Fire Hall Cowboy: PlainSky Nebraskans No. 17
I’m teaching Photography II this semester, and a central element in any art photography course is criticism. That doesn’t mean “criticize,” but rather “examine and discuss.” This image invites myriad possibilities for that end.
The cowboy stands by a large “F”. Meaning? What of his Pepsi cup with a straw? His jewelry? Belt buckle and plaid? What does his look tell us? Why did I chose the tonalities I did for the print?
It is for these reasons I find this to be one of my favorite images in the PlainSky show; it’s a complicated portrait that involves a complex set of juxtapositions and ideas. Enjoy.
Embroidery Cottons: PlainSky Nebraskans No. 15
One of the showcase images in the PlainSky, Nebraskans gallery, “Embroidery Cottons, Sioux County” (like nearly all my images) is a metaphor that has led many to speculate on its possible meanings. But like most artists, I leave the answer a secret, and the audience is left to ponder.
Desolation Gate: PlainSky Nebraskans No. 13, 24″ x 16″ on Red River Arctic Polar Luster
Another of the more eerie images in the PlainSky show, Desolation Gate is (among other things) a statement of foreboding and loss as it sits on the doorstep of northwest Nebraska.
Death on the Plains: Plainsky Nebraskans No. 12, 24″ x 16″ on Red River Arctic Polar Luster Paper
My daughter and I found this cow’s skeleton at evening, glaring white in the light of the setting sun. Sheltered in a draw with the last clouds of a passing storm front as a backdrop, I had only two minutes to compose, evaluate and create the image, and I left feeling as though Ansel Adams’ ghost had been sitting on my shoulder helping the process.
The Creation of Adam: PlainSky Nebraskans No.
Michelangelo’s Sistine has nothing on a terrier and a couple of ranch dogs.
Cowboy Lunch: PlainSky Nebraskans No. 9
During the several years I’ve worked on the PlainSky project, I’ve fallen in love with quiet, unguarded moments that are still carefully lonely, as my friend Alessandro Ciapanna said about my work. And he’s right; I like those intimate moments where we as onlookers feel like we’ve found an interlude we weren’t supposed to see.
This shot, taken in January of 2012 in Harrison’s Longhorn Saloon, is one of those times. Weary, his shoulders slumped, a cowboy sits, the dim lights of the saloon and a Coke cooler filled with beer the only elements that brighten the room and betray the fatigue on his face.
Badlands and Tornadic Storm: PlainSky, Nebraskans No. 3
Print No. 3: The exclamation point of life on the Great Plains, violent thunderstorms fascinate and often thrill Nebraskans, who by their birthright inherited spring hail, torrential rains, and destructive tornadoes.
Ardmore: PlainSky, Nebraskans No. 2
Print No. 2: Ardmore, South Dakota. The looming specter of depopulation for neighboring Sioux County, Nebraska.
PlainSky Nebraskans Cover Sample
>> PlainSky, Nebraskans Preview Download <<
It seems like it’s been an eternity in the making at times, but simply a brief moment at others. Nevertheless, “PlainSky, Nebraskans” is off to the editors Monday for creative and copy critiques and makeovers, then to press by February 10. Books will ship mid-March if customers aren’t able to make it to either the West Nebraska Arts Center opening in Scottsbluff on March 1, or the Minden Opera House Gallery on April 19. There are still some copies of the book left for pre-order, but hurry, since it is a limited edition of 100.
Just for fun, I’ve provided a high-quality PDF of the introduction and an excerpt from chapter one, “Nebraskans.” Enjoy, but remember this is still a pre-edited version, so some changes in writing, spelling and grammar are likely still afoot.