Saturday, March 28, 2020
My friend, Ian Bateson a retired illustrator and designe, now an artist,
has a special talent of annoying me with comments that he often repeats to me. One
of them is, “You are reiterating yourself.”
And indeed when something is good I feel I should be able to
write about it, speak about it, and, especially to photograph it again, and
again. Indeed the present blog has a previous variation.
In these days of quarantine reflection (the first encourages
in me the second) I go through my files to see what I can find that enable me
to reiterate myself.
Today’s jackpot is my former friend and marvellous ecdysiast
Annette. Had I known then her last name I might be able to find her now. I last
and first photographed her, three times, in 1988. The first time I shot what in
my innocence of youth did not understand to be simple boudoir. I do believe
that the three here are a tad less cheesy than most do these days. A third time
(before I write about the second time) involved a series of photographs that I
took of women at home that had a pattern.
I would ring the bell and then allowed in. I would request a
coffee or tea. In the kitchen or living room I would look around and then
decide where I would take a series of photographs (but always in one location)
with my subject not wearing anything. The show which I had in a local gallery
was called Homebodies.
In the case of Annette, she opened the door and told me
to excuse the mess as she was painting the kitchen. I photographed her standing
on a stool in the kitchen holding a paint roller in one hand and showing off
one of the loveliest bodies I have ever seen. I cannot place that photograph
That second time involved shooting for an article that my
now gone friend, Garry Marchant was writing for a magazine about BC jade and
the fact that it was mined by a Canadian petroleum company. Because in 1988 we
magazine photographers were given extraordinary liberties I decided to
photograph Annette with a background of BC jade tiles. To contrast the greenness
I used a red hairlight.
In those 80s whenever I had to shoot for brochures and
magazines I was often asked where I obtained my unusually beautiful models. All
I ever did was to answer with a smile.
La Artista y Su Modelo
Friday, March 27, 2020
El artista y su modelo (the artista and his model) has an
interesting ring when it is la artista y su modelo (the woman artist and her
For a few years when the 20th century was
becoming the 21st I worked with a pair of married Argentine artists
here in Vancouver. We worked in my studio, in their home and in a few odd
places with models, mostly female but with some men too.
The two, Nora Patrich and Juan Manuel Sánchez, sketched while
I took photographs. Every once in a while Sánchez would tell me to hold off
from changing the pose of the model. Often we went to a round-the-corner café, from my studio on Robson and Granville,
called Taft’s and we would discuss ideas with our models. Sánchez and Patrich
would sketch to show us. The process that we called "colaboración" opened in me an appetite for more which has been thwarted here in Vancouver. I have been unable to find like-minded people like the Argentine pair.
Working in a group was far easier than when I take
photographs of a model on my own. There is always that distance that must be
kept and I have to look straight ahead at the model’s eyes. The relationship of
an artist and model is one that has been studied and written about and
illustrated with photographs or paintings. There was even this wonderful
In 2017 when Rosemary and I traveled to Buenos Aires I
connected with a lovely woman who posed for Nora Patrich and me at Nora’s
studio in Bellavista, a suburb of Buenos Aires.
When I took the photographs here (I have not used any, that
show bits, that might offend anybody.
While I have participated in many a session like this one, I
cannot get used to it and I experience an excitement and wonder. I am so lucky
not to be a plumber.
Sobacos y Regazos - Palabras feas con ganas
Thursday, March 26, 2020
m. Concavidad que forma el arranque del brazo con el cuerpo.
m. Cavidad que forma, entre la cintura y las rodillas, la falda de una persona
de la Real Academia Española
palabras hermosas, música al pronunciarlas, como la del pajarito, colibrí o el
árbol jacarandá (procedente de ese idioma dulce que es el guaraní).
mí, dos palabras feas (con ganas como decía me abuelita) tienen que ser el
sobaco y el regazo. La primera tiene un sinónimo mejor, axila. La segunda,
regazo, un lugar tan cómodo para los perros, gatos y bebes (o mi mujer cuando
se atreve) se vale (mal) por si sola.
nacida en Manila pero educada en Valencia fue gran influencia en mi vida.
Cuando mi mamá me quería dar de chinelazos porque me había portado mal, la
abuelita intercedía diciéndole a mi mamá, “Alex es un artista como yo. Hay que
con refranes del Quijote y otros más. Siempre sonreía con alegría pero de vez
en cuando, muy seria me decía, “Piensa mal y acertarás.”
pregunto cuanta gente que no lea el castellano creerán que las dos fotos que
ilustran esta bitácora son de leve género pornográfico?
acuerdo del nombre de la rosa que vino del jardín pero si del cardo que
realmente no lo és. Es un eringio. La modelo del sobaco tan lindo era una amiga
japonesa/canadiense llamada Helen.
The Cellist & My Viyella Robe
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Viyella is a blend of wool and cotton first woven in 1893
in England, and soon to be the "first branded fabric in the world".It
was made of 55 percent merino wool and 45 percent cotton in a twill weave,
developed by James and Robert Sissons of William Hollins & Co, spinners and
hosiers. The brand name, first registered as a trademark in 1894, and
registered in the United States in 1907, soon covered not only the original
fabric, to be sold by the yard (piece goods), but also clothing. At first this
was made by separate businesses, but it was not long before Hollins started
producing their own clothes and offering franchises to manufacturers who would
use the Viyella label. Following increasing emphasis on garment manufacture
over the years, Viyella is now a fashion brand for clothes and home furnishings
made of a variety of fabrics. The original wool/cotton blend is no longer on
Perhaps some 30 years ago, I purchased a lovely robe (are only terry cloth bathrobes called that?) at the Hudson's Bay Company. I thought that I would look more manly for my Rosemary. She didn't seem to notice so it occupied a dark corner of my closet. Sometimes in the winter I would take it out and wear it. It is now in a hook behind the door to my little Kits studio. Why is it there? Quite a few women that come to my studio shed most of what they are wearing. If they have to refresh their makeup or whatever I have a narrow full-length mirror in the other half of my garage that houses my office. I hand the robe to the woman in question so she can walk over to the mirror.
For me there is something special in seeing a woman wearing a man's article of clothing. In the picture here that's cellist Juliana Soltis.
A Study in Red II
Tuesday, March 24, 2020
Recently, Julian Barnes
has published a new book, The Man
in the Red Coat
, with a striking cover that features John Singer Sargent’s
full-length portrait of Samuel Jean Pozzi.
On my bed table I have a pile of books by Jerome Charyn
Jorge Luís Borges
, Emily Dickinson
, and Julio Cortázar
. Do I have the time to read one more
Julian Barnes? Should I buy it?
|John Singer Sargent’s portrait of Samuel Jean Pozzi, the
‘disgustingly handsome’ French gynaecologist nicknamed ‘L’Amour médecin’|
Perhaps I will if I can clear out the pile including
Cortázar’s Rayuela which is a struggle to read. I believe it may be more
difficult than Finnegan’s Wake.
In our home we have a piano room that features a red antique
reclining chair, a red psychiatric couch and a 100 year old Chickering
with red felts and the piano bench is red, too.
In the last couple of years I have come to prefer the term vermillion (Bermejo
in Spanish). And here more photographs in red
in the piano room.
When I saw Sargent’s portrait I immediately knew that in
my files I had some pictures that featured that colour. At the end of the 90s I
photographs of a lovely woman
(also known as Salem). In one of our sessions she appeared in the red dress.
I believe that people who are not photographers may look
at a scene and or a person in their entirety. Are we, the photographers, or
painters, the ones who crop and section what we see? Can three of the
transparencies here have any meaning or purpose all by themselves? Or is the
insertion of Leslie’s face then the only justification to show those three?
If I am thinking about this it may have all to do with
the idle time we have in our social distancing which helps me to reflect,
perhaps of matters of no importance.
Monday, March 23, 2020
Sometime in an April fall day in Buenos Aires I remember
sitting opposite the tiger cage
of the Buenos Aires Zoo with a copy of Time’s
famous issue “Is God dead?”
read the latest statistics on how many Phantom jets had shot down North
Vietnamese MiGs in the Vietnam war.
In those years, Time
Magazine was influential and I would buy it every week except when the
Argentine government would take it off the stands because of some bit of
reporting that they found offensive.
As a born and raised Roman Catholic the Time essay was
shocking. On the other hand it wasn’t
until I returned to Mexico City in 1967 when I went to Mass and suddenly during
it, a perfect stranger next to me wanted to hug me. I was really shocked. Somehow
the changes suggested by a Vatican Council had escaped my knowledge.
While I believe that my personal religious beliefs are not
to be paraded here in this blog I do have this belief in the idea of the beauty of the laying
of hands. Whenever I run into a priest I ask him to bless me.
That of course could not happen in these days of social
It was a few years ago when
I was in Austin, Texas with my Rosemary and two granddaughters at my
former Catholic boarding school that I spotted the university chaplain, Father Rick Wilkinson, C.S.C.
asked him to bless the two girls. Rebecca, my
older granddaughter ran to use Brother Edwin’s computer so only Lauren was
blessed. The chaplain somehow put two fingers over her eyes and another on her
head and said some beautiful words.
These days I see picture of people in bed with lovely views
outside the window or something similar on a beach and they write, “I am
I find it difficult to understand the idea of being blessed
in what is really a godless world (Time said that was the case!).
This all brings me to the justification for posting this
particular photograph that I took of Katheryn in room 615 of the Marble Arch
Hotel so many years ago,
Over and over I come back to this image and I glory at its
sensuality. I remember that the dress was bright red. I have little memory of
how it was that I took it or what might have been said.
But I can ascertain here that I am blessed and doubly so
because Katheryn was there to provide me with a moment of time that I will not