Racquel Ward: A Practical Artist

TW in his Elkins Park office. Copyright 2019

Text by Racquel Ward, Copyright 2019

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Making Money and Art in 21st Century Philadelphia

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Philadelphia is expensive. That’s what grass-to-profit artists who have been in the game for 40 plus years will tell you about our transformed city. Consider this a public service announcement for artists of any age who are looking for stability. World-renowned and Philadelphia-based photographer Tony Ward has stuck around to see everyday life in Philly change and evolve. That means everyday life for an artist in Philly must change and evolve.

Since making money has always been the bane of the artist’s experience, Tony Ward has expanded into real estate development and education. At 63 and in his golden years, Ward has figured out the perfect recipe for a balanced life – selling art, securing property, and teaching at Haverford College in the Spring of 2020. A longtime professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Ward has chosen to sustain his creative lifestyle by working closer to home and continuing to illuminate his innovative skills through teaching photography to young artists at Haverford.

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Tony Ward Studio Apartment

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As a blogger, his well-trafficked websites tonyward.com, tonywardstudio.com, and tonywarderotica.com keep him busy publishing articles by a great supporting cast of creative writers including; A.H. Scott, Bob Shell, Katie Kerl, and Mikala Mikrut.

Through property development, Ward has recently created a stylish home for renters; making a beautiful, modern space in the historic Elkins Park neighborhood. The recent purchase and subsequent renovation has been a creative outlet for Ward. The project happily supports his photographic endeavors and allows room for his 5000 print photography archive to be stored at home instead of an offsite storage facility.

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TWS: Tennant Apartment

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Artists of all ages, take note. Non-artists are doing it, why shouldn’t you? Better you in the neighborhood than a bank. Educate yourself on the bustling real estate market in Philly, sell your art whenever you can, and pass your knowledge onto the next generation – wherever you can.

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Tony Ward Studio Apartments

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About The Author: Racquel Ward is a writer and educational therapist living in Los Angeles. She holds a BA in Culture and Media studies and a BFA in Contemporary Music from the New School University – Manhattan, New York. Racquel also holds a Master’s of Science in Teaching. She has been published on ThoughtCatalog and most recently finished her first children’s book. To access additional articles by Racquel Ward, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/racquel-ward-expo/

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Editors Note: This article first appeared athttp://dosagemagazine.com

 

 

Bob Shell: Objectifying and Exploiting Women

Photo: Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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Objectifying and Exploiting Women?

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An English friend once gave me a really hard time; she said I was objectifying and exploiting women in my photography. That disagreement caused me to spend some time thinking about this issue. Don’t all photographers objectify their subjects and exploit them? Did Ansel Adams objectify and exploit Halfdome? Did Edward Weston objectify and exploit bell peppers? Is the whole argument ridiculous?

Let’s look at both prongs of this argument. Objectifying is a somewhat strange concept, since it means turning something into an object. But, when you think about it, everything we photograph is already an object, or we couldn’t photograph it in the first place. When we photograph something, we’re. taking a three dimensional object and converting it into a two dimensional representation of itself. So in a sense, we’re de-objectifying it. Hmmmm.

No, that’s not what she was talking about. When she argued that I was “objectifying” women, she meant that I was looking at them as objects, specifically as sex objects. Was I? I’d have to say yes to that. After all, the intent of many of my photographs was to create a sexual frisson in the viewer, be that viewer male or female. If I punched the viewer in the libido, I felt that the photograph was a success. So, was I turning my model into a sex object? I’d argue no, that she was already a sex object before I ever clicked the shutter. I didn’t make her into a sex object, God or evolution did; take your pick. Either way, women are shaped the way they are to arouse interest in men. That’s simply a fact. Her rounded form is designed/evolved to attract men. We even say of a pretty woman that she is “attractive,” usually without really thinking of the implications of that statement.

Let me put on my biologist hat for a moment. Whether we like it or not, we are animals, mammals to be a bit more precise. We are advanced apes. Jared Diamond even says we’re the third species of chimpanzee, after the common chimp and bonobo.. If that offends you, skip on to the next paragraph. In our cousins, the gorillas, chimps, and bonobos sexual attraction is a matter primarily of scent. Females have nipples up high on their chests, practically in their armpits. They have no breasts and wouldn’t know what to do with a bra. There is nothing about their chests to arouse or attract the male. At the other end, they have narrow flat asses without bulging buttocks. We humans, on the other hand, are almost totally visual in our sex cues and have de-emphasized our sense of smell, so much so that our females borrow scents from other animals and plants when they want to send a scent signal. The perfume industry has gotten rich off of that.

But what first gets a man’s attention? Its two rounded areas of protruding fatty tissue, either in front or in back. What Americans call T & A (the English say T & B, “tits and bums.”) This fact keeps “cosmetic surgeons” busy, adding breasts where there are none, or those nature provided are considered inadequate, and reshaping behinds, to produce the “perfect” rounded shape. I’ve always counseled my models against “cosmetic surgery” at either end, preferring their natural shape.

But, back to our argument. Do women objectify themselves when they augment their tops and/or bottoms? I’d argue yes, they do. Do I objectify them? No! One of my models was a former Playboy model. To reach her goal of being a Playboy featured model, she had most of her body reworked. She got there, but who objectified her? Basically I consider that part of the argument silly. How can I objectify someone who has already done it to herself?

Now, on to the second point. Did I exploit my models? Damn well, yes, I did! Did they complain about it? No! Why? Because I paid them well for posing with the thought that I’d someday make money from the pictures. Did I always profit? No!!! And sometimes pictures sat in my files and my agents’ files for years before finding a buyer. Some never did. From a business perspective, my images were my stock, and no business person wants stock sitting in a warehouse for years. At the same time, unlike the warehouse stock of most businesses, my photos don’t lose value from sitting there. My overhead is minimal; some filing cabinets and some digital storage devices. I’ve had substantial sales from images many years old. Most of what I shoot never goes out of fashion.

So on the question of objectifying and exploiting women, I plead innocent to the first and guilty to the second.

As I have said before, I photographed my first nudes in 1969 in the woods at Roanoke’s water reservoir. Looking back at those many years later it was clear that I didn’t have a clue about posing a model, but the results weren’t awful. By 1973-4 when I photographed Kathy G. at the old farm/apple orchard where we lived, I’d spent time reading books on posing, and got some pretty good images, images I’d not be embarrassed to show today. It helped that she was a natural at graceful posing. In those early days I found my models by running ads in the school newspaper at Hollins College, a woman’s school (It’s now Hollins University and co-ed), and in the Roanoke Times classified ads. Later, when I had my camera shop just blocks from Roanoke College, I never had a problem coming up with good models, because word of mouth, the best advertising, spread that I was fun to pose for and treated my models respectfully. Was I attracted to these beautiful young women? Absolutely! After all, I was young myself with a full. complement of raging hormones. Did I come on to them? No way! Photographers as a group already had a dodgy reputation, and I cared to set myself apart from the crowd. I’d have no qualms today about facing any of the women who modeled for me from 1969 to 2007. Of course there were none past 2007 because I was in prison!

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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/studio-news-bob-shells-new-book/

 

 

 

Mikala Mikrut: Minimilism – A Modern Luxury

Apartment by Tony Ward Studio. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2019
 

Text by Mikala Mikrut, Copyright 2019

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Minimalism – A Modern Luxury

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Growing up a fan of Vogue and stalking Pinterest for spectacular oddities I could never afford, I’ve come to realize that big fancy mansions aren’t filled with memories and trinkets. They’re filled with artistic, bold pieces to take the spotlight one room at a time. All the big houses, even mansions, I’ve entered felt empty to me. There were clearly furniture and decorations, so why did it feel like something was missing? With this on my mind, I analyzed the homes I was more familiar with. Something in these middle class, well lived, well loved homes was always filled. Whether it be the garage, the attic, a closet, or even a drawer, something was always designated as junk space.

I began to wonder why that is. Grand pictures of impersonal, simplistic decor was somehow more beautiful than the collections people have introduced to me over the years. They could have shared all of the glorious memories attached to them. Still, all I would see was a bunch of vintage spoons I wasn’t allowed to use or dolls that would never break eye contact, teasing me with perfect, dusty curls I wasn’t allowed to brush. These memories that others attach don’t enlighten a sense of appreciation for the inanimate objects. In fact, they have a better chance of making me feel guilty.

In a completely hyperbolized example, I would much rather take John List’s signed Tiffany original skylight than my grandmother’s prized angel figurines. Isn’t that awful? To prefer a mass murderer’s window, for all intents and purposes, over what a loved family member has spent a lifetime to collect? But I would love to walk under dazzling colors from the morning sun, warm mug in my hand, fuzzy blanket as a shawl, making my own memories with the glass. I never met John, so making what was his my own would be cake. I will always have the memory of how much my grandma loved her angels, but taking them on as my own would leave me with the constant reminder of her connections with them. Filling my space with memories that aren’t even mine.

My point is, I believe the majority of us are hanging onto clutter. Whether it’s because we are entirely too sentimental or haven’t carved out the time to purge. For the love of yourself, make your home a safe place for your mind and soul. If something isn’t serving a purpose or bringing you joy, get rid of it! If there’s a big empty wall in your home and a piece from a local artist you can’t get out of your head, buy it! Life is too short to not serve yourself. Why are you hanging on to that ugly knick knack from your mother in law, because it’ll hurt her feelings that she got you something you don’t like? Why won’t you let yourself spend a little extra on the all natural cleaning product that you like the smell of, because you feel you only deserve to spend as little as possible?

Whether it’s because they have the space or lack of unresolved mental trauma, rich people wear minimalism beautifully and I personally drool at the aesthetic of having only what I need and really desperately love. We have this sense to hoard and give things. I propose we shift our mindset to seeking and giving experiences. One of my favorite gifts I’ve ever received were trapeze lessons, my favorite summers were spent on lakes. Memories are my souvenirs, and that’s the best part. If that’s not enough, take pictures! Those store neatly in the cloud, or make your photos the decor of your home. Let’s all avoid becoming the next episode on Hoarders.

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About The Author: Mikala Mikrut is a junior enrolled at Southern Utah University. To access additional articles by Mikala Mikrut, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/mikala-mikrut-red/