All of the people who know me pretty well know that I adore my wife, Marion. It’s a central fact of my person and my life. You yourself may, just possibly, have gathered this from my earlier post, “The Heroines’ Unpinned Hair” (posted February 13, 2013) https://lruss.com/2013/02/15/the-heroines-unpinned-hair/ . If you didn’t guess it before, you’ll likely guess now that she’s the model in all the images in my “Marion under the Moon” series, which began with the photograph (above) of that name https://www.lawrenceruss.com/index/C0000nyIYjBmXbWE/G0000YbrlfdMLgx0/I0000KQmsTvRhnaw . I’ve also written about some of those Marion works in earlier posts, most recently https://lruss.com/2020/04/06/angels-of-love-and-sorrow/ .
What no one but Marion herself and I know about, however, is the phenomenon that I call “Marion Magic.” It manifests itself in unmistakable ways regularly, if not constantly (though her very presence in my life is continual magic). This Marion Magic is not a power that she controls, and it can’t be called up or predicted. But striking and happy things just seem to occur in connection with matters and works that she’s involved in. One of those just arose three days ago.
Today, May 31, is our anniversary, but the pandemic is putting a considerable crimp in our ability to celebrate it. As many of you will have experienced, periodic “Googles” of your name or some phrase with your name (“’Lawrence Russ’ art” is probably the most fruitful one for me) will often alert you to uses or effects or treatments of your work that you wouldn’t otherwise have known about. I was unaware for four years, until I learned about it through one of those searches, that in 2015 I had won an Honorable Mention in the “Fine Art – Other” category in the International Photography Awards, for a group of photos from my “The Machine of Secrets” (or, as it was originally called, “The Arcane Machine”) series. https://www.photoawards.com/winner/zoom.php?eid=8-87332-15 . (As that taught me, the most competitive and prestigious competitions sometimes don’t inform you of such awards; they leave it to you to check the posted results.)
Similarly, when I did one of those searches three days ago, I learned (typical Marion Magic!) that a poem of mine to and about Marion (our courtship, really), called “Noche en Espanol,” had been chosen last year for the 25th Anniversary Anthology of Atlanta Review as one of the best (in the Editor’s judgment) poems printed in the first 25 years of the Review’s publication. Can you say “Anniversary”? Not only that, but this is a poem that also was chosen for inclusion in the magazine’s The Gift of Experience: 10th Anniversary Anthology, in which the Editor, Daniel Veach, referred specifically to only three of the selected poems in his introduction to the volume: “You haven’t lived until you’ve gone through childbirth with Ann Jastaru, wallowed in the mud with a.k. huseby, felt passion’s silvery thunder with Lawrence Russ.” (Here is the poem: NOCHE EN ESPANOL by Lawrence Russ) . I don’t yet have a copy of the new Anthology, but I see online that in its Table of Contents, the poem is indicated as having been selected from those published in the 10th Anniversary volume.
But wait, there’s more! Within this last week, I also learned that my latest Marion photo, “Wakened from the Dream of Reading” (you’ll see it at the end of this post) was chosen for the 10th Anniversary Exhibition of the A Smith Gallery in Texas. So there you have my courtroom exhibit: three days before our anniversary, I learn by apparent happenstance that my poem about our marriage and courtship, which was selected for the 10th Anniversary Anthology of the Review has again been selected for its 25th Anniversary Anthology. And I learn, within the week preceding our happy occasion, that my newest Marion image will appear in the A Smith Gallery Anniversary exhibition. Anniversary, Anniversary, Anniversary, just in time for our Anniversary.
(If you want to deepen your comprehension of Marion, re-read, slowly and tenderly, the classical Chinese poem that I quoted in “The Heroines’ Unpinned Hair” OF ONE IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY by Chang Hu and play Bob Dylan’s “ Love Minus Zero/ No Limit.”
And this is not to mention all the many exhibitions and publications for which images from the “Marion under the Moon” series have been chosen in the years since I made that first Marion photograph: for instance, in the Center for Fine Art Photography (Fort Collins, CO), the Center for Photographic Art (Carmel, CA), the A Smith Gallery (TX), PhotoPlace Gallery (VT), Black Box Gallery (Portland, OR), Darkroom Gallery (VT), the Mystic Art Museum (CT), The Photo Review (Philadelphia, PA), and the Ridgefield (CT) Guild of Artists. And speaking of our “Anniversary Month,” it was only a couple of weeks ago that I was informed that a group of five “Marion” photographs won an Honorable Mention as a Series in the Fine Art category of the latest Fine Art Photography Awards (administered in London with a panel of professional art photographers from every continent, and entries from about 100 countries): https://fineartphotoawards.com/winners-gallery/fapa-2019-2020/amateur/fine-art/hm/12440 . (You’ll find my brief statement about the series there, too.)
As you’ll understand, any recognition for the “Marions” is a multiple pleasure for me, a greater pleasure than I would feel about recognition for any of my other works. As you’ll also understand, this post is, for the occasion of our anniversary, a public and unabashed love letter to my magical Marion.
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, Fine Art (series), Nature (series), Open Theme (series), 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 Juried Exhibition of the Center for Photographic Art (Carmel, CA), 2019 International Competition of The Photo Review, the 2019 Open Exhibition of the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins CO, F-Stop Magazine, Shadow & Light Magazine, Black Box Gallery in Portland OR, Praxis Gallery in Minneapolis MN, 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 .