Saturday, June 20, 2009

Michael Napper

There is more to where we live than our physical surroundings and the spaces we occupy. Where we live is also a frame of mind: a perception of a time and space in which we feel most alive, where we feel most fulfilled. I live in a specific neighborhood in San Francisco, but I actually "live" in a community of painters, photographers, writers, musicians and poets. It's a community I've helped to create and it's the "community" in which I do my most important and fulfilling work.
The essay Michael submitted to "The Project" asks us to think a little deeper and consider just exactly "where" is it that we do live. That intrigues me. -- David W. Sumner

Michael Napper is a painter and film-based photographer living and working in Los Angeles. For more info go here:

"I am primarily a painter, working in oil paint, of abstract paintings. In the last few years I have also been working with black and white film. In both oil painting and black and white film photography I find a certain alchemy, an imperfect and often-times unpredictable alchemy, that for me mirrors the world. The elements of chance, randomness, fragility, serendipity are what I find most interesting in the process of both painting and shooting/developing film. There are artists and photographers who try to capture a representation of something they've seen...I guess I'm the other sort, the one that relies on a collaboration of the materials and the above mentioned elements to show me something previously unseen."

I've worked in very large studios, small studios, backyards, and hotel's always the same, not too long into the work I find that I've created a small area, a little corner, where things get messy, pile up...and as much as I dislike the mess, it's out of the juxtaposition of this working detritus that a platform emerges for my ideas of what the work will be.

In the last few years, as my life has become less nomadic, more anchored, I find myself wanting see less in the paintings. The work now has more light, more breathing space, there isn't the dark frenzy of blacks and reds that there used to be. I suppose shooting in black and white has also had a simplifying influence on the paintings as well. I go through more Titanium white than any other paint.

I've worked with acrylic paints, and I've shot with digital cameras. They're convenient, fast, cheap. But I love the history that lies behind both oil painting and black and white silver-based photography. Both film and oil paint force one to slow down. I work as a painter in a very archaic, and some may say, hopelessly anachronistic and sentimental medium. I have no defense against such claims, but the nature of time does seem to change when I'm involved in the process of either film or paint.

Although I'm an abstract painter, there is something refreshing to pick up the simplest drawing tool and to draw something more realistic. There is something very meditative about doing a drawing of something that exists out there in the world, and sometimes I envy those artists who are satisfied with re-presenting an image that exists. But in the end I always end up returning to the unknown.

I believe a lot in instinct. One should never dull it by wanting to know everything.
-Josef Sudek

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Phu Tran: Patea, New Zealand

Phu Tran was born in Southeast Asia and raised in Northern California. He now lives and works in Patea, New Zealand. With graphic design being a primary profession, photography has always been an accompanying tool and continues to be a growing practice.

Life in Patea is quiet with the occasional strong coastal winds and the rumbling of milk trucks passing through. This small town was once a major boom town with all the essential businesses driven mainly by a thriving Freezing Works. Today, 25 years after the closing of the Works, only a handful of shops and clinics support less than 2000 remaining residents.

The Albion Hotel and Bar accommodates
farming contractors, traveling workers and tourists.

Patea locals get up at dawn to commemorate Anzac Day, 25th of April. It is a remembrance day for those who died in the 1st and 2nd World Wars.

Highway 3 Food bar is one of the busiest shops in town
serving typical Kiwi fish and chips.

The Freezing Works Display created by artist Nigel Ogle is reminiscent of
the days of success and wealth.

All images ©Phu M. Tran

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Delmi Alvarez: Riga, Latvia

Delmi Alvarez is a freelance photojournalist currently living in Riga, Latvia. Originally from the port city of Vigo, in the autonomous region of Galicia, in Northwest Spain, Delmi began his career photographing social conflict in the streets of Vigo.

Delmi has completed long term documentary projects, the most notable of which are his year long documentation of daily life in Cuba, and his twenty year documentation of the Galician Diaspora around the world.

Galegos na Diaspora 1989-2009
took Delmi on journeys through Europe, Russia, Africa and the Americas culminating in an edited work of 576 black and white duotone images.

Today Delmi lives among the Galician Diaspora in Riga.

In Latvia women clean the streets all year round starting very early each morning. In winter, as snow accumulates, the heavy work takes many hours.

March 16th is Latvian Legion Day when soldiers of the Latvian Legion, part of the Waffen SS, are commemorated. It was made an official day of remembrance in 1998 and has since sparked much controversy. Many Red Army veterans and leftist activists see the Legion as an arm of the Nazi regime and consider Legion Day a Nazi festival. In 2000, the Latvian government abolished the holiday.

Jurmala beach is a resort near Riga where the rich and diplomats live.

Freedom Monument Guard, Riga, Latvia.

Old car with advertisement: Moving?

All photos © Delmi Alvarez

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Alan Dejecacion

Alan Dejecacion is a photojournalist and documentary photographer living and working in San Francisco.

"I worked as a photojournalist for eight years while living in Los Angeles doing mostly editorial assignments for magazines and as contract photographer for the Gamma-Liaison photographic agency (acquired by Getty Images in 1997). I value the experienced gained from those times, but my approach to making a photograph has changed –partly from being inspired by friends, colleagues, and others. Those days of running around trying to meet deadlines are pretty much over for me. I prefer a much slower pace now, working mostly on long-term documentary projects some of which are posted on my Flickr site. In between these personal projects, the stunning light that we're so blessed here in San Francisco (my home for the last 15 years) is enough to keep me busy. "

Waitress at Rain Tree Cafe watching television on a slow evening.
Irving Street, San Francisco © Alan Dejecacion

Above Jones Street on a morning stroll with my Holga. San Francisco
© Alan Dejecacion

Early morning in December. Broadway Street, San Francisco
© Alan Dejecacion

Waiting for my breakfast at Peter D's. Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco
© Alan Dejecacion