Cary Conover: “Quick And Incisive”

March 19, 2009

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He’s a New Yorker. He loves the city and calls his photographs “interpretation on a piece of film”. His vision is poetic and elegant, he finds those perfect “Only in New York” moments on every corner. Ladies and gentlemen, we proudly present Cary Conover! You can see his black and white photos at our “Real ART for REAL people” event April 5th, but before you can actually meet the artist, here are a few things he told us about his work:

WHY DO YOU TAKE PHOTOS?

I do it for you [laughter]. As an artist I believe that the least one can do is to have a record of one’s life experience. So photography is always accompanying my life. I don’t think “I’m going to go out there and create something today.“ Rather it’s more like, “I’m going to go out, be appreciative and respond to what I see, if I see anything at all.“ That’s all I want to do – photograph what I see. My goal is to build a documentation of the Turn of the Century New York. I believe in giving back – in this case, giving back to the city. Even though I spent my childhood in Kansas, New York has been the place where I came into being as an adult politically, socially and culturally. It’s where I “became awake.“ I’m very excited that I’m able to contribute to the long tradition of New York photography.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO SHOOT IN BLACK AND WHITE?

I have almost 10 years of black and white pictures of New York City and I want them to be consistent, that’s an artistic decision I made. It goes back to the tradition of street photography I want to contribute to, I want my work to fit seamlessly into that tradition. My inspiration comes from people like Henri Cartier-Bresson. That’s where I get the “always having a camera on you“ approach, and the idea of photography being a reaction to life. He’s still a very powerful force behind my work.

SOME PEOPLE SEE STREET PHOTOGRAPHY AS OBTRUSIVE

We don’t stalk beauty, we see it when we see it. To some people taking photos on the street might seem predatorial. I’m aware of it, even the terminology is aggressive: taking, shooting, grabbing a picture. People who see my photography ask me all the time whether anybody’s ever gotten upset after I’ve taken a picture. It’s very, very rare. But what will happen on occasion is that somebody will come up to me on the street, mostly out of curiosity, and ask, “Did you just take a picture of me?“ My response is usually, “I didn’t take a picture OF you, you were simply IN the picture that I took.” Now that photography is more prevalent and everyone has got digital camera, it’s only going to make people more and more okay with being photographed in public.

CAN PHOTOGRAPHY CHANGE THE WORLD?

I believe there are no rules on how photography ought to be used. Even though I have a journalism background, I don’t think I should try to change the world with my photography. I think it’s just a matter of capturing the world as you experience it. A lot of people use photography as a catalyst for change and I think, to some extent, it is doable – it can make people stop from what they‘re doing, shake them out of their apathy. That’s why I’m glad there are people like James Nachtwey, who has ability to shake people to their core. But I don’t necessarily want to be out there on the cutting edge of social issues. I just prefer to document a community, a neighborhood around me, the city, places, people, etc.

DO YOU THINK DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY IS TAKING AWAY FROM PHOTOGRAPHY AS ART?

I think there’s a little to that, but overall I would not say that it takes away from photography, it can only elevate the craft as a whole. I just think it’s the same as writing something by hand vs typing it on a computer – your message is still going to get out there. And the best will always rise to the top no matter how many people are taking pictures or how the pictures were taken.

YOU’VE BEEN A BIT “MOONSTRUCK“ LATELY

I had to do time lapse for a client at the South Street Seaport recently, and the night that I was down there doing a six-hour sequence I noticed, after the fact, that the moon was rising behind me. So the next night I switched my angle to include the moon in the time lapse and I was able to get it as it was rising. That experience captivated me so much and I just wanted to learn as much as possible about the moon. It’s easy to know when the moon is coming up, but where precisely on the horizon is totally different from night to night. Still, it’s a pretty moving experience to observe the moon and its trajectory as it’s coming up over the horizon. I have seen the documentary about astronauts that went to the moon (“In The Shadow of The Moon“) three times already, I love reading about it and can’t get enough of archival and contemporary NASA footage. So over the past several months I’ve sort of created my own little archive of moon time lapse sequences, all shot with my digital SLR.

WHERE WILL PHOTOGRAPHY TAKE YOU?

I have definitely grown as a photographer since I came to New York. I believe in the idea of practice and being disciplined. You have to keep at it, you can get a little rusty if you don‘t always have the camera with you, that’s why I try to always stay sharp photographically. But at the end of the day, when my life is done, you’re going to be able to shake me, the photos are going to fall scattered and people will do with them what they want. I just hope that it will be possible to put my pictures together into one single, unified vision of the city. You could live 50 lifetimes in New York and photograph every single day and still not come close to getting everything. My biggest hope is that by doing what I do I’m at least able to scratch into the surface a little bit. I have a friend who told me that my method of photographing is a lot like how a surgeon uses a scalpel: very quick, very incisive. And hopefully in the right areas!

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Buster Black: “It’s the journey that counts”

March 18, 2009

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Buster Black is one of the artists we feature in our first edition of “real ART for REAL people” (just a reminder: April 5th, Tom&Jerry’s bar). He calls his bold, pure color silk-screens whimsical. He takes absurd over clever any day, and hopes people will see that in his work. We asked him some more questions about his art:

WHEN WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU „DID IT“?
Well, I’ve always been a drawer and and a doodler, but I guess a major jumping off point for me was when I was a kid, and I started painting a picture in my mom’s basement in Virginia. Nobody asked me to do it; there were just some canvases there that I guess my mom had bought, so I started painting a four-color design across a couple of canvases and stapled them together.  I was really pleased with the result, and I found that the act of painting and experimenting was really satisfying for me.  For me, it’s usually about the process and how I get to the final results.

WHAT YOUR ART IS ABOUT
The main thing about my artwork is that I just do it.  It’s just something that I make happen.  I don’t overthink it, and I never think about ‘can I sell this?’ or ‘will other people like this?’.  It’s the process that really counts for me.  I spend a lot of time drawing shapes on napkins, in a notebook, etc., and usually after I finish something like that, I’ll want to make it into something else: to blow it up on a canvas or make it into a silkscreen. A lot of time I go from a doodle to a painting that ends up being a silkscreen – none of it is fully thought out – I rarely come up with the clear idea of what I want to do, it usually just stems from something else.

DO YOU EXPERIMENT WITH DIFFERENT MEDIA?
Most everything starts with a drawing or a photo so I like to do both of those. I also build wood panels to paint on, which in itself is a type of art form I think.  The last couple of years I’ve really gotten into silk screening.  I really enjoy the several-day-process of building frames from scratch, outfitting them with silk, working with an image on the computer, transferring it to the silkscreen, and then finally putting ink on paper (or whatever else).  Building the screen is almost as important as the final result – the moment of transferring a final image onto paper, canvas, or wood….It is the process that counts for me.

HOW DID YOU GET INTO SILKSCREENING?
I’d always wanted to do it, but I’m not really a trained visual artist – no schooling or nothing.  A friend of mine told me she was working with silkscreens and I asked her to help me out to understand how it works.  I went over there and worked with her for a day and she showed me how to shoot a screen.  Our screens didn’t work out, but I was so fascinated by it that as soon as I got home I went and got the materials, so I could work on it myself.  It’s a very fickle process, and my setup is pretty homemade; a real “do-it-youself” type of deal, so my success rate was pretty low.  It still is pretty low, but at least now I’m to a point where I can experiment with new types of ideas like larger screens and bigger projects.

WHAT KIND OF ASSIGNED WORK DO YOU DO?
Usually I work for private clients through a word of mouth. I’m currently working on a series of posters which were intended as gifts for contributors to the new issue of The Minus Times, a small literary magazine published by a friend in Charleston, SC. Also, I just worked on an album cover for a band called Ocho, in San Fransisco, and a record cover for a local band, The Aamerican Tenants. Small stuff like that comes up pretty regularly.  I stay pretty busy.

WHY NEW YORK CITY?
I grew up in Winchester, VA, and I always loved coming up here as a kid.  A couple years ago I was living in Greensboro, NC, and I basically just had to leave.  It was that time.  I packed up my truck and went up to Chicago for a little while.  I worked for a small music magazine there, which was pretty fun. But eventually I ended up in NYC, and it’s been pretty ok.  I find it’s really easy to keep busy up here.  It’s a cliché, but the city has a lot of energy.  I mean, I could live on a farm in Virginia and I still would be doing artwork and building stuff, but there’s something in New York that makes me more productive. Maybe it’s the tempo or the pace of life here.  It’s not something that I’m entirely used to coming from the South.  Maybe it’s the juxtaposition of being the way I am and living in a place like this that can make a person require more of an outlet for creativity.


You’re invited!

March 18, 2009

postcardfrontsmMeet creative individuals, buy art for fair prices. Without the pretense and fancy outfits. Celebrate with us “real ART for REAL people!”

When? April 5th, 2009, starting at 3pm.

Where? Tom&Jerry’s bar, 288 Elizabeth Street, Manhattan.

Who? We are presenting two up and coming artists:
Cary Conover’s black and white photographs have been published in Time Out New York, The Village Voice and The New York Times, to name a few. His first book of photographs, “Black Book: A Visual Diary” was published in 2000 by the Monroe Publishing Company. He has been featured in a group exhibition in former CBGB‘s Gallery and other venues throughout the city.
Buster Black’s silk-screens, prints and paintings are whimsical and bold. Buster grew up in Winchester, his accomplishments include printing a series of posters for contributors to „The Minus Times“, a literary magazine based in Charleston, SC and album covers: for a San Francisco band, Ocho and a local New York band, The American Tenants.

Featuring: special performance by a dance collective Aquarock.

We asked the artists a few questions about art. Interviews with both of them to come! Check us out tomorrow!


Real Art For Real People

March 15, 2009

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New York City does not exist without ART. Yet most young artists in NYC often have a hard time keeping their heads above water. Rents in NYC are very high, which automatically raises the cost of artwork. And people are reluctant to buy expensive art during a recession. The flaws of the art-selling system become even more visible during these tough economic times. Artists share their profits with galleries and are usually bound by long-term contracts that are impossible to break. This adversarial approach to exhibiting and selling art has run its course.

In 2002 NADA (New Art Dealers Alliance) set a new trend in art exhibition – they started to showcase young artists in private apartments. This unifying concept was a breakthrough in the contemporary art world because it not only cut the cost of exhibitions but it created a more friendly and relaxed atmosphere for both the artists and the clients.

We would like to take this great idea to the next level. NYC has the highest ratio of artists per square foot anywhere on the planet. We want to keep it this way. We also think that owning a good piece of contemporary art should be accessible to everybody. We believe that we can accomplish this simply by bringing individual artists and the public together.

In the neighborhood bar (Tom and Jerry’s, 288 Elizabeth St.) on the first Sunday of every month (beginning in April) we will be showcasing two up-and-coming creative individuals. You are kindly invited to meet these rising stars of the art world and encouraged to co-mingle with them and, hopefully, buy their pieces for fair prices. You don’t have to speak post-structural mumbo-jumbo, you don’t need to wear a fancy outfit, we just want you to celebrate “real art for real people“ with us!


Art Stimulus

March 9, 2009

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There are new kids in town, and they are just about ready to rock you! We are talking fresh faces of ART in the City. For the next months, we are going to present work and profiles of emerging artists, and try to fill the gap between them and their audience, without the “middle man”. We will keep you up to date regarding young artists’ work progress and send special invitations for their shows. If you are an artist – show us your work. If you are interested in art, we’ll keep you posted about our next event. If you want to write us about anything at all: milena@see-nyc.com, ika@see-nyc.com

For now, we can only say – it’s coming up. Get ready!


Memory Lane, NY

March 3, 2009

The video we want to share with you is an archival footage of Broadway in the 1930’s. We invite you to take a trip down memory lane, (not that you’d remember 1930’s, but everybody says it feels like the depression, so it might be a propos) and see if you can recognize any familiar spots (note the adorable cat with a kitten in its mouth):