Including fascinating backstories, family reminiscences, and insightful reflections on his creative journey, these commentaries offer a way for our subscribers and visitors to form closer, more personal connections with both Wynn and his work. Every commentary is presented in both print and audio formats, and the images themselves are often accompanied by bonus material in the form of popups that are intended to enhance viewer interest and appreciation.
With this newsletter, we are adding two new commentaries, bringing the total of Featured Images to 40. Although I have written and recorded a majority of the commentaries – an activity that holds a great deal of meaning and enjoyment for me – I've also from time to time invited other people to contribute their responses to Wynn's imagery. Representing different voices and perspectives, these contributions have significantly enriched this part of our programming.
Over the years, guest commentators have included Cam and Charli Rokes, two of my great grandchildren; Ziggy Evitts, a young composer/musician from England; Andy Ilachinski, a physicist/fine art photographer/blogger; Chris Johnson, an art college professor and published scholar of Bullock photography; and our current commentator Paul Cotter.
Paul has become one of our most frequent guest contributors. A fine art photographer, Paul is also a wonderfully thoughtful and expressive writer. His ability to create a narrative that meaningfully integrates words with images is one of the finest I've ever known and is abundantly demonstrated in the blog section of his own website. (For a fuller account of Paul's history with Bullock photography, click here.)
I always give our guests their choice of images to write about and Paul's two newest selections are Wynn's Lynne, Logs, and Doll, 1958 and Peeling Paint, 1970. Although each comes from a distinct period in Wynn's artistic journey, both deeply resonate with Paul.
For Paul's reflection on Lynne, Logs, and Doll, an image that is one of his personal favorites for the feelings it evokes within him, click here.
For his thoughts about Peeling Paint and how it represents an interesting aspect of Wynn's creative process, click here.
Both new Featured Images are accompanied by bonus materials that I've added to complement Paul's commentaries.
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BARBARA'S NEW BOOK PROJECT
Barbara, can you imagine a merger of your words and my pictures in a collaborative work like a book? I've thought about it and I love the idea in doing something together with Swan! ~ Nicola Hackl-Haslinger
Although my interest in the visual arts runs deep, working with words, both spoken and written, is what really lights up my life. Finding just the right words to express the essence of a thought, feeling, idea, or experience is a vitally joyful process for me.
Along with Bullock photography, writing has been the most continuous thread in my life. As a college student, I studied journalism, English, psychology, and philosophy. I then went on to graduate school and got my degree in communications and creative writing. For my Master's project, I researched and produced two pieces: an article on my father for the magazine Modern Photography; and the text for the catalog which accompanied a major retrospective of his work at the San Francisco Museum of Art. Both set a course for me as a student and historian of Bullock photography that continues to this day.
My first job after graduate school was as an editor for a subsidiary of McGraw-Hill. Over the years, other jobs have included work as the communications coordinator for a small natural history museum; a feature writer for a daily newspaper; and a developer of teacher training programs and curriculum projects for both private and public schools from pre-school through high school levels. No matter what outside position I've had, however, there has always been a project relating to Bullock photography that has also called for my attention.
Because of my lifelong engagement with and deeply felt commitment to my parents' artistic journeys, most of the published works I've been involved with as author and/or editor have focused on their lives and work. Serving as manager of the Bullock Family Photography estate for the past twenty years has also given me ample opportunities to practice my craft, such as preparing lectures and other presentations on Bullock photography, producing newsletters, and writing featured image commentaries.
Now, I am thrilled to announce that, for the first time (but hopefully not the last), I'm working on a book of my own. Titled Swan – A True Life Fairy Tale, it is the story of an encounter I had with a wild swan while my late husband Gene and I lived on Cape Cod. This new book marks the beginning of a significant and exciting change in my life, one I've been dreaming about for a long time. What finally sparked it is a true-life fairy tale all its own.
It began two years ago with a group photography exhibition organized by Rfotofolio founders Connie and Jerry Rosenthal and hosted by the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, California. The show featured the work of 54 artists, including a print by each of my parents and one by an Austrian image-maker by the name of Nicola Hackl-Haslinger who rather impulsively decided to travel all the way to Carmel to participate in the opening weekend festivities.
The first event of the weekend took place on Friday, April 13, 2018. Friday the 13th days have often been marked by auspicious events throughout my life and this one was no exception.
That evening, at the request of the Rosenthals, I gave a presentation on Bullock photography for a small gathering of out-of-town exhibitors. Nicola was among them, and, immediately upon meeting, we recognized each other as kindred souls.
Three days later, Nicola, along with Connie and Jerry and another exhibitor who stayed on after the weekend events, joined me for dinner and a lively conversation around the creative process and our individual pursuits.
As part of the discussion, I was moved to share my story of Swan. Shortly after her return to Austria, Nicola asked if I would be interested in making a book of the story with her as the illustrator. "Swan is always on my mind, every day," she wrote.
She referred to the idea as her "heart project" and I could feel how deeply she appreciated the spirit of the story. Although I had always imagined drawings rather than photographs accompanying the tale, the idea of collaborating with her was enormously enticing. I responded with an enthusiastic, "OK! Let's see what we can do together." I sent her a copy of my original draft and we were on our way.
As I continued to refine my text, Nicola immersed herself in Swan. She wrote, "I read your wonderful story again and again…I love it so much! I know I have to photograph a very special swan…but where shall I find him?"
One day, very like the day I met Swan, Nicola drove to a lake near her home in Gramastetten. She sat on a wooden bench, thinking and looking at the glittering water. Suddenly she noticed a white spot in the distance. Walking toward it, she wondered whether she would find what she had been seeking.
As she recounted, "It WAS a swan. He was sitting in the grass, obviously enjoying the warming sunrays. I sat down nearby and talked to him. He looked at me and then he got up and took a place a little bit closer to me. We sat together for about an hour. The next day I decided to visit him again. I found him sleeping in another place. I wished him a good morning and sat nearby. This time I took my camera with me.
While taking pictures, I was so quiet yet excited at the same time. I felt the magic – such an inner and deep connection to this wonderful bird. After half an hour, he stood up, stretched his wings and started cleaning himself…it was awesome…the sunlight…the feathers…swan gleaming…. After some time, he went down into the water…. I took some more pictures…. I felt deeply grateful and so blessed."
When Nicola shared her images with me, all my doubts about photographic illustrations vanished. Across time and vast distances, together with another very special bird, she succeeded in seeing straight into my heart and through my memories to visually express the essence of the experience I had with my Cape Cod Swan.
Although we've met in person only once, Nicola has become a dear friend and cherished colleague. We collaborate for hours at a time by phone and FaceTime and our work on the book is almost complete. Soon, we'll be focusing on the task of interesting a publisher to produce it. Later, if we are successful, seeking museums and galleries to host exhibitions and readings will follow.
From this point forward, I will be devoting more time and energy to personal artistic projects and a bit less to Bullock photography. And like I'm doing now, I will occasionally include updates on these projects, along with my usual news about interesting activities and events relating to Wynn's and Edna's legacies. I've come to realize that this change actually represents another way to honor my parents.
By embracing my own creative work, I'm following their inspiring examples and this makes me very happy.
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SUPPORTING NON-PROFITS DURING COVID-19
It is my pleasure to invite you to participate in our annual 8 x 10 Fundraising Exhibiton at the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, California. As you know, this is an exciting exhibition of collectible, fine art photographs, generously donated by well-respected photographers – like you! This year's 8 x 10 Exhibition is going to be slightly different due to COVID-19. It will still be installed and on view in our historic gallery, but we will be conducting the sale of the photographs…as an online auction. ~ Ann Jastrab, CPA Director
For many years, Bullock Family Photography has happily followed a practice of donating prints to various art organizations to support their fund-raising efforts. This year, the importance of our commitments to these organizations has been underscored by the unexpected challenges with which they have been dealing since the onset of our continuing pandemic.
In order to comply with mandated safety protocols, several of the non-profits we regularly support have had to develop new skills, embrace resiliency, and create alternative ways to fulfill their missions. Here is a listing of three key organizations we've helped this year and the prints we donated to contribute to their financial stability.
Carmel Bach Festival
Over the years, a significant activity in the Carmel Bach Festival's programming has been their "Art of Music" exhibition and raffle. Traditionally held each summer in the Marjorie Evans Gallery at Carmel's Sunset Center, the raffle has been an important fund-raiser for CBF. At the same time, the exhibit that showcases the donated art has offered local artists a special opportunity to share their work more widely. In addition, the exhibition has been a very popular bonus for music-loving patrons. Strolling over to the Gallery from the performance hall to view beautiful art and to buy tickets for chances to win their favorite pieces has been a ritual concert goers have enthusiastically enjoyed.
This year, the Festival had to be cancelled. The need to raise funds suddenly became even more critical, and staff, along with dedicated volunteers, responded to that need by creating a virtual art auction on the Festival website. The duration of the fund-raiser was extended by several weeks. The requirement that each two-dimensional artwork could be no larger than 9" by 11" remained the same. Due to logistics, however, the usual number of artworks had to be decreased from over a hundred items to only 60.
Not surprisingly, the auction format more than made up for the decrease in the quantity of items offered and brought the Festival much needed funds. Our donation was a framed print of Wynn's Color Light Abstraction 1054 (1963). To my delight, the winning bid was made by a respected photography colleague and the print is now at home in Paris.
Center for Photographic Art
CPA has the distinction of being the second oldest member photography gallery in the United States. Founded in 1967 by a group of photographers that included Ansel Adams, Cole Weston, and Wynn, the organization started out under the name "Friends of Photography" and was located in Carmel's Sunset Center complex. Despite changes in name, the current organization, which traces its heritage back 53 years and continues to be devoted to photography in all its forms, is still there.
In the non-profit's initial incarnation, Wynn served as its first exhibition chair and, in honor of his contributions both as a founding trustee and key committee head, the gallery in its early years was called the "Wynn Bullock Gallery". While the designation was dropped a long time ago, our family continues to treasure this bit of history, along with the identifying plaque that once graced the gallery's entry wall.
In the late 1980's and early 1990's, Edna served the organization as a board member and in 1994 was elected an honorary trustee. I and my sister Lynne have continued a close, deeply valued relationship with the Center, and for years have donated works by both Wynn and Edna to their annual invitational "8 x 10" fund-raising exhibition and raffle.
Because of restrictions imposed on galleries and museums this year, CPA decided that it could not be open enough hours and days to carry out a successful fund-raising raffle. While they still mounted an exhibition of the donated works by over a hundred artists, visiting hours were severely limited to weekends only. To compensate, they organized an auction which turned out to be very successful, thanks to their very loyal and supportive membership.
For Wynn this year, we donated one of our limited edition, fine art estate prints of Lynne, Point Lobos, 1956 and for Edna, it was a contemporary print of Lone Oak, 1985. To our joyful amazement, Edna's print brought in the 7th highest winning bid out of 118 lots, and it was one of the few that significantly exceeded its estimated value. Way to go, Edna!!!
Monterey Museum of Art
For years, the Monterey Museum of Art has relied on its annual Miniatures exhibition and raffle to raise funds to support dynamic exhibitions, collection conservation, and educational programs.
For 2020, like the other two organizations we've highlighted, the Museum was forced by the COVID-19 crisis to adopt a virtual auction format.
Their auction, which began on November 12 and will run through December 20, consists of 155 artworks (paintings, photographs, prints, sculptures and mixed media pieces) that are no larger than 7" x 9" or 8" x 8", a requirement that gives the fund-raiser its name "Miniatures".
Organized somewhat differently than CBF's and CPA's online offerings, MMA's auction has been set up for people to donate any amount they choose for whichever pieces they hope to win. At the end of the auction, a "winner" for each artwork will be chosen at random.
The Bullock family has enjoyed a long, meaningful relationship with the Monterey Museum. Over the years, Wynn's and Edna's photographs of have been exhibited in both group and solo exhibitions, included in the Museum's permanent collections, and celebrated with book signings and other special events. As Edna was fond of saying, "Aren't we fortunate to have a museum of this quality right here in our hometown!"
Giving works to the annual Miniatures fund-raiser has been our way of expressing heartfelt gratitude for the presence of the Museum in our community and for the support it so generously gives to the amazing artists who live and work here.
Past donations have included Edna's iconic portrait of Lillie, 1976 and Wynn's stunning image Photogram, 1970. This year, we've gifted one of our limited edition, fine art estate prints of Wynn's mysterious and intriguing Point Lobos Tide Pools, 1972. To better appreciate this particular image of Wynn's, click here to read our Featured Image commentary about it. And to claim your chance of winning this print, click here.
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OTHER EXHIBITION HIGHLIGHTS
Following the COVID-19 health crisis, the Réunion des musées nationaux – Grand Palais had to postpone the exhibition Noir et Blanc. Today we are pleased to confirm the new dates...from November 12, 2020 to January 4, 2021.
Once again, the health crisis of COVID-19 forces us to postphone the exhibition…that we [now] hope will be in December. Of course, we cannot be certain…and will keep you informed. We thank you for your understanding and again for your generous collaboration. ~ Christelle Terrier, Project Head
As we all know too well, this year has been a very difficult and frustrating one for galleries and museums around the globe. Although a few exhibits took place as planned before the coronavirus reached pandemic proportions, most scheduled shows were indefinitely postponed; rescheduled – in some cases several times; mounted and made available for in-person viewing on a strictly limited and restricted basis; or modified to become primarily virtual experiences.
Today's technological advances have given gallerists and curators a wide range of resources to address the challenges which have confronted them, and they have learned to use the tools available to them with remarkable creativity and skill. I've been deeply impressed by their unflagging dedication to support artists and their works as well as to enrich the lives of people who engage with them. Art does matter and I'm deeply grateful to everyone who has contributed to keeping it a vital, inspiring, life-enhancing force.
One of the first exhibits of this year was "The Master Print" at the Peter Fetterman Gallery. A group show that began on February 22, Wynn was one of four featured artists with 17 of his original photographs on display. The other three artists were Paul Caponigro, Brett Weston, and Don Worth.
In March, Spectrum Gallery in Fresno, California, had intended to celebrate their 40th Anniversary with an exhibition and live auction. Due to COVID-19, the live auction has been postponed twice and is now tentatively scheduled for the spring of 2021. The exhibition is currently online. A contemporary print of Wynn's Sea Palms, 1968 is part of the show. Although the link we've included has not been updated to reflect the latest postponement, all the other information is correct.
From April 1 to June 1, the Gallery at Dot Dotson's in Eugene, Oregon, hosted the Photography at Oregon group's annual fund-raising exhibition. The show and auction became a virtual one and featured another of our contemporary prints: Wynn's Tree Trunk, 1971.
Also in April, the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina, focused a spotlight on Wynn, only for them it was not with his photographs. One of the ways they developed to virtually engage the public during the time of isolation from COVID-19, was celebrating the birthdays of artists represented in their permanent collections with a portrait and brief profile posted on their website. Wynn's birthday was on April 18 and we were happy to provide the Museum with one of our favorite photos of him.
In late June, the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa, premiered an exhibit titled "Magnetic West: The Enduring Allure of the American West." After its run ended at the Figge on October 4, the show then traveled to the Sioux City Art Center, in Sioux City, Iowa, where it opened on October 24. It will be on display there until January 17, 2021. The Center for Creative Photography loaned a vintage print of Wynn's Erosion, 1959, for the dual exhibitions.
In early fall, Lumière Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia, mounted an online exhibition titled "The Collector's Eye". It included Wynn's image Photogram, 1970. And on November 27, the Paul Mahder Gallery in Healdsburg, California, opened its annual Holiday Exhibition with an all-day, socially-distanced, mask-required-for-entry party. The show celebrates the work of over 40 represented artists from around the world, including a contemporary print of Wynn's Boy Fishing, 1959.
"Noir et Blanc – une esthétique de la photographie" (Black and White – a photographic aesthetic) is the title of a major exhibition organized by the Réunion des Musées Nationaux in Paris. Drawn from the permanent collections of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (National Library of France) and slated for display at the Grand Palais des Champs-Élysées in Paris, it was scheduled to open this June. It was then rescheduled for a November opening, and now it has been rescheduled once again for an opening in December. For most of this year, I've been working with three very patient, dedicated, warm-hearted women, each of whom has oversight on a particular aspect of this project. The exhibition and its accompanying catalog will include two of Wynn's original photographs – Burnt Chair, 1954 and Erosion, 1959. We will all raise a glass of cheer when this long-awaited show actually opens.
One last exhibition I would like to highlight is a solo show of Edna's nudes that was originally scheduled to open at the Exposed Gallery in Carmel this May. Due to COVID-19 and the size of the Gallery, owner/director Rachael Short and I agreed to put the show on hold indefinitely. Planning for this 18-print show began last year and the photographs are all framed and ready to be hung in the small, intimate space if the Gallery is able to survive prolonged closure and can finally reopen safely to visitors. It is another situation where a glass will eventually be raised, hopefully in celebration and not commiseration.
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NEW PUBLICATIONS INCLUDING WYNN'S IMAGES
The first story I wrote in my collection describes the afterlife of an old woman who returns as a tree in her widower's backyard. It was inspired by Wynn Bullock's photograph Woman's Hands, 1956. ~ Kate McQuade, author of Tell Me Who We Were
The first publication I want to highlight is a collection of short stories by Kate McQuade. Although the first hardcover edition of Tell Me Who We Were contains no photographs at all, the book owes its existence in part to Woman's Hands, 1956, an image Wynn created of his mother-in-law's old, arthritic hands encircling the trunk of a redwood tree that was growing in the front yard of our family home.
Here is Kate's account of how her book came to be:
The first story I wrote in my collection [In the Hollow] described the afterlife of an old woman who returns as a tree in her widower's backyard. It was inspired by Wynn Bullock's photograph Woman's Hands, 1956.
Something about the way the hands pull at the bark reminded me of a woman undressing – peeling apart the tree as if it were her own shirt, about to be shed – and the wonderful strangeness of that idea stuck with me.
I had to write a story about it, even though the draft felt out of character as it arrived, breaking rules I hadn't realized I'd internalized until I broke them.
I'd always been a realist writer, but the story that came to me was unapologetic about its magic. I'd always thought of nature as a story's backdrop, but in my story, as in the photograph, nature exhibited something closer to character, just as the old woman exhibited a sensuality (those intimate hands parting the bark!) that defied the dry myths we tell about old women.
It all felt as wonderfully strange as the image. I wasn't finished with that world when the story was over, and so I wrote my way further into it with the other stories in Tell Me Who We Were, a linked collection that follows the lives of six women and the different ways they shed the restrictions of gender-based myths.
Years later, I can see that all of my stories were guided in some way by Bullock's photograph, which first pointed me to the parallels between women's bodies and the natural world and which handles so reverently the magic within them.
At Kate's request, the paperback edition of the book contains a reproduction of Wynn's image in the "P.S." section which includes the author's biography, an author interview, discussion questions for book clubs, and an extended essay that has to do with the book's creation story. In that essay, Kate delves a little more deeply into how the image inspired many aspects of her book – its exploration of myth and magic, its concern with the natural world, and especially its celebration of the lives of women.
The other two publications that feature Wynn's work are both exhibition catalogs. The first was produced by Skira for the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa, to accompany their traveling exhibition Magnetic West: The Enduring Allure of the American West. The author is listed as Andrew Kensett and the book contains over 160 photographs, including Wynn's Erosion, 1959.
The second catalog is for the exhibition Noir et Blanc – une esthétique de la photographie (Black and White – a photographic aesthetic) which I've already written about at some length in the section on Exhibition Highlights. Postponed twice due to COVID-19, the show is now scheduled to open on December 16. While they are waiting, project organizers are keeping things on track by preparing online materials and a free audio guide. As mentioned previously, both the exhibition and the catalog will feature two of Wynn's images: Burnt Chair, 1954 and Erosion, 1959.
I have an initial idea (along the lines of "Photography is a Way of Life") to feature images by both [your parents] side by side in SHIZEN. I am 61, the age that your mother Edna Bullock began to devote herself to photography…. Also, I've always been interested in a) women in photography and b) the inspiration and love between people in photographic arts. ~ Jim Austin (Jimages)
Through my work with Bullock photography, I have met many wonderful image-makers who are not only exceptionally gifted, but also generously caring and thoughtful. Together, we have formed a community that gives each of us sustenance, inspiration, and support.
Paul Cotter, our current guest commentator, is a stalwart member of this community. In late September, he sent me a link to the fall issue of Shizen, a quarterly fine art photography e-zine. The issue was devoted to an exploration of water, and Paul was one of six featured artists.
It was my first introduction to this online publication and what attracted me, besides the quality of design and reproduction, was the way the publisher/editor Jim Austin interwove text with images. It was clear that Jim has a high regard for the expressive power of the written word as well as photographic imagery. As a lover of both, I was intrigued and impressed. I asked Paul if he thought Jim might be interested in doing something with Bullock photography. It turned out that Jim was very interested, Paul made the introductions, and Jim and I took it from there.
In addition to producing Shizen, Jim is a fine art photographer, educator, workshop leader, and book publisher. He lives full-time with his partner aboard the sailing catamaran they call "Salty Paws". Our first meeting took place via Zoom connecting Jim, who at the time was on his floating home somewhere in North Carolina, and me in my very non-movable home here in California.
Although I had been thinking of proposing an issue around Wynn's Featured Images, Jim had another idea: a dialog – or as he expressed it – a "dance" between Wynn's and Edna's figure work. Always valuing opportunities to showcase the imagery of both my parents (for example, our calendars of the last two years), I enthusiastically embraced the idea.
Jim and I will be working on the choreography of the dance early next year and look forward to the sharing the publication with you when it is complete.
On November 13, 2020, I had the immense joy of officiating the wedding of my niece Morgan Harrington and her fiancé Rudi Amedeus Blondia. Given present circumstances, it took place via Zoom with me on an iPad at home in Carmel and Morgan and Rudi outdoors on their laptop at my sister Lynne's home in Sonoma with just Lynne, Lynne's husband Gil, Gil's mother Val, and a photographer friend of Rudi's in attendance. Although it was certainly a departure from the weddings with which we are all familiar, the ceremony was as tender, loving, and deeply moving as any I've ever been a part of. Morgan and Rudi's commitment to each other was a radiant affirmation of life's beauty and goodness. It was also an especially welcome source of inspiration and encouragement for me in these calamitous times.
With the spirit of love and hope that Morgan and Rudi's wedding embodied, I wish each of you a blessed holiday season and greater well-being in the New Year.
Barbara Bullock-Wilson, Managing Member
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