Justin Bieber At The MSG & No Stomach Ache
Saturday, February 19, 2011
|With my grandmother Lolita |
My friend former rock critic Les Wiseman shared many a loud concert in the years that he wrote his rock column for Vancouver Magazine while I served as Lenso, his Argentinian Lensman. He has written about Magazine and about an extremely loud Alice Cooper concert in the 70s. We both kind of agree that one of the loudest ever was a concert at the Kerrisdale Arena with Motorhead. I never remind him that the Pretenders appeared at the Queen Elizabeth (so we all had to stand and not sit). It was so loud that even with my chewed up tickets stuffed into my ears, sound came through vibrations in the floor and gave me a stomach ache. Standing to one side of stage monitors at Subhuman concerts sometimes helped diminish the racket but invariably I would go home with a buzz n my ear that sometimes was there when I woke up in the morning.
But all the above was kids stuff in comparison to a concert that I had to shoot for a CBC Records in the late 80s. Dave Chesney, the record rep got me the gig and even drove me to Tacoma. It was there that I first met the New Kids on the Block. Anything that I might experienced (and I did) back in Vancouver the night that the Bay City Rollers took over the bowels of the CBC on Hamilton Street (and they trashed their sumptuous room) was nothing in comparison to this band that features five boys that I could have personally throttled one at a time. The only thing that might have prevented me from actually going through that operation of elimination was the fact that their fans, howling female tweens and teens were a lot worse.
I was in a pit between the band and the howlers. The music and the howling was so loud (and I find it difficult to explain here) that I could not re-load my cameras (I used film then as I do now) because of the dim. I managed to re-load because of my pride. I could not fail Chesney who had praised me to the management. After it was all over I knew I would never have to face anything like that again. And I haven’t.
Sometime around 1950 (I was 8) my grandmother Lolita took me to see the 15 episodes of Superman with Kirk Alyn. I do not remember if I begged and nagged until she relented or if she simply volunteered to take me as she had a liking for, pirate, cowboy and war movies. All I remember of the marathon is being on the train with her on our way back home. I had one of the worst stomach aches of my life.
It is perhaps this unpaid debt to my grandmohter that led me twice to do something I really did not want to do. One was to take my granddaughter Rebecca to the first screening of Twilight
in Vancouver and I followed that with taking her this afternoon to see Justin Bieber’s documentary film Never Say Never
After having read the glowing (can you imagine that?) review of the film by the NY Times I immediately volunteered to take Rebecca. But she had made plans to go with her friends. When those plans all fell through, her other grandmother volunteered to take her to a multiplex where both would see individual films not accompanied by the other. I stepped in as I believe that nobody should go to the movies alone unless one is suffering from a sentimental dumping (to use the modern term for it) or one wants privacy for the silent acts that may accompany an “adult” film.
My sacrifice was no sacrifice at all and I knew this from the beginning. The only way I was going to get a first look at the Bieber phenomenon was to see the film by myself or with someone I liked I could share it with.
I can report that thanks to the fact that most American families video-digitize their offspring from birth (but there were none of those!) we saw all kinds of cute shots of the cute kid banging on toy drum kits, strumming guitars, rapping on them rather artistically, and showing somehow that the boy’s talent is not entirely just marketing savvy.
I have read often how the Beatles were not able to perform in later years as their albums (?) could not be replicated on any sound stage of any arena in the world. I can safely say with some gusto that if you pulled the plug on any of Bieber’s concerts, he could hold his own with an acoustic guitar or piano. And he could play a mean set of drums. There is talent there and, my granddaughter who ranted and raved in the back of my friend’s truck back in Austin, Texas in July 2010 that Bieber was the greatest (and had my friend’s daughter agreeing) has been proven right. Both Mike O’Connell and I will have to eat our metaphorical hats and I will have to buy Rebecca both the Vanity Fair
and the forthcoming Rolling Stone
. I do believe that if my granddaughter is going to read crap it should be first class crap!
I wanted to see Never Say Never
because I wanted to know how it was that Rebecca had been exposed to the phenomenon. It was some 6 years ago that I took a course in Photoshop, not so much as to learn to use it, as to get into the mind of the teacher who was around 29. I wanted to know how my young competition thought and worked.
In Never Say Never
I learned plenty and on top of that I was wowed by the almost unseen heroes of this film. It is the camera work that is fantastic as is the incredible crane shots used to take those 3-D takes that had me trying to push heads in front of me out of the way even though we were sitting in seats that had a very wide row in front. The heads were that real and right there. Then there were cameras that just out from the ledge of the stage that took skimming shots that were like none I have ever seen before. My friend Michael Varga, a CBC cameraman of note would be just as amazed, I am sure.
In all that I have read of the talented 16-year-old I have not read what I will write now. I don’t think it has anything to do with political correctness as the American press has no compunctions on the subject.
To me Justin Bieber is the white boy that Michael Jackson tried to become and never managed to be. “Corrective” surgery was simply not there yet. It is perhaps an example on how globalization has affected the melding of styles that you may have Japanese hip-hop sounding no different from the Mexican Variety. In isolation (it was hard to ignore the explosions and the 3-D lasers) watching Bieber is like watching a white boy dance black. In Bieber’s stage shows I saw black dancers doing black style dancing (with all the trademark handshakes and hugs) and the whole show had that hip-hop-R&B look that would make many an Alabaman and Mississippian (of the white variety) cringe. But not so! Once you saw the lithe and white Bieber in the middle. He could saddle up to Miley Cyrus (wearing a tight black mini that left little to the imagination in the 3-D closeups) and look comfortable or do the same with his idol Usher. It seems that Bieber is able to cross all colour “barriers”.
Yet most of the fan girls featured were pretty blondes and many of them had expensive braces on teeth.
I saw girls crying and I watched Rebecca just smile. I wonder what she would have done in an actual concert. Would she have cried too? Would she have held both her hands making a heart with thumbs and index fingers? If anything I noted that and audience of 50,000 will be wielding 50,000 glowing cell phones!
Rebecca asked me if I had liked it. Not wanting to seem to encouraging I answered, “I kind of liked it.” To which she said, “That means you liked it!” I guess she is right. She has many years ahead of her to choose, time and place, when she will see a film all by herself.
I wonder what Elvis would have made of Scooter? And what would have Scooter made of Elvis?
That Image On My Monitor
Friday, February 18, 2011
Two seemingly unrelated events, one a thought, the other a double dose of snapdragons (one in the film Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
and the other in the Arts Club presentation of the Blackbird Theatre production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
) made me think of the ramifications of my parent’s garden in Buenos Aires back in the late 40s. It was a garden I got to know well.
Both Richard Burton and Kevin McNulty ring the bell and show up with snapdragons which each one presents to Martha in a mock embarrassed gee-shucks here-are-some-flowers-for-you.
My mother loved to garden and she particularly loved perennials. But in her garden she planted snapdragons for me. The shady corridor by the brick wall (note the wall in the photograph here) had irises and hydrangeas. In a semi sunny corner where the brick wall ended and the wall of our bathroom (strangely adjacent to the kitchen) began there was a glorious light blue glicina
. It took me a while, and only when I arrived in Vancouver to find out that the glicina was a wisteria. The rest of the garden had many plum trees. There was one that we called the ciruela remolacha
because it was beet red inside. Another plum was green outside and yellow inside. Yet another was yellow outside and green inside as was the other that was red outside and yellow inside. My favourite was a tree that must have been a cross between a cherry and a plum tree. We had cedrones
or lemon verbenas and many beautiful but poisonous (my mother had warned me about it) oleanders. In the front we had two stately and large palm trees and a persimmon tree my father always called the khaki. I would patiently wait for its fruit to mature to a nice deep orange but whenever I would bit on it I was repulsed by its astringency and my lips would pucker.
All of the trees were trees I could climb. And I did climb them a lot. This was not the case with the large slippery fig tree in the back and the frail níspero
or medlar whose fruit if I waited with patience to ripen did not repulse me as my father’s khaki.
|Tía Sarita and the khaki|
Five years ago I returned to Buenos Aires with my wife and granddaughter Rebecca. I rang the bell of my house on Melian 2770. A cautious man opened the door. I explained my mission and he told me the garden was really no more. From the outside I had noted that the palms were gone. He let me take a peak and he was right. It was no longer my mother’s garden. The khaki and the plum trees had been cut down.
Besides the fragrant glicina my mother had planted vanilla smelling heliotropes. I remember her telling our gardener (he may have been a Galician),”Plante los heliotropos aquí.” Shortly after I remember the man turning over the lawn with a spade and the place where I used to run was now a mess. I did not understand then the purpose of the exercise.
The thought I write about in the first paragraph has to do with last night's insomnia and my thinking about working with two photo programs. I have both Photoshop and Corel Paint Shop in my computer. I like elements of both. Sometimes by accident or on purpose I may open a photograph in Photoshop and then go to Paint Shop and open the image there. I will sometimes change my mind about the image in Corel and delete it. When I go back to Photoshop the image will still be up on my screen. If I try to do anything to it I get a warning that there is no file for that image. Any further tampering and the image will disappear in an audible poof (only in my mind).
The actual and real negative or slide might be on the scanner by the side of my computer. The scan, which was in my computer’s photo programs, has been deleted. There might be a file left in my computer’s trash. If I purge the trash (strangely called the re-cycle bin!) all of my actual and real negative or slide that is left is its physical presence.
I mourn for those who use digital cameras. When they purge an image (one that they can never ever touch or bite or burn or bend or fold as it lies as a combinations of ones and zeros in some esoteric and alien device called a sensor) they have nothing except a memory of the picture. This memory may have been a brief glance on the back of their DSLR. Something about the image did not please, the delete button was pressed. There will be no going back after that if remorse sets in.
As I look at the family photo above I think of a similarity. In the photo (I am between my mother on the left and my grandmother on the right, then it’s my tía Sarita, my Uncle Tony and my cousin Wency.) There is a similarity to that photon thick image that remains on my monitor after I have deleted it. It is very much like the memory of my mother’s garden. Wency might remember it. The others cannot, they are dead.
Perhaps my friends Miguelito and Mario might remember. They climbed the garden’s trees with me. Or the Sullivan boys, John, Joe and Tom. One night we had a massive fireworks fight (we through firecrackers and the ones that zoomed in the air on little bamboo splinters). I cannot imagine why Mr. Sullivan, my father and mother beningly allowed us! Perhaps the boys and girls my mother invited for the five birthdays I celebrated in the garden on August 31s or thereabouts. If Mónica is still alive she might remember the garden. I believe she won consecutively all the donkey’s pin the tails and broke every piñata my father tied from his khaki. I doubt anybody else might remember the snapdragons and the heliotropes, the irises and the (yes) callas.
I am captivated with the thought that the memory of my garden, so vivid and seemingly unfading now, will delete itself, poof! like the image on my monitor.
What is the image on my monitor? It is my class picture from my 1958 St. Edward’s High School yearbook. I have no memory of having my picture taken but I do admire my mother's taste who surely must have purchased the tie. Surely, the negative of that picture is long gone. Surely, in a class of about 55 students that picture and that yearbook must exist in numerical minority. And surely, the young boy with glasses (exactly that young boy with glasses) that existed for a fleeting 1/50 of a second when he faced that camera is long gone, too, poof!
Like the image on my monitor.
Dies Irae - The Wrathful Pleasure Of Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?
Thursday, February 17, 2011
|Gabrielle Rose, John Wright, Meg Roe|
My guess is that when it comes to Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
most people either heard of the play through the movie, saw the movie in a blurring fading past or simply read about the film. I had never seen the play as a play until last night. To refresh my memory of it (to get a focus on a play I had never seen through a film I had seen back in 1968) Rosemary and I saw the Mike Nichols’ 1966 film last Sunday.
Those of us who saw the film when it came out or
shortly after must consider that our views were clouded or affected by the media hoopla surrounding the Joseph L. Mankiewicz 1963 robe and sandal costume blockbuster Cleopatra
with Elizabeth Taylor, Rex Harrison and Richard Burton and the dumping of Eddy Fisher and the divorce in 1964 because of the affair Taylor and Burton had during the filming of Cleopatra. And by the time Rosemary and I saw Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Taylor and Burton where the most famous/infamous couple in Hollywood. Even without Twitter and the internet their fights and goings on were the stuff of legend.
This means that the film Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
with screenplay by Ernest Lehman is not the play but a variation in which the three acts become one and the setting is threefold, Martha and George’s house, outside the house and car and the third is a dance club. At all times last night I kept that in mind. But my wife forgot and she whispered in my ear, “The dialogue is different!”
The reason for it is that we were seeing the original play as written and we had no comparison except the film.
With the above to make the point that one should not have to compare an original play with a film version of it since it would be unfair to do so I will only add my personal views on the play that I saw and enjoyed last night.
Both Elizabeth Taylor and Sandy Dennis won Academy Awards for their roles. To me it signifies that the play is a two woman play in which the men are sort of fluff (not quite)!
Last night I saw a play in which Elizabeth Taylor’s part of Martha was played by Gabrielle Rose and Sandy Dennis’ Honey by Meg Roe. Rose and Roe where as good, for me, as Taylor and Dennis. In fact every time I watched Roe move or, open her already big eyes, I marveled and then as soon as she said anything I laughed. Watching Rose deteriorate until the final act, when she has lipstick blotches on her face and neck, was not pretty. This performance is just about perfect.
Craig Erickson’s role is somewhat diminished from that of George Segal’s simply because you do not see the crucial scene outside with Burton on a swing. The portion of the film is terrific. A living room could not compete. But Erickson’s performance as well as Kevin McNulty’s George were interpretations that I feel were pressed by the John Wright’s direction. I believe Wright made the right choice.
This blogger was wondering how McNulty would compete with Burton. He cannot for the reason that he is not Burton. The film was (in the parlance of modern English) a vehicle for the famous couple. When the film ended I did not feel any sympathy for the shattered Martha and George.
In his role of George, McNulty brings the idea of long suffering spouse who suffers and takes it and plays the game as well as he can. From the beginning I felt sorry for him. “What a bitch she is,” I thought. In the film Martha and George are always equals. Not so last night. That interpretation by Wright is what made for me the play work and satisfy me. I liked George. I did not like the film’s George. I just marveled at the performance, the voice without looking into the details such as the humanity of the role.
In the third act (called Exorcism) George (Kevin McNulty rises very well to it in what is the play’s end game ) recites the Dies Irae in Latin while Martha screams. I could not make up my mind where to listen. I shifted from one voice to the other. It was brutal. It was wonderful – just one more reason why this play is one that beckons watching.
And there is another. Wait for a soon to be performed comedy with Meg Roe. I cannot wait even though the comedy in question might just be a figment of my imagination. But wouldn’t it be grand?
An Actor's Densest Mystery
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Two of life’s densest mysteries for me are how a virtuoso violinist is able to play the instrument and how an actor
is able to act. An ancillary mystery of the latter is when do you know an actor is acting?
If one could only know then one could say, “I know so and so, the actress because I have met her socially, and she is much different from the films and plays she is in. Few of us are lucky enough to know actors socially. I can consider myself to be part of that elite.
Most of us confuse the actor with the man, the actress with the woman. We are unable to discern the legend from the reality. And this is so with my favourite actors. I would categorize an actor as either being internal (method perhaps?) or external. Of the external kind I would cite Lawrence Olivier who with the help of his voice would convince me that he was indeed Henry V or Lord Nelson. I am not sure if my favourite of all the internal actors, Gregory Peck could have ever played either Henry V or Lord Nelson. His talk-less-doubt-more with that quiet stutter or the twist of his mouth was more suited for C.S. Forrester’s Captain Horatio Hornblower. Both actors could sink ships as admirals or captains. And indeed Peck did in Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N.
That other favourite internal actor of mine was Spencer Tracy. In the early 90s I had the opportunity to photograph actor Wilford Brimley who sang praises of Tracy saying he was the best American actor that ever was. He also considered Robert Duval to be a post-Tracy Tracy.
And Brimley (a concise example himself of the internal and seemingly effortless school of acting) may be right. One of my favourite films of all time is the not-so-well known Christopher Cain (1984) The Stone Boy
, starring Wilfred Brimley, Glenn Close, Robert Duvall and Frederic Forrest.
Vincent Canby of the NY Times introduces his review of the film with:
One idyllic summer morning Arnold Hillerman, a 12-year-old Montana farm boy, and his brother, Eugene, 17, get up before dawn to pick peas. Against his brother's advice, Arnold insists on taking along his shotgun, hoping to bag a wild duck, even though it's out of season. As Arnold is climbing through a barbed wire fence, the gun becomes snarled. During Arnold's efforts to free it, the gun goes off, instantly killing Eugene.
How Arnold’s family deals with him is the crux of this film. The only sympathetic ally to the boy is his grandfather played beautifully by Brimley. Most of the action happens in a kitchen and the acting is so well done that it all seems effortless and for real. Duvall and Close are perfect.
It would be difficult for actresses Gabrielle Rose and Meg Roe to give performances of the internal kind in the play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
which Rosemary and I are seeing tonight at the Arts Club Theatre Company’s Granville Island Stage. After having seen the Mike Nichols 1964 film on Sunday we are expecting fireworks in the form of shouts, screams and more.
When both actresses faced my camera last Thursday they were not wearing makeup. They were quiet and polite. I wondered what they were like as people. I had photographed Rose pregnant 9 years ago. I enquired about her child. Does her child know the difference between the mother and the actor?
An actor facing a camera without makeup and not posing in any part, be it Hamlet or Ophelia. I wonder who they are? Are they any different from any of the other persons who I have photographed? Or are they different?
An actor in role is protected from the intrusion of a photographer or anybody else by the barrier of their role. Both Roe and Rose did not have that. I almost felt a discomfort on their part. It is as if they might not want me to discern who they are, out of role.
There was a fragility which I celebrate here in these two portraits of Roe and Rose. The portrait of Rose might seem brutal to some. And perhaps Rose might hate it. Yet I see in it something of the person ready to act yet for a few seconds (1/30 second, in fact) I saw something beautiful. Is this the real Gabrielle Rose? Is the woman with the beautiful profile indeed Meg Roe? Or where they acting this?
I will never know.
Anticipating a Catharsis in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?- Not Gabrielle Rose and Meg Roe
The Gang Of Four & Searing Chunks Of Sound
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Original lineup of the Gang of Four: Jiang Qing, Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan, and Wang Hongwen.
|Jon King, Dave Allen, Andy Gill (behind), Hugo Burnham|
From Les Wiseman’s write-up in the July 1980 Vancouver Magazine
, In One Ear
column here are the first two paragraphs:
A friend of mine, when he goes to rock shows, chews up his ticket, tears it in half and then porks the saliva-sodden pulps into his ears to avoid discomfort and post-concertal ringing caused by excessive volume. Not exactly an aesthetically pleasing ritual, but since we know that the ringing indicates damage having been done, it is a good tip if you are in a pinch (Kraft caramels also work but are a hell to remove and tend to attract flies). Special earplugs have been designed for concertgoers, and since seeing the Gang of Four at the Commodore recently, I don’t leave home without’em (one evening of prune shriveled eardrums is enough for the wet ticket game). And I mean I’ve seen some loud shows (Alice Cooper in ’71 left me belfry-headed for three days, Magazine and Graham Parker only two day).
But, above the sheer volume of the Gang’s presentation, there is the sound of the sheet metal ripping guitar stylings of Andy Gill. The Gang of Four are a textural rhythm band, and by that I mean their music is pulses of guitar chordings in unusual rhythms, searing chunks of sound with various lengths of space between that enter your ears like soul-cleansing Drano. They are a demanding band with an alien sound that would be easy to dismiss as a bunch of electricity fetishism were it not for the fact that they rock like Bo Diddley on Mars and motivate crowd to dance like Swahilis in the middle of the grand mal (Hipsters take not: “dance music” is the operative term for the wave that was.)
|The Gang of Four and Les Wiseman, right|
I was the Wiseman friend who chewed his tickets and the picture below is of the heavy duty earplugs I eventually purchased.
Anticipating A Catharsis - Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?
Monday, February 14, 2011
Last night Rosemary and I watched Mike Nichols’ 1964 film version of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
We had seen it before in Mexico City in 1968 and our memory of the film had faded. But I have never forgotten the cast of Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Sandy Dennis and George Segal nor the presence of a strange drink called Birgin and water.
We watched this terrific film in preparation for the opening performance, this Wednesday, of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
( a Blackbird Theatre production) at the Granville Island Stage of The Arts Club Theatre Company. The play is directed by John Wright and the cast is made up by Gabrielle Rose, Meg Roe, Kevin McNulty and Craig Erickson. As I saw the film I wondered at the nuts and bolts - the difference between directing a film and directing a stage play. In the film, sound is very important as when Taylor clinks the ice of her bottomless drinks. Will Wednesday’s actors light up cigarettes? There is an important scene in the film where Burton refuses to light Taylor’s cigarette. Is this scene in Albee’s play or a quirk by Nichols to infuse his personal touch? The film, unlike the play has two settings, the Taylor/Burton house and a dancing bar. A lot happens in the car going to it and coming back. How will Wright do this? There is a lovely scene in the film where a station wagon is parked on the driveway at an angle with a door open and the passenger’s side turn blinkers on. Taylor notices and with drink in hand turns off the blinker but leaves the door open. And then there is the rifle that shoots the...
In what seems like a lifetime, and an age of innocence I remember shooting stills for the Woolfman Jack Show
and the René Simard Show
in Studio 40 of the CBC on Hamilton Street. At any given time there were two cameras (both on wheels), a crane for shooting from overhead and a fourth camera, a small portable one. This is how variety shows were made. That’s how I thought films were made.
Then in the early 80s I went to Egmont, BC to shoot stills for Ritter's Cove
a CBC drama series. They used only one camera. I was astounded.
The actor would have to say his lines over and over as the camera was moved from one angle of view to another. Simple film dialogue became a complex combination of the camera showing the person listening or the person talking from the listening person’s point of view. The cameraman would have to move in an operation called blocking both in film and in a stage play (where a camera is not used). In a stage play the director specifies where actors have to stand. Once the segment of the play is done the director then goes to the next block.
It was explained to me that only with big budgets, and even with them, one camera was used. The exception might be a special effects scene involving a runaway locomotive. Several cameras might be used if the locomotive would be “destroyed” in the process!
Simply from being a sort of behind the scenes bystander as a stills photographer I had come to understand the basic difference between a variety show on TV, a TV drama (close to film, perhaps?) and theatre.
After having seen the film I look forward to Wednesday’s play wondering about John Wright’s take. It almost seems obvious to me that a stage director (not having a film or video editor) must indeed have more power than the film director. There is no camera point of view of the director of photography or the individual cameraman. The director must reign supreme on the stage. And once the play has started there are no re-takes. It’s set in stone, but unlike the film (also unchanging once it is released in its final form [but then there are director’s cuts!]), every theatrical performance is different.
That is one of the pleasures of theatre.
We know what happens in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
In much the same way we might know the plot of an ancient Greek play. And in both cases, while we may know that, we don’t know the details. It is in a curiosity for those details, beyond the plot structure, where in the end we arrive at a catharsis, a purging or cleansing as defined first by Aristotle.
But it is not only a catharsis but also the pleasure of knowing a bit about a play and then seeing it performed. There is pleasure in that. There is pleasure in that surprise. There is pleasure in watching the actors’ performance.
That is theatre.
Gabrielle Rose and Meg Roe
Alexis Macdonald - A Beauty From The Past
Sunday, February 13, 2011
On Saturday night Rosemary, Rebecca, Lauren and I went to the Vancouver Public Library, the main branch on Robson. It is conveniently close to our favourite Next Noodle Bar. On the way we passed by a brand new building that seemed to be a condo. But I read on the plate glass window, Blanche
– Downtown Campus
. It brought back memories of my beginnings as a photographer in Vancouver.
It may have been sometime around 1978 when I was assigned by Vancouver Magazine
to photograph Blanche Macdonald. She had founded a modeling agency in Vancouver quite a few years before but had decided to further her education in law at UBC. She wanted to help the people of her kind at a time when racial prejudice in our parts was quite rampant. I had never seen a Native Canadian model in any Eaton's, The Hudson's Bay Company, Sears or Woodward's flyers. The only "Indian" I had ever seen at the CBC was the one actor in the then popular Beachcomber's.
I photographed the striking woman who was a Métis and had begun her career as a model in 1949 as Miss English Bay. While taking her portrait Macdonald introduced me to a very tall and beautiful woman. It was her daughter Alexis. Blanche Macdonald asked me to photograph her.
Because of Blanche Macdonald’s connection with Native Canadian elders I was given permission to take photographs inside the new Arthur Erickson designed Museum of Anthropology. I have the thought that I would never ever be able to repeat this session in the same place!
Through the years I have run into Alexis Macdonald who had artistic ambitions. I believe she let go of any control of her mother’s school and became an artist. I have not seen her in at least 15 years. These photographs are primitive in their execution and the colour negatives have shifted badly so that I really cannot correct them. What you see here is the best I can do. But the pictures do reveal the quiet beauty of woman who might have been a famous model but chose otherwise. I have a fondness for these pictures even if they are unsophisticated in their execution. In spite of it Alexis Macdonald shines.