Perfection - July 30 2005
Saturday, February 29, 2020
|Rebecca Anne Stewart 7, July 30 2005|
These days, of going over my thousands of pictures in an
attempt to compact my output so that when I die my daughters will find it
easier to throw it all away, I have been stuck in reflection. I have a good
memory but my memory fails on the true output.
I have an iconic
photograph that I took of my granddaughter Rebecca (7 going on 8) on July 30th
in the morning in my Robson Street & Granville studio. My daughter Ale did
the makeup. I used my Mamiya RB-67 and took pictures with Kodak Plus-X and
Ektachrome 100. I shot one b+w Polaroid and took slides of the makeup session.
The date stamped on the slides is August 2.
There is an explanation. July 30 was a Saturday. August 1
was a holiday, BC day. I dropped off the film probably that evening at George King
and the film was processed on Tuesday August 2.
The tight horizontal picture in the top middle of the first
b+w contact sheet became an iconic photograph for me. I first colourized it red. It was the introduction
to my show at Sergio Patrich’s gallery on 4th avenue in late 2005.
Rabbi Yosef Wosk paid $3500 for it because he thought the image was
That picture is the lead photograph for my web page. Four
weeks ago my friend Curtis Daily communicated that the picture was gone from
the web page and in its place was a white rectangle with coding. I went to
Skunkworks Design who did my web page and they have been able to deal with the
problem of aging coding. The photograph is back.
This next week they are going
to show me how to save (in a cloud I would believe) what they call my
Smithsonian-sized blog which including this one adds up to 4990. My Rosemary
believes that my blog is more representative of my legacy as it will be
treasured by my family and friends.
When I look at these pictures of Rebecca I think that they
are perfect. Interesting to me is that in a studio where I had varied kinds of
photographic lighting, the iconic shot and the second one in colour were only
lit by the light being reflected from the Sears/Eaton building across the
street . It was magical light that architect Arthur Erickson when he came to my studio at
least twice called God’s Light care of Cesar Pelli (the Argentine architect of
When I look at these pictures of Rebecca I think like that
New Testament parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. The Publican does not
dare look up at the altar as he feels he is not worthy. The Pharisee points out
to God that he has given all the necessary tithes to please Him. He thanks Him for
not being that poor Publican.
I feel like a sensitive, 21st century Pharisee. I am aware at how lucky I
have been to have found my calling as a photographer. But best of all among all
those famous people I photographed I happened to have struck Pharisee gold with
the privilege and pleasure of taking photographs of that remarkable girl/woman
that was and is Rebecca.
My Rosemary has given me the following advice as I thin out
the output, “Pick the best and throw the rest.”
Looking at these would anybody feel comfortable throwing any
of them away?
As for Rebecca she has left something in me that will forever be in my heart. I feel like that Publican unable to look up and to thank God.
Julio Cortázar - Una Obsesión - An Obsession
Friday, February 28, 2020
|Julio Cortázar on the wall of the London City, Buenos Aires Julio Cortázar en la pared del London City, Buenos Aires|
It is difficult to read a book (Julio Cortázar’s Rayuela
published in 1966 in English as Hopscotch
) and not knowing anybody who may have
read it in Spanish with whom I could compare notes.
Me es dificil leer la Rayuela
de Julio Cortázar que leí por primera vez en 1966 durante mi colimba en la Armada República Argentina. Aquí en Vancouver me siento frustrado de no poder discutirla con nadie.
In the last few years I have indulged in the pleasure of
finding copy that may go with one of my photographs. On different topics I keep
En los últimos años me ha resultado placentero poder combinar mis fotos con cuentos, notas, poesías de Cortáza y especialmente con su Rayuela.
There is a big difference between my Native Argentina and my
now home of Canada in things called culture. As an example the Argentine
National Library (Biblioteca Nacional Mariano Moreno) publishes books. Some of
them I have such as:
Hay muchas diferencias en la visión de los argentinos con lo que es la cultura y aquí con la de los canadienses. Debo aclarar que este argentino ahora es un canadiense. Un ejemplo estelar es saber que la Biblioteca Nacional Mariano Moreno publica libros y la nacional canadiense, nó. Sospecho que la Library and Archives Canada no es más que un archivo.
1. One themed in first page manuscripts of well-known
2. Quite a few Argentine writers designed their own front
pieces. I have a book about that.
3. Jorge Luís Borges purchased books in other languages in
Buenos Aires at Pygmalion and Mitchell’s. There is a book that lists what he
bought there and how much he paid.
1. Tengo un libro con la primera página manuscrita de muchos escritores argentinos.
2. Muchos de ellos diseñaron sus Ex Libris. Tengo un libro sobre ese tema.
3. Borges compró muchos libros en otros idiomas en las librerías Pygmalion y en Mitchell's. Tengo un libro con la cantidad y precio de sus compras.
Ahead of My Time
Thursday, February 27, 2020
With the rise of sexual preference equality in this century
I would like to parade here that in desperation when I arrived in Vancouver
with my family with the idea of becoming a photographer I found no open doors and so I became someone ahead of his time.
I was saved from having to wash cars at Tilden-Rent-A-Car
for the rest of my life by the CBC and by a new upstart gay weekly publication
A writer called Jack Moore and I were the only straight
persons in the publication’s masthead. As I was afraid that my reputation would
suffer by using my real name, for a while (and only for a while!), I went by
the name of Strut McPherson (then the name, reversed, of the front suspension on
most good cars of the time.
It was working at Bi-Line that I discovered the real uses of
K-Y Jelly, what tea at Faces (a very pleasant gay club on Robson at that time)
was all about, and most important how to photograph the male nude body before I
ever thought of undraping women (my real interest).
Because I took all the photographs for the weekly I was also
instructed to shoot ads. These ads had a definite gay content to them. Of those
ads they were kind of either funny or obviously gay. But I did a third set for
ads by a then popular stereo equipment shop called Vancouver Sight & Sound
where I used as a model an up-and-coming singer/actress of the early punk
movement in our city.
It is only because of my present effort to thin out my files
that I have found these tear sheets that remind me that my roots in Vancouver
photography could not be pinned down to this or that.
Wednesday, February 26, 2020
|Deidre Thomas, 12:55 Sunday April 6 1997|
“Why bother “thinning” your archive, it’s all going to end
up in the bin.”
“No hay mal
que por bien no venga.”
“Every cloud has a silver lining.”
A Newyorican friend’s comment about not bothering to thin
out my archives bothered me to no end. It was his response to this blog
It was four years ago when Rosemary sold our big Kerrisdale
home and moved to our present duplex in Kitsilano. Before we moved I attempted
to give some of my 5000 books away. It was so stressful that I ended up going
in our Malibu late at night to nearby construction bins and throwing books or
obsolete photographic equipment like Polaroid instant slide processors.
I distinctly remember looking at a copy of Dostoyevsky’s stories
and saying out loud to myself, “Goodbye sir it has been fun.”
The move was heart wrenching. Rosemary’s knee failed and she
had to have a replacement. My eldest daughter Ale, who helped us, has had a bad
back since. I am on a waiting list to replace my right knee.
Legacy is a word I try not to think about. What to do with
almost 10 year’s worth of CBC variety show, radio and TV announcers
Do I want Rosemary to install a park bench somewhere in
Vancouver with a plaque that reads, “In memory of my dear husband.”?
Nobody except me knows how large my archives are. Few would
know that I wrote many articles and book reviews for the Vancouver Sun, Province
and the Globe and Mail.
At the very least finding them and filing them gives me the
opportunity to reflect on my past life which will perhaps give me an
indication, reason, and purpose on how to proceed with the little time that is
As my Newyorican friend suggests to not bother, at the very
least I will make those who throw my stuff into bins have fewer trips as it
will all be compacted.
But in my anger overnight at the damning comment I realized
that finding the Globe and Mail tear sheet on the reading-across-Canada project
gives me the delight of going to the Burrard Reserve in North Vancouver in the
next few days with the oval-shaped snap of then 8-year-old Deidre Thomas who
now would be 31 with the hope that someone may find her.
Had I thrown all those tear sheets into the bin without
examining them first that pleasure would not happen.
My initial anger at my friend's remarks enabled me to think all this through. Thank you.