My friends Carl Weese and his wife Tina are visiting TOP Rural Headquarters from their home in Connecticut. They're out today on a sortie in the direction of Rochester, scouting a drive-in theater for Carl and farm landscapes for Tina's paintings, hoping they have enough time to fit in a visit to George Eastman Museum. I stayed behind to work and mind the dogs.
I got to see a whole lot of Carl's gorgeous platinum/palladium prints last night, and you know it always makes me happy to look at prints. He's now doing Pt/Pd prints from digital internegatives of film originals, from digital negatives of digital originals, and from in-camera film negatives—from Pt/Pd renderings of some very early 35mm work to 7x17" contact prints. Lovely.
Although he has taught the art of platinum printing for many years (and is available for private workshops, by the way, in case you want to learn), he continues to refine and improve his superlative craftsmanship, exploring the nuances and shadings of formulas and papers. Some of his extremely delicate, quiet landscapes and nature photographs almost dissolve in low contrast, collapsing into the middle of the tonal scale, while at the same time managing to render fine detail that almost descends into the microscopic. The effect is both soothing and revelatory, and I got kind of fascinated.
One thing he said last night that I thought I'd pass on was, "If you can print, you can print." Paraphrasing, he said it doesn't really matter if your medium is platinum, conventional silver, or Canson paper in an Epson—the techniques can be mastered; the real skill is having good judgment and knowing what you want the print to look like.
Carl Weese. Photo by Bill Mitchell.
This is on another topic altogether—food—but I learned something else about Carl I thought was interesting. He's a lifelong vegetarian, but only because he doesn't like the taste of meat and never has. Even as a kid, he says, he hated meat and fish of all kinds and went to great lengths to avoid having to eat it—he only wanted the veggies, fruits and starches.
I just thought that was interesting because it seems to me that all the vegetarians and vegans I've known have been motivated at least in part by some mix of humanitarian/ethical concerns, or personal health concerns, or because the efficiency of production (global health concerns?) appeals to them. There's usually some amount of virtuousness in the mix. Carl says he doesn't mind those aspects of it but he can't take any credit for being virtuous in any way. With him it's just what does and doesn't appeal to his tastebuds, and that's it.
I fixed a lentil curry over rice, which cleared the bar and was pretty tasty, to boot.
(Thanks to Bill)
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JG: "I have a couple of Carl's platinum prints from an earlier TOP sale and agree they are gorgeous, both technically and artistically. The inkjet prints of his that I have (and have seen) are quite nice, too. And of course, he's also a nice guy! I had the pleasure of his company for a few days when he stayed with me and my family during his Drive-In Theater roadtrip back in 2012 and he's welcome back any time."