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Black and White Photography, New York: Monday, May 17, 2004

Okay - changed the outdoor display around and will be out tomorrow. I'm not planning to stay all day because of the photo shoot at night -- maybe 'til 2 o'clock.  If you're looking for me, I'm usually just a little south of the Museum entrance.  I'm going to bring some 11 x 14's.  Not what I would call the best stuff, since I don't feel like matting anything today - so these are some old prints that were mounted years ago, but I want to see how they stand up to the wind etc. before I bring out the larger prints.

- - -

And it looks like there is going to be a strong wind tomorrow, and probably thunderstorms, so it should be a good test of the new rig.

6:08:12 PM    

Heath wrote  something in his journal about "not being able to breathe at the shows - artsy talk -- etc."
 
Man, I had the same reaction when I did my own shows.  I don't think I'm claustrophobic, but I might have problems with concentrated pretentiousness.  Even at the shows where my own prints were on display and people were walking around eating cheese and wine - I couldn't wait for it to be over.  I don't think it had anything to do with whether someone said they liked a piece or didn't like it (no one ever says that - too polite) but just the general atmosphere of being in this sterile environment - white walls with people milling around - was so much at odds with the experience of actually photographing things.
 
There is something wild, maybe uncivilized when you are shooting.  Maybe you are standing in the middle of a snowstorm trying to capture the raging wind; or even if it is a person on the street you are after, you are something of a hunter.  And then - you contrast that with the exhibit - everything is so comfortable; so planned. 
 
If I were to have an exhibit, I would try to make the environment uncomfortable for the would-be viewer.  They  would have to take the same chances you took when you were out looking for game.  Maybe it would be as simple as turning the air-conditioning on full-blast in the winter, serving iced-tea, and sprinkling water on the viewer as they walked around.

5:11:22 PM    

Hi :) I was doing some shooting in the city this weekend and thought I'd find you at the Met on Saturday. Got really excited when I saw a stand with NY images signed DB and was all ready to say hi and the vendor turns around and says hello in a strange Eastern European accent. ha ha ... then i was looking at his images more closely and they are good, technically, but all so thoroughly unoriginal and hackneyed. And you see the same photographs sold by other vendors, by a kid once, in lower Manhttan, and I was thinking, did this 14 year old take these shots? hmmmmmm Robert.

I wasn't there on Saturday - I was rubbing Ben Gay on my shoulders.  I expect to be out again this Weds. if I can figure out how to get some larger images out there.  Conversation with Sasha the painter:

Me: I'm thinking of bringing out some 16 x 20's and selling them for $100.

Sasha: Nobody will pay $100.  You just wait, you'll see.

Me: Maybe I'll ask for $150.  That's what they sell for on the site.

Sasha: Good luck -- I tell you -- if you brought an original Picasso out here, and tried to sell it for $100 you couldn't do it.

Me: I don't have an original Picasso.

Sasha: Neither do I.  But if I did, I doubt if I could sell it. 

We then fell into a conversation about a rich friend of his who opened a large shop in Milan.  He painted the walls white and put four empty pillars each with one small watch on it.  Those four watches were the only things in the entire store.  Under each watch was a description of the history of the watch saying that it had belonged to an acquaintance of Napoleon, and some unbelievable price like $20,000.  According to Sasha, this was very lucrative even though the watches had just been picked up at a local flea market.  And we fell into laughing about trying something like that - what if we just put up one image and said it wasn't for sale - for exhibit only. 

People would come up and say, but why isn't it for sale.  Because it is the only one like it in the world and it is promised for an exhibit.  But, we imagined, the customer would grow incensed.  I want that they would say - and I'm willing to pay.  No, sorry.  Not for sale... Eventually you would give in and sell it at a good price and then do the same with another image (not the same one in case the person came back in which case you might be killed).

At any rate, I'm finding out more about this little sub-culture:

Item: All of the "original" oil paintings on canvas sold by the Chinese are made by a machine.  If you think that the person sitting behind the display is the artist - think again.

Item: It makes no difference to 95% of the buyers whether the print you are buying is by an artist who is manning the booth, or whether it was made in a factory in Hoboken and was stolen and scanned from a book and mass produced to sell everywhere in the city.

Item: The actual artists complain all day about sales.  The people selling mass-produced work are quite happy and never complain.

Item: Don't put up your display next to the bus stop -- the fumes drive people away.

Item: Glad to have the Hexar with me.  There was some sort of parade but nobody knew what it was about.  One cop told me it was a Veteran's Day Parade.  Not likely.  Another told me it was U.S. Armed Forces Day parade.  That might be.  There were black men and women on horses charging up and down 5th Avenue.  I managed to get a couple of shots without getting trampled.  I have no idea what this had to do with the parade.

Dave,you rock. Stopped to see you photographs today outside The Met. We chatted a little bit about your work, the water shot. It really moved me and got me excited. The bold colors...the simplicity. It's all around us. Some are able to see it and others can't. "YOU" sure do. Currently going through your website. Amazing stuff. You really inspire me. The beautiful simplicity of the images. Thank you. C.

Item: I came up with a much simpler way to show these small prints, it is called "a table" - in French la Table.  What I did was buy some plate holders, and then using small metal clips and a piece of string, I can attach the matted prints from below so they don't blow away.  I can put strings across the table to hold some of the prints flat.  Voila.  Light, simple, and easy to setup.  If someone wants to hold the print, easy to detach it for them.  This way, depending on the lighting, some can be at a 45 degree angle and some can just be flat on the table. 

The only thing about going out tomorrow is that tomorrow night I have to shoot a dress rehearsal for a play which is going to run pretty late.  I really should get a nap in the afternoon if I'm going to have any energy to do that.  In addition I have orders for close to $1000 in "darkroom" prints to do.  So - things are pretty hectic again.

9:06:55 AM    


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