I am proud to announce that Love & War: the World War II Letters of Arthur Smook, which I edited, is now available on Amazon.com in print and for Kindle. This has been a labor of love for me as I have edited 450 letters that my father wrote to my mother during World War II down to all or part of 150. There are also two wonderful letters that my mother wrote to her parents when she visited my dad in Paris, Texas, just before he was shipped to Europe. I have received some wonderful reviews. Here is an article printed by the Register-Star Newspaper on August 10, 2015, and here is one written by Catherine Kirkpatrick for the New York Book Society posted on August 30.
The story begins with Arthur’s joshing letters to Cornell pal Sylvia and turns to passion after they become engaged during a home leave. Sylvia visits the young Infantry 1st Lieutenant in Texas but they do not marry. He is shipped overseas in October 1944, fights in the Battle of the Bulge, and is one of the few in his unit to survive. Arthur writes passionate letters from the front, receives four purple hearts and a bronze star, and survives to command prisoner stockades as he waits to be returned to the states. His feelings and descriptions about all of these events are expressed in a manner that is always articulate and heartfelt: sometimes humorous, sometimes painful.
Arthur Smook was caught up in the events of the era: Hitler's death, the Yalta Conference, the death of FDR, and the dropping of the atomic bomb in the context of an individual's wartime life. The letters interweave these historic moments with everyday life in foxholes and a longing to return to his love in a way that compels us to keep reading.
The book is available in both print and Kindle versions on Amazon.com.
For the past few years, I have been creating images exploring the random ways farmers arrange or don't arrange bales of hay in the fields near my farm in upstate New York. I love the interplay of sky, shape, shadows and color. The first of these photographs to be included in a NYC gallery exhibit was a panoramic image called County Route 22 (the first image in the gallery here). I have since photographed bales juxtaposed with commercial buildings, various posted signs, bales and signs in the snow, and I will continue to expand the portfolio as upstate subjects interest me under the title Rural Imporssions.
The photographs in the Art Creation Foundation for Children gallery were taken when I traveled to Haiti to conduct photography workshops with a group of teenagers. Both my 2012 and 2013 trips are described in detail on my blog.
The Art Creation Foundation for Children (ACFFC) was created by my childhood friend Judy Hoffman in 2000 when she accompanied a gallery owner/friend on an art buying trip to Haiti. They were looking at local art in the town of Jacmel, known for its traditional crafts, and were very concerned about the large number of street children and their lack of prospects. There were, and are still, few jobs of any kind in Haiti. Judy began by organizing an art program to teach 30 children basic crafts that could enable them to eventually earn a living. She soon realized that without schooling they could not survive in the modern world. ACFFC has now grown to include 100 children. It received 50l(c)3 non-profit status in 2003. There are two basic criteria for entry: no regular place to eat or sleep and no consistent school enrollment (public school is not free in Haiti). The program now teaches children art, offers them 3 meals a day, and pays for school fees, uniforms, books, backpacks, etc. The work of the children is sold out of the foundation building in Jacmel, in several museum shops, and on ETSY, and the older children are learning to manage the money that they earn. Judy runs the foundation out of her office in Lake Worth, Florida and there is no administrative overhead. Her dedication to this cause has been inspiring. If you would like to make a donation, the website is here. Be assured that Judy will watch every penny.
Faity Tuttle: An Inspiration at 100 is a collaboration with my friend Esther Leeming Tuttle, better known as Faity, that documents facets of her life in her hundredth year. Faity was an actress during her 20's, appearing on Broadway with Humphrey Bogart. In her middle years she was happily married, raised three children and headed up groups such as the NY Chapter of Girl Scouts of America and headed the Board of Directors of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. When she was in her 80's and a widow, she worked with an acting coach, auditioned and won jobs in many print and TV commercials. In her 90's she wrote a memoir titled "No Rocking Chair for Me." A year ago, she moved from her NYC apartment to a senior community near her farm in upstate New York. She will celebrate her 103rd birthday in July and her joie de vivre is contagious. The images in this gallery were shot with medium format black and white film (printed as silver prints in the darkroom) and with color digital processes. Since the photographs include images that document the context of Faity's life as well as images of her going about her daily routine, I have also made audio recordings of Faity discussing the images and how what they document effected her life (e.g.the old water pump on the porch of the farmhouse).
My color botanical portfolio is titled BEAUTY IN CONTEXT. I photographed color for the first time in years to explore a fantastic array of unusual plants - including water lilies, lotuses, pitcher plants, gloriosa lilies, passion flowers - with which my husband Robert Peduzzi is experimenting on our farm in Kinderhook, NY. I shoot with a medium format studio camera, scan the film, and print the images digitally on beautiful Hahnemuhle fine art paper. I love the way the rich colors sink into the elegant surface of the paper. These images are printed in two editions of 50; sized 11" x 14" and 16" x 20."
In May this work will be back at Art & Chocolate, a terrific small gallery in Lenox, MA offering fine art and artisan chocolate. Lenox is a delightful town and the gallery, at 4 Housatonic Street, is in a terrific location. Stop by and say hello to owner Diana Bartlett.
PORTRAITS FROM THE GARDEN: AN UNCOMMON VIEW is an intimate exploration of the world within my own garden. These tiny segments of nature express beauty of form and movement, strangeness of shape and juxtaposition. They are portraits of buds not yet flowered, mushrooms underfoot, flowers past their prime, insects that are beautiful and strange, each taking its place upon a rural stage.
My frame of reference is portraiture. I studied with Philippe Halsman, and the principals he taught guide me in this work. What has remained with me from those sessions are his ironclad rules of technique filtered through his subtle wit. I have also long admired the work of August Sander, who long documented the range of middle class people in his native Westerwald. He created a comprehensive study of the enormous variety of individuals living and working in that region of Germany, highlighting individual occupations, and including references to these factors. My goal is to document the diversity of daily life within the context of my garden, remaining as unobtrusive as possible, and at the same time share the sense of life and death, wonder and wit that I find there.
I have now begun to take this vision to a new level by carefully choosing a small group of images from this project and greatly enlarging them. These digital enlargements are 24" x 36." They look fabulous and present an entirely different perspective on these tiny portraits, appearing both realisic and surrealistic.
The darkroom images in this portfolio are archivally printed, by me, in editions of 35. Each image is 5 x 7 inches printed on 8 x 10 paper, split toned dark sepia on matte fiber paper, retaining black elements. Signature and number are on the reverse. These are small, powerful velvety images.
In November 2002, I attended a showcase of modern dance choreography in which the work of Isabel Gotzkowsky clearly stood out as beautiful, thought-provoking and athletically challenging for the dancers. When I discussed Gotzkowsky's work with her after the performance, I became curious about the processof choreographing new work. I attended a number of rehearsals, bringing my camera with me.
Photographing dancers in rehearsal is a formidable task. The rehearsal studios used by small dance companies vary from gritty and industrial to modern and coolly efficient. I became fascinated with reflections in mirrors, the intensity of creation, moments of rest. The constant movement and the ever changing lighting conditions made it particularly challenging for me, but I felt lucky to observe and be part of Isabel's artistry and her ability to involve her dancers in this collaborative process.
The first solo exhibit of this work, at Williamsburg Art neXus in October-November 2003, BECOMING DANCE: IMAGES OF A PROCESS, was my impression of that experience. Many of the images from that show are in this web gallery and have since appeared in other solo and group exhibits and publications. Isabel and her husband Jon Zimmerman now live in Berlin, Germany, where they own a pilates studio and continue to create wonderful dances.
SHAPING A PRESIDENT: SCULPTING FOR THE ROOSEVELT MEMORIAL (from the book of the same name) took shape over a five year period. I documented sculptor Neil Estern as he sculpted maquettes and larger models in clay, enlarged them at Tallix Art Foundry, and supervised bronze casting to create the full-round statues of FDR, Eleanor and Fala for the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial Park in Washington, DC. At each stage of creation, I was struck by the forceful personae emerging out of inert substances. My challenge was to illustrate the unfolding emotional relationship between the sculptor's artistic intensity and the complex personalities of the President and First Lady emerging from armature and clay. I have hundreds of images in both black & white and color from this project. Only a small sample are in this gallery. Please call or send me an email if you would like to see more.