What type of art is your specialty and why? My roots are in photography and I spend a good amount of time writing as well. While I constantly explore other mediums like painting and sculpting, I am always called back to the camera. Photography and writing allow me to bring together two passions: the ability to capture and caress a singular moment with my camera and then write about the experience, the emotion, and the magic.
How long have you considered yourself an artist? How long have you been creating artwork?I have always been an artist. I started at the age of five as a performance artist … dancer, singer, and actress … and gradually moved into the visual arts. Being an artist, whether a character in a play, choreographing a show, or capturing the nameless faces of street people in New York City with my old Nikon film camera, I have always created. It is an essential part of my being.
Did you study professionally? Where?I began my performing art studies at the Cleveland Playhouse in Cleveland, Ohio. When I turned eighteen, I moved to New York City, continuing studies at various dance schools and at Actor’s Studio. I always carried a camera with me on my travels for I drove around the country to perform during my teenage years. I continued to teach myself about photography and then it simply took over my life.
What is your preferred medium and why? I have two preferred mediums for my own work: photography and writing. As a general preference? That is simple: I love the written word and I love film. Movies provide me with the visual, the written, and even the unspoken. In my next life I would like to be a screenwriter and cinematographer.
What is your preferred subject and why?I have no preferred subject though I do focus on nature … close up and at a distance. However, I have spent time photographing old tractors, antiquated tools, landscapes, flowers, people, wild life, old roadside fruit stands, and icicles only in this past year. I would never confine myself to one subject. With a camera in hand, often it is what comes to you that creates the subject. So, if you confine yourself to being a street-person photographer and you witness a spectacular sunrise lifting off a calm ocean, would you say “Oh, I can’t shoot that because I do on-the-street-portraits?”
How would you define your style?As others have: my photographs are definitely ‘painterly’ and at times O’Keefe- esque.
How do you feel your work has developed throughout the years?I am more intimate yet bold with my camera than I was when I first started serious work as a photographer. I seek to capture the essence and aura of a subject. I believe I animate inanimate objects through techniques I have developed over the years. More importantly though, I love what I do. I consider each image a gift and a blessing. So, there is a spiritual quality to my work and this too makes it much more intimate for me …being present and alive to each moment; being fully alive to what abounds around me.
What is the best thing about being an artist?Having a very rich, fertile imagination and internal life where ideas roam around and then are birthed. Oh, my, it is the greatest job one can have!
What is the worst thing about being an artist?The necessary, but nonetheless, fallow periods where one must rest and nothing is outwardly created.
What/Who inspires you?Vincent, Mozart, and God. Philip Glass and Bruce Springsteen too. Great movies. Superb writing. Read “West With The Night” by Beryl Markham if you want to be inspired.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?Practice like an ‘Athlete of God’. Learn the rules then throw them away. Listen to your instincts. Do your work, and then quietly step back. Surrender and accept that you are not in charge.
What inspired you at the Winery?I started my work at the Brotherhood Winery in May 2009. They are the oldest winery in the United States and their cellars were created in the 1800s. The day I arrived to do my first exploration was cold with a steady, drenching rain. So, I just spent my time roaming around all the cellars, which transports one to another time and place. It was magical for me. And, yes, inspirational.
How did you get your inspiration there?Inspiration lives in every cobblestone and brick and eight-foot wide, old French casks. Yet, the vineyards for Brotherhood are across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge in Columbia County, about ten minutes from my home in Catskill, and that presented an entirely new set of circumstances — and inspiration. The Brotherhood vineyard overlooks the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains. At the very top of the vineyard is a meadow and it is the very meadow that Frederick Church, while standing on the south lawn of Olana (his home), painted. Given these “elements”, how can one not be inspired?
Do you plan your work carefuly with sketches, photos, and grids, or do you work with gesture and intuition?Since I am a photographer, my sole tools, the camera and lens, are an extension of my movement, my eye, and me. In that regard, these “tools” are very much a part of my personal gesture. Since I was a dancer for the first thirty years of my life, I tend to move and caress my subjects with my camera, adjusting or changing my lenses as I proceed through the shoot, in order to create a deliberate blur, a double exposure, or a crisp, Zen-like image. I shoot one subject many ways and, when I can, in different lighting. While much of the time, as in the case with the Brotherhood Winery, I have something in mind that I want to photograph, once I am on site, it is mostly intuition that tells me what to shoot and how. It is at those times that I am truly at one with the moment.
Tell us more about your artwork created at the winery?My photography for Brotherhood is a photographic essay. The images tell a story: a story of heritage, tradition, antiquity, and dedication to a mission. Exquisite beauty and mystery abound at Brotherhood where the mystery of the past and reality of the present converge.
What is most satisfying about making art, based and inspired by the winery? I think it is that the vineyard is cyclical, like the seasons of our heart. The vines change with the seasons and no two vines are ever alike. No two harvest seasons are the same. Even the color of the grapes, as they turn, will never be exactly like another harvest at another time. There is always something “alive” and, therefore, evolving, even when all seems fallow. As a photographer, I like the absence of “sameness” very much.
What is most frustrating about making art inspired by the winery? We have had several heavy snowstorms and ice storms this season. Because of the long, narrow road that leads to the vineyard, I have not been able to safely access it during these storms. I had hoped to capture the vines, and the landscape of the vineyard, as they slumber. Perhaps there is still time. On the whole though, it has been a project of great joy.