Monday, October 27, 2014

JUST MARRIED by Robert E. Jackson

I like to think of myself as an aesthetic based collector of images.   But there is one area which proves me wrong and that is my interest in “Just Married” photos--or “JM” for the purpose of this small essay.  Why do I collect such photos?  I guess I was first drawn to the folk art aspect of them.  The writing of words on one of the most American of objects—the car—to commemorate the wedding ritual is a curious phenomenon.  And sometimes the words are not written on the car, but instead are printed on pieces of paper and applied to the car.  Plus, as these photos show, much more colorful and original comments are to be found on the “get-away” vehicle than simply “JM”.   Generally the photo is all about the car, not the couple who recently married and who will have to suffer the embarrassment of riding off on their honeymoon with a very public announcement of their recent vows.   I haven’t found any foreign examples of this ritual which might point to the car’s place in society not exerting the same power as it does in America or it is perhaps just the sources I use to find material.  I am thinking this ritual is dying out as more people rent fancy cars to leave the reception or don’t drive to their honeymoon destination but rather just take a trip on an airplane.  Also having some sign or writing on the wedding car announcing the recent event was the one public way of telling the world that the couple was JM.  Now we share all via multiple images and videos on Facebook, a special website, YouTube etc.  

Thursday, May 1, 2014


-->The concept of the “selfie” isn't new, as the photos below show. What is new, is the media dissemination of them.  Before, they were taken for private visual consumption. Now, they are made mainly for public dissemination.

Jim Radke


Erin Waters

Mark Glovsky

Joel Rotenberg

Robert E. Jackson

John Van Noate

Stacy Waldman

Randall de Rijk - including a recent photobooth selfie.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


I collect 19th and early 20th century U.S. cabinet cards.  I know people associate me with snapshot collecting, but as the years have passed since the 2007 D.C. show at the National Gallery which used my collection to tell the story (or a story) of the history of the snapshot, I have searched for another area which might yield some interesting finds and which there would perhaps be less competition for images.  I found it in cabinet cards. The area is rich in content, understudied, undervalued (generally), and underappreciated (mostly). There is no book written in English which deals exclusively with the cabinet card and its history. Not a one. Nada. 

My thought would be that if ever a museum show is mounted using as its basis my cabinet card collection (or images from many different cabinet card collectors) , the last room or final wall would be devoted to how contemporary artists are using this 19th century photo medium as the groundwork for creating their own art. I am a big proponent of the idea that some collections find me, I don’t actively look for them. That is the case with altered cabinet cards. I didn’t know such work existed and then I started seeing them mentioned on Facebook, etc. And I became intrigued and starting purchasing a few as a natural offshoot of my collecting the originals.  People make contemporary dags, cyanotypes, etc., but the cabinet card is the only 19th century photo medium I know where artists use the physical object as the basis of creating something new and exciting.  In other words, I don’t see or hear of many people taking an old tintype and painting on it (although it has been done to a limited degree).  And while there are altered CDVs, the larger size of the cabinet card offers a richer canvas for creativity.  Going down this road has meant dealing with fine art galleries as some of the artists included here are represented by galleries and don’t sell their work outright to collectors. This work is not sold as photography, but as painted or collage pieces using the photo object as its basis. 

So without further ado, I would like to share some examples of what artists are doing with the cabinet card.  And I should note that this isn’t every artist or altered cabinet card I own, but a representative sample. There are a few artists who are still working on pieces which will hopefully end up in my collection.

 Artist:  Anne La Fever

Artist:  Tom Butler
He is represented in the U.S. by Aucocisco Gallery in Portland, Maine.  His work was recently the subject of a show there entitled "Inner Worlds."  See

Artist:  Warren Munzel

Artist:  Bill Lee

Artist:  Mike Wellins

Artist:  Jonah Samson

Artist:  Amy Johnquest

Artist:  Alex Gross
His work is represented by the Jonathan LeVine Gallery in NYC.
This piece is entitled "Legolas."

Artist:  Colin Batty
Batty's work will be featured in a show at The Peculiarium (founded by Mike Wellins who is one of the artists featured here) in Portland, Oregon, from 4/2 - 5/15/2014

Artist:  Lynn Skordal

Artist:  Marianne Clancy
Encaustic (Heated beeswax to which colored pigments are added).

Artist:  Margaret Meehan
From her "Barnburners" series
Gouache and vintage glitter glass

Artist:  Rachel Phillips
From her "Divinations" series
Note website and process for making this work on the featured folder for the work above.  Her cabinet card art will be featured in an exhibition in July at Jack Fischer Gallery in San Francisco.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

PAIRS by Joel Rotenberg

From the collection of Joel Rotenberg.   His blog is Looking For Snapshots.