Warhol, Wyeth and Co.

IMG_9411In Netflix’s Daredevil series, an art gallery curator tells the villain, “It’s not about the artist’s name or the skill required, not even about the art itself. All that matters is, ‘How does it make you feel?'”

I hung onto that thought while going through an exhibit of Andy Warhol’s nature-based work at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art up in Bentonville. The array of vibrant animal images is arresting, and the pink, symmetrically arranged blossoms of “Daisy” are pleasant. But this is Warhol, Mr. Pop Art himself, and that means some weirdness. The screen-printed image of a Great Dane named Cecil mounted next to its real, stuffed namesake is unsettling, and the room of pink cows — well, just look.

IMG_9425The only thing that matters is how it makes you feel. Art can crack open your mind and expose what you think and why by making you feel something. Museums talk about “challenging the viewer” so often it’s a cliche, but I think this is what they mean. A stuffed Dane named Cecil is uncomfortable because no matter how skillfully it’s made, it’s not the dog anyone loved. The animal portraits seem downright conventional by comparison. Still, Warhol saw the beautiful in the bizarre, and that’s something to behold on its own.

IMG_9437Warhol shares Crystal Bridges’ spotlight these days with another artist I’d never heard of before named Jamie Wyeth. He and Warhol were contemporaries and friends — they even exchanged portraits of each other in their own styles — but Wyeth tackles art very differently. He sketches, paints and watercolors with truly fantastic detail and color, and he wasted no time getting started; he made one portrait titled “Shorty” when he was a teenager with stunning skill, to my non-expert eye.

I usually meander through exhibits looking at a piece here and there, but with Wyeth’s I could hardly move until I had completely taken in the piece in front of me. I didn’t take many photos there. You have until Oct. 5 to see for yourself.

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IMG_9471A museum full of art always abstractifies my photography. I don’t want to take photos of the art because it feels like cheating. Instead I try to capture its place and how people act around it. I stupidly let my 1D Mark III camera die before going to Crystal Bridges last weekend, so I had my trusty old G10, a camera far less forgiving of low light and high ISOs. That meant I also had to find the stillness in the constant churning.

See what you think of what I came up with. Hopefully it makes you feel something.

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IMG_9491I’ll end with a metallic visitor on my living room window: IMG_9400Thanks for looking!

Dan

 

Summertime

IMG_85702It’s technically not summer yet, but we’re not wasting any time. June’s bringing the heat, the mosquitoes and the humidity thick enough to see clouds’ shadows in the air even at midday.

IMG_85612Humid evenings are part of my definition of summer, because so many memories are tied to walking around in them: walking around neighborhoods with my dad during the Fourth of July, walking home from a run, walking back to the dorm from college band camp. The summer solstice is the 21st, but humid evenings mark the season enough for me.

I took my camera to Fayetteville’s First Thursday, a combo art walk and festival at the square. The light was dying at the time. I’ve shot so many photos there, I started to wonder if I’d make anything new and worth sharing. Stupid thing to think, really — the question is catching the new things, not whether they’ll be there in the first place. I relaxed and let some images reveal themselves. They might still be mediocre, but I hope I caught a spark here and there.

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_C1_1353Other than that, I have a few shots of the local wildlife of my apartment complex, including an odd little display from another orchard orb weaver. You know I couldn’t resist when I saw a ring of 6-inch-wide mushrooms.

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IMG_8549Thanks for looking,

Dan

One Year Later

_C1_9831 smallNorth Betty Jo Drive, January

Well, it’s been exactly one year since I moved here, started writing for the Northwest Arkansas Times and began learning about this place through a camera lens. It’s time, of course, for the cheesy look back on what a year here has brought.

_C1_1128Dickson Street Mardi Gras

_C1_1446North College Avenue, March

_C1_3484Fayetteville Square Farmers Market, April

I’ve definitely gotten better as time has gone on; I’ve gone to new places, found better settings, become more comfortable getting close to people, and am more confident about finding an image no matter where I am. The original idea of this blog was to keep improving even while I’m not making a living with this stuff, and I think that’s going all right.

_C1_4513Devil’s Den State Park, April

_C1_4961Washington County Courthouse, May

_C1_5239World Treasures, North Block Street, May

More importantly, plenty has happened here in Fayetteville since then, with Mardi Gras and Pride parades, a brief period of same-sex marriage in this county, holidays and fairs and life in general. Even if I don’t capture them well, the people, lives and places in these images are real and worth respecting and remembering. There’s art everywhere, and I just try to catch it.

_C1_5526Kings River Country Store, May

_C1_5955Jefferson Lines Station, June

_C1_6698Fayetteville Pride, June

_C1_8106Ozark National Forest, July

This year is also the first I’ve thought about selling prints of some of these photos. No pressure, but if you’re interested, I’ve got a mostly up-to-date Redbubble page set up here. They print, frame and ship. I’ll also make the plug that while newspaper writing is my primary career at this point, if you want photos of an event taken with a photojournalist’s eye for emotion and detail, I’d be glad to see what I can do.

_C1_8439Lewis Fields, July

_C1_9735Washington County Fair, August

_C1_0297bwGlam Beauty Bar, August

_C1_0919Razorback Football Stadium, September

It’s been a good year here, with plenty of interesting and good people, plenty to write about at work and plenty to photograph. I’m not sure where I’ll end up, but this place is one of my homes now.

_C1_2008Bikes, Blues & BBQ, September

_C1_2455Wilson Park, October

_C1_2691---CopyWinslow, October

_C1_2789---CopyPartial solar eclipse, October

_C1_3125Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, October

As always, thanks for looking.

Dan