Raymond Diaz, athlete © Michael Weschler

 I am late to the party but I love this collaboration between photographer Michael Weschler and Paralympic sled hockey player Raymond Diaz. A good story never goes cold and Michael made it easy with his account. Enjoy!

"While I've always enjoyed photographing people who've achieved great things, I'm moved by people who face and overcome adversity. So, when I met Team USA Paralympic Sled Hockey All Star, Ray Diaz, I knew he would become a portrait of inspiration."


"Our mutual friend, an art director who's also an amputee, introduced me to Ray and I was immediately captivated by his positive attitude. Meeting him reminded me of my first triathlon - I saw para-athletes getting thrown into the ocean to start the race. You're struck by their courage and tremendous motivation and think about how hard they must have worked to get through both physical therapy and intense training. It makes you reflect and feel gratitude for your own difficult months of training, which you know pales in comparison to their journey."


"When I first met Ray, I learned quickly about his extra-ability on the ice as a sled hockey player. Something about his story struck a deep chord inside me - I found myself thinking I could never match his level of intensity. Ice Hockey players often hip-check each other into the plexiglass, but sled hockey players get pummeled into the solid wall below that. Ray's tenacity pushed him to go beyond his constraints to achieve not only what we take for granted, like walking or driving, but to excel at a sport that requires great courage, skill and strength to compete.

"You get new scars from guys jousting at you with their hockey sticks, spikes up, but you just want to feel more alive, so you shake off the pain and keep going," Diaz says."


"My new series, There Are No Obstacles, helps to tell Ray's remarkable story. Sometimes, when we're looking closely enough, time stands still, reminding us to stay grounded. For the series, I wanted to create something meaningful and inspiring, so I created captions and played with typography, pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. The presentation needed to be special because there are very few people I've met who are as present and in the moment as Ray. Somehow, this tragic accident that paralyzed Ray for several months empowered him to accomplish tremendous feats of incredible athletic ability.

"We are all fighting battles, but there are few heroes like Ray who raise the bar and, through their triumphs, help us to change our own perspective. Ray is a badass on the ice and much better than most. After losing his legs, it changed his center of gravity completely and he had to relearn how to walk. However, nothing holds him back. His athletic ability is incredible, so he's no longer a victim, but a heroic fighter who is thriving. His spirit and tenacity inspire you to overcome all obstacles.

"Find your ability within your disability. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, but if we focus on elevating our game, we can remove all doubts and make anything possible." Michael Weschler, December, 2017.


All images © Michael Weschler

It's Women's History Month at D.C.'s National Museum of Women in the Arts, the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to championing women through the arts. I am joining in the  #5WomenArtists social media campaign. Led by the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and now in its third year, the campaign seeks to confront gender inequity and inspire a global conversation. Here are my nominations of five six women artists who I personally love and respect enormously. Here are my five six seven EIGHT:

Janette Beckman is a prolific artist. She not only has an archive that takes no prisoners, she still shoots as much as ever. People love Janette's style and the consistency throughout her work whether she's shooting a big name band, an underground women's fight club, or kids on the street. Check out the breadth of her work on her tip top website. Salt n' Pepa, 1987.

Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber ("We Make Large Things Small") are almost indescribably creative. Their wry eyes pervade their work. Lori and Kathleen spend arduous months making small dioramas that they then photograph. Above is "Living Room", 2013, which slays me with its mini-mini version of their Subway diorama, on the left. They scanned their CDs and books and printed them small to recreate their shelves - just one of the myriad little details that feature across their work. 

I witnessed as Manjari Sharma developed her Darshan series. Everything from the original concept to the final execution was superbly accomplished with appropriate love and devotion, and she brought her audience along for the journey. Manjari produced the gods in her home country of India with local artisans and eventually showed prints 60 x 48 inches in brass frames hand made and shipped from India to their debut outing at ClampArt in New York in 2013. Look out, here is Maa Kali coming to take your head.

Rocio De Alba quietly impresses with her subversive work. Examining motherhood, addiction, and neurosis, without overly navel gazing, her photography is thoroughly relatable. Rocio uses what is around her to create her curious vignettes.

Chloe Juno is an artist and also a curator. In this particular series she cleared her mind with nature walks, simply photographing flowers in situ to such lovely effect. Like all these artists, Chloe has a variety of work to enjoy. Please visit all their websites and follow them on the social media.

Working in both photography and illustration is youngster Nichole Washington. Nichole has gone from student to shero in the short time I've known her. I can't wait to see what she does next.

My bonus artist is Jenny Laden whose style I have also watched develop over many years. I love her starlets, recent drawings, and lucky for you Jenny now takes on portrait commissions. Enough with the photographs! Above, Teatime, 2003.

 Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #11, 1978; Gelatin silver print, 12 3/8 x 15 7/8 in.; Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York. On view in the exhibition Women House (March 9-May 28, 2018) 

March is Women's History Month. At D.C.'s National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to championing women through the arts, there's lots going on. 

First, it's the return of the award-winning #5WomenArtists social media campaign. Led by the museum, and now in its third year, the campaign seeks to confront gender inequity and inspire a global conversation. 

NMWA poses the question: "Can you name 5 women artists?" and invites individuals and cultural organizations to celebrate women artists by using the hashtag #5WomenArtists on social media. In 2017, over 11,000 individuals and 520 organizations from 30 countries and all 7 continents participated. They expect an equally strong response in 2018, when the museum will be encouraging a focus on women artists of color, who experience a double disadvantage in an already challenging field. 

And, just opened is the opening of the exhibition Women House (March 9-May 28, 2018) featuring 36 international artists whose work - photography, sculpture and video - recasts conventional ideas about women in the home. Women House forms a sequel to the famous project Womanhouse, developed in 1972 by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro. The artists and their students at the California Institute of the Arts transformed a dilapidated Hollywood mansion with works that disrupted conventional ideas about the home as a feminine space. It attracted thousands of visitors and national media attention. A landmark exhibition in art history, Womanhouse was the first female-centered art installation to appear in the Western world. The artists in Women House at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, include Louise Bourgeois, Judy Chicago, Mona Hatoum, Zanele Muholi, Leticia Parente, Martha Rosler, Miriam Schapiro, Cindy Sherman and Laurie Simmons and others. 

I have a feeling of disgust that there's a need for Women's Month, but let's join in while we still need to!  Here's some of what's on view at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in the Women House exhibition. Definitely worth a trip to Washington.

Laurie Simmons, Woman/Red Couch/Newspaper, 1978; Cibachrome print, 3 1/2 x 5 in.; Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York

Zanele Muholi, Katlego Mashiloane and Nosipho Lavuta, ext. 2, Lakeside, Johannesburg, 2007; Lambda print, 30 1/8 x 29 3/4 in.; Private collection

Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #82, 1980; Gelatin silver print, 15 7/8 x 12 3/8 in.; Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

Kirsten Justesen, Portræt i arkiv med samling (Portrait in Cabinet with Collection), 2013; Chromogenic print mounted on Dibond with matte acrylic, 58 1/4 x 39 1/2 x 1 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Montana A/S; © Kirsten Justesen

Laurie Simmons, Walking House, 1989; Chromogenic print; 64 x 46 in.; Collection of Dr. Dana Beth Ardi; Photo courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York

GODLIS_Miami-b.jpg Miami Beach, 1974 © GODLIS

GODLIS is widely known for his photos of the punk scene in New York... the rest of his archive is also rich and fabulous. Let's sneak back in time with him to Miami Beach, 1974. 

"I took these photographs in late winter 1974, when I was in Miami Beach for 10 days visiting my (Jewish) grandmother who lived in the area now known as South Beach. I was on a short break from my first year of photography school up in Boston (East Cambridge, a school called Imageworks). By that time in 1974, I was already knee deep into "street photography",  and had already burned my way through various photography books: Henri Cartier-Bresson's Decisive Moment, Robert Frank's The Americans, as well as the work of Garry Winogrand and Lee Friedlander. 

"But it is Diane Arbus who echoes through all of these Miami Beach 1974 photographs. Diane Arbus died less than 3 years earlier, in the summer of 1971. And by fall of 1972 a tremendous exhibition of her life's work had opened at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. Quite unlike any photo exhibition before, there were long lines of people daily at the Museum to see her work. I took a trip (a pilgrimage) to New York to see that show, and got myself a copy of the now legendary Arbus Aperture Monograph. And a little over a year later I took these pictures in Miami Beach. This is no coincidence.

"At age 22, Miami Beach was somewhat familiar territory to me. I had been on many visits to Miami as a kid visiting my grandparents. So I was quite familiar with the mix of palms and  kitsch. There are photos of me in my Davy Crocket shirt under the palm trees. But now, instead of having my picture taken, I was doing the picture taking. Shooting over those 10 days with my Pentax Spotmatic and a wide angle lens, I was welcomed by the Jewish retirees playing cards - "why do need my picture?" "You're such a nice boy, you should meet my granddaughter". I spent every day wandering along Ocean Drive and accompanying Lummus Park lawns, nearby Washington Street, the Dog Tracks and the old Pier. I took trips to the Zoo, and explored the Lincoln Road Mall where I found the "golden girls" protesters demonstrating for Nixon's impeachment, less than two years after the 1972 Republican Convention had nominated him in Miami Beach itself. I went back to photography school with over 50 shot rolls of Tri-X, and realized I'd just turned a corner. 

"When taking these pictures, I remember following the advice of Garry Winogrand. Look through the lens carefully, and be very aware of what you include between the four edges of the photograph. Keep your eyes open and concentrate. I believe that it was during this 10 day break from photography school in Miami Beach in 1974 that I first found my "eye."" - GODLIS

Out now from Matte Editions: GODLIS: History is Made at Night

 Ginger © Kevin Horan

 Kevin Horan's last feature in the magazine was his gorgeous and hugely popular series of goats and sheep. I am happy to publish some more of his barnyard friends, this time it's the pigs. As an almost-lifelong vegetarian, I wonder how you could eat these guys, but as Kevin says, "Of all the animals we eat, they're the only ones who will return the compliment."

"Farm animals are products. They produce fiber or eggs or milk or horse power. Pigs are grown for only one thing: meat.

Having moved to a place where my neighbors are barnyard animals, I am compelled to see them as individuals. Through portraiture, I can regard them as non-human persons. I can attempt to bridge the species divide. I can try to see what's going on inside the pig mind. Anyone who spends time around these animals knows they have particular personalities. Can the camera let us see them? Or are we seeing the illusion that's in all portraits?

Pigs are uncanny - clearly a different order of beast from other farm animals. They're so like us that they're used in medical education, and their heart parts and lungs can be transplanted into humans. They share many diseases with us. They prefer a clean place to eat and sleep, unsoiled by feces and filth. They like to watch TV and drink beer, and given the opportunity, they grow fat and sedentary. Of all the animals we eat, they're the only ones who will return the compliment.

And they're clever. They can figure out gates and latches and switches, and human relationships. They're self-sufficient. They're on the job. They're watching, and they know how to get what they need."

"Dogs look up to you; cats look down on you," Winston Churchill observed. "Give me a pig - he looks you in the eye and treats you as an equal."
Thanks to Kevin for his writings. 


 Afterlife: Pier Remnants © Michael Massaia

 Scenes from a Childhood, the debut book by photographer Michael Massaia, is a collection of images revealing symbols of childhood joy and adventure through the nostalgic longing of adulthood. Massaia's captivatingly beautiful photographs are whimsical while edifying subjects that are disappearing from childhood today. Scenes from a Childhood includes four of Massaia's photographic series: "Afterlife", documenting vacant amusements of the Jersey Shore and what remained following Hurricane Sandy; "Saudade," portraits of pinball machines at New Jersey's last remaining arcades; "Quiet Now," still lifes with Fourth of July fireworks; and "Transmogrify," abstractions of melting ice cream pops. With each of the series, Massaia asks viewers to recall the magic of our own youth and ponder how it shaped us as adults.

Get a copy of this gorgeous book and escape for the holidays. Three editions available now at Bergen County Camera.

Afterlife: Fun House Entrance

From the book: Watching a young artist develop their style and technique over a period of years can be a fulfilling experience. When the artist is as compelling as Michael Massaia, it becomes a privilege fraught with anticipation. Time stands still when a new portfolio arrives; breath is held, expectations are managed.

The backlit black-framed environment of my online photography magazine, aCurator, coddles Massaia's photographs. I have published at least ten of his portfolios over the last six years. It is only when you are stopped dead in your tracks by one of his particular handmade prints that it becomes clear that although the web loves and has embraced him, it is in his prints that true mastery is witnessed, enough to make your heart sing, and your eyes water. 

In his book "The Botany of Desire," (Random House, 2002) American author, journalist, activist, and professor Michael Pollan wrote: "Memory is the enemy of wonder, which abides nowhere else but in the present. This is why, unless you are a child, wonder depends on forgetting - on a process, that is, of subtraction." The photographs in the four portfolios that make up this book re-introduce wonder, re-present the familiar and connect us to feelings and memories of our own childhood. 

The subjects of "Saudade," "Quiet Now," and "Afterlife" are devoid of their cacophony, allowing us to experience stillness and imbue them with our own reminiscences, while the wacky, sticky trails of "Transmogrify" take us back to that horrifying moment we experienced in slow motion as a much-craved creamy treat toppled to the floor. 

In the more controlled environment Massaia needed to produce the still lifes, instead of managing how the wind and sea affect his long exposures on the shore at night, he had complete control over the elements, but he never takes an easy option. Photograph a pinball machine, all lights and glass? Nigh on impossible. Make a lurid kids' ice cream into a work of art? Unlikely. 

Massaia is self-effacing about his incredible artistry, but he knows he must produce. His physical process chases almost impossibly after the vision in his imagination, and he is dedicated to "the importance of creating something from start to finish, by hand" while, as he describes it, "managing failure." He is propelled forwards at all times. He is driven to create, if he does not create he will probably disappear. There is nothing of the current zeitgeist about his photographs. Indeed, contrary to the ubiquitousness of digital imagery, because of his fine practices his costs steadily increase and availability of materials diminishes. Compared with volumes of trivial disposable snaps, many of which reach pointlessly towards nostalgia, it's almost impossible to conceive the lengths to which he goes to achieve such superb results.  - Julie Grahame, November, 2016.

Saudade: Gottlieb's "Centigrade"

Saudade: Williams' "Fun House"

Saudade: Gottlieb's "Charlie's Angels"

Saudade: Gotllieb's "Slick Chick"

Quiet Now: Beer Can & Bottle Rocket
Quiet Now: Wolfpack Missile

Transmogrify: SpongeBob

Transmogrify: Neapolitan Bar. All images © Michael Massaia

 Long Goodbye, 2017 © Michael Massaia
44" x 60" Selenium-toned gelatin silver print

 Michael Massaia started photographing New York's last remaining pay phones in 2012. "It's in the Leaving" continues in a similar vein to Michael's previous portfolios, his nods to the recent past, its echoes, and to childhood; although one may perhaps feel less nostalgic towards this subject, not missing the days of sharing a mouthpiece with hundreds or thousands of strangers.

"While almost none of these phones still function, there is subtle proof of life inside each one. Their main function now is to seemingly act as totems pointing to less knowing, less connected, and, perhaps, better/less revealing times."

Available in real life as impeccable hand-made selenium-toned gelatin silver prints.

The artisan at work

 Barnes Collection, Philadelphia © Ben Marcin

 Ben Marcin photographs everyday structures such as walls, parking garages, office buildings, stairwells, sidewalks, and warehouses. Ben says he "is not interested in documenting these structures but in extracting certain elements from them to create photographs that describe shapes and forms, patterns, geometry and color." Most successfully! 

In this project, he traversed several museums, photographing everything but the art. "Marcin set out to create a work of art by using the basic infrastructure of a building that houses masterworks of arts. He spent hours inside each museum photographing the ceiling lights, hand rails, display cabinets, air conditioning ducts, auditorium seats - anything he could think of other than the actual art hanging on the walls. Occasionally this led to interesting conversations with the security guards. Later he built very complex grids using selected individual photographs, thus presenting a virtual deconstruction of each museum. All of the photographs in the composites are straight images."

Go see: Ben's solo exhibition at C. Grimaldis Gallery in Baltimore, now through December, 23, 2017 (in conjunction with another aCurator favorite, Tara Sellios).

 © Rob Hann

 Rob Hann shares another of his perennial road trips, from earlier this year, this time covering Arizona, California, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Nevada. View the full screen magazine photo feature, and if you're in New York City, wander down Prince Street and see if Rob is there selling his lovely and affordable prints. Holidays are coming! 

Writes Rob: Music plays a big part in my road trips. I travel alone and the playlists I take with me set the mood when I'm out there. The strange and restless road songs on Joni Mitchell's 1976 album "Hejira" are always with me.

These lines from the song "Black Crow" seem to say something about what I'm doing when I'm on the road.

There's a crow flying
Black and ragged
Tree to tree
He's black as the highway that's leading me
Now he's diving down
To pick up on something shiny
I feel like that black crow
In a blue sky

Go on Rob Hann's previous road trips:
Lone Star State of Mind

 Yarrow © Chloe Juno 
Meet the wild flowers of Cornwall as seen by Chloe Juno on her summer walks. Chloe also curates and is mainly looking at documentary images, so this was a nice respite. Check out Chloe and others on Documenting Britain on Instagram

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