The other night I had the evening to myself and was searching various streaming services for something to watch. On HBO I found the Robert Mapplethorpe documentary, “Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures.”
It caught my attention because a fellow photographer had recommended it to me just the day before. I was also interested in it because I had recently learned in a New York Times article that his brother Edward was also a photographer and I heard that Edward appeared throughout the documentary.
If you’re aware of Robert’s work, you might feel some apprehension in watching the film. If you’re not, I will offer the caveat that there is a lot of imagery that is NSFW. To put it mildly, Mapplethorpe explored a lot of taboos in his work.
I was expecting the documentary to talk about those taboos and the body of work that is known as the X Portfolio. It did, but it’s really a biography of Mapplethorpe’s whole life, starting with his Catholic upbringing in Queens and ending a year after his death at the age of 42 when his work faced protest and censorship in the famous case of the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center being charged with obscenity after hosting an exhibition of his photographs.
In the years between, he went to Pratt, he dated Patti Smith, he lived in the Chelsea hotel, he was a regular at Max’s Kansas City, and he built a huge archive of incredible photographs. I hadn’t known all those things and I was really impressed by the range of images he produced that I had never been aware of. Some of them are achingly beautiful.
The documentary does a great job of not sensationalizing the more sensational aspects of Mapplethorpe’s story, and the through-line that brings us into the present day is the preparation being made by curators at the Getty and at LACMA during the course of filming. Simultaneous exhibitions are on at both institutions through July 31, 2016. If I were in California, I would make sure to get to both museums. Since it seems like I won’t get to do that, I’ll have to be satisfied to perhaps rewatch the doc…or just look at the pictures (online).
Every time I need a little beauty, a little celebration of women, a little taste of the world, a little style inspiration I turn to Garance Doré’s lifestyle blog. Not only does she (along with her team) introduce readers to interesting women from all over the world and offer all sorts of informative and engaging posts that run the gamut from career talk to skincare advice, but she is also a richly talented artist, producing tons of beautiful illustrations, lots of which can be bought as posters, calendars and notecards on her site.
I don’t recall how I stumbled upon these drawings, but ever since I did, from time to time, I have turned them into wallpapers for my digital devices, to delight and inspire me with every screen.
Currently on my phone:
All illustrations in this post by Garance Doré
this 1959 ford pickup truck belonged to the current owner’s grandmother–bought new and in the family all these years.
i photographed it with a 4×5 camera, using a lateral shift movement and 2 sheets of film to create a diptych in which the front and back of the truck overlap. you can see that the light changed a bit between the 2 shots–there was cloud cover in one and bright sunlight in the other.
this holiday season has been, for me, one during which i have found myself collecting art left and right. it’s all photography, perhaps aptly, since that’s my medium, and it’s all awesome.
first up, jonas jungblut, a fellow i went to grad school with and who has a beautiful, subdued pallet and a fun, offbeat way with composition.
from him i purchased this piece that i saw on his instagram stream. it is so evocative to me of california life (which i lived for 5 years before heading to texas) and contains a few of my favorite things: a classic car, the road and the coast.
photograph by jonas jungblut
secondly, i snatched up a couple of images from polly chandler’s series inspired by tom waits lyrics. her beautiful 4×5 images are so ethereal and haunting–i’m super excited to frame the 2 i got and hang them side by side. one of the ones i got is this one from 2011:
The Part You Throw Away from You Build It Up, You Wreck It Down, by polly chandler
thirdly, as part of her kickstarter campaign, austin-based architecture and interiors photographer ryann ford was offering backers polaroids, prints and advance copies of her book “the last stop” about rest stops and other disappearing roadside relics. i haven’t decided which image i’ll ask for a print of, but there are lots of fantastic ones to choose from. like this one:
monahans sandhills state park, texas, by ryann ford
white wall tired beauty way down on the east side during EAST 2013 | shot with iphone4S
in honor of the East Austin Studio Tour (EAST) which is currently underway, i’m posting a gorgeous piece of art i encountered while taking the tour in 2013.
[in case you don’t know, EAST is…well, just what it sounds like: a self-guided tour of artists’ studios all over east austin. a TON of studios, gallery spaces…and spaces that aren’t really studios or galleries, at all, open their doors for 2 weekends of open houses during which austin artists of all ilks show off and sell their wares.]
the event is amazing in its scope and i love visiting every year. if you haven’t gone yet you should check it out this coming weekend.
classic american convertible, used in the parade of drivers in 2012’s formula 1 race at the circuit of the americas
today being veteran’s day, i thought for this #autoside tuesday i’d post a classic american car in red, white, and blue. this beauty was used in the parade of drivers who raced in the first formula one race at austin’s circuit of the americas track, back in november of 2012.
i got to be there, photographing the race and the track for austin monthly‘s blog. it was loud and awesome and such a feast for the eyes to have 24 classic convertibles from the 60s along the track.
old wagon in the cherrywood neighborhood, shot with iphone4S
this spooky guy seemed appropriate for a post-halloween post. i think it’s a ford falcon station wagon from the 60s. on an overcast day, in front of a yard where the tree has dropped a lot of its leaves, it goes from cool and retro to bleak and hearse-like pretty quickly.
if it were mine, i would paint it bright shiny red and head to the nearest drive-in to take in a double-feature of awesome B-movies.