Royal cascade, Beverly Hills, California, 2012
The Los Angeles community of Beverly Hills is one of the most upscale neighborhoods in the world. At its urban center runs the shopping street of Rodeo Drive, dominated by the presence of a princely hotel known as the Beverly Wilshire. Two marble fountains face each other at the entrance to this hotel, featuring symbolic marble masks of kingly creatures. They should be spewing water, but have been converted instead to lush planters. I moved in with a wideangle lens to emphasize the flow of vegetation pouring out of one of the marble masks. The cascade of leaves glistens in the reflected light, abstracting much of the marble from which it flows. The contrast between the well-watered greenery and the handsome marble sculpture speaks of wealth, power, and money, all of which are in evidence on Rodeo Drive.
Running off at the mouth, Valletta, Malta, 2011
This worn sculpture anchors a fountain in front of one of Valletta’s governmental buildings. It has been spurting water from its mouth for more than a century and probably longer. The rusted fountain pipes have etched their reddish orange rusted residue on the massive chin, creating a strikingly incongruous appearance.
Echoes of Columbus, Barcelona, Spain, 2011
This ornate monument, constructed for the Barcelona World’s Fair in 1888, towers almost 200 feet over the city’s harbor. It marks the spot where Columbus returned to Spain after his first voyage to the Americas. At the top, a statue of Columbus points out to sea. I photograph the base of the column, where four winged victories take flight towards the four corners of the world, above paired griffins. I link the movement of the statues to the delicate clouds that float in the background, as well as to a smaller sculpture on the top of a nearby building.
Medusa, Didyma, Turkey, 2011
Not far from the great classical city of Miletus, stands Didyma, home to the most renowned oracle of the Hellenic world. Started about 300BC, the oracle’s temple was to have been the largest in the world. It was never finished, although its oracle and priests practiced soothsaying here for another 1,400 years. When Christianity became the state religion of the Byzantines, it brought an end to such pagan practices. Today, the temple is a massive ruin. I found its most striking feature to be this huge head of Medusa, which was originally placed at the top of the temple to ward off evil spirits. It crashed to earth during an earthquake, and today stares out at us through eyes that are as dead as those that once sculpted them. I confront the viewer with the wear and tear of the passing years, details that echo a turbulent past stretching from the time of Alexander the Great to the origins of Christianity.
Tomb, Cuenca Cemetery, Cuenca, Ecuador, 2011
This tomb is intended to memorialize, yet time has eroded its stone figure, creating a haunting vision of death itself. I converted it to a black and white image, removing all traces of life, and intensifying the coarseness of the slumbering figure upon its gravel bed. The railings that enclose it symbolize containment – the figure seems locked in its place forever.
Statuary, Cuenca Cemetery, Cuenca, Ecuador, 2011
I composed this image of a grieving figure memorializing the tomb of a priest, to express a spiritual dimension. I carefully shifted my vantage point to align the softly focused archway in the background with the head of the sculpture. It creates a partial halo around the figure that defines the head and symbolizes an expression of faith. The inclusion of a green branch from a nearby tree lends a touch of vitality to the scene, implying the presence of life within a context of death.
A secret place, Scottsdale Civic Center, Scottsdale, Arizona
The huge metal sculpture of “Love,” by Robert Indiana, naturally attracts children because of its interactivity. I return to this park often, and photograph children making it their own secret place. In this image, one child has wrapped herself within the letter “E,” while at the same moment a toddler is led away by its mother in the background.
Robert Indian's "Love" has appeared in many forms and languages. In 1973, it was featured on a US postage stamp. There are 17 versions of this sculpture in the US, and 17 others around the world. You see the list of locations at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Love_sculptures
Memorial, Belem, Brazil, 2010
Huddled next to a towering palm, this sculpture of a grieving figure was intended as a memorial in Belem’s Parca da Republica. The light was far from ideal – it was mid-day when our tour bus brought us here. Yet it is this same “bad” light that makes this image express its idea. The memorial speaks of sorrow, and the angle of the sun places the face of the mourner into deep shadow, a perfect complement to the its purpose.
St. Michaels Cemetery, Bridgetown, Barbados, 2010
This image expresses both the passage of time and the notion that death can become a part of life itself. The old tomb is cracked and scarred by the elements, while the grasses and leaves of nature slowly encroach upon the slab and flourish upon its surface. Even the crumpled piece of trash tells a story – the grave, and the person within, are essentially lost to time.
Mausoleum, Bridgetown, Barbados, 2010
This quiet image was essentially monochromatic in subject matter, so it was a natural for black and white conversion. The ornamentation on this mausoleum speaks of another time, and the passing of three centuries is echoed on the continuing bands of light and shadow that carry vertically across the frame. I composed the image so the horizontal base of the ornamentation in the lower left corner rhythmically repeats the window-sill I include in the upper left hand corner, giving the image a diagonal thrust as well as horizontal movement.
St. Mary’s Cemetery, Bridgetown, Barbados, 2010
While many of my fellow-cruise passengers headed to the lovely beaches of Barbados for the day, I spent several hours shooting in two of Bridgetown’s oldest cemeteries. It seemed strikingly incongruous to me that after photographing many monuments more than 200 years old, one of the more recent headstones (2006) was already lopsided and sinking into the earth. I contrasted it to its upright neighbor, and the softly focused fence slowly toppling over in the background.
Shakespeare in the park, Balboa Park, San Diego, California, 2010
During our intensive two-week shoot in nearby Mission Beach, we took a morning side-trip to also photograph in San Diego’s famed zoo and Balboa Park. Shakespeare’s plays have been performed in this park as far back as 1935. Today, the Old Globe Theatre, part of the Simon Edison Centre for the Performing Arts, carries on the tradition. A contemporary statue of Shakespeare is set off in wooded area nearby. In this image, I’ve tried to make the greatest of all playwrights seem to come alive before us by relating the sculpture to the surrounding foliage.