In: art

Take The Long Way Home | Jon Claytor
July 25, 2022

High culture has pretty much disappeared along with the dress code.

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Canada Day ’22 | What We Are | What We Are Not
July 1, 2022

Canada Day 2022 What We Are | What We Are Not Bandoliers Details, 2019 Barry Ace I have always been interested... Read More
Different Water
June 22, 2022

Different Water A Discussion on Art featuring work by Chrystal Gray and Mayra Perez Whiskey Bottle by Mayra Perez, Mask and... Read More
The Chain Links
June 20, 2022

Faki Kuano | Sarah Cheon | Ashley Guenette The Chain Links × × curated. by The COVERT Collective is pleased to... Read More
Tony Calzetta – Art Is Hell
April 22, 2022

Tony Calzetta Art Is Hell Bart Gazzola sat down to talk with Tony Calzetta, whose decades long practice has been both... Read More
Walker Evans – James R. Mellow
May 19, 2022

Walker Evans
James R. Mellow
Basic Books; Revised ed. edition (Oct. 11 2001)

Walker Evans is one of the most famous American documentary photographers of the past 100 years and his images will stand for another hundred at least. While every serious photographer is familiar with his work (the best known of which was shot during the 1930’s for the U.S. Farm Security Administration as per the examples below), there have been relatively few books that discuss Evans as a man. James R. Mellow captures his complexities in this eminently readable biography, published in 2001.

What makes particularly interesting reading is Evan’s evolution as an artist, from failed student in the Mid-West US, to failed writer in Paris, to acclaimed photographer on his return to New York in the late 20’s and early 30’s. The book quotes extensively from his letters and other writings. One can almost hear him speaking… I imagine his voice to be a low pitched, slow drawl; a mix of Henry Fonda, Peter Coyote and Alan Rickman (minus the accent).

Evans comes across as dour and fatalistic, yet strangely still likeable. Much of his writing describes his unhappiness with things as they are, whether it be his annoyance with his mother, his dissatisfaction with the quality of the prints made from his negatives or his despondence about his romantic relationships. Many of his friendships with other famous artists are discussed, including Ben Shahn, Steven Crane and Hanns Skolle.

The book offers details about the trips Evans made to do his photography and specifically the trips he made with author James Agee as they worked on the seminal Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Evans plays the role of aesthete opposite Agee’s sensualist, the collision of which resulted in a book acclaimed for its intimacy and realism… a strong documentary account of the lives of sharecroppers and their families in the American South during the Great Depression.

It is sad but somehow inevitable that Evans ends his days as somewhat of an alcoholic / academic recluse. Mellow’s reliance on Evans’ own words leave you feeling as if you really knew him, that you cared about him, but weren’t overly close to the actual man behind the photographs, because of his determination to keep people at bay.

Walker Evans by James R. Mellow is available from numerous online retailers.

~ Mark Walton

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Renée Mathews: Fluidity and Intuition – Femme Folks Fest Repost
March 18, 2022

Renée Mathews: Fluidity and Intuition by Glodeane Brown, Guest Curator SECRETS by Renée Mathews The COVERT Collective is pleased to be... Read More
Maria Simmons – Fermentation of Ideas – Femme Folks Fest Special
March 17, 2022

Maria Simmons Fermentation of Ideas The COVERT Collective is pleased to be participating in Femme Folks Fest 2022. Maria Simmons is an eclectic,... Read More
Laura Jones – A Life in Photography – Femme Folks Fest Special
March 16, 2022

Laura Jones A Life in Photography ~ Laura Jones The COVERT Collective is pleased to be participating in Femme Folks Fest 2022.... Read More
Stéphany Gagnon – Cinéma / Cinema – Femme Folks Fest
March 15, 2022

Stéphany Gagnon | Cinema

I am of an age where I remember receiving a copy of the Canadian Children’s Annual every year for christmas from my parents. I recently purchased a used copy of the 1976 version, the original lost long ago during a past relocation between cities. These books contained what were among the first artworks that I ever inteacted with… in 1975 with a cover by William Kurelek, in 1976 by Lynn Frank (Lynn Johnston of For Better or For Worse fame), in 1977 by Toller Cranston and in 1978 by Ken Danby. These were not lightweight artists. Each were on their way to becoming, or already were, prominent Canadian artists.

Leafing through, I was pleasantly surprised at the memories that were brought back by the illustrations in the book… I remembered every one of those images very clearly. Not only the images, but memories of the rooms, emotions and peoples that are forever tied to those images sprang my mind. It was an like instant recall machine.

The illustraions and paintings of Montreal’s Stéphany Gagnon seem to me to have a similar magic to them. Gagnon’s work is deeply personal, with great attention to detail. It can be ethereally dreamy, but also lucid dreamy, as shown by Cinéma (above) and Lemonade Stand (below). Both seem to tug at places in your brain, looking for memories to associate with them. They are in some sense, lost art, looking for a home.

You can view (and purchase) more of Stéphany’s work on her Instgram page @stephanylitchi.

~ Mark Walton

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