Linda Grashoff's Photography Adventures

Posts tagged “Cortez

Fish Bins and Miscellaneous Cortezian Treasures


April 8, 2019

In four trips to Cortez this winter I amassed quite a few photographs of fish bins and boat hulls, as well as a few random subjects, as you can see below. The plant growing up the tree is a close relative of the night-blooming cereus. I’ve never seen it bloom, probably partly because it also does so at night. But with stems like these, who needs flowers? (I know, I know.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I prefer the version with the blue color cast, but this is probably closer to how the refrigerated truck looked:

 

 

 


Old Boats Are Best—2


March 31, 2019

Three days before I photographed old boats following the map that Karen Bell drew for me, I was in Cortez photographing old boats in a different location. So for those of you who didn’t see enough of them in the last post, here are more old boats. If you haven’t already, I urge you to read the comments on the last post. (Scroll way way down.) So many of you with so much to say!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Old Boats Are Best—1


Old boats are the best boats—at least to photograph. While we were waiting for latecomers to join the tour that Karen Bell was to give of the A.P Bell fish house, Karen told me she loved the look of old boats. I said (of course) that I did, too. After the tour Karen drew me a map of where I could find nearby old boats to photograph. Below (way below) are the boat photographs I took that day.

The other day I happened upon the work of Richard Alan Cohen, who also photographs old boat hulls. His web site includes a link to a review of his work by Kat Kiernan, editor-in-chief of the photography magazine Don’t Take Pictures. It’s short, and I’ve pasted it here:

“I never want to see another abstract photograph of a distressed surface. Camera lenses pointed close enough to a subject will turn almost anything into an abstract photograph. A camera is unable to produce a true abstraction—it can only record what is in front of it. This forces the conversation to revolve around what the subject matter is. Most photographers making abstract pictures will say that the what doesn’t matter and that their image is only about line, form, texture, and so on. Too often, these types of photographs feel like a cheap way to get the look of an abstract painting without having to actually paint. And too often, they feel flat—lacking the depth and texture needed to pull off the illusion. Richard Alan Cohen takes a different approach.

“In his series Waterlines, Cohen makes no attempts at abstraction for its own sake. His “what” is right there in the series title and is a perfect subject matter for the “why.” He photographs distressed boat hulls not with the intention of reducing them into just lines, shapes, and colors, but instead explores the minimal elements required to form a landscape in the mind’s eye. He is not trying to hide the fact that these photographs are of the undersides of boats. Instead, he uses their waterlines to create an entirely new one—one that only exists through Cohen’s careful framing and our own psychological search for recognition. In Cohen’s photographs, the waterline becomes a coastline, corroded fiberglass becomes weather, and the footprints of barnacles become stars. He embraces the subject matter beautifully by making a strong conceptual connection between the subject—a boat—and the final image—an abstract photograph reminiscent of a seascape.”

Well, ouch.

Kiernan may have based some of what she writes about Cohen’s work on what he says on his website:

“Pausing to study this evidence of where the boat has been, one perceives that the waterline provides an horizon. Above and below that are details of imagined landscapes, perhaps those that could be seen from the boats themselves when they sailed on the water. In developing these images, I share my own imagination and provide the seed for each viewer to form their own remembered landscapes. This project is ultimately an exploration of the minimal elements required to form a landscape in the mind’s eye – the waterline as coastline, the texture as weather, the footprint of barnacles as stars.”

And later:

“The color and forms introduced by the interaction of the pollutants with the boat’s bottom paint provide iconic symbols of man’s disturbance of nature, and are inescapable evidence of the downside of the sailor’s voyage upon the sea.”

I urge you to read more of what Cohen says in his recent Lenscratch interview.

Here are some questions Kiernan’s review has prompted me to consider. I wonder, dear reader, what you think.

  1. How much do we miss out on a larger conversation about photography because we don’t think deeply enough about what we are doing?
  2. How can we learn to think deeply?
  3. Can we even learn to think deeply, or is that an ability we either have or don’t?
  4. How much do we hold back our work from greater exposure because we aren’t willing or don’t know how to talk about it?
  5. I absolutely don’t mean to impugn Cohen’s work, which I admire along with his stated intent, so forgive my cynicism (or not): How much verbiage about art, especially photography, is based on associations discovered or devised after the painting or photograph was made? And would this practice be legitimate?
  6. If we are not deep thinkers or writers, can we nonetheless entertain hopes of making noteworthy photographs?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Fish Bins 58 through 71, and a Story, Part 2


February 21, 2019

The tour Karen Bell gave of the A.P. Bell fish house taught me things about commercial fishing that I’d never even thought to wonder about. Like: The kind of gear on a fishing boat is specific to the species of fish fished. Like: The Bell boats may fish for as long as 14 days before returning to Cortez. Like: The U.S. government knows where all the boats are all the time. Karen treated us to factoids on the history of the company. Like: In the 1920s several families moved to Cortez from a fishing village in Carteret County, North Carolina. The Bells are only one of those families still living in Cortez. Like: A.P. Bell ships fish or roe to Taiwan, Egypt, Italy, France, and Romania as well as Texas, California, New York, Georgia, and restaurants in and around Sarasota.

I’m sad to say that most of the photographs I took inside the fish house did not turn out, but happy to show that two of my photographs of an animated Karen did, as did some of the photos of fish in the cooler. I gladly eat fish, so I’m being something like hypocritical to admit that these beautiful dead animals made me feel sad. Karen’s tour left me with so many questions that I asked if I could come back another day to ask them. She agreed, so this may not be the last of the story about the fish bins.

Two photographs in this post show the bins being used as the fish are offloaded from small boats on trailers. These are boats that ferry the catch from the fishing boats, not those that go to sea. While waiting for the tour to start, I managed to put in some time photographing the bins up close.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Fish Bins 45 through 57, and a Story, Part 1


February 11, 2019

I was in Cortez on a Monday, photographing fish bins. Suddenly an authoritative voice in back of me said, “What are you doing?” Uh-oh. I’d never been challenged while walking the fish-house property, but I almost always was there on a Sunday, when workers were not. I turned around to see a woman flanked by two men. I said (cheerily, I hoped), “I’m photographing these fish bins. I don’t know the real name for them, but I—” “We call them vats,” said the woman. “Oh,” I said; “Do you work here?” “Yes, I’m the owner.” Gulp. “Well,” I said, trying to stay cheerful, “I have a photograph of one of these vats at a show in Boston right now. I just love these things.” The woman broke into a grin. “Really? I’m going to Boston in March. Will the show still be up then?” Yes, it would, I assured her. Relief all around. She and her men had wondered if I was documenting something to make trouble, and I had wondered if I would be charged with trespassing.

Now that we were on friendly terms, the woman introduced herself as Karen Bell, the granddaughter of A.P. Bell, who founded the company in the 1920s. Many of the vats have “A. P. Bell” written on them in welding steel, she pointed out (and I have photographed). Karen asked if I knew what the numbers on the sides of the vats mean. (No.) “It’s the weight of the vat. After the fish are offloaded into them, the vats are weighed and the vat weight subtracted to give the weight of the fish.” The fishermen are then paid by the weight of the fish. Later in her office I got Karen’s e-mail address to send her information about the Boston show. She told me she was giving a tour of the fish house in three days to benefit the local museum, and I was welcome to sign up. I did! This story will continue in the next blog post. Here are photos I took that day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


If You Go to Boston . . .


December 10, 2018

Because of the kindness of three people, I am privileged (along with 61 other photographers) to be exhibiting a photograph in the Passageway of the Lafayette City Center in Boston. The Passageway links Macy’s with the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The show, Abstraction Attraction, is up now through May 5, 2019. Note that you can see all the photographs online. If you happen to be in the Passageway during this time and see my photo, please let me know! The photographs were selected by Paula Tognarelli, executive director and curator of the Griffin Museum of Photography. Here’s the chosen photo, The Fish Bins of Cortez 38, and a link to other fish-bin photos. Big thanks to Stephen Tomasko, who sent me the entry information, and to my friends Katie Brown and Robert Taylor, who prompted Stephen by telling him that I “was a photographer, too.”


The Dumpsters of Cortez 5


March 28, 2018


The Dumpsters of Cortez 4


March 27, 2018


The Dumpsters of Cortez 3


March 26, 2018


The Dumpsters of Cortez 2


March 25, 2018