Category Archives: Current Events

Linda Ruan: 10 Questions

 

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TW: Let’s start with your acceptance to PAFA. How did you feel when you heard the news of acceptance to MFA program?

LR:  It was only a month between my submission to PAFA and my acceptance into PAFA. I was excited because it would be my first time going to a fine arts academy to pursue a fine arts degree. My four-year liberal arts experience was more on the theoretical side. PAFA seems to be a better place for me to do something more practical. I went to the open house last fall and immediately fell in love with the facilities inside and decided to apply there: a rooftop terrace that holds the best part of the city, spacious private studio space, skylit painting studios and etc. The location is also a plus. Located in center Philly makes everything more accessible. More opportunities to go to gallery openings and to meet more people in the art circle. Hope I could walk outside my comfort zone and experiment with more mediums during my next two years there. Looking forward to the new semester.

TW: You spent part of the summer visiting friends and family in Shanghai. What is it like in China these days with the tariff wars seemingly going on with out an end in sight.  Are the American tariff’s having an impact on daily life in Shanghai and more generally through out China? 

LR: I am not really into politics, so I don’t have much to say for this question. But my friends talk about it, only talk about it because there isn’t much that they could do. I remember the day my friend circle all came out and cried when 1 USD converts to 7 CNY. The currency rate is going insane. It is now up to 7.16 CNY. The rate might be a real problem to those studying abroad because it means that they need to pay more for their high tuition. Other than that, I think people just live their normal life and are not really affected by the tariff. Well, I still need to say that I am not a political person. So my words really don’t count towards this one.

TW: So you’ve clearly drawn a distinction between your art and politics.  Tell me what draws you to make Art. What is its purpose if it’s not political?

LR: I don’t think art should always be political. My painting professor Ying Li at Haverford College was the one who inspired and encouraged me to do art. She always says to me: “just paint what you see and the more you paint the more clearly you will see the object”. Landscape, cityscape, and still life are my current main interests in painting. I am interested in exploring how forms, structures, and colors impact the way I see and make a painting. One of my favorite artists is Joan Mitchell whose work focuses on abstract forms and colors.

TW: You coined the phrase Imitation Kills.  What does the term mean to you and do you apply the concept in life in some way?

LR: I used that phrase for my social platforms. Nowadays people just imitate each other, from clothing style to art style. Influencers post outfits on Instagram and followers go after them. Originality is lost or is diminishing. People are doing similar stuff. I don’t think that’s a good thing, especially in the field of art because we are different individuals and we need to use our own way to prove that we are unique, even if one’s art style has not been widely accepted.

TW: Your current series of paintings featured at the senior exhibit at Haverford College this past Spring revealed a focus on abstraction with an effusive application of paint and vigorous brush work. How do you anticipate your work evolving in the next two years at PAFA?

LR: I look forward to trying something different at PAFA so I couldn’t answer how I would anticipate my work to be. Let this be an open question and we shall see.

TW:  You have a love for fashion that is often reflected in your affection for oversized clothing as part of your day to day style.  In this series of pictures another side of your persona is revealed in your choice of  bathing suit for a series of pictures taken at the Oceana Casino & Resort in Atlantic City.  Tell us about the black two piece you brought back from Shanghai on your recent trip. What is your impression of the Jersey Shore?

LR: I bought the bathing suits from a Chinese lingerie brand named NEIWAI. The brand features intimates for petite sizes. Their design is simple but also sexy in a subdued way. I think that impression is similar to my day to day style. They don’t have too many options in bathing suits, so I just bought the piece that I think might fit me the best in size. I chose black because that has always been my top color. The leather jacket is from All Saints. I feel more comfortable covering more of my body. Speaking of the Jersey Shore, I mean, who doesn’t like the beach? It’s a perfect getaway from busy city life. I like the architecture of the Oceana. The design is quite modern and the curves on the exterior are totally on point. Shoutout to Tony who picked this place to shoot. The surrounding fits the outfit perfectly.

TW: The Chinese government has blocked access to Google, Facebook, Youtube, and other mass global communication platforms on the internet.  What do you think the reason for that is?

LR: I think the voices on these social platforms are different, especially when the problem goes to politics. However, I am not saying that one voice is better than the other. It’s just that politics has always been a complicated thing. Our minds could be easily influenced by words spreading on these platforms. The government is just trying their best to eliminate the unnecessary issues that might arise.

TW: Are artists based in China heavily censored by the government as to what they can express in a work of Art?

LR: I am not familiar with the art circle in China because I spend most of my time here in the States. But I think we can do whatever we want unless we create and show art that has strong politically sensitive subjects. Other than that, I believe that artists based in China have enough freedom.

TW: With the exception of Al Weiwei are there other leading artists from China having an impact on the global stage that inspire you to make Art?

LR: I am thinking about adding more Chinese elements in my paintings. My two favorite Chinese artists are Cai Guo-Qiang and Xu Bing. They are both creative in their way of making art and are also the ones who incorporate Chinese materials and culture in their work.

TW:  What are your goals in the next 5 years?

Haven’t planned that far. I hope to have a solo opening after graduating from PAFA. So I guess I will keep painting. I am thinking about going back to Shanghai to spend more time with my family after graduation. It just has been a while since I first came here.

Editor’s Note: Linda Ruan is a recent graduate of Bryn Mawr College with a concentration on painting and art history. She recently enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts program at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia.

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Katie Kerl: Dream Changing

Dream Catching

 

Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2019

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DREAM CATCHING

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When you mention Robert Li’s name around Philadelphia there are very few people who have not come into contact with him. I’ve known Rob for the better part of a decade. have to say he’s one of the most positive friends I have. 

He’s always into something different and exciting. His calendar of events is a tuff one to keep up with. Rob has appeared on many local news stations showing off his unique hobbies

We met in 2011 through music and a love of costume parties. Anything silly that was an excuse to dress up and dance the night away just being yourself. 

We lost touch here and there through the years. I ran into Rob last fall walking down the street in Old City, Philadelphia. He let me know he was starting his own active wear line. Knowing Rob I was not surprised at all. He is a go getter; cheer coach, acro teacher, #ridetherob challenge, and is always at every major event the city has to offer. 

He had invited me to try acro a few times in the past. I declined many times being I have a full metal forearm. Rob always tried to get me to overcome that, but it was one heavy mental block at the time. 

When his line was sample ready; I stopped by to try some of it on. I have to say I do not spend $100 on leggings to work out at home EVER, but these were worth every penny.  I actually ended up buying two pairs!! You can wear them from fitness class long into the night being so versatile. One pair is a black V waist leather look, with ribbed accents going down the sides. They are perfect for giving you the illusion of a waist line. The second pair is reversible, black with a pretty white tree design, and red solid opposite side. They stayed in place perfectly. Not having to constantly pull them up with no hips was amazing. Also, no horrid camel toe like with cheaply made leggings!

After a try on session with a bit of acro on Rob’s roof top; he finally convinced me to come to an acro class! I was a bit nervous when arriving being it was an intermediate class, but everyone was super nice. I picked it up as well as a first timer could. It brought me back to my own cheerleading/ gymnastics days at 35. Another sentence I never thought I’d be typing this late in life. I will absolutely find the time to fit that into my schedule more now. Overcoming my horrible mental block was the best part of it all, and in my new Active Elixir leggings, thanks to Rob.

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Acro Yoga Class

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After checking this all out, I asked Rob to write his own piece because he seemed so happy with his career change. I want people to know about his line, everything he is into, inspirations, difficulties he has overcome, and where you can check him out through the week!

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Find Rob Dream Catching 

One Active Elixir Flyer at a time! 

Link to Rob Li’s article written exclusively for TWShttps://tonywardstudio.com/blog/robert-li-acro-yoga/

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Katie Kerl wearing Robert Li’s acro leggings.

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Katie Kerl was raised in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. She is currently living  in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia. Katie has a background in Psychology from Drexel University. She is a manager in the commercial/residential design field . Katie can be reached  on Instagram @kerlupwithkate 

For collaboration e-mail: Kate.kerl32@gmail.com

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To access additional articles by Katie Kerl, click herehttps://tonywardstudio.com/blog/katie-kerl-modern-mom/

 

 

Also posted in Accessories, Affiliates, Blog, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, Health Care, lifestyle, News, Philadelphia, Popular Culture, Student Life

Bob Shell: America’s Puritanism

Photo: Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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America’s Puritanism

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“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.

Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.” — Benjamin Franklin

Franklin, along with the others who founded this country, was very smart. He realized that government, any government, would likely devolve into tyranny over time, and it was vitally important for the people to mount an armed opposition. Now don’t misunderstand me. “Armed” doesn’t necessarily mean armed with guns. It can mean armed with unfettered freedom of the press and expression. The pen was mightier than the sword — today the Internet may be mightier than the guns of the would be oppressors. That’s why I’m denied Internet access in prison. My ideas are dangerous to my oppressors.

Today, all of the laws of the Federal and state codes and courts would fill a large library. Law has become so complex that no one person can possibly be familiar with all of it, and it gets worse every time the legislatures meet, and the hundreds of courts hand down decisions. In the resulting quagmire, something that is perfectly legal in one state becomes a. crime, sometimes a serious crime, the instant you step across an invisible state border.

In the late 1960s, I lived in Washington, DC. I was in my early twenties and my girlfriend, who lived with me, was sixteen. That was perfectly legal in DC, where the age of consent was sixteen, but if we visited my friends in Virginia, we’d better not sleep together, because she was illegal in Virginia. We did anyway, but I could have been in serious trouble if the police found out and chose to enforce that particular silly law.

When I was going to Germany regularly, I did nude photo shoots with professional models, one of them a friend’s daughter, who were sixteen and seventeen. Those photographs are potentially illegal in the USA. If I’d gone over to the Czech Republic, the legal age was fifteen. These weren’t erotic images in my opinion, just artistic nudes shot outdoors in public parks, but as long as we have judges and juries that find any nude images at all intolerable, no one who photographs nudes is safe. Were these idiots born fully clothed?

After what happened to Jock Sturges and my friend Lee Higgs, both raided by the FBI, I was afraid to take the chance and bring my European nudes home, but it did me no good, because the judge and jury I went before found my perfectly legal images offensive.

BTW, neither Sturges nor Higgs was ever charged with anything, but homes were raided, wives and children terrorized, and confiscated photos and equipment returned damaged, or not returned at all.

Sturges had photographed young nudes in France, where no one cared. Higgs had proof all his models were legal, but that didn’t prevent the raid. His cool book Generation Fetish is a classic, but 100% legal.

If nothing is done about silly laws and our crazy “justice system” soon the volume of laws will be so great that almost anything you do will violate at least one.

Just like those who can justify anything with a quote from the Bible, you can find good, valid law to support just about any premise.

Worst are what I call anti-pleasure laws, laws against having fun.

The Honorable Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, recently said:

“We need to accept that behaviors and actions of others that are not aligned with our own mental perspectives do not need to be turned into criminal offences.”

What a perceptive and succinct statement of the problem. Our society has become more and more intolerant of those who choose to be different, and I’m in prison solely because of that intolerance.

Unfortunately, those men who wrote our Constitution and Bill of Rights did not spell out a right to privacy, a right to be left alone. The U. S. Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas, in 2007, said that any private sexual activity between consenting adults was none of the government’s damned business, and struck down the Texas law against “sodomy,” taking with it similar laws in a number of other states.

OK, let’s analyze that a bit. If I decide I’m horny and in need of some company, and call an escort service, and a young woman (or man, depending on my sex and orientation) comes to my residence or hotel room and we have sex, so long as we’re both consenting adults, there’s no crime, right? Nope, they can still bust us. “But the Supreme Court said it was OK,” we argue. “Yes,” they answer, “but you can’t charge for or pay for it.” Where’s that in the Court’s ruling? Read Lawrence v. Texas, and you won’t see that anywhere. I have a copy of the case right here, and it quite plainly does not say that.

The problem is that local police, prosecutors, and judges have a habit of ignoring court rulings they don’t like. After Lawrence, prostitution should have been legal throughout the USA, and not just in a few places in Nevada.

My friends and I, so long as we’re all consenting adults, should be able to hold S & M orgies in private without the fear of some idiot puritans busting us because they’re terrified that someone somewhere might be having sex for reasons other than procreation. Someone might be having too much fun. In his dissent in the Lawrence case, Justice Scalia worried that the ruling might legalize drug use in private by consenting adults. So fucking what if it did? So long as no one is forced to participate, and no children are involved, why should it be anybody else’s business?

And, with young people maturing much earlier, we need to revise our definition of “child.” I’ve known thirteen year olds who were already sexually active with partners their own age, and whose parents got them birth control pills. Those were children?

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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 here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-the-loss-of-a-fine-photographer/

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.

Also posted in Affiliates, Art, Blog, commentary, Environment, lifestyle, Models, News, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Women

Bob Shell: The Loss of a Fine Photographer

In Memorium: David Bogen Brooks

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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THE LOSS OF A FINE PHOTOGRAPHER

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When we get older there comes a time when we have to update your address book regularly because friends have died. I’m seventy-rwo now, and I’m having to do this more often than I like.

The world of photography lost a shining star recently, and I’d like to tell you about him..

My first interaction with David Bogen Brooks was in the early 1970s, when he rejected an article I’d sent to Petersen’s PhotoGraphic, one of the best of the photography magazines of the day. I was running a photo shop in Salem, Virginia, called Camera, Inc., in those days, and decided I wanted to write for photo magazines.

I’d written an article on closeup photography with bellows illustrated with some of my photographs, and hopefully mailed it off to PhotoGraphic. A month or so later it came back, but not with a form letter saying it was rejected. Instead there was a personal letter from Brooks, complementing me on my photographs, but saying the article just wasn’t right for them at that time, and encouraging me to try again with other articles in the future. For some reason I never did, though.

Run the clock forward to the 1980s and I’d succeeded in getting my foot in the door at Shutterbug, and was their Technical Editor, but acting more like the Editor, since the rest of the staff, although very good at their jobs, were not photographers, so they relied on me to select and assign articles. I bumped into David at one of the photographic trade shows, maybe the Photo Marketing Association (PMA) show in Las Vegas or Photo+ in New York. He was between jobs at the time and looking for work. That was an opportunity not to be missed, so I brought him aboard to write for us, and over the years of working together, we became close friends. If I assigned David a product review, I could rely on getting not only a good article, but excellent photos to illustrate it. David had gone to college studying design in California after serving in the Air Force. Even though he was Canadian, he was able to join the U. S. Air Force and later become a U.S. citizen. After college he got a job working for Elektra Records and went on tour doing photography of The Doors and other Elektra artists. He told me once that he didn’t like working with Jim Morrison and considered him a dangerous sociopath.

David had what I call the “photographer’s eye.”. He could find the right angle and cropping to turn an ordinary scene into an extraordinary image. He worked with 35 mm cameras up to large format, mastering all, becoming an early adopter and expert on digital imaging.

Once, in the early 1990s, David and I met up with photographer Wayne Collins in Las Vegas for a photo shoot with model Roxanne, a featured Playboy model, and took her to the Valley of Fire State Park. We spent a day photographing lovely Roxanne nude among the orange-red rocks, which cast a warm glow on the skin of our model.. No question, David’s photos from that day were the best. Not only was he a master of composition, he had a manner that put models at ease and got the most out of them.

Another time we turned a hotel room at the Rio into an impromptu studio. David was also a master of lighting (and wrote a book about it), and we both brought studio flash for the session. I have some large prints he gave me from that session that are among my most prized possessions.

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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 here: http://tonyward.com/bob-shell-learning-photography/

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.

Also posted in Affiliates, Announcements, Art, Blog, Cameras, History, Men, News, Photography, Popular Culture

A.H. Scott: Unraveled, We Fall

Illustration by Thomcat 23, Copyright 2019

 

 

Text by A.H. Scott, Copyright 2019

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Unraveled, We Fall

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I have to say this and am going to be unapologetic when doing this; but, every time there are horrific events such as those that have recently occurred, public voices ALWAYS speak about having some kind of budgetary fix for the problem to deal with MENTAL health. And, that is wonderful and fine to hear. But, maybe just maybe, instead of chalking it up to being a problem of a mental health breakdown as being the reason behind why these things keep happening to describing the root of the situation as a singular word.

Some people ain’t ‘crazy’ or ‘sick’ which I am not even diminishing a person who may have psychological problems on using such colloquial terms. I am using it because it is used casually by many of us. I mean no offense to anyone who is reading this. I just needed to find ‘umbrella terms’ to make my point.

At this time, I don’t want to even go down that road of words like psychopath, sociopath, or any other kind of pathology that is rendered from the scads of mental health professionals doing their varied levels of analysis.

Or, it could be the word HATE, which seems to be a considered probability of how some people in this country treats one another. Dismissive interactions and cruelest of words targeted at our fellow Americans exude a staleness of the soul. But, that isn’t the word I am thinking about at this time.

And no that word is not GUNS, although it should be and would be quite fitting to place into the mix.

Guns and their cultural existence is an ongoing debate and debacle in the United States, which turns to be a vipers’ nest that is really in the background of my mind right at this moment.

So, if it isn’t mental health, hate, or guns, what could it possibly be? Hmm, I think I know what fits the bill.

The word I am looking for is one as old as time and maybe it is just seen as controversial.

The word is EVIL. And, yeah, of course it is a hard word to say and use. But, I know I am not the only person that might be thinking of that same word.

I believe there is evil in this world. And, damnit, some people are just EVIL!

There are not in need of being held by the hand in some way shielded from a legal anvil or public damnation by being labeled or mentioned in ‘understanding’ tones of why did what they did.

Or, their frustration with a current issue or some slight they think they’ve been diminished by with the changing demographics in this society. 

Fuck their motivations!

They are just EVIL.

Using that single word just obliterates philosophical puffery and drills directly into the core of what emanates within the barren heart of some people.

No multi-leveled explanation needed or given beyond that word.

I know that’s hard and seemingly cold-blooded to say. But, from many of the mass shootings covered wall to wall by the media, there seems to be a certain type of playbook that unfolds. I call them the 7 Tiers of Tears:

Overly-dramatic music and flashing banner comes across the screen is first.

Breaking news alert and the breathless news anchor speaking is second.

Outline of the event is reported live by a correspondent is third.

On the spot interviews with the wounded, eyewitnesses, and law enforcement is fourth.

Manifesto online or social media rants of the shooter being uncovered is fifth.

Analysis by experts on-air of the shooter’s mental state is sixth.

Elected officials, both in person and on Twitter send along their ‘heartfelt’ support is seventh.

And then from there, the nation’s mourning (once again) begins.

Then, as then and as now (and sure as tomorrow comes after today) – nothing happens.

Wringing our hands and making proclamations of how we are going to make sure this never happens again is just for lack of better words, a verbal circle-jerk to mollify the public to make it seem as if something can be done.

Now, the cynic in me might just say it’s only my imagination in thinking if the shooter were not a white male, but a darker hued, male of Muslim faith who is the shooter in all of these mass shootings around the United States of America; that level of yearning to bridge a bullet-blitz to a mental health problem would never exist. But, then again, I’m not admitting my cynicism on this point. Just sayin’.

Now, for those of us who are rah-rah for getting tougher gun control laws, I am with you on getting something done in that vein. But, it is not the panacea of solving the level of perniciousness within the hearts and souls of some people in this country. 

In this country, we are awash in over 280 million guns; so, even with the most stringent gun control laws, our ability to stay afloat without drowning in tears and fears might be an impossible feat.

Temples, churches, synagogues, movie theaters, malls, bars, community centers, schools, nightclubs; these places of comfort have become no more in the United States of America.

New and tougher gun control laws will only tissue paper over the problem that’s going on, because the people that want to do EVIL will always find a way to do EVIL. Yeah, fuck it; I’m gonna hit that nail again and again of what this situation in this country is – EVIL!!

Evil sits back and snickers when it is mistaken for a problem of mental health.

Evil just is there …..and waits …..for the next mass shooting.

We are America, but are we United States?

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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: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/a-h-scott-the-one/
 
 
 
 
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