Category Archives: Architecture

A.H. Scott: Blade of Power

Tony Ward early work composites grass blade

Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

Poetry by A.H. Scott, Copyright 2019

.

Blade of Power

.

Which is stronger?
Grass or is it concrete?
A blade of grass is stronger
Stronger not because of heft
But, because of its’ ability to adapt and transform itself
Survives and thrives in ways that are miraculous
It pushes through that hardened ground and strives towards the sun
Like a magnet it rises up, even when it seems it doesn’t have a chance
Human beings have the choice of form
Cold concrete for some
Transformative blade of grass for others
Never staying down under the weight of the hard times in life
The blade of grass pushes forward with tiny might
Little warrior is that blade of grass
Even when crushing concrete seems to be kicking its’ ass
Blade doesn’t give up
It waits in the cut
Wiggling its’ way through the fissures that cause small cracks
Sun is calling
Blade is answering the bell
Who knew something so small could be like Hercules
Look down at the sidewalk and remember what you see
Among the gray ground, green slivers break on through
We are the blades of grass
Believe you me
For the battle upward through the concrete is our trip to clarity
Be that blade of grass
Not broken by wind or rain
What seems crushed by concrete, is only taking a break to a revival
We are the blade of grass
Concrete may ignore us
But, we must hold fast
Sun’s rays are waving us towards the sky
Tiny miracles come in the blink of an eye
Blade of grass survives all the storms
This is what you and I are
And, for generations to come
.
About The Author: A.H. Scott is a poet based in New York City and frequent contributor to Tony Ward Studio. To read additional articles by A. H. Scott, go here: http://tonywarderotica.com/a-h-scott-yes-she-is/
 
Also posted in Affiliates, Art, Blog, Contemporary Architecture, Current Events, Environment, Friends of TWS, History, News, Popular Culture, Science, Travel, Women

Bob Shell: Why Radford?

.

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #35

.

Letters  by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

.

Photography by Anthony Colagreco, Copyright 2019

.

I have often been asked why I had my office/studio in Radford, VA, not exactly the center of culture..

In the mid 70s, after the near collapse of the US economy (caused by the infamous Arab oil embargo and other economic factors) wrecked my first camera shop, I worked for a year for Woolco Department Stores managing the camera department in one of their Roanoke stores. I didn’t like that job, because department managers didn’t really manage anything, and quit to take a job with Ritz camera in Blacksburg. When that didn’t work out (my selling style was to spend the time with the customer to find out what that person needed to buy to accomplish what they wanted to do, and sell them that. The regional manager said I was spending too much time with the customers!), I found myself working in the photo lab at Virginia Tech, where I’d gone to school. We developed and printed film shot by the two staff photographers, and when both of them were busy, I’d occasionally be asked to go out and shoot a “grip and grin” photo of the university President shaking hands with some visiting dignitary. But I wanted to be the photographer, not a lab rat in the basement, so after a year or so at this I left and took a job with Gentry Studio in Blacksburg. They were a combo of photo studio and camera shop, the perfect job for me.

I worked there for several years, honing my own photography skills in their studio after hours. I liked working there very much, but always had the itch to do my own thing. After all, even the best boss is still your boss, and I never liked working for other people. Gentry Studios had three locations, Salem, Blacksburg, and Radford, all long established. The owner decided to close the Radford studio, so I took the leap and took it over. I changed the sign to Shell Studio and expanded the camera shop portion. This, as I recall, was in 1980, and the rent on the large studio location was $ 300 a month! Amazing, eh? But at times I had trouble coming up with that money. I inherited the job of photographing the sororities at Radford University and some other school business, plus selling all the materials required for the photography courses. This, plus portraits and some commercial work kept me going for a while, but money was tight. To pick up some extra income I began writing for a relatively new photography publication initially called Shutterbug Ads, a buy-sell-swap newspaper for photographers. Initially there was not much editorial content, and that was often poor in quality, but the owner wanted to improve the quality and become more of a mainstream magazine. When I first wrote for them they were printed tabloid size on yellow paper, and writers were paid in copies.

Parallel to this I had started a photographic equipment import and distribution operation. I had almost accidentally stumbled upon Enna Werk, a small German optical company in Munich that had just lost its US distributor. So I began importing and wholesaling their products, primarily camera lenses, slide viewers, slide projectors, and the Ennascop opaque projectors. After a year I broadened my product lines to include Fisher tripods and video lights from Italy, COIL aspheric magnifiers from England, and Lamborghini camera bags and sunglasses. These additional product lines resulted from meeting people at photokina in 1980, which I also covered for Shutterbug. For ten years I ran this business in parallel to acting as Shutterbug’s Technical Editor. By 1990 it had become just too much to do all of this, so I sold the import/distribution business. Shutterbug had by then transitioned to being a real magazine with ever-growing subscription list, distribution to booksellers, grocery stores, Wal-Mart, etc., and they offered me the job as Editor at a payment rate I could live on. As I have said before, though, I was never an employee of Shutterbug. I contracted to supply editorial services at a fixed monthly rate. This allowed me the freedom to set my own office hours, stay away from office politics, and take on noncompeting projects, like writing books. By the late 80s I was writing several books a year as well as writing for Photo Industry Reporter and some other noncompeting publications. Since I could do my work from anywhere, I stayed on in the Radford studio location, at 202 Third Avenue, right in downtown Radford. I probably would have stayed there indefinitely, but the roof leaked and the landlord refused to fix it. After two studio floods my insurance company said they would not pay for any more water damage, so I was forced to move. Luckily a great location became available, a former pharmacy measuring about 35 X 80 feet at 239 West Main Street, just a short distance from the police department. I kept my studio there from 1992 until 2007, fifteen years. So I had studios in Radford, on major commercial streets, for 20+ years, but when the police came to my studio after Marion’s death the detectives said they didn’t know I was in town! Some detecting!!

I wanted a big studio space, and the new location was ideal, since I had begun conducting studio workshops for groups of photographers. The monthly rent there started at $ 500 a month, and by 2007 had only gone up to $ 525! And that included a reserved parking space right by the back door. The rent also included heat in the winter. Amazing, and one of the main reasons I stayed in Radford all those years.

Anyway, that’s the story of why I was in Radford, somewhat abridged. I’d probably still be there, doing my photography, writing for books, magazines and websites, and generally enjoying life if the police hadn’t foolishly blamed me for Marion’s death. Their simple-minded nonsense destroyed me at the peak of my career. The plain fact, never disputed by anyone, is that I was not even there when Marion overdosed. When I found her unconscious, I immediately called 911 and did everything in my power to help her.

The real reason the Radford police, prosecutors, and court felt they had to destroy me was that some of my photography was frankly erotic (many Americans are terrified of open sexuality), and at the time of Marion’s death we were working on a book of erotica for a German publisher. The book was ultimately published as Erotic Bondage: Art of Rope by Goliath, first in their MixOfPix series. There is nothing pornographic about this book; no penetration, the photos are no more revealing than Playboy and far less revealing than Penthouse. We even Photoshopped some photos because we wanted to sell the book in most countries of the world, and put the text in English, German, French, and Spanish, for that reason as well. The book was published under my pseudonym Edward Lee, a pseudonym I’d used often since at least1993 (I don’t really remember when I first used it; it’s actually my two middle names. Over the course of my career I’ve used a number of pseudonyms for a variety of reasons. Many writers have done so. My friend Don Sutherland used something like 16 or 17 different pseudonyms.)

At my trial the prosecutor waved a copy of the book around at every opportunity, shoving it at my witnesses’ faces – “Have you seen THIS?”. He always seemed surprised when they answered, “Yes, Bob gave me a copy.” He was offended that they weren’t offended! None of my friends and former models found the book objectionable.

I just managed to keep my business going doing the 4+ years I was out on bail awaiting trial. I wrote four books, numerous magazine articles, held workshops, had a gallery show of my photographs in Chicago (but couldn’t go to it!), did my own photography, and generally tried to live a normal life during that time. But the prosecution was determined to convict me, and used false evidence and practically every other dirty trick in the book to. convince the jury that I was a scumbag who regularly drugged and raped my models, even though they couldn’t locate a single former model with anything negative to say about me. Not a one! And they looked for more than four years. As a lawyer I know said, if that had been true, surely someone would have come forward.

I’m almost tired of repeating that I am a totally innocent man destroyed by a corrupt political system because I dared to be different. They sentenced me to 32 1/2 years, when the Virginia sentencing guidelines recommended a maximum sentence of three years! The Virginia Dept. of Corrections classifies me as a “numerical lifer,” which means that even though I don’t have a life sentence I’m unlikely to live long enough to get out. That’s really depressing!

.

About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348.  Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: http://tonyward.com/bob-shell-wherefore-blog/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, Photography, Popular Culture, Travel

Ed Simmons: Venice Beach Trashed

.

 

.
Photography and Text by Ed Simmons, Copyright 2018

.

VENICE BEACH TRASHED

.

OK, like the way most things go in Venice, we should hope too that this is transitory. God only knows it ain’t normal this blight. Walk out onto the sand, step in someone’s shit, maybe get stuck by a syringe flung out from someone’s tent.  This group shows literally no respect. For half a century I’ve floated in and out of  Venice Beach, California.  LA’s ghetto on the sand. I’ve watched  it change. Every time it seems when an uproar over one group is raised and the group gets run out, something worse always fills the vacuum.  What i’m seeing today, for tomorrow is scary.

House keeping on the sand.  Yeah, thats right. Weekly maid service for the homeless. What happens each Friday, people camped out on the sand, camped out on most all the side alleys connecting the Speedway to the Ocean Front Walk.  They gather up whatever belongings they wish to keep, then move it up and out of the way, while waiting for the mess they don’t want to be taken away.  So, I wonder whether this “Every Friday Morning Venice Beach Cleanup Routine” might just be feeding a vicious cycle of co-dependency.  These kooks, not cleaning up their own mess, leaving their trash all over the side streets and sand, should be fined handsomely, then run out of town. 

Certainly what we’re seeing here is a public health problem. However, I’m guessing some of this situation could get resolved soon.  After years of blocking chainstores from occupying any boardwalk storefront space, Starbucks is helping out by contributing some decent restroom facilities.  Lord knows, the public bathrooms haven’t been able to handle the homeless load.

In other news, Snapchat employees moved in to town.  The rents went up and the price for a regular cup of coffee went up too. I recently went with a friend for some lunch. New management at an old spot set in. We ordered a couple chicken enchalada’s, each with rice and beans, no chips, no salsa, no service, no cheese, $26 bucks, yes,… $26.00 bucks! I said no cheese on the beans! With Snap Inc. grabbing up all the space on market street, acquiring so many of the storefronts/properties along the boardwalk, prices for everything, everywhere across town now seem to be double what they used to be! They ran the artists out. A  few were able to find other spaces, but Market Street was gutted, for years this Venice Street was filled with studios and galleries. Well that ended quick. Snapchat has decided maybe it be better now to move their urban campus to the Santa Monica Airport. It goes without saying things are really hurting here in this little gem of a beach town. I’m praying for life to get better, not continuing to get worse.

Ya really gotta watch your bike in Venice Beach.  Seems a lot of wrenching goes on down by the Ocean Front Walk. One could lose a wheel or a seat as fast as a blink of an eye. Early in the morning, right after the first of the month, out on the boardwalk riding, you see signs that people out here been spinning in circles all night, all sprung, so much random stuff flung everywhere. Its sad. Seems anymore all of this is just accepted as normal. ITS NOT!

 Please don’t let me be misunderstood.  I’ve at times come back to Venice homeless too.  Almost anyone can be chopped off at the knees. The Venice Beach community has always had compassion for the down and out. A diverse community of locals, some of whom I’ve known near 40 years in Dogtown  all have a home. I know this guy, this old friend is a savant. I was hanging with him just the other day. We were talking about all this mess left out all around his home. You don’t see any tents pitched anywhere near his spot. His oasis. He keeps it clean. So we were talking, I told him my birthday was coming up in a few days. That I was turning 66. He said “your a Dragon”. I said yes, a Water Dragon. His eyes lit up.  He said “interesting you know that, I  then said my Mother was an Earth Dragon”. Then we started talking about the order of elements in the  Chinese Astrological Chart and how it represented a cyclical world, then “The Boy” took off on an oratory  of both Chinese Astrology, the Zodiac,  then finished up with a Miles Davis primer.  That old friend I admire. He ain’t letting go of his Venice Beach.  Much respect for him! 

.

http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/ed-simmons-jay-adams-local-hero/

Ed Simmons: Self Portrait. Copyright 2018

About The Author: Ed Simmons is a documentary photographer and assistant to Tony Ward, based in Los Angeles, California. To access additional articles by Ed Simmons, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/ed-simmons-jay-adams-local-hero/

Also posted in Affiliates, Announcements, Blog, Cameras, Current Events, Documentary, Engineering, Environment, Friends of TWS, Health Care, History, Men, News, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Travel

Bob Shell: Stone Walls Do Not a Prison Make

 

 

 Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #27

.

Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

.

Photography by Julie Chu, Aja Butane, Katherine Jania & Zoe, Copyright 2018

.

Stone walls do not a prison make,

Nor iron bars a cage.

We’ve all heard that old saying, but where does it come from? It’s the beginning of the last stanza of the poem “To Althea, from Prison” written in 1642 by Richard Lovelace, while imprisoned in Gatehouse Prison. His crime? He had petitioned to have the 1640 Clergy Act annulled. Today, no one knows for certain who Althea was, or if she was even real, but she lives on in that romantic poem. BTW, the full stanza goes:

Stone walls do not a prison make,

Nor iron bars a cage;

Minds innocent and quiet take

That for an hermitage;

If I have freedom in my love

And in my soul am free,

Angels alone, that soar above,

Enjoy such liberty.

If you want to read the whole poem, it’s on Wikipedia. Someone set the lyrics to music, and Dave Swarbrick does an excellent version on Fairport Convention’s album Nine. I was fortunate enough to be photographing Dave on stage during my music photographer days and lost all interest in photography when he launched into the fiddle intro to Althea (I say fiddle, but I believe Dave was playing a viola that night). I learned years later that Dave was struggling with hearing loss, probably from all those years on stage in front of giant amplifiers. I’m partially deaf today in my right ear, the one that was usually toward the amps when I was on stage right. Fairport was opening for Traffic on that early 70s tour, and, for my money put on a better show.

But back to poor Richard pining for Althea through his bars. Let me tell you something, Richard. Stone walls (or concrete today) do a pretty damned effective prison make!

Modern prisons are modular structures made of interlocking precast concrete slabs. The slabs are lifted into place with cranes during construction. You may find signs that the slabs were lying flat at one time in the form of muddy boot prints going across walls that no one bothered to clean off. These “build a prison kits” go together quickly, almost like building with Lego blocks. Once finished they generally are T-shaped buildings, with each arm of the T being a “pod” with cells on three sides, plus showers, and a flat concrete floor with stainless steel tables with attached seats anchored to the floor. Cells generally are about 8 x 12 feet on the inside with the door on one of the 8 foot walls and a small window on the other. Except that the designers of the prison I’m in right now decided to omit the windows. Inside each cell are two bunks attached to the walls, a very small table attached to a wall with one or two seats, also attached to the wall, and a one-piece stainless steel sink/toilet, also attached to a wall. Nothing movable! I’ve been in four different Virginia prisons in the last ten years, and they’re pretty much the same with minor variations. Storage space for personal belongings in cells is very limited, usually an under-bed locker, either welded to the bottom bunk or sliding on the floor so it can be pushed under the bottom bunk. Speaking of bunks, they’re steel slabs. We are given “mattresses” for comfort, two-inch thick foam pads that are more like yoga mats than real mattresses. I used to have a “medical mattress” prescribed by a DOC doctor, but the DOC eliminated them several years ago. It was about six inches thick and very comfortable. I guess they don’t want us to be comfortable. I’m certainly not. I’m writing this at four in the morning, unable to sleep, an all too common problem here. For towels or whatever there are two “hooks” on one wall. These are straight metal rods about three inches long with a ball on the end that fits into a socket attached to the wall. The ball is a friction fit into the socket, so if you put too much weight on it, it collapses. Why? “We don’t want no hangings.”

I really don’t understand what anyone thinks they’re accomplishing by warehousing people this way. They no longer call these places prisons. Now they’re “Correctional Centers.”. I guess the word “prison” has become non-PC. But I can tell you from personal experience that damn little correction takes place. Oh, they have programs and classes, they will tell you. I’ve “been down” ten years as of last September and have yet to be offered a seat in one of those programs or classes. I’ve certainly not been rehabilitated! Nor did I need to be. I was doing just fine, making a good living from photography and writing, and at the peak of my career. And the state brought my whole life crashing down over events that never even happened except in the imagination of an incompetent quack of a medical examiner. I’ve posted details at www.bobshelltruth.com under News Updates.

.

About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348.  Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click herehttp://tonyward.com/bob-shell-whats-wrong-with-the-american-justice-system/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Art, Blog, Cameras, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, History, Men, News, Politics, Popular Culture, Science, Still Life

Robert Asman: Sacred But Not Profound

.

 

 

Photography and Text by Robert Asman, Copyright 2018

.

SACRED BUT NOT PROFOUND

.

While photographing on the streets, I am constantly aware of what a powerful sacred purpose of historical consequence our city Philadelphia hosts.  In the past, I was trying to capture people, places, and things that grasped my curiosity and maybe contained an iota of profundity or gravitas. I also felt at times that the street was more of a studio than my real indoor studio, but definitely a special place with so much contemporary history ubiquitously piled on the old.  My concern with this work was to see what a scene would look and feel like photographed on black and white film and made into a silver print which would often have a humorous, sad, or poignant depth, structure, and surface.  Similarly, the finishing drama of the nude is played out in the darkroom in conjunction with solitude and the transcendent chemistry, physics, light, and silver. Just a simple act of birthing, not unlike the street photograph or landscape discovery making this work and process visual and experiential poetry without the struggle for words and narrative algorithms.

I recall back in pre-2000 my assignment was going to be photographing the city for a decade on larger format film (2.25″x”3.25) to capture the visual feel of the city in the new millennia.  I wasn’t quite sure how I would print them or what they would look like so I let history play out, and then it presented itself like a meteorite explosion.  The 9/11 Tragedy which was reaking of incredulity, surrealism, pain, disbelief, and sadness changed my entire conception of  what the world could be.  That event also dramatically changed my perceptions of the future as well as history.  At the time Lil’ Bush was appointed President.  Of course Lil’ Bush was moved out of the way except for ceremonial functions and the neocons took over our military and banking systems and we have had War ever since in the Mid East of all places.  Another consequence of the Wars to the nation was further social segregation and polarization of the classes with the “haves” reaping huge proportions of the wealth in garish displays of tastelessness while the poor got poorer.  This dynamic has lasted until today…endless wars, economic crashes, and garish wealth transfers and Donald Trump, a pitiful TV actor, is being made  the symbol for it.  That being the reality, the prints I made were very heavy and brooding.  The images (silver toned prints) were embedded in a warm matte Agfa Portriga paper that were selenium toned and bleached before being soaked in tea to give it an ambiance of yellow haze and a heavy sorrow.  The entire body of work is much about our present and history using the City of  Philadelphia as a metaphorical dramatic stage set for the plight of our nation’s  future.

“There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged war.”

Sun Tzu

.

About The Author: For most of the last thirty-five years, Robert Asman has been devoted to investigating and stretching the conceptual and technical boundaries of silver prints.  As an alchemist of the dark room, Asman’s creations come to form in the darkroom through the boundless manipulation of paper negatives and chemicals.  His explorations and technique bind human form, urbanism and nature.  Asman approaches art making as a transformative process, in which he mines the physical properties of his materials to create a work on paper in which process and image are one.

.

To see additional photography by Robert Asman, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/gallery/robert-asman-the-alchemist/

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, Cameras, Documentary, Environment, Film, Friends of TWS, Men, News, Photography, Popular Culture