María de Lurdes Béjar
Saturday, April 01, 2006
Any excuse to publish the photograph of a beautiful woman is a good one. But this time around the reason is a sad one. It was only yesterday that I found out that Maria de Lurdes Béjar had died. I don't know more because I was too shocked to ask her ex-husband, globetrotting photographer León Béjar, any more questions. I photographed Lurdes twice: once in my studio and another time in her tub as part of my 1989 show of women in tubs. Lurdes was from Portugal. She was not a inch taller than 5 feet. She was one of the most beautiful women I ever met.
Terry Fox, Frank and Ian
Friday, March 31, 2006
When architect Frank Allen's Terry Fox Memorial, at the foot of Robson and Beatty Street, was inaugurated in 1984, it instantly became Vancouver's most hated structure. Could it be too small to reflect Terry Fox's huge feat? Nearby BC Place Stadium also dwarfs the structure. The monument is now mostly forgotten, even though there are many positive aspects to it. I met and photographed Frank Allen a bit later. He stuck to his guns and stayed in town in spite of the terrible and long media campaign against his memorial. Allen had a tidy little office somewhere on West 14th or 15th Avenue, just West of Granville. In the garden he had one of the fibre glass lions, that was the model for the four that grace each of the memorial's corners. I like to think of them as our city lions
There is another lion on the top floor balcony of the Marine Building but that is another story. In the memorial arch walls there are two, 5ft by 18 ft, steel etchings. One is based on the iconic photograph of Terry Fox running and the other is a map of Canada showing his cross country route. I happen to know the artist on whose pontilistic style drawings the etchings are based. He is Ian Bateson. Ian has never believed in participating in fashionable or popular projects that might further his career. He believes in following his heart and his principles. As for the gentle Frank Allen I have no idea where he might be.
I took the memorial photograph here in one shot. I used a Pentax MX with a 15mm rectilinear wide angle lens and Kodak Tri-X. The beautiful Maddalena Di Gregorio placed her hand near my lens and I used a tiny flash. I kept the shutter open for 35 seconds at f-5.6. I processed the film in Perfection Micrograin using the technique called extended range night photography
Thursday, March 30, 2006
The suave and handsome 6-foot-2 man in a herringbone jacket and striped tie who opened the door of a room at the Sutton Place Hotel (at the time it was the Meridien) reacted to my stare by stating, "I played centre in my secondary school basketball team." Genoa-born (in 1922) Italian actor Vittorio Gassman faced my camera. I was to wait as he had to create a character. He bent his head and closed his eyes. Ignoring an experienced film critic's warning on asking actors about former spouses, I mentioned Shelly Winters. Gassman's reaction was silence. Gassman, who suffered chronic emphysema, bronchitis, high blood pressure and depression died on June 29th, 2000, of heart failure in Rome. He told his final stage audience in February 2000, "Death does not obsess me - it disgusts me."
Jennifer Montgomery & Barbara Sukowa
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
These two women, one an American film director, the other a German actress are linked in my photo files by the positive and the negative. I photographed them both in the 90s in the Sun Room of the Hotel Vancouver. Both came for the Vancouver Film Festival. There the similarities end. I was struck by the intensity of Barbara Sukowa who was in town to promote Lars Van Trier's Europa
. It was difficult to hold her gaze. Behind the protection of my camera I asked her to look into it and, "seduce me." This she did.
Jennifer Montgomery had been seduced, when she was 14, by Jock Sturges, photography/art teacher, at a private boarding school. Years later the FBI wanted to nail Sturges for child pornography and attempted to coerce and intimidate Montgomery to testify. Montgomery refused even though the FBI went to terrible lengths, even as far as blackmailing her with the threat of publishing the nude photos that Sturges had taken of her. Montgomery prevailed and Sturges was off the hook. But years later, in 1995, Montgomery with her avant-garde film Art for Teachers of Children
got even. In the film, the actor who plays Sturges, tells his young model to show more energy (plus more of those banalities that we photographers shower our subjects with). This results in the actress playing Montgomery to take off her shirt. With Montgomery facing my camera I was speechless.
Art for Teachers of Children
Sarah McLachlan, The Police and Malcolm Parry
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Vancouver Sun journalist Malcolm Parry calls it the privileged position. If you are looking up at a tall building you are not in that situation. You have to be above and looking down. Another aspect of the privileged position is access. Access to celebrities has become doubly difficult since 9/11. The rock band The Police were the first to establish restrictions on when they could be photographed during a performance and they demanded that photographers sign contracts which prohibited most of the lucrative uses of the photographs. When I took these of the Police my access was incredible but I had to sign a contract that did not allow me to use any of them for T shirts!
I have always loved this photograph of Sarah McLachlan and her husband Ashwin Sood. I took it at Sarah's old house and there were no handlers around. Only the Straight writer, Alex Varty was there. I cannot imagine being able to take a picture like this now.
Bif Naked at Tony Ricci's Marble Arch
Monday, March 27, 2006
When I first met Bif Naked it must have been about 10 years ago. She sang in town with a band that could not compete with her stage presence. The last time I saw her she was driving (a poodle in one hand, the steering wheel in the other) a Jaguar with darkened windows.
I took some photographs of her in one of the rooms of the Marble Arch and also in my studio. I remember one time when Bif and I were having a drink in the Marble Arch bar. She was wearing a muscle shirt. Tony Ricci, the then owner of the Marble Arch, came over and I introduced them to each other. After Bif left, Tony asked me, "Who was that woman with the big...?" I was astounded. How could Tony have missed all those tattoos? Bif has always tried to act tough. The fact is that for this photo, when she placed her hand on her head, I asked her if she had ever taken ballet. She answered, "Yeah, for 6 months. Why, does it show?"
Filomena, Lauren Stewart & Chicken A La Barbara
Sunday, March 26, 2006
My Manila-born mother, Filomena de Irureta Goyena Hayward, could do anything. She played the piano, taught physics and chemistry, she gardened, danced the tango and could swim on her back effortlessly without a trace of a ripple on the water. She could not cook. In 1971 she returned to Mexico from North Carolina from visiting my uncle Antonio de Irureta Goyena armed with Marion Brown's Southern Cook Book
. She lived with us at our little house in the outskirts of Mexico City in Arboledas, Estado de México. Nena proceded to dazzle us with her cooking. Our favourite was Adalyn Lindley's Chicken A La Barbara (Neiman-Marcus Tea Room, Dallas).
Today Rosemary decided to make Chicken A La Barbara. Returning from Rebecca's early morning ballet class on Granville Island, her sister Lauren Elizabeth (3½)giggled at the name when I told her of our lunch menu. But when she saw the platter on the table she indicated to us that she was not going to eat any of it. After lunch I commanded Lauren to stay at the table until she had three spoonfuls. She was not to go to the garden to play until she did so. Lauren, unlike her sister Rebecca, is not subject to the persuasion of logic. Since I was an only child I have never understood what it's like to be a second banana and I may have made all kinds of mistakes with her mother Hilary, who was second banana to our older daughter Ale. I will never comprehend the bond between brothers or sisters. With my recently discovered half brother I cannot accept the sharing of a father and I speak of my father not as "our" father but of George. It seems safer. After staring at her plate for an hour, Lauren told me she was ready to eat one spoonful and no more. I knew I was defeated. Soon she was out playing.