A life cut short, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York, 2013
A bouquet of red, white and blue artificial flowers contrasts with the eroded sculpture of a child named Georgie. The weathered grave marker tells us that this child died many years ago – the cemetery itself dates back to 1838. The image asks us to consider the donor of those flowers. Is this child still remembered by family descendants? Or is the poignant memory of a life cut short cause enough for strangers to pay such tribute?
Copper and stone, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York, 2013
Contrasting shapes, colors and textures express the nature of this handsome mausoleum. The departed lie within, seemingly secured eternally by oxidized copper bars and doors. Elegantly carved granite and marble add complementary colors to this expensive tomb. The closer I come with my camera, the greater the emphasis on the workmanship involved here. (The image may speak of enduring wealth and power, yet as the saying goes, “you can’t take it with you.”)
Mourning, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York, 2013
This was among the most expressive grave markers I found at Green-Wood. The patience conveyed by the position of the arms, combined by the upraised face, suggests a sense wistful longing. The sculpted figure sits atop the grave of a man – could this represent the mourning wife or daughter that he left behind? I framed the sculpture in foliage, both living and dead, bringing the life cycle of nature itself to bear upon this figure from another time.
Guardian angel, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York, 2013
While its right hand has incongruously vanished (perhaps the work of vandals), this guardian angel still casts an imposing presence as it looms over a family plot at Green-Wood Cemetery. I was drawn to this scene by the carefully designed gravesite, built as a series of layered horizontal stones, hedge, and memorial wall. A layer of dead leaves covers the surrounding lawn and part of the hedge, while trees mass in the background on either side of the angel.
Changing seasons, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York, 2013
I photographed in Green-Wood as its colors were changing. The metaphor of dying leaves in this vast city of 500,000 departed souls was always foremost in mind. In this image, hundreds of yellowing leaves already cling to the masses of still green branches that fill the entire background. The branches rhythmically repeat the flow of the bent arm and pointing finger of the sculptured classical figure rising before them. I framed the image to create scale contrast between the statue and the trees in the background.
Father and Mother, Lebanon Cemetery, Plains, Georgia, 2013
The play of light and color on a family’s marble gravestone stresses the sentiment of Victorian times, memorializing someone’s mother and father as they symbolically travel through eternity, hand in hand. Through both cropping and the use of heavy shadows, I abstract the stone by showing only part of it, thereby encouraging the viewer to imagine the rest.
Banyan Garden, Ringling Estate, Sarasota, Florida, 2013
The 60-acre estate of John and Mabel Ringling embraces a 30,000 square foot garden, along with museums housing the Ringling’s art collection and circus memorabilia. A feature of this garden is a stand of 13 historic Banyan trees, surrounding a bronze statue of a Grecian figure holding a vessel in its arms. The statue’s green patina, and the rich green color of the high grass, contrasts to the golden brown root structures of the surrounding Banyan trees. Together they create a feeling of tranquility that expresses the essence of the estate itself.
A barge of stone, Vizcaya, Miami, Florida, 2013
This barge was never intended to float. It is made of massive stones, and was constructed as an elegant Venetian breakwater to protect the small boats that once harbored here on Biscayne Bay. The barge is a prominent feature of Vizcaya, built in 1914 as the winter home of International Harvester’s James Deering. This barge was also used for many of Deering’s dinners and parties. Deering had sculptor Stirling Calder create numerous statues to its decks, as well the figureheads placed at the bow and stern. Rather than describe the entire barge, I photograph here one of those figureheads at close range. The voluptuous winged goddess rises from the sea and leans into the wind, even if the barge is going nowhere. This image symbolizes a place that gives us a unique glimpse into a vanished lifestyle.
Terrace urn, Viscaya, Miami, Florida, 2013
Just as the figurehead in the preceding image, this urn was created to bring a Mediterranean touch to the massive gardens of Vizcaya. These gardens are among the best examples of Italian garden design and architecture in the United States, and were created to reflect Miami’s subtropical climate. I use soft reflected light to define this classical stone urn, one of the many decorative features that make Vizcaya’s gardens so distinctive. This urn is an antique from Sicily, and probably dates back to the 17th century.
The Lion of the Confederacy, Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia, 2013
Near the hilltop where Confederate General John B. Hood observed the 1864 Battle of Atlanta, lie the bones of 3,000 unknown Confederate soldiers who perished in one of the most pivotal battles of the American Civil War. Perhaps the most striking monument in Atlanta’s historic Oakland Cemetery, known as the “Lion of the Confederacy,” guards these unknown remains. Sculptor T.M. Brady carved this monument in 1894, using of the largest pieces of marble quarried in Northern Georgia up to that time. I use the soft morning shadows to cloak the huge paw of the sleeping lion, as well as much of it mane and half of its face. The play of light emphasizes the no longer dangerous rows of teeth in the lion’s open mouth, which seem to repeat the rows of stars in the furled battle flag of the defeated Confederacy.
Torso, Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, California, 2012
A fourteen foot high sculpture cast from solid aluminum blocks and mounted on a bronze pedestal now stands at the intersection of Rodeo Drive and Dayton Way in Beverly Hills – a visual gateway to one of the world’s most upscale shopping street. Commissioned by the Rodeo Drive Committee and presented to the City of Beverly Hills, the sculpture was created by Robert Graham in 2003, and is known simply as “Torso.” Graham’s sculpture is an abstracted body of a woman, without a head, arms, or legs. In this image, I take the liberty of abstracting it photographically as well, cropping the statue from thigh to chest and shooting it from behind. Rather that describe the statue or the street, my abstraction emphasizes the way light and shadow play on the aluminum surface of the statue. I include a cropped palm tree in the background to give retain a bit of California context. By simplifying the image to this extent, I intend to express the elegance of both the sculpture and it’s setting to viewers, and allow their own imaginations to take it from there.
With the angels, Cayucos, California, 2012
I abstract the huge marble angel that dominates this tomb by cutting it off at the knees, thereby calling more attention to a small circular photograph of the person buried here. He is, as some might say, “with the angels,” and his steadfast pose (as well as the size and cost of the monument) suggests a man of substance for his time. Set into a slab of decorative granite embellishments, the picture has weathered well, and still keeps the appearance and character of this man alive in the minds of surviving generations.