This photograph, called “Lunar Eclipse,” is another from my “Marion under the Moon” series. I made it in 2017, and since then it has been selected by the Visual Arts Committee of Artspace New Haven for my on-site Flatfile folder and for the 2018 Silent Auction that is part of Artspace’s annual fund-raising Gala. The photograph was also selected this year by Joe McNally for the annual Camera Works exhibition of the Ridgefield Guild of Artists in Connecticut, and it was purchased during the opening by a long-time art collector from L.A. who had just moved to Manhattan.
The topper for me, though, was the image’s selection by Paula Tognarelli, Executive Director of the Griffin Museum of Photography in Massachusetts, for the 2019 International Photography Exhibition of the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel By The Sea, California (yes, I could have written just “Carmel,” but I love the romance of “Carme By The Sea”!). That exhibition is on display now and will run until December 21 – and it’s the occasion for various thanks that I want to give here on this Thanksgiving Day.
There are certain things about the CPA and Carmel that are magical for me. For one, as many of you may know, Carmel is where Edward Weston, my greatest love among photographers, lived and worked, at a place that he called Wildcat Hill. Another of my loves and influences in the photographic art, Wynn Bullock, not only lived and worked in Carmel, but was one of the founders (along with Ansel Adams and Cole Weston) of CPA’s predecessor, the Friends of Photography, in 1967. As the CPA’s website relates, the CPA is “the second oldest members’ photography gallery organization in the country.”
I must give deep, deep thanks to Weston and Bullock for the intense pleasure and inspiration that their works have brought me time and again over the years. (It occurs to me just this moment, in fact, that although there may not be an obvious connection between the two, and although it isn’t certain that the former had any effect on the latter, one of my favorite Bullock images, “Stark Tree,” may have played some unconscious part in my making of “Lunar Eclipse.”)
While speaking of the CPA, I need to thank Ann Jastrab, its Executive Director, for helping to keep the organization alive, and for the thoughtfulness that she showed me during the preparations for the Exhibition. I want to thank the juror, Ms. Tognarelli, too, not only for choosing “Lunar Eclipse” for the Exhibition, but for a wonderful surprise that she provided for me and for the real “Marion” herself.
Before the Exhibition’s opening, at which time the Exhibition catalogue would become available, Ann Jastrab told me that the Juror had made some remarks about my photograph in her Statement that would interest me. She said that she hoped that the Juror’s Statement would be printed in the catalogue, including those remarks, but that in any event she would make certain that I would get a copy of the Statement.
The Exhibition catalogue does include the Statement, and this is its fourth paragraph:
Lawrence Russ’ “Lunar Eclipse” gives us the moon like a nimbus that encircles the head of a woman. I imagine her an empress from the 2nd century who held great power and rank. Her head is held high, either proudly or in great thought. She obscures some light of the moon.
Needless to say, I was gratified and greatly amused to read that. It almost embarrassed Marion, my wife and muse and model, as she slowly and rather shyly absorbed it. As you might guess, I now refer to her lovingly and semi-kiddingly (and frequently) as “The Empress.” That phrase is now firmly enthroned as household lore. Thank you so much for that, Paula Tognarelli!
Today, in and outside of this post, as I do every day, I must also give thanks to Marion herself, who amazes me continually – and to God, for Marion, and for all of these other people and their work, and the love reflected in that work.
And now, at the last for today, a Happy Thanksgiving to you, my reader, with many thanks for choosing to spend your precious time and attention on these words and this art of mine!
Was the Alfred P. Sloan Scholar for the Humanities at the University of Michigan. Obtained a Master of the Fine Arts degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where I was selected as a Writing Fellow in Poetry by the Program faculty. Have published poems, essays and reviews in many magazines, anthologies, reference works, and other publications, including The Nation, The Iowa Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Parabola, OMNI, and the exhibition catalogue for Art at the Edge of the Law at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. Received a law degree from the University of Michigan, and have changed the law and created educational programs in the fields of arts law, historic preservation law, and public construction and contracting law in the State of Connecticut. My photographs have appeared in international, national, regional and state juried exhibitions, and have been selected for awards including Honorable Mentions in the Architecture, Nature, Portrait, and Seascape categories from the international Fine Art Photography Awards, and an Honorable Mention in the Fine Art-Other category from the International Photography Awards. Photographs of mine have been selected for exhibition or publications by or in the 2019 International Competition of The Photo Review, the 2019 Open Exhibition of the Center for Fine Art Photography in Colorado, F-Stop Magazine, Shadow & Light Magazine, Black Box Gallery in Portland OR, the Darkroom Gallery in VT, PhotoPlace Gallery in VT, A Smith Gallery in TX, the New Britain Museum of American Art, and many other journals and venues. My work has also been selected for inclusion in the Flatfile Program of Artspace New Haven (CT). My photography website is at www.lawrenceruss.com .