In a wide alley of the Powderhorn Park neighborhood, artist Richard Barlow is almost finished painting a mural. It's not your typical brightly colored neighborhood pride statement. This mural is silver and white, and depicts the negative - and positive - of a photograph of trees on water. Barlow says he's been fascinated with how early photographers sought to be "painterly" in their images. Now Barlow's creating paintings inspired by those photographs.
This is Barlow's first attempt at a mural, and he's learned about some of the unique challenges painting outside can present (such as ants and other insects getting caught in your paint while it's still wet, or the risk of going snowblind working on a white wall all day).
Richard Barlow's particular type of art wasn't as easy to convert to a mural as he had originally imagined. Due to the particular types of chemicals in the paints he used, he had to apply the silver to the wall first, and then add the white afterward. He ended up projecting his original onto the building at night, to guide him in his painting.
Photograph by Jenny Jenkins
Ted Spears is the owner of Acme Awning, the building whose back wall is serving as Barlow's canvas.
"If I could afford to do it, I'd do it to the whole building," says Spears. Spears says he's had a huge problem with graffiti for a long time now, and he's hopeful the mural will deter would-be taggers.
The mural was the idea of Jenny Jenkins, Spears' back alley neighbor, and, conveniently, Richard Barlow's girlfriend. She didn't like seeing graffiti out her back window, and thought a mural might help the neighborhood. She managed to cobble together some funding with the local neighborhood association and a Minneapolis graffiti abatement grant.
Kari Neathery, executive director of the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association, says her neighborhood has installed a few of these murals over the past couple of years with great success. Sometimes the projects involve working with neighborhood kids, so that they take ownership of the mural and are less likely to deface it.
Ted Spears says what he likes about Barlow's work is it's not attempting to make a social statement - something he doesn't feel would be appropriate for his business. He says it's just good art, and he's pleased.(4 Comments)
Posted at 12:16 PM on September 28, 2009
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Photography
Taryn Simon likes to photograph things most people never get to see. Things like the piles of food seized at customs, glowing capsules of nuclear waste, or a copy of Playboy Magazine - in braille.
Playboy, Braille Edition
Playboy Enterprises, Inc.
New York, New York
Simon says the biggest obstacle to doing her work is gaining access, something she was denied by - of all places - Disneyland.
Photography threatens fantasy. They [Disneyland] didn't want to let my camera in because it confronts constructed realities, myths and beliefs, and provides what appears to be evidence of a truth. But there are multiple truths attached to every image.
Simon often uses her camera to battle the "untruths" told by other pictures. An entire series of her work consists of portraits of men convicted and sentenced for crimes they didn't commit. In most instances, the men were identified by witnesses in photo albums, often after they'd been passed over in a face-to-face line-up. Often times witnesses later admitted that they'd seen so many faces that they could no longer properly identify who they remembered from the crime scene.
C&E Motel, Room No. 24, Waco, Texas
Where an informant claimed to have heard Washington confess
Wrongfully accused- Served 13 years of a Life sentence for Murder
Many of these wrongly convicted men ended up serving a decade or more in prison before a DNA test led to their acquittals. Simon photographs her subjects either at the location of their alibi, at the scene of their arrest, or sometimes at the scene of the crime (in some cases a place the subject has never seen).
Looking at Taryn Simon's work, and hearing her talk about the process involved (she spends most of her time writing letters asking for permission to visit places) reminded me of the work of local photographer Paul Shambroom. Shambroom also likes to depict places most people don't ever get to see, but in his case his work has revolved around American military might and national security.