Julian Lennon enters the art world
(as seen in Edit International)
Julian Lennon stands with Rachel Galvin before his strange and powerful photograph of eerie train tracks in the dark leading towards the future. Photo by Steven Lebowitz.
By Rachel Galvin
In the midst of the biggest art show in the world, Art Basel Miami, Julian Lennon displayed his collection “Timeless,” filled with his photographic perspective.
Over 30 of his landscape and portraiture photos were on display in December at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami.
Part escapist, part almost voyeuristic, this artistic work is just one more way he has chosen to express himself.
As the son of rock idol John Lennon of the Beatles, he was thrown into the spotlight from the day he was born, but certainly was not just handed his success.
He has had to earn it. Like his father, he delved into the music industry (with songs like “Too Late for Goodbyes”), but found it a cutthroat existence.
It seems with his new album, “Everything Changes,” which he says he finished three years ago, but hopes to release in the spring, that he will be releasing his tunes a little differently.
He is choosing to go straight to the people (a.k.a Internet) rather than through usual distribution channels, circumventing the system. It seems that nothing will stop this Renaissance man from launching his creative spirit to the masses.
And so it is with his art. Photos of U2’s Bono, his half-brother and fellow musician Sean Lennon, and other back stage peeks give the viewer a fly on the wall perspective. He hopes to show a different side of the people he knows, a side most people may not see.
But to this writer, it is his other photography that really draws the spectator in. Whereas his backstage photos seem to give the viewer an inside look at his world, his other photos seem to ask the viewer to appreciate their own world.
Many photos are of clouds, the simple beauty of clouds. Others have the same ethereal appeal.
“What is your obsession with clouds?” I asked.
He laughed, apparently, he never had been asked that before, or perhaps not quite in that way. He answered, “I have traveled since I was knee high to a grasshopper. I like looking out the window of airplanes.. I am usually the only one awake.” He added that clouds are comfort and explained the way he is drawn to light in any way, shape or form, enjoys working with it.
His art is sometimes in the form of a raw photo, sometimes cropped, sometimes photo shopped (although he says he only Photoshop’s to clean up an image), but seems to always come from the heart and, to him, it is really a means to escape, escape from the crazy world of constant access, mobile phones, Internet, etc.
“Life is so busy,” he said. “With mobile, Internet, you just can’t get away. I have to force myself.”
The irony is that with all the communication, it seems that some just aren’t listening, because according to Lennon, the biggest problem today is “misinformation.” He said that the news in the United States often ignores large issues going on elsewhere in the world and vice versa. He added that some outlets outright present incorrect information as well.
He certainly has received a unique perspective on the world, traveling internationally, working among the ranks to achieve his own success while at the same time being among legends. When asked what he hopes people remember about him, he gave perhaps what could be termed a fitting motto: “If you really desire to do something creatively, it can be done.”
Besides his massive talent, his modesty and personality have served him well, evident in his demeanor among the media. Journalist after journalist interviewed him and he remained calm, cool and collected as well as charming. Without complaint or hardly a break, he showed a charismatic gentility not so often seen among the “celebrity” set.
Despite his success, he made himself approachable and his artwork feels the same: Watery reflections, mountain tops that seem snuggly like a wool blanket, serene stretches of skyline as comforting as a quilt, cascading mountains standing magnetically like peacetime soldiers among the clouds, fiery orange centered among soft tufts of clouds muted with mountain peaks, cotton candy clouds as soft as a feather against a bright blue sky …
One of his biggest supporters has been celebrity photographer Timothy White, who curated the exhibition. It was sponsored by many, including Lennon’s own charity, The White Feather Foundation, which, begun in 2008, deals with environmental and humanitarian issues.
On his website, www.whitefeatherfoundation.com, he describes the meaning behind the name of his foundation (its icon – a white feather – was prominently displayed among his paintings at the Next Generation Green Room):
“Dad once said to me that should he pass away, if there was some way of letting me know he was going to be ok – that we were all going to be ok – the message would come to me in the form a white feather. Then something happened to me about ten years ago when I was on tour in Australia. I was presented with a white feather by an Aboriginal tribal elder, which definitely took my breath away. One thing for sure is that the white feather has always represented peace to me,” said Lennon in 2009.
It seems peace is paramount to this superstar and to experience it, one need simply to look through his eyes and see that the world really is all blue skies … and a few comforting clouds.
“Timeless” was free and open to the public in Miami. To view the artwork (which is for sale), visit www.tableaufineartphoto.com.
Winter 2010| Volume XXIII, Number 1
Colby Katz reveals the world others don’t see.
From big-haired and poofy dress-wearing beauty pageant queens to abandoned houses once frequented by a criminal element, Colby Katz has captured a world not often seen by the mainstream. Through her tinted lens, some of the most darkly lit landscapes shine bright. In fact, the odder the subject, the more she craves it for her collection.
It is this slightly skewed view of the world that has captured the attention of the journalistic community. She is not only on the staff of the newspaper New Times, but also has had her work appear in GQ, Spin, Time, Newsweek, Discover, Marie Claire UK, London Telegraph and The New York Times Magazine, among others.
The world, it seems, comes to her. “They find me,” she said. “I am lucky. I don’t promote myself. I am shy.” Shy, indeed – this fearless photographer isn’t so fearless when not behind the camera. Sitting in her A-frame living room, she appears tiny on her long, L-shaped brown couch, a bit tense, her porcelain face hidden beneath plastic-framed glasses.
Much like Diana Prince, the alter ego of the comic book superhero Wonder Woman, this shy gal transforms into a bit of a wonder woman with a camera hanging around her neck. “I do things like lean too far over tiger cages; anything to get the shot. I forget to drink and eat. When I was pregnant, a lot of people got mad at me for that,” she said.
The more precarious the method of obtaining the photograph, the better for Katz, who would never take the easy way out and always takes the road less traveled. One of her favorite photographers is Naomi Harris. “She did a book about swingers called America Swings. She had to put herself in some precarious situations. I appreciate when photos don’t come easy,” she commented.
Katz has known her share of trouble. A handful of times when taking photos of houses where murder and corporate corruption took place, she has had her car followed. Another person did not like the story associated with her photos, posted her name and address on the web and encouraged people to seek her out and beat her up. After that, she took on a pen name.
She has met some interesting characters in her travels. Katz has been obsessed with beauty pageants, ever since she was in them as a young girl herself. “It is a world most cannot get into; I can,” she boasted. She intends on creating a book on pageants but ran into some trouble with a few photos she took; some parents called the police and threatened to press charges, saying she was taking pornographic photos. “But they posed and dressed the children. I didn’t. They loved the photos and even asked for copies,” she said. She ended up obtaining a lawyer over the incident.
Her best assignment was for Spin Magazine – sitting down in an abandoned Orlando warehouse with the owner of a company that made animatronic characters that “played” music for Pizza Time Restaurant. After the company went downhill, she said, “It was like the land that time forgot … everything was still there – the gorillas still in the crates, the office supplies, all the nuts and bolts and the equipment. He even had his own stage for this Rock-afire Explosion band. He liked the Beatles and so did I, so he had the animal band play The White Album for me, and we ordered a pizza at 4 in the morning. This was a guy who went from the highest of heights to nothing when his business just stopped one day. He still gets the occasional orders – someone needs a band for a music video, a theme park in Saudi Arabia needs a gorilla … but not like it used to be,” she explained.
Katz really cares about the people she photographs. With a timid smile, it seems she wishes to make the world a better place by showing beauty in things others may find not so beautiful. “I saw the most overweight 5-year-old I had ever seen in the store and thought ‘she’s amazing.’ I’d love to take her picture.”
She finds offbeat stories to tell, such as a woman who makes dolls to memorialize babies who have died. “It’s like a modern version of the popular post mortem photography that came about during the Victorian era, a time when the infant mortality rate was very high,” she said. “This woman puts on layers of paint [on the dolls] and puts the hair in strand by strand using hair plugs.”
Perhaps her lure to the un-ordinary comes from her upbringing. She admits she grew up with a strange cast of characters. “I have an odd family. My grandma was a midget. There are strippers, a brothel owner … our upbringing makes us who we are.”
Except for her few shelves of eclectic knick knacks – small figurines from Tate’s Comics – her home life seems pretty ordinary. When not racing between photo assignments, she shares the responsibility of taking care of her very active 17-month-old with her husband (who works in a skateboard shop) and caring for her four rambunctious pooches.
But her work comes first. “It is pretty hectic. I am on call, have a crazy schedule. I feel like I am always working.” But Katz wouldn’t have it any other way. “I don’t go to bars. I don’t go to clubs. I am a bit of a recluse … I picked up photography as a kid and it is the only thing I really enjoy.”
She repeats that she has a simple, modest life but she feels that her work is sought out because of her personality and work ethic. “Others may live larger, but at least I can sleep at night. I hate to see bad people succeed,” she commented. “I am nice. Editors want to work with someone who is easy, meets deadlines.”
She is amazed that her work is in numerous collections and her journalistic photos are in demand. “It is hanging in galleries and museums around world. It’s nuts to me. I would be doing this anyhow, even if I didn’t make money.”
Although it might seem otherwise, she swears she doesn’t have a message or propaganda behind her pictures. “I let people interpret the work. I am more about getting into worlds most people don’t get to see. I am not fearless. I just have a goal and make it happen – to get the shot.”
When 34-year-old Katz was told she had won the South Florida Cultural Consortium Fellowship for Visual and Media Artists the first time, in 2004, she thought it was a prank call. When she received the award again in 2009, she was also surprised because she thought she had not completed the paperwork correctly. Katz plans on using her grant money to help her take a new step – documentary filmmaking. She has already bought a Panasonic camera and boom mike and taken a “Final Cut” class.
She is excited about adding sound and movement to her images. “I was taking pictures of a woman who had a pet squirrel she dressed up,” Katz said, “and thought how much better it would be to hear her talk about it, hear the sounds of the squirrel…” ?)
Iceland…Pure Energy/ CitySmart Magazine
By Rachel Galvin
There is something stirring within Iceland, a certain pent up excitement just waiting to be discovered. Perhaps it is the geo thermal energy that rushes liked a river beneath its humble knolls created by over 30 post glacial volcanoes, perhaps it is the chatter of birds flying high above its hills, perhaps it is the rustling of a cultured and historic people. Whatever it is…it is waiting to be discovered.
This is surprising for an island the size of Ohio. Yet, located a mere 4.5 hours away from New York this place, filled with only 280,000 people has a magical quality about it. You can feel it as the land softens beneath the incoming morning mist floating over the land, a land that heats only to 56-60 degrees in the summer but remains temperate in the wintertime.
The small size of this majestic land makes it easily accessible. Iceland seems to have a multiple personality, a mood to suit the most finicky of travelers.
Iceland: The Great Outdoors
Breathtaking beauty is just a stone’s throw away. A day could be spent walking through the fjords, hiking and white water rafting followed by an awe-inspiring view of one of the many huge waterfalls here or the majestic whales jumping freely in the ocean.
One of the transportation methods of choice here is the bicycle, which can be rented in the capital city of Reykjavik easily. For more daring explorations, take a tour bus or an all terrain vehicle.
Iceland may seem calm to some but not for those who dare to explore. In fact, this land is a challenge for the outdoorsman, for the nature lover and for the adventurer. It s beautiful sights beckon even the golfer, who may want to come to the Akureyri Golf Club during peak season (July) to golf at midnight. Yes, midnight. At that time of the year, the sun still sits in the sky allowing swings even late into the witching hour.
Here they hold The Arctic Open, a 36 hole tournament, played under the Stableford point system over 2 days (nights), 18 holes each day. This championship tournament, open to professional and amateur golfers, is held June 21st through 24th. (+354.462.2974 www.arcticopen.is)
But Iceland is home to over 50 golf courses so plenty of tournaments are available in the capital city as well and throughout the island. (For an overview of available courses visit www.golfeurope.com/euro_clubs/iceland.htm.)
Others may opt for fishing, hiking through the mountains or cascading down the rapids.
Or what about island hopping? Drive up to Husavik and take a tour with the North Sailing group. This is just one way to get a unique up close and personal view of the arctic wildlife. They have many breathtaking tours available. Take a journey aboard a majestic schooner and experience wildlife up close and personal.
Grimsey, located on the arctic circle is a great place for bird watching. Locals here make their liveliehood fishing. In Lundey, the Puffins come out to play. Siglufjoraur and Flatey island are perfect views of the past. Walk through and see history first-hand in a place where time has stood still for centuries. Visitors can explore the beaches barefoot and enjoy a barbecue.
But one of the real treats is a journey to Skjalfandi bay, one of the most popular European locales for whale watching. Sea anglers can cast their line from a restored Icelandic fishing boat and come home with some cod or haddock.
These tours are available throughout the summer. (+354.464.2350. www.northsailing.is)
Iceland: Cosmopolitan and Cultured
Meanwhile, those who prefer the urban jungle can find all the luxuries of home downtown in the capital city of Reykjavik. Called by many “Europe’s hottest capital,” it has the best of both worlds: the pulse of a small metropolis and a beautiful connection to nature.
The shopping here is said to rival New York and if you are hungry, there is no lack of American faire for the weary traveler. But for those seeking a native treat, the fish is amazing because it is so fresh. The other popular dish is lamb, which spends its days feeding on nothing but natural grasses.
This was also named the number one culture city in 2000. Go visit a museum, see some art, catch a concert. It’s all here. A city that claims Bjork as a native must be great. For a look at what exhibitions are available for viewing and for more information on the many sights of this cool capital, visit www.reykjavik.is.
Be sure to buy a “Reykjavik Card,” this discount card can be purchased for 24, 48 or 72 hours and offers free admission to everything from local pools and hot springs to museums and concerts. It even provides free bus rides.
Ready for a night on the town but not sure where to start? After all, the nightclubs are jam packed till all hours of the night and it would be a shame to finally get into a club that may not be to your liking. Aside from extensive research, a good option is Nightlife friend, this club hopper has turned his hobby into a business offering tourists a guided tour, if you will, of the clubs customized to their requirements. Complete with VIP benefits. (www.nightlifefriend.com).
Iceland: Romantic and Rustic
For the romantic, this cool island is sure to heat things up. One look to the Northwest from Reykjavik on a clear day can give a beautiful glimpse of Snaefellsjokull glacier—only 60 miles away. Although one-ninth of the island is covered by glaciers, this is one of the most popular. Brimming with lava caves, hot springs and beautiful waterfalls, it is the stuff of legends and the foundation of mythic journeys. Author Jules Verne chose this as the entrance to the “underworld” in his book “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” It is rumored that Christopher Columbus himself visited here and heard tell of another mystical land somewhere in the west.
If the breathtaking natural beauty doesn’t awaken the senses, how about a trip to the Blue Lagoon. This geothermal spa, located just a few minutes from the Leifur Eiriksson International Airport at Keflavik, is just a bus ride away from the capital city. This hotspot uses the heat of the Earth itself to create a warm spa perfect for two.
This atmosphere is ideal for soaking your worries away but it also is very beneficial to the skin. The seawater contains active ingredients like mineral salts, silica and algae that are sure to leave skin soft and glowing. The minerals are so good that they even bottle it, using it in their skin care line.
They also offer in-spa treatments for two, including massage, steam bath and sauna. Get an energizing massage from the built-in natural waterfall! They even offer facials, salt scrubs, blue green algae treatments and silica wraps. They suggest booking in advance. (+ 354 420-8832 or + 354 420-8809. www.bluelagoon.com)
To get away from it all, try a farm holiday. Iceland Farm Holidays is a chain of 150 farmhouses throughout the country. The farmers here welcome visitors into their homes for a quaint and personal view of Icelandic culture. There are also activity tours available from here, including fishing, golf, hiking and more. They have a variety of accomodations available, catered to the individual or the family. (354.570.2700. www.farmholidays.is.)
Ready for the adventure of a lifetime? Get ready… Iceland awaits. For more information, visit www.icelandtouristboard.com.