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Robyn Twomey is a great editorial and fine art photographer from the Bay Area whose first solo exhibition, a series about users of medical marijuana, opens March 3rd, 2011, at Patricia Sweetow Gallery in downtown San Francisco. Maybe one day when New York grows up we too will be able to treat our sick neighbours with the magical weed.

"In the fall of 2009, Twomey was on assignment with Fortune Magazine covering the medicinal marijuana gold rush in California for the article, Medical Marijuana's High Society. While photographing behind the scenes at the dispensaries, she met 19 year-old Jordan Mays, a medical marijuana client who has a rare form of leukemia. Though not originally part of the assignment, the photo editor of Fortune Magazine encouraged Robyn to accompany Jordan to his house and photograph him. Thus began the journey for Robyn into the personal stories of Medical Marijuana prescription patients from Harborside Healthcare in Oakland, CA. Robyn has photographed over 30 clients, with an array of stories; the large-scale portraits are staged in the client's environment while each administers their medication. The photographs give voice to the diversity of those who rely on cannabis for relief, despite the frail legal framework, and the menacing social stigma."

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Ann, Jordan, Catrina and Karen © Robyn Twomey







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'The Dealership Wreck' continues Kirk Crippen's work on The Great Recession that began with his 2009 series 'Foreclosure, USA', photographed around Stockton, California.

"In the first quarter of 2009, one in every twenty-seven housing units in the area received a foreclosure notice, against a national rate of about one in one hundred and fifty-nine. Foreclosure, USA explores Stockton's foreclosed homes and the abruptly suspended housing developments in its hardest hit neighborhoods."

Kirk says in some areas "the pride of ownership soured", a sad statement for the capitalism-centric USA.

"I never noticed the monolithic deserted auto dealerships alongside the freeway until recently, when I began to notice empty dealerships everywhere I traveled. I researched the phenomenon and discovered that since 2009, over 2,300 auto dealerships in America shut down. The closings, which happened largely as a result of the US governmentʼs auto industry bailout and restructuring, put 70 million square feet of commercial real estate on the market. Thousands of industry workers lost their jobs. During recent visits to auto malls in California, Oregon, and Texas, I explored many of these abandoned structures. I've witnessed a foundation being poured for a brand new auto dealership directly across the street from two closed dealerships. I've observed that some of the buildings are scheduled for demolition; some are being repurposed; and a few are reopening as new dealerships. At a time when GM is emerging from a structured bankruptcy and things are looking up for auto manufactures, I hope this series captures a glimpse of the fragile and changing infrastructure of this iconic American industry."

View the full screen magazine photography feature.

Kirk will be part of a new exhibition at the Modernbook Gallery in San Francisco, CA. opening March 3rd 2011.

Foreclosure, USA: 3 Car Garage, 2009 © Kirk Crippens

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Azhar Chougle is "a fine-art documentary photographer, based in Mumbai, India and New York, NY." He's been keeping me abreast of his work over the last few months with his eloquent, thoughtful submissions.

"The New York city subway always felt like a teleport to me. Descending down the stairs from a concrete jungle and emerging at the edges of urban existence. 'The Last Exit' is a conceptual documentary series exploring the very edges of the subway system." I love the bucolic 6 train platform, and the exit to the Milky Way. 

Also check out Bombay Taxi, Azhar's essay on the individuality of the taxi cabs he takes through India's most populous city.

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All images © Azhar Chougle

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I love Jaimie Warren. This is my concession for 'Valentine's Day'.

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All images © Jaimie Warren

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Harold Ross' series 'Night' is other-worldly, uncanny, ethereal, and rooted in his childhood fear of the bogeyman.

Harold is a practitioner of light painting: a specialized technique which requires working in a completely dark environment, opening the camera for an extended period of time, and 'painting' the light onto the subject. This reveals greater shape, texture and color, and is very much sculpting with light. What you see in his work cannot exist in nature nor in one moment in time. Instead, it's the result of a 'merging' or 'gathering' of light.

"When I was young, I often went camping in the mountains of southern New Mexico. One of the strongest memories from those trips is being absolutely terrified of whatever was beyond the light of our campfire. It didn't help that my older brother, Norman, and his friends told me horrific stories! During those sleepless nights, I was convinced that some murderous renegade or rabid coyote was just waiting to pounce on me.

I'm sure this has something to do with why I started this project. In some ways, I think that I'm dealing with the childhood fear of being out in nature in the dark. As it turns out, the first image I shot in this series (Quaker Cemetery Wall) was photographed in a place you would have never found me as a kid! I'm not afraid anymore, at least not when I have a helper with me...

One of my motivations in making these pictures is curiosity. I'm curious about just what will be revealed by the very descriptive lighting techniques that I employ. I don't really start shooting projects at the beginning, but somewhere in the middle.

The details that are present in these images can't be seen normally, as the lighting is built up over time. Normally, when using artificial light, especially light painting, one tries to be consistent with direction of light in order to make the lighting appear as natural as possible. In this landscape work, I'm not overly concerned with this, and, in fact, I'm interested in the interplay between the reality of the scene and the purposeful artificiality of the lighting." - Harold Ross, February 2011.

Two images from the series were selected for the 10th Annual International Photography Competition at Fraser Gallery in Bethesda, MD, on view through March 5th, 2011.

View the magazine full screen photography feature.

Get info about Harold's Light Painting Workshops in PA.

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According to his bio, Walker Pickering is a Texan from Texas. He has been a photographer at the Texas House of Representatives and darkroom printer for screenwriter & photographer Bill Wittliff. He currently teaches photography at The Art Institute of Austin as a part-time faculty member and is available for editorial assignments and commissions. So, there.

I love these images from his recent series Nearly West, five prints from which will be on view at the Houston Center for Photography from March 11-April 24, 2011.

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All images © Walker Pickering
In aCurator's opinion, he has an excellent name to rival that of previously featured  Huntington Witherill.

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My pal Niels sends news: "Out of more than six thousand contestants, my portrait series is between the finalists for Hasselblad Masters 2010, the most prestigious title that exists for photographers worldwide. As far as I am aware I am the only Dutch (and the only Colombian) photographer that got there. So, please vote"

© Niels Van Iperen


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Maury Gortemiller submitted his work and website and I was happy to see his various interesting projects, plus the record of his life as a Competitive Apneist. An enjoyable visit. I chose a few images from 'The Natural World'.

"I'm interested in the ways people experience nature, or the natural environment, through various surrogate forms. I'm drawn to all depictions of the natural world, such as art, toys, and things that were once living and are now preserved. However, I'm most interested in what I would call the more unfashionable displays of nature, depictions that are incongruous with the surrounding environment.
 
I'm fascinated with the perceived notion that some artificial element of nature, such as a landscape photograph, placed next to something utilitarian, like a fire alarm, can somehow beautify or make a more attractive display. The impulse to depict the natural environment is a basic impulse; after all, some of the first recorded works of art are depictions of persons and animals.  What strikes me is the endless repetition of contemporary depictions of nature. It's a procession of images that is pointless and hollow.
 
My objective is to fully explore the notion of the hyperreal. In particular, I wish to examine why there is a general preference for imitations of the natural world, and how as a culture many of us derive satisfaction from simulations of the perceived 'real'. I hope to demonstrate the absurdity of these simulations, and the manner in which they ease our anxiety over the loss of a meaningful connection to nature."

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Brian David Stevens is an excellent photojournalist, based in London, who's been in touch with his various consistently great series over the last few months. I ran his portraits of WWII veterans 'They That Are Left' in the blog last year, and was fascinated by this new project on the British artist Billy Childish.

Stevens spent the day with Childish (aka William Charlie Hamper, Bill Hamper, Bill Hamper-Childish, Guy Hamper, Jack Ketch, Gus Claudius, Danger Bill Henderson) at Childish's home in Kent. I not only love Brian's photographs but am excited to have been introduced to the intense world of Mr. Childish. Be warned: if you go there, you may not return.

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

Listen to some noise.

Billy Childish © Brian David Stevens


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Young, hungry, talented and delightful, friend of aCurator Abby Ross was at Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston, Jamaica, recently and pulled off some gorgeous portraits including musicians who played with Bob Marley.

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Top to bottom:
Dean Fraser, Horns
Bo Pee, Guitarist
Squidly Cole, Drummer
Uzziah "Sticky" Thompson, Percussionist
Larry MacDonald,
Percussionist
All images © Abby Ross

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