A Personal History of Photography

A  Personal  History  of  Photography
An Illustrated, annotated chronology of 
photography projects and related remembrances.
NOTE:  Photography Project Titles are in red typeface    

This webpage covers events through 2011. 
Events from 2012 to the present are on this link:
Part II : A Personal History of Photography - 2012 to present

*     *     *

I was born in a small town, Piqua, Ohio in 1945.  I was born via caesarean section because my baby brother before me died during child birth.  My days in my mother's womb may have been filled with my mother's constant anxiety.  I played baseball in the corner lot and on the school ground 18 hours a day; dug snow tunnels, tripped my sister every chance I could get, often using a rope and tricks I saw on cowboy movies.  And then, when I was nearly 10 years old, my father died.   The only thing to be of any importance to me, really, after his death was photography.  Photography saved my life; and it was to become my way of life.

1955:  My Photography Epiphany

I was almost 10 years old, it was a summer day, and my cousin excitedly ran up to me to show me his new snapshots - fresh from the drugstore.  I realized in that moment I wanted to be a photographer.  

The great photographer Edward Weston wrote of The Flame of Recogninition.  Fredrick Sommer, the great photographer and theorist said:  you don't find anything meaningful "out there" that isn't already inside you.  The great photographer Alfred Stieglitz talked about equivalents in the same way:  "the outer world reflects one's own inner world."  Later, when I studied CG Jung's ideas about synchronicity the same ideas were again confirmed: the outer world is created by archetypal patterns within the Self.  The East Indian sages and the sufis say similarly:  "the outer world is a projection of one's own inner Self."  So it seems that photography was my destiny, my dharma.  Just as Kandinsky wrote of artists working from inner necessity; and just as Agnes Martin wrote of her art production stemming from what she called inspiration, so it seems to me that my life as a photographer was already written out for me.  I just had to discover it and live it.  And my epiphany and my father's death was the starting point. 

My father died shortly after my having had that epiphany, in August. He had been in the hospital so I was staying with my cousins and my Aunt Lilly and Uncle Bob.  On the night that my dad died I had gotten a fever.  Though it was a very hot evening I was shivering cold as I sat in the park with my cousins and my Aunt listening to the local band play music.  ~  I woke myself up during the night: I was pounding my pillow harder and harder and harder.  ~  Early the next morning my Aunt came to tell me that my Dad had died during the night.

My Aunt Betty came up to me after the funeral and said:  "Stevie, now you're the man of the house.  You've got to take good care of your mother."  That responsibility really freaked me out, but it took me a long time to realize it.  I think photography served me as a way to process this emotional and psychological weight, the sense of isolation and the longing for a father, the fear . . . that followed my father's death. 

After my dad died I became totally fixated on photography.  I studied photo books from the library and bought camera magazines, and studied the darkroom equipment in the Sears Catalog photography section.  I helped my friend Larry Householder clean up his dad's old darkroom so we could use it, but before we could work in the lab Larry got very sick and the darkroom project had to be put on hold.  By that December I was ready to request some darkroom equipment for Christmas.  I wanted a darkroom I could call my own. 

NOTE:  To  read other similar short stories about my child hood experience entitled "My First Photographs" ~ "The Siren" ~ "The Christmas Tree" ~ "The Christmas Bells" and several larger essays, such as "Death, Art & Writing"  please visit  Writings: Remembrances.

1959-63:  High School & Photography

My mother remarried and we moved to Portland, Indiana.  
Two of my friends in Portland, Jim Cox and  Steve Habbercorn, shared my interest in photography with me.  I set up my darkroom in my walk-in closet; Jim had his in the garage; Steve's dad turned a tool shed into a darkroom for him (with running water!!!  I was so jealous).  The darkroom was a safe haven for me.  
I became the High School yearbook photographer. I used the darkroom in the physics lab for a while.  I thought it would help me with the physics teacher, Mr. Settle, who was always terrifying to me.  But the darkroom was painted black, and I kept running into things in the dark, so I went back to using my own darkroom in my closet.
One summer I helped my American History teacher once to photograph horse race finishes at the County fair ground.  He used an old army aerial camera with a motor on it from a kitchen mixer.  We had agreed on a day for him to pick me up and take me to the fair ground.   I waited and waited for him  . . . but he had forgotten me.   We got it right on the second try.
I remember discovering W. Eugene Smith's Pittsburgh Story photographs in a Popular Photography Annual and felt that I was going to make photographs like Smith: dark and moody.  The other major finds in my high school days was The Family of Man, John Clarence Laughlin's Ghosts Along the Mississippi, and Irving Stone's two biographies on Van Gogh and Michelangelo :  Lust for Life and The Agony and the Ecstasy.

I had a really great English teacher in my senior year.  Mr. Cotner was a writer and was working his way through school in pursuit of his PhD by teaching at Portland High.  For his required end of the year project he allowed me to create my own exhibition of photographs which I displayed on the wall at the back of the room.  It followed the major thematic format - and I used some of the text - from the famous Family of Man exhibition and catalogue.  I owned the softback book Family of Man - it had become by that time something like my bible to me.  I studied it faithfully every day.  It seemed to me all of life was contained in that one small book.  As I remember it, I had pictures and text that dealt with the big themes of life:  Creation, Love, Birth, Work, Death.

I was very shy, I think it was in part because there were serious problems in my high school days with my step father.  He was a gambler and a drinker.  He was a constant disappointment and I became very depressed with my family life in Portland, Indiana.  I vowed to get out of town and study photography in a college far away instead of getting a girl pregnant and staying in town and working in a factory or at best going to college at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana and then become a school teacher in the nearby area.  So I decided to take my camera to the Senior Prom as yearbook photographer rather than taking a girl.  Photography kept me safe, as witness rather than participant in my life as a teenager.  Mr Cotner criticized me in class about not taking a girl to the prom, and taking my camera instead.  I was deeply hurt by his well meaning attack.  He became one of many father figure disappointments I would experience. 

It occurred to me recently though what his criticism may have been about.  We had an international student in our senior class who needed to be invited to the Prom.  I think I was expected to invite her.  I don't remember if anyone asked me to ask her. My best friend, Byron Bond took her as his date, along with his girlfriend Alice.  Alice and her family was host to the international student.  And so it sort of became obvious to everyone but me that I would double date with my best friend Byron and his girlfriend Alice.  Anyways . . . I put my prom photographs into something like a picture story modeled after W. Eugene Smith, with text and titles, and the Portland Newspaper published the whole thing as double page spread in the paper.

When I was a child I played baseball and basketball all the time in the neighborhood.  It was great fun.  But after my father died, after my mother remarried and we moved to Indiana, I stopped enjoying sports.  At the Junior High and Senior level of organized sports there was tremendous competition and bullying, and stress of performing well.  I got very depressed about it all.  I stayed in sports to stay away from home as much as possible each day, but it was very difficult, joyless.  Then I discovered tennis.  I loved it.  I had only myself to deal with, and I excelled at it.  I made some new friends who were older and more mature and they took me under their wing.  I survived my high school senior year in part because of tennis, photography, my friend Byron and the trip we were planning after graduation.

As a celebration of our graduation from High School, Byron and I decided to go  on a road trip.  He was to write stories about our adventures, I was to make photographs to go with the stories.  We saved some of our lunch money for our trip by buying a bag of Fritos and eating them together as we planned out our trip. We went up into Michigan and camped near the Mackinac.  The bridge at night was magnificent.  I made a good photo of it.   I have a vivid memory of driving back to Portland, Indiana with the power steering going out on us sporadically.  The sun was shinning into my eyes and reflecting harshly off the road.  It was very hot.  I could not wait to go to Rochester, NY to study photography at the end of the summer.  But I thought perhaps I would never make it back home alive because of the power steering. 

1963-66  Studied Photography at RIT, Rochester, NY
I decided I was going to be a photojournalist or a commercial photographer and wanted to study photography in college.  I got a small scholarship at RIT, one of the few schools in the country at that time to offer serious programs in photography.  

There were three majors in the photo programs at RIT:  Professional, Science, Fine Art.  The first year was a mix of it all.  I don't know how I got through the science classes.  I hated the commercial still life projects.  But I also took classes with Minor White & Beaumont Newhall.  Minor's course knocked my socks off, and I liked Newhall's History of Photo course too, which was held at George Eastman House.  I could never remember the dates of things for his course though.  I loved the pictures.  

(Interestingly, in 1975, Newhall was to serve on my MFA thesis committee at the University of New Mexico; he had moved to Albuquerque to teach History of Photography there as a distinguished professor after retirement from George Eastman House.)
After studying with White and Newhall, and meeting some of the other serious young photographers at RIT, including John Lawlor, Roger Mertin and his friend Don Dickenson, John Gould, Peter Tyler Monson, Gary Metz, John Patterson, Jim Erwin, Larry McPherson, I soon realized I wanted to be an artist rather than a commercial photographer.  

I worked as a roofer to make money for college in Portland that first summer after beginning studies at RIT.  I had intended to make photographs during the summer but I was just too tired after getting home from work at 7 pm.  And the attic darkroom was always so hot in the summer.  Anyways, I feel off a roof that summer.  The plank holder loosened and I gracefully slid down the roof and fell ten feet into a huge rose bush below me.  I was picking thorns out of my ass for days.  The guys I worked with never let me forget it.  I swore I would never do any more hard labor summer jobs.

The second summer I was really worried about going home for the summer and working again on roofs or at the canning factory.  I didn't want to face my family life in Portland, Indiana either.  The relationship between my step father, my mother and me was very difficult, very stressful, very depressing.  But fortunately Roger Mertin helped me get a job at the RIT bookstore for the summer.  It was really great - I could stay in Rochester all summer, where it was air conditioned and I could eat all the candy I wanted in the bookstore.  

Early photography influences included: W. Eugene Smith, Lee Friedlander, Eugene Atget, Alfred Stieglitz, Aaron Siskind, Harry Callahan, Minor White, Nathan Lyons (at that time curator of exhibitions at George Eastman House, I took two of his home workshops), Gary Winogrand, Mario Giacomelli, Paul Caponigro and Duane Michaels.  Basically, everything I saw published in Aperture - Minor White's quarterly of fine photography - and everyone I saw at the Eastman House in either exhibition or book form was an influence on me at that time.

Nathan Lyons Home Workshop 1965 & 1966
I took Nathan Lyon’s Home Workshops in 1964-65 & 65-66 (while taking RIT classes) with fellow students Roger Mertin, Alice Wells and Jim Erwin (Jim was later to become my brother-in-law).  I would leave those home sessions shaking with excitement.  I loved those workshop sessions.  Nathan often asked us: "Why do you make photographs?"  Nathan emphasized the importance of the book form for photographic statement making.  I made several books of photographs for his workshop.  For the conclusion of the second year workshop Nathan assigned us a large book project.  To see my book click here.  To see other images from this period click here  Later, as a teacher, I would give a book assignment as the last assignment of my Photo II class.

For the third summer, 1966 I worked at George Eastman House, in the darkroom, thanks to Nathan Lyons.  I remember printing Edward Weston images from copy negatives made by Ansel Adams, among other things.  I also worked with a film maker friend, John Patterson, a great photographer - though he felt his real calling was to become a film maker.  He was doing a documentary on Rochester that summer and I was his assistant, lugging equipment and making stills of all the shots for the film.  

Working in the RIT bookstore, working at Eastman House, working on a small film crew ...  It was one of the most memorable summers of my life.  Though I felt guilty not going home and supporting my mother in a very difficult marriage, I was on my own, away from home, in the art photography capitol of the world and making money by doing what I loved most. 

Nathan Lyons help me, Roger Mertin and Alice Wells have a short exhibition at the famous Underground Gallery in NYC  Jan 12-29, 1967.  My images (made in Chicago in 1967) were influenced by Duane Michaels - his street portraits.   Nathan told me that my hero, Robert Frank, saw the show and said something complimentary about my work.  I was in heaven.  When I think back to this now, I'm amazed to think I was in a NY City exhibition during my third year in college.  I had no idea then what that meant.  I was very naive, or in denial. 

click to enlarge

After I took Minor White's Visual Communications course at RIT, he left for a teaching job at MIT.   I felt I had gotten all I could get from Rochester and decided to move to Chicago to finish my Bachelor degree at The Institute of Design (the American Bauhaus) where I could  study with Aaron Siskind.  

I think I never fully realized until recently how generous Nathan Lyons was to me.  He really gave a lot in his workshops. He gave me a signed print at the end of the second workshop. He put my work in an Eastman House show and publication Vision and Expression.  He got me into a two week group show in NYC, at the Underground Gallery, and probably more that I so far have not been able to recall.  Thanks so much Nathan.  

It has taken me a long time to really understand how the psychological underpinnings of my family life affected my relationships to others.  I would put powerful father figures, like Nathan and Minor White, up on my pedestal, then I would look for weaknesses so I could knock them off and emotionally separate from them.  I did that with Nathan in a subtle way and with Minor White.  For example, I went to one of Minor's infamous Friday night print sessions (I was invited by my friend Peter Monson).  At first it was really great.  Lots of people looked at prints, talked about them very seriously.  Minor kept drinking.  Then he became quite inebriated.  It brought up all sorts of bad memories from my family life with my step father.  

1966-68  Chicago 

My friend Jim Erwin had gotten married to a woman who would eventually become my sister-in-law, Phyllis Meleo (Gloria's sister).  Jim and Phyllis were going to Chicago so that Jim could do graduate studies at the Institute of Design with Aaron Siskind.  I felt I had gotten all I could from Rochester, so I was sort of following Jim and Phyllis to Chicago.  I wanted to experience a big city, study with Aaron and I would not have to be alone in Chicago since Jim and Phyllis would be there.  
Phyllis was a great cook.  She and Jim invited me to their apartment on Sundays for dinner and print viewing sessions.  I met Keith Smith at one of these Sunday dinners.  Keith needed someone to share the rent of an apartment on the West Side of Chicago, in the wonderful Mexican/Polish district, so he asked if I'd want to do that and I took him up on it.  (My portion of the rent was 40 dollars a month.  We had a small darkroom there without running water.)  I enjoyed my train trips to I.D.  I would read Proust whenever I was on the Chicago Els.
Keith was into alternative photo processes, and music. He was impressed by the books I showed him from my Nathan Lyons workshops.  Keith is a very kind and gentle and generous person, and he was very patient with me, and I am very grateful to him.  I may have driven him a little crazy at that time.  I have fond memories of Keith painting our apartment with cheap paint many times over, and sitting at the kitchen table working on his books with transparent pages when I came home late at night from work at UPS.  We would have Jim and Phyllis and Larry over for home made pizza, modeled after Mr. Allen's famous home pies with the little round sausage balls on top.  Keith went on to become an internationally known book artist, and self-published many instructional books about bookmaking, binding and visual structure in books.  He taught classes on bookmaking for Nathan Lyons's Visual Studies Workshop.  He had a big show in NYC at the Silvertsein Gallery, in December, 2011.  He and his friend Scott are fascinating, dedicated artists.
1966-68   Studied Photography at Institute of Design-Chicago
I took undergraduate classes with Aaron Siskind, Arthur Siegel and Wynn Bullock.  I was fortunate to have friendships with photographers Jim Erwin, Keith Smith, Larry McPherson, Joe Jachna.  I worked my way through college with a job at UPS.  The first summer was horribly hard, hot work on the docks and loading trucks.  But they gave me an evening job in the fall and I spent five hours a night counting pick-up slips.  It was easy, good pay.  I just hated the ride home at midnight through some of the worst areas of Chicago.  I never was bothered, but I was terribly frightened, especially on Friday nights.
“Kraus” 1968  was the title of my senior project which was an artist book of photographs - a visual love poem to Gloria, the woman who was to become my wife a year later.  I would show my Photo II students this book every semester of my teaching life as a model for the final project of the semester I would always give.   Visit Kraus to see images and learn more.

                  From senior project book:  Kraus   5x7”

1968-69   Lived and worked in New York City
I moved to NYC after graduating from I.D., mostly to be close to Gloria who was going to art school at Pratt, in Brooklyn.   
First I got a job rolling dye transfers in a custom color lab.  (I had tried to get a job printing snapshots but they said I was over qualified for the job.)  Then I worked as an assistant to a commercial photographer, George Hausman.  Joe DalSanto, a friend, helped me get the job.  Other than Joe, Gloria was the only other person I knew in New York.  It was awkward because they had been lovers then broke up just before I met Gloria.  Then Jim and Phyllis came to Brooklyn and lived in the same apartment as Gloria.  That was so great to have these people I knew and loveded near by while I suffered through that year of work at the Hausman Studio.  George was very patient with me, but I hated the work and made a lot of mistakes which made him pretty angry at times (though I did make great prints for him).  
I met John Szarkowski and showed him work.  The meeting was set up for me through a friend, Gary Metz who had received a MOMA internship in the Photography Department.  Gary was a friend I had met and worked with as students at RIT.  Gary and I would walk through the Village often, after work, stopping at a bakery to get something.  (He would always borrow money from me.  I added it onto the tab.  It came to over 50 dollars.  Once, when I saw him later, and he was teaching, I reminded him of the 50 dollar debt, but he never paid me.  I think he died in 2010.)  While visiting Gary once at MOMA I saw a poster advertising the Master's degree Photography Program at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.  They were offering full fellowships in the program with photographer, historian and teacher Van Deren Coke.  I started thinking about getting out of NYC via graduate school.  I felt some pressure to go to Nathan Lyon's Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester which was just getting off the ground at about that time.  But I really wanted to experience other places and other teachers, so I opted for New Mexico when they offered me a full fellowship, which included teaching two intro courses each semester and a stipend that mostly paid my living expenses and all tuition costs.  

Gloria Portraits, NYC  1968-69 (the project continued thru 1975)

                           Gloria Portrait Series, NYC  1969   5x7"

NYC Street Photos, 1969

                                   NYC Street Series 5x7"   1969

Two of my photographs were included in a George Eastman House exhibition, curated by Nathan Lyons Vision and Expression.  The image below was included in the book publication of the same title, 1969.

Chicago, 1968  Published in "Vision and Expression"  (click to enlarge)

After working in a commercial studio for a year I realized that I wanted to go back to school to get my MFA so I could teach photography.  I proposed to Gloria after I received a full fellowship offer for MFA studies in photography from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.  She accepted my proposal and agreed to go with me to New Mexico where she would finish up her undergraduate degree work while I worked on my MFA fellowship.
Gloria was hit by a car in Brooklyn just a few months before we were to get married.  I went looking for her when she hadn't returned from a trip to the store.  When I got near the store I saw many policemen and flashing lights.  There had been an auto accident.  I saw a pool of blood inside a drawing of a figure on the street.  Gloria had been the victim.  She suffered a serious concussion, broken bones, cracked teeth, black eyes.  It was a horrifying experience.   
We were able to get married on schedule, in August though Gloria suffered from a concussion for more than a year after the accident. She would often slip into a kind of daze, as if day dreaming, with a look of absence in her eyes.  I continued to make many portraits of her.  The image below was made just after we were married and were traveling to New Mexico to go to school.

                        Gloria, with that spacy look in her eyes, August, 1969

 1969   Married Gloria Meleo  8/2/69  moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico

1969-72  Graduate Studies, Photography, Univ. of New Mexico
I studied photography with Van Deren Coke, Ray Metzker, Beaumont Newhall and Jim Kraft.  I taught two courses of photo each semester (as part of my responsibilities as a full fellowship recipient).  The teaching was a tremendous experience.  I learned so much.  Students should not be allowed into graduate programs unless they are able to do some teaching.  

Van Deren Coke helped get my photo (see below, Gloria and the Covington Dam) published in the first Time-Life Books Photography series entitled The Print, 1970.  While in NY City I had started using local flashing techniques in my prints.  I'm not sure how I got started with that technique, but when I came to study with Van deren Coke I was amazed at how articulate he was using this technique in his own work.  I loved his Nature Mori series. He showed my class in his home darkroom how he flashed his prints with white light on high contrast #6 Brovira paper then slamed the print in the fixer to get is colorful mysterious images.  He liked the way I was using local flashing and helped me get one of my images published in the first of a large series of photography Time-Life books, The Print. (note: the image below was taken at Covington Dam, in Ohio where the story goes several people died while swimming there.  The ghost like image was to represent death or a person who died near the damn.  Click on image to enlarge)

click to enlarge

I had a very close friendship with Richard Knapp, a fellow MFA student who received a National Endowment for the Arts award for his photo collages.  I loved my relationship to Richard.  He had an intense passion for the creative process.  He was very involved in Carl Jung's theory of the unconscious and mythology, and the work of Paule Klee.  Richard influenced my work in Grad School tremendously.  He really got me interested in ideas in visual art.  Up to that point I relied totally on intuition.  He and his wife had separated after grad school.  He stayed on in New Mexico as I understand it and became editor of the state's arts magazine.  Where ever you are Richard, thank you.  I miss you.     

UNM required a written MFA thesis as well as an exhibition.  My written thesis was:  C. J. Jung’s Alchemy, Synchronicity & The Creative process in Photography   I had taken a mythology course with Prof. David Johnson which really excited me, especially because he took a Jungian approach to it; and my friend Dick Knapp was very much into Jung as well.  That thesis was the death of me as a photographer.  I had no time to make pictures.  But it helped me grow intellectually and it gave me more to teach from when I got my first teaching job in Atlanta at Georgia State University.  

Besides Jung, another important influence on my work was The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard.  Wonderful book.  Later, the other crucial book for me was News of the Universe, (Sierra Club publication) a collection of poems edited and introduced by Robert Bly. 

The three photographs below are from my my MFA visual thesis exhibition, which consisted of images from three different projects. Its very interesting that I would show three bodies of work as my thesis.  That is how my entire career has been.  I would do a different body of work every year or two for the rest of my life.  I have found it very refreshing to be constantly challenged by new subjects, new ideas, new places, new processes introduced in each new project.  Though I have loved working this way it made things more stressful with teaching and having the responsibilities of a husband and father.  I always felt I had to be out photographing.  Also,the galleries didn't know quite what to do with me.  They couldn't find a label for me, a style of continuity.  I was always doing my own, different thing from one year to the next and not following or developing a familiar identity as a artist or following the current trends in the art world.  Teaching gave me the financial security to follow my bliss; and the galleries - thank goodness - kept showing my new work despite their frustrations for not knowing how to market me.  My work never sold well (except for the Lake Series) - I suspect at least in part because I avoided NY City and never settled into one style or subject.

New Mexico Landscapes (masked, flashed)

  New Mexico Landscapes, flashed and masked  1972  5x5"

Intimate Space Series   House Interiors and portraits of objects (influenced by Bachelard’ Poetics of Space).

 Intimate Spaces 1972  5x5"

Solarized 35mm  Photographs  (held camera away from my eye, did not compose through view finder.)  An extension of the Intimate Space Project.  An exercise in seeing spontaneously, imaginatively from different places of my body.

  Solarized Photographs 1972   5x7"

1972   Son, Shaun was born in Albuquerque, April 23.  We moved to Atlanta in July.
1972-75   Atlanta - First Teaching Job   
Taught (team taught) with John McWilliams, Georgia State University, Art Department.  

1972-73  Co-founded Nexus, Photo-Coop Gallery, Atlanta 

Traces  1973   Human markings on buildings and the street

   Traces 1973  5x7"

Emergence Series, 1973

      Emergence Series  1973   7x9”

Georgia Woods Series 1974 (Multiple-exposure and local solarization in the print).  To see 2011 Digital revision of this series  click here

   In the woods, Digital print 18x18"  revised 1974 negative,  2011

Atlanta City Series 1975 (Multiple-exposure and local solarization) 

    Atlanta City Series 1975   10x10”

John Gould, a photographer friend from RIT days, visited me by surprise one day in Decatur, Ga. and told me of The Seth Material by Jane Roberts.  The book (and many others by her) fascinated me and was very influential on this work.  A perfect example of synchronicity, which I had written about in my MFA thesis.

I met photographer Fredrick Sommers, who was in Atlanta to jury a photo contest one summer.  He stayed at our house with us for two nights.  He explained to me his The Poetic Logic of Art and Aesthetics.

I was a Co-founder of Nexus Photography Co-operative Gallery.  It was a good way for photographers to meet and bond outside of a University context, and the gallery provided everyone a place to exhibit work.  At that time photography, in Atlanta and everywhere else, was struggling to be recognized as an art form.  Nexus went on to become well known as a major off-set printing venue for artist books, and it gradually turned into a flourishing community art center for all the arts in Atlanta.

I had several solo exhibitions at Nexus, including a One Man/One Child Exhibition (which included The Georgia Woods Series, 1974 and leaf collages and drawings made by my four year old son, Shaun, which had been an influence on the Series along with the Jane Roberts books I was reading. 

Two years later I would find myself in Milwaukee with a new teaching job.  I helped co-found the Perihelion Photography Co-op Gallery (with Dick Blau, Tom Bamberger, Ken Hansen and others) modeled after Nexus.  It became a major venue in the city not only for photography, but also performance art and film showings.

1975   Daughter,  Jessica was born in Atlanta, January 28.

1975  Solo Exhibition of the "Georgia Woods Series, 1974" at Columbia College, Chicago's photography gallery. 

1975  September, Moved to Milwaukee  - my Second Teaching Position
I created a new Photo Program in the Art Dept, at UW-Milwaukee (undergrad and graduate)

1975-76   Persephone Series (Multiple-exposure and local solarized prints).  To see digital revision of this series  click here

    Persephone Series, 2011 digital revision, 18x18"

1976  Co-founded Perihelion, a photography co-operative gallery in Milwaukee, modeled after Nexus, in Atlanta. 

1976-77   Steve Lacy Series: a visual response to the jazz music of Steve Lacy.  To see the 2011 digital revision of this series  click here   

    Steve Lacy Series, digital revision, 2011  18x18"

1978-80   Negative Print Series   (influenced by late Liszt piano music) click here   

   Negative Print Series, 1978-89  16x20 gelatin silver

1980-81   Intimate Landscape Series  Things and spaces in the Milwaukee Industrial Valley.  To see and learn more about this series  click here

     Intimate Landscape (steel industrial bowls)  14x14”

1981-82   Lake Series  Straight prints & Collages (Collages were in homage to American composer Charles Ives).  To see and learn more  click here  

        Lake Series, straight print, "Dark Wave" 1981  10.5x10.5 silver gelatin  
This work was highlighted in the Art Institute of Chicago  solo exhibition.

I have to pause here and say something about the string of events that unfolded between 1978 and 1982.  (See the list solo and group shows below)  It seems quite amazing to me now, but I never understood it back then.  I had a sequence of solo shows and group invitational shows in Chicago and elsewhere that would be quite impressive to most people - but I didn't have a clue.  I was just trying to get tenured by having shows outside of Milwaukee.  The Renaissance Society was a very up and coming gallery at that time. Suzanne Ghez was a very adventurous Director.  Young-Hoffman was one of the biggest contemporary commercial galleries in Chicago.  Then of course my 100 print retrospective solo show at the Art Institute of Chicago.  I didn't really know what all this would mean for me.  Well, it at least got me tenured at UW-Milwaukee early, I know that for sure.  This string of shows impressed some, made some other people resentful toward me,  I sold a few prints.  I tried to be self-effacing about all this because I was terribly shy and felt out of place in the high-end art world.  I had to leave the photo co-op world.  I loved teaching, I loved making art, but I hated  showing my work and interacting with people in the art world.  It terrified me.  I couldn't tell when people were being sincere.  But I needed to get tenured, and so you see how grace works.  I had two kids and a wife and a teaching job that depended on my getting some exhibits.  And this is what happened.  It seems to me my life has been laid out for me in advance.  From the time I had the photo epiphany, I loved only photography.  It's all I ever wanted to do.  I have been blessed,  I am grateful to all the people who helped me along the way so I could teach and work and show my work with relative ease (except for the emotional anxiety it always held for me).  Who can understand these things?  

Solo Shows 1978-82
l978:   Renaissance Society Galleries, University of Chicago 
l980:   Frumkin Gallery, Chicago
l982:   Perihelion Gallery, Milwaukee
l982:   Swen Parsen Gallery, Northern Illinois University-Dekalb
l982:   Young-Hoffman Gallery, Chicago
l982:   Art Institute of Chicago (l00 print retrospective 1975-1982, curated by David Travis)

Group Shows (invited) 1978-82
l979:  Art Institute of Chicago: American Photography of '70's
l979:  Madison Arts Center, 4th Presidential Invitational Exhibition, Madison, Wi.
l98l:   Walker Art Center: Fourteen Mid-Western Photographers
l981:  Chicago Center for Contemporary Photography: New American Photography

1982   Dream Portraits (Masked, light toned, flashed; also photo collaged prints).  To see and learn more  click here

   Dream Portraits, collage set (fragmented  book reader)  10x10”  gelatin silver

1983-4  Images of Eden Series (Milwaukee Co. Parks, Homage to Eugene Atget).  To see and learn more  click here

       Images of Eden series (foggy park landscape)  10x10” silver gelatin

In 1983 (shortly after my solo show at the Art Institute of Chicago) I was asked by Michael Lord to join his Milwaukee Gallery.  Michael showed mostly blue chip NY art and a few local artists.  His gallery spaces were always quite wonderful, modeled after NY galleries.  Michael was very generous with me and I will always be grateful for that.  He allowed me to show whenever I wanted, whatever I wanted, and he paid for all the framing.  Who could ask for anything more?  He also allowed me to use his frames in my Chicago shows with the Carol Ehlers Gallery.  I had two shows every other year in Milwaukee and Chicago after I started showing with Michael Lord in 1984.  My first show was the Images of Eden and City Spaces.  Both bodies of work was an homage to Eugene Atget. (see image above and below and click here)

1984-5  City Spaces (Continued homage to Atget, a continuation of Images of Eden but transitioning to city scenes). To see and learn more  click here

       City Places  10x10”  gelatin silver

1985-88  Family Life Series   Gloria had gone back to school to become a social worker to help put our kids through college.  I did more domestic work in the house and cared more for the kids since Gloria was busy with school, so I decided it best to photograph around the house rather than wander around the world as before.  I worked with 35mm to keep my work spontaneous.

At this time I had begun to make Thing Photographs with 35mm, influenced by Robert Bly’s wonderfully introduced anthology of poems  News of the Universe, 1982.  I was especially impressed by his chapter about "Thing" poems.  The Thing Centered Photographs (direct, centered) became an important part of the Family Life series.  It became a continuing preoccupation for over the next 20 years. To see and learn more  click here.

       Family Life series,  Melon  9x12”

I met Gurumayi Chidvilasananda in August, 1987 when I took my first meditation intensive with her at Shri Muktananda Ashram, South Fallsburg, NY - it was a gift from my sister-in-law, Florence.  Gloria and I both took the intensive and in part I did it to make sure Florence wasn't being taken over by a cult.  I struggled some with the cultural differences, but I had incredible, powerful, transforming experiences in the intensive.  And many others over the years.  1987 was the beginning of an intense period of focus reading Yogic texts and doing regular meditation practices, attending weekly programs at the Milwaukee Siddha Yoga Center, visiting the ashram a few days each summer, for many years.  I continue doing the practices now (2012).  Based on my own personal experience I can say that it has been and continues to be a wonderful path for me and Gloria, but of course it's not for everyone.  

1988-89  The River Series was my first project in color photographs.  The Michael Lord Gallery produced a Boxed Portfolio of this work which was influenced by English Pastoral music, especially Vaughn Williams, Frank Bridge, Delius, and Siddha Yoga studies and practices.  Digitally revised 2011.  To see and learn more  click here   

     River Songs, 2011 digital revision print, 15x15"

1990-92   Color Diptychs (Night photos looking up through trees - influenced by Chopin’s Nocturns.  A visual contemplation on death.   click here   

           Color Diptychs 1990-91 (contemplation on death)  each chromogenic print 10x10"

1992-93   Thing Centered Photographs (2 1/4 x 2 1/4 camera, black and white prints). To see 2005-7 digital revisions  click here

   Thing Centered series, digital revision 20005-07 18x18"

1994-2000   Studies (miniature black and white 3 1/2 in. square format images from new and old negs) influenced by short piano pieces, especially the New Etudes by William Bolcom.  To see and learn more  click here   

                                                 Studies, 1994-2000 Thrown Strawball     3.5x3.5" gelatin silver

1999-2001  Garage Series (single images, 3 1/2 in size black & white prints, and Quintet pieces).   This was the first work to be inspired my the late piano music of Morton Feldman.  

                                                  Garage Series, missing tooth, 3.5x3.5"

                         Matted gelatin silver prints: Garage Quintets  3.5x3.5" each image

To see the gelatin print garage studies  click here  To see garage quintets  click here   To see and learn more about the garage series and the 2006 digital revision of the garage pictures  click here 

2001-2   Visual Poems (Triads and Vertical Quartets, using small Studies prints).  Feldman influenced.  click here

                              Matted gelatin silver prints: Triadic Visual Poem 3.5x3.5"images, 14x24"

                                  Matted gelatin silver prints: Visual Quartet  3.5x3.5" images, 24x12"

In 2001 I had my last show at the Carol Ehlers Gallery, Chicago.  The economy started going down after the September 11 disaster, and Carol had a chance to take a secure job with benefits at LaSalle National Bank as curator of their photography collection, so she closed down her gallery.  Thanks so much Carol for showing and representing my work.  I had two more exhibitions with Michael Lord in 2002 (visual poems) and 2004 (Triadic Memories, my first digital print exhibition, coordinated with Louis Goldstein's piano concert and Clark Lunberry's lecture).  Then, Michael Lord he had to close down his gallery.   Everything stopped.  I had a new gallery in Chicago for a few months, in 2003, the Fassbender-Stevens gallery, an excellent gallery, but it went under too.  

Solo shows are what artists really want.  I don't really care about cleaver concept shows in which curators illustrate their ideas with selected pieces by many artists.  I want to see a single vision, an evolving process in one artist.  That's what's really interesting to me.  So it's been a long spell between 2004 and the solo show I'll be having at Spectrum Gallery in Rochester, NY opening  January 6, 2012.  I have always made work; and since coming to NY State I've have tried to connect with galleries and curators in my new Finger Lakes area, but nothing substantial happened until August, 2011 until Bill Edwards at Spectrum Gallery in Rochester, NY saw my work and offered to show it. I'm grateful for his enthusiasm about my work.  When I retired in 2007 I thought I would prefer to stay out of the art business.  When I moved to Canandaigua I thought I could be content to just make pictures.  Showing my work had always been a source of anxiety for me.  But finally the urge to show my work was undeniable.  I felt incomplete as an artist because I wasn't showing my work.  It feels almost like my duty to show others my work.  Creating this website has helped satisfy that urge to organize and show my work, but clearly I needed to have that physical display and some interaction with an audience, despite all the anxious feelings that go with the territory.

   Triadic  Poem #90  digital print revision, 2006   15x27"    To see more   click here

June 2003 -  began making Digital Prints.   I resisted the computer as long as possible.  But my son Shaun and my students forced me into learning about the digital world and Photoshop, etc.  It is an amazing thing that I have grown to love.  One problem I still wonder about trying to resolve with digital printing is the ability to get things too perfect.  A bit of a rough edge has a certain kind of charm in art, even in photography.  I think the vulnerability of the image is also an issue.  My digital prints look and work so much better without glass over them.  They look too cool, too perfect and loose some kind of pictorial depth with glass over the image.  Part of that is because I use matt paper and matt black ink.  The surface of my digital prints is an important part of my experience of the work, but viewers in a gallery seeing the work through glass don't get the luxury of seeing the print surface.  I would like to try alternative presentation techniques, but all those that I can think of present other kinds of problems.   

2003-2007   Triadic Memories: The Repetition Series Photographs  First digital photo project; second large project inspired by Morton Feldman.  For an introduction to this large project with all it's thematic subgroups   click here

         Subgroup projects within Triadic Memories:
          Repetition Triads & Continuums   click here
         Chromatic Fields  click here
         Vertical Thoughts  click here
         Gridline Series  click here
         Abstract Photographs:  Objects & Interiors  click here
         Postludes / Thing Centered Photographs  click here
         Triadic /Visual Poems  click here
         Combines  click here      
         Inversions, Negative/Positives
         Triangulation Series  click here
         Circle Series  click here
         T  Series

2006  Garage Series (Digital reprinting of first (2000) Feldman inspired series  click here
2007  May: Retired from teaching

2007  Portraits                     click here

2007  Faint Photographs   click here

2007-20011  The Departing Landscape - Third large Feldman influenced project consisting of the separate but related subgroup projects listed below.  For an introduction to the project as a whole  click here    

           Faint Photographs  click here
           Portraits, Faces & Figures  click here
           The Windswept Landscapes  click here
           Visual Poems for the Departing Landscape  click here
           Combines  click here
           In the Woods  click here
           The Persephone Series  click here
           The Abstract Photographs & Feldman's Music  click here
2007  Italy Series  Traveled with Gloria to Italy, October, 2007, a wondeerful two week guided tour.  Saw a very important show at the Guggenheim-Venice; visited the Morandi Museum in Bologna; produced a series of images employing blur and/or faint tones of columns, heads, Pompeii, and more.  click here

   Italy Series, Pompeii, columns, dark figures 2007  inkjet print 18x26"

2008   Sold Milwaukee house  
             Moved to Canandaigua, NY  

There is quite a story to be told of my 33 years in Milwaukee, and the University there, and why I felt compelled to leave Milwaukee upon retirement in 2007.  I'm much too close to it now to write about it.  There are many wonderful remembrances and some very disappointing and painful ones.  Maybe someday I can write some about it.  I am grateful for all of it.  Life in Milwaukee was an incredible learning experience for me.   On to the next leg of the trip . . . 

Canandaigua, NY  2008 - present
We bought a house overlooking a beautiful meadow with two ponds, a tapering woods behind; rolling hills beyond that, and within the woods there's a charming stream, and beyond that another secret meadow with ponds and hills.  We moved to this area because we wanted to be close to Jim and Phyllis who lived in Rochester.  They warned us they may be moving to Vermont soon, and they did.   But destiny (I firmly believe this) placed us in this house on the meadow in Canandaigua.  I love the area, the Lake, the Bristol Hills, the Finger Lakes.  For Gloria, moving from Milwaukee and her friends and the Ecology Center was very difficult.  Gloria grew up in Rochester, so she's back to where she started from.  She left Milwaukee largely because of my need to retire in a new location.  Jim and Phyllis visits us from Vermont a few times each year.  They visited us when I had my opening at Spectrum Gallery Jamuary 6, 2011.  Thank you Jim and Phyllis for coming!  

I feel a little like a fish out of water here in Canandaigua. The people in our community are very different from us from what I can tell.  (Maybe isolation is just what happens to many people after retirement.)  I have practically no contact with other artists in the area.  That's to some extent my fault; I'm very introverted unless I'm in front of a class or group presenting.  On the other hand I am the new kid on the block and other artists may feel intruded upon in their communities which they have spent a lot of time developing.  The Buffalo art area seems very isolated, I have had very little luck with finding interest in my work in the Rochester area, until in the fall of 2011 I have been fortunate in connecting with Bill Edwards at Spectrum Gallery.  

THIS WEBPAGE/BLOG  It seems to me the most important thing I have done since coming to Canandaigua has been the construction of this web site which I began in November, 2010.  The process of putting projects together, writing introductions, remembering and writing about past experiences, ect. has been completely satisfying and I believe growthful.  As I create new projects and turn them into webpages it's almost like I am publishing a book on each project.  

Note:  In the two years that this website has been up, I have gotten over a total of 29,000 hits on the various project pages (as of October, 2012).  I can't help wonder how lately over 2,000 hits per month is happening.  My guess is that people's curiosity is being sparked by images they see from my projects when the do"google" searches on subjects related to my project titles.

TRAVELING has been an extremely rich part of retirement.  My trips with Gloria to Italy and Turkey especially have been life-transforming.  Gloria's knees are really hurting her now (October, 2012), and until she gets knee replacements I assume our traveling days have come to an end.   

HYDROFRACKING   Gloria and I have become very worried about how hydrofracking in NY State may ruin our fresh water lakes and the watershed, destroy the lakes and streams, the tourism and vineyards and organic farming industry that is evolving wonderfully in our area.  We have fresh air now, but what will thousands of dump trucks flowing though the area do to our air and the quiet of our area?  I started a hydrofracking website NoToHydrofracking.blogspot.com/ to help articulate my ideas and feelings, to help share information, and do whatever I can do to help fight this outrageous, destructive, environmental disaster just waiting to happen if we as a grassroots group of people in the state don't take the initiative and somehow find ways to act.  I feel very good about the way individuals, groups and organizations in NY State are working on this horrible situation.  The country as a whole is beginning to see that Climate Change is a real issue, that fresh water is precious, that organic farming is more and more being seen to be an important new industry . . . and that hydrofracking is a threat to all of this.


The Windswept Landscape Series, begun shortly after we moved to Canandaigua, includes many images of the meadow behind us.

2008-10    The Windswept Landscape Series  click here

   Windswept Landscape, inkjet print, 18x26"

2009   Portraits                     
            Faint Photographs 

2010   Traveled with Gloria to Costa Rica in February, 2010.  The cloud-forest experience was amazing.  Got some good pictures for the continuing Faint Photographs series for The Departing Landscape project.  Click here

2010      In the Woods (digital revision of 2004 Atlanta project  click here

2011      Persephone series (digital revision of 1975/6 Milwaukee project)  click here

2011     Other Music Inspired Projects - new link for this website which includes The Steve Lacy Series, The Negative Print Series, The Lake Series Collage Set, The River Series, The Color Diptychs, and the Studies project.  click here  

2011  Prayer Stones & Celestial Gardens Photographs made in response to our traveling experience in Turkey (two weeks in May  2011) & in response to my study of Islamic Sacred Art following the trip.  Little did I know that these two projects would lead me into a huge online book with nine chapters and more ending in May 2013, two years later.  click here

   Prayer Stones, 2011   18x24" inkjet print

2011  Revised Photo Website, added many new project pages: 
                  Steve Lacy Series  1977-78
                  Negative Print Series 1978-80
                  Intimate Landscape Series 1980-81
                  Lake Series  1981-82
                  Dream Portraits  1982
                  Images of Eden 1983-84
                  City Places  1984-85
                  Family Life  1985-88
                  River Songs  1988-89
                  Color Diptychs  1990-92
                  Studies  1994-2000
                  Monks Quirky Music  2011 / 1994-2000

Links for all the new pages listed above are available on the Welcome Page.

2011  Hydrofracking September, 2011 was when I discovered, because of Gloria's social networking and researech, that New York State was under the threat of being turned into an Industrial Waste Land by a natural gas drilling technique - horizonal high volume hydraulic fracturing, which is very violent, very polluting.  An environmental nightmare.  As I write this (Feb, 2012), Gov. Cuomo is still in the process of preparing to make a decision.  If hydrolic fracturing is permitted in New York State, the area Gloria and I live in, the Finger Lakes, will be seriously affected and could devalue our house and property by 80%.  I have become very active trying to protect the environment and our investment in the Finger Lakes. I created a website NoToHydrofracking.blogspot.com  to help inform others about this awful nightmare.  Please visit my website, I update it with new info constantly.   

The Hydrofracking Suite, early 2011  click here   I took a photograph of a rainbow over the meadow behind us, and combined with all the information Gloria was giving me I began to get motivated to participate in the process of fighting the politicians and the gas and oil industry to try to prevent this from happening in NY State.  I created the hydrofracking website shortly after I had begun my photography website.  It dawned on me that I was   living in what could literally become a Departing Landscape, the name I have given my photography website, and the name of one of my big Morton Feldman inspired photo projects.  

2011 Hudson River Valley  I had traveled to the Hudson River Valley in the fall of 2010 to photograph and worked on the images and text in 2011.  I became fixated on my project An Imaginary Book, so it took me a while to finally complete the Hudson River project and post it on my website February, 2012.  Visit the webpage:  click here


This is the end of part I of Personal History.

Part II - A Personal History of Photography continues on another webpage beginning with 2012 events:   click here

I have gathered a collection of short notes, stories and essays about some of my personal life events, extraordinary show openings, etc. on a webpage entitled Selected Writings: Remembrances.  

To see my resume, click here. 

Welcome Page  to The Departing Landscape website which includes the complete hyperlinked listing of my online photography projects dating back to the 1960's, my resume, contact information, and more.