Xavier Nuez: Blog http://www.nuez.com/blog en-us (C) Xavier Nuez (Xavier Nuez) Wed, 20 Jun 2018 23:42:00 GMT Wed, 20 Jun 2018 23:42:00 GMT http://www.nuez.com/img/s/v-5/u939799471-o687312958-50.jpg Xavier Nuez: Blog http://www.nuez.com/blog 90 120 2018 Light Painting Workshop, Oct 20 & 21, 10am-2pm http://www.nuez.com/blog/2018/6/2018_Light_Painting_Workshop  

2018 Light Painting Workshop

– Learn how I do my night lighting 
– I’ll teach you the tricks that took me over 25 years to develop 
– Held in my Chicago studio (we stay in my studio for the whole event) 
– One hour of pp presentations, explanations & equipment demonstrations 
– Three hours of students shooting and lighting a dark set 
– Plus learn how to create stunning portraits using light painting 

Saturday, Oct 20, 10am-2pm (Sat class is almost full)

Sunday, Oct 21, 10-2pm

Cost: $175 
Early registration discount - until Sept 1st: $150 

This class always sells out so please sign up early. It will be limited to only 12 students.


- To Reserve Your Spot -

You will need to pay in advance to be confirmed in the class.

Email, call or text… x@nuez.com – 510-648-6810

– All credit cards, Paypal, Checks

– PayPal – let me know and I’ll email you a paypal invoice

– Checks – mail it to 1932 S Halsted St, #404, Chicago IL 60608 

- What To Expect -

This is a very fun 4-hour class focusing on my night lighting technique – you'll learn a ton whether you are a beginner or pro. It's held in my comfortable studio, just 2 miles south of downtown, at 1932 S. Halsted St, #404, Chicago. And there is plenty of free street parking. 

I’ll explain and show you in detail how I create my night images. This will be followed by an extensive hands-on workshop where I dim the lights and you create photographs using my equipment and my guidance. Your images will be projected and we’ll discuss them, then we’ll keep on shooting. 

My technique is also perfect for creating fabulous, unusual and original portraits, which you will also learn to do. 

This class will not disappoint! 

There is no need to bring your camera or lights. I’ll have a digital camera on a tripod and you will all have turns with my lights, taking photos and looking at the results projected on the wall. 

Bring a USB Flash Drive and I’ll transfer your images for you to take home. 

My class fills up with both pros and novices. My lighting technique is very unusual yet very simple to learn, so it doesn’t matter how much or how little you know, you will be able to create a very different and exciting type of image when we’re done. 

Snacks and beverages will be on hand during the entire workshop.

- Let my students tell you -

"Thank you Xavier for opening up not only your studio but also your bag of tricks for us. I have been a fan for many years and when I heard about your workshop I knew I had to be there. A friend and I drove up from Kansas City, an 8 hour one way drive to attend. After going to the workshop, we both concluded it was the best money we have ever spent. I can’t wait to go out and create my works of art using what I learned. Thanks for sharing, I hope to do you proud." 
– Rich Lockhart

“Xavier, your workshop today was great and worth every penny I spent. Excellent insight into how you create your beautiful work. And an inspiration. I’m a portrait photographer but some of your Alley & Ruin techniques are a wonderful addition to my coffer of photographic tools.” 
– Detlef Koertge

“By far the best workshop I have ever been to! Teaching, then allowing the students to utilize the information learned immediately really allowed all the students to grasp the concept! (This also gave me a new appreciation for the art that Xavier takes the time to create! This is no joke folks! This art takes true talent to create!) Also, it was wonderful to meet other passionate photographers! Thanks again!” 
– Kira Here


- Refunds -

Cancellations at least 60 days before will receive a 100% refund
Cancellations at least 30 days before will receive a 50% refund. 
No refunds if cancelled less than 14 days before the workshop.

(Xavier Nuez) http://www.nuez.com/blog/2018/6/2018_Light_Painting_Workshop Mon, 18 Jun 2018 15:13:37 GMT
Hotel Aquisitions http://www.nuez.com/blog/2018/6/hotel-aquisitions I was driving through Iowa recently and had the chance to drop by a couple hotels that have acquired my work. 

The Current Iowa, downtown Davenport, opened in 2017
Part of Marriott's Autograph Collection - their new selection of boutique hotels
Three pieces from my Crystal series

The Current Iowa, downtown DavenportThe Current Iowa, downtown Davenport


The Hilton, downtown Des Moines, opened in 2018
Two pieces from my Alleys & Ruins series

The Hilton, downtown Des Moines

(Xavier Nuez) http://www.nuez.com/blog/2018/6/hotel-aquisitions Thu, 14 Jun 2018 20:00:00 GMT
Imagine the World http://www.nuez.com/blog/2018/5/imagine-the-world This new image was created using an old technique where you spin a piece of burning steel wool during a long exposure. Sparks fling off of the spinning steel wool, creating a dazzling light show. Its basically a glorified sparkler on a string! 
The image was shot on Singer Island in Florida.

Imagine the World
The sun had just set, yet here I was creating a miniature sun, surrounded by the elements. It lead me to think of the cosmos, and finally our planet...

I hoped I would not be visible in the image - I try to be invisible in all my light painting photos. I figured at least a little shadow would show up, but holy cow! I completely vanished! I had my dark clothes and I turned in a circle to minimize my visibility and it worked.

I love how the sparks burst into more sparks

A beautiful setting... a crazy technique...

(Xavier Nuez) http://www.nuez.com/blog/2018/5/imagine-the-world Tue, 22 May 2018 02:22:26 GMT
Alleys & Ruins no. 152, Dallas http://www.nuez.com/blog/2018/4/alleys-ruins-no-152-dallas Dallas's Deep Ellum warehouse district is the city's cultural and musical center, and was a mecca for jazz and blues clubs from the 1920's through the 50's. It's the oldest preserved neighborhood in the city - a city which features lots and lots of steel, glass and concrete. Deep Ellum is the most unique and adventurous part of Dallas, and was by far the best area for me to explore for my night shots.
When I first saw this dank little corner, I was in awe and freakin thrilled! This crazy location exists, but I couldn't figure out which store front it was part of - if any - either a pizza parlor or a tattoo joint. The graffiti was excellent and I tried to highlight it as much as I could.

Alleys & Ruins no. 152, Carnival (2018, Dallas, TX, 11:30pm)


I shot a 1-minute video of the area, and walked into the "mouth"
Click here for the YouTube link



Lighting every "tooth" evenly and accurately was the trickiest part


Looked a little different during the day...

(Xavier Nuez) http://www.nuez.com/blog/2018/4/alleys-ruins-no-152-dallas Mon, 02 Apr 2018 21:00:49 GMT
Light Paintings on the march http://www.nuez.com/blog/2018/3/light-paintings-on-the-march Here are a couple more additions to my Light Paintings body of work. These are shot in a similar way to the Alleys & Ruins - they are shot at night while I light paint the scene.

You can see me at work below...

Bicycle Zen

This bike was on display outside a bicycle shop in Zanesville, OH. It was old, rusty, dusty and perfect! Below is a production photo.



Pegasus: fly without wings

I found Pegasus on a horse and cattle ranch outside Palm City, Florida. I spent an afternoon walking around the ranch petting the animals and looking for something to photograph when I saw this rusted cast iron plant hanger. One of the great things about light painting...you can create magic almost anywhere!



(Xavier Nuez) http://www.nuez.com/blog/2018/3/light-paintings-on-the-march Wed, 21 Mar 2018 17:31:35 GMT
Cape Cod Museum of Art http://www.nuez.com/blog/2018/3/cape-cod-museum-of-art I'm happy to announce the opening of my group exhibition at the Cape Cod Museum of Art for the exhibition Healing Nature
Exhibition Dates:  March 29 – May 27, 2018
My image Purpose, Inspired (below, with details) is part of the exhibition.

Healing Nature: Human Vision, Art & the Environment
We are in the midst of a turbulent time for the interaction of human activity and forces of nature. Through this exhibition, artists express their relationship to the natural world and their response to the issues confronting our environment.

Curator Mark Adams' statement:
The idea of “healing nature” reads both ways. It could signify nature’s power to heal us through our immersive experiences in the world but it also reads as a strong admonition, with “healing” as a word of action. Artists are keen observers, participating deeply in the natural world, from the micro-world of the garden to the seafloors and wildernesses that we must strive to reach. 
The images in the exhibition are powerful and range from the subtle to the dramatic.  They express a direct experience of the natural world, and a human connection to our place in the natural world. In art, there needn’t be an explicit message or an editorial — no matter how much the world needs all our articulate images to bring us closer to harmony with the environment. Here, themes of connection and healing and nature’s importance are all represented, sometimes in intangible ways using visual languages that provoke questions and illuminate how the world works. 
This exhibition is a little cosmos, a platform to observe nature keenly, to ask questions about the earth’s systems and to make commitments that these inspirations will continue to make life rich for those that follow us.

Purpose, Inspired (2017)

(Xavier Nuez) http://www.nuez.com/blog/2018/3/cape-cod-museum-of-art Tue, 20 Mar 2018 05:45:00 GMT
Palm Beach - Jupiter Courier Newsweekly http://www.nuez.com/blog/2018/3/palm-beach---jupiter-courier-newsweekly The Jupiter Courier Newsweekly recently published a story on Artfest By the Sea, a beautiful art show I was part of two weeks ago - set next to the gorgeous scenery of Juno Beach, the subject of my photo Ocean Embrace (below). They had some nice things to say about my work...

Palm Beach Gardens ArtFest by the Sea

Xavier Nuez
Xavier Nuez is a Chicago artist renowned for his unique photography and photographic subjects. He places lights and colored gels to illuminate decaying objects, buildings, streets and other urban settings at night. Then, using a slow exposure he brings the “ugly to light.” His work has been displayed around the nation in fine art museums like the San Diego Art Institute, the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art and countless galleries.

Series of macro works
Nuez joined Howard Alan Events for the first time last season, bringing his newest series of macro works with him to introduce to the broader public. Enchanted with the setting behind him during the festival, Nuez decided to try his technique ten feet from his booth that evening. The result is a view of Juno Beach never seen before. Glowing lights illuminate the walkway down to the beach at night, creating a neon outline of moonlight at every step. He was so excited, he continued his theme and this year returns with an entire new body of ocean-themed work.

Ocean Embrace

Shot at Juno Beach, 2017

(Xavier Nuez) http://www.nuez.com/blog/2018/3/palm-beach---jupiter-courier-newsweekly Sat, 17 Mar 2018 18:00:00 GMT
And Even More Vintage Freakin Toys !! http://www.nuez.com/blog/2018/2/and-even-more-vintage-freakin-toys I've been loving shooting these vintage toys and I plan to shoot many more! I've always tried to create theatrical and dramatic settings in unusual places through the use of my lighting, especially in the Alleys & Ruins and Glam Bugs series, and this project is a continuation of that. 
If you missed the first three toys I shot, they are in my Light Paintings series.
These vintage toys are in mint condition and highly treasured by collectors. Lighting each toy for the photograph requires many days or weeks of preparation and execution with various lights and colored gels to create the realism - yet surrealism - I am trying to balance. Scroll down to see me in action.

Robby the RobotRobby the Robot Robby the Robot, 1956

Robby the Robot became a sci-fi icon after the release of the legendary 1956 film Forbidden Planet. He was the first movie robot to have a personality and a moral code and appeared in numerous movies and TV shows afterward. Having him in my studio for a month was a delight! The setting in my photograph doesn't really reflect any that he was ever in - it is imagined by me, although the Robby Space Patrol vehicle was used just in Forbidden Planet.

Creating realism was vital - and fun - and required a little thought. Since Robby is not actually on another planet, the only thing visible through the rubber parabolics was my studio. I had to bring up the misty scene on my phone and place it back there over a long exposure.


Arctic Missile Tracking CarArctic Missile Tracking Car Arctic Tracker c. 1960

Many of the great vintage tin toys of the 1950s and 60s were made by Japanese toy manufacturer, Bandai. The company got its start creating toys like the one above for Western markets like the US. Most of the toys were modeled after real vehicles or pop cultural characters, but some, like the Arctic Missile Tracking Car were pure fantasy.

Snow! courtesy of baking powder and white hair conditioner...

The toys are shot in roughly the same way as the Light Painting and Alleys & Ruins images....long exposures while I light various parts of the scenes. I have numerous kinds of lights: strobes, flash, LED and halogen flashlights and spotlights, plus colored gels to create the exact quality of light I want.


(Xavier Nuez) http://www.nuez.com/blog/2018/2/and-even-more-vintage-freakin-toys Mon, 05 Feb 2018 11:18:06 GMT
Show Schedule - plus Interview with Voyage Chicago http://www.nuez.com/blog/2018/1/show-schedule---plus-interview-with-voyage-chicago 2018 Schedule so far...

The schedule will be updated as shows are added
I'll be in Florida throughout February and March with shows throughout the state.

Hope to see you somewhere this year!



The full Voyage Chicago interview is here - the short interview focuses on my background and the early days of the Alleys & Ruins...

Thanks for sharing your story with us Xavier. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Twenty-five years ago I needed to be alone a lot but I also had to feed my passion for creating art. A strange solution presented itself through my love of gritty urban scenes. I started walking alone, down decaying alleys late at night (and later through urban ruins, also at night), finding that these were places that people avoided, especially long after dark. I could be alone, surrounded by stunning visuals to photograph.

I brought my camera and some lights and started trying to flip what was generally regarded as ugly, and turn it into something beautiful using my colored lights. The obvious problems and dangers were not lost on me, and after a few close calls, I started asking friends to come along.

My determined and intense outings often lead into dangerous neighborhoods, at times resulting in trouble. In the 25 years I’ve done this, I’ve run from street gangs, been accosted by crazed drug addicts, and have had guns pointed at me. If the police see me lurking in a dark alley, I am often questioned and searched.

With a family history of homelessness, I developed a need to create monuments out of these shunned spaces. Although positive, life-affirming perceptions are not usually associated with acute urban blight, I feel compelled to dignify what has been rejected.

My efforts have given me a full-time career as an artist, and have created a body of work – the Alleys & Ruins series – that The New York Times has called a masterpiece.

My photographs have been featured in solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries internationally, and are in numerous public, corporate and private collections.

Has it been a smooth road?
I was your typical struggling poor artist for over 10 years. While some artist friends would give up and take a day job, I couldn’t. There was really nothing else I wanted to do, plus I was fine with the dire conditions because I believed in my art.

My first working art studio was in a rickety and leaky 3-story industrial building – I lived and worked there with another artist friend for 3 years. In fact we were the only tenants for most of that time because of the conditions. The building was unsafe and the leaky roof would cause chunks of ceiling drywall to come crashing down in various places. This brown dripping water would also of course leave huge surprise puddles in very inconvenient places. We had to attach an elaborate grid of tarps and gutters to the ceiling to carry the water away.

Our desperate landlord had no money, but he let the two of us live (illegally) in this magical dump for a rock bottom rent, which was all we could afford. He knew our presence was slowing the building’s disintegration. In the end, the building was condemned and we were forced to leave, closing a chapter of years that were among my most inspired.

(Xavier Nuez) http://www.nuez.com/blog/2018/1/show-schedule---plus-interview-with-voyage-chicago Mon, 15 Jan 2018 11:30:00 GMT
Vintage Freakin Toys!! http://www.nuez.com/blog/2017/12/vintage-freakin-toys

C-120 Fairchild Pack Plane USAF

I've been having a blast photographing vintage toys! ...toys from the 1950's & 1960's. 
The first three are airplanes, shot in my studio, in a kind of light painting style - they are now part of my Light Paintings series. It took a while to figure out how to shoot and light these, but creating theatrical images and settings (largely through light painting) has always been my thing, so this has been fun.
These toys are courtesy of a collector I met - they are not cheap. The toys I'm playing with are in mint condition and range in value from $500-$1500 
An interesting note is that both the USAF Pack Plane (above) and the H-12 below never went past the prototype stage, yet they mass produced toy versions of them



Half the fun was finding ways to create realism... like flicking the propeller and shining an orange spotlight on it for a second!


US Army H-12 helicopter


Chopper flying over Chicago with city reflections under the plane.



... and I think we have a baby pilot flying this thing!



F9F Panther Jet - U.S. Navy


Panther jet, flying the friendly skies... courtesy of a mini butane torch





25 Years of Alleys & Ruins 
Exhibit comes to an end. Thank you to everyone at the Roberta A. Fiskum Art Gallery - University of Wisconsin!


25 Years of Alleys & Ruins, opening reception, with my fiance Nikki, me, gallery director Chloe Rettinger & exhibit lead Avery Jenks

25 Years of Alleys & Ruins, opening reception, Nov 16, with my fiance Nikki, me, gallery director Chloe Rettinger & exhibit lead Avery Jenks



(Xavier Nuez) http://www.nuez.com/blog/2017/12/vintage-freakin-toys Sun, 17 Dec 2017 17:36:42 GMT
25th Anniversary Sale! http://www.nuez.com/blog/2017/11/25th-anniversary-sale


The exhibition, 25 Years of Alleys & Ruins, opens this Wed at the Roberta A. Fiskum Art Gallery at the University of Wisconsin.

It has been an unlikely and incredible path, and to celebrate the 25 years, I’m having a Huge Sale! 


25th Anniversary Sale - click here!



25 Years of Alleys & Ruins 

Roberta A. Fiskum Art Gallery 
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

The exhibition will run from Nov 16 - Dec 20, 2017 
Opening Reception: Nov. 16, 2-4pm 
I'll be at the reception, where I'll give a talk 
The gallery is located in the James R Connor Center at the university

800 W. Main Street, Whitewater, WI


Gift Certificates 

You can order either a dollar amount or a specific print size & finish

Christmas Order deadline: Dec 18


(Xavier Nuez) http://www.nuez.com/blog/2017/11/25th-anniversary-sale Mon, 13 Nov 2017 21:02:46 GMT
New Body of Work! Light Paintings http://www.nuez.com/blog/2017/6/new-body-of-work-light-paintings It's been 25 years since I can say this (I obviously get fixated)... I am now knee deep in a new body of work!!
The series is called Light Paintings and has as its cousin the meaner, unshaven Alleys & Ruins series. I was in Florida through most of January and February, with all my gear and next to no rotting buildings to shoot. So instead I pointed my camera at picturesque scenes and waited for nightfall to light paint them, as I do the Alleys & Ruins. I am delighted with these new images and will start bringing them to my art fairs shows! 

Of course I will continue to work on all of my bodies of work ... this is just one more that I can play with.

Here's a sample (hi-res versions are in the new Light Paintings portfolio)

(Xavier Nuez) http://www.nuez.com/blog/2017/6/new-body-of-work-light-paintings Sat, 03 Jun 2017 08:49:28 GMT
Avalanche of Crystals http://www.nuez.com/blog/2017/1/an-avalanche-of-crystals I've been Crystal Crazy lately, shooting a large number of new images for the series, and it has paid off!

The Crystal photographs started in 1985 in a freak accident involving some pottery, some glazing, the planet Neptune, and a 70s era mini-van. Ok, actually that's not all true, but it really did involve a freak accident, in 1985, with ceramics and a crackle glaze which resulted in a prized photograph for a then enthusiastic 20 year old!

It took years before I decided to further explore the possibilities, and every time I work on this series, I tweak the process, giving me wildly different results. Considering that I'm photographing scenes that are a half inch wide, a little tweaking goes a long way.

But this was my most productive ever, and again, its thanks to some adjustments that produced results I had never seen before. Looking through my extreme macro lens, my eyes kept popping while looking at these incredible, tiny landscapes.

Without getting into more detail, the Crystal series photographs are extreme close ups of chinaware that I re-glaze and repaint. I look for tiny, happy accidents where color and form come together.

Here are some of the new additions to the series (The large versions are in the Crystal gallery)

Wayward BubblesWayward Bubbles Carpe DiemCarpe Diem Champagne SunriseChampagne Sunrise Floating in a Cobalt SeaFloating in a Cobalt Sea Every New BeginningEvery New Beginning This Floating WorldThis Floating World Carpe DiemCarpe Diem All the Light We Cannot SeeAll the Light We Cannot See Moonlight SerenadeMoonlight Serenade The Road Less TravelledThe Road Less Travelled SunburstSunburst


(Xavier Nuez) http://www.nuez.com/blog/2017/1/an-avalanche-of-crystals Mon, 30 Jan 2017 11:00:35 GMT
Glam Bugs retrospective at Instituto Cervantes opens Jan 25 http://www.nuez.com/blog/2017/1/glam-bugs-exhibit-at-instituto-cervantes-opens-wed-jan-25


I'm thrilled to announce the opening of my retrospective exhibition at the Instituto Cervantes in Chicago, Wed, Jan 25, 6-8 pm, where I'll be giving a talk from 6:30-7pm. 
The show runs from Jan 25 through March 28. 

The reception is free, but reservations are required. RSVP athttp://www.brownpapertickets.com 

The Glam Bugs are odd, that's for sure. We do our very best to keep away from bugs, but I've been working on this series for 23 years! When I look at bugs magnified through my photographic lens, they become larger than life icons – sometimes a heroic figure in an epic drama, or a superstar adored by millions; a tragic victim in a cruel world, or a powerful evil villain.   
I love glorifying the least among us. As someone with bouts of social anxiety, I find myself fantasizing that I am the opposite. And so my little bugs embrace this duality, where at once they are lowly, irrelevant creatures, and at the same time, compelling figures in the alternate universe I’ve created for them.

The Instituto Cervantes will be exhibiting images from the earliest to the latest additions to the series. 

The Institute is located at 31 W. Ohio St in Chicago

(Xavier Nuez) http://www.nuez.com/blog/2017/1/glam-bugs-exhibit-at-instituto-cervantes-opens-wed-jan-25 Tue, 03 Jan 2017 06:32:00 GMT
"A Universe Beckons" wins Blue Man Group art competition! http://www.nuez.com/blog/2016/11/-a-universe-beckons-wins-blue-man-group-art-competition bmg 750bmg 750

Blue Man Group has selected A Universe Beckons (one of the images in my Crystal series of photographs) as one of its National art competition winners. A 10-foot reproduction was unveiled October 5th at Blue Man Group's Outdoor Art Gallery at the Briar Street Theater, along with the work of the other five winners from across the country. 

BMG member, plus BMG member-in-training

I couldn't attend the unveiling, but my fiance Nikki was there and shot this great video, below, of the event.

Nikki at the unveiling

The Crystal series photographs are extreme close ups of chinaware that I re-glaze and repaint. I look for tiny, happy accidents where color and form come together.

(Xavier Nuez) http://www.nuez.com/blog/2016/11/-a-universe-beckons-wins-blue-man-group-art-competition Tue, 08 Nov 2016 06:32:00 GMT
New Release: Alleys & Ruins 151, Razor (Philadelphia) http://www.nuez.com/blog/2016/10/new-release-alleys-ruins-151-razor-philadelphia Alleys & Ruins no. 151, Razor (Philadelphia, PA, 10:30pm)

I'm very happy with my latest release, but it almost never came to be. A misstep during the shoot in Philadelphia resulted in my having to go to the emergency room. 

Andrew and Dorian lighting the scene with their flashlight It was almost pitch black in this very out-of-the-way location. I had done the 35 minute test polaroid and was now shooting the film. On the 2nd 35 minute exposure, while walking backwards and lighting the wall on the right, my left leg got tangled in a coil of razor wire. I didn't know what was happening and so I shook my leg to release myself because this pause was messing up my shot. Then I felt a sting followed by a rush of warm liquid streaming down my leg. I finished lighting the wall and went to the camera to close the shutter. Then I looked at my leg and was horrified by the big gash and the amount of blood - my leg was drenched. Luckily two of the guys with me, Andrew and Dorian, volunteered to find a pharmacy and bring back supplies. I knew I didn't have the shot and I wanted to do one more exposure. 

I've never done a shot while being so injured and it was not pleasant. I felt myself getting weaker but the adrenaline kept the pain at bay. 
The guys got back 30 minutes later, just as I was finishing the exposure. Being photographers, Andrew and Dorian couldn't resist taking photos of my wound. If you can stomach it, click here to see it. 

I cleaned up as well as I could, wrapped it in a bandage, then headed, at midnight, to try and find an emergency room. 

The raw location was already beautiful (which is rare) because of all the great graffiti. 

(Xavier Nuez) http://www.nuez.com/blog/2016/10/new-release-alleys-ruins-151-razor-philadelphia Wed, 12 Oct 2016 12:15:00 GMT
New Image: Alleys & Ruins no. 150, Philadelphia http://www.nuez.com/blog/2016/9/new-image-alleys-ruins-no-150-primo-2016-philadelphia-pa-10-30pm Alleys & Ruins no. 150, Primo (2016, Philadelphia, PA, 11pm)

Alleys & Ruins no. 150 (woohoo !! ) was shot in North Philadelphia in a huge abandoned industrial building. You can see an aerial view below. To get to this location you needed to walk through the length of the building which had me seeing one great location after another, but the moment I saw this little corner, I knew I had found my spot. 

North Philly has some of the highest crime rates in the city, so I had three friends with me for the 3 or 4 hours we were there. It was a 30 minute exposure (seems to be my norm these days), and I did 4 exposures including the one Polaroid test. The shoot went without a hitch... I had time to think about the lighting, then I took my time with it. In the end, I was thrilled to finally add a Philly shot to my collection.  

The shots below were made during a day and a half of scouting locations. The day after shooting Alley 150 I did my 2nd Philly photograph, which did NOT go as planned. I injured myself pretty badly and had to go to the emergency room. But the good news is, yes! I got the shot! I'll release that one within the month. 

I've tried researching this building to know what it used to be, but have had no luck so far. I saw no signs, inside or out, and online research has lead me nowhere. The address is in the aerial below. If any one knows, please let me know! Many people spent decades in here from 9 to 5 and I would love to know more. 


One of the few times I decorated the set... The smashed chair on the right was moved into the shot.

You had to walk inside the length of the building to get to our location. This room became slightly creepier in the pitch black of night.

X marks the spot... thats where the camera was (thanks google!)

One of the few times I decorated the set... The smashed chair on the right was moved into the shot.

You had to walk inside the length of the building to get to our location. This room became slightly creepier in the pitch black of night.

X marks the spot... thats where the camera was (thanks google!)

(Xavier Nuez) http://www.nuez.com/blog/2016/9/new-image-alleys-ruins-no-150-primo-2016-philadelphia-pa-10-30pm Tue, 13 Sep 2016 21:21:25 GMT
First Alley: Alleys & Ruins no. 1, 1991, Montreal http://www.nuez.com/blog/2016/9/25th-anniversary-of-the-alleys-ruins 25th Anniversary of the Alleys & Ruins

Alley no. 1, Electric Sky, was shot in September of 1991, 25 years ago. 

In 1991 I was shooting a lot at night and I already knew that out-of-the-way urban areas (the more decrepit the better) were drawing me like a magnet. Electric Sky is not the first image of urban decay that I shot at night, but I think it’s the first where I managed to create a fantasy version of the rundown urban scene I was looking at. 

Alleys & Ruins no. 1, Electric Sky (1991, Montreal, QC, 10pm) I didn’t know why I was doing this at the time, and I certainly didn’t have a series planned. It wasn’t until the summer of 1993 that I had the required epiphany. Once I came to recognize the vision that I had been dancing around for so many years, the series took off. That summer was the true beginning of the series. 

I was drawn to areas where people don’t go, inside a busy, loud city – they were small, grungy oases, where it was quiet and where I felt comfortable. And there I would be, surrounded by incredibly stimulating newness – stuff you wouldn’t see anywhere else but in places society shunned. Since they were barely, if at all maintained, the scars left by the elements (including the weather and people) only accumulated, making them more and more interesting the older they were. 

I needed a lot of time to myself, and I needed to take pictures. The perfect solution was to walk down dark alleys alone with my camera at night. Okay, there were some obvious flaws with that solution! So after a year or more of this, I started asking friends to come along and watch my back. THANK YOU to the many, many people who have been foolish enough to assist me over the years! – I truly am grateful!! Although the vast majority of my shoots have gone smoothly, many friends were there with me during nerve wracking encounters with the bad guys that prowl around at night. 

The series has evolved over time. In the late 1990’s I started bringing lighting equipment and colored gels. I would use my lights sparingly, but year after year my images had more and more of my light. In 1997 I switched to a 120mm Hasselblad camera – a big upgrade from the 35mm Nikon I had been using, resulting in incredibly sharp and detailed images. In 2004 I found myself in a position where I could sustain myself through my art alone. I stopped doing the commercial photography that had been my bread and butter, and this allowed me to travel extensively, adding dozens of new cities to the body of work. 

But the heart of the series has always been my drive to dignify the places, and by extension, the people who are cast away. By transforming these locations into theatrical sets (made way easier when I started bringing lights!), I have always tried to create a stage without players, leaving it up to the viewer to create their own characters and drama, and hoping that ultimately the viewer feels compelled to step into the scene themselves, as I did 25 years ago.

(Xavier Nuez) http://www.nuez.com/blog/2016/9/25th-anniversary-of-the-alleys-ruins Tue, 06 Sep 2016 21:11:00 GMT
New Image: Dumpster Dive; and New Web Site! http://www.nuez.com/blog/2016/6/new-image-dumpster-dive-and-new-web-site  

New Image: Alleys & Ruins no. 149, Dumpster Dive (2016, Chicago, IL, 10:30pm)

Watch me shoot Alley 149 at night, courtesy of WCIU TV


Crawford Steel is a steel service company in Chicago's Southwest side. For years, their huge industrial building was always being tagged by gang bangers, creating an uncomfortable eye sore for employees and customers.  When owner Michael Isaacs learned that high quality murals were left alone out of respect, he had an epiphany, and started down a surprising and enlightened path that would transform the Crawford Steel building into what has been called Chicago’s Sistine Chapel of graffiti.

When I arrived, I was immediately drawn to this lonely, beat up dumpster. This image is a bit of a departure from my norm. I tend to stick with colors that might actually appear with city lights and moon light, so lots of orange and fluorescent greens and CTB blues. For the first time I went full fantasy with a light touch of magenta.

This was a 30 minute exposure, again with my 50 year old Hasselblad film camera,  and with non-stop light painting. The shoot was in Fall 2015 but problems with my film scanner delayed the release.

The WCIU morning show, You & Me, co-hosted by Jeanne Sparrow and Melissa Forman, sent a crew to the shoot for a segment called "I Love my Job" and they are so right!!

Check out the clip. You'll get a glimpse into how this shot was lit. 


New Web Site!


You're here now!! My old web site was soooo 2015, and so I had to upgrade. It is now far more mobile friendly, has much bigger images, has social media links throughout, and now you can place orders directly through the site, in your underwear, at 3 am, like everybody else...

The site will be tweaked over the coming months, to get it just right, including transferring my many years of blog posts. In the mean time, enjoy...



Urban Edge Gallery

220 W Clayton St, Waukegan, IL

I'm part of the group exhibition, Bugs and Birds, which runs from now to Sat June 18, and was curated by gallery Director Vickie Marasco.

Urban Edge is a huge, vibrant gallery set in a very cool industrial space.

This is the biggest showing I've ever had from my Glam Bugs collection. Thirteen of my Bugs are in the show, all of them 32X40 and 24X30 inch pieces.  

I'm donating 20% of all sales at the show to the Art Impact Project, a worthy non-profit which helps adolescents in recovery through the use and benefits of art.

I'll be at the gallery for the closing reception, Sat June 18, during Downtown Waukegan's monthly ArtWauk

Below: Crystal the Forest Fairy, part of the Glam Bugs series

Crystal the Forest Fairy, part of the Glam Bugs series


2nd Friday Gallery Walk this week!

Drop by my studio Friday June 10, from 6-10pm, in the Chicago Arts District

My studio and gallery, along with 30 other studios in the area are open to the public every 2nd Friday of the month. The event is a unique self-guided walking tour of the intimate world of the working artist.

Visitors can pick up a map at the Event Information Booth, located at 1821 S Halsted.



Wells Street Art Festival

Its happening this Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12

...one of the largest and wildest art fairs in the city. Drop by and say hello!


(Xavier Nuez) http://www.nuez.com/blog/2016/6/new-image-dumpster-dive-and-new-web-site Thu, 09 Jun 2016 05:13:46 GMT
25th Anniversary of the Alleys & Ruins series ! http://www.nuez.com/blog/2016/6/25th-anniversary-of-the-alleys-ruins-series


This year I celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Alleys and Ruins series. It has been an unlikely and eventful path ... from first entering dark alleys with my camera, with barely a clue, in 1991 to eventually, incredibly, making a living from it. 

2015 was another banner year for me, with many successful museum, gallery and art fair shows for all my work: the Alleys, Bugs and Crystals – as well as having the Illinois State Museum acquire one of my pieces for their permanent collection. 

25th anniversary in the Chicago Arts District

As part of the Alleys & Ruins 25th anniversary, the Arts District will show a retrospective of my work, including several 8x10 foot pieces in the store front showPODs. The installation will be up in Sept and Oct, 2016. More events will take place, including a talk. I'll have more info as the date approaches.

ShowPOD installation in 2011, for the 20th anniversary

ShowPOD installation in 2011, for the 20th anniversary


Union Street Gallery 
Curious Reality: exploring the mythos of fantasy 

Feb 24-March 26, 2016 
1527 Otto Blvd, Chicago Heights, IL 

The Curious Reality group exhibition marries fantasy as dreams with the idea of the impossible, through art inspired by the realms of fantasy, imagination, video games, sci-fi, & neo surrealism. Two of my Glam Bugs are in exhibition. 


(Xavier Nuez) http://www.nuez.com/blog/2016/6/25th-anniversary-of-the-alleys-ruins-series Wed, 08 Jun 2016 17:26:46 GMT