Neil Wedman - Artist
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Not too long ago I went into Neil Wedman's studio and watched him paint this wonderful female nude. I returned a few days later to find that he had painted bridal clothes on her. "This is the way I always do it. This is for a show called Brides
." It is a singular pleasure that my photographic studio is in the same building and on the same floor as Neil Wedman. He is a conceptual or thematic painter who can really paint. He has the technique behind his ideas. Currently he is planning a show on flying saucers. I have known Wedman for at least 15 years and I always know when he is around. You can hear him first. He has an infectious and extraordinarily loud laugh. We both share an interest in old movies. Lately we have been sharing notes on our experience with the Turner Classic Movies TV channel. Wedman told me last week, "Some days I want to go right home to watch." Wedman is an elegant but fussy dresser. His shoes are always polished.
Patrice B - One Of The Boys
Friday, June 09, 2006
Patrice B was one of the boys. She, Ian MacGuffie and I were inseperable friends. We had coffee at Blenz on Seymour Street together and discussed photography. Ian and I would try to convince her to stop smoking. Patrice smoked when she was stressed out over her job of taking head shots of babies and pets. We were thrilled when she was hired by the Vancouver Opera to shoot posters for one of their seasons. She was unhappy over her relationship with the lead singer of Econoline Crush
. It seems that in the end she dumped him not thinking he would ever amount to much. As it was, Econoline Crush became a hit band with a hit song that was based on the singer being dumped by Patrice. A couple of weeks before Patrice moved to LA (she was going to find a way of taking photographs of Jason Priestly which she did) she asked me to photograph her. Before I even started, when she was being made up, my eyes opened and I realized she was not one of the boys.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Sometime at the end of 2005 I received a call from architect Dale Rickard who is a member of an interesting and esoteric group called the Urbanarium Society. The society had a project that involved the photography of Vancouver roof gardens or gardens over the street level that were mostly semi-private. Many years ago I swore I would never use a 4x5 inch film camera and suffer seeing the world upside down. I have enough problems with the right and left of my dyslexia. I asked Rickard if he wanted photographs that had beautifully corrected perspective. I was pleased by his answer, "No we want something edgy." I accepted and edgy became dreamy as that's the overall look of most of the pictures I took with a couple of swivel lens panoramic cameras (the Russian Horizont can be seen, right) and Kodak b+w infrared film. Halfway through the project involving 13 gardens, I obtained a Noblex 175 which is a 120 film format swivel lens panoramic camera that shoots a slide that is 50mm by 175mm. The Urbanarium society, made up of landscape architects, architects and city planners, who love this city provided me with wonderful feedback and worked very hard for the show Secret Gardens which opens tonight at the Pendulum Gallery. Those of you who may read this are invited.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
In 1967 Alex Summers was turning the crank of a mimeograph machine inside the little office of the American Penstemon Society. He had been lured by some friends for the job. It ocurred to him that he did not like penstemons nor was he interested in publishing a journal on them. So he founded the American Hosta Society in the next year. He has not looked back. The AHS is one of the healthiest of the American plant organizations and their journal, The Hosta Journal
, is a glossy publication, thick and full of useful information and illustrated with full colour photographs of hostas at their peak. The once a year national conventions are attended by hosta enthusiasts from all over the world. In the 1992 convention in Columbus, Ohio I met Alex for the first time. It took me a while to figure out that his trademark mumble camouflaged intelligence, erudition and garden knowledge second to none. He took me under his wing and gave me advice that I have never forgotten and always apply. He said:"A garden must have three important elements. They are elevation, shade and water. And you must make sure you can hear it.""It takes a year to plan and design a garden. You need a year to build it. You wait three years for it to mature. On the 6th year you enjoy it. In the seventh it declines. You start from scratch on the 8th."
I photographed Alex in his farm in Bridgeville, Delaware. At the time his charming wife, Gene was alive. Alex here poses with a leaf of Hosta 'Aurora Borealis'
. He insisted that Hosta 'Frances W
illiams' was this one and no other. American Hosta Society
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
I was astounded to hear on CBC Radio yesterday that a project is underway to save Venice. It seems that the only way to save the sinking city is for a private company to buy it and convert it into a theme park. I would guess that with Las Vegas under their belt, Americans would be first in line to buy the city. I wonder if Mexico could do a better job. On a recent trip to Can Cun I was exploring the grounds of the boutique hotel Villas Tecul when I ran smack into the ruins of a pyramid. How could a hotel contain such ruins? I asked the hotel manager, Marissa Setien who promptly introduced me to the pyramid's creator here seen siting proudly. Luckily I was not driving (I was in a taxi, if not I might have smashed my car) when I saw the smaller scale replica of a Mayan pyramid (with Toltec influence). It was so perfect in the mottled lighting I could have been in the jungles of Yucatán.
Rebecca, Rosemary & Marilyn
Monday, June 05, 2006
Yesterday we went to watch Rebecca dance at the end of term recital of the Arts Umbrella. Here you see her in her outfit which she had to use for the morning rehearsal. She is wearing boots because it rained for our once-a-year neighbourhood open garden. Many years ago I swore I would never ever wear that American invention, the name tag. The fact is that Rosemary and I started wearing them at hosta conventions. But I feel uncomfortable wearing them. I swear I will never wear white (or any other colour) sports shoes or go on a boat cruise to the Panama Canal. I once swore I would never ever wear a photographer's vest. Three years ago, my oldest daughter, Ale gave me the vest I am wearing here. Ale likes to go to the Salvation Army shops. I was indignant and I quickly stashed it in the darkest corner of my closet. One day I was tempted to wear it and I have love it since.
I This picture was taken by a young Mr. Lee who lives in the neighbourhood and had to photograph all the garden hosts.
Marilyn? Hosta 'Marilyn'
is a gold (yellow) hosta and you can see part of it on the right of Rosemary's left hand.
Bif, Rebbeca & Grace
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Back in the late 70s Rosemary and I alternated driving our daughters Ale and Hilary to the Vancouver School of Music for ballet lessons. We did this from Brentwood in Burnaby. We would pick them up at their French schools in Coquitlam and then we would drive the stretch. During that time I took Ale and Hilary to every performance of every international ballet company that came to town. The only one I remember was the Alvin Ailey performance of Revelations
where the dancers wore long white dresses, white parasols and the men white suits. Everything else is a blur. And I know why. Our daughters took ballet because that was the "correct" thing. I took them to the dance performances because I felt the obligation.
All this has changed with my granddaughter Rebecca and, I hope, with her sister Lauren. I take Rebecca to dance performances because I enjoy dance and I want to see it in the company of someone who also emjoys it. It hasn't been all easy as taking Rebecca to EDAM to watch contact improv dance can be difficult to stomach. But she has managed. Tonight we all go to watch Rebecca dance in the end of term program of the Arts Umbrella. I am looking forward to it and I am not going with the expectations that Rebecca might someday become a ballerina. That is not important. I find that ballet gives an individual grace. A prime example is Bif Naked. In one of the poses in my studio I asked her to place her hand on her head. I commented, "You're tough but you must have taken ballet some time." Her answer was, "Six months, does it show?"