Archive for January, 2009

Reflected Light IV

January 30, 2009

I was lucky enough to attend the annual Riverkeeper Art Auction in New York City, this year’s taking place in Frank Gehry’s gorgeous glass IAC building in Chelsea. The event was star studded, with celebrities Richard Gere, Lauren Hutton, Matt Dillon, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (who is on the board of directors), hosting. Debbie Harry, aka Blondie, was the entertainment for the evening and brought back some memories for all of us, as well as some dance moves.

If you’re not familiar, Riverkeeper is “an independent, member-supported environmental organization founded on the premise that citizens themselves must roll up their sleeves to defend our waterways. They were originally founded in 1966 by fisherman and local community, to confront polluters for control of the Hudson River. They use a variety of tools to carry out their mission as environmental watchdog and advocate. These tools include: Enforcement and Litigation, Public Policy and Advocacy, Scientific Research, Smart Growth Initiatives, Citizen Watchdogs, Education and Public Awareness, and Grassroots Organizing. They have successfully investigated and prosecuted hundreds of environmental lawbreakers (including General Electric, ExxonMobil, Con Ed, the City of New York, the MTA, and the NY State Dept. of Transportation), and are credited with leading the battle to defend the Hudson River and New York City’s drinking water supply.”

The auction was very successful, due not just to Riverkeeper’s hard work and perseverance toward the cause, but also because of the amazing art work that was donated. Edward Burtynsky, Katherine Wolkoff, Tierney Gearon, Alexander Calder, David Maisel, William Wegman, and many other fantastic artists donated images, unique commissions, or photographs from their collections. But it’s not over yet, partnered with CharityBuzz, an international auction site with unique lots and experiences, has allowed Riverkeeper to maintain several items past their silent and live auction held the other night, one of which is a “study photography trip” to Santorini Greece for you and a guest with photographer William Abranowicz that includes daily photography lessons and excursions. I don’t know about you, but Santorini is sounding pretty good compared to the freezing temps here in New York. To bid on this exciting trip, visit the Riverkeeper Art Auction online via CharityBuzz by clicking here. The auction closes on February 2nd.

And to learn more about Riverkeeper, both for the Hudson as well as the many partner Riverkeepers they have founded all over the country, visit their website

Here is a quick sneak peak at some of the photographs still up for bidding until February 2nd. You can click on the images to take you directly to the respective auction lot.

Amy's Theorem, Archival Pigment Print by Victor Schrager, 11"x13.5"

Amy's Theorem, Archival Pigment Print by Victor Schrager, 11"x13.5"

TV in the Sand, Archival Pigment Print by Stephen Wilkes, 24"x30"

TV in the Sand, Archival Pigment Print by Stephen Wilkes, 24"x30"


Vanishing Landscapes

January 24, 2009


For a Christmas gift I received a book from the top of my Amazon wish list, titled Vanishing Landscapes, recently published by Francis Lincoln Limited Publishers. It contains a collection of stunning photo essays by a renowned group of photographers all interested in capturing the beauty and fragility of our rapidly changing world. As you know, this isn’t always positive, especially when you’re looking at clear cut forests and icebergs you know are melting at a rate that will mark them extinct in our lifetime. At the same time however, these wondrous images tell the stories of a landscape longing to be preserved and asking for our attention and help.

Deterioration and death are often portrayed in a very beautiful way, thus changing the viewers perception of often brutal and unimaginable subject matter. However, this group of photographers along with the images chosen to represent them in this book, seem to ask questions of the viewer prompting change. One wonders how society can continue to act in a way that detrimentally affects the environment, especially when aware of these incredible landscapes all over the world. However, some don’t come to these realizations when viewing these images. I certainly do, but does the general public? I believe in the strength of the environmental movement and it’s advancement in social and environmental awareness, but I only wish that art and the media could affect people and their thoughts and actions more directly.

In a world where you’re inundated with both images and sound bites on a daily basis wherever you look, it’s hard to filter through all the crap, in order to get to the good stuff. Some people are better than others of course, especially when they’ve set that as a goal. But the general public– how much do they WANT to know about these issues? Do they at all? How many times have you heard people complain that they are sick and tired of hearing about eco this, green that, environmentally sound this, sustainable that. I hear it all the time. It can be very discouraging, when you know you are doing everything you can to help, and everything you can to increase awareness in a way that does NOT push people away. But sometimes, getting through to just one person can make a huge difference. By changing one person, you could potentially change someone in their network, and thus someone in their network, and the cycle continues. This happened to me the other day, and it made me feel like things are happening. People are willing to change. They sincerely want to. But they can’t if they aren’t aware of both what their actions are doing as well as how they could change them.

Vanishing Landscapes contains 4 chapters; water, ice, plants, and land. In an introduction by Nadine Barth, the book’s editor, she states, ” Ultimately all we can do is hope that by viewing these images we shall finally come to our senses.” She’s hit the nail on the head. The images in the book illustrate what is stated in the essays following Barth’s introduction. Friedrich Tietjen writes “Discoveries in a Familiar World: The Landscape as a Photographic Object”; John Berger “On Visibility”; a transcript from an interview with Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute of Climate Change Impact Research, who also happens to be the official advisor to the German government on questions of climate change and energy; and finally an essay by Karsten Smid of Greenpeace titled “Why We Must Act Now.” These essays are exceptional, giving information first hand and straight to the point, answering questions like which landscape is the first to go, how soon, etc. Viewing the photographs again, after reading the essays, is a completely different experience. While I at first saw them as lonely and melancholy knowing the fate they are facing, a renewed sense of urgency came forth when viewing them a second time. Photographers included are: Hiroshi Sugimoto, Elger Esser, Peter Bialobrzeski, An-My Le, Josef Hoflehner, Axel Hutte, Olaf Otto Becker, Mette Tronvoll, Walter Niedermayr, Michael Kenna, Jitka Hanzlova, Thomas Struth, Robert Adams, Giovanni Castell, Henrik Saxgren, Joel Sternfeld, Jem Southam, Lidwien van de Ven, Edward Burtynsky, Karin Apollonia Muller, and Per Bak Jensen.

The book is available on Amazon.

Blue Earth Alliance: Photography Inspiring Social Change

January 17, 2009

Blue Earth Alliance Mission Statement:

“The link between compelling documentary photography and our collective motivation to change attitudes, behavior, even policies – is strong.

Eddie Adams’s Pulitzer Prize–winning photograph of a Vietcong execution in Saigon forever changed how the world viewed the Vietnam War. Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Salgado’s images of the impoverished portray human life with fresh dignity and compassion.

Maintaining this link is central to the mission of Blue Earth.

Through our support of Photography that Makes a Difference, Blue Earth has helped raise almost a million dollars for important issues often overlooked by traditional media–The Arctic. Global warming. The loss of open space in Los Angeles. Racism suffered by farmers. Disappearing traditions of New England fishermen. The role of grandmothers in AIDS-ravaged Africa

Our sponsored projects have been at the forefront of issues affecting contemporary society—John Trotter’s No Agua, No Vida investigates the Southwest’s limited water resources; Perry Dilbeck’s Truck Farmers: The Last Harvest chronicles the loss of independent farming; and Florian Schultz’s Yellowstone to Yukon promotes the unification of animal migration routes and habitats across international borders.”

The Blue Earth Alliance is one of a handful of organizations to concentrate their efforts towards using photography as an tool for awareness about social issues. “Using the power of photographic storytelling”, they inspire social awareness in subjects far ranging; from saving wildlife to curbing youth violence, from the dwindling livelihood of local farmers to increasing dialogue about sexual violence. Environmental issues are prevalent on the site, which showcases past and present projects, both through their sponsorship and as well as a yearly grant program. They also offer their artists help in marketing and PR, grant writing, and increasing their network in the art world.

To view some of the photographers featured through The Blue Earth Alliance, please visit their website here.

From "The Sarvey Wildlife Project" by Annie Marie Musselman

From "The Sarvey Wildlife Project" by Annie Marie Musselman

Forest at Risk" by Daniel Beltrá

From "Amazon: Forest at Risk" by Daniel Beltrá