Milan Burnett: A Gift From The Universe


Text by Milan Burnett, Copyright 2022

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Photographs by Tony Ward.  All Rights Reserved.

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A Gift From The Universe

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As a spiritualist, I am not someone who necessarily believes in coincidences. Every person we interact with, major event, or circumstance finds its way into our lives for a reason, whether we understand that reasoning at the time, or not. Throughout my childhood, my mother struggled to keep a roof over our heads, causing us to relocate often, sometimes multiple times in a year. At the time, I deemed the instability and hardship as a misfortune, but I always had a knack for making friends and adapting to new environments with ease. Being exposed to all cultures and walks of life made it easy for me to understand others. I could relate to anybody in a room full of strangers. People have always naturally gravitated towards me, which I assumed to be simply because I was a nice person. Little did I know, the universe was only setting the stage for a greater purpose much larger than my circumstances, destined to be fulfilled.

It wasn’t until within the last couple of years that I realized why the Universe has put me on the journey I’ve experienced so far. My humanitarian nature of giving back and helping others has gradually intertwined itself with my spiritual practices, and my love for the psychology of humans. This, along with being easily relatable, has allowed me to explore and expand on my purpose of healing others around me. Whether it be through my tarot reading, spiritual guidance, or simple positive reinforcement, inner healing and balance is extremely important in the midst of this chaotic 3D reality. No amount of value could ever be placed on the genuine satisfaction it gives me to be able to guide others in their healing to become a better version of themselves. Past experiences I once saw as a burden, I now consider a blessing in disguise. A gift from the universe, if you will. A gift that has molded me into someone who is compassionate, empathetic, logical and raw, wrapped in high frequency vibrations meant to enlighten those I encounter.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR : Milan is originally from New York, now residing in Philadelphia. Aspiring model and real estate broker. Free thinker. Humanitarian by nature. Spiritual revolutionary in the making. To access previous articles by Milan Burnett, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/i-am_that_i_am/

Bob Shell: Gun Control

Angry woman carrying large pistol with black leather boots
Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2022

Text by Bob Shell,  Copyright 2022

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Gun Control: My Personal Experience

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Now that everyone is talking about guns and gun control, I figured ‘What the hell, I’ll throw out my thoughts and see what happens.’
I’ve lost my gun rights once, got them back, then lost them again. I lost them the first time in 1969 when I was convicted of possession of marijuana, a felony at that time carrying a possible thirty year sentence. I got ‘lucky’ and only got three years, suspended. I later petitioned the Governor of Virginia and had all of my rights restored.

Segue to 2007, when I was convicted of the charges that put me where I am now, when I lost my gun rights all over again.  My first question in 1969 and again now is this, how can a state take away a constitutionally guaranteed right? I did not believe the State of Virginia had that right then, and I continue to believe that today. States simply have no right to infringe on any federal constitutional right. Why the US Supreme Court has never categorically stated that is a mystery to me.

That being said, I have owned only three guns in my life, a single-shot bolt-action .22 Remington rifle, a single-shot breach loaded .410 shotgun (I don’t remember the maker), and a semiautomatic 9 mm Beretta pistol. The rifle was a gift from my father at around age 16. We used to go squirrel hunting together, but mostly we did target shooting. He was a deadeye shot with no scope, and could knock a squirrel I could barely see out of a tree, something he said he learned in the army.

My grandfather gave me the shotgun, that he used to use for dove hunting, until he decided a Methodist minister shouldn’t hunt. All I ever shot with it were tossed tin cans, which I hit most of the time.  I only fired the pistol, another gift from my father, a few times at targets. I did pretty well with it, but short barreled pistols tend to not be very accurate.

The first guns I’m aware of that could be fired relatively quickly without reloading were the ‘pepperbox’ pistols, that had multiple barrels on a manually rotated turret. I am not a firearm historian, so bear with me if my history is pretty general. The Bob Shell who writes the gun books you see on Amazon, etc., is someone else.  I believe the first real fully automatic rifle was the Gatling Gun, which had multiple rotating barrels automatically reloaded from a magazine. Gatlings were used in the American ‘Civil War,’ but were very big and heavy and mounted on a carriage that could not be repositioned quickly.  Modern Gatling Guns are like the one you see Jesse Ventura using in the movie ‘Predator’. Having multiple barrels keeps them from overheating and damaging themselves. Do I believe anyone with the money should be able to buy a modern Gatling? No, I do not.

I’m more conflicted about modern ‘assault rifles,’ which are descended from the automatic military rifles for which Adolf Hitler coined the term ‘Sturmgewehr’ — ‘storm weapon.’  The first other iteration was the Russian AK-47, named for Antonin Kalashnikov, its designer. Americans countered with the AR-15, used by American troops in Vietnam.
I believe there are rational reasons for keeping some military weapons out of the hands of those who might misuse them.

But, wait a minute. Isn’t the purpose of the Second Amendment to arm the populace and prevent an overreaching government from holding power over us? Yes, it is, and I’m conflicted.

Look at Ukraine, where poorly armed civilians have gone up against Russian soldiers equipped with modern weapons of war to defend their freedom. What if Russia, or some other autocracy tried to overrun and subdue the USA, or our own government ran amok? If the citizenry had only guns like I had, they’d stand no chance.

So what is the solution to gun violence, or is there one? Gun massacres have occurred in countries with strict gun control. Make guns illegal, and only the criminals will have them.  I offer no solution to the problem, just hope to stimulate some thought about a difficult, polarizing problem to which neither side seems to have any answers.
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 About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author, former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine and veteran contributor to this blog. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 13th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read additional articles by Bob Shell, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/virginia-enters-the-dark-ages/

 

Berrisford Boothe: Selected Works

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Berrisford Boothe: Selected Works

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An Artist on Top of His Game

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Berrisford Boothe is a former professor of art at Lehigh University, and a visual artist with a 30-year practicing and exhibiting presence in the Northeast regional, national and international art scene. Painting is his passion. Boothe has amassed fifteen career solo exhibitions and participated in more than 70 group exhibitions. As a printmaker he has had residencies at The Fabric Workshop and Museum, The Brandywine Print Workshop, Pondside Press, St. Barnabas Press, The Print Studio, Cambridge, U.K., and The London Print Studio, U.K. He continues his active practice and exhibits his work nationwide and internationally. 

His works are part of several collections private and public in the U.S., South America and the U.K.  Most recently works have been added to The Pennsylvania Convention Centers permanent collection, and the David C.  Driskell Center in Maryland. Boothe’s works have been featured in seminal exhibitions such as ‘In Search of the Missing Masters: The Lewis Tanner Moore Collection of African American Art’ at The Woodmere Art Museum, ‘Afrocosmologies: American Reflections’ at The Wadsworth Atheneum and the African American Museum in Philadelphia, PA

Beginning in 2012 through 2020, he was the founding and Principal Curator for The Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art, collecting over 430 works of African American art. Among other exhibitions during that time, he curated the Portland Art Museum’s  2017 exhibition, ‘Constructing Identity’ and was an essential presence in producing the seminal 2019-20 Wadsworth Atheneum exhibition, ‘Afrocosmologies: American Visions.’ 

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Portrait of the artist Berrisford Booth at an installation of his paintings
Berrisford Boothe

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Editors Note: This is Berrisford Boothe’s first contribution to Tony Ward Studio. To purchase or inquire about work exhibited here contact:bwb0@lehigh.edu

Amanda Stevenson: The Creative Process

 

Text by Amanda Stevenson, Copyright 2022

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The Creative Process

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Is that a painting? No, it is a photograph. This is the question I have heard during my entire 35yr. photography career. Now in 2022, I only have clients I choose that give me full creative freedom.

Let’s start from the beginning. I am an artist, I do not think linearly, my mind works in an abstract way. I sees in colors and shapes not beginning to end. I was fortunate to have a fashion model as a mother so I was influenced by a creative field that could bring home the bacon and still be creative.

The creative side: I am fulfilled when I can explore the unknown and respond to the situation (did I just write my true self realized). It is like a puzzle. How can I create a photograph with a set, models, products, weather conditions, clients requests, egos, budgets and deadlines. This may not appear to be a creative process. As I write it, does seem more like a business negotiation. It is artistic, because we are in the moment creating and everything is evolving. I can create a photo set up in my controlled studio. Take notes, calculate the light and can document every angle and the next day it is different. I can’t explain it but it is never exactly the same. It is the unknown element. Maybe it’s the weather, the position of the moon, maybe it is everyone’s mood, maybe a bad hair day or the chemistry of the people I are working with.

Life is always shifting. Maybe it is just a new day and a different perspective. The plus side is that when I work with a creative team and creative directors, it evolves and we find our voice together. It may not be like the original layout but it’s better because it is ours as a team.

My Advice: In the beginning I tried to produce/create what I thought my clients wanted like a spread sheet. But the truth was they didn’t really know, they are looking for my inspiration. It is a creative process. Who knows what can happen. Create what you see and feel and you will be rewarded by using your own vision and delivering above exceptions.

What does this have to do with art and photography. Stay true to your self, take risks, stay in your power. Enjoy and respect your creative process. 

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About The Author: Amanda Stevenson is a professional photographer having over 25 years of experience. Amanda uses her diligent nature and artistic vision to collaborate with her clients to display the still and video imagery in various publications and exhibitions around the world. To learn more about Amanda Stevenson photographic services, click herehttps://amandastevensonphoto.com

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Portraits of Amanda Stevenson by Tony Ward. Creative Direction by KVaughn. Photographers assistant, Anthony Colagreco.  Copyright 2022.

Mikel Elam: Diverse Works of Art

Painting by Mikel Elam, three figures
Artwork by Mikel Elam, Copyright 2022

Text and Artwork by Mikel Elam, Copyright 2022

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Diverse Works of Art

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Can diverse works of art be understood by people who have little to no understanding of its origins? This is an ongoing conversation I am having with my daughter. Similar to the conversations I have had with her about abstraction versus representational art .

We meaning all of us has grown up in a culture dominated by all things white. We know Marilyn Monroe to be the most beautiful on film and the all American suburban story . The great men in political history was George Washington and Abraham Lincoln . Great women in society might be Eleanor Rosevelt or Jackie Kennedy .  For the non white people these images were always iconic .  Art reproduced these ideals .

When African Art was discovered and placed it was the mysterious other,  until artists like Picasso and Brancusi came along.  Other’s took the elements and made it theirs too. Will we ever see the day when art from people of color will be considered a part of mainstream society? Instead of just being the other. 

At the moment it’s a novelty.  A trend. It’s been a novelty and trend before . It’s 2022 . Our world is a melting pot whether you like it or not . It should include all of the varying cultures just as much as the necessity to be bilingual in language. The world is constantly evolving. We must be able to communicate and navigate our ways through varying cultures. Let’s catch up. The sooner the better.

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About The Artist: Mikel Elam was born in Philadelphia. He attended the University of the Arts receiving his BFA in painting. He also attended the School of the Visual Arts in New York. He has been showing his paintings in numerous gallery spaces nationally and internationally for the last 25 years. Mikel is currently an artist in residence at the Fitler Club in Philadelphia.

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To see more of Mikel Elam’s artwork, link here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/trauma/