Monticello Road is a community arts project in Charlottesville, Virginia. Through photography and a series of public events and conversations, we explore how an art can be an essential, integral and everyday part of a healthy community.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Forest of Dreams

When night falls and the lights turn on, the familiar becomes somehow alien and interesting. Light effects are dramatically different and a strange parallel world, rich in metaphorical possibilities, awakens.

From a strictly visual standpoint, objects (like building facades) that are typically bathed in ambient sunlight are lit from below—to dramatic effect. It’s like stage lighting or the spooky camp counselor telling ghost stories with a flashlight.

A good number of my early drawings from Washington and Europe are of churches and other buildings with dramatic, night-time lighting. When I arrived in New York, I embarked on a series of nocturnal photographs, The City that Never Sleeps, which chronicles the strange and wonderful nocturnal life that is uniquely New York. That project is open-ended and I’ve never really stopped.

Now I think the time has arrived to marry my longstanding interests in nocturnal drawing and photography with my favorite subject matter: trees and forests. I recently visited McCarren Park to gather images for a new series of tree drawings that are nocturnal; I had one specific piece in mind. I found the source material that I needed—and a lot more. My photographs of trees are generally just intermediate steps for me, but these pictures have potential to be works of art themselves.

Maybe I should do just that: a series of nocturnal tree portraits that are photographs—a slightly new but very interesting direction. The subject of the nocturnal grove is as old as storytelling itself and the images are visually powerful in themselves. This is a potent combination worth developing further. Let’s see where it takes me...

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