Monday, November 24, 2008


New Moon, Last Night, Color Photograph, (c)2008 Jeane Vogel Photography

This is the week for blogs and articles and broadcasts about how grateful we are - or should be.
Ok, I'll add mine.

I'm grateful for people who want art in their lives.

Does that sound self-serving? I don't mean it that way. Sure, I like making a living and I'm very grateful to be able to feed my kids and pay the mortgage every month (mostly) with  money generated from my work. But that's not what I mean.

I'm grateful that people want art in their lives because that means they are willing to think. To be challenged. To see beauty in raw materials. To invest in something so original that they might look at it differently every time they see it.

It means they want more from life. That's a world I want to live in.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Autumn Carpet 2008, Digital Photograph, (c) 2008 Jeane Vogel Photography

Lots of serious amateur photographers tell me they would NEVER take pictures for a living because they love photography so much that they don't want to turn it into a job -- into a chore. They pity me for my labors.

I ask: do you love your day job as much as photography? No! They love photography more. It's more gratifying and satisfying. 

I know what they are trying to say: it's a hobby, it's fun, it's a diversion. They don't want to push beyond the fun.

Ok. Although I can't imagine doing work I don't adore, they are right. It is work! Whether I'm shooting a corporate headquarters or a family portrait, it's work. When I'm painting, it's work. Eking out a living as a working photographer and studio artist is a challenge, no doubt. And worth every minute.

The serious amateurs are right about one thing, though: generally I don't shoot for fun. The shooting has a purpose. Whether for art or commerce, it's work! I don't make the time for the fun. Unless I'm pushed.

This weekend I shot for fun. Dear friends Hildy and Dimitri were swinging through town on their three-month tour of the US giving workshops and consultations about how to revive our communities and fix the world. You HAVE to read about them and learn about their amazing work with nonprofits. Both are serious amateur photographers and wanted to get out into the city and shoot.

The day was cold and gray but, hey! Let's go! The first stop was Tower Grove Park in St. Louis, a mid-1800s Victorian park that is too beautiful to describe. The trees were past peak, but I looked down and focused on this green leaf among the red and yellow. Until I processed it, I didn't even SEE the purple one! I didn't enhance this image (except for the painted frame). This is what was there.

I would never have seen it unless I had been pushed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I'm going to be listening to Miriam Makeba all day today.

She collapsed and died last night after a concert in Italy to help a journalist who had been receiving death threats for reporting on organized crime. At 76, she was still singing and inspiring and working for change. 

World activists sat up and listened when she addressed the UN in 1963 to call for an end to Apartheid in her native South Africa.  She lived in exile for 31 years --banned from going home because she spoke the truth. 

A human rights activists, singer/songwriter, inspiration. 

Miriam Makeba was a living example of how art saves lives. She will be missed.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

End of the Season

The country and I wrapped up two seasons this week. The connections between them gave me pause and even made me well up a couple of times.

I finished my part of the 2008 art fair season in Memphis this week. Minute by minute, we were getting closer to electing Barack Obama president. It was almost too much.

My booth was two blocks away from the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King, Jr., was killed in 1968. I was in 7th grade. It was a profound moment in a new adolescence. It seemed that my world was falling apart. Lots of other people's worlds certainly were.

My parents did not tolerate bigotry around them. My mom was 19 when she was arrested in Mississippi for collecting money from people on the bus she was riding to visit her new husband in basic training. The people on the bus were black and not allowed to go the restaurant where the bus stopped for dinner. She thought that was stupid and she did something about it. She had annoyed the bus driver a couple of hours before by not moving from her favorite spot in the back of the bus to the front when they entered Arkansas. The food was the last straw -- the bus driver turned her in.

This was the woman who literally threw my head under the bathroom faucet and jammed a bar of soap in my mouth when a yelled a horrible expletive at a black woman walking in front of my house. I picked the word up from my grandpa, apparently. It was something they fought about all the time. I think I was four or five at the time. I didn't know what the word meant, but I knew I would never utter it again.

I was thinking about how all those life experiences have shaped my life and my art -- and what it meant to be exhibiting my art on the street in Memphis last weekend. My phone was busy with almost minute-by-minute Twitter updates on the election from NPR and BBC. I was a little tense!

The Memphis art public is knowledgeable and generous. They were buying this weekend. Thank you, Memphis, for seeing past the fear of the day and wanting art in your homes and offices. 

I think the people I met this weekend were excited for the possibilities to come. There is so much work to be done and one election doesn't fix anything. But it's a start and I'm glad I was in Memphis last weekend. A lot has been written over the last couple of days about the realization of Dr. King's dream. 

Maybe. My 7th grade daughter doesn't really understand why a whole room of white people screamed and cried at 10 p.m. Tuesday night. We knew it could happen -- we desperately wanted it to happen, but we weren't really sure that white America would really put a black man in the White House.  

A little bit of healing has begun. A lot of work awaits us.

I'm ready.