"I really discovered the work of your father just the other day, or night that is. The abstract images filled me with so much joy that I felt like it was truly an awakening for me."
Ever since our website went online, we have been connecting with people from various parts of the world who are responding deeply to Wynn's legacy, some for the first time, others with a renewed interest or fresh focus, and still others who have long loved his work and are happy to find a site dedicated to him. They come to us as strangers who are so moved by what they find on our site that they order a book or DVD or they simply write to share a comment or question. In our replies, we often invite them to tell us more about themselves and their responses to Wynn and his imagery. Sometimes, what we receive is an introduction to an amazing person, along with a story of how they've been inspired by Wynn. The process is one of mutual discovery as well as an opportunity to grow new, meaningful relationships. Here are the stories of two remarkable women we've recently met.
Jo-Ann is a critically acclaimed writer of eleven books with a new one on the way. Our initial connection with her was not actually through our website, but through a friend who gave us a copy of her latest book Solomon's Oak. Presenting me with the book, Erin said, "Open to page 109. " To my astonished delight I found a Wynn Bullock quote: "I didn't want to tell the tree or weed what it was. I wanted it to tell me something and through me express its meaning in nature."
After reading the book, which is set in nearby Jolon, CA, and features a character who is a photographer, I wrote to Jo-Ann asking how she knew about Wynn. The following are excerpts from her letter to me:
"When I was in high school – 1960s – I became interested in photography and that was when I remember seeing your father's work for the first time…. Like everyone of that era, I was impressed by…other big names of the times, but your father's photography ended up being much more than that to me.
"The deeper feeling I got from his photos was the sense of narrative present. It seemed to me that there were stories there I might not ever know, but he had captured the moment when the most important thing happened.To me that was an avenue into story that I loved to take.
"I later learned about his philosophy and studies, and that made his work all the more meaningful. To me that is the difference between art and artists – your father had the depth and journey behind the mere form. His pictures haunt me, inspire me, and give me the courage to write. His bio suggests a lifelong searcher to me, a man on a quest to understand life and put his heart into every picture he created. I know that can't be an easy path as it is also one I've chosen. Without your dad's work…I wouldn't be the writer I am today."
I have now read three of Jo-Ann's books (Solomon's Oak, The Owl and Moon Café and Bad Girl Creek) and I'm well into the fourth (Along Came Mary). Gene is a book behind me. We are enjoying her stories immensely and, if you are intrigued, we encourage you to learn more about her and her work at web.me.com/jamapson/.
KATARINA FAGERSTRÖM LEVRING
The first contact we had with Katarina was through an iContact notification of her subscription to our e-newsletters. When I receive these notices, I customarily Google the names to see if I can learn something about our new subscribers and what might have led them to us. Finding a website for her, I clicked on the link and discovered she is a fine art photographer from Sweden. In perusing her site, I discovered a deep affinity between her work and Wynn's. Her close-up, abstract photographs of flowers are some of the loveliest and most richly meaningful I have seen.
As with Jo-Ann, I wrote to Katarina, eager to know more about her and how she happened to connect with us. Here are excerpts from her reply:
"It was through a newsletter from the Lumière Gallery [in Atlanta] I found the video about your father's work. Your father's experimental images in color immediately caught my attention with their bold yet poetical moods. At first, I was certain that they had to be created by a contemporary photographer, but then listening to the narrator's description, I came to realize it was your father's work, still unknown to many, since it was in color and not in B&W.
"I was so taken by the images shown because they reminded me of what I want to do with my own work, working with light bouncing back from the darkness or the unknown, not 'just' capturing the surface reality, but going deeper, much deeper.
"When I read the following quote from your father [the same quote Jo-Ann chose to use in her book], I felt so touched because seeing is only one dimension of what is important to create even when working in a visual medium like photography. When I am photographing, I really am 'listening' to my flowers, letting them tell me about their stories. That is really where the spiritual essence comes to play in my view, in the interaction between the subject matter and the artist. Listening and letting my intuition guide me is really what makes it possible to reach beyond the surface of all subject matter – not only in learning to know humans."
We invite you to discover Katarina's work for yourselves at www.katarinafagerstromlevring.com. In addition to exploring her images, be sure to read the statement about herself under "Articles". It is moving story of daunting hardship and struggle as well as life-affirming change, told with remarkable acceptance and perspective. (The two color images shown above are Copyright 2011 Katarina Fagerström Levring)
A TRIO OF FEATURED IMAGES
"I like the way he pushed the boundaries of creative photography, and, rather than simply photographing straight, tried to capture things beyond what the eye would normally see."
Since our "End of Summer" newsletter, we have posted three Featured Images on our website. Clicking on the thumbnails in this section will take you to the respective Featured Images and clicking on the return arrow on your navigation bar will bring you back to the newsletter.
The selection for October is Chess Game, 1955. A man and a woman are intently engaged in a game of chess. There are windows, but they offer no views to the outside. The room forms a world of its own with light and shadow, curves and angles. The mood is congenial and contemplative. Time is marked by the captured chessmen on the floor and the side table as well as by the wisp of cigarette smoke that floats over the players. The image depicts a quiet, ordinary scene with beauty and careful attention. The accompanying commentary tells the stories of the people in it.
Tree Trunk, 1971 is the Featured Image for November. It was chosen as the cover image for the book Wynn Bullock, Photography: A Way of Life and exemplifies what Hayley Blackledge refers to in the above quote as pushing "the boundaries of creative photography" and capturing "things beyond what the eye would normally see."
Once again, our wonderful webmaster David Gordon has fashioned a special featureto enhance the presentation of this image.
It is hard to imagine a more revealing portrait than this image which is accompanied in my commentary by an integrated set of Wynn's thoughts. As his own words affirm, the photograph is an evocation of his spirit as well as his creative journey. For me, it is also a quietly eloquent depiction of the person I knew and loved as a parent, mentor, colleague, and friend.
Only a few days remain to see the UC Riverside California Museum of Photography exhibit of Seismic Shift: Lewis Baltz, Joe Deal and California Landscape Photography, 1944-1984. Ending December 31st, this exhibit is part of The Getty Foundation's initiative "Pacific Standard Time" which is supporting dozens of Southern California cultural institutions to tell the story of the birth of the Los Angeles art scene. Six of Wynn's photographs are included in this show, including Girl on Beach, 1968. Four of the six images will also be featured in the exhibit catalog.
Shared Vision: The Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla Collection of Photography continues to be on display until January 8, 2012 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, FL. Both the show and catalog includes Wynn's iconic photograph Child in Forest, 1951.
Viewers may enjoy the exhibit Western American Art South of the Sweet Tea Line III at the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, GA, through February 12, 2012. This show features estate prints of two of Wynn's rarer images: Cannery Row, 1966 and Rattlesnake in Tin Can, 1972. Both images were specifically requested by the exhibit's curator and were made available to the Museum through the courtesy of Lumière Gallery.
WHAT'S NEW ON THE HORIZON
We are currently developing notecards, calendars, and a new book series (both in softcover and electronic versions) that will showcase each year's selection of Featured Images. Each volume in the book series will include reproductions of all 12 of the yearly images with their printed commentaries and associated images as well as a CD of the audio versions of the commentaries. Over the years, these books will comprise an in-depth view of Wynn's life and work.
Next year, we will also begin selling archival, editioned estate prints of the 2011 Featured Images online. Look for our next e-newsletter for further information on all these special new offerings.
As always, any questions or comments about Bullock photography are welcome. And if you'd like to suggest titles to be considered for our 2012 collection of Featured Images (next year we'll be doing all vertical images) – or you would like to propose becoming a guest commentator – please let us know. We'd love to hear from you.