Winter ice on trees
glitters like festive tinsel
under morning sun


When days are shorter
fiercely blows the winter wind
piling snow in drifts


Frigid air on skin
Persistent chill burrows deep
Winter wet and cold

ice and fog


I’m looking at clouds from the inside and asking questions in a world of blue.   Floating in the icy ether of wonder and amazement. I feel the cold harshness of ice yet am comforted by the blanket of fog wrapped around my body and soul, satisfied by the question when the answer eludes me.

The song Sung by Julee Cruise, Questions In A World Of Blue from the TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME film soundtrack.   Written by master song stylist Angelo Badalamenti.  A beautiful song of loss.   The musical essence of saudade.  Like ice and fog.   

immigrant round-up: deportees

Today is Saturday.   The start of the immigrant round-up by the current administration in Washington, DC.  This round-up is occurring across the country by I.C.E. (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) officials.   The situation is bad.  And there is plenty of blame to go around.    I’m not here to place blame because that is counter-productive.   I’m here to ask, “Isn’t there something else we could do?”

Couldn’t we appoint more immigration judges to deal with asylum seekers?   Couldn’t we find a way to maintain a connection with people while helping them through the process?   Couldn’t we find a way to assist them in their plight?  Why must we always dehumanize them by seeing families and children as the enemy?  Why… the evil ones?  Why… the undesirables?  Why only migrants?

While the current administration claims they want to focus on “criminals” they have not defined what they mean by criminal.   And how will they determine who is criminal?  How much will profiling go into their selection of who they “nab”.  If you have brown skin does that automatically make you a criminal?!   Will white illegal immigrants be overlooked while black and brown immigrants are rounded up? The fact is, we have a process on dealing with illegal immigration and we have a criminal justice system to deal with those who commit serious crimes (murder, theft, drugs, etc).  While those systems seem inadequate at times why don’t we shore up those systems instead of bypassing them?   When we bypass the law we become the lawless.

These men, women and children have names.   They are individuals of worth with temporary needs.  They come with the hope for a better life than what they left behind.  Haven’t we all done that at some point?   Haven’t we all been in an untenable situation at some point where we had to move on?   Have you ever changed jobs?  Have you retired?  Have you divorced?   Have you married?  Have you moved to another house/apartment?   Have you ever moved to another city?  Have you ever left behind something in the hope of finding something better?  Over the years I’ve seen several migrant run restaurants (Mexican and Asian) in my city that closed.  They were popular restaurants.   Was it because I.C.E. rounded up the owners and/or employees of the restaurant and deported them?   Were they criminal?  Weren’t  they making a living, paying the rent, paying employees, paying taxes, building families.  Was there a misunderstanding, due to language barriers, where they did not file the appropriate immigration paperwork and because there was no follow-up they fell through the cracks.   So are they criminal?   Why wasn’t there someone who could help them?  Why wasn’t there some follow-up?  Aren’t we doing more harm by making migrants more fearful to seek help from the place they’ve come to make their home?  Are we doing more harm by deterring migrants from self-reporting?   Aren’t we doing more harm by alienating the alien?   Aren’t we doing more harm?

My own family history reveals us as a family of migrants.  My Great Grandfather immigrated from Switzerland in the late 1800s to come to Ohio, to purchase a farm, start farming and be part of a small Mennonite community.  So because my family immigrated from Europe instead of Mexico, Africa or China or a country where Islam is the religion of choice, does that make us more desireable?  Better prepared?  Better humans?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!!!!!!  We are human beings with our own flaws, tics, and characteristics like everyone else regardless of skin color or country of origin.

We are all migrants in one form or another.  It is part of the human experience.   When we dehumanize our fellow human beings we dehumanize ourselves.

I pray for all migrants today and throughout the coming days that may fall victim to cruelty of other human beings.   May they find sanctuary from the government and I.C.E.  May they find someone to help them legally through the process.  If you know a migrant, please reach out, grant them shelter and protection against an unjust government.   It’s time to stop talking and take action!  Resistance and protest is NOT futile!

Enjoy this song by Joan Baez written by the legendary Woody Guthrie.   It’s more popularly known as DEPORTEE and is a perfect anthem for our time.

and this one, Ice el Hielo – english lyrics below.

Ice the ICE

Ice Water Frozen Solid.
ICE. Immigration Customs Enforcement.
ICE. The ice.

Eva passing the cloth on the table there is
taking care that everything shines like a pearl.
When the patron arrives, do not complain again.
Do not be the thing that is accused as illegal.

Jose attends the gardens, they look like Disneyland
Handles an old truck without the license.
It does not matter if he was a taxi driver there in his homeland
That does not count for Uncle Sam.

The Ice is loose in those streets
You never know when you’re going to touch us
now the children cry at the exit
They cry when they see that mom will not come
One stays here, another stays there,
That happens to go to work.

Marta arrived as a child and dreams of studying.
But it becomes difficult without the papers.
Those who were born here are left with the laurels,
But she never stops fighting.

The Ice is loose in those streets
You never know when you’re going to touch us
Now the children cry at the exit
They cry when they see that mom will not come
One stays here, another stays there,
That happens to go to work.

A tree dreams of branches

A Tree Dreams Of Branches




One broken limb

splintered and

disconnected from its roots

frozen in time

a tree locked in its icy reverie

dreams of branches

becoming whole once more

veins growing outward

with the hope of leaves

only cracks in reality

Springs slow thaw




… on… question of abstraction….

we live in an over-saturated world of images.  Images are everywhere we go.   In fact they are so prevalent they are becoming  mundane.  Boring.  They’re primarily “pretty” photos of realistic/recognizable subjects (objects, landscapes, people, animals, plants).  Abstraction is seldom seen and seems to be less and less appreciated.   Is there still a place for abstraction?   And what is it?

Salt Ice Asphalt

s0lt 824 0sp70lt

First, abstraction in photography is very different from abstraction in the paint/sculpture arts.   Abstraction in photography is merely the “capture” and/or presentation of any deviation from the perceived norm (no matter how slight) and therefore more passive.   Abstraction in painting/sculpture is very different.  Painting/sculpture is an active medium unlike photography.   In painting/sculpture the abstraction is created compared to documented.  And it’s this creative action that I think gives a viewer pause to consider what “it” is.  Can photographic abstract also be the result of a creative action?  I think it can – but is extremely rare.   Because of the nature of photography; abstraction has become such a generalized category that it has become redundant.

w9t78n on4s or18t

w9t78n on4s or18t

Now about our world.  In addition to being overly saturated with heavily saturated images is also, thanks to technology, is moving at a faster and faster pace.  There is no rest.  There is no contemplation.  Even the internet with its myriad blogs, photo sharing sites, art sites, etc is not conducive to slowing down to consider what we are doing.   The internet has created a culture of clicking “LIKE” and moving on.  In one minute I can look at and “like”/”fave” a hundred photos.

For this reason I think there is more and more a need for true abstraction in the painting/sculpture sense.  Because these type of abstracts are more likely to cause us to slow down (maybe even stop) from time to time and consider what we are looking at and how we feel about it or what it means to us.    So bring on the abstraction.  Deviate from the norm.   Give people a reason to pause and “rest” on your work.

824 8sl0n3s

824 8sl0n3s

The images I’m including today are photos of something people would NEVER photograph.  I went to the park the other day – one of my favorite hangouts to decompress.  I went to photograph some winter scenes etc – you know the kind of stuff everyone photographs that I described at the beginning of this article.   The kind of stuff we DON’T need more of.  But most of the shots I kept were These here today.   Shapes and textures of salt melting ice on asphalt pavement in the parking lot of the park.   For me they have their own intriguing wonder.

Your music moment today is a track titled Awakening by Greek artists (and friends) MK-O from their album ETHER.  For me this song has the kind of energy I feel in these images.  The kinetic energy of salt melting ice.  Check out their website for more.


….. on snow…..

I’ve said many times before that Winter is my all-time favorite season…. and I do get a annoyed with people who are always complaining about the snow and the cold.   This winter has been pretty disappointing so far because even though it’s been cold (colder than normal by some reports) there’s been relatively little snow or ice.  There have been many warm-ups. So when we get a trace of snow – usually by the next day the temps have warmed, or it rains and the snow is gone.  Well, finally that past two weeks we had some actual measurable snow ending with 6+ inches on the ground by Tuesday morning last week.  Of course Thursday saw temps rise into the 40’s(F) and then Friday and Saturday and today saw temps between 60-70 degrees(F).    So needless to say, all that beautiful snow is all gone.  But…on the positive side… I was finally able to get out and about for some winter shots while the snow was here.   A few which may be used for my Christmas/holiday cards this year.  So since these may be the only snow shot’s I get this year I hope you enjoy them.   Which would be your favorite to see on a Christmas card?

(p.s. after you click play on the video – scroll back up and click on the first image you will be able to see larger versions while the music is playing)

Naturally I have to have a “soundtrack” for these images and my thoughts on Winter so here is “Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind” – words by William Shakespeare and music By John Rutter.  Performed by Julie Gaulke and Simone Lo Castro.

Blow, blow, thou winter wind
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.

Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most freindship if feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

Freeze, freeze thou bitter sky,
That does not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As a friend remembered not.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

….on dirty ice….

So I decided to play up the notion of dirty ice. Four images that I envision presented in the following manner. Definitely work viewing in full screen (in my opinion).

Dirty Ice I - IV smlr

… on “thin ice”…

As many of you know visually, I “see” in abstract.   It’s just the way my mind works.  Some people see gorgeous sweeping mind altering landscapes but I like to get to the “nitty-gritty” of things.   Looking at the common in a way that makes people stop, question, and consider what they are looking at and how they feel about it.

Abstraction is often confused with surrealism but it is not the same thing.  Surrealism, in my opinion has more to do with pictorialism.  Surrealism shows easily recognizable things in fantastical setting[s] setting up uncommon and at times illogical relationships.  Abstraction on the other hand tends to zoom in on details to the point that the viewer is not sure what they are looking at.  It purposefully alters either in presentation, or creative manipulates the subject to the point of no return focusing on shapes, lines, patterns and spaces which results in more of an emotional/psychological connection for the viewer.  Even if the viewer dismisses the work as balderdash, crap, f’d up, worthless, pointless, etc,  they still have had an emotional response to the work.

The two series I am posting today are examples of my abstract way of seeing nature.  This latest project focuses on images from a frozen lake.  This first series involves subtle manipulation of the image by increasing contrast, desaturating color etc.  It consists of 6 images simply titled Lake Ice #1 – #6.

The second series is the result of trying to figure out what to do with the “bad photos” from that frozen adventure.  I always try to salvage my so-called bad images.  And that salvage process usually involves manipulating them to the point of oblivion.  This series is titled LAKE ICE EXTREME #1-#9 and tells us some valuable things.

  1. There are more “bad” photos than good ones (that’s why there’s 9 in this series and only 6 in the previous series.)

  2. The acronym for this series is L.I.E.  which basically says that what you are looking at is a lie of the mind caused by extreme manipulation of crop, color and exposure.

  3. While you may not recognize what you are seeing; I think we need to ask ourselves, “What is missing?”, “Does what’s missing matter?”, “Out of sight, out of mind?”, and “How does this increase or change our understanding of nature and the world around us?”  And those are questions each individual has to answer for themselves.

  4. Other considerations are “Why square?” – I was able to crop out a lot of the unmanageable parts of the image and the square crop helps us center our focus (in this instance).

  5. Color is a tricky thing.  If I’d left it natural they all would have been a dirty blue with some brownish tones and white.  When I decided to change the color to make the image a little more disorienting  I was surprised to find that each individual image had its color preference.  For example if the image is green (as in #) it’s because that’s the only color that “felt” right.  Honestly the red/purple/blue/yellow options just didn’t fit.   I always find it amazing how once you get started  the artwork seems to dictate it’s own color palette.   I’m curious if painters and other artists feel the same.

  6. I also envision these 9 images displayed together in the following configuration.

    (you can “right click” then open in a “new tab” to view larger versions of individual images for more details.)

On Ice

An Octet of B&W nature abstracts. Images are simply titled RIVER AND ICE I-VIII. Enjoy these Winter abstracts. And here is a soundtrack for these images.

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