Heft

Read the Review of my most recent exhibited work, “Throw Some Men Around” by Art Correspondent Susan Apel of the Woven Tale Press.

This past spring, when I once again found myself walking into Paper Doll Vintage in Sayville, LI—because who can resist—I was glad the store owner, Dominique, was working that day—love to chat with her and be in her space of enthusiasm.

Dominique is charming, brilliant at fashion and hosting art, music, and costume events at Paper Doll and now, I see, savy at coping with aggression in a bold but artful and safe way.
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Everything is Still, SVAC: She Just Wanted to Throw Some Men Around

As featured in Saturday’s Opening, June 29. Image shot with CineStill 800 Tungsten Color, Motion Picture Film.

The red and white, polka-dot dress on the mannequin draws you in. Enter Paper Doll Vintage Boutique on Main Street in Sayville, Long Island and you are caught in the mystery and find yourself trying on the red and white dress or oversized, bright yellow sunglasses, or lilac clip-on earrings—none of which you would have imagined your “style” until you play with the persona. Why not?

A plaid, mohair suit brings you back to the 60s. You remember yourself at another time or as the storeowner Dominique Maciejka says, you imagine someone else—someone you haven’t been or the someone who wore the suit once before. What’s an identity?

It’s all delight and possibility in Paper Doll until it isn’t—until Dominique— after taking a Merchant Cash Advance to open and stock another store—found herself in litigation for fraud and now dressed in fear.

They’re legal and sometimes a necessary means of borrowing money—not all are predatory, Dominique says. She’d borrowed from MCAs before. OK, a higher rate of interest than a standard bank loan, but in need of funds to quickly build business without leveraging your stock and trade, you take the deal which allows for repayment proportionate to monthly sales and receipts. Dominique viewed this option as manageable and a way forward. But some of these MCAs are unscrupulous, threatening, and flat-out cons. In defense, you dress in armor. (Bloomberg Series: Confessions of Judgement)

Dominique and her partner Joe Laspina own two clothing stores, the Sayville spot and another in Patchogue, also on Long Island. In July 2018, she took out a Merchant Cash Advance from Quicksilver Capital to open a third LI shop in Huntington. But Quicksilver immediately began withdrawing a daily, fixed rate from the business bank account—not proportionate to sales and over the legal interest rate in New York State (Newsday Business Article)

Dominique immediately began to make phone calls to Quicksilver to reconcile the payments but was put off. The people on the other end of the phone started to disguise their voices—which Dominique could still recognize from previous calls. “But when they put me on the phone with Frank Rizzo—a character from the Jerky Boys—as their legal attorney,” Dominique says, “I knew they were messing with us and were being shady.”

It took six months of paying the daily fixed rate, lost revenue, and the now necessary closure of the Huntington store to settle—all for an original loan of $45,000. “I might have taken them to court further,” Dominique said, “but I wanted to stop the bleeding and was frightened by potential further consequences and damage to the business overall.

To push back against the stress and fear, Dominique revived her high school moniker, Dominique the Freak and took up pro-wrestling, in order, she says, “to throw some men around. You know me, Carol, body and costume and theatre.” She turned to her own inventory—a black leather bustier, short skirt, knee-high boots and laced gauntlets—a new stage to act out other stories and roles with plots to step in and out of—let go of the past and enter a new ring.

Everything is Still: Show Opening June 29/2019 Photographers Working in Motion Picture Film

Ben Parks, From the Small Hours

Very excited–on my way north to Southern Vermont Art Center for opening reception featuring my 30 x 30 portrait of Dominique of Paper Doll Vintage Boutique–otherwise known as Dominique the Freak who is oh-so friendly, kind, generous and overall imaginative but also no easy mark for con artists. Can’t wait to see what the other photographers created. 

In the area, come by for the opening reception, June 29th, from 4-6 PM, for an amazing array of photographic projects by a diverse group of image-makers who work in motion picture film. And, there’s a panel discussion on the 30th at 1 PM. Join us for an inside take on the aesthetic why and how of the artists’ film choice.  Need directions or further details: email or message me or take the link below:

Everything is Still: Photographers Working in Motion Picture Film

“A Strange and Emotional Installation”

If you know me, you know I love Vermont, and when I first drove around Rutland this past summer–with fellow photographers Stephen Schaub and Susan Weiss, I had no idea what might interest me. But, then I began to notice the many statues of the Madonna—looking as she had always been depicted over the years from my parochial school experiences in Bayside, Queens.

It raised questions for me as to the depiction of womanhood, maternity, and autonomy—questions I wouldn’t have asked, necessarily, in those early school years—and served as a catalyst for this project.

It was a journey for me—to explore where I was then and what I wonder or ask about now. I photographed select images in Rutland, but then when I returned home to Long Island, NY, I began to think about the history and religious ideals that I had taken in so many years ago and began to recall and reminisce about the meanings associated.

Once I photographed and printed the select images, I moved to my writing space—working from memory and seeing the trajectory of my feelings and ideas around the iconography. I first wrote some brief prose poems, recalling early experiences in Catholic grade school—the ones that cocooned me—and then moved into more difficult questions about the embodiment of womanhood—my mother’s story of her motherloss and the loss of a baby brother living just a few hours after birth. This was all in contrast to the more ideal story of Christ’s birth and Mary’s Immaculate Conception and Virgin Birth.

Tossing through shoeboxes of previous writings, I came across a high school class writing titled: “Religion,” dated May, 1966. I was curious and surprised to read my own words then—words that reinforced a supplicant role for a woman in a marriage to a man. I was surprised. While I was taken by the challenge, at the time in high school to translate portions of the Ecumenical Council report from Latin to English, I apparently didn’t think deeply about the ideas I was professing.

That’s when it became clear to me that the work in The Alley Gallery should be displayed as a collage—the only way to execute the complex ideas and feelings without telling a viewer what to deduce or conclude.

I am left with more questions than answers. But, as I neared the completion for exhibition, I was deeply saddened by the death of poet Mary Oliver in January. I turned to her works and reread, and was struck by the first lines in her poem, Wild Geese, a counterpoint to the mid-60s admonition to fall into an auxiliary role:

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles in the desert repenting
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Read the review: Rutland Herald described my work as “a strange and emotional installation.” It was right on!

Mediatrix

Stills from a SNEAK PEEK VID — Click here to view entire Sneak Peek exhibit video

I created the interpretive installation, Mediatrix, as an exploration into childhood teachings that over a lifetime, rear questions about womanhood, maternity, and autonomy. I was prompted by the iconic imagery in Rutland, Vermont, for the show: “Rutland: Real & Imagined”–but am now inspired to continue the line of inquiry beyond this first execution—looking to follow the threads.
Exhibition
“Rutland: Real and Imagined,” curated by Stephen Schaub, will be on view at The Alley Gallery from Thursday, January 31, 2019 through Saturday, March 9, 2019. This event is FREE and open to the public.
Opening Reception
Saturday, February 9, 2019 from 6:00 – 8:00 PM at The Alley Gallery, Center St. Rutland, VT.
facebook event page here

I Choose Film – Wilson Museum Exhibition

Fantastic opening reception for I Choose Film . . . below find the official press release and some installation views.

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I Choose Film opens at the Wilson Museum and Galleries at SVAC.
A significant new exhibition at the Southern Vermont Art Center is celebrating the vibrant life of film photography today. I Choose Film: Film Photography in the 21st Century features twenty living artists from around the world, each working with film in a unique way. Running from July 7 through August 27, 2017, I Chose Film will kick-off with an opening reception Saturday, July 8th from 4 to 7 PM.
I Choose Film defines film as any process employing light-sensitive photographic emission in the creation of imagery. Consequently, works in the show employ a kaleidoscope of traditional and contemporary film techniques, from wet-plate collodion to platinum prints, from artist books to X-Ray.
“Far from being dead, film is enjoying a resurgence. A Renaissance even,” says I Choose Film curator and artist Stephen Schaub. “I believe this springs from a newfound appreciation for film’s unique capabilities.”
“You have a whole generation coming of age now who grew up with primarily digital photography, and they are realizing: there are more possibilities out there. Film is a vast and rich medium. And what it does, nothing else can do.”
Schaub is a recognized leader and innovator in the art photography and printing worlds. In 2005 he coined the word “digital” to describe photographic work that employs both film and digital techniques. Soon after he founded the photographer’s advice and commentary blog FigitalRevolution.com, which to date has had over a million and a half hits.
As a very special part of the opening weekend celebration, representatives from the Penumbra Foundation in New York City will be photographing wet-plate tintype portraits throughout the day Saturday and Sunday. The unique opportunity to have a Penumbra tintype made is open to anyone, but please note that there is a fee and there are a limited number of spots available. For more details and to schedule a seating time, please visit: http://www.penumbrafoundation.org/upcomingevents/tintypes-svac
Also part of the show will be the “Take Your Best Shot” kids instant photography contest. Kids up to age 18 who are accompanied by an adult are invited to check out a Fuji Instax instant film camera from the museum, shoot a pack of film on the grounds of the art center, and donate their favorite image to hang for the duration of the show.
“I’m especially excited about the children’s photography contest,” adds SVAC executive director Joan Teaford. “This interactive part of the show means that every child who comes to the show can participate; they check out an instant camera and create an image to be added to the exhibit right then. what kid wouldn’t be excited to do that?”
Artists featured in the exhibition include: David Burnett, Brian Kosoff, Craig Stevens, Bob Van Degna, Susan Weiss, Carol McGorry, Abby Kraftowitz, Stephen Mallon, Art Gilman, Chris Usher, Peter Liepke, Dan Nelken, Alan Ross, Thomas Kellner, Scott Anton, Rachel Czajkowski, Sam Dole, Jolene Lupo, Dan Zimmerman and Stephen Schaub.
The Southern Vermont Art Center is open Tuesday – Saturday 10:00-5:00, Sunday, 12:00-5:00. Admission is free. For more information please contact the Southern Vermont Art Center at 802-362-1405 or info@svac.org.