In: Mark Walton

Patti Smith – Land 250
June 3, 2021

Patti Smith
Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain
Currently Out of Print, copies available on Amazon or at specialty bookstores.

Patti Smith Land 250 is a collection of images taken by the legendary musician/artist/poet using her beloved Polaroid 250. The 250 camera creates instant images using polaroid (and later Fujifilm) peel apart instant black and white or colour film, whose production was discontinued in 2016. The camera is unforgiving, relying on a small electronic sensor to automatically set exposure, leaving the photographer only to select focus and composition. Smith plays it like a violin, coaxing romantic, sonorous photos of everything from a taxidermized bear to the gravesite of Yeats.

There is a beauty in the photographs that comes from both the subject matter she chooses but also inherent to the time period in which the camera was created. It is a tool of the 1960’s and reminds us, like all photography, of things past, frozen for an instant and captured for posterity.

~ Mark Walton

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Saul Leiter Early Color
May 19, 2021

Saul Leiter
Steidl
Currently Out of Print, copies available on Amazon or at specialty bookstores.

Saul Leiter – Early Color is a must have for the library of any street photographer who shoots in color. Leiter’s work is not as confrontational as that of Robert Frank and seeks to find moments of the sublime in every day life and scenes. Shooting with expired and “artisanal” films in the 1950’s gave Leiter a palette unmatched by others, making Early Color breathtaking in it’s ability to capture one with a block of red and yellow on a taxi, or to draw you in to the lives of those sitting behind a window in a New York café.

Originally a rabbinical student (Leiter’s father was an important Talmud scholar), Leiter rebelled against his parent’s hopes for him and started shooting black and white fashion photography in New York. He embraced color before many of his contemporaries.

~ Mark Walton

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Homage II
April 20, 2021

Angela Reilly’s Homage II was one of those magical experiences where art can just overwhelm you. Sitting in a pub in Glasgow on my first night ever in the UK, a series of 5 portraits hung around the room had my full attention. From a distance I thought I was looking at photographs, but close up, it was so much more. You can practically see the blood coursing through the swimmer’s veins trying to warm her up. Angela won the National Portrait Gallery’s Portrait Award in 2006 and shows regularly in the UK.

You can find Angela on Facebook, and on Instagram.

~ Mark Walton

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Prairie Gothic
April 20, 2021

George Webber
Rocky Mountain Books, 2013
$50.00 CND

If I was asked to pick 1 book of Canadian photography to be on a desert island with, it would be George Webber’s Prairie Gothic. I was lucky enough to be in Calgary when George had an exhibition at the small Art Gallery space downtown in 2008. The work, much of it from this book, changed me. Much like Walker Evan’s photographs in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men and the American south of the depression era, Prairie Gothic is a momentous testament to the landscape and people of the Canadian West.

georgewebber.ca

~ Mark Walton

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IOWA
April 20, 2021

Nancy Rexroth
University of Texas Press, 2017
$55.95 CND

This reprint of Nancy Rexroth’s seminal survey of images, taken with a toy Diana camera in the 1970’s, influenced a wide array of photographers, including Sally Mann, who referenced it as an inspiration in her book Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings. Anyone who adheres to the principal of “less is more” needs to buy this.

nancyrexroth.com

~ Mark Walton

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Fractured Flag
April 20, 2021

Amy Weil’s Fractured Flag is an encaustic piece steeped in the tradition of Jasper Johns and the protest movement of the 1960’s. It caught my eye immediately as a testament to the events (and those leading up to them) of January 6th. Weil acknowledges “Whenever I put these colors together, it feels political. I don’t often pair them for that reason.”

You can find Amy on Facebook, on Instagram and at amyweilpaintings.com

~ Mark Walton

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Click! The Photography of Stanley Rosenthall
April 12, 2021

“Photography to me is like a kid playing in a sandbox…”

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Amber Lee WIlliams – Femina Bulla Est #9
August 18, 2021

The work of Amber Lee Williams, an artist from the Niagara Region of Southern Ontario, almost always concerns itself with motherhood and children, exploring the concepts of life within, the constancy of change, attachment and removal, and notions of femininity.

Femina Bulla Est (Woman is a Bubble), is a sequence of macro photographs of pink bubblegum. Amber deftly takes the binary state of man’s being, as depicted by the soap bubble in Dutch Renaissance Vanitas paintings (homo bulla est) and turns it on its ear… where man is either strong or broken, women have a strength and flexibility that allows them to persevere.

“I thought I would begin by simply blowing soap bubbles, photographing them, and seeing what happened. I asked (my daughter) if she wanted to help me blow bubbles and she thought I meant bubblegum bubbles. As soon as she mentioned the bubblegum it was a total lightbulb moment, and I have to give her credit for the idea.”

Femina Bulla Est #9 is incredibly organic, suggesting a beating heart, or the crepe-like tissue of placenta. Partially inflated, one gathers that there is life within, flush with blood and good health. One could also perceive the darker top section as a scab, protecting the soft tissue below as it heals from a trauma.

“The original bubble in Vanitas paintings suddenly pops and life ends, but in my version the bubble inflates and deflates again and again. The bubble is both fragile and resilient. Beyond the more obvious, and my personal connections to motherhood (carrying a child within my body, that body stretching…), I also think of the inflated and deflated, not just as physical states but also states of mind and related to mental health.”

You can seem more of Amber’s work at https://amberleeart.com, and on Instagram @amberlee.art. ~ Mark Walton

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Shane Balkowitsch | Wet Plate Collodionist
January 26, 2021

“Art can be a weapon for change and we artists have the ability to wield it at will”

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Mathew McCarthy
July 13, 2020

At first glance, the “florals” shot by Mathew McCarthy resemble some sort of memento mori with their desiccated seed pods, dried petals and withered roots and stems.

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