Lovely Rita


After dropping the car pool kids off for their last day of 8th grade on Friday, I was listening to a little music on WRHQ on the way to work. I listen to WRHQ because they play songs I usually recognize, I can understand at least some of the lyrics, and they don’t have lots of dirty words. In other words I’m getting old. They also play lots of songs I haven’t heard in awhile. A song from 40 years ago by the name of “Lovely Rita, Meter Maid”, by a little group called the Beatles came on,  and It occurred to me that really good artists can come up with inspiration from the most seemingly mundane things.

Lots of people can do great music, paintings or photographs of spectacular places or things, but the great ones can take the simplest things and make inspirational art. Ansel Adams, one of our best known photographers, of whom I am a great fan, photographed lots of really grand places and made great art. But an even greater inspiration, to me as a photographer, of all time was Eliott Porter. At a young age I was greatly impressed by his ability to take the smallest, simplest things in nature, and turn them into images of which I was in awe. His book, “In Wildness is the Preservation of the World” prompted me at one time to quit my job as a banker and move to Maine to see and photograph the things he had photographed. I had never been to Maine, but we packed up a Ryder truck and all our earthly belongings and moved to Brunswick Maine. Eliot Porter’s book, “Glen Canyon, the Place No One Knew”, was a different kind of book, more spectacular scenery, grand vistas, etc. It was a documentary book about Glen Canyon on the Colorado River, upstream from the Grand Canyon, which was being dammed to create Lake Powell. It’s premise that Lake Powell was an environmental debacle is now proving very prophetic, as the lake levels are steadily decreasing because of the water demand both upstream and down. Lake levels at present are 71 feet below full pool, at a time when the spring thaw has raised it considerably.

Now I enjoy traveling to exotic places and photographing majestic scenery as much as anyone, but I am also always on the lookout for the not so magnificent,the more ordinary, and seeking ways to present them that makes them worth spending a little, or hopefully a lot, of time looking at them.

I guess  all artists hope that sometime, maybe forty years from now, someone will look at something we’ve done and be inspired that we took something, however mundane,  and presented it in a way that is memorable and worthwhile.

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