Susanna Wallumrød (aka Susanna or Susanna and the Magical Orchestra) was just in town as part of the Vancouver International Jazz Festival. I was able to find some time with her to do some portraits at The Iron Works prior to sound check and we’ll be following up with an interview. In the meantime I thought I’d post one of the shots from the impromptu session in advance of the full piece being published at a later date. I’d also like to take this opportunity to suggest you check out her work on the http://www.runegrammofon.com label, particularly her latest solo recording Wild Dog. Please visit her site at http://www.susannamagical.com
Coming soon on the Redshift label is a new release of music composed for electric guitar by one of Vancouver’s finest interpreters of contemporary guitar music. For me, the highlights of this new recording include Septet, by James Tenney, and Nebula by Jordan Nobles.
During an average year Adrian not only performs superlative versions of minimalist classics by the likes of Steve Reich et al, but he tackles more extreme…and more delicate pieces with equal flair. He plays some wicked flamenco as well! Keep an eye out for Adrian in an upcoming video production for Vancouver Review Media.
Having cut my teeth in a market where the generalists are the survivors, I’ve enjoyed doing a wide variety of photographic work. Vancouver doesn’t forgive a high level of specialization when you’re a photographer. You’ve got to genuinely love a lot of different kinds of work, and be equally comfortable in every role. And besides, it suits my nature. So it was a treat to return to corporate editorial photography recently with a portrait of RBC Global Assets CEO John Montalbano for the Sauder alum magazine Viewpoints which, a long time ago, I worked on with Marian Bantjes. Now it’s in the very capable hands of Jennifer Wah and Brandon Brind. It’s great to continue the association.
The first is the image that ran. The second is an outtake from the session. Sometimes a pause in the proceedings yields a nice moody portrait. It was done during our recent fog spell where the light was brutally low. We were in a north-facing office tower near the convention centre which didn’t help. But John is a photographer as well and was patient, interested and open to the improvisation required when your time is whittled down to 10 shooting minutes and the light has gone.
New from Jean-François Denis’ Montreal-based empreintes DIGITALes label is this gem from UK-based, Alberta expat composer David Berezan. Allusions Sonores explores the soundworlds of Alberta’s Badlands, utilizes field recordings from Bali, and delves into audible life of Sea Buoys among other things. The cover image is from my series of “Petro Blossoms”, images of gasoline leaks on wet road surfaces. http://www.electrocd.com/en/cat/imed_13122/
And from Russ Summers’ Texas-based NuScope label is Fourth Landscape featuring Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser, pianist Benoît Delbecq and percussionist Gerry Hemmingway. The image is one of a series of wakes I have photographed from area bridges.
I’ve always been a fan of small, independent theatre companies and for the last 20 years or so have pretty much missed most of the city’s bigger productions. I generally prefer things like Itsazoo’s staging of Edward Albee’s Zoo Story on a Ceperley Park bench or dark, powerful works like Pi’s recent crowd-slayer Terminus. But I just had the opportunity to catch Bard on the Beach’s delightful staging of Twelfth Night and who should be playing the role of Feste but the Electric Company’s Jonathon Young who, like Joel Grey in Cabaret always enthralls with an intense, darkly comic and very physical presence. Mind you, he’s also currently playing Hamlet in a spare, modern adaptation directed by life partner/collaborator Kim Collier.
This portrait was taken just before he left for Toronto a year or so ago. He needed a headshot and I headed over to their east side home with no particular approach in mind. This one didn’t make the cut but it is a favourite from that session. Simple, direct, and slightly unnerving. Taken on the back porch on a warm afternoon. Photographing both Jonathan and Kim Collier over the years has always been a treat. I wholly recommend that you check out any production these two are involved in; site-specific, technology-mediated or part of a big, popular adaptation of a classic.
I was recently asked to provide imagery for a Projekt Records double CD re-issue of Berkeley-based ambient composer Forrest Fang’s early works, Migration and Wolf at the Ruins. I’ve done several CD covers for Forrest and Project in recent years but the deadline for this one came up fast in early May. I found a handful of thematically fitting images and during the initial search, I came across this one, which I was inspired to push further in processing, applying a heavy blur with the intent of blending it with another image. Then I recognized that it was strong enough by itself. It has the vague feel of a starry sky mapped out on a grid. So it was left. We went with another, much warmer and more organic image.
After everything was sent to the pressing plant I got an e-mail from Forrest asking if I had anything else, this time for a re-issue of his second LP, Some Brighter Stars. Yes, actually, now that you mention it! I’ll say nothing about the actual subject of the photo other than to mention that it involved a classic Modernist building from the 1950s. Sometimes the stars align themselves.
Mysterious Scroll Fragment Discovered
If you’re like me, you’re the kind of person who turns to the Discovery, History and National Geographic channels to see some, well, discovery, history and something befitting the nature of a National Geographic we perhaps mistakenly recall as once being something better than its TV incarnation. But silly us. These channels are now home to programs like “Hillbilly Handfishin'”, “Sons of Guns”, “Amish Mafia” and other assorted reality-ish programs designed for people wearing glossy track pants, sipping on a Bud on the porch of their trailer home.
So why not just invent your own great “Discovery” program? Dispense with reality altogether. Most people do, if only to keep their sanity. I thought of this while recently driving through the Grand Coulee area of Washington State where an ancient ice dam break caused massive torrents of water to carve the landscape in several fell swoops. The archeologist who theorized this scenario in the early part of the 20th century (but who was poo-pooed by his peers until the landsat images from the 70s proved him right) may well have been a guest on one of the aforementioned channels had they not morphed into…whatever it is they are now.
So herewith, an image that set the archeological world abuzz within the last few weeks: proof of a newly discovered scroll fragment found along the banks of…Banks Lake, a highly-managed, largely sterile body of water whose secrets are only now coming to light. Early indications are that this fascinating discovery will shed some light on area inhabitants’ diets, entertainment preferences….and where you can get your 4×4’s wheel rims polished.
This be the final version featuring “Plink” by Mina Totino.
This was created using a self-portrait in the flaking, glossy tiles on the side of a mid-20th century building on Broadway in Vancouver, one of less than a handful remaining.
Book cover time again. Here is another project for New Star Books, a book of poems by George Stanley whose last epic, Vancouver: A Poem was widely lauded in literary circles. If you know it, you’ll recall its cover featured a detail of a Roy Arden photograph that depicts a lone figure walking along Cordova Street outside the Woodward’s building before its demise.
The new book is also concerned with Vancouver…to an extent. Initially I honed in on one of the central poems rich in references to Broadway, a long, commercial artery in Vancouver that traverses east/west and has rarely shown any promise of cohesion or the ability to host much in the way of a neighbourhood feel along its many stops. But both George and I live in the same area where the street is the main thoroughfare and I recognize many of the places in his poems. The image in the first draft came from a spontaneous trip down to the medical district approaching the intersection with Cambie where the most radical transformation of Broadway is taking place. I like that it evokes a fading past while using a human form in a pose which (to me, at least) poses some questions about aging and refection.
But then. Rolf at New Star steered me to what he felt was the core sentiment of the collection reflected in the statement: “Don’t gaze into the abyss. Gaze out.” And so an altogether brighter, but no less mysterious, feel was sought. That’s where Mina Totino’s painting “Plink” comes in. And so it was. After Desire. Plink!
Ben Ashton at The Irish Heather, Gastown, 2013
Fiona Garden outside The Irish Heather, Gastown, February 2013
Sometimes life is pleasant and simple. One day a Facebook friend you’ve never met before comes into town, you meet up for a drink and the next thing you know, the iPhones come out and you’ve got a couple of nice portraits of a nice couple. In this instance; Vancouver-raised and now London-based photographer Fiona Garden and her fully English (in all the best ways!) artist husband Ben Ashton.
Cover of EVENT, Spring, 2013
Ah, Hawai’i. So much to answer for. Something struck me as just right about this when I came across it on a trek up to the top of Diamond Head on the island of Oahu, Hawai’i. The hard, simple reality is that this improvised, unofficial sign served to give hikers an option of turning left for a gradual, view hike in the open air or turning right to face a vertical set of concrete stairs that led to a lengthy cramped tunnel. In either case you ended up at the same place; a crowded former military observation post overlooking that most beige of tropical cities; Honolulu.
After seeing a performance of the Electric Company’s “Initiation Trilogy” in December, I was completely smitten by the third piece, an adaptation of the work of Elizabeth Bachinsky. After getting in touch to compare notes on the possibility of somehow collaborating in future, she asked about images for use on the cover of EVENT. This made the grade for us both, very quickly. We hope it’s both funny and cryptic at the same time.
The issue will be on newsstands soon. So get out and support BC writing!