Thoughts on Life, Art, Photography, Technology, Teaching and Travel…..
I have to admit, I feel like pinching myself to make sure I am not dreaming. This European adventure is living a dream for me after teaching art and photography for 30 years. Now I’m actually traveling through Europe seeing great art and photography, visiting art and photo galleries and doing portfolio reviews in places like Bratislava. I’m loving it!
Roberto and I left Berlin for Krakow, Poland by train on Sunday morning, October 21st. We had a very enjoyable visit to Germany’s capitol with nice, clean and cozy accommodations. I’m sitting by the widow watching the German countryside scream by the window thinking about all the places we have been and where we are heading. Miles and miles of scenic pastures dotted with multi-colored trees as the leaves change to fall colors. The blur of the leaves is almost like a series of painterly abstract paintings melding outside the window of the train.
I’m 12 days into this European trip that started in Amsterdam, Holland and took me to Berlin, Germany and now Krakow, Poland. The places I’ve visited are certainly different. The scenery and cityscape change, but for the most part people are the same where ever you go. At least that’s been my observation.
Almost everyone I’ve encountered along the way have been very friendly, kind and helpful to me, especially when asking for directions and not knowing the language. A smile and some sign language goes a long way in any country you visit if you don’t know the language.
I’ve been a little surprised by the affluence I’ve observed both in Holland and Germany. People in and around the cities seem to have plenty of disposable income for shopping, entertainment, art and eating out. The news in the states about economic problems in Europe (and America) doesn’t seem to be as bad as the media would have you believe.
I love to travel, yet the more I do the more I appreciate where I live and what I have. I don’t see myself ever living in Europe (as rich with history and art that it is) with the exception of possibly Ireland. I actually think I like the slower pace of Central America a little more than Europe, although the EU is a great place to experience.
What I enjoyed most about Berlin besides the great beer was stopping in the various small art and photo galleries as we meandered around the city. We dropped into galleries spontaneously and talked with the gallerists, artists and photographers about their the art/photo scene in Berlin.
You can feel the enthusiasm and passion about art and photography from most people in and around the Berlin arts scene.
On our way back to our hotel we came upon a little book store / gallery called B/B Multiples owned by a woman from Lebanon. The staff were very passionate about their shop and the photographers they exhibited and supported.
The owner Alia Franziska told us about their vision for their shop and she very excited about showing us photographs taken by a Beirut photographer Fouad Elkoury who was going to be exhibiting with them in the coming month.
We stopped in another small photo gallery where the owner told us all about the portraits she was exhibiting. I was impressed with how knowledgeable she was about the work she was showing and her willingness to tell us so much about it.
From their we stopped in to a shop called 25 Books where the enthusiastic owner espoused about the photographs displayed on the walls of his shop and shared his passion for photography books.
Roberto and I also visited some bigger more publicized exhibitions as part of the European Month of Photography. Some of the work in my opinion was mundane, emotionless and bland and some was visually engaging, unique and dynamic.
Camera Works in Berlin is a great space that exhibited some very well known and famous photographers from the past and present such as Edward Steichen, William Eggleston, Jeff Koons, Helmut Newton and Stephen Shore.
It was a stroke of luck that on our last evening in Berlin (on our way to dinner) we came across a Polaroid shop called Impossible. The owner and staff were very excited about their shop and the vision behind it. Store manager Anika Neese even pulled out an old Polaroid camera and took a photo of us and gave Roberto and I beers while telling us all about the new instant films being made by Impossible Films.
What truly excites me is being around artists, photographers and gallery owners that bubble over with passion and enthusiasm. So much about the new work I am seeing is about the conceptual process behind the creation of the art. The exploration into new visual territory and experimentation with a variety of materials like instant film and transfers. My observation is that most people go into the art business for the LOVE of ART and not because they are driven to make money.
Making a profit is always nice and validating for the artists, photographers and gallery owners yet something tells me it is not their primary agenda.
We are now in Krakow, Poland and getting ready to do a walking tour in and around the city and preparing for meetings with the Krakow Art School in hopes of them collaborating with VASA Project on an International School of Photography.