Category Archives: Men

Bob Shell: Stone Walls Do Not a Prison Make

 

 

 Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #27

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

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

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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.

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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, Architecture, Art, Blog, Cameras, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, History, News, Politics, Popular Culture, Science, Still Life

Ed Simmons: Jay Adams Local Hero

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Photography and Text by Ed Simmons, Copyright 2018
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JAY ADAMS LOCAL HERO
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This town, “Venice_90291”, is a tolerant town, a town that gives you room to grow.  I made my way to Venice, California for the first time in 1968.  Throughout the years I’ve gotten to know so many interesting people. At Jay Adams memorial service, what was so surprising, but really not, was that all of these old friends of mine, knew all these other old friends of mine. There I was back hanging with all these people, with all my old friends again, at a somber time. Ya know I ain’t seen most of these people in years, all these people here hanging for Jay at the Venice Pier.
 
I didn’t know Jay. Certainly knew of him, frankly: maybe just a little scared of him. Ya see, this guy Jay Adams was not some “Weeping Judge” kind of Local Hero, a man made from privilege, a man fed from a silver spoon,  oh no these streets of Venice were hard.  Jay stood up, yeah the man made mistakes, but just like a fine wine, he got better with time and age!
“PRAY FOR WAVES” I heard from his homies, hanging on a Mexican Beach was how he started his day.
 
A prayer, some waves, good food with close friends, then some rest. God Bless You Jay Adams. REST IN PEACE.
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Tony_Ward-Studio_Ed_Simmons_Venice_Beach_Jay_Adams

Jay Adams Local Hero

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Portrait of Ed Simmons by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

Portrait of Ed Simmons by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

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About The Author: Ed Simmons is a documentary photographer and assistant to Tony Ward, based in Los Angeles, California. 

Also posted in Affiliates, Art, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Friends of TWS, History, News, Photography, Popular Culture, Travel

Robert Asman: Sacred But Not Profound

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Photography and Text by Robert Asman, Copyright 2018

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SACRED BUT NOT PROFOUND

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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

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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.

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

 

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

About: TonyWard.com

Self-Portrait With Katie. Copyright 2018

Self-Portrait With Katie. Copyright 2018

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Tony Ward Ward began his professional career in 1980 as a corporate photographer for the pharmaceutical giant, Smithkline Corporation. After several years of working in the department of corporate communications for Smithkline, he opened the Tony Ward Studio in 1984, to service a variety of Fortune 500 companies and smaller business entities.

In 1998, TW achieved global notoriety for his first published book on erotic photography, the controversial and highly praised OBSESSIONS. The monograph was followed by four more challenging, innovative and critically acclaimed volumes on eroticism and photography at the turn of the century. Scholars that specialize in the history and aesthetics of photography such as A.D. Coleman, Rick Wester and Reinhold Misselbeck have written illuminating essays that accompanied the artist published works.

Ward’s  photographs have been widely collected, exhibited and syndicated around the world. His unending quest for inspiring subjects, and new projects compels him to divide his creative time between diverse cosmopolitan centers, including: New York, Los Angeles, Miami, London, Paris, Hamburg/Berlin and his beloved Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Tony Ward has been teaching Photography courses at the University of Pennsylvania since the Fall of 2010, and has published the work of his students in the blog section. The daily blog features articles by Tony Ward and guest contributors who are invited to write on a variety of topics including; Art, Architecture, Photography, Fashion,  Erotica, Politics, Science, Travel and Current Events.

Tony Ward’s online Store is currently open. To access the Store, click herehttp://tonyward.com/shopping-cart/

Also posted in Announcements, Art, Blog, Cameras, Current Events, Documentary, Erotica, Exhibitions, Fashion, Friends of TWS, Popular Culture, UPenn

Paul Manafort: Guilty

Artwork by Thomcat23 for Tony Ward Studio, Copyright 2018. Paul Manafort: Guilty

Artwork by Thomcat23 for Tony Ward Studio, Copyright 2018.

 

Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

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Artwork by Thomcat 23, Copyright 2018

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Paul Manafort’s plea agreement filed on September 14, 2018 came as a surprise to some, but not by any of the folks that have been following this shady character since he entered the political arena as a “non-paid” campaign manager during  45’s rise to power.  Let’s not forget, 45 assured the American public that he would only hire the best and the brightest.  So far he has delivered on finding the best criminal minds he could find. 

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PLEA AGREEMENT

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To see more political artwork by Thomcat 23, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/a-h-scott-by-george-hes-got-it/

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, Current Events, Friends of TWS, History, News, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Portraiture