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AuthorLawrence Russ

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 .

To Be (Seen) or Not to Be (Seen) – Part 1

This photograph currently appears in “The Portrait 2022” issue of the online journal, F-Stop Magazine.  Let me tell you its story.

On April 25, 2019, just before noon, I was walking in downtown Bridgeport, Connecticut with a Canon 5D Mark III and the old “nifty fifty” (50mm f/1.8) lens.  At McLevy Green, next to the Bridgeport Town Hall, a couple of people were playing chess at one of the concrete tables on the edge of the Green. . . .

A Surprise Communion across Continents, Classes, Centuries, and Cultures

. . .In dejection from all the awful and discouraging news about reactionary political victories, rampant viral sub-variants, catastrophic droughts, and increasing violence (as well as, for me, unhappy views about my own self), I found myself doing something that I’ve done on occasion over the years, especially under stress:  I was hand-writing, long past midnight, a list of my favorite artists and mystical writers.  That exercise can calm and comfort me. not just as an obsessive-compulsive ritual, but as a reminder of real treasures that I’ve been given, for inspiration and illumination.

The Self behind the Self – Juan Ramon Jimenez and Jim Carrey (yes, That Jim Carrey)

In certain of these posts, I’ve put together two stories or quotes that go at one thing from different directions, or whose common ground isn’t obvious on the surface, aiming to spark for you some realization that can’t just be given or explained.  This time, the two sets of words that I’ve joined come from two seemingly-almost-comically-different sources.  The first is a poem by Juan Ramon Jimenez, the Spanish poet who won the 1956 Nobel Prize for Literature and was a leading figure in what is sometimes called (with good reasons, like the writing of his kinsmen Antonio Machado and Lorca).  The second set of words is from a speech by the American comic actor Jim Carrey.  Jimenez may not have had the same kind of extremely zany humor that Carrey has shown in his movie and TV career, but Jimenez was anything but a stiff.  One of his most wonderful books is a work of prose, Platero y Yo (Platero and I).  Platero was his donkey.

Memorial Day Is an Occasion for Grieving and Respect, Not for Celebration

If we really want to honor those whom our country has sent to war, we should honor their suffering, which usually goes on long after they’ve returned from the killing fields. And we should mourn the lives that they destroyed at their country’s command in what may have been a war of aggression for an unjust cause, as in Vietnam and Iraq (or, for Russia, in Afghanistan and the Ukraine). And we should do a much better job of caring for them once they’ve returned to us, providing the treatment and care and training that they need, instead of the all-too-often shameful conditions that exist in the institutions that we’ve set up for them to stay in if they need such shelter and therapy, and if they have nowhere else to go for those essentials.

Dark Times and Spring Gifts

. . . With some difficulty, that’s what I’ve been doing. Concentrating on healing, living in some ways like a mole. I’ll wait to see what the world looks like when I can poke my head out again and peer around. I’ll see what I seem like to myself after time in this underground burrow. I’ll see what guidance comes to me about what God wants me to do in the new spring.
In the meantime, though, I see no reason not to send out Springtime greetings to you. Here’s something that will probably seem a little different for me. . . .

Art as Our Priceless Exchange of Gifts

The poet, essayist, translator, and magazine publisher and editor, Robert Bly, died toward the end of last year.  I think it’s unfortunate that he became best-known as a father of the “men’s movement,” because in the public’s mind that overshadows his tremendous contributions to American literature.  His literary work in all the capacities that I just listed had a tremendous and priceless effect on me and others, opening up the cloistered world of an American poetry controlled excessively by stiff-minded academics to the timeless and global world of a poetry of imagination and spirituality, of what Bly called “news of the universe.”

Towers and Devices of an Alien Race

I want to introduce you to a new portfolio of mine: “Towers and Devices of an Alien Race.” But I don’t, don’t want to squeeze it into an ill-fitting box of conceptions or drown it in chat about techniques or influence. Still, I want to tell you a few of the thoughts and feelings that I had in making these works.

Poetic Photography and an Invitation to Fall in Love

In going through some boxes of my books, I unearthed a couple of treasures that I hadn’t seen in oh-too-many years. (Too few shelves, too little time!) One of them, called Dialogue with Photography, is a collection of interviews with master photographers. . . The book is filled with rareties and realities. When Imogen Cunningham is asked if Edward Weston ever bought one of her prints, she replies that he never had enough money to buy anyone’s work. In this and later posts, I’ll share with you some passages that I like especially, beginning with this from the wonderful Robert Doisneau. . . .

At the Parking Lot on Center Street

. . . 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.