Archive for February, 2010

The Great Central Valley

February 18, 2010

One of the most amazing photobooks I’ve ever owned is The Great Central Valley, a project by photographers Stephen Johnson and Robert Dawson, along with writer Gerald Haslam. The big, heavy book details the history and geography of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys and is accompanied by immaculately printed, large format photographs.

Land Development, Lincoln © Stephen Johnson

A lot of the photos remind me of Richard Misrasch or Joel Sternfeld [early 1980s, large format, color, western landscapes modified by man, etc]. I don’t know why these guys and this book isn’t more well known. Buy it. You can get it used on Amazon for $7 which is a total steal.

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Extranjero at Centro Cultural Borges – Feb. 18 to March 14

February 15, 2010

The students of FotoDoc, a documentary photo workshop run by Daniel Merle, photo editor of La Nacion’s magazine and supplements, are having their end of year exhibition at Centro Cultural Borges. The opening is Feb. 18th at 7pm and the show runs through March 14th. The theme for this year’s show; Extranjero.

Cumbia Villera for Export

February 13, 2010

I’ve been coming down to Los Angeles every couple of weeks to develop film and one of my favorite things about visiting LA is getting to listen to fm 107.1 Super Estrella. It’s this Spanish station that plays rock and [occasionally campy] pop. I’ve discovered a lot of great new songs listening to them. I nearly drove off the freeway the other night, though, when I heard a cumbia villera song come on. It was followed by a Soda Stereo song and I figured, it being after midnight, they must have some special Argentine hour relagated to the madrugada, but no, I heard the song again today. Here it is, it’s rather catchy:

The song is called “Una Calle Nos Separa” and was originally by Leo Dan, an Argentine singer popular in the 1970s. This version is by the group Nestor en Bloque.

I love that they’re playing cumbia villera in the United States. It’s absolutely the most disrespected musical genre in Argentina, coming as it does from the slums of Buenos Aires. Of course, Tango also originated in the slums and was rejected by Argentine society until it became popular in Paris [so the story goes].

Is Nestor en Bloque the new Gardel?

[I can’t wait for the comments on this post]

Also, check out Emiliano Granado’s essay on on cumbia villera, following around popular act Pablo Lescano on a long night playing various dates around Buenos Aires.

Tule Fog

February 11, 2010

I’ve been waking up every day at dawn to go out and photograph. Especially exciting have been the days when the ground is shrouded in thick Tule Fog. Sometimes visibility gets down to a few feet. You feel like you’re in a zombie movie and everything just looks creepy and amazing.

The street outside my Aunt's house

Amputated orchard trees awaiting a graft

Italian Cypress on Palm Dr.

As my aunt said, at least somebody likes it.

Matthew Rangel; a transect – Due East

February 8, 2010

I had the great pleasure of meeting artist Matthew Rangel and seeing in person his stunning collection of prints entitled “a transect – Due East. The set of 12 lithographic prints documents his journey due east from Dinuba, his hometown, into the Sierra Foothills and to the summit of the highest peaks of the Great Western Divide.

Stronghold - Due East from Moro Rock, lithograph ©Matthew Rangel

The concept is a really simple one. Just a few miles east of Dinuba lie the highest peaks of the Sierra Nevada. Usually this view is obscured by the horrible air quality but on those rare days when a winter storm clears out the air, the snowy peaks gleam in the near distance. Inspired by just such a sight, Rangel decided to simply walk east to reach those peaks. Reaching them turned out to be not so simple as it involved crossing a lot of private property. Securing the permission from the various landowners to traverse their lands required several years work.

The prints combine layers of drawings made on the journey, historical and government maps and photographs to create a work that is literally multi-layered and reflects upon this landscape and man’s ownership and modification of it. I’ve always been a bit suspicious of the cult of the fine print in the photography world. This work, however, seen in person, best exemplifies the obsessive attention to detail, materials, and meaning. The prints invite and reward close scrutiny and extended viewing.

If you are lucky enough to be in Fresno this month or in March you can see Rangel’s prints on view at the San Joaquin River Parkway & Conservation Trust’s River House. The exhibit opens February 11, 2010 with a reception from 5:30-7:30pm. Also coming up on February 20, 2010, Matthew Rangel is speaking at the Three Rivers Arts Center as part of the Sequoia Speaks series [more info]