were no chandeliers, and the lighting that existed was full of glare.

We did some probes and found out that beneath the paint, the original finish was tinted plaster made to look like stone with scored joints, and each simulated stone panel was a slightly different shade than the next, just as natural stone would have been.

So, with O’Donoghue Contracting Co, General Contractor, and Ernest Neuman Co, Decorative Painting Contractor, we recreated that historic finish. We designed new chandeliers, we installed new LED lights around the column capitals. We restored the walnut pews. As you will see, the results are dramatic. With the completion of the exterior and interior restoration, Brown Memorial Baptist Church celebrates its historic past as it faces the future.”

‘The Song of the Land’

Opening January 20 2012 – May 31 2012
Reception –  February 23 2012  5-7pm
Hebrew Union College, Institute of Religion, John H. Skirball Campus
3077 University Avenue
Los Angeles, Ca 90007-3796

Included in the ‘The Song of the Land’  Exhibition is a framed print from my
Bet Hayyim – House of Life’ series:

Title: Hands of the Kohan, Medzhybizh, Ukraine 2008
Medium: Fine Art Digital Inkjet Paper with Archival Pigmented Inks
Size:  10 inches x 15 inches
Framed: $700.00 – 16 inches x 20 inches
Edition 4/10

I viewed the thousands of stones in the Jewish cemeteries throughout the Ukraine as artistic treasures of iconographic beauty and mystery. The headstones of the Kohanim, descendants of the Biblical priests, had hands joined in a gesture of blessing. The carved gravestones depict a visual history of the once vast community of Eastern European Jews, and serve as reminders of the people who lived in this place and died.

As a historic preservation photographer, I document sites being bulldozed or restored. As a fine art photographer, I choose my destinations to record the poetics of a place. There is an urgency about what I photograph because each is a painful reminder of our inadequacy as cultural stewards. I am drawn to the timeless nature of historic architecture because it is a repository of collective memories. From its ever-evolving essence one can understand the sites’ creative and passionate link to humanity.

‘The Built Environment’

Opening Dec 27th 2011 – January 21 2011
Reception –  Jan 8th 2012
Dark Room Gallery
12 Main Street, Essex Junction, VT 05452
Included in the ‘The Built Environment’ Exhibition is my print from the
Essex County Penitentiary series:

Title: Essex County Penitentiary, New Wing Corridor. North Caldwell, New Jersey.
Medium: Fine Art Digital Inkjet Paper with Archival Pigmented Inks
Size:  10 inches x 15 inches
Framed: $700.00 – 16 inches x 20 inches

As both a historic-preservation and fine-art photographer, I am drawn to the timeless nature of a historic site; it is a repository of collective memories like those etched and concealed within the interior walls of this rusting prison ruin.

It was a cold December day in 2007 when I first walked through the Essex County Penitentiary. My assignment was to photograph the 32-acre jail complex as part of a required HABS (Historic American Buildings Survey) documentation before the institutional structures and outbuildings, built between 1872 and 1929, could be demolished to make way for luxury condominiums. Photographing the “New Wing Corridor” was not part of the job, but the gritty prison hallway pulled me into an evocative still life of decaying iron bars and unhinged doors that allowed the silent voices of those once incarcerated to escape.

‘Becoming Who We Are’ Artist Talk

TRIX ROSEN, Project Director and INSIGHT OUT! PRIDE Workshop Participants
ARTIST TALK, Friday December 2, 2011
6 pm – 9 PM, Gallery 32

With a Special Performance by LADY JOI-ELLE
Hudson Pride Connections Center
32 Jones St., Jersey City, NJ 07306

Please join me, and the participants of the INSIGHT OUT! PRIDE Digital Storytelling Workshop for an Artist Talk and Panel Discussion about our photographs currently on view in BECOMING WHO WE ARE,” a photo/video group exhibition curated by Ricardo Francis at Gallery 32, in Jersey City NJ.

The show features the work of Jasmin Brown, V. Michael Lazar, Natasha Phoenix Russell, Joi-Elle White, and Esteets Wright, students of the INSIGHT OUT! PRIDE Workshop along with guest international artists, Nadine Hutton (South Africa), and Fréd Koenig (France).

I will also present a short, historic retrospective of images that represent my GLBTQ social advocacy photography work from the ‘70’s and images depicting gender ambiguity and transformation. This visual memoir includes studio portraits of my female friends exploring erotic pleasure, role-playing and butch/femme identity.

Included will be pictures from recent photography exhibitions documenting my artistic collaboration with gender performance artist and videographer, Frédéric Koenig.

The INSIGHT OUT! PRIDE Digital Storytelling Workshop recently completed an eight-week pilot program at Hudson Pride Connections Center. The workshop is tailored to LGBTQ participants, and gives a visual voice to participants affected by growing up in environments of uncertainty, discrimination, fear and violence, and guides them to explore their creative vision. Each artist poignantly depicts images that mirror their personal views about masculinity, femininity and their LGBTQ identity. As they learn to document their own lives through photography, they grow in confidence and leadership skills, empower themselves and heal.

The workshops at the The Hudson Pride Connections Center were developed and adapted from my experiences as senior trainer, editor and advisor to the international InSIGHT Out! Photography and Creative Exchange Project, based in Bangkok, Thailand.

Man As Object: Reversing The Gaze

I just received the beautifully produced catalogue accompanying the exhibition, MAN AS OBJECT: REVERSING THE GAZE at the SOMArts Cultural Center, San Francisco, CA, (opening November 2011). Included in this historic catalogue of 194 artists presented by the National Women’s Caucus for Art (WCA) is an image of Frédéric Koenig which I photographed on the morning of the opening of my show, Beyond XY: Four Photographers Explore the Masculine Continuum, at the PHD Gallery in St Louis, MO.

“This exhibit marks an important development in feminist art” writes Brenda Oelbaum in the introduction because “… it comments on the prevelance of the male gaze in art and of the continued domination of male artists exhibiting in galleries and museums. My goal is to turn the tables and exhibit works that put the male in the position of subject and spectacle.”

Janice Nesser-Chu, the President of the National Women’s Caucus for Art, also wrote in the catalogue, “… women artists reverse the gaze and look back at man as object or desire and in doing so they assert their own power and control, not only over their subject but also over their own image and identity. The exhibition is not only about the work on the walls but is about empowerment.”

The description of my work is quoted on page 157:
“These images are part of an ongoing series of portraits that document my collaboration with Frédéric Koenig, who can so naturally appear both handsome and beautiful, both masculine and feminine. Wearing nothing more than spike heels, he provocatively poses in a gritty, industrial environment that reinforces a traditional male landscape. While his upper body exudes a masculine power, his raw and curvaceous physicality and his archetypal pin-up girl shoes challenge the viewer to explore how we perceive masculinity, sexuality and gender identity.”

Beyond XY: Inside the Abandoned Falstaff Brewery #2, 2010
20 x 30 inches, Archival Pigment Print.  Edition of 5.

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