In: Mark Walton

Edward Steichen – In High Fashion, The Conde Nast Years 1923-1937
September 28, 2021

Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, The Conde Nast Years 1923-1937
by Todd Brandow (Author), William A. Ewing
W. W. Norton & Company

To anyone with even a smattering of knowledge of photographic history, Edward Steichen stands as a giant. He, along with Alfred Steiglitz, helped to solidify the medium’s standing as a fine art form, and embellish his own reputation in the process.

Much to the chagrin of Steiglitz and the other purists, Steichen had the audacity to construct a lucrative career for himself, as evidenced by the book Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, The Conde Nast Years 1923-1937, and became the pre-eminent photographer of fashion and celebrity culture.

I was very lucky to see the show for which this book serves as the catalogue at The Art Gallery of Ontario… actually I was lucky enough to practically LIVE at the gallery as I wore out my membership card poring over these stunning images again and again. Steichen DEFINED fashion photography as we know it, taking the work of Baron de Meyer (and others) from the end of the Belle Époque and perfecting it.

One can stare at On George Baher’s Yacht” and “Screenwriter Anita Loos, C. 1928 and marvel at their fluid tonality. You can see evidence of Steichen’s work to this day as photographers continue to mimic the poses and backgrounds used by him.

~ Mark Walton

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Fire Caught and Portrait of an Artist (Franklin Ugochukwu) – Kary Janousek
September 7, 2021

There is an ethereal look to wet plate collodion photography that is difficult to describe. It’s no wonder that people thought that early photography was a method to steal the soul of the sitter; as you can recognize the individual, but they look detached, disconnected. The camera seems to catch something more than just the image of the person… it catches their essence.

The reason for this is that these images are primarily formed by collecting the UV light radiating from the subject, a light that is invisible to the naked eye. Kary Janousek (one of 4 of the “Dakota Revivalist Photographers” using wet plate collodion in North Dakota) uses this effect to beautiful ends. Fire Caught and Portrait of an Artist (Franklin Ugochukwu) are perfect examples of the process. Many of Kary’s images have spiritual undertones that are served well by the detachment. The images are of flesh and blood seem to transcend the glass plates they are formed on.

Based in Fargo, North Dakota, Kary is likely one of the only wet plate photographers ANYWHERE with a store front enterprise… walk in to her incredible studio in the historic center of town and you can have a plate made on the spot! Recently she has started experimenting with different types of glass, creating completely unique works of art.

You can find Kary Janousek at https://highhatportraiture.com and on IG @highhatportraiture

Shane Balkowitsch is another of the Dakota Revivalist Photographers and has been previously featured on curated.

~ Mark Walton

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Untitled – Jennifer King
August 29, 2021

Jennifer King’s photography has always intrigued me, so much so that I put this photo of hers (above) on the front cover of the first edition of foto:RE|VIEW magazine in 2019. Her work seemed to capture a certain type of childhood perfectly… all its innocence and curiosity, along with its foibles and anxieties.

Jennifer had always taken photographs but found a stronger connection with the medium after the birth of her first child. “The camera became a tool that allowed me to respond to and embrace a new identity that included motherhood. It also became a way for me to discover who my children were.”

King excels at capturing those minute, physical clues that reflect one’s emotional state: a hooded brow, the quiver of a lip, a flash of exasperation, unbridled energy brought on by wonder and adventure.

You can read more about Jennifer’s work with her children in the article BECOMING, found here at foto:RE. You follow her @jencking and contact her HERE.  ~ Mark Walton

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Faking Death
July 24, 2021

Penny Cousineau-Levine
Faking Death
Canadian Art Photography and the Canadian Imagination
McGill-Queen’s University Press

Penny Cousineau-Levine’s “Faking Death” is considered by many to come closest to defining the characteristics of “Canadian” art; specifically the photographic arts but her conclusions can be applied to visual, performing and literary arts as well. She posits that the photographs she used for her study (all artistic photos by a select group of artists taken between 1950 and the 1990’s) are rarely about the referent… as she puts it, “a pipe in Canadian photography isn’t usually a pipe. It’s probably a crucifix”. This “dislocation” is at odds with straight American documentary photography, where the “truth” of the image is its most important characteristic.

The book, although academic in tone (indeed it was written in an attempt to describe to her university students the notion of a Canadian tradition of art), is a captivating read and draws many more fascinating conclusions. Once enlightened by her observations, you can’t help but see the characteristics she lays out in almost every piece of Canadian work.

This book is a MUST read for all Canadian artists and art lovers. It is available at McGill-Queen’s University Press. ~ Mark Walton

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Christina Z. Anderson – Cyanotype: The Blueprint in Contemporary Practice
June 25, 2021

Christina Z. Anderson
Cyanotype: The Blueprint in Contemporary Practice
A Focal Press Book, Routledge

Cyanotype: The Blueprint in Contemporary Practice is THE book you need if you want to learn how to create stunning cyanotype prints. Written by Christina Z. Anderson and available online, it offers detailed notes on formulas, papers, digital negatives and the actual process itself, as well as highlighting the work of contemporary cyanotype artists. Anderson is also the author of similar books on gum prints and salted paper prints. I’ve included 2 of my test images using her processes below. ~ Mark Walton

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Liz Potter – Everything is going to be okay
September 22, 2021

Liz Potter’s series of panoramic self-portraits should be viewed while listening to an Aaron Copland playlist. Like the great American composer, Potter captures the expansiveness of the American frontier, or what’s left of it. She pits her everyman heroine against its searing heat, its beautiful skies and its unforgiving majesty. Small and alone, she confronts it with courage and humility, and does not fear failure or setbacks.

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Untitled, from Joe Martz’s Underpass series
July 15, 2021

Waterloo Ontario based photographer and graphic designer Joe Martz has a strong eye for the architectural. His ability to capture the beauty in the details and structure of buildings and infrastructure we barely notice as we walk by them is powerful. One cannot help but begin to seek them out on one’s own after seeing his work.

A member of the foto:RE collective, Joe seeks the “strong lines, patterns and symetry” of a subject and often tries to find an “abstract perspective to present a different view”.

Joe’s work can be found on Instgram @joemartz and at joemartz.com – Mark Walton

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I Say Tomato…
December 21, 2021

“They took it down and it said, you violated our community standards on nudity and sex… I objected and I clicked the “This is not what it seems” option or “not what you think it is” or whatever it was. They reinstated (the post) and they sent me a notice of reinstatement with a little thumbnail of the damn tomato… which I took a screenshot of and posted to say I’ve been reinstated… and they banned me again.”

Ruth Dick is a prolific photographer from Ottawa. She was one of our very first featured artists here at curated. where I wrote:

“Ruth Dick is a master at capturing the solitary. Almost every image she takes focuses intently on a single object, somehow stimulating a desire to engage in self-reflection… Like O’Keefe, Ruth is able to conjure up form and substance in abstract ways that deftly imbue her images with fresh import. A pepper is not a pepper.”

Things are still not quite what they seem. Her racy photographs have recently caused quite a bit of controversy, and have even been meta-banned. I spoke to Ruth about the implications of this in a recent conversation. You can listen to the podcast by clicking here.

More images by Ruth can be enjoyed on her Instagram account @photos_uncurated. ~ Mark Walton

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Ana Žanić – One Breath
May 19, 2021

The first time you see Ana Žanić’s watercolor and pencil artwork is like taking a sharp blow to the limbic system. Every one of your senses screams “I know this” but cannot figure out what “this” is or why it knows it. They take on the form of something both organic and subliminal, communicating to us of the past (back to pre-history) and our deeply troubled emotional state we find ourselves in through the pandemic.

Her colour palettes are very natural and gently reassuring… mother earth will take us back into her bosom and help us heal. The meticulous marks speak of long journeys past, and reach out to our future selves to remind us that we have struggled before and have overcome those obstacles… we can do it again.

I reached out to Ana and asked her a few questions.

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Alors on danse
May 4, 2021

Ashley Guenette’s Alors on danse (Let’s Dance) is one of a series of animal acrylics she has created that are a cross between Canadian myth and Aesopian fable. They are definitely “of the north” and express how closely connected we are to the land from a cultural standpoint in this country.

You can find Ashley on Instagram and at ashleyguenette.com

~Mark Walton

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