Friday, October 31, 2014

Remembering Cuba: Pictures I haven't shown

Alex and Lucien in Havana after a long six hour drive

I went to Cuba my very first time in 2004 and immediately fell in love with the Island and its people. So much so that I went back every year until 2012. Aware that things were changing I wanted to document the life and surroundings I saw, to freeze in time these last moments as the Island slowly inched forward, redefining itself political, economically and socially.

A man enjoys a fresh juice served in a cut Corona bottle.
An old baseball stadium that has seen better days, Baracoa, Cuba

Most Cubans in Cuba that I show my pictures too don't really like them. They tell me what they see in my photos is what they have been living with everyday, it's what they see when they step out of their door. "This is the old Cuba" one man said to me. They would rather see pictures of Cuba that embodied their vision for the future; young, vibrant, savvy, the growing art and music scene, the new clothes and signs of success, an economy rebuilding itself..

I understand, but in a way that has been the best compliment I've ever gotten for my work, it's what I wanted from my photographs. 10 or 20 years from now maybe my pictures will mean something else to Cubans living in Cuba. To me this is the Cuba I saw, raw and unfiltered, it's the Cuba I felt and experienced. Island in the Stream was my first successful photo project in that I was able to tell my story through the camera they way I felt it.
Young cadets sharing a bicycle in Camagüey, Cuba 
Going through an old hard drive I realized how many photographs I've collected over the years and that I've really only shown a handful of curated shots. Those of you familiar with my work have probably seen the same 30 photographs over and over. I wanted to show you some pictures that you probably haven't seen. They aren't the best or the most profound, but maybe they are a bit more personal. Moments from my time on the Island. To see the series you can visit Island in the Stream, in the meantime I hope you enjoy these.
Sitting poolside in Holguin, after a long day on the streets I walked by this fancy hotel and decided to try my luck. Took a dip and a snooze in my underwear and went back to the street to work.

A man stops to chat with me on the streets of Baracoa 
A gas station in Havana with one of th many propaganda billboards 
Bill "Multi-talent", as he liked to be called, wasn't humble, but he was a cool dude to hang with. We met in Baracoa, and he showed me around. He did have talents.
A young boy showing me his karate moves in Camagüey, Cuba

A young Cuban women gets her palm read in Camagüey, Cuba 
A market, offerings were meager at best with many stalls empty.
A domino game
Playa Ancon, Trinidad, Cuba
We met on the beach and spent the rest of the evening in his home sharing his food and his drink. He asked me to take some letters with me and mail them to friends in France, he wouldn't be able to.
A young boy on his way to school
Walking with a limp
Flying kit's is practically the national pastime next to baseball, kids make them out of plastic bags and sticks. Trinidad, Cuba 
In the shadows
A long exposure with friends

Flying kit's is practically the national pastime next to baseball, kids make them out of plastic bags and sticks. Trinidad, Cuba


We spend the evening with this family talking about politics and family.
We spend the evening with this family talking about politics and family. 
Three girls, whistles from the car

Trinidad, Cuba



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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Middle School Lecture in the Bronx


Wow, what a rush! Yesterday I gave a lecture to 250 middle school kids in the Bronx on working with invisible communities. Nothing more intimidating then middle schoolers, but they were totally awesome. Some very deep and thoughtful questions and lots of smiles.

I was amazed at how curious and outspoken they were, totally willing to engage in conversation. When I think back to my middle school assemblies I remember silence, teachers would have to coax questions out of us.

One young man asked "Have you ever felt invisible?". Put me on the spot just like that, I love it!

Thank you Bronx Riverdale Country School for a great experience!


To see some of the images I showed during my presentation see the slide show below, it's to a tune by Pops Mohamed called the Spirit:






Thursday, October 2, 2014

Picasso: light drawings and his psyche

"My mother said to me, 'If you are a soldier you will become a general, if you are a monk you will become the Pope'. Instead I was a painter and became Picasso" - Pablo Picasso

I love this quote, another direct corridor into the man's psyche. Bold and confident, ego spilling over on to the floor. 

Similarly these images, taken decades before light drawing was popular show us a bold and confident Pablo Picasso.  Gjon Mili in 1949 perfectly captures Picasso conjuring stark drawings out of thin air in seconds. They are a testament to the power and beauty of the line and the confidence of his own vision.





Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Exhibition: Matt Black "From Clouds to Dust"

Texas migrant in her yard.  Teviston, California.  From The Kingdom of Dust series © Matt Black
I've always been partial to soft grained black & white photography, I really enjoy the depth and dimensions in his work and his use of gray tones. Although I prefer the fly on the wall approach that I sense in his work, the series seems distant to me at times and I wish he would have moved emotional closer at least in some of his shots.

I definitely recommend checking out the exhibition. I love his approach and aesthetic and the story deserves telling.

Matt Black grew up in a small town in the Central Valley, a vast agricultural area in the heart of the state. His twin documentary projects The Kingdom of Dust  and The People of Clouds explore the changing human relationship to food, farming and the environment. In 1995, Black returned to his native region, California’s Central Valley, to embark on The Kingdom of Dust , a multi-year chronicle exploring the underside of contemporary rural life in the shadow of some of America's richest farms. While working on this project, Black noticed a shift in the population of migrants coming to work the fields, and in 2000 began The People of Clouds , an extended photographic inquiry into the collapse of indigenous farming communities in the Mixteca region of southern Mexico. Through Black’s masterful eye and intimate relationship with his subjects, his photographs reveal the poetry of everyday moments as he chronicles communities in flux responding to broader global forces.

Riding to work in a farm labor bus.  Fresno, California. From The Kingdom of Dust series © Matt Black
Fishing in an irrigation canal.  Corcoran, California.  From The Kingdom of Dust series © Matt Black
Anastasia Photo
Cooking in the kitchen at home.  San Miguel Cuevas, Mexico.  From The People of Clouds series © Matt Black

Matt Black
From Clouds to Dust
September 12 - October 19, 2014
166 ORCHARD STREET   NEW YORK, NY 10002   212.677.9725 T   212.677.9726 F



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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Our Hearts are on the Ground- Lecture and Screening

I am excited to have lectured at the Rural Sociological Society's annual meeting in New Orleans on August 2nd and pre-screened the trailer for my documentary on domestic violence from a Native American perspective and how the injection of a foreign cultural system led to the erosion of women's roles in indigenous communities.
Roosevelt, Waldorf In New Orleans for the Rural Sociological Society annual meeting 2014
Roosevelt, Waldorf In New Orleans for the Rural Sociological Society annual meeting 2014
I am honored to have been invited to speak at this event and thrilled to have met so many awesome, passionate people.

We took a great field trip into the bayou with a U.S. Coast Guard boat and were able to see first hand the difference between a healthy swamp and a dead zone. The Great Delta, as it is known, is the largest in the United States and the fastest disappearing in the world at a rate of one football field every 20 minutes. That's really astonishing to think about, especially when you realize the ramification that will have not just for the rest of the States, but also worldwide as this very delicate ecosystem disappears.

Some iphonography:
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
A relatively healthy swamp which was brought back in 30 years after being a dead zone

The Delta is a very delicate balance; oil spills, salinization of the water, canals and storms are causing catastrophic damage to this area and uprooting indigenous peoples who have lived here for hundreds of years
The Delta is a very delicate balance; oil spills, salinization of the water, canals and storms are causing catastrophic damage to this area and uprooting indigenous peoples who have lived here for hundreds of years
On the U.S. Coast Guard boat, our guide and expert Tim

We are loosing one football field of this delta every 20 minutes and the damage to local fisheries and the ecosystem will have repercussions around the country
We are loosing one football field of this delta every 20 minutes and the damage to local fisheries and the ecosystem will have repercussions around the country










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Monday, June 23, 2014

21st Century Cowboy

by Ariel Ramchandani
Photography by Marlon Krieger

In November of last year I went on-assignment for Intelligent Life Magazine to photograph Ariel Ramchandani's story on the modern-day cowboy. This was my first time into the Saguach River Valley in Colorado and I was immediately stunned by a dramatic landscape awash in bold, rich colors.

Julie, George and Drew of The Blue Range Ranch are your classic cowboys, redefined. We spend a wonderful three days with our hosts, talking and learning. We covered, everything from Buddhism and holistic land management to gun rights and foreign policy. They opened our eyes to so many challenges facing ranchers in the midwest and gave us an intimate look into their lives on the ranch.

Read Ariel's story published in the July/August issue, you can pick it up at news-stands or online at moreintelligentlife.com.

"The soft San Juan range rises to the west; to the east, the spine of the Sangre de Christo mountains, with the low curves of the Great Sand Dunes National Park in front like a ghostly shadow…The modern cowboy has a lot on his plate, including climate change. Ariel Ramchandani stays on a ranch high in the Colorado desert" 




21st Century Cowboy by Ariel Ramchandani

The Sangre de Christo Mountains
George Whitten outside The Blue Range Ranch
Julie moving the electric fence, part of a holistic land management system, it helps control over-grazing 
Drew chops wood for the stove on which meals are cooked and by which the house is heated
Drew outside the Whitten home


Read the whole story by picking up the July/August issue available in news-stands or online at moreintelligentlife.com

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

NYC Exhibition- Gwyn Joy

For those of you not familiar with his work, artist Gywn Joy will be exhibiting as part of a group show in NYC, with an opening reception tomorrow night.

I am thrilled as I have been a fan of his collage and paintings for a long time. His work is full of storytelling that captures the imagination. It carries a touch of spiritualism and classicism, full of romance and mystery while brilliantly executed in style, technique and color. Love his colors, I wish my dreams were this evocative.

Painting by Gwyn Joy
Image © Gwyn Joy

Tomorrow, Wednesday June 17th, 2014 he will be exhibiting as part of a group show in New York called "Leaps into the Void" at Garis & Hahn Gallery. I will most definitely attend and hope to see some of you there as well. Also in the exhibition are the very talented Sky Kim, Joe Nanashe, Michael Maxwell and Phoebe Rathmell.

Garis & Hahn
Opening Reception: June 18th, 6-8 PM
263 Bowery Street, New York, NY 10002
Exhibition Dates: June 18th-August 16th, 2014

Painting by Gwyn Joy
Image © Gwyn Joy
About the Artist:
Gwyn Joy is a 35 year old Brooklyn based artist who explores the roles nature, solitude, and asceticism play in humanity’s search for spirituality, religion and truth.

Using oil paint and collage Joy creates images that investigate what lies just beyond the boundaries of our day to day realm and how we escape it in a metaphysical sense through extreme isolation, dream states, and interactions with our environment and the appropriation of natural objects of power.
He is highly interested in the anthropomorphic representation of animals in the form of masks in which the wearer is transported to a more naturalistic state of being and assumes the power and prestige of the animal. While donning the mask we are stripped of our previous identity and brought closer to the realm of our environment.  It is only in a state of solitude and in a state of complete immersion with our surroundings that our awareness is heightened.

Raised in Oregon, his interest in masks arose while working with the Tlingit Indian tribe in Alaska before attending Parsons School of Design in Paris and New York.





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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Los Intocables (The untouchables) - Erik Ravelo

Los Intocables- by Erik Ravelo

© Erik Ravelo

Cuban artist Erik Ravelo has created a very poignant, in your face series about violence and abuses faced by children around the world. The images show children crucified to the backs of their perpetrators. Some are less present in our everyday consciousness, and others are well known, but seeing them in this way creates a stark reality for the viewer, bringing the topic into direct focus.

I'm sure he is receiving quite a bit of criticism for his approach, especially from religious communities, but I find it powerful and to the point. I commend him for this bold move and for the striking effect this campaign has on the viewer.

Erik Ravelo / F A B R I C A 2013
Creative Direction / Concept: Erik Ravelo
Photo: Erik Ravelo / Enrico Bossan
Post Production: Erik Ravelo
Client: UNHATE FOUNDATION

The Right to Childhood
Should be UNTOUCHABLE.

Images and concept protected 
by the law.
2013 F A B R I C A.
© Erik Ravelo

© Erik Ravelo

© Erik Ravelo

© Erik Ravelo
Erik Ravelo is a Cuban sculptor, painter and multi media-artist. He is currently a creative director at Fabrica, the communications agency owned by the Benetton Group in Treviso, Italy. His campaigns for Benetton include "Unhate" which featured the controversial images of world leaders kissing. He was awarded the Grand Prix at Cannes in 2012 for this series.

As an aside, it would seem that Facebook and YouTube have both banned the project, I had to pull the below video from MailOnline. If you can't see the video please visit my site directly.



For more information you can visit ericravelo.com




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