Author Talk and Book Signing by Photographer Xiomaro at Patchogue Arts Council Photographers Group

www.xiomaro.com | Contact

Weir BookAuthor and fine art photographer Xiomaro will be presenting an illustrated talk about his photo/history book Weir Farm National Historic Site (Arcadia Publishing) on Wednesday, November 13, 7:30 pm, for the Patchogue Arts Council Photographers Group at the Brickhouse Brewery in Patchogue, Long Island.  The book features his fine art photography and is the first to tell the story of the historic site’s rescue from residential development to its establishment as a national park.  The foreword was written by Senator Joseph I. Lieberman who introduced legislation in 1990 to federally protect Weir Farm.  The book also celebrates Weir Farm as Connecticut’s first national park, which will be commemorated on the reverse of the 2020 US quarter.  The author will give an overview of his work – which ranges from other National Park sites to street photography – as well as his smartphone workshops, upcoming books, and other projects.  Signed copies of the book will be available for purchase.

4_Xiomaro_HeadshotIn addition, a select number of his fine art photographs will be on display and prizes will be given away.  The large photographic prints, measuring 17″ x 25,” offer immersive and detailed views of Weir’s studio, his brushes, his home, and the landscape.  The photographs have been widely circulated throughout Connecticut, Washington, DC, and Utah at venues such as the Hart Senate Office Building, the Capitol building in Hartford, the offices of Congressman Jim Himes, and the Stamford Mayor’s office.

During the talk, Xiomaro will show the stunning transformation that the historical buildings at Weir Farm, in Connecticut, have undergone during the restoration process and give behind-the-scenes insights that go beyond the book’s pages.  In the book, Xiomaro – who is the Visiting Artist at Weir Farm and an alumnus of its Artist-in-Residence program – tells the story of Julian Alden Weir (1852–1919), a leading innovator of American Impressionist painting, and chronicles his farm’s rescue from residential development to its establishment as a park.  The farm’s landscape inspired countless masterpieces created by Weir, his famous painter-friends, two subsequent generations of artist-owners, and contemporary artists who continue to create at the park.  The book’s historical narrative unfolds with well over 100 photographs, most of which were created by Xiomaro under commissions from the National Park Service.

1_weir_farm_bedroom_before
Bedroom Before Restoration

Weir Farm, Connecticut’s first national park and the only one in the nation dedicated to painting, will be commemorated on the reverse of the 2020 quarter as part of the US Mint’s “America the Beautiful” series.  The Mint’s website says the series “captures the breathtaking beauty of America’s natural landscapes that have inspired countless poets, adventurers, and artists.  Today, these hallowed sites are… enshrined” through the quarters designed by the Mint.

2_weir_farm_bedroom_after
Bedroom After Restoration

Xiomaro (pronounced “SEE-oh-MAH-ro”) is an internationally recognized artist and speaker whose photography has been covered by The New York TimesCBS Eyewitness News, News 12, Newsday, The Boston Globe, and Fine Art Connoisseur. His work has been exhibited at Harvard University, the Long Island Museum, the Patchogue Ferry Terminal, Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library, as well as galleries and public spaces.

The book was released internationally by Arcadia Publishing as part of its Images of Modern America series, which the company website describes as uncovering “amazing aspects of American history that are all too often overlooked by standard texts” and “filled with expertly penned content and stunning full-color images.”  Arcadia, based in Charleston, South Carolina, is the leading publisher of local and regional books in the United States with a library of more than 14,000 titles.

The Patchogue Arts Council Photographers Group meets at the Shand Loft of the Brickhouse Brewery, 67 West Main Street, Patchogue, Long Island.  The event takes place on Wednesday, November 13, 7:30 pm.  For more information, contact the Group (631) 627-8686 or visit www.xiomaro.com.

Xiomaro does not endorse any advertisements that may appear anywhere on this page.

Street Photography: Radio City

This expression is a mystery. In my last two posts, I presented photographs of the comedy and tragedy masks adorning the grating above Radio City Music Hall’s stage entrance on 51st Street.

Those masks are based on theatrical symbols from Greece. In Greek mythology, Thalia is the goddess of comedy and poetry. Melpomene is the goddess of tragedy. The exaggerated features depicted on the masks were worn by actors so that the audience could tell from a distance what emotions were involved the scene.

I have not come across any information, however, regarding a third mask or expression. I returned to the stage door today to see if maybe this mystery mask was paired with another that I neglected to photograph. But, no. The grating’s design was a pattern having only these three expressions.

My guess is that this third mask was a special design of the music hall’s own making. Judging by the expression, perhaps it represents a “middle” expression between the two extremes of happiness and sadness.

Xiomaro does not endorse any advertisements that may appear anywhere on this page.

Street Photography: Radio City

In yesterday’s post, I described how I issued a photo challenge to myself to create images of familiar and iconic structures in a fresh way. To do so, I decided to look up for small architectural details that might otherwise go unnoticed. The metal grating above the stage entrances of Radio City Music Hall along 51st Street feature, quite appropriately, the symbols of theater: the masks representing comedy (yesterday’s image) and tragedy (above). These masks of drama trace their origins to Ancient Greece.

The tricky thing with this challenge is not just looking critically to find these obscure details. It can be a test of one’s patience to get the shot to begin with. The camera I use for street photography has a limited zoom range. So it’s difficult to get a close-up of the mask unlike, say, the underside of the sconce at Macy’s. I zoomed as close as I could to the mask and then cropped away the excess afterwards.

The other issue is the effect of parallax. Pointing the lens upward at an angle results in the bottom of the mask appearing wider than the top of the mask. During post-processing, I was able to make adjustments to account for this optical distortion. But the result is not perfect though if I chose to invest the time, I could probably have achieved a straighter result.

In any event, straight-edged perfection is not what I was after. It’s about getting an intimate look at a small detail that resides in relative anonymity above the heads of most New Yorkers and tourists. One of the world’s most famous theaters is at once a visual icon and a complete stranger.

Xiomaro does not endorse any advertisements that may appear anywhere on this page.

Street Photography: Radio City

I recently started a Facebook Group as a way to extend the experience of my workshops for the benefit of my attendees and others in my circle who love photography. Periodically, I post a video to the group where I issue a photo challenge. It’s an exercise designed to stimulate critical seeing in a way that results in images that are creative and unique to the individual photographer.

I often issue such challenges to myself as a way to stretch. This is because I frequently walk down the same streets. After a while, inspiration starts to fizzle and I am loathe to create images that are similar to what I have done before. In addition, many of the streets are home to some of New York City’s most iconic landmarks. These places are the subject of millions of snapshots taken by both native New Yorkers and tourists from around the globe. So it’s not easy finding a new approach to photographing these areas in a way that has not been seen over and over again.

So my self-challenge was to limit myself to architectural details that are above my head. This proved helpful when I approached Radio City. The most common photograph one encounters is a wide view showing the facade of the building with it’s world-renowned marquee. I chose to avoid that cliche entirely by walking along Radio City on its 51st Street side toward Fifth Avenue.

I’ve been to Radio City for decades and it’s only as a result of my photo challenge that I noticed the rapturous face above the stage entrance. Indeed, this face was among the dozens that was weaved into the design of the grating over all the stage entrances. The face does not immediately scream out “Radio City.” And that is it’s charm as it is a subtle symbol of the drama and other entertainments that are presented in this famous venue.

Xiomaro does not endorse any advertisements that may appear anywhere on this page.

Street Photography: 32nd Street

It’s not often I see a bus with “Evil” prominently displayed on its front. So how can I make it look a little more diabolical, twisted, and menacing?

For starters, getting the front of the bus straight on gives the impression that it is going directly after me in an effort to run me down. It appears to be so close to me already that I don’t see the street, buildings, or sky around the vehicle. It’s just one big wall of bus that fills the frame. This is an example of where the so-called “rule”‘of thirds is best ignored. Imposing the rule would have undermined the directness achieved by centering the image.

I also made sure that the buildings reflected in the windshield could be seen. Their contortions give shape to the idea of this being a moment in a very bad dream. Indeed, their melty tilts suggest Dutch angles in dual frames within a larger frame that is perfectly straight. The mirroring of the buildings also serve to obscure the identity of the mysterious apparition driving this bus from hell. From the collar, the ghostly headless torso morphs into the solidity of the stone edifice.

Street photography is the embodiment of the old adage that “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” And there are a few lucky accidents in the photograph. Being above the word “Evil,” the position of the wiper blades in relation to the horizontal bottom edge of the windshield faintly suggests the “A” symbolized inside of a circle when representing the call for anarchy.

More sinister is how the wiper blades and vertical divider separating the windshield form an upside broken cross often associated with satanists. The design subverts the inverted, but unbroken, cross, which is a Christian symbol derived from the apostle Peter who allegedly requested that he be martyred head down as he was not worthy of being crucified in the same manner as Jesus – right side up.

Finally, the number 11 inauspiciously appears on the left side of the windshield. Numerologists contend that those twin digits portend – at best – imperfection, disintegration, and chaos. At worse, 11 is the number of peril, transgression, sin, and… evil.

That’s all for now. It’s time for me to move on quickly. I don’t like the looks of those two bright red animal eyes and their laser-like stare.

Xiomaro does not endorse any advertisements that may appear anywhere on this page

Street Photography: Eighth Avenue

I was walking along Eighth Avenue between 44th and 43th Streets and it was as if I made a wrong turn onto Memory Lane – or I should say Bad Memory Lane. I was surprised to see that The PlayPen was still around. As far as I know, it’s the last such establishment of its type in the Times Square area. Last year, the building was purchased for close to $14 million. So perhaps it will eventually disappear and be replaced with a Starbucks or some other retailer.

Growing up, I remember when walking through Times Square was to be surrounded by places like The PlayPen, pimps, and druggies, as well as plenty of litter and overall squalor. It was always an uneasy experience for me.

Yet I have some friends who wax nostalgically for those gritty seedy old days. They resent the “Disneyfication” of Times Square and New York City in general. They long for the rough and tumble of the bad old New York that served as an incubator for the rise of new art forms like punk rock/new wave and hip hop culture – rap, break dancing, and graffiti. Interestingly, few of these friends actually grew up in New York or had to survive each day in its public school system. Many are transplants from other places.

One transplant – though not a friend, but someone whose work I admire – has a different take. In an interview he explains:

“Some folks believe that hardship breeds artistic creativity. I don’t buy it. One can put up with poverty for a while when one is young, but it will inevitably wear a person down. I don’t romanticize the bad old days. I find the drop in crime over the last couple of decades refreshing. Manhattan and Brooklyn, those vibrant playgrounds, are way less scary than they were when I moved here. I have no illusions that there was a connection between that city on its knees and a flourishing of creativity; I don’t believe that crime, danger and poverty make for good art.”

You may not agree with him, but his viewpoint is respectable, authoritative, and steeped in personal experience.

His name is David Byrne.

Xiomaro does not endorse any advertisements that may appear anywhere on this page.

Street Photography: 32nd Street

Some time ago I read a quote from Garry Winogrand (1928-1984). He explained, “I photograph to see what something will look like photographed.” There are many images I create that don’t have any particular meaning or are lacking of any specific statement or symbolism. They are just moments with random elements that intrigue me. And, yes, I do wonder what they will look like when photographed – because there is something different that happens. The image is not reality. It’s just a two dimensional rectangle devoid of sound, touch, smell, or taste. And then, as is my preference, the images are presented in the artifice of black and white.

In this scene, it was the beard. It’s whiteness looked striking against his complexion. I wanted to see what that would look like in a photograph. I was especially curious about whether the beard would be even more prominent if the image was black and white. It was a bonus that I was able to quickly compose the photograph with the large advertisement above his head. It looks as if the woman also caught sight of the stark white beard and is swooning over it. The back of the head in the foreground completes a triangle with its apex softened by the woman’s hair and the curve of the arch.

Indeed, not every photograph has to have a deep meaning. It can simply be an image that stands alone as a visual pleasure or a geometric puzzle over which to trace your eyes.

Xiomaro does not endorse any advertisements that may appear anywhere on this page.

Street Photography: Lower Manhattan

Paul McCartney sang “I’ve just seen a face, I can’t forget the time or place.” For me, that lyric is embodied in this candid portrait. It’s all about the face. I see kindness, sincerity, and total attention to the subject of her peaceful gaze. It’s the calm, caring, trusting, and gentle expression I would want to see from a nurse or, perhaps, an angel. The expression is as soft, sweet, and pleasing as the ice cream she serves.

Xiomaro does not endorse any advertisements that may appear anywhere on this page.

Street Photography: Broadway

I was drawn to photograph this on many levels. For one…what the heck went on here?! Did someone steal the rest of the bike and leave the chained wheel behind? Or did the owner take the bike and, for reasons unknown, left behind the prized wheel under lock and chain?

Or perhaps it’s the work of a mischievous artist making a statement of some kind? I don’t know. But I do see a sparse modern beauty to the circular shapes – one wheel is secured by a chained loop to another wheel. Even the curve of the bicycle tire is mirrored in the curve of the puddle on the upper right.

Curves have been used in art to suggest serenity and softness. You see them in cathedral windows and arches, in images of female nudes, and in other fluid depictions. In this photograph, the curves are counterpoints to elements that are the opposite. Elements that are not thought of as being serene or soft.

So like a giant clam with its shells wide open, the wheels form right angles. And these hard angles are against a backdrop of concrete sidewalk. Moreover, just as the puddle mirrors the tire’s curve, the concrete blocks of the curb form right angles that echo those of the giant clam.

Xiomaro does not endorse any advertisements that may appear anywhere on this page.

Street Photography: Pinstripes

Here we have one of the youngest Yankees fan as he crosses 34th Street clutching his bottle. If you zoom in and look close enough, you’ll see that an older Yankees fan is pushing the stroller.

In my workshops, I talk about negative space. Having done a class just last week, the concept is fresh in my mind. What was probably in my subconscious when I created this image is now more conspicuous. So now I’m seeing things in this photograph that did not occur to me when I first created it.

At first, it was about presenting an unusual view of the crosswalk’s horizontal lines by framing them within a tight crop. It also occurred to me that these lines relate to the pinstripes of the little boy’s Yankees shirt. The white lines of the crosswalk and the black lines of the shirt are perpendicular to each other.

Then, thinking about negative space, I saw the road in a different way. It was no longer white stripes on top of the black pavement of the road. Instead, I was seeing black stripes on top of a white background. It’s as if the stroller is being pushed across a Goliath-sized Yankees shirt.

Xiomaro does not endorse any advertisements that may appear anywhere on this page.