Sunday, November 27, 2011


There's a Henri Matisse saying "Il y a des fleurs partout pour qui veut bien les voir," which translates as "there are flowers everywhere for those who bother to look."  As an avid photographer and also as a collector of vernacular photographs, I'm always looking for fleeting, overlooked moments. Within these little miracles, I look for a sense of beauty or a an epiphany.

Unfortunately, the dust of everyday life blinds our sense to beautiful scenes. Matisse's soul was open to (thrived upon?)  these moments, and he had a great talent to paint these moments. Fortunately, these moments can be also be documented by amateur photographers.

Ironically, it could be argued that the amateur's snapshot may be more likely to echo Matisse's saying than an art photographer's work. The amateur's photo is a spontaneous, heartfelt snapshot while the artist has a more measured, filtered approach.

My selected photographs champion the unknown photographer who recorded a special moment. While we don't know the photographer, perhaps the viewer can share the feelings the photographer experienced.

The "Clothesline" photograph presents us with a gently sloping clothesline which is kissed by a gentle breeze. The diaphanous garments illuminated by strong sunlight suggest a warm summer environment yet the leaf-less trees reveal a much different story. What makes this such an outstanding example of "flowers everywhere" is that this elegant laundry line represents one of the most mundane chores we all suffer through. As a final note, there's the wonderful ability of the photograph to capture the invisible force of the wind,which leads us nicely into the next photograph.

In "Convertible" we have some information written on the back of the photograph--"Jeanne - rather wind blown - in front seat of car - taken while riding along Sunday May 4th on way home from Washington." We really don't need this information, however, as we are immediately immersed into the feeling of a convertible on a stunning day.  With just a simple snapshot of her blowing hair, we can all relate to the the youthful freedom of a road trip. The destination or purpose is not of importance. We just want to be part of a carefree moment that would perhaps be forgotten except for this photograph. 

 In "Tree Climbing" the photographer points the camera upwards (an unusual angle) at gently winding, leaf-covered branches. Amidst this canopy are a pair of legs poised for greater heights. A seemingly meaningless activity is actually one infused with a sense of exploration with a touch of risk, something we all experience on many levels throughout our lives.  

"Cripple Creek Post Office" makes the eyes dance. We initially view this as dilapidated front that's a hodgepodge of shapes and colors, including a few missing marble tiles revealing domino-like dots. On closer inspection, however, we see a coherent quilt appear out of the randomness. From nature's deterioration of the panels and the door, and the human touches of the signs and posters, we have a tapestry of romantic decay.

I finish with  "Pool" which has a classic snapshot feel. People relax by the pool with a grill smoking in the far right background. The photographer surveys the scene but drops the camera ever so slightly to capture the almost spiritual sunlight shining through the feet of people and then splashing onto the water. The three dimensional people and furniture became a contemplative two dimensional, abstract reflection. This photo reminds us to always look for reflective surfaces and savor their tableau they offer.