Hello Friends, Filmmakers and Photographers,
First and foremost I’m having an artist reception tomorrow night in Livingston, all the important information is on the above promo.
The other day as I was cleaning prints, and polishing frames and glass in preparation for this show, I had some time to reflect on how I got here. And it is indeed a big cliche. I grew up back east and although we had many wonderful vacations growing up, the most impactful was a trip we had taken to Los Angeles when I was fifteen. What a culture shock! And it was California dreaming from there on out. As a thirty year old, I don’t feel the same about it at all. But what that trip did do, was start my infatuation with the American west. When I was eighteen, I don’t think I made it a week after graduation before I bought a used car and set off for the western frontier. Twelve years later, I’m in Montana and more in love with western culture than ever.
As you go through a body of work that’s transpired over the course of years, you begin to see patterns and themes that weave and intertwine through your subject matter. We’re creatures of habit whether we want to admit it or not. I’ve always been somewhat of a history buff. I think it runs in the family. But as I assemble and sequence images, I see that I’ve been chasing history from the most prolific battles of the civil war, across the very tracks that were laid after, to the natives that obstructed government expansion, to Americas first National Park. By all means, I haven’t reinvented the wheel here and truth be told I’m fine with that.
A mentor of mine once said “shoot what you love, eventually it will find you work”. So make sure you shoot what you love!!!
Well, it’s been a long road traveled in the making of this music video. The first time I heard Bags, I was standing around a campfire in Yellowstone National Park during the summer of 2011. Leon (Banjo) wrote Bags in New York City and in the beginning would play it as a solo act for family and friends. In the years to come as Canyon Collected more members to it’s tribe, I slowly heard this song transcend and evolve into something not only new but something of substance. The amalgamation of all the band members experiences came together to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts. May Bags continue to inspire artists and weary travelers alike. May it continue to lift and push the human spirit.
If you’re in the Bozeman area after Thanksgiving, swing by 406 Brewery. My good friend Kenny Gough and I are having an Artists Reception on Saturday the 26th, between 5 – 8 o’clock. Come check out some new work and have a beer with us. Also, our good friends from Canyon Collected will be there playing some Uke Grass and Roll which always makes life a little more interesting. See you then.
Hey Guys & Gals,
I’m Directing a short film alongside a group of the most talented, hardworking and competent filmmakers I know in southwestern Montana. We are deep in the midst of our pre-production process and are only about fives weeks out from our principal shoot dates. Our crew is ahead of schedule and we are wrapping up the final phases or pre-production in which we have a few locations left to acquire as well as some casting. Check out our trailer and read a little bit about what we are up to. By all means, any and all support is appreciated in this god forsaken economy. I hope you enjoy what we have on the table and remember even a dollar helps. Keep tabs on us please, we will apply updates as we push forward.
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On our hike out of White House Ruins, we passed a native man whom I said hello to. I had wondered in my head whether he was a local or not? After climbing out of the Canyon I was sitting on the rim making an image when he came running to the top of the plateau. He cracked a coca cola and looked at me, saying “this is my daily work out, it’s a pretty nice gym, Ya” and then proceeded to laugh as he does after he makes any statement. Roderell, is a native Navajo of the Canyon De Chelly. He told me that he runs the canyon twice a day to keep his mind off of life. I asked him where he lived and he said he stays in a trailer with his brother about a mile from the White House Overlook. We got to talking and he pointed out a series of trees within the canyon below where a house rested. It was his grandmothers house, who had passed away recently at the age of 97. He stated that his parents were alcoholics and that his grandparents had raised him in the canyon. He claims to be very blessed to have had such role models. He was home schooled and later in life went on to achieve his GED. For speaking some what broken English and having had a modest education, I was very impressed by his vocabulary and general disposition.
Roderell pointed around a bend in the canyon where his grandmothers sister lived and he stated that he would check on her daily. I asked what he did for work since the area was so remote? He replied that he would occasionally travel to Phoenix and do construction for a few weeks at a time but admitted to hating the city. He pointed out some other ruins within the canyon and was delighted to tell us about the flora, fauna, wildlife, river systems and agriculture on the valley floor. Roderell makes rock art which he sells to maintain his modest life and help take care of his older brother who is sickly. One day he wants to save up enough to travel to South America to learn of other native cultures.
I have always dreamed of seeing this landscape and now that I have, I vow to return again. I feel privileged to have visited a site of such scale and proportion as the Canyon De Chelly, although I found it haunting to stand in the footsteps of some of the Masters of Photography who had appeared at these ancient ruins and canyon walls many moons before myself. The images made by the likes of such masters as Timothy H. O’Sullivan, Edward S. Curtis and of course Ansel Adams remained etched in my head as I scrolled through history books as both a teenager and novice photographer.
O’Sullivan was a member of Matthew Brady’s gang of Civil War photographers who were hired to document the aftermath of the great battles. Soon after the war, O’Sullivan joined the Geological Survey of the Fortieth Parallel. He was hired as the Official photographer and was responsible for making images of westward expansion for the purpose of attracting early settlers. O’Sullivan may have been the first white man to visit Canyon De Chelly and was certainly the first white man to photograph the Canyon.
Edward S. Curtis was widely known for his vast landscapes and portraiture throughout the western United States during the early 1900’s. In 1906 Curtis was give a $75,000 grant from J.P. Morgan to produce a photo series on the vanishing Native American culture. One of his most recognizable photographs to this day is titled Canyon De Chelly .
Ansel Adams was commissioned by the Department of the Interior in 1941 to make a series of murals of Americas national parks and monuments which were to hang within the corridors of the Department of Interior building in Washington D.C. He was allowed the maximum pay for any position that was not of congressional approval, which was $22.22 per day plus $5 per Diem. Adams entered Canyon De Chelly in October of 1941 during two very stormy days, one of which his car became stuck in a deep mud hole almost causing him to lose the vehicle and all of his photographic negatives. The mural project was terminated in July of 1942 due to rising pressures of WWII. In 1945, Adams applied for a Guggenheim fellowship, which he received, allowing him to return to the parks to continue the project under his own creative visions.
Geeze Louis. We shot all the interiors to this video well over a year ago and we knew we had a lot more shooting to do. The hardest part about collaborating with Canyon Collected is collecting us all in the same room together. But lo and behold a couple weeks ago we finally finished principle photography on hWhiskey. After a great deal of communication over the phone, dropbox and facetime we finally have a finished product. It takes a lot to produce any film, especially when the budget is low but we had a lot help from our friends, as always. Thank you so very much Colter Olmstead, Vinnie Bredemus, Eric Hinsperger, Brock Forette, Brian Hoffman, Suzanna Kostka, Bill and Don Frye over at the Haufbrau and of course the talented members of Canyon Collected. Love you guys and Jake, thanks for writing it.
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of traveling to the front range of Colorado to work on a new Canyon Collected (www.canyoncollected.com) music video titled Bags. Bags should be out in about a month. Naturally, those guys are some of my best friends and they never have two nickles to pay me. Although they do a wonderful job of making sure nothing production or travel wise costs me a single cent for which I’m grateful. I said to Leon the banjo picker ” umm bro, I’m taking a week off of work to come down there, can you find me a real gig for the day”? And sometimes in life when you ask, you receive. Leon ended up playing middleman and connected me with a wonderful dinner theatre based out of Ft. Collins.
Midtown Art Center is a multifaceted complex of Theatre and Stage arts based out of Ft. Collins Colorado. MAC is known for bringing the most relevant Broadway shows as well as original productions to their quaint dinner theatre at an affordable cost.