The Butterflies In Her Brain, merging live footage I shot of butterflies with photography I did with model Kelly Eden, hair by Laura Buenrostro, mua Brittany Moody. I’m finally starting to feel pretty confident with Adobe Premiere Pro and making these short video art vignettes. All of my previous 2014 video shorts were done in either Windows Movie Maker or iMovie on the iPad or iPhone, so here I’m making strides exploring the functionality Premiere has- specifically having layered video/ photo tracks and using opacity in the same way layers are blended in Photoshop.
With February coming and lots of different kinds of art being produced around the house, I had to take a hard look at my Etsy shop and whittle down my current inventory of photographic art and sculpture.
“Jigsaw Kelly” is a recent piece I made that blends two puzzles together based on photos I took with model Kelly Eden, mua Brittany Moody and hair stylist Laura Buenrostro. Two convenient Egyptian hairless cats were prominently featured. I have to admit when I shot this I had no idea if it would work, but the company I made the puzzles with- Shutterfly- had an online preview of the puzzles that showed how the “cut” remained the same on both images.
The assemblage of the individual puzzles took about 4 hours, with the second one being much easier because I could overlay segments. The final gestalt puzzle was more difficult because the many of the cuts weren’t exactly the same- so pieces that looked like they should fit wouldn’t- and also because it required careful removal of individual pieces from the interior of the finished puzzles.
The last event I had in 2014 was an underground art event- a curated group of artists, DJs, and a band in a single all-nighter in DTLA. It was a ton of fun and I made this little video to give a flavor of the event, which was called Bright People.
San Diego’s Museum of Photographic Arts typically has a blend of universally beloved images, pop appeal, and the kind of things that appeal to photo nerds (archival images, new technology, etc.). On a previous visit I remember seeing exhibits of a National Geographic photographer next to a member of Crosby, Stills and Nash, as well as a series of large format digital works. When I stopped by in early January 2015, it was all group exhibits; work shot by high schoolers, archival work from the 19th Century, and Czech photographers from the mid-20th Century.
I really went for the Czech images, with their mixture of history, classiness, repression, fine tonality and surreal subject matter. I learned every Czech photographer included a portrait of the most famous local photographer, Josef Koudelka, in their portfolio; that the repressive and conservative natures of the Communist governments made photographing nudes so difficult that they naturally led to distortions and shadowy forms.
You come away feeling that even if these photos- all shot from the 1930s through 1960s- where in color, they’d still be grey. It’s the kind of darkroom photography that has an emotional punch in a way that modern, high production style photography doesn’t.
Of the other gallery shows, the high schoolers’ photos had some interesting content (mainly snippets of their family lives, hence the name “We Are Family”) while the archival images would appeal to lovers of technically spot-on photography- lovers of print techniques and large depths of field. Of the current shows, I most heartily recommend the Czech work, which blends concepts with techniques in works that double as historical secrets revealed.
“Collective Restraint,” “We Are Family,” and “New Visions: Art and Invention of the 19th Century” are on display at MOPA in Balboa Park, San Diego, through the first week of February.
I’ve written before that my daughter Magdalena is my favorite model, and she seems to get better with expressions, concepts and styling each year. The easiest way to get a good reaction from her, or any kid, is to put them in an unique environment that they can respond genuinely to.
We took a family trip to San Diego and Legoland at the start of January and the environments were Imperial Sand Dunes, the Lookout Tower off of I-8 (with a lot of snow around), Motel 6 in Escondido, Legoland, and Balboa Park in San Diego. “I want to go to the snow! I want to go to the sand!” We took her, she reacted and I documented it. That’s easy photography.
All shots were with the Fuji X-T1, mostly the 35mm lens though at the sand dunes I kept the kit 18-55mm lens on. I don’t know how many times I foolishly presumed I could switch a lens in a sandy environment only to find I had royally messed up the sensor. This time, I kept one lens and worked with it.
2. personal images of Larry’s parents and also archival images from his family albums
3. work from “In The Valley”, behind-the-scenes of the porn scene.
4. commissioned portrait work of celebrities/ pseudo-celebrities like Paris Hilton
5. Larry’s college work with Mike Mandel utilizing archival images culled from companies like JPL and magazines.
One of the unifying themes in Sultan’s images are the use of mid-20th century pastel color schemes and references, even in work shot in the 2000s. There’s the documentary storytelling amongst the craft of an artist who doesn’t take life too seriously, but could break your heart with his jokes. Every subject choice reveals something new to the viewers- you see bored production assistants as porn is being filmed, a migrant worker spending the night outside, trying to sleep on the ground next to an idyllic suburban creek.
The bonus of the exhibit is the video interview with Larry- a unique artist who is down-to-earth, not pretentious in any sense, but a deep thinker and reader who declared a “study hall” daily at his studio. During this hour everyone would stop working and read up on some philosophy or news item even if it was from a POV they disagreed with.
Those qualities of humanism, humor and storytelling make for phenomenal photographs and I hope to incorporate these lessons from Larry Sultan in my own 2015 work.