4th Edition of Biennial of Fine Art & Documentary Photography
Throughout October 2016 Berlin welcomes once again the largest German festival for photography–the 7th European Month of Photography. The Grand opening of the 4th Biennial is at the elegant Palazzo Italia, situated in the historic heart of of Berlin as Associated Partner of the EMOP Berlin the first edition of the Berlin Foto Biennale.
I have the honor of being one of the finalists in the 7th Edition of the Julia Margaret Cameron Award for Female Photographers in the Nude and Figure category. One of my photos from my Pain and Loneliness series was chosen to be on exhibit.
I’m also honored to be included in the special section about the Holocaust and Second Generation with works by Aliza Augustine, Hannah Kozak, Sebastian Holzknecht, Beth Bursting, Vienne Rea and Quyen Pfeiffer. I was also given the honor of 1st prize documentary photo from the series He Threw the Last Punch Too Hard and 1st prize children’s category. Show opened on October 6, 2016 and will run through October 30.
Five of my images from my ongoing series–He Threw the Last Punch Too Hard were finalists in the 8th Edition of the Julia Margaret Cameron Award.
Here are some other photographer’s works from the Binnial 2016.
Meeting Sandra Klein in an Aline Smithson class was a gift. Sandra was doing intricate hand embroidered stitching on her photography and I was deeply moved and touched by the detail in her art. Her photographs are poems, and her self portraits are layered with her beautiful heart. She adds text that resonates for her and explores loss, aging and family. Goethe said we see in the world what we carry in our heart and Sandra finds beauty in every corner of her world and her heart. Sandra is also an expert printmaker, with a BFA in printmaking.
Sandra Klein is in a group show running January 11 – April 2, 2015 at the American Jewish University called Wisdom:The Tree of Life.
Etz Chaim, The Tree of Life is referred to throughout the Torah and is central to Jewish thought, wisdom and teaching. The tree of life is a symbol of knowledge, strength and identity, is in fact, found throughout all spiritual communities. It is often used as a reoccurring theme in poems, songs and visual art both historically and through to present day. The exhibition, Wisdom, The Tree of Life, explores the significance of the tree through the work of four Southern California based artists: Isaac Brnjegard-Bialik, Sandra Klein, Maddy Le Mel and Karen V. Woo.
Here is Sandra Klein and another photographer and friend Susan Swihart. Susan is part of a collective in Los Angeles known as The Verge. Susan is an observer, a caring mother of three, a committed artist who finds time to create personal observations and was recently featured on Lenscratch:
Sandra Klein, a Jewish soul sister, who, like all of us, is in search of herself. Sandra doesn’t claim to have the answers to life, which makes her all the more lovely to be near. Sandra seems to embody what Goethe wrote about: “If you can imagine it, you can create it.”
Photographer David Bailey at Taschen in Los Angeles celebrates The Rolling Stones “It’s Just a Shot Away”
Along with Douglas Kirkland and Melvin Sokolsky, David Bailey is one of the last great living photographers from the film era. David Bailey appeared in person for the first group show since he exhibited in London with artist David Hockney in 1971. Mr. Bailey arrived at Taschen on Beverly Blvd on Saturday, December 13, 2014 for the premiere of the sumptuous book, “It’s Just a Shot Away: The Rolling Stones in Photographs”.
There were surprise visitors like Jack Nicholson, Pamela Anderson, Steven Tyler, photographer Sam Fielding and David Fahey; co owner of Fahey Klein, one of the most respected photo galleries in the world.Fahey/Klein has an inspiring collection of photography, and continues to innovate as its exhibition space changes every two weeks.
Taschen has a reputation for stunning books and now they have their first, equally impressive gallery in Los Angeles. Here’s a few shots of some of my favorite photographs from the book:
Photographer David Bailey at Taschen in Los Angeles celebrates The Rolling Stones “It’s Just a Shot Away”
Mark Ryden’s “The Gay 90:s West” – a new exhibition at Kohn Gallery
Hundreds if not thousands of Angelenos, including myself, waited in line for an hour and a half to have pop art painter Mark Ryden sign his books at the new location and grand opening of the Kohn Gallery on Highland Avenue in Hollywood. This exhibition is a continuation of his show “The Gay 90’s: Old Tyme Art Show” that took place in 2010 at the Kasmin Gallery, New York. The Mark Ryden exhibit inaugurates the new 12,000-foot space and runs from May 3 – June 28, 2014.
I took special notice of Mark Ryden’s art four years ago at Bergamot Station Arts Center. His art kept me up all night. https://hannahkozak.wordpress.com/2010/09/11/bergamot-station/
Mark blends techniques reminiscent of the old masters along with pop culture themes that gives his art a cryptic, cute yet disturbing archetype of childhood innocence blended with the mysterious recesses of the soul. Just like Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson, Mark has a passion for Abe Lincoln. I think of him as the Alfred Hitchcock of surrealism.
Mark has a unique way of not only painting but the way he signs his books. I brought along my Taschen (one of my favorite publishers) April 15, 2013 – 352 page edition of of Pinxit. At 7.7 pounds, it is a heavy beauty.
Look at the stamp he uses on each autograph.
I also brought along my Mark Ryden December 1, 2011, 110 page, gold trim pages with soft faux leather blood color cover edition of “Blood: Paintings of Sorrow and Fear.” It’s larger than the previous edition and contains 16 additional pages. Mark provides his readers an explanation and apology for his outwardly morbid theme confessing it reflected his innermost feelings during a particularly vulnerable depressing period in his life. He was exploring feelings of grief, trauma and loss.
Mark purposely created the paintings in Blood small because he wanted to make quiet things about pain. They seem to have an underlying purpose and have been described as a postmodern version of memento mori , a Latin phrase that means “remember you must die”. In other words, start living your life by whatever means of inspiration you can find. Memento mori is the artistic or symbolic reminder of the inevitability of death.
Mark, like most artists, understands that by revisiting the roots of dysfunction and suffering, we abandon the memories that create our emotional barriers. Federico Fellini said there is only the infinite passion of life and Mark Ryden truly embraces his infinite passions in his art.
Last but really not least, Mark handed me a special present. Not only a genuine, warm smile but also a pin called Daisy along with a Limited Edition Dum Dum. Mark likes the same lollipops as Michael Jackson did!
Mark Ryden’s “The Gay 90:s West” – a new exhibition at Kohn Gallery
The first time I saw Suzan Woodruff’s paintings in person, I was moved to tears. In the swirling movement of people in a crowded gallery, Woodruff’s paintings touched me to my core. I discovered an emotional poetry that connected us from our childhoods.
Woodruff is an artist who has mastered the fine art of letting go of control. She touches the heavens with her skies or are we swimming in an ocean with no end in sight?
A powerful woman, she told me once that being an artist is the only way she has lived her life and is inspired by the awe of nature, science, space, emotional memories and experiences. She looks at everything; the sky, the oceans, as if she may never see them again.
She has described herself as part mad scientist and part shaman and uses meditation methods to control the chaos while creating paintings that are quieting. Her paintings evoke Georgia O’Keefe, one of the female artists she admires for her use of feminine and sexual imagery.
Woodruff has supported herself as an artist since she left home at sixteen. Truly a non-conformist, she has always lived on the edge of life and in part because her grandmother insisted Suzan was a reincarnated artist, she has always believed in her gifts and her life as an artist. She was born to create.
Everyone is born creative but most people’s insecurities prevent them from pursuing their passions and they are so afraid of failure that it inhibits their ability to explore themselves creatively.
As we orbit through the universe, Woodruff controls bits of our planets’ chaos long enough to create quiet slices of life. Her passion, her presence and her commitment to her art is an art.
Jerusalem proved to be full of surprises that will stay with me forever. I walked into James Turrell’s “Space That Sees” at the Israel Museum of Art with a new friend I met at The Arthur Hotel in Jerusalem. I could be in a pyramid, a mausoleum, or a temple from this creation by Turrell, who is known for spaces with openings in the ceilings or walls and edges so thin that it looks like there’s no separation between them and our sky. Turrell has the ability to seduce people into paying attention to the present, to find gratification from staring at the sky for long periods of time. While observing the sky through this profoundly simple work of art, I was feeling a deep connection to my surroundings in Israel. There is an acute sense of Jewishness here, a spiritual connection between land and soul. I belong.
We sat on the concrete and limestone and within moments of arriving, a siren started, commemorating Israel’s Memorial Day. Everyone in the space stood simultaneously, no one moved an inch and I felt the stirrings of my father’s past come up inside me. The tears are healing. There is a desolation in traveling that is soul crushing yet I imagined my father getting on a boat called General Blachford, alone, crossing the Atlantic from Germany, not knowing the language where he was heading, without any money, or a friend in the world and I am filled with and energized by his fearlessness and bravery. So while fear is an obstacle for most people, it is an illusion for me. I’m never alone for too long for G-d is in my heart and always seems to put wonderful souls into my path. I was also moved by the friendly, caring spirit of my new found friend who lives in Rome, that I met in Jerusalem.
The others left the space shortly thereafter the ending of the siren, clearly planning to be in the space for that event, while ours was a serendipitous moment, simply divine synchronicity followed by a meditative experience, laying on the ground together, looking up to the heavens imaging saints and thanking the angels for making this magic occur.
Situated on a hill in the Givat Ram neighborhood of Jerusalem is the Israel Museum, one of the leading art museums in the world. These works of art in particular, made me take notice and moved me. If something moves me, I like to photograph it. If something causes me pain, I photograph it. Art is meant to provoke feelings; good or bad. As I continue to wander through Israel, I feel alive. I find myself by getting lost.
This is Adi Nes’ version of the “Last Supper”. There are fourteen young Israeli soldiers sitting and standing at a long table in a bullet-pocked desert barracks. His photos are elaborately staged, often homoerotic, with macho Israeli soldiers featured.
“I wanted to express the idea that in Israel, death lingers. Death is being foreshadowed in most of these pictures,” says Nes, standing in front of his huge “Untitled” (1999), which was inspired by Leonardo’s “Last Supper.”
Israelis, he says, “are dying not only in combat, but in their daily activity — from bombs on buses, suicide bombers in restaurants. The moment you serve as a soldier, you choose to give yourself over to the society, to the army, to someone else. You have to take the possibility you’re going to die. Here, I tried to incorporate the idea that this supper may be the last for any of them, not just Jesus. All of them are Jesus, all of them are Judas, ” adds Nes, whose pictures, with their attention to detail and dramatic contrast of light and shadow, are composed with an eye toward Caravaggio.
Pronounced Dee-Ann, She was a privileged child, raised with her two siblings in large apartments on Central Park West and Park Avenue. She later told Studs Terkel, for his Hard Times: An Oral History of the Depression , “I grew up feeling immune and exempt from circumstance. One of the things I suffered from was that I never felt adversity. I was confirmed in a sense of unreality.” I think her work is still problematic for many because she crossed boundaries by making friends and photographing “freaks.”
Ruth Bernard (1905-2006)
There is no finer photographer of the female nude. When she met Edward Weston on the beach in Santa Monica, she was overwhelmed by his photos and said “Here before me was indisputable evidence of what I had thought possible – an intensely vital artist whose medium was photography. ”
Francesca Woodman (1958-1981)
Her career was brief but extraordinary. Born to a family of artists, she started photographing at the age of 13. She worked in black and white, frequently made self-portraits, or other young women, nude. What’s astonishing is she completed nearly all the work in her catalogue as a student. After living in Rome, Rhode Island and New York, she felt her art wasn’t being taken seriously and her boyfriend broke up with her. Woodman committed suicide at the age of 22.
Melvin was creating inventive photographs that boggled the mind, long before Photoshop existed. He floated models down the Reine,creating The Bubble Series for Harpers Bazaar magazine in 1963.He suspended the models with a crane using an eight-inch aircraft cable and tested models to see who he could hang. He reminds me of some of the good stunt coordinators I worked for over the years. The first time I saw his photos, I stopped dead in my tracks at A & I Photo.
My favorite artists:
I fell in love with the simplicity of his paintings the first time I visited Cape Cod. Just like a good photographer, Robert searches for the light and usually paints at sunrise or sunset. His paintings have been described as Edward Hopper gone color ballistic. I love his skies of purples and oranges, isolated beaches, and lonely Cape homes.
His art is beautiful, while aiming at darker psychic stuff beneath the surface of cultural kitsch. He’s been called the godfather of pop surrealism, inspired by old toys, stuffed animals, skeletons, and religious ephemera found in flea markets. Michael Jackson commissioned Mark to create the cover for his 1991 Dangerous album.
Remedios Varo (1908-1963)
Born in Spain and died in Mexico. Spanish-Mexican surrealist painter and anarchist. I think she is one of the greatest artists in the 20th century along with Leonora Carrington.
I especially like the violin hanging where her heart should be.
Leonora Carrington (1917-2011)
led a life almost as surreal as her art. Born in England, she was expelled from two schools for rebellious behavior, my kind of girl. She saw her first surrealist painting in a Left Bank gallery when she was ten years old. Even though she found little encouragement from her family to forge an artistic career, a curator at Tate Modern, helped to champion her work through Edward James, who arranged a show of her work. She saw Max Ernst’s work and was attracted to him before she actually met him. Not only did they collaborate on sculptures to decorate their home, they supported each other’s artistic development. Sounds like a dream relationship to me. Unfortunately Ernst was arrested during the Nazi occupation of France and after escaping, Peggy Guggenheim arranged for him to come to America. Carrington was so devastated by his arrest that she had paralyzing breakdowns and was institutionalized for three years. After Ernst married Guggenheim, Carrington wrote a book called Down Below, about the events of her psychotic experience. From painting to writing, all art is healing.
In this piece four priestess perform a surgery on a levitating Amenhotep (the first monotheistic pharaoh) whose wound is in the shape of a lotus flower. Men wearing priests’ hats sit in the gallery to watch the performance. The compasses along the box signify a magic transformation. The dish in the foreground, which is presumably used to collect an extracted organ, contains a small lizard.
Carrington believed that monotheism was the root of a patriarchal society, thus the priestesses are extracting that root through a magical surgery. In her later years Carrington wrote that “a woman shouldn’t have to demand rights. The rights were there from the beginning, they must be taken back again, including the mysteries which were ours and which were violated, stolen or destroyed.”
Kron Flower – Carrington understood that women were to maintain your youth at all costs’ meaning maintain your sexual desirability at all costs. But then she ruthlessly mocks those women who cannot resist the shame-inducing admonitions of the culture and feel the need for excessive make-up, a face-lift or to still dress in tight, provocative clothing.
Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)
I love Frida because she transformed her suffering and pain into remarkable art. She is best known for her self portraits and said “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.” While it is easier to hide, it has been widely accepted that an artists’ best work is his or her most personal. Frida was not scared about showing her pain, soul, and fears in her art. Every great artist comes bearing the gift of their soul.
This is one of Frida’s most shocking and controversial paintings. Dorothy Hale was an aspiring actress who was unable to find work and left financially dependent on her wealthy friends after her husband’s death. She killed herself by jumping off a New York city building. Clare Boothe Luce requested a painting for Dorothy Hale’s mother. Hale was known to have said “I would not have requested such a gory picture of my worst enemy, much less of my unfortunate friend. Kahlo painted actress Dorothy Hale not only as she jumped but fell, and landed, dead and bloody on the concrete walk outside her apartment building. The blood-red lettering at the bottom of the retablo details the tragedy in Spanish. Luce’s response was to destroy the painting but her friends dissuaded her. What Luce didn’t know was that at the time that Kahlo painted this, she was in a desperate state of mind over losing Diego and was having repeated thoughts of committing suicide.
My favorite artist ever:
Michael Jackson (1958-2009)
Michael’s calling was clear. He would dance to the rhythm of the rickety Maytag washing machine when he was on the floor wearing his diaper and holding his little bottle. His art beckoned him and whether it was putting pen to paper, a song to the ethers, his brush to a palette or his feet to dancing, he had no choice. His passion called him and he listened in return. He put his soul out there and was courageous about his art because he believed his gift came from G-d. The soul of art is the art of soul. Here is a video by a fan who puts together MJ videos and does the finest job of remixing videos that I’ve seen. Yes, that’s Sheryl Crow at 1:32!
My favorite love songs
1. You’re Just Too Good To Be True – Lauryn Hill
2. Come Pick Me Up – Ryan Adams
3. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Diana Ross
4. To Have and Not To Hold – Madonna
5. Nobody – Kate Earl
6. All In Love Is Fair – Stevie Wonder
7. You’re The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me- Gladys Knight
8. Anyone Who Had a Heart -Shelby Lynne
9. Soul Mate -Natasha Bedingfield
10. I’ll Be Near You – Ivy
11. Looking For The Right One – Art Garfunkle
12. You’re the First, the Last, My Everything – Barry White
13. Could It Be I’m Falling In Love – The Spinners
14. If I Were Your Woman – Gladys Knight
15. When You Really Love Someone – Alicia Keys
16. Fall Again – Michael Jackson
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In a world where Photoshop has become a verb, Christy Rogers photographs are a breath of fresh and inviting wonderment. Rogers exquisitely combines light and movement with her passion of water to create timeless photos.
From Diane Arbus to Francesca Woodman, every great artist is obsessed with unmistakeable passion, one that is at the helm of all that they create and Christy Rogers is no exception. Rogers, a self-taught photographer born in Hawaii, grew up cradled by the water. Her subjects feel suspended in an unsinkable wave of water while the light and movement create sensual portraits that remind me of baroque paintings.
Her Reckless Unbound show opened at the Aesthesia Studios, a beautiful three story architectural masterpiece in Los Angeles on November 10 and will run until December 3, 2012.
At the opening of Rinus Van de Velde’s exhibit at Patrick Painters Gallery at Bergamot Station, I was caught off guard by the impact his large, detailed, charcoal drawings had on me immediately.
He is a fan of the pictorial age and loves all visuals. As he digs through the archives of magazines, biographies, art catalogs and even the Internet, he loves to tear out the images that move him where he pins them onto the wall of his studio in Antwerp.
Rinus has produced a musician he calls Conrad and in his drawings Rinius is searching for him. I wasn’t sure if the portraits were self-portraits or fiction but I suppose it doesn’t matter.
I discovered Luc Leestemaker’s contemporary abstract landscapes in early May of 2012. His art struck me as I felt he was someone with a gentle and spiritual nature. I decided I would make a visit to La Jolla to the Madison Gallery to see his “Living Large” exhibit which began in October 2011. By the time I made my way to La Jolla in August, I found out that Luc had died on his birthday, May 18 at fifty-five years old.
Luc understood that creativity is not just the exclusive province of the artist but believed that everyone can tap into their creativity not just as a means of existing but to live and triumph. Not only did he believe his craft helped him survive, it helped him to thrive. He found “the enduring force and undeniable evidence of the existence of the creative heart.”
Growing up in the Neverlands, he was mostly self-taught. He founded an Amsterdam based performing arts center; he was founder of the European art collective “Hart Poetry”; founder and editor of a monthly business and arts magazine and managing director of “Leestemaker and Associates”, a consulting firm specializing in arts’ marketing and public relations. He believed in his own magical powers and was determined to pursue and sustain himself through his art. He refused to accept the comfortable, dull routine of his family and decided to head to Los Angeles in the 1990’s. He did not believe Goethe’s famous quote “If you can imagine it you can create it” was romantic nonsense. He owned this belief.
After selling encyclopedias, hauling dirt at a construction site, selling sandwiches and modeling, he started to treat his new Angeleno life with zest, choice and intention and fully devoted himself to painting.
After a spiritual and mental breakthrough, Luc decided to paint for himself with no old rules. This freed him to go deep inside and find himself through his art. Luc believed each of us was born with a specific task to do and our lives would be happiest if we pursued our passion with truth.
Down to his last $800 he had, he dove into his art, not his fear and brought canvases and brushes. His story is an inspiration to not be afraid of our creative voice. He refused to buy into obligation, doubt and guilt while striving for happiness and had the courage to live large in his heart.
At one point he nearly lost his sight and required a complicated surgery, yet with no impending artist success, he visualized success through his art and he stubbornly held onto his creativity.
At the opening of his Living Large show at Madison Gallery in October 2011 he said he believed in “having the courage to live in joy and smell the roses, the courage to forgive oneself and others for all wrongs done and rejoice, the courage to open up all unhealed wounds and release all pain, the courage to let love and light come in, the courage to walk where there is no road and pave a new pathway, the courage to not know. The courage to sit with ones fears and insecurities for awhile and then let it go.
“The courage to understand the ego was a necessary wall we had to build to protect ourselves when we came into the world and the courage to know we can now let those walls go and so the courage to demolish our ego with love. The courage to embrace one’s greatness, the courage to face the unknown with grace and curiosity, the courage to no longer judge, the courage to be vulnerable, the courage to love oneself, the courage to break the mirror back to glass and see oneself as particles of love and life, the courage to see life as a journey not a destination. The courage to be here now and accept the journey. The courage to trust the invisible and know that as messy as things on this planet look, there is a divine unfolding for each and every one of us. The courage to be a tightrope walker on the ground. The courage to say each and every day ‘this is the best day of my life’ and yet the very best is still to come.”
Luc published a memoir-like book, The Intentional Artist: Stories From My End, in 2010. His series of essays are inspiring along with a visual overview of his paintings. The anecdotes of his life are honest, funny and poetic with a thread of spirituality all the way through. I think this book is important for anyone pursuing their dreams and passions and will inspire you to follow your talents and never give up on your dreams. I have found that getting out of my comfort zone, confronting my fears and revealing them keeps me alive and inspired. When I experience profound loneliness, I find that turning to art is more important than ever before.
“Being an artist, the words intention and creativity are always on my mind.”
Madison Gallery is on Prospect Street in downtown La Jolla. Here are some views from the rear of their gallery.