When you switch journalism beats, you can usually torch your Rolodex. It’s rare that your sources will carry over en masse from, say, the cops beat to the sports desk.
Bill Jackson is the one of the few artists who was also a regular source for me when I was a news reporter back in the day, covering county government for the San Mateo Times. He was the county’s elections manager then and is a fine-art photographer now. When I jumped ship for the arts editor’s desk, he got in touch again.
Instead of chatting about precinct results, we’ve talked about his pleasantly eerie photography, which has been seen quite a bit around town in recent years. Jackson is a member of the Palo Alto Camera Club and is represented by the Paolo Mejia Gallery in the city.
At the moment, he also has a solo show up at Philz Coffee in Palo Alto’s Midtown neighborhood. Jackson usually likes to photograph people; here he’s found inspiration in the rings and cracks of fallen trees.
His “Timber” series came from “cut and fallen trees from California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, modified in post-processing to create something different from the original,” as he puts it. The series is a blaze of color: atomic reds, deep blues, powerful oranges. I like to imagine some logger knocking down a tree and jumping back appalled, seeing all this wonder inside.
'Palo Alto Forest' seeks new digs
Wanted: a new home for a Palo Alto forest. That is, the collection of photos on glass, hung with wood, wire and acrylic, known as the art installation "The Palo Alto Forest." PA photographer Angela Buenning Filo gathered and assembled the photos, which are taken by locals of their favorite trees in town. The work has been on display as part of the grand-opening exhibit at the swanked-up Palo Alto Art Center, but the show is coming down soon and the work has nowhere to go.
Art-center director Karen Kienzle is fond of the piece, but “we’re not a collecting organization,” so the center can’t keep it. “Maybe it could go in a corporate lobby?” she wondered aloud. “She doesn’t want to put it in storage,” she said of the artist. “She wants it to be enjoyed.”
In case you were wondering, this is how you climb a pyramid. Especially if you’re in the 19th century and you’re being photographed by Felix Bonfils (1831-1885).
This photo, a print titled “Ascent of the Great Pyramid,” is part of a new small exhibition at Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center, showing 19th-century images of North Africa and the Holy Land. These photos were especially popular with Westerners who never left the States or Europe, either because they couldn’t or because they were afraid of being pushed up a pyramid.
Other vintage views include a print of the Mosque of the Emeer Akhor by Francis Frith (1822-1898), a Briton who was a grocer before his first jaunt to Egypt inspired him.
Dear Edward Burtynsky,
Please come back to the Cantor Arts Center. Because your work makes me stand gawping in front of it for hours while the rest of the world does productive things around me, and in the end I’m immeasurably better off.
Why black and white? Why not, if you can make a ceiling lamp look like a marvelous stained-glass fractal without any color?
Fine-art photographer Cole Thompson, he of the lamp fractals, will address that very question in a talk on Oct. 24 at the Palo Alto Children’s Theatre. The Palo Alto Camera Club is bringing him in to speak about his philosophies and techniques, and perhaps about the black-and-white world he grew up in.
The image above is very much part of the modern world. It depicts a ceiling lamp that Thompson shot in a Minneapolis Ikea in 2010, a photo that’s part of his striking series. “The first time I really noticed a ceiling lamp was in a hotel lobby in Uniontown, Ohio,”Thompson wrote on his website. “I was intrigued by how it looked when I stood directly below it; from that perspective it was an abstract kaleidoscope and didn’t resemble the functional object that I had viewed from the side.As I lay on the lobby floor, studying the lamp, I decided to produce this portfolio.”
He added, “Everywhere I go, I still find myself looking up.”
Pet peeve: people sending me pitches for “sneak peaks.” Unless you represent a secret mountain, knock it off.
Fortunately, the Palo Alto Art Center didn’t do this. The folks there just sent me a cool preview pic of one of the exhibitions up in the newly renovated center. Called “Palo Alto Forest,” this installation contains photos shot by residents of their favorite Palo Alto trees. Local artist Angela Filo assembled it all.
These and several other installations are open to the public starting Oct. 6, when the center reopens after being closed for more than a year. Welcome back, PAAC.
So even though I spent much of last week writing and editing and headline-crafting and photo-looking-at for our annual cover story on the Palo Alto Weekly photo contest, I still have plenty of photo-appreciation skills left so that I can write a run-on sentence and spot an amazing picture like this at the same time. Yes.