Monday, August 08, 2005


Julie Kinzelman, who owns an art consulting firm in Houston commissioned four of my pieces from my Buffalo Bayou Series for one of her clients. This is good news. But the requirements for the commission made fulfilling it a challenge.

The Buffalo Bayou series was in the making for a long time. From the time we first moved to the Old Sixth Ward, I started walking along the Bayou which is just a few blocks from our house. Buffalo Bayou starts somewhere far West of Houston and after it goes through downtown Houston it becomes the Houston Ship Channel. There is a long green belt along it for several miles leading into town. Instantly, I felt the emotional attachment to this space. At times you are walking along a path through vine covered trees and deep grass and at other times along a concrete walkway. Most of it is quiet and you hear the birds and can imagine what it might have looked like to early settlers but there are other spaces that have been cleared enough so that you round a bend and suddenly you see the soaring skyscrapers of the city. The Houston skyline always gives me a thrill when I see it.

From the beginning I knew I wanted to photograph the Bayou but I kept trying to find ways to capture the sultry air, the green, the mystery, the quiet, the surprise at suddenly seeing the city. I tried my medium format camera with black and white favorite way to capture images....No, didn't do it. Then I tried shooting for a while with the same camera with color film....Still not "IT." The project kind of dropped off the radar for a while. During that time I bought several Holga cameras and used them with Black and White film for several other projects. These cameras are a challenge and a joy. They are cheap (less than $20) plastic cameras and no two of them are alike. You may buy five and only three will be serviceable. But they do give a unique image.

Suddenly one day, I had one of those Aaaha! moments. I can shoot Buffalo Bayou with color film in the Holga. And so the Buffalo Bayou Series began. I had finally found a way to express what I felt was the atmosphere and environment of the Bayou. But it wasn't easy. The Holga camera makes you work. Sometimes there is nothing on a roll you can use and besides that, the negative quality and poor color fidelity with this plastic, leaky light box isn't very good. But when it works, it works. This work was shown a little over a year ago at Goldesberry Gallery.

Kinzelman had seen the work and liked it so when her client whose building was along Allen Parkway overlooking the bayou needed some artwork, she asked me if I would be interested in a commission. Yes! But then she told me that she would like to have the image size 30x30 inches. Gulp! Scans of poor quality negatives are difficult but then to have to up the resolution and print them out that large....I didn't know if it could be done. I knew I couldn't do it because I didn't have a printer that would come anywhere near that size. It was going to take the BIG ONE, the Epson 9600 fine art printer. My friend Chuck Jones, here in San Miguel, had the equipment so we worked on some test prints. Looked like it could be done with a lot of work still I was afraid that the prints would not hold the quality that I expect in a fine art print.

I've always said that a 16x20 photographic print was large enough but yesterday we printed the four images. These 30x30 inch images are NOT too big. I am very pleased with the results and I hope the client will be too.

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