Help Select Photos For My Next Exhibit and Get A Free Souvenir Print

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And You’ll Also Be Entered For A Chance To Win A Special Edition Print

Here’s how it works:

1. Visit my website (www.xiomaro.com/TR.html) and pick your three favorite photos.

2. Email me your selections by clicking the “Contact” link on the upper right of my website.

3. For each selection, make sure to list my website’s page number and the photo’s ID number (it’s on the lower left corner):  e.g., “Page 1, photo 4 / 45.”

4. Include your postal address so that I can send you a free 4” x 6” souvenir print like the image below.  You will be thanked by name on my website – a link will be announced as the exhibit date approaches.

You will also be entered for a chance to win a Special Edition print (8.5” x 11”) of your choosing from the collection at the above link.  A winner will be randomly chosen and announced on New Year’s Eve.

By the way, after emailing me, you’re welcome to return to this blog and post your selections as a comment – it might be fun for everyone to see what others are choosing.

Theodore Roosevelt:  “How I Love Sagamore Hill”

Theodore Roosevelt by Xiomaro
Theodore Roosevelt by Xiomaro

This solo exhibit features some of the photographs I created of Sagamore Hill, which is President Theodore Roosevelt’s Long Island mansion (also known as the “Summer White House”).  The exhibit is presented by the Oyster Bay Historical Society in partnership with Sagamore Hill National Historic Site and will take place at the Historical Society’s new Angela Koenig Research Center from March 8, 2013 to June 2, 2013.

The photographic collection was created as part of a three-year, $6.2 million dollar structural rehabilitation of the house, which is presently closed to the public.  As a result, the images document the interiors in a historically rare condition:  Sagamore Hill appears much as it did in 1887 when the Roosevelts moved in.  To my knowledge, this is the first significant body of interior photographs since those created in 1966 by Samuel Gottscho, which are now part of the Gottscho-Schleisner Collection at the Library of Congress (though his photographs show the house fully furnished).

Despite the house being substantially vacant, the photographs reveal that TR’s spirit remains permanently in residence.  It is no surprise that on the day before he passed away, TR wistfully commented to his wife Edith “I wonder if you will ever know how I love Sagamore Hill.”

You’re Invited To The Opening Reception:  March 8, 2013

The Opening Reception is on Friday, March 8, 2013 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.  It’s open to the public and free of charge.  Please attend and see if your selections made their way to the walls.  It would be great to meet you all.

But there is more to it than just that.  Sagamore Hill will be celebrating its 50th anniversary as a National Park historic site.  So I will be giving free Gallery Talks during the course of the exhibit, which will be recorded for future broadcast.  I’m also a Guest Speaker as part of the John Gable Lecture series, which is presented by the Friends of Sagamore Hill, a chapter of the Theodore Roosevelt Association.

The exhibit will eventually travel to Harvard College for a year-long exhibit starting in 2014.  Coincidentally, that will be the same year that Ken Burns will be releasing a new PBS documentary titled “The Roosevelts” featuring TR and his presidential cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

So I’m Grateful For Your Input

Traditionally, as the artist, I would solely determine what will get exhibited especially since it is not possible to display all 144 photographs in the collection.  Museum curators are traditionally involved in that process as well.

But the art world can come off as an unapproachable place for those who don’t spend all their time engaged with it.  So I like the idea of bridging that gap to the extent it’s there and giving the public a hand in shaping the exhibit.  I’m sure it has something to do with having spent many years as a performing musician and seminar speaker – I love interacting with an audience.  It’s an ethos that has its detractors though.

I had an art teacher proudly sniff, “I’m an elitist.  I don’t believe art is for everybody.”  She was a good teacher.  But that was one lesson I refused to learn from her.

© 2012 Xiomáro

Hurricane Sandy: Free Photo Restoration

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If you or anyone you know has salvaged an irreplaceable photo damaged during the hurricane, contact me.  I will try to repair it.  Free of charge.  Although this is open to all affected by Sandy, I prefer to assist those with limited financial resources.

Hurricane Sandy Takes Down A Tree
Hurricane Sandy Takes Down A Tree

In the meantime, help make this message viral.  Feel free to forward the link to this blog to anyone you wish.  Realistically, I can only commit to doing one photo for now as it’s a time-consuming process.  So first come, first served.  But I may do more as time allows.  And, if this message does go viral and I get a big response, there are other artists I can try enlisting to help.

Why?

We’re living in the age of instant cell phone photography.  And those images are forever preserved as they get uploaded by the millions to Facebook and other internet destinations.  But there is still an archive of old one-of-a-kind paper photos.  Those images might be one’s only remaining connection to ancestors, a parent, a wedding, a childhood memory or other special occasion.

So damage by water, mud, fire or other accident caused by Sandy can add an additional strain.  There are property losses that can be replaced.  But photos can have a strong emotional attachment.  And if the negatives have also been damaged or were lost long ago, then there is no way of making another copy unless they were previously scanned – in which case, let’s hope they reside in a computer or backup media that has survived the weather.  Water and electronics don’t go well together.

How?

The photo will have to be sent to me so that I can inspect the damage.  In some cases, the photo may be beyond repair.  But, if there is enough there to work with, I will create a high-resolution digital scan of the photo.  From there, I go into a darkroom with Photoshop and a large color-calibrated monitor to essentially perform digital surgery.  Undamaged portions of the photo can be duplicated to replace nearby damaged areas.  But it’s not a mere cut-and-paste job.  An artistic approach is necessary so that everything blends in naturally together.  There may even be areas of the photo that have to be re-created.  Sometimes the process involves micro-surgery where the image is worked on pixel by pixel.

Once the damage is repaired, I can also restore the photo to what it might have looked like when it was first printed.  Photos, like the people represented in them, will age over time.  The print acquires small nicks, tears and scratches.  And the colors may fade especially if the photo was displayed near a window or other location where there was strong light.  Over time, the colors may start to change too.  You may have seen photos from the 1970s that now have a greenish-brown hue.  I can perform a “face lift” to reverse much of that aging.

Upon completion of this work on the digital scan, I will create a new print.  But this is nothing like what your typical office or home printer might produce.  I have a high-end inkjet printer I use for my exhibits.  It has nine ink cartridges with varying shades of blue, red, black and grey ensuring a very precise and detailed image.  And it better.  At the time of this writing, a full set of cartridges goes for about $600.  So the owner of the damaged photo will receive a new, high-quality print as well as a copy of the finished digital file. 

Do What We Can

Hurricane Sandy Uses Tree To Knock Down Electricity, Phone, Internet and Cable TV
Hurricane Sandy Uses Tree To Knock Down Electricity, Phone, Internet and Cable TV

I was scheduled to fly out of New York last week to attend the opening of my exhibit, “Weir Was Here,” at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.  The exhibit features my photographs of J. Alden Weir’s house and art studio at Weir Farm National Historic Site in Connecticut.  Weir is one of the founders of American Impressionism and the University has a significant collection of his work.

The exhibit and itinerary had been in the works for many months.  My photographs had arrived at the gallery space the week before and will remain on exhibit until January 2013.  But I was to do a promotional visit to Provo:  a radio interview in the morning, a Gallery Talk, meetings with the curator and staff, a private viewing of selected art work from the museum’s collection and visits to local media and galleries.

But Sandy had other plans and cancelled all flights – along with the electricity, heat, cell phone service, internet service, mass transit and gas stations.  Although I’m a five minute walk from Hempstead Harbor, I’m located at the highest point in my county.  So no damage was suffered by water and, thankfully, the wind did not throw any trees or limbs in our way.

Unfortunately, a great many people did not fare as well.  Long Beach, lower Manhattan and Breezy Point are just some of the areas in New York that have been hit hard.  Bridgeport and Norwalk in Connecticut are flooded and, of course, many places in New Jersey have been destroyed.  Although the Northeast has garnered the most media coverage, there are also places like Haiti – still reeling from the 2010 earthquake – that suffered extensive flooding and deaths.

If you’re like me, then you’re not a celebrity, politician or millionaire.  We don’t have the resources provided by a fan base, a government or wealthy connections.  But we can each do small things that cumulatively have a big impact.  Rather than let Sandy rob me of the joy from a promotional tour, I thought I would make the best of the situation and use the resources I do have — in art — to lend someone a hand.

What You Can Do Right Now

> If you can repost this blog to your social media networks, it will help get the word out to those who can benefit from my offer.  Depending on what link you used to get here, you may see a “Share This” button below.

> If you are able to provide the same service as me, feel free to use my blog post as a template for getting the word out to your own network.

> If you have other suggestions on what we can do to help others affected by Sandy, please leave a reply below so that everyone can benefit from your ideas.  Feel free to include links to private and governmental organizations that can provide assistance.

> If you have become motivated to do something to help someone, please leave a reply below.  Your story may encourage someone else to do the same.

> Click “Follow” on the bottom right for periodic updates.  You can also enter your email address on the upper left (look for the “Email Subscription” heading).

© 2012 Xiomáro

Press Release: “Weir Was Here – Secret Rooms, Doors and Windows” On Exhibit at Brigham Young University

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“Weir Was Here – Secret Rooms, Doors and Windows” will be on exhibit at Brigham Young University’s Harold B. Lee Library, Auditorium Gallery, Level 1, North Campus Drive, in Provo, Utah, from November 1, 2012, to January 23, 2013.  Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

This solo exhibit, by New York artist Xiomáro (pronounced “SEE-oh-MAH-ro”), features photographs from the first artistic collection documenting the beauty and textures of the interiors of Julian Alden Weir’s house and studio.  Weir was one of the founders of American Impressionism, and his house and studio are part of what is now Weir Farm National Historic Site in Connecticut.

"Weir Was Here: Secret Rooms, Doors and Windows" on exhibit at Brigham Young University
“Weir Was Here: Secret Rooms, Doors and Windows” on exhibit at Brigham Young University

Xiomáro will give a Gallery Talk on November 1 from 3:00 p.m. to 3:50 p.m. at 1131 HBLL Special Collections Lecture Room, Harold B. Lee Library, at BYU.  The artist will give away free 4″ x 6″ souvenir prints to all in attendance and will also randomly select one or two people to receive a different, larger print.  Admission to the exhibit and to the Gallery Talk is free of charge.

The photographs have been extensively exhibited in Connecticut as well as at the Washington, DC, office of Senator Joseph Lieberman who co-sponsored the bill to include Weir Farm as part of the National Park system.  The collection arrives at BYU just as the University’s exhibit of paintings – “The Weir Family, 1820-1920:  Expanding the Traditions of American Art” – travels to museums in Connecticut and North Carolina.  Julian Alden Weir, his father Robert and his older brother John helped to shape American art for nearly a century.

Xiomáro’s exhibit presents 29 large photographic prints measuring 17″ x 25″ allowing for immersive views of these rarely seen rooms, doors, windows and other distinguishing characteristics of the interiors – unadorned but, at once, stark, rustic and ethereal.  “The images add a sense of intimacy with Weir’s life,” said Xiomáro.  “His art becomes further humanized because the same eyes and hands that painted works of Impressionism unlocked the doors and opened the shutters seen in the photographs.”

This unique photographic record was commissioned by the National Park Service as part of a major rehabilitation and restoration of Julian Alden Weir’s house and painting studio.  By 2013, the interiors will be fully furnished and significantly changed from how they appear now.  So the photographs offer a rare peek of what lies within as the interiors are empty for the first time in at least 140 years.  “Their vacant state enabled me to draw attention to details and features that might otherwise go unnoticed in a fully furnished setting,” explained Xiomáro.

The artist also titled each photograph with a line of his original poetry.  When each photo is viewed in sequence together with its corresponding title, a narrative unfolds about Julian Alden Weir, his artistic contemporaries and successors, and his homestead’s continuing legacy as both a National Park and as an incubator for new talent through its internationally respected Artist-in-Residence program.  “Before turning to photography,” explained Xiomáro, “I had an extensive career in music.  So I couldn’t help but to incorporate my love for lyrics and poetry into the series.”

More information about the exhibit and Xiomáro is available at www.xiomaro.com and http://net.lib.byu.edu/art/current.html.  For more information about Weir Farm National Historic Site, visit www.nps.gov/wefa.  All prints on exhibit are available for sale and help fund continuing exhibits of the “Weir Was Here” collection.

Press Release: Weir Farm Exhibit Makes Rounds from Senator Lieberman to G&B Community Cultural Center

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The first artistic collection of photographs documenting the interiors of the major historic buildings at Weir Farm National Historic Site will be on display at G&B Community Cultural Center in Wilton, October 13 to November 10, after a year of exhibition at many legislative venues including the Washington, DC, office of Senator Joseph Lieberman.

The public is invited to attend the opening reception, free of charge, at G&B Community Cultural Center in Wilton on Saturday, October 13, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.  Coffee is provided courtesy of Starbucks in Wilton.

Weir Was Here - North Window Overlooking Studio
Weir Was Here – North Window Overlooking Studio

A selection of the photographic collection entitled “Weir Was Here – Secret Rooms, Doors and Windows” was first exhibited at Weir Farm last January.  In March, Senator Joseph Lieberman (who sponsored Weir Farm’s National Park status) had another selection of photographs installed at his Washington, DC, office where they will remain until the end of the year following his retirement.

Additional photographs are on display at Congressman Jim Himes’ Bridgeport and Stamford offices. Other exhibits are being planned with Senator Richard Blumenthal, Governor Dannel Malloy and Stamford Mayor Michael Pavia.

“The support for these photographs reflects the importance of Weir Farm to the history and culture of Connecticut,” explains Xiomáro (SEE-oh-MAH-ro), Weir Farm’s Visiting Artist and a former Artist-in-Residence who created the images for the park.

The unique photographic record was commissioned by the National Park Service as part of a major rehabilitation and restoration of Julian Alden Weir’s house and painting studio and Mahonri Young’s sculpture studio.  By 2013, the interiors will be fully furnished and significantly changed from how they appear now.  So the photographs offer a rare peek of what lies within.  Weir was a leading figure in American art and the development of American Impressionism.  He acquired the property in 1882 and his daughter, painter Dorothy Weir Young, and her husband, sculptor Mahonri Young, continued working and living on the farm after Weir’s death.

The exhibit at G&B Community Cultural Center is unique in that it will present the greatest number of photographs including 12 that have been printed for the first time.  These 17″ x 25″ photographs are also larger than any previously exhibited and will be presented unframed.  As Xiomáro elaborates, “viewers can now see the photographs as I see them at my studio – without any of the barriers introduced by framing.  The glass, its inherently green tinge, its reflective glare and the matting are layers that separate one from the surface finish of the print and interfere with its original colors and tones.  I want the viewers’ experience of the photographs to be as intimate as the subject matter of the images.”

“Weir Was Here – Secret Rooms, Doors and Windows” is on exhibit at G&B Community Cultural Center, 49 New Street, Wilton, Connecticut 06897 from October 13 to November 10, 2012.  The viewing schedule is Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Admission is free. More information is available at http://www.xiomaro.com, where the public can register for the opening reception.  Registration is not required, but helpful for planning purposes.

For more information about Weir Farm National Historic Site, visit http://www.nps.gov/wefa. Sales of prints will benefit G&B Community Cultural Center, a non-profit organization, and will help fund continuing exhibits of the “Weir Was Here” collection.

Press Release: New York Artist Uncovers Connecticut History In Exhibit

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Julian Alden Weir's Painting Studio by Xiomaro
Julian Alden Weir’s Painting Studio by Xiomaro

The first artistic collection of photographs documenting the interiors of the major historic buildings at Weir Farm National Historic Site in Wilton, Connecticut, will be exhibited at the park January 1 to May 31.  These interiors are empty for the first time in at least 140 years and have never been seen by the general public.  The photographs were created by Xiomáro, a life-long New Yorker and Weir Farm Visiting Artist.  Free souvenir prints and the dates for free monthly Gallery Talks are available at www.xiomaro.com.

“Weir Was Here” is the first artistic collection of photographs documenting the beauty and textures of the interiors of the Julian Alden Weir House and Studio and the Mahonri Young Studio.  This unique photographic record was commissioned by the National Park Service as part of a major rehabilitation and restoration of these key buildings – the first such project in the history of the park.  By 2013, the interiors will be fully furnished and significantly changed from how they appear now.  So the photographs offer a rare peek of what lies within.

The exhibit presents 17 photographs from close to 150 in the collection featuring the rooms, doors, windows and other distinguishing characteristics of the interiors – unadorned but, at once, stark, rustic and ethereal.  “For us, the photographs reinforce the personal connection of Weir to the spaces and focuses on the artistic elegance of color and light,” explains Linda Cook, Superintendent at Weir Farm.  “We worked with Xiomáro, who had been an Artist-in-Residence here at the park.  His work is so compelling to us that we hired him to create a more in-depth body of work to share with the public.  He continues his relationship with the park as a Visiting Artist.”

Xiomáro added that “[o]ver time, these photos will have an even greater impact than they do now.  As we start growing accustomed to seeing the interiors restored and furnished, our memory of what they were like before will start becoming dim.  When we return to the “before” photos, we may just find it hard to believe the interiors ever looked that way.”

Julian Alden Weir, a leading figure in American art and the development of American Impressionism, acquired the farm in 1882.  Weir’s daughter, painter Dorothy Weir Young, and her husband, sculptor Mahonri Young, lived on the homestead after Weir’s death.  Young was associated with the Ashcan School, an art movement that, ironically, rebelled against American Impressionism.  Today, the 60-acre farm is the only National Park Service site in the country dedicated to an American painter.

Weir House Window Shutters by Xiomaro
Weir House Window Shutters by Xiomaro

“Weir Was Here – Secret Rooms, Doors and Windows” can be viewed in the Burlingham House Visitor Center located at 735 Nod Hill Road, Wilton, Connecticut  06897, January through March on Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and April through May, Thursday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Xiomáro will present gallery talks about his photographs, “In The Footsteps of Weir,” on Saturday, January 7, and on the following Sundays:  February 5, March 4, April 1 and May 6.  All talks are from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Burlingham House Visitor Center.  There is no fee to participate in the gallery talks, but registration is required.  For more information on the exhibit, or to register for one of the gallery talks, please call Weir Farm National Historic Site at (203) 834-1896 x12.

For a free souvenir print and information about Xiomáro, visit www.xiomaro.com.  For more information about Weir Farm National Historic Site, visit www.nps.gov/wefa.

Press Release: “Weir Was Here – Secret Rooms, Doors, and Windows” Now On Exhibit

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National Park Service
U.S.Department of the Interior
Weir Farm National Historic Site
735 Nod Hill Road, Wilton, CT 06897
(203) 834-1896

Wilton and Ridgefield, Connecticut:  In the summer of 2011, Weir Farm National Historic Site commissioned New York photographer and former Artist-in-Residence Xiomáro to create a photographic record of the interiors of the Weir House, Weir Studio, and Young Studio.  Xiomáro was tasked with documenting the present state of the buildings’ interiors, prior to the completion of the four-phase restoration project now underway.

Weir House Downstairs Bedroom
Weir House Downstairs Bedroom

A selection of these images comprise the new exhibit on display at Weir Farm National Historic Site titled Weir Was Here – Secret Rooms, Doors, and Windows, offering visitors a small glimpse into the historic structures while they remain closed to the public.  All three buildings are currently empty, allowing Xiomáro the chance to focus on the details of these spaces — features that might otherwise go unnoticed in a fully furnished setting.  This is the first artistic collection of photographs of the building interiors in the site’s history, and captures the beauty and texture of these intimate spaces.  “There is a mystery and secrecy to these relatively empty spaces,” Xiomáro explained, noting how “the same eyes and hands that created works of Impressionism also unlocked these doors and opened the shutters to take in the inspiring landscape framed by the windows.”

Weir Was Here – Secret Rooms, Doors, and Windows can be viewed in the Burlingham House Visitor Center on Saturdays and Sundays, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., now through March 31, 2012.  From April 1st through May 31st, the exhibit can be viewed Thursdays – Sundays, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Xiomáro will present five gallery talks about his photographs titled In the Footsteps of Weir from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on the following weekends:

Saturday, January 7
Sunday, February 5
Sunday, March 4
Sunday, April 1
Sunday, May 6

Weir House - Stained Glass
Weir House – Stained Glass

There is no fee to participate in the gallery talks, but registration is required.  For more information on the exhibit, or to register for one of the gallery talks, please call (203) 834-1896 x12.

To learn more about Xiomáro and his photography, visit www.xiomaro.com.

Weir Farm National Historic Site was home to three generations of American artists.  Julian Alden Weir, a leading figure in American art and the development of American Impressionism, acquired the farm in 1882.  After Weir, the artistic legacy was continued by his daughter, painter Dorothy Weir Young and her husband, sculptor Mahonri Young, followed by New England painters Sperry and Doris Andrews.  Today, the 60-acre farm, which includes the Weir House, Weir and Young Studios, barns, gardens, and Weir Pond, is one of the nation’s finest remaining landscapes of American art.  For more information about Weir Farm National Historic Site, please visit www.nps.gov/wefa or call (203)834-1896.

Press Release: Weir Farm – “The Great Good Place” Now On Exhibit at Weir Farm National Historic Site

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Spring vs. Winter (No. 1) by Xiomaro

When New York photographer Xiomáro arrived at Weir Farm National Historic Site as an Artist-in-Residence in March 2011, winter still maintained a firm grasp on the landscape.  The photographer set out to capture the beauty of the property, resulting in an exhibition currently on display at Weir Farm National Historic Site entitled Weir Farm – “The Great Good Place.”  The thirteen photographs in the exhibit document the progression from the “moody shadows of winter to the colorful hints of early spring.”

For Xiomáro, the images in this exhibit “pay homage to the ‘spirit’ of J. Alden Weir,” and “celebrate the beauty” of his homestead, a spot Weir called “The Great Good Place.”

Weir Was Here by Xiomaro
Weir Was Here by Xiomaro

Included in the exhibit are four interior photographs, all titled Weir Was Here.  Xiomáro pulled this small sampling of photographs from a much larger collection commissioned by the National Park Service in the summer of 2011, which aimed to document the Weir House, Weir Studio, and Young Studio before their restoration and historic refurnishing.  These images serve as a preview of the next exhibit that will be on display beginning in January 2012.

Weir Farm – “The Great Good Place” can be viewed in the Burlingham House Visitor Center, Thursday – Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., now through December 31.  Xiomáro will present two gallery talks about his photographs, The Gift of Weir , on Sunday, November 20 and Saturday, December 10 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Burlingham House Visitor Center.  There is no fee to participate in the gallery talks, but registration is required.  For more information on the exhibit, or to register for one of the gallery talks, please call (203) 834-1896 x12.

To learn more about Xiomáro and his photography, visit www.xiomaro.com

Weir Farm National Historic Site was home to three generations of American artists.  Julian Alden Weir, a leading figure in American art and the development of American Impressionism, acquired the farm in 1882. After Weir, the artistic legacy was continued by his daughter, painter Dorothy Weir Young and her husband, sculptor Mahonri Young, followed by New England painters Sperry and Doris Andrews.  Today, the 60-acre farm, which includes the Weir House, Weir and Young Studios, barns, gardens, and Weir Pond, is one of the nation’s finest remaining landscapes of American art.  For more information about Weir Farm National Historic Site, please visit www.nps.gov/wefa or call (203) 834-1896.

Press Release: Artist Draws Inspiration From Mathematics at Brooklyn’s Life Café

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Brooklyn-born artist, Xiomáro (pronounced see-oh-MAH-ro), presents his new photo art series, FractalScapes, at Bushwick’s Life Café from September 9 to 30.

FractalScapes: Pond
FractalScapes: Pond

The cutting edge mathematical theory of fractal geometry has inspired Xiomáro to develop an aesthetic for the elegance of abstract, repeating shapes and patterns appearing in landscapes and cityscapes.

As a promotion for his art photography, visitors to Xiomáro’s website (www.xiomaro.com) or to his Facebook (www.facebook.com/xiomaro) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/xiomarophoto) pages will receive a free 4” x 6” souvenir print.

FractalScapes, a 12 photo series, highlights the natural and man-made patterns appearing in water, sand, trees and architecture.  Tight frames exclude the sky and other reference points, which force the eye toward details that reveal the hidden beauty of repetitive shapes, colors and motion.

Composing the images in this fragmented manner resulted in using Photoshop only to adjust for contrast or brightness.  In some images, selective blurring was created in the lens itself.  In others, the image was rotated to further abstract the subject.

The Mandelbrot Set
The Mandelbrot Set

After overcoming cancer, Xiomáro was drawn to the solitary peace of photography.  A desire to make sense of the world also drew him to the mathematical theories of fractal geometry.  Unlike circles, squares and triangles, fractal geometry offers unusual shapes like the “Mandelbrot Set.”  This unique shape is a model used to explain the irregular contours repeated at every scale – from clouds, coastlines and mountains down to trees, plants and soil.

“Real life is not smooth.  It’s rough.  Mountains are not really shaped like triangles, lakes are not ovals, tree trunks are not rectangular columns and blades of grass are not straight lines. Their shapes are uneven,” explains Xiomáro.  “But these irregular shapes have a pattern to them that gets repeated.”

He offers this simple experiment anyone can try online.  “Go on Google Earth and look at the contour of a coastline.  Then pick a spot and zoom into it.  You will see a pattern:  the more you magnify the section, the more similar-looking and irregular contours you will see within it, which continue indefinitely.”

After learning about fractals, the new geometry began to inform Xiomáro’s way of looking at natural and urban scenery.  A theme emerged in the way he composed his photos – regardless of the location or subject – that centered on abstract patterns formed by repetitive shapes that were irregular, but similar.  “By photographing fractal-like shapes in the natural world, I offer a different experience or viewpoint of landscapes and cityscapes that have become all too familiar.  My goal is similar to Claude Monet, the French impressionist painter.  He wished to be blind and to suddenly regain his sight so that he could start seeing the world as it really is.”

Salvador Dali - The Face of War
Salvador Dali – The Face of War

Just as Xiomáro draws inspiration from math, mathematicians have also drawn inspiration from art.  It was the repetitive masks in Salvador Dalí’s surrealist painting, The Face of War, which inspired the development of fractal geometry.

Xiomáro was born in the East New York section of Brooklyn and later lived in the Flatbush and Sheepshead Bay areas.  His passion in the arts goes beyond photography.  He is a musician and runs a legal practice dedicated to the unique field of entertainment law where he has represented both indie artists and celebrities.

Xiomáro’s FractalScapes is on exhibit from September 9 to 30 at Life Café, 983 Flushing Avenue at Central Avenue in Brooklyn (www.lifecafe.com, (718) 386-1133).  If this establishment sounds familiar, it’s because the last scene of Act 1 in Rent features Life Café (their East Village location), which is where Jonathan Larson wrote the Tony Award winning musical.

To view the FractalScapes series, to purchase the photos or to learn more about fractals, visit www.xiomaro.com.  Parties interested in exhibiting Xiomáro’s photos, can contact him via his website.

For jpg files of the above images – or other images in the FractalScape series – please contact Xiomáro.

© 2011 Xiomáro

Weir House: An Artistic Photographic Documentary

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Recently, the U.S. National Park Service commissioned me to photograph the Weir House, which sits at the border of Wilton and Ridgefield in Connecticut. I was eager to accept the opportunity as I became very intrigued with the house during my Artist-in-Residence at Weir Farm National Historic Site.

Weir House © 2011 Xiomaro.com

The importance of the Federal style farmhouse lies in it being the 19th century home of painter J. Alden Weir, who is considered to be one of the founders of American Impressionism. In fact, in 1983, a retrospective on Weir was exhibited at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art featuring about 100 of his works. Other museums, like the Smithsonian Institution and the National Museum of American Art also have collections of his work.

The connection of the house to Weir, however, is not its only legacy in the arts. Weir purchased the house and the vast surrounding property from Erwin Davis in 1882 who was himself an art collector. The farm became a host to many of Weir’s artist friends such as John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassam, Albert Pinkham Ryder and John Henry Twachtman.

After Weir’s death in 1919, the sculptor Mahonri Young took up residence with his wife Dorothy who, as Weir’s daughter, became a painter in her own right. One of Young’s most notable works was “This Is The Place” in Salt Lake City. The monument, completed at Weir Farm, commemorates the early history of Utah and the Mormon church. Although he was a non-practicing Mormon, the connection is clear when one considers that his grandfather was Brigham Young.

Ultimately, the house and property became the home of the painter Sperry Andrews in 1958. He met his wife, Doris, at the Art Students League in Manhattan where they were both attending. Together they became working artists. Sperry Andrews exhibited at New York galleries, earned a favorable review in the New York Times and is in the collection of museums in the U.S and Canada.

From Bulldozer Prey to National Park

This special house was the home of artists for over 120 years with its surrounding landscape of hills, ponds and stone walls being a constant source of inspiration. But it wasn’t long before developers cast their eyes on the site for building single family homes. That threat led to the farm being placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Then, in 1989, the National Park Service started looking into acquiring the property after Congressional hearings investigated the need for more open spaces in Connecticut.

Finally, in 1990, the property officially became Weir Farm National Historic Site, which is Connecticut’s first and only national park and the only one in the U.S. dedicated to American painting. In addition, it is only the second U.S. national park honoring an artist. The first one, in Cornish, New Hampshire, honors sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens – a friend of Weir’s.

In 2005, Sperry Andrews died and the park gained total access to the house. In 2007, the long process of preserving it for future generations began. The multi-million dollar project will extensively and meticulously restore the first floor of the farmhouse, which has been closed to the public. Completion is expected to take place in 2013.

The house and all the rest of Weir Farm continue the tradition of welcoming and inspiring artists.  It is not unusual to find artists painting and sketching in the open air or photographers, like me, poking around with cameras.

So, having a painting and art history background, it was a particular delight to be selected to take documentary and artistic “before” photos of Weir House as the preservation process wends its way toward completion.

© 2011 Xiomáro

From Cheese Balls and Jawbones to Congaheads

Photo Site of The Month:  Martin Cohen

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Lucky us.  The Grammy Awards will be staged this month.  Rap stars who are more money-oriented than the Republicans they despise, “Auto-tuned” divas, post-Punk poseurs and other vapid characters will be feted for their contributions to the slurry of contemporary pop music.

I don’t mean to make short shrift of the Top 40’s worship celebration.  There’s a time and place for fluffy overly processed music as there is a time and place for such food.  If I’m at a party, even I don’t mind indulging a Katy Perry tune while munching on cheese balls.

And, as with food, it’s good to purge the system with that which is organic, home-cooked and having just the right amount of spice.  If you’re not familiar with the Afro-Cuban sounds of Latin Jazz or Salsa, a search on-line is sure to yield samples of Tito Puente or Celia Cruz.

Then, head on over to Martin Cohen’s “Congahead” website for his collection of mostly black-and-white photos documenting the major artists in Latin, Afro-Cuban, pop, jazz, classic and rock from the 1960s to the 1990s.  There you will find live concert shots, portraits and trade ads featuring Machito, Carlos “Patato” Valdez, Eddie Palmieri, Ray Barretto, Dizzy Gillespie, George Benson and countless other musicians of the era.

 

Carlos "Patato" Valdez

An Excuse To Take Pictures

As a photographer, Cohen had unique access to these musicians.  That’s because Cohen’s “day job” – or as he puts it, his “excuse to take pictures” – was running Latin Percussion, the company he founded in 1964.

Born in the Bronx, Cohen’s first exposure to percussion-based music was at the famous Birdland Jazz Club in 1956.  By the 1960s, he was a full-out student of Latin music but had difficulty acquiring a set of bongos as a result of the U.S. economic embargo against Fidel Castro’s communist Cuba.  Fortunately, in addition to being a photographer, Cohen was a skilled mechanical engineer and was able to construct his own set from a photo of Johnny Pacheco’s bongos.

This experience launched his company – Latin Percussion or LP as it is also known – which included the manufacture of cowbells.  His Latin nightclub haunts provided a ready clientele of musicians that also provided constructive criticism or what we would call “market research” today.

Soon he added claves and wood blocks to his line.  But it was a special request by The Tonight Show’s drummer that resulted in Cohen’s first patent.  There is a sound common in Latin music that you’ve probably heard in countless Spaghetti Westerns.  It’s the rattling sound made by the teeth of a horse’s jawbone.  Cohen designed a much more practical version of this traditional instrument called the Vibra-Slap.  I own the Vibra-Slap along with close to a dozen other instruments made by LP.  It sure beats carrying a piece of skeleton around to gigs.

Visit February’s Photo Site of The Month:
http://www.congahead.com/legacy/Classic_Shots/menu.html

© 2011 Xiomáro