Today’s Office Excavations post is about a box of phlogs. If you punch this word into Google, you’ll get a dozen different definitions. I think, in this case—although there is no explanation accompanying the box—the artist means “photo logs,” or something of this ilk.
The box, which was under a stack of junk on a bookshelf in my office, is full of black, matte, blank greeting cards, each with a black and white photo glued to the front. Most of the subjects pictured are people, although one is cutlery and dirty plates. Each photo has intriguing composition and exudes a melancholy feel, such as I like my art to have. On the back of every card is an essay relating to the image on the front. The essays are little capsules of narrative poignancy.
A sheet inside the box reads “Phlogs: Journey to the heart of the human predicament. Note card series by George Stranahan.” (Dirty dishes do get right to the heart of my predicament.)
It turns out that George Stranahan is a physicist, philosopher, educator, writer and photographer who lives in Colorado. He is also a brewer. He started the Flying Dog brewpub in Aspen, which expanded to become a brewery in Denver, with his friend and neighbor Hunter S. Thompson!
The note cards are an offshoot of the book, Phlogs: Journey to the heart of the human predicament, which is full of photos and essays by Stranahan. He had some help on the bound version from author Nicole Beinstein Strait, who wrote some of the essays.
The note cards are really cool and I’m willing to share. If you comment on this blog, I will mail you one at random, and you can regift it or tack it to your wall. (Up to 12 people, because that’s how many cards there are.)
Concurrent exhibits at 516 ARTS home in on alternative communities
By Drew Morrison
The first thing you notice is a bearded man with “Hug Life” tattooed across his beer gut, standing on a homemade raft. This image, and numerous other examples of alternative living, are the focus of two summer exhibits at 516 ARTS: Across the Great Divide, a collection of photographs by Roberta Price, and Worlds Outside This One, featuring more than a dozen contributors. Across the Great Divide documents life in Southwestern communes―small, rural communities based around collective land ownership. Worlds Outside This One shows environmentally friendly and often portable methods of housing from around the world.
516 Arts (516 Central SW) will present a free panel discussion, The Construction of the Counterculture: The Role of Women & the Place of Architecture, as well as two new exhibitions—Across the Great Divide, photography by Roberta Price, and Worlds Outside This One, works by multiple international artists—all on Saturday. Panelists include Price and artist Linda Fleming, both early residents of the Libre commune, and the architect Arnold Valdez. The panel is at 2 p.m., followed by a reception for the art opening at 6 p.m. This triad is the first event of a summer-long collaboration between 516 and Alvarado Urban Farm, unCommon Ground, a series of exhibits and programming about self-sufficiency, community and visions of utopia.
Tonight! Get out of work and head over to Creative Albuquerque (115 Fourth Street NW) for an art opening and reception with food and drinks. This is a group show by the talented students from UNM Arts 487: Interdisciplinary Portfolio Class. With the support of their instructor, Patrick Manning, the students have orchestrated this entire exhibition -- from work selection and installation, to publicity and reception planning. The artworks range from photography, to sculpture to painting and DJ Machina is in the house.
Just like those old pictures of your great-great-grandpa E.T.
By Chiquita Pascal
It all started with a gas mask. Looking like a menacing bug in a suit, photographer Wes Naman (formerly on staff at the Alibi) transformed his studio into an extraterrestrial time portal, from which he made a series of spooky, rustic self-portraits.
I sat behind a tree after seeing the bird on a wall in front of my mom's house on Saturday. I posted up behind a tree to get a good shot. Then I saw there were two, both males. They flipped their tales around, postured and fought for about one second. Needless to say, I didn't get the roadrunner combat shot. Curses. Next time.
The jewel of the City of Belen is nestled behind a Taco Bell.
It’s the Belen Marsh, an accidentally made salty wetland where nearly 100 species of birds come to entertain bored photojournalists.
Legend has it the Belen Marsh was created when road crews dug out a large amount of earth to build a freeway bypass. They ended up hitting the water table and brackish water filled the hole in the ground, forming an ideal place for shorebirds to hang out.
Many amazing birds can be found in the marsh: Snowy Egrets, Ibis, Black-necked Stilts, American Avocets, Kill Deer and a bizarre duck called Ruddy which has a turquoise bill. There are also muskrats in a nearby irrigation canal and a clutch of burrow owls is roosting in a nearby field. It’s a great place to take children who will find the large shorebirds reminiscent of dinosaurs.
The marsh has, unfortunately, been used as a dumping ground, but a local environmental organization has gone out and cleaned up some of the wreckage. It sits on private property so it is probably wise to stay on the street, unless, of course, you are daring.
It has been a source of contention, as one group wants to see the marsh drained and filled to make way for a parking lot. Another wants it left alone as it is a unique miniature ecosystem.
To get to the marsh, take I-25 south to the first Belen exit. Head east. Once you see the Taco Bell, take a right. It is to your left. It’s buggy down there so bring mosquito repellent. A camera wouldn’t hurt either, and it’s a good place to practice taking action shots. Those birds move. Enjoy. And hurry before some oil company comes along and starts drilling and there are no more birds to enjoy. It could happen.
“Self Portrait in MV...conclusion of my One Year One Nation Project”
Each time Navajo photographer Don James saw professional portraits of his tribe, he sighed—not in reverence, but in hopelessness.
For the glossy prints, mostly depicting ceremonies and cultural icons, failed to capture the daily life of the Navajo people.
So he began his project, a yearlong journey into the Navajo Reservation, a space occupying parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, to tell the real stories of Navajo Nation. Equipped with only his truck, sleeping bag, camera, and a few changes of clothes, James set off on what would become a life- changing experience.
His final work is presented in his book One Nation, One Year, and each colorful photo is accompanied with a short explanation about the subject, and the day and time at which it was taken. The photos are arranged in chronological order, from February 8, 2008, the beginning of his trip, to February 4, 2009, the day he left the reservation. The official book release party took place last night at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, and there’ll be another at the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, Ariz., on July 13, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The book is available at major bookstores.
Determined to gain that insider’s perspective, the Albuquerque resident put himself on a $100 per week budget—which would cover food, lodging and gas. He hitchhiked around the reservation and spent nights with his subjects. Though most people welcomed his project, a few did not. As James told it at the book opening, he approached his 73-year-old grandmother for a picture. She was shearing her sheep to sell the wool at the market. Instead of praising his project, she became annoyed and huffily demanded that he put the camera down and come and help her with the sheep. She later cried with joy when she saw her picture in his book.
For years now, we've asked Albuquerque to shoot us. By "shoot," we mean take pictures, and by "us," we mean the constituent parts that make up our world: people, landscapes, dogs in hats. And lucky for everyone, you've obliged. To shake things up this year, we went both old school and science-fiction modern. We brought back categories (favorites of many of you, according to the e-mails I’ve received asking where they were) and switched to an all-online format to allow for entrants and readers to see what's been submitted.