In Memorium – Volodymyr Kovalchuk

Volodymyr Kovalchuk. Lutsk,Ukraine. 1998.
mbfitzmahan. Volodymyr Kovalchuk. Lutsk,Ukraine. 1998.

Volodymyr Kovalchuk of Lutsk, Ukraine, and my friend of 20 years, died on May 1, 2017.

He died of stomach cancer. “Volodymyr thought you were a very noble person,” my friend wrote me.  “I saw him about 6 months ago.  We stood outside my apartment and reminisced about those years when the Fitzmahan’s lived in our town.  We talked about how much we looked forward to working together to help with your next book.”

Many of my friends from Ukraine are suffering.  Jobs have dried up.  Pensions are not sufficient to pay for retirement.  Many have left and moved to other parts of Europe.

Those who can not leave, stay behind dreading the Russian invasion and fear for their survival.

Continue reading “In Memorium – Volodymyr Kovalchuk”

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Why show art?

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mbfitzmahan. Zoey. Berkeley, CA. 2017

1) Art is one of the extraordinary ways human beings share experiences or emotions that we are unable to communicate in any other way. 

Beauty, love, hope.  Loss, fear, hate.  Awe, faith, excitement.

The soulful moments we experience walking into St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco.

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mbfitzmahan. St. Mary’s Cathedral. San Francisco, California. 2015.

The giggling kind of fun we feel when we hear the beat and the sound of Bruno Mars singing “Downtown Funk.”

These are moments of art.

Continue reading “Why show art?”

Temple incense

mbfitzmahan. Temple Incense – Boys and old man. Osu Kannon Temple, Nagoya – Japan. 2012.  Framed: 18 x 18 in.

Giving off aromas of deep green woods, a massive bronze incense burner is central to the Japanese temple.

A wayfarer embraces the smoke.  Clinging to the remains of the sandalwood, he applies the wood scent to his hands, hair, and clothes.

Standing on the shoulders of Giants

mbfitzmahan. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants. Pittsburg, CA. 2015. Framed: 18 x 18.

Isaac Newton wrote, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” This rather modest and self deprecating statement, is an admission that all that we know and all that we achieve is only possible because of the hard work of those humans who did the work before us.

Now it is our turn. To journey, to seek. To find truth. To make great art. To make a better world than the one we inherited.

It is a responsibility not to be taken lightly.

We are the shoulders from which the next generations will launch.

If we do not contribute to human knowledge. If we do not bring woman-kind closer to world peace. If we do not come closer to making a sustainable use of the world’s resources.

We will be forgotten. Or worse, we will be held responsible. We will be condemned.

Roma child

mbfitzmahan. Roma Child. Evora, Portugal. 2008 (black & white photograph.  framed: 16 x 16 in)

Just a little girl.  Barefoot.  Wearing a torn white shift.  An enigma – poor and lost.  Is she cold?   Where did she come from? Where is her mother?

These are questions that could be applied to all Roma people. Where do they come from? Where do they live?  Who cares for them?

I took this photo during a visit to a sleepy little town in Portugal. Very quiet. No tourists.

Roma music plays an important role in many European countries. The Gypsy Kings, a popular group of salsa singers from Arles and Montpellier (in the south of France), were mostly gitanos, Berber-Moroccan and Spanish gypsies who fled Catalonia during the 1930s Spanish Civil War.

Roma are also associated with a romanticized idea of their mystical powers and passionate temper. Fortune telling grows out of folklore associated with Renaissance magic, closely associated with the Roma.

As of 2013, with a population of 12 a 13 million people, the Roma people were the largest minority group in a Europe. Communicative Methodology of Research and Recognition of Roma People

The Roma generally are reticent to assimilate with local cultures.  Refusing to educate their children in national schools, suspicious of  local and national laws, and following their own singular customs, have made these people a pariah in many countries.  Associated with chronic poverty and criminal behavior, the Roma people often suffer persecution, prosecution, and mistreatment.

In the 1940s, the Nazis tried to exterminate the Roma people in a process known in Romani as the Porajmos. 1,500,000 men, women, and children were  killed.  Later, the Soviets conducted a universal sterilization of Roma women.  Today, post Soviet Eastern Europe is rife with discrimination and persecution of the Roma people.

The Italians don’t know what to do with the 150, 000 Roma people that crowd their streets begging from visiting tourists.  “With the addition of Eastern European states such as Romania into the European Union, Italy has seen an influx of Roma people in the past decade. The attitude towards the Roma people is for the most part hostile, accusing them of opting for crime over a legitimate job and isolating themselves from Italian society (and taxes) by living in illegal camps. One survey in 2008 found that 68 percent of people in Italy wanted all Roma expelled from the country. ” (The Roma People and the Italians: A Strained Relationship)

Come see my work: Art Trax in Pittsburg

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mbfitzmahan. Kaitlin. Pittsburg, California. 2014.

Come to my  upcoming show!  This Thursday.  From 5 pm to 8.

Then, let’s go to E.J. Phair, the local brewery for a beer on tap and the best pizza in Northern California!

I am participating in Art Trax in Pittsburg, CA.   I will be showing 13 of my pieces.

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mbfitzmahan.  Temple Incense.  Osu Kannon Temple, Nagoya – Japan. 2012

This will be Pittsburg, California’s first art walk.  It is an art walk through Old Town Pittsburg, with 20 venues and 24 artists.   Open every third Thursday of the month, the art walk features the artwork of local artists.

Where: 777 Railroad Ave (My Beauty Salon), Pittsburg, California.  40 minutes East from Berkeley.  Right on the Bart.

When: April 20, 2017.  5-8pm

Art Trax 2017 Brochure-Final

List of venues and artists-13Apr

 

Photography is a solo sport

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mbfitzmahan. Takayama. 2013.

My photography is best when my photos introduce you to me.  In my photography you can find seven decades of this artist.  Not only what I did, but what I value.

There are many photographers that have mentored me.  I have been inspired by their photos, their skills, their aesthetics, their teachings.  Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ruth Bernhard, Édouard Boubat, Niki Boon, Ansel Adams, Margaret Bourke-White, Mariana YampolskyEric Kim.

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mbfitzmahan. Noren hanging. 2016.

Art is a solo sport.

Make your photos be you. This is what will make your photography completely unique. No one else is even close to being YOU.  Incomparable. You are not in competition with anyone else.

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mbfitzmahan. Lovers in Rome. 2007.

Now comes the hard part.  Who are you?

Make a list. What do you like to study? What do you like to do? Who and what do you love?

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mbfitzmahan. Tempo. 2015.

For me,

  • I am deeply touched by Japanese aesthetics.
    • simplicity
    • empty space, irregularity
    • nature
    • aging, the imperfect
  • I love Japanese kanji and calligraphy.
  • I like to translate and study haiku.
  • I am drawn to the study of Zen Buddhism.
  • I am interested in philosophy.
  • I like learning about the universe, the stars, and the constellations.
  • I like mathematics.
  • I am fascinated by history.
  • I like to travel.
  • I like to have conversations with strangers.
  • I like stories, and sussing out the secrets that people like to share.
  • I like cultures different from my own.
  • I like the aesthetic of black and white photography.
  • I like the beauty of older people, and children.
  • I love and am fascinated by my daughters, my grandsons, and my husband.
  • I like to write.

The multipotentialite photographer

mbfitzmahan. Rome, Italy.  2007.

 

So, I was again having a WAIGTDWIGUM (what-am-I-going-to-do-when-I-grow-up) moment.  You know, when you feel guilty because you can’t figure out what it is that you were born to be?  See my last post.

Shouldn’t I have figured out what I am suppose to be in this life?

The question was also bleeding into my photography.  I asked myself what am I doing in photography? What kind of photos should I be making?

Continue reading “The multipotentialite photographer”

A case of WAIGTBWIGU

mbfitzmahan. Taboo.  2015.

When I was 26, I thought I was finally all grown up.

After many years of schooling, I had just passed the bar exam. I was a REAL attorney. With a real job.

Continue reading “A case of WAIGTBWIGU”

Left for another

mbfitzmahan. Left for another Woman.  Tallinn, Estonia. 2008

This photo was taken inside a large abandoned movie theater in Old Town, Tallinn, Estonia.

After the Soviet Union collapsed, the movie theaters closed down. The Communist Party used movies as an effective tool to educate, entertain, and to inculcate Party values in its youth. Soviet movies were the best entertainment in town.

The communist occupiers were thrown out of Estonia in 1991. Democracy and capitalism were adopted, and the aging old movie houses were replaced by ungainly concrete movie complexes. Going to the movies in Tallinn today is like stepping into an AMC movie complex in Walnut Creek, California. Popcorn, Coke, M & Ms, jelly beans, and Brad Pitt.

In 2008, when I was teaching photography in Tallinn, Saskia, one of my students, cajoled her father to allow me to take photos of the abandoned movie theater he owned in Old Town. Saskia’s father was one of the deeply wealthy nouveau riche in Tallinn.

How Saskia’s father, a Russian-Estonian, moved up from being a common worker of the communist Soviet Union, to a multimillionaire is part of a murky tale of acquisition of wealth in the early years of independence.

The Russians of Estonia, unlike Putin’s oligarch friends, did not walk away with political power in Estonia, the smallest of the Soviet republics. But, great wealth during privatization of property was grabbed by a few.

Documentaries – Inspiration for Photography

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2015. Spring. Berkeley, CA

When I’m looking for ideas for photography, I look for inspiration wherever I can find it.

Recently, I watched Chef’s Table on Netflix. Chef’s Table is a series developed by David Gelb who filmed Jiro Dreams of Sushi. The cinematography in the series is visually rich, the stories are engaging, and the film is escorted by the music from Philip Glass and Vivaldi.

Continue reading “Documentaries – Inspiration for Photography”

Provocative Photography

 

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mbfitzmahan. 2017. Oakland Women’s March. Women are Human Beings.

Photography has the ability to influence world politics and public opinion.  I took the photo above three weeks ago, the day after the Trump inauguration.   I marched with my husband, my two daughters, and their families and friends down the streets of Oakland to not only say we support women’s rights, but to advise the Trump administration and the Republican Congress that,  “We will not go quietly into the night,” to paraphrase Dylan Thomas.

Continue reading “Provocative Photography”

What did you do with it, while I was gone?

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mbfitzmahan. 2017. Marching

I sit here feeling sorry for myself.  For my children.  And, yes, and for the rest of the country.  In the shadow of the 2016 presidential campaign and election,  I grieve for the losses in my country.  I weep.  I mourn.

Continue reading “What did you do with it, while I was gone?”

Equipment Check

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mbfitzmahan. 2016. Central Park, NY

I’ve received a few questions on what camera I use.  When I need a new camera, I like to go and talk to someone I trust for advice on cameras and lenses.  So, I’ll tell you what I use.

Continue reading “Equipment Check”

A Family, a Job, and a Photographer

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mbfitzmahan. 2004. Wales, UK.  Katie.

When my children were little, I felt guilty when I worked on photography.   Who had time to work on art when there were all those dirty clothes to wash and diapers to change? Dinners to make.   Children and husband to tend to?

I got around this problem by making my girls my models.  “OK.  Katie sit here.  It will be just a minute,  then we’ll make scones.  I promise.  No…just a few more minutes.  I’m almost done.  Hey, Shauna, please come get in this picture, too.   It’ll just be a minute….”

Continue reading “A Family, a Job, and a Photographer”

What flavor do you like your photos?

Kiyomizu Temple
mbfitzmahan. 2013. Kyoto, Japan. Incense. Kiyomizu Temple

I  make my photos in black and white.

I’ll admit it, I do sometimes take photos in color.  But, I don’t think of those photos as real photography.  You know, art photography. 

Wait!  

Rewind.  Let me backtrack.  Color photos of family.   Babies, grandparents, the latest vacations.  Those are wonderful photos. They are snapshots of our lives.  Of our times together.  I love looking at them.  I liked sharing them on my iPhone.  I like to sit with my girls, laughing and talking about the adventures in those photos. Continue reading “What flavor do you like your photos?”

Photographing the Crowd

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mbfitzmahan. 2012 Nagoya, Japan. Leaving the baseball stadium, Nagoya Stadium

There are different kinds of crowds.  There is the Sunday-go-for-a-walk crowd.  There is the tourists-watching-the-street-performer crowd.  There is the parade-watching crowd.  There is the March for Women crowd.  There is the protest crowd.  There is the riot crowd.

For a street photographer, a crowd is a gift.  No one pays much attention to the photographer and there are plenty of opportunities to get interesting candid pictures of people.

Continue reading “Photographing the Crowd”

All Human Life in a Frame

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mbfitzmahan. 2016. New York. All Human Life in a Frame.

A solitary man.

The cuffs of his pants were frayed. His coat torn.  His shoes were worn.

I was walking through Central Park in New York, when I took this photograph.  I sat across from this spot for about ten minutes.  Waiting for the right light, the right composition.  I wanted to take this picture without obviously being noticed.

Continue reading “All Human Life in a Frame”

The empty bus rattled down the road. In the wrong direction.

Black and white photograph of figure walking down a dark hallway to the foreground where there is a lit door
Dark hall of Lesya Ukrainka University. Lutsk, Ukraine. 1997

“Just take the Number 8 bus,” the secretary said. “You’ll have no trouble getting home.”
“But all the buses look alike,” I pleaded, with what I thought was perfectly good logic.
“Don’t worry. You won’t get lost,” she said with a smile and then returned to her magazine. Continue reading “The empty bus rattled down the road. In the wrong direction.”

“We Ukrainians are depressed. So we smoke and we drink coffee. Unless we drink vodka. But, I don’t have any vodka today.”

Two girls peeking around the corner of a dilapidated stone wall.
Friends. Lutsk, Ukraine. 1998

Nora puts herself in her art. Pointing to her sketch of a pregnant woman sitting on a turtle, she said,  “See here. It’s my nose. I can’t paint without putting it in.” I bought this sketch, The Spanish Lady, from Nora in 1998.  For a $100.  I smuggled the piece out of Ukraine, rolled up in my guitar case.   

Continue reading ““We Ukrainians are depressed. So we smoke and we drink coffee. Unless we drink vodka. But, I don’t have any vodka today.””

“Hide your papers,” he advised, “under the potatoes.”

Black and white photograph of four youths climbing stairs in post-Soviet Lutsk, Ukraine in 1997.
In the Neighborhood. Lutsk, Ukraine. 1997

“A man came to the KGB office.  He looked frightened.  ‘My talking parrot has disappeared.’ The agent was confused.  ‘That’s not the kind of case we handle here. Why don’t you go to the police?’ The man frowned, ‘I know that, but I am here to tell you officially that I disagree with the parrot.’”  Viktor, dean of the law school, was a man who liked a joke.  I once read that every nation likes political jokes, but to the people of the Soviet Union, jokes were a national sport. 

On my first day at the university, Viktor took my hand and smiled,  “I am happy you are here to help us get a new perspective.  A class in comparative law is just what we need. I must warn you, though, we have no textbooks, no printer, and no computers.  Sometimes we don’t even have lights,” he laughed.   Continue reading ““Hide your papers,” he advised, “under the potatoes.””

My first darkroom image

Shauna in a hammock
Shauna. 1st Darkroom image. Vashon Island, WA. 1995. Nikon

I first saw an image rise up from a pan of Kodak D-76 in 1995. I cried. It was a miracle, and I had created it.  Well, Nikon, Kodak, and a bunch of chemicals had created it. The blank 8 x 10 piece of paper morphed into a black and white image of a freckled girl becoming a woman. I didn’t realize the experience would be so personal, so intimate. I needed my own darkroom. I picked up a newspaper and searched for a used enlarger. I found a 30 year old, 3 foot tall, Omega D6 on sale by an 85 year old man. He sold me his entire darkroom: light box, loupes, timer, safelight, tongs, easel, and enlarger.    Continue reading “My first darkroom image”

“Is OK. I speak English. Not very well, but we will be fine. We will talk photography.”

Volodya - Volyn Studio. Lutsk, Ukraine. 1997
Volodya – Volyn Studio. Lutsk, Ukraine. 1997

“Hey, Volodya, take care of this American lady,” Borys hollered down the hall.  A gangly young man peered around the corner.  Grunting to Borys in a “Ja, ja,” but smiling at me like Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins, a young man took my hand and guided me down and around into a long narrow room soaked with the smell of chemicals.  “Is OK.  I speak English.  Not very well, but we will be fine. We will be friends.  We will talk photography.” Pointing to the enlargers, he said, “These are old Russian machines.  Not bad.  Nothing like you have in America, I bet.”

Continue reading ““Is OK. I speak English. Not very well, but we will be fine. We will talk photography.””

box of chocolates – find the truffles, avoid the orange cream

Questing
Sicily, Italy

To my  followers and visitors: I’m traveling to the States this week.  I’ll be gone for 5 weeks for an exciting and happy visit with family.  I hope to continue blogging.  Please keep coming to visit; I really like comments. Thank you for encouraging me.  I appreciate being a part of a network of fellow travelers through cyberspace.   Have a fruitful and art-filled summer.   Maureen

Congratulations Kaitlin!

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Congratulations, Katie. We are so proud of you!

Just a diversion from my photoblog.  I want to take time out to talk about something really important.  Family.

Today our youngest daughter, Kaitlin,  graduated from her Master’s program at the University of California, Davis in Community Development.  Wow!  An incredible endeavor.

Kaitlin is an artistic, brilliant and compassionate young woman.  She makes a difference!

if I hold the tears, they sparkle – autumn dusk

Miyajima dusk
Miyajima. October 10, 2012. Hiroshima, Japan
Nikon D7000. AF-S DX Nikkor 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G. ISO 400. 18mm. 1/13. 1/640. Lightroom. Silver Efex Pro 2.

the full moon – give it to me – the child cries (Issa 1763-1827)

Happy Anniversary!

WordPress.com for

6 years !

give it to me. March 29, 2013. Kyoto, Japan Nikon D7000. AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G. ISO 800. 35mm. f/2. 1/800. Lightroom. Silver Efex Pro 2
give it to me. March 29, 2013. Kyoto, Japan
Nikon D7000. AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G. ISO 800. 35mm. f/2. 1/800. Lightroom. Silver Efex Pro 2

名月を 取ってくれろと 泣く子かな 一茶

meigetsu wo – totte kurero to – naku ko kana (Issa)

smoke – whispers – an ancient wood

smoke. October 13, 2012. Oso Kannon – Nagoya, Japan
Nikon D7000. AF-S DX Nikkor 35 mm f/1.8 G. ISO 400. 35mm. f/2. 1/400. Lightroom. Silver Efex Pro 2.

In Edo Japan, the nape of the neck was seen as the most sensuous part of the body.

美人画 -(bijinga) beautiful women. . March 30, 2013. Kyoto, Japan
Nikon D7000. AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G. ISO 400. 35 mm. f/7.1. 1/200. Lightroom. Silver Efex Pro 2.

Kyoto

Kiyomizu via iPad 2-3
Kyoto. March 29, 2013. Kyoto, Japan.
Nikon D7000. AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 G. ISO 800. 35 mm. f/8/ 1/250. Lightroom. Silver Efex Pro 2.
Kiyomizu via iPad 2-2-2
Kyoto. March 29, 2013. Kyoto, Japan.
Nikon D7000. AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 G. ISO 400. 35 mm. f/9. 1/320. Lightroom. Silver Efex Pro 2.

 

Kiyomizudera – Kyoto

Kiyomizu via iPad 2-2
Kiyomizudera. March 30, 2013. Kyoto, Japan
Nikon D7000. AF-S DX Nikkor 35 mm f/1.8 G. ISO 400. 35mm. f/7.1. 1/200. Lightroom. Silver Efex. Pro 2.

two cars on the train

two cars
two cars on the train. June 6, 2013. Nagoya, Japan
iPhone 5. ISO 100. 4.1 mm. f/2.4. 1/20. Lightroom. Silver Efex Pro 2.

teens on a train

teens
teens. June 6, 2013. Nagoya, Japan.
iPhone 5. ISO 5. 4.1 mm. f/2.4. 1/171. Lightroom. Efex Silver Pro 2.

the bus ride

the bus ride
the bus ride. November 14, 2012. Nagoya, Japan.
iPhone 5. ISO 250. 4.1 mm. f/2.4. 1/20. Lightroom. Efex Silver Pro 2.

street fashion – ‘kawaii’

'kawaii' and. May 31, 2013. Nagoya, Japan. iPhone 5. ISO 50. 4.1mm. f/2.4. 1/24. Lightroom. Silver Efex Pro 2.
‘kawaii’ and. May 31, 2013. Nagoya, Japan.
iPhone 5. ISO 50. 4.1mm. f/2.4. 1/24. Lightroom. Silver Efex Pro 2.