Stable, New York City, New York, 2010
This wreathed horse’s head decorates the façade of what once was George S. Bowdoin’s early 20th century private stable in mid-town Manhattan. Today, this one-time Dutch revival carriage house is a multi-cultural center for Spanish and American art. I shifted my vantage point here to frame a long vine on its diagonal path across the frame, its green leaves echoing the circle of stone leaves around the horse’s head. The resulting contrast between leaves of stone and real leaves energizes the image.
The Commodore, Grand Central Terminal, New York City, New York, 2010
It is fitting that the statue of Commodore Vanderbilt, the man who built Grand Central Terminal, stands just outside the great building at the very spot where Park Avenue divides and sweeps around each side of the terminal. An elegant steel bridge carries the eye towards the statue of Vanderbilt, while the great stone column at left replicates the thrust of the statue. Vanderbilt, the second wealthiest man in US history (after John D. Rockefeller), controlled 17 railroads and many steamship lines in the 19th century, and in the process invented what came to be known as the “giant corporation.” This statue, paid for by his friends and associates, was sculpted to honor Vanderbilt in 1869, while he was still very much alive. It stood at the top of Vanderbilt’s vast freight terminal for the next sixty years. When that terminal was torn down in 1929, the statue was moved here to Grand Central, where it commands Park Avenue to this day.
Old First Church Graveyard, Bennington, Vermont, 2010
It the custom to honor the memory of veterans of America’s past wars by placing flags next to their grave markers. These particular flags commemorate the service of soldiers who fought in the American Revolution, more than 230 years ago. More than 75 colonial soldiers – many of them killed at the nearby Battle of Bennington – rest here, along with several British and Hessian soldiers. The passage of time and the work of nature have brought a greenish tint to many of these stones. The crisp red, white, and blue flags here pose a great contrast in color to the old, softly focused stones. The flag at left seems to bow in respect to those who rest below these old gravestones.
Archer, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2010
This larger than life sculpture seems to strain mightily as it aims an arrow into the greenery of a Santa Fe gallery courtyard. I liked the incongruity of its setting, the contrast of its bold metallic painted colors to the soft colors of nature, and its relationship to the limbs of the tree at left that guide the eye into the heavens along with the impending flight of the arrow.
Settlers Monument, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2010
Standing in a park adjacent to Santa Fe’s historic St. Francis Cathedral, a fairly recent monument depicts the relationship of the soldiers, priests, and farmers that settled Santa Fe 400 years ago.
The figures tell the story of the town’s early history, and by relating its bronze figures to the lush greenery in the background, this image seems to make the monument about to come to life.
Still Standing, Cemetery, Bonanza, Idaho, 2010
Bonanza was a thriving mining town of 600 in 1891. It was built along the Yankee Fork of the Salmon River, and by the end of the 19th century it was a virtual ghost town. Yet its small cemetery remains, although much of that is in ruins as well. I photographed this tombstone because it survives, while its wooden enclosure has crumbled in decay around it. I spot metered on the white marble, allowing the rest of the image to slide into darkness. The gentleman under the stone died in nearby Custer, Idaho in 1888. Born in 1847 in Illinois, he became a storekeeper in Custer. He perished at the age of 41. While all seems to crumble around it, the marble stone incongruously seems as new as the day it was raised to his memory. (See the next image at: http://www.pbase.com/pnd1/image/125665800
, for an entirely different outcome.)
Down and out, Cemetery, Bonanza, Idaho, 2010
This grave is in exactly the opposite condition as the one in the previous image. ( http://www.pbase.com/image/125665797).
I made both images in the same cemetery within five minutes of each other. The man who is buried below this toppled and cracked stone died at age 43. He mined for gold, and his wealth paid for a handsome stone, replete with a carved angel. His stone now lies among the weeds, yet the wooden enclosure around the gravesite incongruously remains upright, and while peeling, it has obviously been maintained over the years. Yet the cracked marble slab seems ghostly in its abandonment – almost as if it was the lid of a coffin.
Awakening, Bucharest, Romania, 2009
This stone figure, emerging from a niche at the gate of a 19th century palace in downtown Bucharest, seems to be slowly coming awake. I link the figure to its background by juxtaposing its prominent rib cage to the rib-like walls that surround it.
Wired, Kiev, Ukraine, 2009
This bronze rider seems to become a note of music as he rides into a background of overhead power lines against a flaming violet sky. We would often pass him as we walked down Kiev’s Shevchenka Avenue near our hotel, and every night the song would be a different one as the sky changed its colors.
Educator, Bucharest, Romania, 2009
This weathered marble sculpture stands outside Bucharest’s massive university, so I can only assume that he was a prominent educator or literary figure. The structure behind him seems just as worn – many of Bucharest’s institutional buildings show the effects of age and lack of maintenance. His body language is humble, hand outstretched, head cast down – quite different from the posture of heroic bronze rulers and political leaders elsewhere in Bucharest. Together, the statue and the building give us a sense of this place – Bucharest, known as “Little Paris”in early years of the 20th century, has had a hard time of it ever since.
Mount Royal Cemetery, Montreal, Canada, 2009
The passage of time, and perhaps a nudge or two from a mindless vandal, has dislodged an entire set of family headstones deep within this vast cemetery overlooking the city of Montreal. The dappled light and litany of first names add a mournful dimension. The domino effect of these fallen monuments is both incongruous and rich in symbolism. The members of this family seem to be reunited in death, closer to each now than ever before.
Sculpture garden, Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Massachusetts, 2009
A heavy rain provides the reflective layer of water on the skin of this bronze sculpture, giving it a sense of energy and natural beauty that nearly brings it to life. Without this glistening texture, it would photograph as just another museum piece. A rainy day can add new dimension of meaning to monuments and statuary.