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Through the Looking Glass

Funny thing about today—we’re photographed more than ever before in human history. Nearly every single day of our lives is catalogued for all to see, tagged and codified for easy examination. But who’s it being recorded for? Will anyone care? Will anyone even know where to find all these shots in 100 years? This is [...]
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Funny thing about today—we’re photographed more than ever before in human history.

Nearly every single day of our lives is catalogued for all to see, tagged and codified for easy examination.

But who’s it being recorded for? Will anyone care? Will anyone even know where to find all these shots in 100 years?

This is what is driving Ed Gately: a mission to put permanence back in photography.

Gately has eschewed his former life in IT for a full-time gig in photography, an art he took up as a teen after realizing he wouldn’t be able to reliably narrate his own photographic memory.

“For the longest time, I never owned a camera; I had this young and naive belief I would vividly remember all of my experiences, until one day I was moving to a new home and opened a box. I discovered a book of photos documenting a language trip to Europe I had taken in High School. As I flipped through them, I instantly knew how wrong I had been. While I had not forgotten about the trip, generally speaking, recalling it might have been like watching a movie with the sound off. Each photo transported me back to that moment… the smells… the sounds… the emotions… all of it. The very next day I bought a camera and my adventure started.”

That adventure has pushed him forward as a photographer—by delving into the past. He now specializes in wet-plate photography, an antiquated technique that, while time-consuming, has resulted in images that have stayed around for centuries. His new business, in addition to making tintypes, will push to make glass negatives used to create vibrant 19th century prints, tactile documents captured in stunning, sharp detail.

“Ansel Adams has a famous quote,” Gately said. “‘The negative is comparable to the composer’s score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs in subtle ways.’ Think about that—every capture has a performance. If you just click to capture and then immediately click to “print,” you are missing out on the performance. I think I fell in love with the process because you get a chance to write the score and perform it all at once… right in front of your audience. It is incredibly personal and humbling.”

We leaned in a little closer to let Gately shine light on a more lasting look into modern life.

You talk of “permanence.” Why is that so meaningful to you in this day and age? Permanence is so undervalued today. Do you know if the image you created and saved digitally to the cloud or a social platform will be around to share with your kids? Or their kids? Or will it even be there for you late in life? Technology changes rapidly and may be incompatible with the way you digitally stored your images, and there is always the potential of data loss. Even current inkjet technologies have only been around for 20 years. We have no guarantee of their permanence. This was a big reason I fell in love with the wet plate collodion process and now print-out-paper processes; like cyanotypes. We have historical examples of these items existing for over five generations. Irreplaceable memories passed from one generation to the next. That is powerful.

Is there an irony to you, in that the disposable and affordable nature of photography today may give more people an opportunity to learn the art, but they may not appreciate the tactile relationship of the old process? When creating art with photography you are engaging in two general actions; capture and print. The affordable nature of photography in the digital world has been amazing. Our phones now have wonderful cameras in them to capture any moment in front of us. The vast majority of all captures are now “printed” on a screen. It has been a boon for getting exposure or just sharing with friends. All this is great to create work rapidly, but is it helpful to create it thoughtfully? You mention the tactile relationship of the old process. This is an amazing thing for me as an artist, but I think it may be even more important for the viewer. Each process I practice has a unique language for telling the story of an image. Holding a finished tintype in your hand is really a moving experience. The level of detail the process is capable of capturing surprises most people.

How much trial and error before you were able to get some workable images out of the wet plate process? Oddly enough, the first plates I poured turned out pretty decent. I had already spent over a year gawking at YouTube videos before I tried. It also helped that my very first hands-on attempt was done at a one day workshop over at UA Creative Studios with an amazing instructor. Heather Wetzel. In my eyes, the greatest advantage the wet plate collodion process is that it can all be created right in front of your eyes. The ability to visually inspect your work as you process almost always ensures you get some sort of image. The process of creating clean almost modern looking images or ones with the distressed look you intended is another story altogether. To further complicate things, the chemistry itself is its own living and breathing entity. You have to understand the interaction with temperature and humidity, decayed performance due to age, and maintenance of certain chemicals due to precipitation. It requires an immense amount of dedication to produce work on a high level.

Which photographers you are inspired by, around the world, and locally? There are so many amazing and talented photographic artists out there. If I just focus in the area of alternative process, I’d have to pick these three. First, Alex Timmermans from Holland for crafting amazing storytelling images. His set work and approach to solving problems without photoshop is rather unique. Second, Wilfred Thomas from France for his soft and delicate portrait work. I’m not sure he has shared a portrait I am not in love with. Locally, Tariq Tarey gets my vote for his gorgeous film portraiture work. So smooth and clean, it’s easy to waste too much time on his Instagram feed.

Who is one person you’d love to photograph more than anyone? I hope this does not sound cheesy, but the next person who comes into my studio. Sure I would love to meet someone famous and have them sit in front of my camera, but I am just as content having a friend or a new client come sit in my studio. It takes 10-15 minutes of total time to capture one image. This really changes how you interact and engage with each other. We must slow down on both sides of the camera and engage in mindfulness. I would not trade this for anything.

 

E.W. Gately

19th Century Photography  and Prints

ewgately.com

Instagram: @ewgately

Facebook:@ewgately

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Arts & Culture

Q&A: Columbus artist Mandi Caskey wants to bring us together

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Context plays one of the most important roles in our understanding of art. For instance, if you saw the unveiling of Columbus artist Mandi Caskey’s latest masterpiece, you’d probably equate the message to the daily protests that have been held in Columbus over the past week.

When the mural on the abandoned highway overpass near Scioto Audubon Metro Park was started, that wasn’t the case. It was a message meant to distract us from the hardships that COVID-19 flooded our lives with.

Now, to some people, the mural’s message, which stretches over 400 feet, takes on a new meaning.

(614) caught up with Caskey to find out the inspiration behind the piece and how she feels about subjectiveness in art. Check out a brief Q&A below and some incredible aerial footage from photographer/videographer John Thorne.

Obviously a project this big can't be tackled alone. Who all helped bring this idea to life?

This project was originally an idea that I wanted to do secretly aka illegally, but my business partner came up with a better idea. And that was to get other artists involved and pay them during the stay-at-home order. 

The whole time we honestly didn’t think we would be able to get approval on all the permits we needed, but thanks to Lori Baudro, over a month and a half we got permission and permits from the Department of Public Service, ODOT, and the Arts Commission. We were honestly in shock. 

When it came down to businesses, we started working with Tim Cousino, who’s an architect. He figured out all the measurements we needed. From there we had to get our hands dirty and clean the surface of the bridge, which had five 9-foot around dirt piles that we shoveled off.

Once the surface was prepped and ready to go, we had Jacob Bench come out. He’s an engineer that helped translate all of Tim’s measurements. The project would have been 10 times more difficult without him! 

Through the process, we slowly grew the team. David Greenzalis is my partner in crime so he was there from the beginning. Katie Bench, Hawke Trackler, Lisa Celesta, Ariel Peguero, Chris Blain, Patrick Cardwell, Eric Terranova, Sam Rex, and Justin Paul, who has taken the amazing footage everyone has seen. All of these people are passionate, hardworking, and just awesome to be around. I was excited when we all came together. 

From what I've read, it seems like your idea for this was green-lit very quickly and easily. Why do you think people responded to the idea in your message so strongly?

There’s a combination of reasons everything moved so quickly (in terms of government) ha-ha. Part of it was the fact people were at home; they wanted something to get excited about. This was a project people could easily get geeked out about: 400-foot long mural on the bridge that has been abandoned for 10-plus years! I think they just wanted to see if it could happen. Also, the bridge will be torn down in a year or so; this means the mural doesn’t need any upkeep. The fact it was temporary made it an easy Yes for people. Still in shock this all worked out so smoothly.

What roadblocks did you run into during the process of creating the mural?

A big roadblock that no one could help was the weather. Man, was it a beast to work with. When we first started prepping the bridge, it was raining and around 40 degrees outside. We were in coats with gloves for half of the project. Then it rains for almost two weeks straight, which pushed back any painting we wanted to do. The days when we did get to work was easily 95 and scorching! We were all burnt to a crisp! It was stressful but fun working with this crazy Ohio weather.

How do you think art helps people during times of unrest and uncertainty like we're in right now?

Art is truly the bridge between thoughtful conversations and action (pun intended). Public art specifically can be the most impactful since it’s meant to be viewed by everyone. There’s no fee to look at it, no dress code, no need for art knowledge, just acceptance and appreciation are necessary. 

Art in general helps people look outside of their own personal bubbles. We can see into someone else’s mind for a split second and become apart of the art and experience. I think we forget that art is a living representation of us, but I hope through this unsure time we start to remember why humans started painting in the first place.

I think there's something to be said about how the mural was made on the basis of the coronavirus pandemic and bringing people together and now it can take on the meaning of the social change that needs to happen in this world. What are your thoughts on that?

Originally the mural was made because I personally felt alone and knew so many other people were feeling the same way during the stay-at-home orders. Once the project actually started to become a real thing, “we are stronger together” became more about the people who were working together; so many different types of backgrounds and artists. People from different periods in my personal life, all coming together and making something epic. 

When it was all said and done, the words are made for everyone, from any background, race, gender, far and wide. It’s a message that I hope makes people know I’m with them, that no matter the craziness in the world, someone’s got your back.

 

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Columbus artists employed to paint boarded-up downtown for #ArtUnitesCbus

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The Columbus arts community has really stepped up to the plate when it comes to trying to unite and inspire during tumultuous times. One of the latest efforts from visual artists around the area includes CAPA and Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) latest partnership, #ArtUnitesCbus.

“When I do these projects, I try to remember to have fun and enjoy my loved ones. Even though it’s a bad time, there’s always room for love,” visual artist Hakim Callwood said.

The creative venture will exist to employ around 20 Columbus visuals artists. Their job will be to paint murals in place of the broken windows at the Ohio Theater and GCAC office. 

The art installations are expected to be finished by the end of the week.

“#ArtUnitesCbus is just one small way the arts community is trying to help. These murals are not the answer, simply a message that we ALL can, and must, help heal our community,” said Tom Katzenmeyer, President & CEO of the Arts Council, in a GCAC press release on Monday

Now more than ever is an extremely important time to give our community artists a platform. 

“The Columbus artists are more of a family than I think people understand,” Callwood said. “Whether we all talking every day or hanging out together; it doesn’t matter. When there’s times of need we always use our talents to support.” 

Check out the progress of their murals below.

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Arts & Culture

Weekend Roundup: 5/29 – 5/31

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With Ohio slowly starting to fully reopen, initial in-person gatherings have trickled into our news feeds.

Below are a few things you can check out over the weekend if you’ve been itching to leave your house and are capable of following COVID-19 guidelines.

Friday

Fair Food Weekend @ Oakland Nursery

One of the most disappointing summertime cancellations was the axing of the Ohio State Fair. For those still wanting to get their elephant ears or deep-fried oreo fix, Chester Foods will be bringing a pop-up food truck to the Oakland Nursery. Corn dogs, funnel cakes, fried oreos, fresh-cut fries, and lemonade shake-ups will all be on the menu. Fair food will be set up on both Friday and Saturday.

Time: 12 p.m. - 8 p.m. | Address: 4261 W. Dublin Granville Rd.

Saturday

Sonic The Hedgehog/Jumanji: The Next Level and The Hunt/The Invisible Man @ South Drive-In

With movie theaters in Ohio still closing their doors, the drive-in revival has been sweeping the state, nation, and world. Once drive-ins were given the go-ahead by DeWine, South Drive-In began to provide the double feature experience to eager moviegoers. Admission is $9.50 on Friday/Saturday and $7.50 on Sunday for those 12+, $2 for ages 5-11, and free for those under 4.

The showings for this weekend are as follows: 

Screen 1:

  • 9:05 p.m. Sonic The Hedgehog (PG)
  • 10:53 p.m. Jumanji: The Next Level (PG-13)
  • 12:56 a.m. Sonic The Hedgehog (Friday/Saturday only) 

Screen 2:

  • 9:25 p.m. The Hunt (R)
  • 11:05 p.m. The Invisible Man (R)
  • 1:09 a.m. The Hunt (Friday/Saturday only)

Check out the South Drive-In website to see what social distancing guidelines need to be followed.

Time: Arrive 1-2 hours prior to first showing | Address: 3050 S. High St.

Sunday

Reggae on the Patio @ Skully’s Music-Diner

If you’re in search of a relaxing Sunday, look no further than Skully’s. The music venue/bar will be opening its patio for those to have socially distance hangs, drinks, and wings. Skully’s will be setting the mood perfectly for a chill Sunday by spinning reggae music all night long. Get yourself out of the house and go catch some island vibes.

Time: 7 p.m. - 2 a.m. | Address: 1151 N. High St.

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