Books


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Alex, 2012 © Jess T. Dugan  

Words by Efrem Zelony-Mindell.

Think of a man - I mean a real dude kind of guy. Masculinity drums up a certain image, specific ideas and blunt mannerisms. A portrait of that man can strip away assumptions and allow for a much more fleshed out identity. Most of gender is read through parts of a person's body. That body becomes fleshy and naked in its insecurity, or maybe not, it can be in a persons mind and the pieces arbitrary. Jess T. Dugan's project and new book Every Breath We Drew deals with these issues. What is gender? How is masculinity defined? Through Dugan's subjects she is able to establish intimate relationships; each individual bares their experience, there's a huge sense of comfort. Dugan's portraits build; some of the subjects have been totally marginalized by society, many of the people in the photos are given new voice, they are dynamic.

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Bucky, 2013

Every Breath We Drew is a collection of people of all different sizes, shapes, backgrounds, orientations and identifications. Dugan is fascinated by masculinity and capturing what she refers to as "vulnerable masculinity." "I find all of my subjects myself. It's hard to say exactly what it is that qualifies them. Something about my initial reaction to them." The process every step of the way is about this kind of personal intimacy. Dugan is very involved and an integral part of the photographic narrative. She uses self-portraits throughout the body of work; they become a constant. With Dugan as the familiar face throughout the photos she turns into a representation of the identifiable self. Dugan becomes anyone, in this way the viewer is interjected into the narrative through her. Suddenly her subjects are more noticeably looking at you. The conversation evolves, as the viewer is able to take control of the portraits.

There is a huge sense of community given the nature of the images. How does a person come into their body while also connecting with others? The source of this inquiry can be open ended; after all, it's highly individualized and deals in the self. The images keep pushing on a desire to seek a genteel masculinity. Dugan stresses that there is a need to redefine; masculinity is more expansive than commonly understood. The self is a starting point, as the subjects allow their comfort to creep in, more information is revealed. Light and pose play into these peoples places. All of Dugan's images are crafted in the subject's home where they could be most susceptible to allowing an authentic moment to play out. Dugan's frames are slow, the thinking and consideration to the environment is evident, and each moment retains a charged emotion.    

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Colby, 2012

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Ryan and Josh, 2013

Every Breath We Drew has a very concise interest, however it's crafted by a broad pressing of intent. The portraits are full of unexpected juxtapositions. People are somber, they are gay, they are with child, and without specificity. A person is a glorious hairy mess. And even though the work is very interconnected to the LGBT community the feeling of the work goes deeper than assumptions, conditions, or titles. It should be said that it doesn't matter who these people love or how they love, it's how they pose themselves that allows them to be themselves.

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Herb, 2013

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Taan, 2012 

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Kim, 2014

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Tim, 2014

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Self-Portrait, 2012

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Elle, 2012
all images © Jess T. Dugan
 
Books, Efrem Zelony-Mindell, Photographers | Permalink |


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© Christine Anderson

Previous contributor and woman-with-sense-of-humour Christine Anderson has put together a charming limited edition book called "Wizard." It is somewhat an ode to her current, beloved mechanic (who presumably has never given her the sharp intake of breath and "that'll cost you darling/love/lady/ma'am"). 

I love this! See? You really don't need to stray too far from home to make a fabulous project happen.

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"I love my car. I hate my car.
I hate my car. I love my car.

After 14 years and 78,000 miles my car - a green Volkswagen Beetle - is still cute despite worn seats and pitted exterior. I don't blame her for breaking down once in a while. Really, I don't. You see, I'm a sentimental person. We have bonded and mostly I like to think of her as vintage rather than old. It makes me feel better about our relationship."

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"Over the years, many mechanics have serviced the car. Kal, our current mechanic, has a way of giving me bad news without making me feel bad. His manner and his expertise inspired me to create the pictures featured in Wizard. Kal is a lot like the Wizard from the Wizard of Oz story and I am perhaps a bit like Dorothy in the story. I bring my broken down car for repair and he fixes the car and sends us on our way. Dorothy, of course, sends herself home with the Ruby Slippers and eventually I will find my way to a new car. But for now I am thankful the Wizard is here keeping my car and me together.

Kal allowed me to photograph his shop during working hours, giving me access to premises, people, and auto parts. This book is a portrait of Kal's car repair shop loosely based on the Wizard of Oz story enhanced with my own creative inspirations."

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Examples of the book's layout

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All images © Christine Anderson
Books | Permalink |


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© John Arsenault, "Silhouette of a Leatherman," 2012, Archival pigment print, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City

Images by John Arsenault courtesy of ClampArt gallery. Words by Efrem Zelony-Mindell.

If you've ever taken a trip through New England, Cape Cod or Provincetown, it goes with out saying you know something about the quality of light out there. Those tender revealing hues of light, and the color blue like nothing else you've ever seen; everything's rich. That light and those blues, touch every inch of you - every inch of everything. You can't be out there and not think about Edward Hopper's paintings. John Arsenault's work is a lot like them, if Edward Hopper had a hidden closest full of good shoes, leather, and a cache of kinky friends. Similarly to Hopper, Arsenault has that sense of light and surrealism. His subjects don't simply pose, they penetrate their frames. What on earth could they possibly be thinking about?

What's on anyone's mind at the Eagle in LA?

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© John Arsenault, "Exit (Self Portrait)," 2012

Arsenault spent the better part of two years as "barmaid," as he lovingly refers to it, at the Eagle in LA. "A very unexpected chance." He tells me. Lucky for us he had his smartphone camera during his time there from 2012 to 2013. The man has made smartphone cameras an art. On a personal note, I couldn't thank him enough for that. It's hard to believe, but no denying, the man can take the piss out of a photograph. Touching light bleeds in the darkness of the bar. Casting hues and dimension over bodies and surfaces. Piercing the point of vision. These photographs are as rich as they are intimate. The bar is transformed, more Matisse in color and treatment than one would expect for a watering-hole suck-shack like the Eagle. For anyone who is familiar with the Eagle, LA's or otherwise, they may find the beginning of that metaphor an alarmingly unlikely possibility. It comes highly suggested that the photos be seen - by way of Arsenault's show Barmaid at ClampArt gallery, in New York - or by grabbing a copy of his new monograph, of the same title, published by Daylight. The proof's in the seeing of Arsenault's work.

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© John Arsenault, "Parachutes (Self Portrait)," 2012    

"It's so important to me to be open to the gray areas of my life. At first I didn't see photographing the Eagle as a project unto itself. I fell into bar backing totally by chance. As I got to know the people there I felt a commitment to them, myself, and this story." Arsenault's work has always been very rooted in the self and the work is diaristic. It's interesting to note both the love and care in the photo's, and the way Arsenault talks about them, and his experience. He's always sought out this intimacy, with people, with place, with light. Oh, that light. You don't need him to tell you his influence, the painterliness, and gesture are clear. He has taken an otherwise cacophonous escapade and quieted it down. Arsenault is a keeper of moments and tensions before, or maybe just after something wonderful, something sexual, something depraved or totally unforgettable. The environment becomes isolated and calmness sets in. But in the dark of the bar there is never a complete assurance of that controlled moment. 

LA's Eagle provided Arsenault with an opportunity to be a little out of place, maybe very out of place. "At first I would come to work with this ideal of what I should be or look like. And I realized I didn't need to pretend, it's more important to hold onto myself." It's pretty easy to get sucked into the atmosphere of a place, you walk different, you move different, and sometimes you are able to forget everything just to fit in. People showing up and being who they are and not some list of ideals is Arsenault's strongest message. It's good to keep that in mind. The Eagle is full of vice, and it's the individual people, the dark corners, and intimate moments that make it what it is.

John Arsenault's show in on view at ClampArt Gallery till February 13th. His new book Barmaids is available now 

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© John Arsenault, "Sister Candy Cide," 2013

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© John Arsenault, "Turned Off," 2012

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© John Arsenault, "Exterior Landscape Number Two," 2012

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© John Arsenault, "Exterior Landscape Number One," 2013

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© John Arsenault, "Praying for Tomorrow," 2012

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© John Arsenault, "Rose in a Bottle," 2013, 
All images Archival pigment prints, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City
Books, ClampArt, Efrem Zelony-Mindell, Exhibitions | Permalink |


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Woman in a Handmade Dress, New York © Robert Herman

Robert Herman's The Phone Book is one of the first photography books that features photographs taken entirely on an iPhone, with the Hipstamatic app. The book is squarely packed with photographs our observer made on the streets both at home in NYC and abroad. 

The Phone Book by Robert Herman, is out now from Schiffer Publishing, in time for the holidays. 

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Face in the window, Battery Park City, New York

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Metropolitan Life, Flatiron Building, New York

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Au Revoir. Florent's, New York

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Avenue of the Americas, New York

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Jardin des Rosiers, Paris
All images © Robert Herman

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Books | Permalink |


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Homestead © Arthur Drooker

"The remote New Mexico community of Pie Town is famous for the photographs that Farm Security Administration photographer Russell Lee made there during the Great Depression. In this book author-photographer Arthur Drooker documents his own travels to Pie Town to find out what became of it seventy years after Lee visited."

Arthur and I met this year at Photolucida, and I engaged with a different body of work to this that, excitingly, you and I will have to wait to for, but I am thrilled to now see this sweet, reverent project come to fruition. 

"Pie Town Revisited includes a dozen Russell Lee images and fifty-two images Drooker made that capture the soul of the place and its people today. In addition to these color photographs, Drooker's essay describes his experience creating this unique historical record. The work is a portrait in words and pictures of the rugged individualists in this tight-knit community, recalling an America as it was and as it yearns to be again. Pie Town, as Drooker sees it, is indeed as American as apple pie."

Visit Arthur Drooker's website for more images and info on Pie Town, and your opportunity to purchase the book, Pie Town Revisited, which is out now from University of New Mexico Press.

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All images © Arthur Drooker
Books | Permalink |


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Clover © Jesse Burke 

"Wild and Precious" is a series of photographs by Jesse Burke, recently exhibited at ClampArt in New York, and collected into a book published by Daylight

Efrem Zelony-Mindell reviews book and exhibition.  

A forest is many parts - the landscape, the creatures, the trees, all the wonderful dirty little pieces. There are ways of learning in this atmosphere; the lessons to take away are exciting and unusual. This education is something that can't be found in a book, it lays behind bark and experience. To watch a child grow in this wilderness is uncertain, touching, exhilarating. Jesse Burke's Wild & Precious is a collection of photographs he took of his daughter, Clover, over the course of five years and many trips out into wilderness. Through these trips, we watch Clover grow.
 
Burke's work upholds the sentiment of something Anaïs Nin once wrote: "We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations." These lessons are the hope Burke has for Clover by taking her out into nature. It is also this hope that reads in his images of her. She sleeps, she searches, she collects and studies, she is hurt, she is strong, she is inquisitive, and in all the images she reads as totally respectful to the earth around her. Clover hungers for a kind of learning: she wants more.

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The book is curated in a peculiar way. The photographs read more as a community than they do as a single sentence. They are lyrical and they penetrate. Black and white and color images coagulate - some big, others small. A narrative emerges and details entice, there's something tactile present in the surfaces of all the photos. It's hard to ignore this touch -maybe that's how Clover learns; maybe that's how anyone learns out in the wild. Feeling her way through she seems careful to leave only footprints.
 
"Oh, sweet child, I beg you to be wild, but stay precious," - caring words from a father to his daughter. The sentiment is beyond the bonds of blood. Burke has respect for his daughter; she is to come into her own. Clover will be a child, she will be a woman, and she will know how to be a person.

Text and edit by Efrem Zelony-Mindell.

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All images © Jesse Burke and courtesy of ClampArt.

I do wish someone had taught me to not be afraid of spiders... - ed.

Books, Efrem Zelony-Mindell, Exhibitions | Permalink |


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From "In the Vale of Cashmere," published by powerHouse Books, image © Thomas Roma

Thomas Roma's portraits and landscapes were made across four years in the gay cruising ground of Brooklyn's Prospect Park. These intimate photographs of men and the woods in which they cruise are surprisingly frank, given the fact that most of us (straight) people have no idea what goes on in certain areas of our local parks, and would imagine more furtive behaviour than posing. 

Roma's new book, "In the Vale of Cashmere" is out now from powerHouse Books. In the foreword, speaking in regard to the need during much of our history for gay men to meet in secret, G. Winston James ponders "...the question of whether it is necessary, possible, and valuable to have privacy in public."

"This book is not a review of architectural history and park design, but rather a photographic examination of this particular urban landscape and its function vis-à-vis gay (sub)culture and social and sexual desire. That is to say, this is not so much a book about a place in Brooklyn's Prospect Park, as it is about the Black, Latino, and other gay and bisexual men who frequent it at odd hours as a place."

An exhibition is showing now at Steven Kasher in New York, through December 19th, 2015.

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All images from "In the Vale of Cashmere," published by powerHouse Books, image © Thomas Roma
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Bruce Morton and I met two years ago, at the PhotoNOLA portfolio reviews, and we really connected on a personal level, mainly because he is a really smashing person, with a solid love of and interesting eye for his artistry. Bruce has been keeping me posted, as well he ought. His book Forgottonia showed the marvelous folk living in an isolated community in Illinois, and at last count was in its third printing. 

Bruce recently sent me a copy of his newest book venture, a rather gorgeous, scrap-bookish, but delightfully made limited edition piece that intersperses images that feature material, with material! I absolutely love my copy.

There are only 50 copies being made and most of them are sold, and at $20 each I can see why. Something different, something really tactile. Just great! Preview the book and buy your own unique version via his website.

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Books | Permalink |


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Bubbie looking at scarves, from Mommie: Three Generations of Women, published by powerHouse Books, image © Arlene Gottfried

""Mommie: Three Generations of Women" is a remarkable photographic portrait of three generations of women in the family of photographer Arlene Gottfried and an intimate story of aging and the inevitable passage of time. Pictured within, we are introduced to Gottfried's 100-year-old immigrant grandmother, fragile mother, and reluctant sister over the breathtaking course of 35 years."

I am thrilled to see another book from the archives of the one-and-only Arlene Gottfried. Arlene is one of my all-time favourite people, and well deserves the recognition her fabulous historic records of New York are receiving. Off the streets and into her own home, Arlene's "Mommie" shows what it was like "living as many mid-century Jewish New York families did, the Gottfrieds were not wealthy and lacked any trappings of luxury. Close examination of their world on Avenue A in Manhattan's Lower East Side reveals a dimly lit small apartment, cartons of budget saltines and groceries, chipped paint, damaged floor tiles, guarded loose change, and well worn clothes - details natural to the lives of many families of immigrants in New York."

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Mommie and Karen

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Karen and cherry blossoms

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Mommie kissing Bubbie

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Bubbie
All images © Arlene Gottfried 

Check out Arlene's New York feature in the magazine
Books | Permalink |


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From Detroit: Unbroken Down, published by powerHouse Books, image © Dave Jordano

"Detroit: Unbroken Down is not a document solely about what's been destroyed, but even more critically, about all that has been left behind and those who remain to cope with it."

Dave Jordano was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1948. He made a series of photographs around Detroit in the 70s as a burgeoning documentary photographer. He says on his website, "...eager to join the ranks of such notable heroes as Walker Evans, Eugene Atget and Robert Frank, while all the while sitting in my ivory tower, oblivious to the responsibilities of my post-graduate responsibilities and entering the work force. Reality ensued and I became a commercial photographer, leaving behind my documentary aspirations." Jordano's bio lists him as leaving the commercial world for fine art in 2003.

Now forty years later, Jordano returned to Detroit and for the last few years has been producing a more positive representation of his childhood city than the media has since the recession. There are many wonderful, warm images over on Jordano's site, replete with informative captions. It promises to be a great book.

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Read more over at Dave Jordano's website.

All images from Detroit: Unbroken Down, published by powerHouse Books, image © Dave Jordano. Out now!
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