Lakeland Basic Photo class publishes book about the pandemic

My Spring Semester Basic Photography class at Lakeland Community College created a response to the pandemic and its disruptions to our lives by publishing a book of photographs which document some of the changes we have all endured in the past few months.

The project arose from the feeling that teleconferencing and e-mail were not going to be sufficient contact to keep the students engaged in the process of learning photography unless we had a singular focus on producing a document that everyone could contribute to and could go beyond the process of completing a list of standard assignments. The result was a 36-page book that captures the feeling of separation from our usual social environment and some trepidation about the future.

The book is now available on the bookstore at this link.

It should be noted that the book was submitted to the printers on May 6—two weeks before businesses, government offices and other institutions in Ohio began a slow process of reopening and three weeks before the world completely changed yet again.

Life Interrupted

Life Interrupted A Photographic Resp… By Frank Gwirtz

Photo book

Book Preview

Prints for Jessie Herzfeld

I recently produced a number of exhibition prints for Cleveland artist, Jessie Herzfeld. The prints are large reproductions of her paintings and drawings inspired by the French poet, Arthur Rimbaud. We made the prints in two studio sessions last November. On February 7, her show opened at the Art on Madison Gallery in Lakewood.

The Plain Dealer published a review on that you can read here.

Herzfeld’s hyper-detailed, color collages incorporate oil paint, watercolor, charcoal, markers, colored pencils and photography.

“I want to change realities by changing perceptions. And I’ll do that by sharing poetry and pictures,” says Herzfeld. “I’m a surrealist at heart.”

Heroes of Conservation Book (version 5)

Each year since 2015, I have edited and published a book for Protect Geauga Parks, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to protecting the county park district from abuse by corrupt politicians. As with the previous editions, this book includes profiles of individuals who made extraordinary contributions to the preservation and conservation of parklands in Geauga County over the past several decades. The book includes six of my landscape photographs of scenes in the Geauga Parks as well as poetry by Grace Butcher, an award winning writer from Geauga County.

I do several projects throughout the year for Protect Geauga Parks including maintaining their website and printing banners and other graphics. But the Heroes of Conservation book is always a special project that gives me the opportunity to contribute something uniquely personal to the effort to protect our environment here in Geauga County.

Some Portraits

Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center is an equine-based therapy facility serving people with mental and physical disabilities. It is a not-for-profit organization that employs about thirty staff members and is supported by over 250 volunteers who assist instructors with riding and carriage driving lessons which serve over 500 students.

I recently had the pleasure of making portraits of a dozen or so staff members who do much of the heavy lifting of providing daily care for the 36 horses used in the program. These are the people who take care of feeding, administering medications, monitoring the health of the horses and doing all the hard work of cleaning stalls, providing water and taking care of repairs and maintenance of the large barn and 80-acre grounds. It is a monumental task and without the work of this group of dedicated individuals, the program simply couldn’t function at anything like its current level.

The portraits were assembled into a 30X40 inch poster which now hangs next to the tack room door. Within days of hanging the poster, we observed a significant improvement in the frequency and quality of interactions between the barn staff and the volunteers, instructors, students and everyone else who passes through the tack room door.

Polly Chandler exhibits work at Lakeland

The current exhibition at the gallery at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Ohio, titled “from Woman XI,” is a large collection of works by women artists from northeast Ohio and across the country. In past years, this exhibit has been one of the most interesting and provocative shows on view at in the Lakeland Gallery and this year’s show is no exception. Gallery Director, Mary Urbas, always does a masterful job of curating the exhibition and at last year’s show I mentioned to her that she should look at the work of Polly Chandler, of Austin, Texas. Mary followed up on my suggestion and invited Polly to submit four pieces to this year’s show.

I have been an admirer of Polly’s photography for many years. I typically point my students to her website which contains dozens of beautiful images, most of which were photographed on Polaroid Type 55 film, a 4×5 instant sheet film that was a mainstay of professional photographers for decades, but which was discontinued by Polaroid in 2008, shortly before the company went bankrupt. Polly’s work is deeply personal and invites the viewer to explore the inner sanctum of her soul. Viewing her work is always a moving experience.

I had the privilege of printing and framing the images that Polly submitted to from Woman XI. As any artist can tell you, the cost of exhibiting artwork is often prohibitive to an artist who might be trying to survive on meager print sales, a part-time teaching gig and, hopefully, a day-job of some sort. The cost of printing, framing and shipping four large pieces to a show almost 2000 miles from home is a serious impediment to any artist unless there is grant money to support it. In this case, I was able to act as a local source for Polly to have her prints made, framed and delivered to the gallery.

I made the prints on my SC9900 large format printer. I loaned Polly the use of four of my frames for the duration of the show and the gallery will cover the cost of shipping any unsold prints (unframed) back to Polly. This made it possible for Polly to participate in the exhibition and gives the art community of northeast Ohio its first opportunity to see her work as it is truly meant to be seen. It’s a fortunate circumstance where a number of factors came together to create a mutually beneficial opportunity. I’m happy to have played a role.

from Woman XI is in the Lakeland Community College Art Gallery, now through March 30. An artists’ reception will be held on Sunday, March 25 from 3:30—5:00PM which will include the annual Woman of Achievement Award ceremony.

Solar Eclipse

I spent much of the afternoon of August 21 at Observatory Park in Geauga County. For those who are not aware, Observatory Park is a unique county park that includes two observatories, a planetarium, a seismic station and numerous permanent astronomy exhibits. The park is situated on land in Huntsburg Township that was donated to the Geauga Park District and was built almost entirely with donated funds raised by the Foundation for Geauga Parks.

The main observatory houses a twenty-four inch Newtonian reflector telescope and the Park District also has several smaller telescopes available for use by the public. Just last week the Park District held a grand opening for the second observatory building—the former Nassau Station Observatory which was owned by Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. This much larger building now houses a space museum as well as the newly refurbished thirty-six inch Schmidt Cassegrain reflecting telescope which was built in the 1950’s by Warner & Swasey of Cleveland.

As a photographer, given that the eclipse in northern Ohio was only about 80%, what was happening on the ground was at least as interesting as what was happening in the sky. The eclipse was exciting, but I’ve seen partial eclipses before (and the one in 1994 was way better!) so it was not so spectacular. However, I was surrounded by several thousand other eclipse viewers many of whom had never seen one. Their enthusiasm and curiosity was contagious. The park staff did a great job of creating viewing stations including telescopes with solar viewing adapters, mirror projection devices and, of course, the planetarium show.

The next eclipse in Ohio will be in 2024—and it will be TOTAL! Looking forward to that one. And I have only two spare bedrooms, so any out of town friends should get their reservations in soon.