People sometimes ask me if I can shoot color photographs with Brownie In Motion. “Yes,” I tell them, “but, I don’t because of the toxicity of color chemistry. Plus, it’s really hard to get your hands on Cibrachrome these days!”
That said, my friend and fellow photographer Jeremiah Stilson recently unearthed a color photograph that he made in 2014 using Brownie In Motion while I was visiting North Carolina.
What a surprise! I’d totally forgotten about Jeremiah shooting this test photograph of me with 4×5 film pinned inside of the Brownie! For numerous health/logistical/economic reasons, I don’t intend to start shooting color photos with this camera anytime soon but it’s nice to know\show that it can be done!
Jeremiah Stilson studied Fine Art at The Ohio State University, and currently resides in New York. See his work at StilsonStudio.com .
I’m not an artist. I can’t even take a decent picture for Instagram. I am clueless about photography, but as a writer I know a great deal about setting a scene, and Stephen Takacs’ Brownie in Motion gallery is quite the scene. Upon walking into the Cultural Arts Center, the surreal images of the camera obscura evoke a sense of wonder. The camera obscura has a personality that easily caught my attention and drew me into the images; then, as I ventured further into the gallery, I was confronted with the camera obscura, and I was truly a part of this surreal exhibit. The photographs that lined the walls were those taken with the camera obscura, and I was enveloped by this world Stephen created. Compared to the vibrant and surreal digital photographs visible upon entering, the black and white photographs surrounding me then seemed grounded, as if they were bringing me back to earth. They evoke this feeling of nostalgia, despite being taken in the last couple of years. I had to periodically remind myself that I was not looking into the distant past.
The portraits in particular caught my attention more than anything else. One that I particularly enjoyed was Sue Cavanaugh: Fiber Artist. On first glance, the image feels regal, this stern woman looking down on me. But the longer I look at her the more I see in her. Through her sunglasses I can see half-closed eyes; she is not looking on with contempt, she seems exhausted, like a woman who has done what was hard and now just needs to rest. The corner of her mouth had a slight upturn, suggesting that what I first thought was a scowl were just the signs of a long life playing across her face. She is not a queen looking down on her subjects with derision, she is a mother looking on to her children, appreciating the work she has done.
The portrait Big Mike: Ropemaker really grabbed my attention as well. When I saw the photo, I was both humored and impressed by Big Mike. He is definitely large in stature, but the emotional presence he evokes is large as well. His face is stoic. From his size to his facial hair to the rope he works with, Big Mike is masculine. Not only that, but he is a particular kind of man. Big Mike represents a standard of masculinity that is disappearing. The image that men must be big, strong, and unfeeling is fading from our collective consciousness, and with it so is Big Mike.
As I left the gallery I admired once more the individuals, practices, and ideals that are disappearing from our world. I looked again into the fading world of the camera obscura before reentering the vibrant reality of the digital photographs, and I left the gallery wondering how long before my way of doing things would die out as well.
Brownie In Motion: Traveling Picture Show is on view at the Columbus Cultural Art Center until March 19th, 2016.
I recently gave a midday artist talk at the Columbus Cultural Art Center about my exhibit Brownie In Motion: traveling picture show. Luckily – since noon on a Thursday is hard for most people to go out to see art – the talk was recorded.
In case you haven’t heard (and have missed my excessive Facebook posts), I’m excited to have the Columbus Cultural Art Center host an exhibition of my photographs from The Brownie In Motion Project! The show will include one-of-a-kind silver gelatin photographs and contact prints made with the camera obscura, as well as digital images that trace our cross country journeys. The exhibit opens on February 19th and runs until March 19th, with an opening reception on Friday Feb 19th from 6-8pm.
Beginning Photography students at Otterbein University had a truly special opportunity when Stephen Takacs brought his Brownie In Motion project to the Art Department in September. Students learned about the camera obscura in a photo history lecture earlier in the semester, but being able participate in the magic in person was an unparalleled experiential learning opportunity that will not soon be forgotten. Students were excitedly able to walk inside of Takacs’ room sized camera and see the scene outside of the lens projected onto a screen. They were then able to be part of the development process and assist in making the class portrait. Additionally, students were inspired to consider an expanded notion of photography, one that engages with the camera as an art object itself and promotes collaboration between artist and sitter.
Amanda Le Kline graduated from The Ohio State University with her Master of Fine Arts in 2014, and currently teaches at Otterbein University. Her work combines the mediums of photography, video, sculpture, and performance, and her research interests come from the fields of anthropology, mythology, and women & gender studies.
The Brownie in Motion Project has officially made history! : )
Jeff Curto – a photo educator and SPE National Board Member – recently mentioned the Brownie In Motion Project in his History of Photography Podcast, which fittingly dealt with the history of the Kodak Brownie camera.
I’m really excited to announce that my image “Adlai Stein: Blacksmith” with be featured in the Columbus Arts Invitational happening this month at the King Arts Complex! Thank you to everyone who voted for my work on The Roy G BIV facebook competition!
This direct positive photograph was shot several months ago when Brownie and I visited Adlai’s studio at the Columbus Idea Foundry. Thanks goes out to Kate Morgan for her photo assisting skills!
The exhibition will run from August 13- 30, 2015 and feature the work of numerous Columbus Arts Organizations, including Mother Artists at Work, Creative Women of Color, Urban Cultural Arts Foundation, Fresh AIR Gallery, Clintonville Arts Guild, Tacocat Collective and ROY G BIV gallery.
Awards Ceremony: Thursday, August 27, 6–8 pm @ King Arts Complex (867 Mt. Vernon Ave)
A few miles west of the Oregon-Idaho border, after driving through Boise and what felt like a high altitude wind tunnel on Highway 84, we happened upon a little RV campground called Catfish Junction. On a less dramatic portion of the Snake River, the grounds are nestled in golden hills. There we met the tall, scraggly-bearded groundskeeper, Daren. Wearing a dilapidated black hoody and blown out denim jeans, his demeanor was laid back as one would expect from a cat fisherman and rural RV site overseer. He kindly lent us an old taped-up fishing pole and some fresh night crawlers. Seemingly, Daren doesn’t often meet many young travelers willing to step out of their RV’s, and was happy to chat with us about our adventures with Brownie In Motion.
On the boat dock, we cast out our lines while I played guitar to the rapidly shifting sunset. Ten minutes in, Daren got a bite. Casually working his fishing pole, he effortlessly reeled in a catfish over 2 feet long. “That’s your breakfast,” Daren said as he plopped the fish into a bucket for overnight storage. While removing the hook, he muttered, “Stupid cat,” over and over….
Friday morning, we mingled with Daren while I prepared our catfish and French press coffee breakfast. He regaled us with stories about the Junction: natives raiding travelers on the Oregon Trail, an eccentric who used to farm a small island in the lake, and his own experience working heavy machinery in L.A. As we drove off, I couldn’t help thinking of this adventure as our own little salute to the Oregon Trail.
The day after our sunburn-inducing adventure in the Bonneville Salt Flats, we spent time in Twin Falls, Idaho reaching out to contacts in Oregon and lazing in the park next to the local library. This was much needed rest after our foray in Bonneville’s muddy expanses. Before leaving town, we felt compelled to do some sight seeing.
Snake River runs westward through the awkward little town in an epic canyon ¼ mile deep. The site of Evel Knievel’s failed Skycycle X-2 steam-powered rocket jump across the river, a dirt ramp on the south side of the falls still serves as a tourist attraction. The canyon is littered with waterfalls cascading brilliantly into the river, however the overabundance of strip malls and buildings around the falls dilute its natural beauty. I’m not sure if it was the town or the lack of sleep, but it left a strange taste in my mouth.
The amount of distance traveled and total waking hours began to take their toll on us. From Carbondale in Colorado, to Idaho via Utah in 72 hours, with no more than 10 hours of sleep we longed for rest. But movement is the name of the game; with only 48 hours until The Great Oregon Steam Up, again we hit the highway.
After being stranded in the Bonneville Salt Flats all day, we cruised the strip in Wendover, Utah; the nighttime streets lined with $35 motels. On the Nevada side of the border, bright Vegas-style lights advertise penny slots, $6.55 senior discounts, and all-night buffets. A weird neon glow rises up into the desert sky. A place for Vegas dropouts, and vagrant Mormons to drown their woes, Wendover was clearly not built for high rollers. Technicolor temples of debauchery are seemingly the only things West Wendover has to offer.
After scanning the strip, we decided to get some cheap grub at a casino. Inside the Red Garter, patrons sit hypnotized by machines ringing out the merry music of paychecks being tossed aside. Countless slot machines and who-knows-what-else awaits the avid gambler inside these establishments. We ate our dinner at the Prospector Lounge, a neglected section of the casino with busted-out satin chairs and dull historical paintings commemorating the old west. The food was good enough; a simple biscuits and gravy for myself, and two eggs and toast for Steve. After reflecting on our day in salty hell, we chose to move forward and immediately made tracks for Twin Falls, Idaho. Driving up an old dusty portion of 93, I stayed wired on caffeine and chewing gum.
It was 3:00 AM before we settled into a RV park, a few miles north of our intended destination. Out in the open, surrounded by rural-suburban sprawl, our choice of campground was anything but ideal. Instead of a tree-lined grotto in the woods, the desolate concrete pad was lined with water and electrical hookups. Steve was furious about my decision to camp here as we rolled up to our pseudo campground. As we drifted to sleep in the parking lot, distant footsteps shocked my dull brain with a jolt of paranoia. Exhaustion took over and, before I could peek out of my sleeping bag, I was overtaken by troubled sleep.
Thursday morning in Jerome, Idaho, the fair grounds where we camped were milling with lazy preparatory activity for an upcoming event. Having expected to be harassed by the police, or worse, twisted local bumpkins whose motives and ethical standards would be no doubt questionable, rising to the gentle murmur of friendly fair grounds employees was a relief. The clanking of tent poles and humming of diesel engines quietly emanated from surrounding lots while we slowly and crustily rose from slumber. Despite our ratty appearance, we — wild-eyed, dusty punks passed out in their parking lot — were greeted with an offer of showers, friendly conversation and use of a hose to clean off our van.
As I hosed-off the salty mud caked onto the bottom of our vehicle, I was struck by how fortunate we’ve been. All along our journey, the kindness of people we encounter continues to surprise and amaze us. From gifts of Girl Scout cookies to perfect strangers offering a place to stay, we’ve are grateful for everyone’s generosity and willingness to help two road-worn travelers.