ELLIOTT LINWOOD INTERVIEWS BILL DANE

August 16, 1991
Elliott Linwood = EL
Bill Dane = BD

EL 
       How did you end up switching from painting to photography?

BD        I switched dramatically from painting to photography when my studio burned down. I had two studio burns. One was about three months before I was due to have a show in January 1970 in the Reese Palley Gallery on Maiden Lane in San Francisco.  I came home in November one night to my studio/living space in West Oakland to find fire hoses laid side-by-side filling the whole block. As I got closer I realized it was my place.  

I borrowed a friend's studio over on San Pablo above the Albatross Bar and painted for a couple of months, made the show over, and of course it turned out to be something quite different--better.

EL        What kind of pictures?

BD        Big color field paintings inspired by Stella and Noland and Morris Lewis.  I was already interested in mail, conceptual, process, and environmental art and that got me started using a camera at the same time I was painting the show.

I used a camera to photograph things that interested me in the environment from what was my "environmental artist's" point of view.  I'd take pictures of compressed paper, different formations, uncompleted bridge structures, etc.  But I was basically snapshooting at the end of 1969.

In the show was included a plexiglass rack which was in a pattern similar to my paintings which were based on grid systems, squares and weaves.  I made a 16-pocket plex photo card holder and put stacks of postcards, prints that I'd been taking and having commercially produced at 3"x5" along with a little sign that invited people to help themselves.  I'd already started to mail these around.  I'd come in about once a week to replenish all the stacks.

That was part of the show, plus these big color field paintings which were human size and a couple of sculptures--process sculptures that were maybe 10'x20', pieces of clear plastic hanging from the ceiling which I had spray painted with pastel colors, probably using about 10-20 cans.  This hanging piece of plastic had a misty atmospheric look to it.  And there were the misty leftovers of what paint floated down to the floor.

There were also a couple of other plastic spray-painted pieces and that was it, which turned out to be the end of painting for me.  I took the paintings and put them in the back of Bill's studio and, later that summer,  got a call that it had all burned down.  That was two fires, and I figured a pretty clear-cut message.

I was already more interested in other things.  I basically thought that  Lewis, Noland and Stella would do or had done what I was interested in  and I could see down the end of that line, which began to seem like a  pretty dead-end thing to me because I didn't have the technical training or  the desire to go back and do a kind of Picasso 16- to 21-year-old education.  I had no interest in investigating things in that manner even  though I loved to do the paintings.  

The first fire left me with a leather jacket, some cowboy boots, a black hat  and a used camera.  I was convinced after the first fire that I was just going  to re-make the show because I was obligated and then move on.  I was  already mostly taking pictures.

I must say I really wanted to work in a medium that had me out in public  where things were happening.  Spending all this time in a studio by myself  and then having a couple of people come by and make some comments  once in a while wasn't really satisfactory.  So photography was really  perfect for me because I got out where everybody else was.  And then it  also worked well with the mailing thing, where I could create my own  audience and didn't have to wait and depend on some critic, gallery or  museum decisions.  I found that aspect very important.

I was also really curious about Warhol.  Everything he did at the time made  sense to me--and not in any sort or academic way--it felt right, like the  anti-masterpiece idea made a lot of sense to me, that art could be brought  "down," demystified, made accessible.  Of course in the guise of banality  comes an aesthetic that requires special sophistication and, once again,  art moves away from any general public.  My mailing of 3"x5" postcards of  casually taken snapshots--casual to most observers--fit in very well with  everything that was moving around in my mind at the time.  It was also a  relatively inexpensive medium.  I was really offended by giant conceptual  process art extravaganzas.  The money thing was always a problem for  me.  I don't mean to sound too self-righteous, but Christo's Running  Fence for example, that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, was pretty  offensive.  And, to be spending money like that at this time in history (or  probably any time) when it could just as well be done as an idea and put  down on paper and communicated conceptually...like Oldenburg's  drawings.

EL        How did you go from a background in political science to your  work?  What was the bridge?

BD        When you go to Berkeley and you have two or more years of  poli-sci and run across this very mediocre teaching, except for a couple of  people, there just wasn't any inspiration to speak of.  By my last semester I  knew I was not a future graduate student.  I only had a few A's in poli-sci  and those were in political theory classes.  So it looked like I was either  going to have to go to graduate school and teach political theory  someplace, but in 1964 many things became painfully clear to me.  I  originally thought I wanted to be in the State Department when I was a  teenager.  I thought I wanted to be in international relations--I spoke  Russian and had a good command of German. But by the time I finished  at Cal in 1964 I certainly wasn't going to be a part of U.S. government  activities.  The Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam ended all that for me.

Neither at that time did I want to teach history or social studies in high  school.  So in my last semester I went over to the Art Department just to fill  up my requirements now knowing quite what I was going to do.

I took a drawing class with the only friend I had at Cal.  I changed majors  and in a year and a summer session I had a degree in art.  I made friends  over there, which was very important.  The camaraderie of fellow students  in art was so different than what I experienced in political science.

I'd done some drawing and stuff as a kid and painted a couple kind of  wonderful pictures, one in the fifth grade when I had my one good teacher,  and one when I was a teenager playing on the weekends with the oil set  my mom got me.  I just sort of made up a picture out of my head, my one  and only oil painting--the Ku Klux Klan gathered around in their hoods  burning a black man they had just hung.

EL        How old were you then?

BD        I was probably 16.

EL        Was this in Pasadena?

BD        Yes, Sierra Madre.  I never really remembered it until I took this  U.C. art class, the pleasure of doing art was natural for me.

I also showed slides as a job for a year and a half at Cal.  So I got to look  at all this art work without having to study the academic part.  I decided to  work in factories after I got my B.A. and just be an artist.  That worked for  about a year, driving a Yellow Cab and working in factories.  That obviously  wasn't going to do it, so I went back and got a teaching credential and was  lucky enough to get a job teaching at Berkeley High school in 1966 and  have been doing it ever since.

EL        Your political science background may provide clues to your work,  which appears very political to me.

BD        Yes, well it never has to most people.

In my work there is no substitute for taking each picture on it's own terms,  because I think each picture is very different.  To call my work political to  me means that I'm just looking at the surface of our society and the  images that are presented to us.  (And of course by the time they get to me  they are parts of those images due to framing.)  So in that sense, and in  any different sense, I would be as political as I could, getting everything  that can deeply engage me into my work.  Godard had a couple of hours to  do a film and some years to think about doing it.  He said that he wanted  to get everything about life into his movies.  That seems to me to be what  it's all about.

In photography there are little pieces which you collect along the  way...different kinds, but the goal is the same--to discover, investigate,  hunt for everything you can find that makes sense to you about what's  going on.  Then you present these things to yourself and others, and push  not to duplicate something that's already been done by somebody else  like Atget, Picasso, Pollack, Evans, Frank--inspired by, yes.

EL        Past newspaper articles say you were influenced by Ed Ruscha.

BD        That's because his were the first photographs I saw that led me to  understand that photography was a medium that was potentially amazing.   When I saw his parking lot series of pictures they made sense to me.   Generally I'm not interested in what passes for conceptual art.

I hadn't seen Atget or Robert Frank until Bill gave me The Americans and  said, I think this is one of the things you are looking for.  That same year I  saw Szarkowski give a slide show of Winnogrand's work at MOMA when I  went back to New York to visit a friend who coincidentally was the photo  intern there. This was the first year I knew about photography and it all  added to the rationale for my doing it. Winnogrand's pictures made  complete and inspirational sense to me.

The next day I saw Jerry Uelsmann give a lecture.  I didn't know who he  was, but I said to myself, this is probably the silliest stuff I've ever seen.   He has a very good sense of humor and he was entertaining NYU  students.  I looked in the other direction.  I'm looking for something  different, little known.  

EL        How does your work relate to street photography?

BD        My way of working is plugging away.  I'm not athletic like  Friedlander or Winnogrand.  I don't have that kind of vision, coordination.  I  was out on the street looking like everyone else, but my images have  gotten more and more isolated.

EL        The recent color work is close-up and doesn't have the social  styling of the earlier black and white work.

BD        It's usually of parts of stuff that other people have made or set up,  but my attitude on this adventure, my modus is the same...walk and look,  walk and look, walk and look.

EL        What about your signature use of the flash in many of your images.   It seems to do certain things.

BD        Most of the time I like to get the flash involved because I like the  way it looks in the finished print.  Bertold Brecht had this notion of the  alienation effect, which were devices he could use in his plays to throw the  spectator back out on themselves so that they didn't get absorbed like  you're supposed to get absorbed into a Hollywood movie and be sucked  away and lose consciousness and be manipulated into having an  experience of somebody else's.  He had the idea he wanted people to  reflect upon what they were seeing and get back to themselves.  There  was a distance created with his alienation effect, so people could think, for  example, and wouldn't become submerged in the spectacle.

In any case, that's one thing that the flash does.  It lets you know it's a  photograph you're looking at and bounces you, as the flash bounces, back  out of the picture and makes it harder to go into the picture, keeping some  distance.  Every picture is different and the flash functions uniquely even  as this generalization is fun to talk about.

EL        Brecht is an interesting reference in theatrical terms.

BD        I prefer him because he was so overtly political.  I feel my pictures  are psycho-political.

EL        The flash effect in the older black and white work amplified a  newsier quality.

BD        I don't think I was using the flash with that consciousness because  I don't think the flash does anything more than merely illuminates in most  of those pictures.  Now there were some pictures where the flash started  to come back at me as I got closer to something, especially when I was  working around glass.  And that probably began to feed me these notions.   It's now an ingredient.  But it's pretty tricky.  It can go too far.  Photography,  like painting, needs everything perfect.  When you finally present a  photograph, as you edit them, they have to be perfect.  It amounts to  organizing a rectangle as in painting, and something like the flash effect  has to be perfect.

EL        The prints are getting bigger.  How does size work?

BD        I can't tell yet.  I'm too close to this.  When I was painting human  size pictures I knew exactly why I was doing it.  I wanted them to be human  size so that the exchange would be on human scale.  In photography I  originally became accustomed to postcard size pieces.  I like the way the  pictures look big.

It's an in-between scale now and plays with the thing that I photographed.   Obviously something of the experience of my work has to do with the size  which it's presented and the tension between that and the scale you either  know or imagine the object was in the real world.

There are reasons why photography is a loaded, potentially poignant and  exciting medium.  One of these has to do with different kinds of tension  between the photograph presented and the world or the reality you took a  picture of, which is another kind of reality entirely.  The tension between  those two worlds and the viewer is probably the thing, in my  estimation--outside of course what I'm taking a picture "of," like content;  form and content--which makes photograph a different thing.  It's a  medium that "apparently" gives you back (if you're a still photographer like I  am) something that existed there on some level.

Even though most people still don't seem to understand how manipulative  photography is--how it drastically changes experience--if it didn't, it  wouldn't be so magical.  A clue as to why photography is so wonderful is  that it does its own thing; it creates a new reality.

EL        As recently as Szarkowski's 1978 Windows and Mirrors show,  photography was viewed either as a transparent medium that offered  faithfully detailed representations of the world, a window of sorts, or a  mirror, a vehicle of subjective psychological artifice.  Where did you fit into  that show?

BD        I'm in the book from that show and can't remember whether I'm a  window or a mirror.  Is a mirror a surrealist, like Dali, who makes up all  this gobbledygook?  With me and some good dead mirror like, let's say  Man Ray, it's a continuum.  I'm probably in the middle between Uelsmann  and Winnogrand.  But I really don't understand photography in these terms.

EL        Your images seem to communicate they are photographs as  objects, not portals to reality, but rather Bill Dane's camera mediation of  the world.

BD        Sounds good!

EL        There are many characteristics besides the use of the flash in your  work that reveal photography as a loaded medium.  Many images are of  artifacts framed at their edges, where artifice leaves off.  For example,  there happen to be lots of things with their seams showing as an integral  part of the picture.

BD        It's another piece of information.  It does influence the perception of  space--enlarges it just enough (like the flash reflection) to keep it from  going too flat.

EL        It's interesting since the surface of a photograph has often been  read as something
seamless.

BD        There is not a seam in every picture.  There are only a few where  you can find them--if the image was painted on a panel that has a seam in  it.  So I'm not sure how useful that is unless you consistently notice all the  other "evidence" in the work.

EL        Like wood graining or other telltale signs?

BD        But if the point is that I'm making artifacts, this should probably be  reframed.  I'm actually using artifacts, or you might say "discovering"  artifacts or re-presenting them.  It's almost like attaining another  generation of recognition for different peoples' work, which of course  wasn't created in the same context that I do.

Each image begins and ends with itself in a certain sense.  When you're  talking about this you have to respect the way I actually work.  Basic stuff  like what do I do when I go out to take pictures.  What happens!  How do I  do this?

Let me just say what I don't do.  I don't go out there was a program in my  mind.  I haven't written anything down in advance to fill in this gap or that  theory.  To the extent that intuition is any kind of independently operating  system, I go out in the street just with the equipment that I bring with  me--by that I mean my mood, mindset, what I'm thinking about--family,  country, whatever it is.  I go out carrying this collection of stuff that's been  heaped on me or that I've digested or ingested and I walk down the street.

So, I physically walk down the street or go into the museum.  Now, there  are places that I don't go with the camera, like into the forest.  I've tried it  and it doesn't work!  It makes no sense to me whatsoever.  I love to be  there.  But to be there with a camera creates a kind of fearful feeling that I  don't want, because I'm telling myself that there ought to be something  here that I could make a photograph out of or investigate or explore to see  what it would look like photographed.

I walk into the street to take pictures and look at everything I can possibly  see.  And I love all kinds of stuff.  By love I mean I'm engaged by all kinds  of things--peoples' faces especially.  But I can only take pictures of certain  stuff.  It's been that way from day one.  Although I'm aware of many kinds of  photographic approaches, it's impossible for me to be engaged except by  certain things.  So I walk along with my psyche and collective history and  look and look, and finally I take these pictures.

I maybe end up only loving five or ten pictures a year if I'm lucky.  But here  I've currently got a wall full, a hundred pictures or more, and right now I  love them all.  Editing is very painful because I don't know right now what's  good and what isn't.  Hopefully, in a year or so I'll know which five add to  the dialogue of the past 30,000 years.

This theoretical stuff, writing and flights of fancy, and turning the work into  a poetry of a different kind, the job of the critic, doesn't always make sense  to me.  I can be drawn into this kind of discussion but it's a level I don't  operate on usually.

If you look at the decisions that gallery makers and museum people and  critics are making--if you look at the manifestation of decisions from  magazines to museums--this is a sorry time.  I gather that they need to  produce some artworks of all different kinds that can be called great.  It  must be a very ambiguous, demanding and dignity-crushing situation for a person to be in, relating to this marketplace.  Terrible and  offensive.  There are so many art people now, the exponential explosion  from 18 guys in Paris at the turn of the century.  Against any of that, my  business is to make hard-nose decisions about my own work and forget  the rest.

For instance, each piece is different.  And if they're different to me, then  they may have aspects to them that can't be generalized together.  They  may each be doing something else.  I don't explore my own photographs  with words very often and put the experience into words.  Surely, I must be  talking to myself.  When showing slides of my work I have to articulate some of the ingredients or pointers that will allow people a little  insight into what I think I'm doing.  I think by sitting here and looking at this  stuff.  I take each photograph to be a difference experience--a relatively  independent experience--part of a minor epic poem I'm composing.

EL        There is a thematic to your work in the sense it is not portraiture,  landscape or manipulated photography.  It's straight photography of  human-made things or artifacts.

BD        They are what they are, once again.  I mean you can call them  artifacts if you need a shorthand.  But then each picture is so curiously a  different kind of thing that I found.  Of course, I am on this treasure hunt.   I'm like the little kid that got the list but there was nothing on the list.  He  was just told to go out and find fantastic things.  And that's what I get to do.   There is the thought of prizes.

Outside of listening to Mozart or looking at your kids and playing with them  or being with your partner...this is pleasure.

EL        But there's alienation and humor in this treasure hunt.

BD        Negativity doesn't limit pleasure.  It's an ingredient.  That's where  the psycho-politics or whatever you want to call it comes in.  I'm looking for  something that seems completely right on, so completely truthful I can  say, "Yes, that's the way it is."  That's one of the ways I've described myself  reacting to something that I find.  The pleasure of synthesizing experience  in an image.  Later I have to print the photograph and look at it.  But when I  find something, it's like this recognition, "Wow.  let's see what that will look  like photographed."  It often is very poignant itself, but let's see if  photography won't take it to a different level.

I have photographed pieces of other people's artworks and I would say  that my photographs will take a piece of some artifact and take it to a level  that is much more complicated than the way it originally existed (for me).  A  big part of this is framing obviously, what's in and what's out, which is one  of these tensions in photography, and what's on the edges.

[Footnote:  Omit following photo descriptions absent referent:]

Let's look at individual photographs.  Each one of these things is very  different.  I mean just to go through one row:  The bricks or the fake bricks  for all I know, to take that row with the cowboy in it; the fake bricks on the  side of a bowling alley, a piece of the wall in a bowling alley; the cowboy  was part of an advertisement from a store window in Encino; the two  women holding on to each other or whatever they're doing on the side of a  porno adult place in San Francisco; a puzzle falling apart or coming  together, I don't know, whatever it's doing.  At a county fair, on a table for  some reason [chortling] is this puzzle someone has partially glued into  place; next one over, a part of one of those weaving things my sister-in-law  did; next picture, a piece out of a newspaper that was glued onto a window  in San Francisco of some gym, a fraction of that; next row down is an  advertising from a bank, that sailboat with the dollar bills for sails; the one  to the left of that is off a wall at a sea museum, pouring metal, who the hell  knows why; something from a drugstore window with apothecary jars  painted on plywood; next thing is from the side of a pinball or video  machine, that bridge falling, you know; next over is from that same  apothecary window; the last one in that row is of the side of a truck that  was delivering--happened to be sitting there when I walked by--at  Columbus and Vallejo--parked because the guy was delivering whiskey--I  looked up and that was part of the image in the advertising on the side of  this whiskey bottle.

[End of missing referent]

EL        Your photos are taken in public.  For example, you don't search  newspapers or books to find your images.  And there is something that  the viewer can detect about a public vs. a "media" context.  It shows you  don't employ strict appropriationist tactics.

BD        What do you mean by that?

EL        From looking at your images one detects that you didn't lift  someone's else's "finished" work directly, somehow you communicate  these objects or traces were found in oddly specific contexts.

BD        Appropriation is one of these words, right?  Well, my pictures are  simply out of context.  That's the whole thing.  If you have to talk about why  my pictures are effective, it's partly because they are "out of context" and it  creates this tension that you as the viewer, someplace in your mind,  struggle to place the image in a context.  Because they are out of context  this increases part of the challenge and excitement, part of the puzzle and  the fun.

EL        Do you see yourself as an anthropologist?

BD        I told you this is a treasure hunt for me!--to investigate, perhaps  discover pieces of our story--yes.

EL        Ethnography is currently being reexamined and revised for its  historical relationship to surrealism.

BD        Well, the juxtapositions involving this "out of context" current in my  work isn't merely clashing one cultural item against another.  If my work  has surrealist qualities at all, it's more in the person's brain who's viewing  it, who wants to place the image content within some understandable  context--or the idea to link it to the possible context that it came out of.  But  this also applies to the juxtaposition of any photograph to another hanging  next to it, that makes each very strange.  Or...the idea of other people's   photographs that float around as you look at this one.  If that's surrealism,  fine.

In other words, I don't have to go to Japan, for instance, to take myself  outside of my own culture, to make things look strange or exaggerated.  I  can do it anywhere I go.  I also may not understand your question and  perspective.

EL        What do you think of the Little Known status of Bill Dane?

BD        If you mean, why aren't I on the cover of Time periodically, look at  my pictures!  Referring to my book, Little Known, the reason I called it that  was to point out that people don't know my work.  Also, there was "little  known" about the actual photographs themselves--uncharted seas!

EL        How do you title your pictures?

BD        I usually only title them with the city where they were taken.  To go  further than that is annoying to me because I'm starting to set up the  experience for the viewer.  Either to trivialize it by telling them where it is,  that is, giving them an out so they can say, "Oh yes, that was taken there.  I  know that place."  Moving on!  What's the next photograph, let's take a look  at it.  It says it's Los Angeles, but obviously that's not LA!  But if I tell them it  was taken at Disneyland, then pretty soon they start to get an  understanding of the picture that isn't necessary.  It begins to lead them  down this path that they're so used to going.

I've left it at the city.  But if I show people my slides, I'll tell them everything I  can think of because you have to talk.  Maybe I'm afraid of them really  dealing with the image or not being able to, or that things would become  vacuous, that I fill up the space with talk.  It is fun though.

EL        Most people see the images but do they see the work?

BD        I don't know.  If they did wouldn't I be rich and famous?  This is the  best photography that I've ever seen.  By that I mean my photographs are  as pregnant and poignant as any collection of works of art that I've seen.  I  think there are many other peoples' works that are more complicated and  reflect greater energy and intellect.  But I haven't really seen anything that  makes this kind of sense to me.  Doesn't every artist feel this way?

One of the things about being a high school teacher and parent and  whatever else I am, and being social and upset with the art scene, is that I  just don't pay attention to that stuff.  A couple of years ago I went to all the  galleries and museums and found only one or two artists that interested  me.  One was Anselm Kieffer--Laurie Anderson another.  No matter what I  believe and perceive, there's only a tiny chance my photographs are as  poignant as I find them to be--most art has always been very average--not  useless or unworthy or meaningless--just not compelling for me.  Anselm  Kiefer's large painting/sculptures are absolutely compelling--beyond  interpretation, they are magical.

EL        From the beginning you've used the mail to do your art.  Why?

BD        I had the idea of creating my own audience.  But it's not ideal  because postcards are not the best format for my images.  And when I  started doing this process mail art, I had this subversive intent of using the  postal institution to bypass critics, galleries and museums so as many  people as possible could see what I was doing.  Factors like time and  money have conspired to keep me from doing very much mailing  anymore.  But I still have all these photos in stacks that I do mail  periodically.

EL        At the Museum of Modern Art in New York, when you walk into the  permanent photo collection section you encounter a dozen black and  white postcards framed together as:  Greetings From Bill Dane.

BD        Well, they have four or five thousand or so of my postcards.  More  Bill Dane at the Museum than Atget, quality aside.  We're going for quantity  here.  I will continue to mail to that institution.  I started mailing to them  naively of course.  I am naive, otherwise I wouldn't be sitting here.  I heard  Szarkowski speak at that time and read his book, The Photographer's Eye,  and thought he was the one I wanted to see my pictures because of his  very large understanding of photography.  So the very first pictures I took I  started mailing to him.  I figured why mess around, be judged by the best.

I was very lucky to have the show at MOMA and four big grants (two NEAs  and two Guggenheims) which gave me the opportunity to have some  money and time to spend on photography.  It didn't get me an audience.   Perhaps this doesn't happen unless someone in power grabs a hold of  you and champions you.  For example, Szarkowski took Eggleston and put  him into the public consciousness--lucky for photography and us.

But I think what I do is even less accessible than Bill Eggleston's  photographs.  There is something missing in the representation of my  work.

EL        Do you mean an explanation or something else?  Because they are  not easily absorbed by many people.

BD        Apparently.  No one who really looks and writes has found them  yet--bits and pieces in reviews but nothing systematic.  Some people love  them but can't really express it.

EL        Are they entertaining?

BD        I think they are and that's an irony.  I happen to think that on many  levels my pictures are very obvious and entertaining.  There are some  aspects of my pictures that are as entertaining as things from Hollywood.   And there's plenty of humor--light and dark.  That's the kind of world we live  in.  You have to laugh.  The world we live in is amazing and my pictures  are about the world we live in.

EL        Do you want to talk about anything else?

BD        Books.  I want to make books.  I wanted Beckett and Böll and  Pancake to write the introduction.  They're dead, and I may be figuratively  on my way too.  Books are the way to reach an audience in school  communities where people with potential are shaping a future.

Painterly.  I'm noticing how painterly many of my images are.  I haven't  stopped painting.  The bigger my photographs get (at 30"x40") the more  painterly.  I could spend hours on one painting before--now I get to  photograph many styles of painting and graphic arts.  Also, I've become a  co-worker, bring in a new life to parts of other people's creations. What  they have done is amazing--especially out of context.

Out of context.  Nancy thinks that's why people have trouble connecting  with my pictures or understanding them so they can express it verbally.   The images are so "out of context" that people lose a frame of reference.   Of course they seem relatively obvious to me.  But I don't usually have to  explain them verbally, and I don't think I can--mine or Kiefer's.  But I could  point people in the right direction.

I feel grounded in our culture's psychology and politics--absorbed by it.  My  high school teaching is an extremely cultural activity--un urban school--a  place also to make a difference.  Photography must be a tangential activity  in this sense of affecting change.

Artists communicate with other art-related people in a relatively rarified  language.  At school I can actually watch people change and grow and  become better in many different ways.  My photographs are an  investigation/treasure hunt in our environment--so they are going to reflect  the drama we live.  California is turning into a world culture mix with  fascinating surfaces to my dread and for my pleasure.  But I don't imagine  looking at my pictures will erase 20 years of Reagan-Bush or whatever  you may wish to erase or remake.  We're in as serious trouble as human  nature has ever been in and photography will at best reveal some pieces  of this reality and offer a very complementary experience.

So this photography amounts to a relatively self-indulgent and personal  soul saving pleasure.  To the extent that others can receive a bit of the  pleasure from my work I have added some ounces to balance the pains.

My favorite arts are say Mozart and tribal masks--my education taught me  to value Mozart and now I can't help it.  I love it.  My gut and other parts tell  me to explore our culture and create images which might serve as small  icons in some fantastic rituals symbolizing Western culture.