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Currently on Display - PART THREE

Currently on Display is our on-going weekly feature investigating the individual works that are included in the show currently on display at photo-eye Gallery. These artist features include the images selected for this exhibition as well as the artists' thoughts and inspirations behind the individual image or images.

The featured images this week are: Susumu Takagi as Matsuomaru and Eri Tanaka, Tono Kabuki by Hiroshi Watanbe, 30 Road and Parallel Piers by Michael Levin and Queen by Julie Blackmon.


Hiroshi Watanabe
Susumu Takagi as Matsuomaru and Eri Tanaka, Tono Kabuki by Hiroshi Watanabe
 "I made these photographs in a small city named Nakatsugawa in the foot of Japan Alps Mountains. The actors are common people, not professional actors. Mainstream professional Kabuki actors are all men. No women are allowed, and one must be born in a family of a Kabuki actor to become an actor. But there are good numbers of community based Kabuki companies in rural Japan. There anyone in the community can join the company—men, women, old, and young. They spend months to prepare themselves to be on the stage for a day. On that day, they sit in front of mirrors and close their eyes while make-up is applied and they slip into elaborate costumes. They become their fantasy and feel invincible in their armors. But there's one more thing to worry about—their lines. Most of Kabuki plays were written hundreds of years ago with ancient Japanese language. They have to memorize words and sentences just like learning a foreign language. They memorize the sound by repeating their lines over and over. On the day of stage appearance, they are nervous and they keep speaking the lines again and again in their heads. That was what they were doing in front of my camera."   -Hiroshi Watanabe

See more images by Hiroshi Watanabe here.


Michael Levin
30 Road by Michael Levin
"When I arrived at the location of 30 Road I felt that I driven into the photograph. It was like coming onto a movie set already prepared. I stopped my rental car almost immediately and got out to look around. There was a high wind blowing so I was very aware of the tall trees and this large expansion of space. My eye was first drawn to the bank of wrapped hay bales; that's what I noticed first. The more I paced about, the more I realized that I had to anchor myself with the line of the road. It was like a tight rope. I felt it pull at me. But it still took awhile before I thought to position my camera level to the road. After that, I didn't take another photograph. In one of the extra photographs, there's a metal road sign that reads 30 Road which is the only way I knew where I was. Otherwise, I was quite lost. But knowing where I am is the last of my concerns when I'm photographing. My process is more intuitive than logical. A place just strikes me as this place certainly did." -Michael Levin


Parallel Piers by Michael Levin
"I typically get up quite early when I'm travelling with my camera because morning light can offer some special advantages. But it's at the very end of a long day, after so much looking around, when the light deepens to a gunmetal grey that a scene resonates most strongly. Those are my magic hours. Parallel Piers came about in this way. I'd been driving along the East coast of Japan looking for something that stood out for me. When I found the piers I thought that there might be something here but maybe not. At that point the light was too warm and the tide too low. But I took the chance that both might turn to my favour and I waited it out. Photography requires patience. Hours later, as the light banked low and harder, the piers became as solid as clockhands and the sky broke perfectly in half with the water. That was it for me. The day closed out and I had got what I had come for." -Michael Levin

See more images by Michael Levin here.


Julie Blackmon
Queen by Julie Blackmon
Las Meninas by Diego Velazquez
 "On this piece, like others before it, my images are largely influenced by Dutch & Flemish painters. In some of my photographs, such as Portrait '09, I am inspired by specific paintings. Such is the case for Queen. The reference is Diego Velázquez's painting Las Meninas (Spanish for The Maids of Honor). The idea came to me on Halloween. My niece, the little girl in white, was trick or treating as the Princess and the Frog in this outfit. Seeing her dressed like this (and also her very stoic demeanor) reminded me of the young Infanta Margarita in Velázquez’s painting, and inspired me to do this piece."

 -Julie Blackmon

See more images by Julie Blackmon here.


Please contact me if you would like additional information or would like to receive email updates about Hiroshi Watanabe, Michael Levin or Julie Blackmon.

Anne Kelly, Associate Director photo-eye Gallery


*Next week's featured artists will be Zöe Zimmerman, James Pitts and Kevin O'Connell

Read the first two posts:
PART ONE - Jo Whaley and David Trautrimas
PART TWO - Tom Chambers and Laurie Tümer

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