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”

The salon – The Art Junket

DSC_4739.jpg
mbfitzmahan.  The first Art Junket Salon.  2015

The Salon

After 2 years of sharing my photos on social media and exhibiting my art, the best thing I do for my art is to work in a salon experience.

A salon is a gathering in the home of an inspiring host,  to show and discuss art. The salon is an  ‘incubator’ for new ideas.  It is where rising artists can gather and draw inspiration.

The salon of the 21st century is a continuation of the spirit of the cafes in Paris where great artists and writers met in the 1920s and 30s.  Over cups of cafe noisette Hemingway sat in Le Select writing, smoking, and meeting with other writers and artists.  Hemingway escaped the claustrophobic confines of his small apartment and daily took up residence in Parisian cafes where he wrote The Sun Also Rises.  My favorite Hemingway book is his autobiographical account of his early years in Paris, A Moveable Feast.

It was in the cafés and salons of Paris that artists broke away from the stultifying and male dominated art world in Europe.

Continue reading “The salon – The Art Junket”

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.

Photography is a solo sport

Takayama -tree.jpg
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.

DSCF5217-2-Edit.jpg
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.

DSC_0844.jpg
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?

DSC_5175 - Version 4-Edit.jpg
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.

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.

Provocative Photography

 

DSCF8815-Edit.jpg
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”

Quiet refinement

Jōkōji, Japan
mbfitzmahan. 2012 Jōkōji, Japan. A weed deserves to be noticed once in awhile.

I have two deep passions.  Black and white photography, and kanji, the system of Japanese writing.   The allure of these two systems comes from my attraction to Japanese aesthetics: simplicity, suggestion, irregularity, quiet refinement. 

Both photography and kanji can be minimalistic, complex, esoteric, mysterious, and enigmatic.    Continue reading “Quiet refinement”

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?”

For Women – The Women’s March Oakland

dscf8931-edit
mbfitzmahan. 2017 Oakland, CA. The Women’s March.

Over 100,000 people came out to march.  Women, girls, men, boys.  Black, White, Asian, Latina, Native American, Irish, Russian.

This was a protest march for women.  About issues that concern women.  Women’s health, babies’ rights, children’s education, African American rights, Latinos rights, immigrant issues, voters’ rights, the environment, men’s rights, LGBTQ rights.  Prisons, police abuse, rape.  “So many issues, so little sign,” was my favorite sign of the March.

Continue reading “For Women – The Women’s March Oakland”

Photographing the Crowd

2012-japan-dragoon-fans
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”

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.””

“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

Japanese aesthetics

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Imperial gardens, Kyoto – Japan

women’s only train car -Nagoya

woman's only train
women’s only train. June 13, 2013. Nagoya, Japan
iPhone 5. ISO 50. 4.1 mm. f/2.4. 1/127. Lightroom. Silver Efex Pro 2

a journey – even today

a journey - even today. June 13, 2013. Nagoya, Japan iPhone 5. ISO 50. 4.1 mm. f/2.4. 1/30. Lightroom. Silver Efex Pro 2
a journey – even today. June 13, 2013. Nagoya, Japan
iPhone 5. ISO 50. 4.1 mm. f/2.4. 1/30. Lightroom. Silver Efex Pro 2

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.

I like to wash, the dust of this world, in the droplets of dew (Bashō 1644-1694)

droplets of dew
droplets of dew. February 18, 2013. Kozoji, Japan
iPhone 5. ISO 80. 4.1mm.f/2.4/1/20. 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.