Archive for the ‘Blogfinger Art Department’ Category

Williamson, West Virginia by Builder Levy. 1971 ©

Williamson, Mingo County, West Virginia by Builder Levy. 1971 ©


Appalachia USA. By Builder Levy  ©

Appalachia USA. By Builder Levy ©


By  Paul Goldfinger, Photography Editor @Blogfinger.net

Builder Levy is a photographer who was born in Tampa, Florida, 1942.  He received his BA in Art from Brooklyn College, and over the years his work has appeared in many exhibits and books.  He is best known for his work in Appalachia.  This image is from his book Appalachia, USA.

Vanity Fair wrote this about him:  “Photographer Builder Levy’s Appalachia USA (David R. Godine) does for today’s coal miners what Walker Evans did for sharecroppers and tenant farmers in the Dust Bowl.”

I hadn’t heard of him until I received an announcement of his latest exhibit at Shepherd University’s Scarborough Library in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. I got to view some of his work, all in wonderful black and white.  His images are strong and include dramatic scenics as well as portraits.

He is also known for international images  (eg Mongolia) and some wonderful photographs in New York City (see link below.)  He recently had an exhibit at the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida.

Levy  NYC images link

Recently Hillary Clinton said that she wanted to “put the coal companies and the coal miners out of business.”  But if you saw some of Builder Levy’s Appalachia work, you realize that coal mining is a culture and a way of life which will be resistant to change.

BILL MONROE and his BLUEGRASS BOYS  “Blue Moon of Kentucky”

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“A Day at the Beach.” Ocean Grove. Water color, 12″ x 16″. 2015. By Stephen D’Amato. ©

Carousel at Sunset (Asbury Park). 2015. 12 x 18 water color.

“Carousel at Sunset (Asbury Park).”  2015. 12″ x 18″ water color. By Stephen D’Amato. ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

We have reported before on Stephen D’Amato’s work because he often paints in the Grove.  He has now notified us of his forthcoming exhibit in Pompton Plains at the Pequannock Public Library during November. (973-835-7460.)

He will be showing 20 paintings with Jersey Shore themes, including some new works from 2004-2015. So if you are seeking art with Jersey Shore themes, Steve’s the main man.

Link to our last post about Stephen D’Amato from 2012:  BF 2012 post

RACHAEL CANTU  “De Colores”  by Joan Baez

“All these colors are like all the love
I have known in my life
And keep filling my heart
All these colors are like all the love
I have known in my life
And keep filling my heart.”

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Photographer unknown. From Paul Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles. Scanned from Black and White Magazine, 2002.

Photographer unknown. 1941.  From Paul Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles. Scanned from Black and White Magazine, 2002.

By Paul Goldfinger, photography Editor @ Blogfinger

Most of the time “vernacular” photography refers to photos made by unknown individuals.  The definition is   “Vernacular photography is the creation of photographs, usually by amateur or unknown photographers both professional and amateur, who take everyday life and common things as subjects.”

Regarding the photograph above, Los Angeles gallery owner Paul Kopeikin, “begs viewers to spin their own yarns. Do the somber expressions on the faces of this family tell a poignant story? The December 7 attack on Pearl Harbor catapulted America into conflict and sent young men off to war.  Was this the last photograph before a long separation?”

On Blogfinger we have posted articles by well known photographers such as Eve Arnold.  Here is a link to our post about her from April, 2015.

BF about Eve Arnold

Now we show you an image by an  unknown artist. If you can “spin your own yarn” about this photo, please comment below.

Subsequently we will continue posts about photographers whose work we admire.

*Title borrowed from the Feb. 2002 edition of B & W Photography magazine.

LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III  Score from the movie The Aviator.

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Three Graces. Roman 2nd century. Florence, Italy. By Paul Goldfinger © Silver gelatin print.

Three Graces. Roman 2nd century, from the Greek.  Florence, Italy. Silver gelatin darkroom print by Paul Goldfinger ©

CACHAO  (the great Cuban bassist) : The title or lyrics  are not important. We need a  special musical reflection to provide a soundtrack for these “Three Graces” who somehow still seem alive, 2,000 years after they were frozen in time by an unknown artist. It seems appropriate that they stand above everyone in a magnificent  setting in Florence.

Reposted from 2014.  Too beautiful to ignore for long. 

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Crazy, man! Blogfinger staff. Baltimore, August, 2015. © Photographer unknown. Special to Blogfinger.

Crazy, man! Blogfinger staff. Baltimore, August, 2015. © Photographer unknown. 

WARREN VACHE´  AND BRIAN LEMON with Harry Warren’s  “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby.”

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“Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe.” (Lunch on the grass 1995)  oil on canvas by Yue Minjun. Photographed by Paul Goldfinger at the Princeton University Art Museum.

Yue Minjun (b. 1962) grew up during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960’s in China.  As an artist, he is a member of the “cynical realism” school. Yue Minjun lives in Beijing and decided to create a laughing matter out of Manet’s 1862 work of the same name.  This painting sold for $1.2 million recently.  It is currently on display at the Princeton U. Art Museum. It’s rare that I find myself laughing while viewing serious art.

That is until later lightening struck twice.  I picked up a copy of the Daily Princetonian on Nassau Street where a front page photo shows a campus art display with some unusual accoutrements attached by mischievous students. The caption read, “An unknown group of students has placed hundreds of condoms on the student art project known as “The Nest.”


I wonder if they received an art grant to pay for those decorations. Who says that sky-high SAT scores might diminish the tendency for college students to engage in low humor?

SPEARHEAD  “Say Hey (I Love You)”  From the soundtrack of the movie Valentine’s Day

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Whiplash is particularly attractive if you have a background in music, especially if you have ever taken music lessons. But anyone can be engrossed by this story of a brilliant percussion student, Andrew Neyman (played by Miles Teller), who enrolls in a prestigious Manhattan college-level music school to study under a famous and notorious teacher, Terence Fletcher (played by J.K. Simmons.)

For most of us who ever played a musical instrument, we were exposed to teachers who tended to be soft spoken and artistic, introducing us to Mozart, Glenn Miller, Sousa and Vaughn Williams. But at this music school, the students enter as freshman already outfitted with great musical understanding and abilities. They are poised to move up to pre-professional levels of education.

Andrew got into the school because he is a musical talent who could read the most complex charts and play the most difficult pieces. But his goal is to get to the top where his role models are way above the rock and roll drummers that high school kids often admire.

Andrew is looking for inspiration from not only jazz drummers Jo Jo Jones and Buddy Rich, but he also admires the great be-bop alto sax super star Charlie Parker. The freshman immediately sets his goal on being the number-one drummer in the number-one jazz band among college ensembles.

But to do so, he has to impress Fletcher, who has unusual methods of teaching and motivating students. Fletcher is a sadistic, intimidating, fearful and unforgiving professor who drives Andrew into a state of hopeful despair bordering on insanity, even as his abilities become super-charged.

J.K. Simmons won an Oscar last month as best supporting actor. Although you might not know his name, most of you will recognize him because he is a character actor who has taken on a huge variety of roles over the years. His character is so abusive, that it is hard to believe that he could have kept his job at any college, and especially one that receives the finest young talent in the country.

Interestingly, Simmons’ father was Director of the School of Music at the University of Montana where J.K graduated with a degree in music. Simmons plays a beautiful piano solo in one scene in the film

Miles Teller is a young actor/musician with tremendous range in the role of Andrew. He plays a character that most of us will never meet unless we attend school at Juilliard. Miles is 28 years old and has appeared in quite a few films before Whiplash. Then name “Whiplash” refers to a challenging jazz orchestra arrangement which Andrew and his fellow student musicians need to master. The name also references the dynamics of Andrew’s relationship with his teacher.

Surprisingly, the film comes across as a suspenseful thriller. The jazz soundtrack is glorious, and even though Whiplash is about musicians, the film will keep you at the edge of your seat with its driving energy fueled by the music.

You don’t have to be a musician to appreciate the universal themes which include the quest for the greatest success in the arts and in life, the relationship between student and teacher, and the price that artists may have to pay to be the very best.

I give Whiplash 4 of 5 Blogfingers, and you should see it in a cinema with a superb sound system.  What a waste to rent or stream it and play it on your puny TV speakers.

JOHN WASSON  (from the movie score of Whiplash)  “Caravan”

—Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

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By Duane Michaels.  ©   From Photo magazine.

Above:  “This Photograph is my Proof” by Duane Michaels. Click to make it a bit bigger.


By Paul Goldfinger, Photography editor @Blogfinger

Duane Michaels, an important American photographer, is 80 years old, and there will be a retrospective of his work opening in a few days at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.

Michaels has been a pioneer in photography by doing two things. The first was handwriting narrative text on his images. He says that the writing “gives information that the photograph could not convey.” Well, so much for a picture being worth a thousand words. His words usually consist of poems or brief stories as seen in the photos above and below.


The second advance was to place multiple photographs in sequence to relate a story. Duane Michaels is a storyteller.

Here is a quote from the Carnegie: “Michaels is cited as being seminally important in his willingness to bend the rules of the medium to suit his own ends. He is credited for broadening our understanding of the philosophical dimensions of photography from the 1960s to today. ”

The picture on top is called “This photograph is my proof.”   I think it is enjoyable to read his brief narrative which adds an extra dimension to appreciating his images.

In general, I like my own images to be self explanatory to the point of rarely giving them titles. Just documenting the place and date is usually sufficient for me. I like to use the headline on Blogfinger to say a few cryptic words about the photo, but my goal is to stimulate interest rather than to narrow the experience for the viewer as occurs with Michael’s stories.

However, I actually am drawn to the notion of adding handwritten storytelling to a photograph. It is a fascinating and original idea. Today, most photography is shown on line, and you can’t very well write a handwritten note.

One of the beauties of creating an actual photo print, mounted on a mat board, is that you finish with a tangible work of art that you can hold in your hand. The handwritten note by the photographer adds a hand-made touch. I like to display photographs without frames—just the image on a mat board leaning against the wall or on some sort of easel.

In my blog gallery, I usually add music (“soundtrack”) to my photos to provide an added dimension. Like Michaels, I want to enhance the appreciation of the photograph, but, at least online, I do it with music, which is less specific than a written note. It’s like the soundtrack for a movie.

My idea of accompanying photographs with music is fairly original, although there are precedents. In 2011 we posted a piece about a museum show which featured the photography of Disfarmer accompanied by live music with Bill Frisell.

Disfarmer set to music.

WARREN VACHE´  and BRIAN LEMON with Harry Warren’s “A Love Affair to Remember.”


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Ocean Grove summer tents by Martha Kelly. ©

Ocean Grove summer tents by Martha Kelly. ©

From time to time we show the work of artists–painters—who love to portray the beautiful town of Ocean Grove. One time, painter Diane Hutchinson used one of my photographs to re-create a scene inside Nagle’s (see the links below.) That was a great thrill for me because her work is first rate.


Now we have heard from Martha Kelly, an artist from Point Pleasant, who used a tent photo of mine for the acrylic on canvas shown above. This is what Martha has to say about this painting:


“I love your photos. When I saw this one I had to paint it. I studied art in college but never pursued it as a profession. Recently I began to paint more because that is what I truly love. I’m sure you know as you get older what is most important becomes clearer. I paint in acrylics on canvas, usually in the 8×10 to 16×20 range. I have shown in an art gallery in Westfield.


“I live in Pt. Pleasant, but my family and I love Ocean Grove. We love the beach and strolling around town.


We thank Martha for sharing her beautiful painting with us.


Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

Painter’s link one

Diane Hutchinson painter

Tea for two at Nagles



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Central Park, 1969. By Paul Goldfinger ©  Silver gelatin print.

Central Park, 1969. By Paul Goldfinger © Silver gelatin print.

By Paul Goldfinger, Photography Editor @Blogfinger

My photo was taken of Central Park after the 1969 blizzard.  I climbed to the top of Mt. Sinai Hospital and took the picture with my Pentax Spotmatic 35 mm single-lens reflex camera which a friend had brought back from Korea. I only had one lens, a 50mm.  I made the print in my darkroom using traditional wet/chemical methods .

Years later, as I learned more about photographic history, I admired the work of André Kertèsz, a Hungarian born photographer who lived in France and then came to America where the third phase of his career elevated him into the ranks of the most famous fine art photographers.

He and his wife moved into a 12th story apartment overlooking Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village in the early 1950’s.  He loved to shoot images with a telephoto lens out the window at the park. He especially  enjoyed snow scenes.

From Photograph Magazine via Swann Galleries, New York.

From Photograph Magazine via Swann Galleries, New York.

When I saw his image (above) from 1954, I was struck by the similarity  to mine. But my photo was not derived from his, since I was unaware of him in 1969.  At least I don’t believe I ever saw it before.

But art always owes a debt to the work of those who came before, and that is why artists must study the history of their genre in order to build on the past.  The influence of one generation of artists onto later ones is sometimes unconscious on the part of those who may be borrowing without even realizing.

Because of our two similar images, and I am not comparing myself directly to Kertèsz, I feel that there is a kindred spirit—a connection— that somehow exists,  and that is something that is both weird and exhilarating.

Have any of you artists/writers out there  (and there are some in Ocean Grove) ever felt such a relationship?

JENNIFER THAYER  (This song was featured in the movie The Thomas Crown Affair and sung by Noel Harrison)

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