Creative Combustion: Now Available

catalysts_joan_vorderbruggen_20160128_iyn_027

I’m a bit late to the party about writing up a blog post about this, but back in August of this year I debuted a project that I had been working on since February of 2015, and planning ever since I wrote up my last blog entry, you know, the one from almost two years ago. Well, for once I have an excuse for the gap in my posts, and here it is! The project is called Creative Combustion, and it features 18 artists who are either from, or located in, Minneapolis. The exhibition was hosted by Gamut Gallery and its wonderful staff, who documented the opening night in a facebook album. There is a print edition which is available for purchase from Blurb and a web version where you can view all of the essays and photos for free on Medium, both links are below. If you’re curious about what this all is, read on for full project information.

Links to Creative Combustion

Print edition

Web edition

Press Release

City Pages Mpls Article

About This Project

***This description is taken from the book***

What we might know about an artist’s work, regardless of the medium, often stems from our own perception of that work as a viewer. With prior knowledge of the artist’s intent, we can skew our perception to match closer to that of the artist’s vision. We bring in our own meaning to a piece, drawing from our own ideas, opinions, and life experiences. We also draw in the message that the artist had intended for their viewers to think about and create for ourselves a story behind the artwork and why it is — or isn’t — something that we relate to. However, while each viewer is entitled to his or her own perception of art, how often has an in-depth look at what makes that artist tick, what drives them to create their works, been examined? Responses to the question “What inspires you?” are met with only a short discussion, leaving the person asking with only an interpretation of a response. As a result, the artist’s original vision becomes foggy to the recipient and the true source of the work is left behind and unexplained, despite its key role for the artist.

Among the ever-rapidly growing list of creative individuals in and from Minnesota, there are those with a truly spectacular view on their craft and their motivation behind it. They have shown that innovation is not a concept that they take lightly. They take their work very seriously, never faltering or giving up in their craft. Their work stands on its own, projecting the skill and confidence of its creator. These are the individuals that I began to seek out over a year ago when this project began, hoping not only to discuss their work but to discuss their creative spark, and the ingredients that come together to light it in an event that I call creative combustion.

Like a translator tasked with creating books in different languages, the task that I had placed upon myself was to interpret the artists’ thoughts and ideas and put them into my own words and photographs, going from the language of thought to the language of tangible written and visual narrative. However, my intent was not only to interpret their thoughts, but experience them. If an artist mentioned a location, I traveled there with them or met them there, or if the spark was lit by an idea or a thing, we would make sure it was present in the room before proceeding with our conversation. I wanted to understand the psychology behind their responses by experiencing the spark firsthand and capture it in photographs and words, eventually showcasing the process of creative combustion itself.

Over a year later, I, as well as a few others who have helped me in this journey and have been key contributors to the project, have had the privilege of meeting with a sample of artists from a large variety of creative fields. Painters, musicians, gallery curators, master brewers, and aerial performers are a small sampling of the types of individuals who are featured in this book, each with a unique story to tell about their work and their creative spark. It is thanks to their tireless work ethic, ability to innovate, and unique sensibilities that Minnesota is seen as a state full of creativity. Without them and their generous donation of their time and thoughts, this book, these words, and these photographs would not exist today.

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Freedom in Colorado

It’s good to feel free.

This past December I took some time off and went to Colorado for ten days. I went to visit a few friends and take some time to myself to do some exploring, hiking, and beer drinking. I traveled fairly light, I managed to take everything I needed in two carry-on sized bags. Gear was especially light, I only had my cell phone and my Voigtlander with a few rolls of Tri-X with me, it was all I wanted to carry. No DSLRs, just the basics. I ended up taking a lot of photos of breweries, nature, and spaces I thought were interesting. The photos below tell a brief story of the trip. As always these are straight scans, the most I did with them was a bit of exposure corrections and cleaning up of scratches, nothing more. All photos made with my Voigtlander Bessa R3A, Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC, Tri-X shot at box speed and developed in Diafine.

Colorado Film Scans_20150311_001
Great Divide Brewing

 

Colorado Film Scans_20150311_002
Great Divide Brewing

 

 

I made some new friends at Great Divide, The two in the foreground were a married couple from Texas on a beer tour of Colorado. We got to talking and decided to go to some of our favorite places as a group.

Colorado Film Scans_20150311_003
Epic Brewing

While not a native Colorado brewery, Epic Brewing was our next stop. It was only 8 blocks away and it seemed like the logical thing to do. After a few other watering holes I decided to take a day to myself and go to the mountains. I spent the following day in Frisco mostly hiking around and talking to a glass blower.

The mountains at Frisco, CO
The mountains at Frisco, CO
The mountains at Frisco, CO
The mountains at Frisco, CO
Glass blower. Frisco, CO
Glass blower. Frisco, CO
Glass blowing station, Frisco, CO
Glass blowing station, Frisco, CO

You could participate if you wanted to, he was very generous with letting people heat and mold the final product.

A visitor partaking in the glass blowing process. Frisco, CO
A visitor partaking in the glass blowing process. Frisco, CO

A few more shots of watering holes and breweries. I especially love getting photos of the workers in these places, seeing how things are made is one of my favorite things to be able to witness.

Breckenridge taproom. Denver, CO
Breckenridge taproom. Denver, CO
Boulder Beer, CO
Boulder Beer, CO
Boulder Beer, CO
Boulder Beer, CO
The fermenters at Great Divide. Denver CO
The fermenters at Great Divide. Denver CO
High Five in the brewery. Denver, CO
High Five in the brewery. Denver, CO

I did my part and visited some art museums, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Spending time to dissect paintings and photographs is important.

Colorado Film Scans_20150311_017
Clyfford Still Museum. Denver, CO
Denver Museum of Modern Art. Denver, CO
Denver Museum of Modern Art. Denver, CO

 

I couchsurfed for the second half of my trip. I stayed in a house in Five Points with some very musical and creative individuals. I enjoyed staying there and talking about music and learning from others. This was their living room.

Five Points. Denver, CO
Five Points. Denver, CO

Five Points is one of the most culturally interesting places in Denver, it’s a historical representation of all of the change that the city has seen throughout its existence. I could try to write an article about it but there are so many already written, and I’m not much of a writer anyway.

Butcher Block Cafe. Denver, CO
Butcher Block Cafe. Denver, CO
Butcher Block Cafe. Denver, CO
Butcher Block Cafe. Denver, CO

The Butcher Block Cafe was incredible. A diner after my own heart.

 

All in all, I was able to mentally and physically stretch, relax, and enjoy myself while I was in Colorado. Sometimes having all of that space to yourself is what you need the most.

Twilight. Longmont, CO
Twilight. Longmont, CO

 

 

A change of pace

It’s said that quality matters over quantity, and my personal portfolio has certainly gone the way of much less quantity as of late. I’ve been doing the vast majority of my work for Face Forward recently (see their photo section for that) and haven’t had much in the way of personal prints or photography. I’m trying to change that, though. I’d like to spend more of my free time out and about with my camera when life permits, so I think I’ll try to do that more. I went to Vancouver last summer and got some pretty good photos out of the trip, though most of the photos that I kept were those taken in their vast forestry. No street photography. That felt strange.

Fog I

While I have noticed that the things that capture my interest enough for me to take a photo have changed throughout the years, I feel as though the original intent of photography for me has remained constant: photography is my tool for relaxation and my preferred method of expression of emotions, whether they be happy, sad, inquisitive, or anything else, I express these emotions best through imagery. Subject matter can vary but all the same messages are there, for me at least. I think that because of this constant that I’m satisfied with taking my time with my personal work. I get much more satisfaction and feel more peaceful from putting out something that I care about with the “personal work” label on it than mass producing photo after photo and sharing it with the whole world over and over again. I could speak volumes about each of my personal photographs, each one comes with a story of its own, something that separates it from the other photographs that I take.

Fog II

Stories behind photographs are important, the photo is only half the vision, the other half is what moved the photographer to capture it. I’m not really sure what my goal with this post is, I’m mostly just thinking out loud here, but I had these thoughts on my mind as of late when I looked at how few prints I had created vs the sheer amount of images I’ve captured at shows, festivals, etc. These photos here are the only ones that I have developed in a long time, but I’m attached to them the most. The forest in Vancouver was a place where I could think clearly without hearing the white noise of the city. I spent most of my week there, exploring and taking time to myself.

Fog III

Vancouver Trip_20121221_017

I hope this made sense to at least one person.