Wildman John takes a stage.


Let’s start with this. From Bob Dylan. A brand new interview about music, art and the nature of things. It’s here on his website  https://bobdylan.com/news/qa-with-bill-flanagan/  should you want to read the entire piece.

Here’s just a bit, as it applies to my thoughts for today.

“I’m sure it has, there’s always some precedent – most everything is a knockoff of something else. You could have some monstrous vision, or a perplexing idea that you can’t quite get down, can’t handle the theme. But then you’ll see a newspaper clipping or a billboard sign, or a paragraph from an old Dickens novel, or you’ll hear some line from another song, or something you might overhear somebody say just might be something in your mind that you didn’t know you remembered. That will give you the point of approach and specific details. It’s like you’re sleepwalking, not searching or seeking; things are transmitted to you. It’s as if you were looking at something far off and now you’re standing in the middle of it. Once you get the idea, everything you see, read, taste or smell becomes an allusion to it. It’s the art of transforming things. You don’t really serve art, art serves you and it’s only an expression of life anyway; it’s not real life. It’s tricky, you have to have the right touch and integrity or you could end up with something stupid. Michelangelo’s statue of David is not the real David. Some people never get this and they’re left outside in the dark. Try to create something original, you’re in for a surprise.”

From me, the key phrase in all of the is, “art… is only an expression of life, it’s not real life.” The second telling phrase is, “it’s tricky, you have to have the right touch and integrity or you could end up with something stupid.”

We’ve talked a bit about art and photography here, on Storyteller, and at other places. Mostly, we’ve talked about the components of a particular picture. Just using the pictures from Super Sunday, let’s ask the question, whose art is it anyway? Using just the top picture, of Wildman John, whose art is it? To be sure, that pretty suit is his work. It came out of his head after referencing what he knows of history. But, by framing the picture in the way that I did, the photograph is my art. Besides, where else can you buy two beers for three dollars?


With the other pictures. Most of them are just seeing. Locating the subject within a particular scene. And, being a little patient. Or, by moving quickly. The baby was made by being patient and waiting for mama to turn in a certain way. Turkey Neck was made by seeing this guy standing there working his smart phone (what else?) and rushing to a point where I could line him up against the sign. Of course, these days I don’t rush anywhere very quickly. That might prove to be a good thing.

The rest of the pictures were made by my own stumbling around. Keep moving and you’re bound to see something. Dylan talks about some monstrous vision. Sure. I kind have it too when it comes to street events. Only for me, it’s simple. I want the participants to located in their neighborhoods. I want you to see them on their streets.  Even though I often make very tight portraits, those are a kind of desperation picture knowing that I haven’t made the pictures of my vision.

That’ll happen a lot. It’s the nature of the things. The beast. The game.

To be clear. That’s my vision. I don’t question anybody else’s dream. I’m not the arbiter of anything, except my own work.


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