0807: Abstract/Concrete


So let me take this opportunity today to tell you about the show of mine that opens on Saturday night – how it came about and share the full set of images for those unable to attend. A favorite piece of advice to artists that I read long ago, that had great impact on me, should help set the stage.


The passage is from Leonardo da Vinci, who felt that artists could find creativity by staring at a crumbling wall and letting the mind wander:

When you look at a wall spotted with stains, or with a mixture of stones, if you have to devise some scene you may discover a resemblance to various landscapes… or, again, you may see battles and figures in action, or strange faces and costumes, or an endless variety of objects, which you could reduce to complete and well-drawn forms. These appear on such walls promiscuously, like the sound of bells in whose jangle you may find any name or word you choose to imagine.


My “crumbling wall” in this case was the floor of a construction site. While on a trip this past Spring I happened across this site that had a large, recently poured concrete floor. Apparently, the drying and curing process of concrete can sometimes create strange designs on the surface.


Quite different from the “deep time” fossils I tend to often focus on, these designs, residual effects of man’s handiwork, are very short lived and ephemeral. What a perfect counterpoint for me to explore, I thought.


Aside from a few cracks and one lone partial footprint these randomly generated patterns have no points of reference.


They exist (or, rather, existed) pure unto themselves.


The gritty nature of the subject matter was a quality that I initially fought with thanks to older notions of what constituted a “perfect print.”

IMG_0598_01a_LR_10My solution was to embrace the grit as being a necessary part of the character of these designs.


And the results are a series of lush, somewhat enigmatic prints that invite the personal interpretations of the viewer.


To those who have already seen some of the pieces, some see nothing but color and shape (and that’s plenty, as far as I’m concerned). Others seem to have more personal reactions and see hints that conjure up a wide range of emotions, representations, and hidden meanings.


The images are printed in an edition of 10, sized to 22.5″x30″ on a heavy watercolor paper.


I am very proud of this work and happy that it steps further out of the realm of traditional photography – a personal evolution that I embrace.


Please stop by the gallery if you are in the vicinity. And, as always, thank you for this visit.

5 thoughts on “0807: Abstract/Concrete

  1. Pingback: 1218: Year End 2014 | artandfossils

  2. Pingback: 0108: A New Year Begins | artandfossils

  3. Stunning images. Glad to see Leonardo got a mention too. Some of the photos remind me of a Liesegang ring I found which had me going for a while since I am not very knowledgeable on these things. And when you say you are proud of these images, well I’m not surprised!

  4. Hi Art –
    I’ve been doing a variety of projects with Arzi McKeown, and yesterday she gave me your website address. The patient complexity of your process and the depth of your vision are remarkable, and the product is marvelous! I particularly appreciate your subtle and controlled use of light. I also appreciate the elegance of your website.
    I am making baby steps toward presenting my work in public for the first time. I’ve used a little digital camera and the services of Artcraft Camera; I’m starting to realize how important are the technical details that I have neglected, but at my age I’m unlikely to change my course, so I’ll just forge ahead and see what happens. I’ve been lucky to capture some exquisite ephemera, especially under, on the surface of and reflected on water.
    The nexus between your work and mine, that moved Arzi to introduce your work to me, is that we both see gorgeous patterns and present them as abstractions — hardly a unique idea, but seen through a unique individual’s eye always fascinating.
    My husband and I live in Cantine’s Island CoHousing in the Village of Saugerties. This is a post-industrial site, littered with many large & small pieces of slag from the furnaces of Ulster Iron Works and scraps of rusty ; I think they are fascinating and beautiful, and wonder if you would be interested in photographing them. Let me know if you would like to visit.
    Susan J Murphy
    home 845-246-0697

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s