Tuesday, May 30, 2017


Milwaukee is hosting a special sculpture exhibit during the period June 1 to October 22.  It consists of 22 sculptures positioned along both sides of Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee's "main street."  Although the exhibit does not officially open until later this week, most of the sculptures have been put in place and, Saturday being a beautiful day, I spent some time photographing those sculptures then in place.  I didn't count the number of sculptures I saw, but I assume there are a few that had not yet been installed.  And there were a few others that were still being worked on, touched up, or positioned.

My initial impressions of the exhibit were that it is a major disappointment.  Most of the pieces were entirely abstract.   Some I didn't bother photographing or retaining the shots that I did take.  Personally, I have a strong preference for sculpture that is representational, even when that representation involves abstract (that is, nonrealistic) components, and some of the pieces fit that description.  I found those more interesting.

I enjoy photographing sculpture compared to plain "wall art" because there are more choices with respect to the use of light, shot angles, depth of field, and incorporation of background elements.  Here I was hopeful of incorporating some of Milwaukee's diverse architecture as background for some of the pieces.  But I was so disappointed with some of the sculptures that I despaired of getting any really interesting shots.  Here are some of what I took (and kept).

This piece I think epitomizes the weakness with this exhibit.

This large, totally nondescript piece is posed against the federal courthouse building, which has great architectural interest.  As a contrasting shot, here is the federal courthouse posed against a more modern office building.

This comparison worked much better, no thanks to the sculpture.  Moving on.

Here is another sculpture placed next to the modern building in the above shot.

This piece consisted of several large, different colored spheres stacked on top of one another, each with a stylized "happy face" that is frowning on the bottom sphere and smiling on the top.

One piece that was more interesting was of a horse made out of dead branches (I think).  I first tried to photograph the front part of the sculpture with that same office building as a background.

OK, but it doesn't quite work.  Better was to shoot the sculpture from across the street with an older red brick building as a backdrop.

For me the only interest in the double arrow piece below was that each of the sculpture's surfaces was painted a different color.

I tried shooting the piece as an abstract, but it was perhaps too abstract.

Next was a tall, very narrow spiral chrome clad piece.  It was nearly impossible to capture in its entirety.

But I found the reflections in the chrome surfaces to have some interest as an abstract.

Then there was a "sculpture" that seemed to consist of a couple of dozen yellow and blue metal posts.

This shot doesn't really capture the piece, but I guess I was trying for an abstract, since I thought the sculpture of itself had little aesthetic value.

Here is another sculpture on the avenue that I believe is not part of the exhibit but that I thought was more interesting than those that were.  (My personal bias.)

The "pregnancy" is a bit odd, but I liked the presentation of the face that I turned into a chiaroscuro.

Back to the exhibit.  I thought the following representation of roses was OK, but certainly not spectacular.

I liked the following sculpture of a woman a bit better.

As I did the following of, I believe, an immigrant/refugee (?) family.  OK, although it is a bit cartoonish.

A totally abstract sculpture that I actually liked was one made of stainless steel pieces put together in a circular shape.  The piece was still being worked on, and I was not able to photograph it in its entirety, so I just shot portions of it, the first against the clear sky.

The second against a dark building that I was able to blacken in post processing.

While I was at it, I took the opportunity to shoot some of the varied downtown architecture.


I had a good time trying to puzzle out this exhibit from a photographic perspective, despite my disappointment with the actual sculptures.  I definitely plan to do another shoot after the exhibit is fully installed and see if my second impression is better than my first.


Saturday, May 20, 2017


We had a great time on our recent visit to New Mexico, and I thought I would wind up my account of the trip with some photos that didn't seem to fit in any of the other posts.

First, a few flora shots.  The first was taken outside the Georgia O'Keefe Museum.

I took this second of some oak leaves during our hike in Bandelier National Monument.

And the third below was on the grounds of the Casa San Ysidro museum in Corrales.

In addition to the Museum of Art and History, while in Albuquerque we visited the city's Museum of Natural History and Science.  It was an excellent museum, but not as photogenic as I had hoped.  Here is one shot of a sabre-toothed tiger in silhouette that I thought worked in black and white.

Then there were doorways.  In reviewing the photos that I kept from the trip, I realized that I took a lot of shots of doorways, many of which were included in previous posts for the trip.  Here are a couple that were not.

This latter was actually part a wider shot that included these windows.

Finally,  in Santa Fe I came across a pair of ornate wooden doors that had great texture.  I probably should have tried to get a shot of both doors, but wound up settling for this closeup.

Oner of the ways that I measure the success of a vacation is by the rate at which I take photos on the trip.  By that measure, this was a great vacation, despite some spotty weather.



On our last evening in Albuquerque we took the tramway to the summit of Sandia Peak, east of the city.  There is a restaurant at the base of the tramway, Sandiago's, where we had an early dinner before boarding the tram for the summit, at an elevation of some 10,400 feet.  The ride up (as well as the ride back) takes 15 minutes and covers an elevation change of 3,800 feet over a distance of 2.7 miles.  It is the longest tramway in the United States.

Here, first, is a photo of one of the tram cars, which can hold up to 50 passengers.

The terrain is more rugged than I had thought.

I liked the following shot that I took at the summit.  I think it was the alignment of the three peaks at varying distances that appealed to me.

I also liked the following shot that featured the trees on the ridges being lit by the evening sun while the remainder of the mountainside was largely in shadow.

In the following shot I worked hard to capture the sun hitting the tram cables just before we began our descent.

We had hoped to stay at the summit until sunset, but it is about 20 degrees cooler at the top than down in the city and significantly windier, so we began our descent a little before sunset.  But I did catch this shot once we got down to the base of the mountain.



During our stay in Albuquerque, my wife and I visited the city's Museum of Art and History, located in the Old Town area.  I liked the museum a lot.  As its name indicates, it is a combination of an art and a history museum.  The first gallery that we visited was a special exhibit devoted to Hollywood.  The gallery was filled with movie posters, both old and recent, as well as a good deal of other movie and television memorabilia, including costumes from various movies and TV shows.  It was excellent.  Unfortunately, no photography was allowed in this gallery, so I have nothing to show.  However, photography was permitted in the other galleries, and I enjoyed the relatively small but interesting art collection.

First a photo of an exterior courtyard.

I liked this shot for its abstract perspective lines.  And somehow it seemed reminiscent of surreal art, perhaps because of its artificial vanishing point and because the art pieces in the courtyard seemed unrelated to one another.

The art that I was drawn to was primarily contemporary.  Here are some examples.

I particularly liked this last piece, though this image only includes a portion of the work of art.  This was actually a sculpture of sorts, consisting of pieces of subtly colored glass set at angles to each other to create unusual reflections.  A careful look reveals that the image has strong but imperfect symmetries.

I was able to underexpose the following spotlighted granite sculpture to turn the background black.

I was not particularly drawn to the historical sections of the museum, which primarily dealt with Albuquerque and New Mexican history.  But on our way out we did visit an exterior sculpture courtyard.  I have to say that I did not find the art in the courtyard particularly noteworthy, but I did like this semiabstract image that I took of the courtyard and that I converted to a black and white.


Friday, May 19, 2017


On our trip to New Mexico, we spent the first three days in Santa Fe and the last two in Albuquerque.  On our way from the former to the latter city, we spent a few hours in Corrales, a lovely town northwest of Albuquerque, situated along the Rio Grande (yes, that Rio Grande).  Here first are a couple of semi-random photos I took in the town.

I had checked out touring a historical residence museum situated in the town.  However, when we got there late morning a docent told us that tours were generally limited to groups that had reserved in advance.  However, she said, the group of fourth graders currently touring would be gone at 1 p.m. and that we could return for a private tour.  So we had lunch at a nice little cafe in town and returned around 1 p.m.  When we did we were treated to a wonderful 1-1/2 hour private tour by a very knowledgeable docent.

The residence is known as Casa San Ysidro.  It was built in the late 19th century by the GutiĆ©rrez family.  In the 1950s the Minges family acquired it, expanded it, and furnished it with Spanish Colonial memorabilia.  More recently it has been converted to a museum.  Following are a few photos of the facility that I took.  Here first is the entrance.

This is deceptive because the actual doorway is the smaller opening in the panel on the left in the photo, which was, at best, only five feet high.  Not sure of the reason for the smaller opening, but I liked the light that I caught when I took the shot, which I thought showed off the combination of adobe and old wood.

Here is another doorway, leading to another doorway that I shot for the symmetry it provided.  The problem here was that my image was reflected in the doorway glass.

One of the rooms housed a number of religious objects.  The docent pointed out that the room included many more objects than a family living in such a residence would have owned.

One of the shots that I liked was of a courtyard behind the residence.

The early afternoon sun was high in the New Mexico sky, casting shadows that were approaching vertical.

Finally are a couple of detail shots.  The first is of a wood cabinet the lock and the patina of which I found appealing as a composition.

The second is of a simple vessel sitting on a simple table.  I thought the soft light and the neutral colors helped to make this shot.