When I grew up in Middle America life was good, but over time the big factories shut down and those jobs were gone forever. What was once a thriving community is now filled with abandoned places and broken dreams. My hometown has become the opioid capitol of America and lately a hotspot for Coronavirus. When I returned many years later it was very different, yet familiar.
The "Passages" series is about the passage of time, what things were and what they are now. The subjects of this series are essentially found objects, each one a discovery for me.
I have often reflected on the brevity of life, perhaps my photographs are a series of self-portraits by proxy as I contemplate my own demise and life cycle.
When we moved from Sag Harbor, NY to the Midwest we found the perfect house but the pool slide was not to my liking and the first thing I wanted to was to get was rid of it. Who knew it would captivate my imagination and provide the impetus for my next photo project? Over time the slide morphed into an art object and became my muse and metaphor for suburban life.
When I lived in Sag Harbor, one of my great pleasures was to take the ferry to Shelter Island and spend the day exploring Sylvester Manor. The Manor is a former slaveholding provisioning planation purchased in 1651 by Nathaniel Sylvester and his family for 1600 pounds of sugar. It remained in the Sylvester family for 11 generations.
I particularly like to explore what’s left of the hauntingly bucolic overgrown garden. I find myself compelled to chronicle it’s evolving decay, and think about the generations of people who lived and worked there.
I return to Sylvester Manor every so often. I always find something new and totally unexpected, and it seems to me that my best subject matter is found by chance.
"the quality or state of being a person" – Merriam Webster
I have always been fascinated by people's stories. Especially captivating are individuals who push convention, driven by self expression. My background as a producer of an Off-Broadway burlesque variety show, Gotham Burlesque, led me to have intimate access to many such compelling people. My curiosity seeks out such unique performers and my earnest acceptance allows for our mutually engaging encounter. I provide the audience and their bold demonstration reminds me, and my viewers, of our common human wish - to be seen.
NYC transgender/nightlife personality Mona Marlowe is far along in the process of transformation. Like her idol Marilyn Monroe, she is very complex, striking and vulnerable. When photographing her in her single occupancy room located in Manhattan’s Theater District, it became evident how her entire existence is shaped by her need to express the woman she had always felt she was born to be. Great financial sacrifices and physical pain were and are being made to change genders. The photos were taken over several months.
One summer day I came upon the flower fields at Hungry Toad Farm (Centerville, Ohio) and was taken with how each flower was covered with a silken net used to protect the flowers from predators. I thought how loving it was to care for each individual bloom. I also quickly reflected on the brevity of life, a flower quickly dying as a gift for a bride’s special moment and the eventual passing of a beautiful woman within the implacable cycle of life. Perhaps, these images are also a series of self-portraits by proxy as I contemplate my own demise and life cycle.
Odds & Ends
Images that for one reason or another never really fit into a current series, some are different takes.