I trekked westward to the wooly wilds of Madison, Wisc., yesterday for the annual Mike-Ctein meetup. Both Ctein and Laura were in the finest of fettles...Laura was just back from Zanzibar or Kathmandu or somewhere, and appears to be utterly unfazeable by jet lag, and Ctein is getting lots of sleep lest he make mistakes in the darkroom in the last days of the grand dye project. So neither one of them had the usual haggard sleep-three-hours-a-night Sci-Fi convention sleep-dep look. He and I managed to get through half of lunch being sociable before lasering in on some intensive shoptalk.
Bye the bye, BTW and apropos of nothing, Ctein has found the camera for him. His 22" prints from OM-D files are superb. (And, yes, in color.)
A couple of Ctein's friends at the convention happened to be former photography collectors (partial to Group ƒ/64 and priced out of that market now), who turned me on to a show just down the street at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art—in fact, we had walked right past it on our way to and from lunch.
It's a marvelous show...at least for me. Much from what I'm beginning to think of as "my era," and yet a lot I've never seen, at least in "real print" form; some great old favorites and some people whose work seldom gets shown. A great variety, which is important to me. And even a discovery! Who is Ida Wyman? A new name to me, but I loved her pictures in the show.
Don't judge the show on the basis of the web page, which really isn't even minimally indicative. Co-curated by Leah Kolb and Richard Axsom (a fact the web page doesn't mention). On view till September 1. The space is really nice, too, open and well lit.
(No pictures allowed in the gallery; I cheated.)
Really a pleasure. Even the museum guards were exceptionally nice! I'm an hour away from Madison, but I might actually make the drive to see "Focal Points: American Photography Since 1950" again.
And you should certainly pop in for a look if you're within a stone's throw of the place and walking past it on the way to a pasta bistro....
*[As Mike continues a running joke that only he thinks is funny]
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Andreas Friedl: "Thanks for pointing us to this exhibition. I live in Madison and had no idea this exhibit was going on."
Dave in NM: "The problem with the faux filed-out negative carrier effect is that in the real world, only the outer (filed) edges would be uneven. The inner edges would have been nice and straight, like the edges of the camera's film gate...."
Mike replies: I think it's the opposite. The film gate always left a subtle signature, but the outer edge (in my prints at least) was always determined by the easel, so it was always regular and completely straight. What I miss in digital black framing lines is that the inside border is too clean. Should be more like this:
Taran: "Come on man...you can't post a Ctein photo and not give exuberant/exorbitant technical detes. What paper is he using, is he printing 16 bit pigment K3 magenta, normal sharpening routine or what?
"How am I supposed to learn?"
Mike replies: One thing from which one might learn is that despite being 103 years old*, Ctein is still taking pictures and making prints on a regular basis.
*In Venusian years. In Martian years he's only 33.