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New Crystal photographs … and the end of the traveling shows

Updated: Jun 27, 2020

The images in the Crystal series are extreme close up photographs of chinaware that I’ve re-glazed and repainted.

I’ve been working on this series for over 25 years.

I select plates that have designs on them and then apply a crackle glaze and vibrant, colored paints, which give them extraordinary textures and colors. They are less than an inch across and are extremely fragile due to my unusual process.

The tiny designs break down and flake away just days later, but with care, my photographs allow their brief but beautiful lives to be captured forever.

I've been working on them lately - here are two I really like!

Songs of Light



Two of my long-running travelling exhibits are finally coming to an end…

The Illinois State Museum show, Fragile Relations, opened October 2012 at the museum’s Chicago Gallery, and after travelling the state for the last 2.5 years, it finally closes March 15.

Left: Illinois State Museum’s Springfield Gallery

It hung at the museum’s Lockport Gallery, the Springfield Gallery and finally the Southern Illinois Gallery in Rend Lake.

Six of my 32×40 pieces were in the group show, three from both the Alleys and Glam Bugs series. An 8×10 foot print of Alley 134, Dub Stop was highlighted.

Fragile Relations highlights the work of fourteen Illinois artists who are inspired by nature and the environment and show diverse ways of perceiving and experiencing the world.

Its been a great success, having been featured on ABC-TV and was the Chicago Tribune’s A&E Pick of the Week in Dec 2012.

Dub Stop will become a part of the museum’s permanent collection.

Talking about my work at the Lockport Gallery. Jane Stevens, the show curator, presenting the show

Jane Stevens, the show curator, presenting the show


Another traveling show coming to a close

The VAIVEN exhibition, curated by the Embassy of Spain in Washington DC, opened there in November, 2013 and travelled to NYC before stopping at the Instituto Cervantes in Albuquerque, where it closes March 18.

It had a very successful run, being featured in over a dozen press stories nationally and internationally, including in the Washington Post.

The six photographers in the show are all Spanish born or of Spanish heritage (like myself) and our work reflects influence from both Spain and the US.

VAIVEN opening reception in Washington

From the Washington Post:

Galleries: ‘Vaiven

By Mark Jenkins

The title of Spain Arts & Culture’s latest photographic survey is “Vaiven,” Spanish for “swing” or “oscillation.” That refers to motion between the United States, where most of the images were made, and Spain, where the photographers are rooted. The exhibition, at the former residence of the ambassadors of Spain, shows New York and Chicago, not Madrid and Barcelona.

Two of the six participants grew up in North America. Madrid-born Marylander Ana Hayes-Pérez encapsulates her transatlantic life with small, deadpan photos of the stuff — food, toys, souvenirs — her family carried across the ocean. Montreal-born Xavier Nuez lives in Chicago and scouts American cities for solitude and decrepitude. He’s drawn to places that are dark and empty yet colorful, like a Miami stadium abandoned to graffiti after it was damaged by Hurricane Andrew.

Carla Tramullas and Monica Lek came to the United States as adults, settling in New York. Lek’s sunny candids depict a polyglot metropolis of Hasidic Jews and Chinatown restaurants, cotton candy and a subway rider who wears a clown nose. Tramullas’s work is more abstract and more personal, so that close-ups and panoramas feel equally intimate.

Javier Corso and Raúl Urbina still live in Spain, which is not the only way they’re different from the others. Corso used the U.S. Army as an implicit model, but his pictures are of Spanish troops, in compositions and situations both formal and informal. He shows soldiers on maneuvers but also one lying on her bunk, above a lineup of decidedly military shoes. Shot in Chicago, Urbina’s photos are the only ones in black and white. The Madrid lensman likes shadows, angles and recurring parallel lines, whether railroad tracks or slats of a window blind. In a contemporary city, Urbina finds vignettes that evoke the U.S.A. that Hollywood showed the world in the pre-Technicolor age.


On view through Nov. 24 at the Former Residence of the Ambassadors of Spain, 2801 16th St. NW; 202-728-2334,

From The Washington DC InTowner

Spain Arts & Culture Presenting “Visual Journeys Back And Forth Between Spain and the U.S.”

That the artistry of photography and videography is flourishing among Spaniards living and working in both the United States and Spain was once again demonstrated in a terrific 2013 photography show mounted by the Embassy of Spain. And the networking among the artists in this bourgeoning movement is being further nurtured by the Spanish Embassy’s Arts and Culture program —  as also witnessed by the quality of the embassy’s other exhibition showing the work of six young photographers.

These six artists, all members of SPAINRED, the Spanish cultural network, were selected from 30 applicants for the show, a month-long collaboration with DC FotoWeek 2013. These artists live and work primarily in Brooklyn, Chicago, Barcelona, Baltimore, and Madrid; all six seem wonderfully peripatetic, however, both in that many of them practice their artistry in both Spain and the U.S. and, with several, by traveling throughout one or both of these two countries.

Their work, however, is very diverse, with all six displaying intensely personal aesthetics in their film art. The works encompasses, for example, haunting portraits of U.S. or Spanish military figures and activities by Javier Corso; birds-eye views of faraway and enigmatic landscapes that seem to have been taken from vehicular rearview mirrors or through the windows of passenger airplanes by Carla Tramullas; images of a young traveler’s souvenir objects brought back from annual trips to Spain from the U.S. and delightfully photographed by Ana Hayes-Perez; ruined and abandoned American city scenes captured in lush color through long exposure times using a large format Hasselblad  camera by Xavier Nuez; pensive and puzzling scenes of people in gritty urban neighborhoods composed in photographs with patterned shadows in carefully designed and sharply defined contrasts of black and white by Raul Urbina; and images of people encountered as though carefully posed in casual and impromptu community wanderings by a disarmingly candid photographer named Monica Lek.

I responded most strongly when viewing the work of three of these artists: Monica Lek, Raul Urbina, and Xavier Nuez.

The richly saturated colors and the riveting appearance in Monica Lek’s outstanding photograph of a middle-aged woman seated on a bench in a densely planted and colorfully flowered spot in New York City’s Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, with the woman attired in a child’s Little Bo Peep costume and wearing a wide-brim summer straw hat, is one the most beautifully composed shots in the entire show. This work is taken from Lek’s “My Neighbors” series.

My favorite of Raul Urbina’s work is from his “Chicago, I’ll Stop the Wind from Blowing” ensemble of photographs, a phenomenon he achieves by taking his windy city photographs indoors. This particular photographic work depicts two solitary men seated apart at a high window ledge counter in what appears to be an ordinary, railroad car-style diner or neighborhood café on a late afternoon. The shadow patterns and depth perceptions of this black and white image, with its sharp contrasts of dark and light, are dense and complex and serve to draw the viewer deeper and deeper into the picture’s fascinating composition.

The star of the exhibition is the third of these three — Xavier Nuez, whose oversize and mesmerizing images are from his “Alleys and Ruins” series. The colors, picture elements, and compositions of his three, wall-size photographs in the show are immediately captivating. Nuez shows his work throughout the U.S. and spoke at the exhibition press briefing of typically searching out these images of dramatic ruins and alleys in destroyed areas of various American cities, this for photographing while exhibiting other works in galleries and contemporary museums in the same cities at the same time.

Working at night and patiently allowing for, at times 90-minute exposures, Nuez’s fascination with the urban phenomenon in this country of businesses simply walking away from vast swaths of the built environment when the economics of such structures no longer meet profit expectations or short- and long-term market considerations is evident — that fascination is palpable to this viewer.

For example, the photographer’s capturing of a lushly colored nighttime scene of an abandoned and derelict Detroit motor inn and parking garage is frighteningly vivid yet alluringly dramatic. And his photographic encapsulation of the Hurricane Andrew-wrecked Miami Marine Stadium, a dramatic structure now in Nuez’s photograph bathed in erie lights, exotic colors, and all-over tagging of exuberant graffiti, sent me to an architectural fact sheet for this modernist icon where I found that when built to the designs of a young, 28-year-old imigrant Cuban architect, this strikingly handsome building was the largest and lengthiest cantilevered, fold-plate, poured-in-place concrete stadium roof in the world.

Nuez’s third and concluding work in the show is a photograph of a dangerous site he calls “ghost story,” an alley scene focusing on the loading dock of an abandoned building in Kansas City, Missouri, ominously lighted in preparation for something like a Stephen King horror story. The photographer’s autobiographical statement in the informative and illustrated free pamphlet accompanying the show is especially eloquent, as is the photographer when speaking in person.


And finally...

Last week I gave the keynote talk at Amos Alonzo Stagg High School, where they were hosting their annual Art Day. Art students from many nearby high schools attended in Palos Hills, IL.

The Art Department holds an annual 8th Grade Art Day. Students from Amos Alonzo Stagg High School, Conrady Junior High School, St. Patricia’s, Palos South Middle School, Worth Jr. High, and Koraes participated in art workshops that consisted of Ceramics, Painting, Jewelry,

and Photography. Approximately 80 students were in attendance from the junior high schools.

Students chose one workshop to participate in. After the workshops they attended a presentation by The American Academy of Art.

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