Shadow d taylor pdf

Two dimensional, monochromatic, and featureless, shadows only exist because something else exists.  They are totally dependent on it, the mothership,  the object that CASTS them.  Yet, to us, they often seem to be something, if not separate, then singular, a unique offshoot.  Photo by David Taylor seen here.                                                             

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At certain angles of the light, in fact, the shadows outsize the source and take on a character and life of their own.  Above photo by  Alexey Bednij found at feeldesain

What is more ordinary anywhere than a chorus of pigeons on a wire except when they are  accompanied by a slightly taller thinner blacker troop brought to them by light, just light.

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Great photographers recognize the challenge and the opportunity of strong light and the spreading black alter-ego it conjures up for each of us.

Untitled,  				ArtistGarry Winogrand,Photographs

This trio caught in the low-angled light by Garry Winogrand 1960 now at home at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.


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Henri Cartier Bresson, who else?  (Source)

Vivian Maier went about developing as a great photographer totally out of the spotlight, sometimes literally in the shadows. Her self portraits are both bravely revealing and consciously concealing.


Vivian Maier,self Portrait, 1955.  This and many, many more of her remarkable photographs on view at this site

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Though never shy, Pablo Picasso was always game for a visual trick: here he give us two picassos, one that he made with paint, the other a created by the great man in collaboration with the sun.  photo by David Douglas Duncan 1960

Andre Kertesz, Henry Moore's Shadow, England, 1980

Here the shadow of Henry Moore dwarfs his usually monumental work.    by Andre Kertesz  Here   

Beckett, monumental in life and in reputation.  Rarely in the shadows

But let’s not forget the wonderful FUN we can have with shadows

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Personally, we never mastered any of these, but you can try at home when no one’s watching. Found here on etsy

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We photographed these Indonesian shadow puppets at the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) a miracle temple of the fruits of civilization from around the world to be found at the University of British Columbia

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And to finish up–or start something–we present a wonderful puppeteering duo that goes by the name of  mind of a snail.  Much of what they do is done with projection of images. While they, the creators and performers, lurk in the shadows.  Mostly.  Always brand new and wondrous.  Find more here  


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If you live on a street lined with tall leafy trees between you and the road, you probably either love them unconditionally, as we do, or wish they would be a bit tidier and keep their leaves (and birds and insects and moss and bark…) to themselves.  In either case, unless one falls down, most of us have little reason to think about how they got there in the first place.

That of course got us thinking, and while we are thinking, take a look at some streets in a few of the most desirable cities for human habitation we know of.  Above is New York.

This is Philadelphia, old Philadelphia,  as per William Penn’s plan 1683. Photo Photo by Melissa Romero

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This is Paris, whose streets are as well dressed as its residents.


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Rome.  Roman trees are muscular, sinewy, regal, slightly wild, imperfect.  Roman.


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Vancouver.  Pretty.  Abundant.  Well cared for.  Well behaved (mostly). Photogenic.

So who decided this was a good thing? Who do we thank?  Who is responsible?  Today, our cities employ a small army of people from planners to planters whose job it is to maintain the trees we have and oversee the selection and placement new ones.  But the decision to include trees along our streets was made long before we got here,  by people we never met.

With our oldest greatest cities–Paris, London, Amsterdam, New York, Philadelphia, to name a handful–we can find visual records of the early ideas about trees and cities in the form of plans and maps.

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Paris 1615. There are green strips and squares and triangles, trees we guess. But hard to tell what the streets are like.

Historical image of Edinburgh: modest walls did not preclude green space inside the walls

Britain.  Scotland. Edinburgh.  Somewhere around in the 17th century we guess. Four fancy folk on a hill overlooking the plan for a treeful city in the countryside.

The idea seems to have taken hold.  This is Edinburgh now.

So it is an idea that goes back a way, at least 400 years.  And the idea generally seemed to be: when planning a city, make room for a bit of the country in the city–in squares, parks, along roads and canals, and ultimately on the streets where people live.  Apparently, it just seemed natural at the time, at least in Europe, Britain, and later North America.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Of course the basic notion may actually go back much further to Medieval times of castles and monastries and beyond.  But if we want to give credit to the origin of what we see today where we have trees on the street as well as in parks and squares, Holland could certainly make a good case.  This is Amsterdam 1670.  Found here

Happily, we found that lots of people have been thinking about this for quite a while, dedicated people with a lot more insight and knowledge than we’ve got.  If you are interested, a good place to start is with a blog innocently called Green Infrastructure

Also, you might want go check out your own city, the history of your trees and who is in charge now.  It’s something worth knowing because it may need some help to keep it going.  see here

The benefits of street trees, besides the sheer pleasure of laying our eyes on them, are many and varied: shade, substantial energy savings, cleansing city air of particulates, stabilizing the ground, flood mitigation, swingin’ on a tire?….

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Happy citizen of San Antonio Texas–a tree, a rope, an old tire, and thou.  From here


J Pollock No. 29 reverse

Mr Jackson Pollock didn’t like to repeat himself, and he went out of his way to choose materials you might find down in the basement (e.g. black and aluminum enamel paint, expanded steel, string, beads, coloured glass, pebbles, and window glass) as opposed to those made specifically for artists.

When he elected to make the above image on glass from these ingredients in October 1950 (painting No 29), he was doing something new (for him). Photo of No 29 from here.

Glass Bowl, 

But painting on glass has a long and varied history among humans.

As Mr Pollack may have known, people have been making marks on glass for as long as there has been glass.   That would go back more than 5000 years, we’re told.

This bowl at Yale University is about 2000 years old, and it is part of a tradition that has found a place in cultures everywhere and in every time period.

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The above group was brought together for an auction .

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The practice and tradition of paint on glass gained a new and lasting place in the stained glass windows found in thousands of surviving churches in Europe.  One of the most beloved for its painted glass is Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, designed and built over 700 years ago.

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Fast forward to the 20th century, artists active when Pollack boldly made “no 29” were still being enlisted to apply paint to glass in the name of worship and redemption. Above by Marc Chagall for Fraumünster church in Zurich.

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M Chagall then brought his painting-on-glass gifts to the middle of America, to Chicago. These are resident at the Chicago Art Institute, a palace for art worshipers whose devotion is surely as deep as those showing up Sunday’s at Fraumuster in Switzerland.

But back to Mr Pollock, an artist through and through, bent on expression of his own angels and demons, not anyone else’s. Artists who came after and followed their own path, devoutly, were ready for any medium.  Some found glass.  Who?

Well, Gerhard Richter for one.

Here he is painting on the back of glass–as commercial sign painters did for most of the 20th century.

And again.. And when the church makers came calling, he delivered this:

Nice. Cathedral in Cologne/Koln

Below is the work of Brian Clarke.

This British artist works almost exclusively in glass.  Is this painting is it sculpture? Does it matter?

And what’s this?

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A piece of art in glass bottles, arranged by Jean shin. Wow

Glass again, our time, fluid and sharp and versatile, and …something, something swell,  by Cathryn Shilling


Oh, we just remembered: sometimes artists paint on glass and then place paper on top of the image and by pressing down the make a print a unique print a monoprint/monotype.  Artist + Glass, plus paper = unique result, so sweet.  Here was a great exhibition of monotypes.

Well we could to on and on.  Actually we did.

But there is more….

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Maybe next time.

See you next time.


There is no accounting for some things–maybe most things.  Like foxes.  Sure, there are bound to be lots of learned people who can account for their successful presence in our century—a tidy tale of persistence, luck, intelligence, more luck—but how exactly do we account for the presence of these creatures in our thoughts, our consciousness, when we are supposed to be doing other things entirely?  Foxes!?

Above a swift fox and her kit in the Canadian Prairies. Photo: Colleen Gara/CanGeo Photo Club. Below from the series Nature produced by PBS.

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Why are foxes–swift, smart, stealthy, slam dunk cute–why are they so present, tip-toeing and nosing around on the edges of our daily attempts to think big, non-foxy thoughts about big challenges? Was it that documentary we saw a while back about a fox family in Newfoundland?  Or did that just trigger something that was already planted long ago?

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Wherever you find people reading for pleasure, particularly young people, you are likely to find someone lapping up a tale or two about a fox.  And there’s about a 50/50 chance that the fox in the story is wearing clothes and doing something usually done by a human, especially in a French book.  Great photo of French children reading by A Kertesz.

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From early editions (1883) of Pinocchio with drawings by Carlo Chiostri

The fox has been slipping into stories for as long as stories have been told, and as soon as books were printed, there he was with pointy nose and fluffy tail ready for mischief.


Fox above from Aesop’s Fables: a translation by V.S. Vernon Jones, with an introduction by G.K. Chesterton and illustrations by Arthur Rackham. Aesop gave us the Fox and the Grapes, The Fox and the Stork, The Fox and the Crow, The Fox and the Monkey, the Fox and the Goat…and more fox tales.  These stories are 2500 years old.

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You can hardly get through any of the earliest books produced by hand without encountering a fox or two.  Small yes, but often in charge of the action.

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17th Century Dutch tile.


STEWY - Fox, Chapel st nr sacred Trinity Church, Salford #stewy #fox #salford #futureartists #manchester #mcr

21st century garage door, improved by Stewy

For now, let’s chase our foxes outside– out of books, out of the city , out to the wild where they surely are at their best.

Winslow Homer found this fox outside in Maine in Winter, dodging crows.

Red Fox

Back to Newfoundland, a  Red Fox in the tall grass

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On the coast…

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Going somewhere else (for now)


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So here at the end of the year/beginning of the year, we find ourselves thinking about what matters most/what matters least.  Through all the buzz, all the fear, all the lunacy, all the loss, what starts to matter more and more to some of us is that humans are also very well equipped to make something BEAUTIFUL and never before seen. Hold that thought. And take a look up there, that, made by Robert Motherwell.  (it’s now at the MOMA).

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Who knows why, but the objects of eye-popping beauty-made-by-humans that rush to the front of the mind, for us at least, so often seem to be those made with the simplest palette of all: Black. White. Black + White. Look up, the amazing Mr Calder, his amazing THING, all BLACK set in a white, light filled room.

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And then there is Henri Matisse, no slouch with colour, he was, but often, OFTEN, he put the reds and blues and acid greens to one side and made DRAWINGS–in charcoal, graphite, conte, ink,   No colour necessary.  None.  It’s all there.

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Oh good gravy, even simpler even more reduced and amplified.  Achingly beautiful.  H. Matisse, encore.

Maria Likarz-Strauss: Draft for the FABRIC “Montag” [Monday]

Not sure who she is, but Maria Likarz Strauss (1928 Vienna) is up to the challenge embracing colourlessness in the name of striking go-tell-someone-about-this-ness.

Edward Gorey, “It wrenched off the horn of the gramophone, / And could not be persuaded to leave it alone.” Illustration for The Doubtful Guest. Garden City: Doubleday & Company Inc, 1957. Pen and ink on paper. © The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust.

The pen + the ink for centuries the main way of conveying information from one hand and one mind to one pair of eyes.  We have other tools now,  but even so, the power and seductiveness of the inked line has no competitor.  Edward Gorey, Illustration for The Doubtful Guest. Garden City: Doubleday & Company Inc, 1957

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Wassily Kandinsky made some of the most colourful pictures of the last 100 years, but he too sometimes paused, took a breath, and showed us the power of B+W, musical, explosive..

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Keith Haring.  Young. Subway artist.  Gifted draftsman. Brief life.  Draped in black. And white.

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We are not done with this dark/bright discussion.  But for now, a pause, the last word, for now, to A. Calder again. Giving us a wire “drawing”.   Aquarium.  It’s all there.



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