Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Art, Architecture & Photography
Before I go full-on into this blog, let me take a moment to thank all of the visitors to my blog as well as the folks who are my friends on Blogspot (all 7 of them). Thank you for your support!
Recently, someone asked me about my sudden interest in art (or words to that effect). Truth be told, I've always liked art. My earliest memory (which really happened when I was in High School) about art was when I bought a copy of a book called Nagel: The Art of Patrick Nagel. This stemmed from his artwork being used on Duran Duran's "Rio" album cover. His artwork seemed to fit in the image of the 1980's, especially since that was part of the "Miam Vice" era, with its use of pastel colors balanced against the Miami nights.
At the same time, I also became aware of architecture, taking 2 classes in drafting in High School. I had hopes of being an architect, but math was never my best subject. I've always been interested in the design of things; homes, buildings, motorcycles (the classic Interceptor/VFR 750 by Honda remains my favorite), bridges, cars (especially later on in life when I got bit by the "racing bug" and would pour over details about a race car design, trying to guess just what the aerodynamics group was thinking), spacecraft (the Apollo/Saturn V rockets that took man to the moon and the Space Shuttle) , airplanes (I used to build model planes and would read books about all sorts of military aircraft to understand what the plane was being used for) and rapid transit systems (be it the Bay Area Rapid Transit trains in the San Francisco Bay Area or the Monorail used in Disneyland/Disney World). To me, all of those things are works of art in their own unique way.
And now photography. Photography for me is almost a borderline obsession. It didn't use to be that way, honestly. Early on, I was content to walk around and just take pictures, just for the sake of the memory of the place or the moment. The technical side of it, proper lighting, the right f/stop or shutter speed, making sure you had the ISO set correctly on the film cameras that didn't read the ISO off the film canister, a lot of that stuff never came into my mind. Even after taking one class in B&W photography at a local community college (where we had to spend time in the library looking for inspiration, go out and shoot, then process the film and make prints in the dark room), the technical side still did not make a bit of difference to me. I took a break from photography (sort of) in the mid-1990s until 2003. 2003 was when I really caught the "racing bug" after I attended my first race at Laguna Seca to watch the ChampCar series (I watch racing on TV, but actually being at the races is something else). I finally went digital in 2004, spurred on by 30 rolls of ruined film from my first trip to the 12 Hours of Sebring (which was an expensive bullet to bite). And this is where the obsession took hold. I went to a lot of races, always with my camera in tow, spending most of my time at Laguna Seca, with some trips to Infineon Raceway (formerly known as Sears Point) in Sonoma, a street race in downtown San Jose, CA for the ChampCar race, two trips to Sebring, one trip to Indy (for the ill-fated USGP F1 race), and now two trips to Roebling Road (a tidy little track about an hour from me).
Oddly enough, it was at that last visit to Roebling Road where I felt that the "racing bug" had just about run its course through my veins. Or maybe it was more of the need to take a break taking pictures at races and find something new to shoot. I found what I was looking for in downtown Savannah, especially the historic district, Charleston (in South Carolina) and Tybee Island. Everytime I've gone to Savannah, I've found something new to see and take pictures of. The hard part is that, well, everyone has taken pictures here, so it's a matter of trying to see things in a different way, or to shoot them in a different way (B&W versus color or an angle that maybe hasn't been tried before, but even that line of thinking doesn't always work). Originally, when I first arrived in the Savannah area in October of 2008, I resisted buying any kind of artwork from local artists, mostly because their photography or paintings served as a reminder to me of what had already been seen and done, and that sort of took the wind out of my creative sails. But I've changed my mind about that when I bought a nice 8x10 replica painting while in Charleston. For me that painting reminds me of what can be achieved, be it in a painting or a photograph. I also had a pleasant conversation with a watercolor artist at his gallery located in the City Market area of Savannah. We talked about how people see different things in paintings, especially in the early part of the creative process. He was working on a new watercolor painting in his studio, and a woman had said she had seen the face of a child on the canvas, but I had seen the sun coming through spanish moss hanging off of branches of a yet undefined tree branch.
What stands out to me now in this Low Country (or Coastal Empire, take your pick) is the history of the area, and the efforts to keep that history alive as long as possible. It is no surprise to me that one day a lightbulb went off in my head and I decided to do a couple of things. 1) I decided to plant my roots in the Savannah area. 2) I decided to go after a double major with the Savannah College of Art and Design, one in photography and the other in historical preservation. To me, the two go hand in hand. I want to document the restortation and preservation of the area. Consider it a calling if you will, because that's what it feels like to me. I look forward to taking up the challenge of that double major since I know that I want to be a part of something bigger than me, and I've found it here in Savannah.
BTW, the "racing bug" still is part of me, but it will return in full-force when the time is right.