As many of you no doubt also have, I’ve had difficulty getting back on my feet and putting things back together, as we partly and uncertainly emerge from our confinement.
But now I’ve posted a new – well, almost completely new – portfolio on my photography website, called “At the Parking Lot on Center Street.”
Its previous incarnation, “A Brief Walk on Center Street,” has been largely replaced, and what hasn’t been replaced has been re-edited. When I took the original photos, mostly impromptu, I didn’t have with me the gear that I really needed for the “job.” From time to time in my pandemic confinement, I thought about getting back and doing the work better. And the confinement gave me the opportunity and the obsessive push (how many photography videos did I watch, sometimes more than once!) to explore new gear, new techniques, new software, all of which played roles in producing this portfolio. (Thank goodness for 20-frames-per-second focus bracketing.)
To emphasize certain aspects of the portfolio, I narrowed its scope even further, to photographs of things either on the parking lot (bordering railroad tracks on the west and kitty corner from a church on the southeast) or on or across Center Street. Most of the growths that I photographed just grew up wild.
You’ll be able to tell the four flowers or groups of flowers that were cultivated. And I questioned myself about including those, because they’re more conventional than what or how I usually photograph and consider fit for sharing with the public. But I wanted the tone, the spirit of this portfolio, to be quiet, modest, and those flowers were a part of the little scene. And conventional beauty is, after all, beauty, even though we may need to see it in a new context in order to really appreciate it again. I’ll offer a little more about those flowers at the end of this post.
As I found out after I’d made the photos, the parking lot is actually owned (and the few cultivated flowers are provided) by Trinity Episcopal Church across the corner from the lot (though it rents out most of the space for commuter rail parking). That’s the Church building in the four-frame sequence that ends the portfolio.
I don’t want to say too much about all this, but I think that this old poem of mine (“Light Rain, September”) shares some of the spirit of this portfolio:
LIGHT RAIN, SEPTEMBER
She stops and listens
through the screen
to a sparse rain
in late night silence.
Small drops, in porchlight,
a single leaf here, a cluster there
in cool and toneless
The rain makes delicate
on the grass, on the wooden
as gently and freely
as a widowed moon’s affections.
To the woman
hushed at the window,
that something of the earth
still speaks to us.
Perhaps you won’t see it this way, but to me, this portfolio and this poem are political in the deepest sense. In connection with this, and with those flowers that I said I’d come back to, let me read you a poem, “Five Men,” by the late, great Polish poet, Zbigniew Herbert.
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 .