Friday, December 7, 2007

Film is Not Dead -- the Software -- FND

Our friend Paul pointed this out to me and I thought it worth passing on, if for nothing else but the chance to say Film is Not Dead once more. This is software for Leopard only, so I can't test it just yet.
Here is the link:

Friday, November 30, 2007

Shadow Show at Real Art Ways

Up now in Hartford at Real Art Ways is the Shadow Show. Our contribution is shown here, a group of light boxes entitled In Plain Sight (summer 2007).

The show runs until Groundhog Day (2/2/08) 2008. There is a review.

And another here.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Shacks at the Danforth Museum--We do quirky right

20 Parking Shacks are featured in the 2007 New England
Photography Biennial
at the Danforth Museum of Art

September 9 - October 28, 2007

Jurors : Karen Haas Curator of the Lane Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Arlette Kayafas Director of the Kayafas Gallery, Boston

The show opened last night and we had a lot of fun on a very sultry late summer evening. Met lots of great folks. The show got a write up in the Boston Globe, read the full review

An excerpt:

Ask Karen Haas, curator of the Museum of Fine Arts Lane Collection, about the range of work chosen, and the excitement in her voice is palpable.

"Some of the work that we particularly loved felt very personal," said Haas, who cocurated this year's biennial with Arlette Kayafas, director of Kayafas Gallery of Boston. "For example, Robert Knight basically goes into people's homes with their permission, but without knowing them . . . and photographs their possessions and objects of meaning, and the images he captures are really very telling and really quite beautiful in the way they capture the light."

She goes on to discuss newcomer Josh Winer, who creates "fascinating images out of piles of raw materials with no sense of context, so you have no idea whether you're looking at a pile of sand or a mountain of it."

Then there's Amber Davis Tourlentes's portraits of alternative families, who she photographs while grouped together on a stage.

Or Erik Gould, who "takes the banal and makes it quirky" with a series of photos of, say, parking shacks.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Monday, July 2, 2007

at the Describing the Dreyfus opening-- Show extended!

The opening was loads of fun. That's my stuff on the wall in the back. The big guy in the middle is Stuart of iolabs who did the printing. I wouldn't trust my prints with anyone else.

The show has been extended to July 14th. Check it out.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Describing the Dreyfus

The show opens this week!

AS220 Project Space 93 Mathewson St.

June 20-27 2007

Opening Reception: Wednesday June 20, 7-9 pm

Gallery hours: Noon- 6pm Tuesday - Friday
Noon- 4pm Saturday and by appointment

About the project:

This has been an 18 month photography project undertaken by the AS220 DARKROOM. Beginning in December 2005 a team of photographers, which has included several young photographers from the Photographic Memory program, have individually photographed the Dreyfus Hotel. The only request made of each participating artist was that their work be inspired by the Dreyfus Hotel and that their finished work be in the form of still photographs. Both documentary and aesthetic in nature, their images have created a unique record of the transformation of this handsome turn of the 20th century hotel into a vibrant mixed use arts complex that has undergone a stunning historic restoration at the turn of the 21st century.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

It's Flag Day!

flag 02
Originally uploaded by e_pics
June 14th. In honor of that here are some tidbits on Old Glory:

What Is a Flag?

According to the National Flag Code, the flag of the United States is any flag of the United States, or any part thereof, made of any substance, of any size, accurate or not, that is recognized as a flag by the reasonable observer.

(What other flags of the US are there? There is, or was, an American Civil Flag. It had vertical stripes.)

The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever.

Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.

No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform.

The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery.

The flag should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard.

The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A walk along Route 2

Thank you Flickr for making it easy to pull things from the archives and give them a home. This Route 2 project is one such thing. Here is the story: I was invited to participate in the "America 24/7" book project. Those are those big colorful books full of puppies and kids with ice cream cones. I thought they asked the wrong guy but no, they said, we want a lot of different view points and here is some cash and an olympus digital camera and so I said o.k.. I proposed that I walk a section of state Route 2. (I also visited every doughnut shop within 5 miles of Providence City Hall, there are over 50, but that is another piece).

Rhode Island’s Route 2 has become in effect the state’s “Main St.” Since the 1960’s much of the state’s commercial activity has shifted to a ten mile stretch of the road. Rhode Island’s first mall was built there, and then the state's second mall, built right next door. Route 2 leads south from Providence through the older suburbs of Cranston into the town of Warwick, where open spaces attracted the developers of housing tracts and retail plazas. Reflecting a time when towns were a bit farther apart the road changes names frequently over the ten mile stretch that I walked, shifting from Reservoir Road in Cranston to New London Ave., to Bald Hill Road and finally to Quaker Lane.
I photographed along Route 2 in two phases. On May 15 of 2003 I walked south from a shopping and housing development in Cranston called Garden City. This development was built in the bowl of land left behind by the state’s only coal mine. Across the street are the derelict stone buildings of the former Sockanassett Facility for Boys,(these have now been redeveloped) followed by the state prison, referred to locally as the “aye-see-eye”, the Adult Correctional Institution. Just beyond that is a mini golf course. And then the retail action gets underway.

Like many such roads Route 2 is a harsh place for a pedestrian. Sidewalks begin and end with no connections between, crosswalks are infrequent and then disappear all together. Traffic moving at or above the speed limit of 45 mph seems much faster from the shoulder. Even though many stop lights do not have crosswalks, thoughtful traffic engineers have still provided curb cuts, so in case one is traveling in a wheel chair that can do 0-60 in less than 5 seconds one could still cross the street. The rest of us have merely to wait for a break in traffic, and then run like hell. This is a harsh road for motorists as well. states the 7.8 miles I walked the first day can be driven in 11 minutes, and that may be true at 4:00 am, but on most days the trip takes much longer, and the frustration is clear at each stop light. On May 16th I walked north from Garden City through the heart of Cranston into Providence. This is the older stretch, the buildings are smaller and closer together and generally closer to the street. Interspersed are houses. These houses are rather lost. They are surrounded by parking lots and some have surrendered completely, giving way to hair salons and real estate offices. Some surprisingly are still lived in, I see their occupants working on their yards, seemingly oblivious to the roar of traffic that drowns out lawn mowers and most coherent thought. These places are however, as the realtors say, close to shopping.
Still one can see the older streetscape eroding as newer stores move in, with their setbacks to provide convenient parking up front. Shabby in parts, shiny and new in others, Route 2 is a reflection of the commercial hopes and desires of Rhode Islanders.

A small handful of these pictures made it (thumbnail size) into the 24/7 book, which can still be found in bargain bins across the country.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Alco? I don't think so...

A few words about the "American Locomotive Works " (ALCO) development project now underway on Valley St. in Providence. Once upon a time there was a railroad locomotive factory on part of this site. This was the Rhode Island Locomotive Works, founded in 1866 and located on Hemlock Street. Between 1866 and 1899 the company produced some 3400 steam locomotives. In 1901 the company was merged with several other locomotive builders to form the American Locomotive Company, headquartered in Schenectady NY. At this point the Rhode Island works had already begun to diversify, shifting production towards a line of automobiles and trucks. This move was ultimately unsuccessful, and the Providence factory closed in 1907.

By the time American Locomotive became officially known as ALCO Products in 1955, and even before that, when the locomotive depicted on the SBER banners (a diesel, model DL-109) was produced in the 1940's, locomotive production on this site was just a distant memory. Only one small building remains with any connection
to RI Locomotive Works. SBER Co. may well wish to market the idea that their tenants are living and working in a restored locomotive factory. They may even fill it with big murals of steam and diesel locomotives. While I have no objection to murals of locomotives, this notion is just a developers fiction, a kind of Disneyfication of our industrial heritage. Most of the buildings on the site were built by the U.S. Rubber Co. Perhaps that is the history that should be celebrated (or exploited, as the case may be) here. Meanwhile, back in Schenectady, the real ALCO plant sits largely unused, having closed for good in 1969. It was at this site that the company built more steam locomotives than any other builder. This factory built the famous "Big Boy" locomotives, the world's largest, and built tanks during WWI and WWII. It was ALCO, alone of any of the U.S. steam locomotive builders that successfully made the transition to diesel manufacturing. Hopefully someday this site and this history will be preserved and celebrated as it should.

One more note on the locomotive depicted on the banners. The banners show a stylized but pretty accurate DL-109, which is an interesting choice. The New Haven Railroad (NYNH&H) owned by far the largest group of these engines, 60 out of 74 produced. They saw many years of service on the Boston to New York mainline, passing quite close to the site along Harris Ave. This line is now part of Amtrak's northeast corridor route.
photo of New Haven DL-109 from:

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Lack of Vision will Sink the Station

More on the Pawtucket - Central Falls train station. First, some background: Built in 1915 by the NYNH&H Railroad, this station has some unique aspects that have had an impact on its current sorry state. As can be seen in the pictures, the main portion of the building straddles the rail-bed. Staircases led down to platforms below the main concourse. Two wings extend out from the north side of the building on either side of the tracks, giving the station a "U" shape footprint. Much of the structure sits in the airspace over the railroad tracks. With transfer of the railroad property progressing from the New Haven to Penn Central and then to Amtrak when Conrail was formed ownership of the station itself has at times been unclear. Although Amtrak never owned the structure, recent court hearings revealed the fact that Amtrak asserts the right to review any demolition plans, citing a deed restriction placed on the property in 1972. Amtrak took complete ownership of the railroad right-of-way in 1976.

Another aspect of the site that has played into its fate is the fact that it spans the Pawtucket - Central Falls city line. Roughly about 1/3 of the building lies on the Central Falls side. When the station opened, it was heralded as a gift to the people of both cities. The station and related track improvements eliminated a dangerous grade crossing at Broad street and the site was chosen to please both city governments. Yet this fact has prevented either city from taking any action since the station closed, further compounding a situation of severe n
eglect. The station has been left to decay since the 1960's, with portions seeing some occasional use as a flea market and a pentecostal church. It also should be stated that it may likely be that had the station resided in one city or the other, it would be gone now.

Now to its current status. A developer now owns the site, and their plans, for a start, include building a CVS store on the north (Central Falls) side of the property. To make way for parking some of the building would have to be demolished, according to the developer. The developer had surveyors spray-paint the city line across the building as a guide for demolition. This came into play a day before the Pawtucket City Council
was to vote on the Mayors plan to take possession of the building through eminent domain. The developer, clearly looking to change the facts on the ground before the vote obtained a demolition permit from the City of Central Falls and sent a demolition company to work on the northwest wing of the station. The City of Pawtucket obtained a court order for a temporary stay, but not until significant damage was done. The vote for eminent domain failed, and now the station sits in limbo, awaiting a possible settlement between the city and the developers, or further court hearings. The most recent news reports negotiation on the issue of creating parking spaces. Naturally, where to park the car? That is the burning issue of our time.

More details on the hearings can be found here:
Also here:

All of this strikes me as another depressing case of a severe lack of vision. We live in a "use and discard" culture, and outside of the preservation community that attitude extends to buildings and even to trains and railroads themselves. The language in some of the newspaper stories reporting on this very issue reflects this, referring to the station as "a relic" and implying that demolition was "inevitable" merely because the building was old and neglected. All of this despite many physical examples to the contrary that exist right in our own community. The 18th century homes on Benefit Street, Saint Maria's Home on Governor Street, The Masonic Temple, all have fallen to decay and been revived. There are many others. Think of what a sad place Providence would be without them, something like Hartford. These buildings shouldn't be allowed to deteriorate to such dismal states, and they certainly shouldn't be helped to decay by the very people charged with their upkeep.

That is exactly what happened at the Gorham site. 33 buildings spread over 30 acres, it was seen by some as "impossible" to redevelop, just another white elephant under city care. Wasn't the Renaissance underwa
y in 1994? Yes, so said the Mayor, and Yet-- The city, or at least a part of it, allowed a salvage company in to remove all of the metal widow frames from every building, exposing the interiors to the elements. Had the buildings been buttoned up and kept secure, a mere ten years later the developers would have been lining up to take over the property so they could put fancy signs on the roof and fancy tenants inside. In an ironic twist, the Stop and Shop built on the Gorham site is now closed, perhaps the city will fight to preserve that. More recently, the Silver Spring Dye Works came down to make way for a Home Depot, complete with fake bricked in round-top windows on its street side veneer. Silver Spring was a sad loss, done in both by the distraction over the fight to save Eagle Square and the lack of any sense that an over-heated Boston real estate market would spark a condo explosion in Providence a mere two years later. At this point, even if the train station is saved, and it should be, a great opportunity will still have been lost: that of a comprehensively redeveloped site featuring a T stop, a community center and retail shops that serve as a focal point for the community, as unique point of pride, and as a greater source of revenue and profit than any single CVS store will provide. It should be acknowledged that many people in the community and in the Pawtucket city government have been working very hard to realize such a plan. That fact makes it more than a shame that what we will get, at best, is yet another chain drug store (and parking lot) shoehorned uncomfortably against a Beaux Arts gem from another age.