San Miguel Mission – Socorro

  • san-miguel-mission-socorro_dsc6703_cw-6703The final stop on our black and white shoot photo walk was the 400 hundred year old Sam Miguel Mission in Socorro. It’s small and not particularly spectacular looking inside compared to other grandeur missions, still it’s a stop that is worth doing for many reasons.

 

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The current mission was built on top of the original mission, the Nuestra Senora de Socorro, that was destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt in 1680. The original mission goes back to  about 1626. Fortunately, a piece of one of the original adobe walls survived and is visible for all to see. It is situated near the alter and is protected by a glass window.

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Today, the San Miguel Mission remains a vibrant part of Socorro’s local community. According to the head caretaker, who leads a 17 person team, hundred of parishioners attend mass every week.

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In 2016 the San Miguel Mission was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

You can travel directly to my earlier post, Socorro, New Mexico in Black and White,  by clicking on the link below.

https://johngrecoblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/21/socorro-new-mexico-in-black-and-white/

 

 

 

 

 

Our Photography is on Display at FMOPA

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I am excited to announce that both Dorothy and I have two photographs each as part of the Benefits Exhibit at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in Tampa. The exhibit and sale starts today at 4PM and runs through January 20th. This exhibit gives local artists the opportunity to display their work in a museum setting.

If you are in the area, I hope you will stop by and take a look.

 

 

Columns as Art

These columns stand in front of the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native America Art in Santa Fe. The artist, Yatika Starr Fields, is of Cherokee/Creek/Osage heritage. He was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is the son of two artistic parents, Tom and Anita Fields. Fields work has been shown across the U.S. and internationally.

columns-museum-of-comtemporay-native-arts_dsc6606_cw-6603The color, the lines and pattern are what struck me and made me want to photograph it, hopefully adding a bit of my own vision to it in the way it was photographed.

Socorro, New Mexico in Black and White

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   Black and white photography has remained a passion with me over the years, though it has taken a backseat to my color work. When I first began to take photography seriously, more years ago than I care to remember, I shot mainly in black and white.  Since the age of digital, I have shot in color and only on occasion after taking a photograph and looking at it in Lightroom thought, wow, this would make for a good black and white shot. What I have not done in many years is go out specify with the intent to look for and photograph in black and white. That was about to change…

   On our recent trip to New Mexico we, my wife and I, drove down to Socorro, after spending a day and a half in Santa Fe (more about that in a future post).  Socorro is a small historical town about a good one hour drive south of Albuquerque straight down Interstate 25. The attraction was to go to the nearby Bosque Del Apache WLR which is a few miles outside of Socorro. We left Santa Fe on Wednesday morning.  Every year at this time, Bosque del Apache hosts their annual Festival of the Cranes which celebrates the fall migration of thousands of Sandhill Cranes back to the Rio Grande Valley for the winter. The festival is a week-long feast for nature photographers and birders of all levels. It filled with classes and guided tours led by knowledgeable instructors from all over the country.

   New Mexico, over the past dozen years or so, has been one of our favorite places to go at this time of year. Generally, we made our way to Bosque del Apache the week before the festival, avoiding the crowds, but still finding thousands of Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese as well as other birds and species at the refuge. A few year years ago we decided for the first time to go during the festival and signed up for a few classes. This year, after looking at the selection of classes, and finding three that we were excited about, we decided to  do it again. The first class was on Wednesday afternoon and would not take place at the refuge but in Socorro.  Led by Boston based photographer, Don Toothaker, it was called Socorro in Black and White (bet you were wondering when I was going to get back and make the connection to my opening paragraph, huh?).

  That afternoon, we spent walking around Socorro’s town square/plaza and its neighboring area looking for perspectives that lend itself to striking monochromatic images. One of the benefits of going with Don was he was able to gain access to photograph inside some of the various local buildings such as the historical Garcia Opera House, the 400 year old San Miguel Mission and a few other places that we would have not had access to otherwise. For me it was a chance to go back to my photographic roots (not to sound too dramatic) searching for images that lend itself to the art of black and white photography. Below are a few samplings.

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Photographer Jerry Uelsmann at FMOPA

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I became an admirer of Jerry Uelsmann’s work sometime in the 1970’s. I am  vague on how he first came to my attention. Like many photographers I discovered back then, It was either through an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York or an Aperture monograph of his work that I discovered in the Museum’s bookshop. Either way, I became an admirer of the artist’s work and have been ever since.  Uelsmann is a master of surrealistic images created in the darkroom. Using multiple negative images, many photographed specifically to be used as just one element of the final print,  he experiments, studying the possibilities until he arrive at the moment his imagination has been searching for.

Today with digital photography, photoshop and lightroom many photographers can create similar images in much less time rarely, if ever, as good. Despite the digital revolution, Uelsmann, now in his 80’s, continues to use the darkroom as his paintbrush.

I bring all this up because, currently on view at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in Tampa, Florida, an exhibit called Jerry Uelsmann: Undiscovered Self is on view. My wife and I went to see it yesterday afternoon and it reminded of how much and why I admire Uelsmann’s original and interpretive work.

The exhibit runs through December.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Walker Sisters of The Great Smoky Mountains

img_4137-editedOn our recent trip to the Smoky Mountains National Park, our first stop was at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center in the small town of Townsend, Tenn. which lies just a couple of miles from the National Park. In truth, the only reason anyone would come to this town filled with motels and tourist spots is because of its convenient location just a couple of miles from the park. We didn’t know what to expect at the Heritage Center, but we had some time to kill before we could check into our room at the Gateway Inn which does not look like much from the outside, but turned out to be really nice on the inside. The Heritage Center turned out to be an interesting stop.  Plenty of history about the area as well as lots of artifacts going as far back as 900 B.C. Naturally, there was plenty of history on the park and its inhabitants. Dorothy, my wife, who among her many talents likes to quilt, was fascinated by the two quilts that we found hanging in one of the rooms in the center. They were made by the Walker Sisters who lived their entire lives on the land own and cultivated by their father, John N. Walker.

Tennessee was one of the states that had mixed alliances during the Civil War. John N. Walker fought for the North, but was captured during the war and placed in a Confederate prison. After the war,  in 1866, John married Margaret Jane King. Margaret’s father, Wiley King owned a piece of land  in Little Greenbrier Cove, part of the Smoky Mountains. John became a part owner after the marriage.  The Walkers raised eleven children, seven girls and four boys. The family lived on and lived off the land.  John Walker was a skilled carpenter, orchard keeper and a  blacksmith. He planted a variety of fruits, including twenty varieties of apples. They had chickens, sheep and goats among their livestock that provided milk and meat. Walker also had a smokehouse, a barn and a apple barn among other structures on his land. What they never had was indoor plumbing and running water.

The four boys and one girl, Sarah, all married and moved from the family homestead. The remaining six girls remained on the homestead. Margaret Jane died prior to the Walker land becoming part of the National Park as did Papa John who passed in 1921. Ten years later, one of the sisters, Nancy Melinda Walker died. This left five sisters, Polly, Margaret, Martha, Louisa and Hetta who remained in the home when in 1934 the Walker land became part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The National Park Service made various attempts to purchase the Walker land as it did with other homesteaders. However, unlike others, the Walker sisters refused to move.  Finally, an agreement was reached where the sisters received a lifetime lease on the property. Like most sisters, they had similar family traits, yet all had distinctive personalities. Margaret ran the household, made most of the practical decisions, Martha managed all the bills and accounting. Louisa did a bit of everything, but had an artistic side and liked to write poetry which she sold to park visitors. Hetta cooked and knitted and Nancy who passed away in 1931 was an expert at needle work and as seamstress.

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The last surviving sister was Louisa who died in 1964. In 1976, the Walker homestead was restored by the Park Service and opened to visitors.

Looking at the two quilts in the first photo above, one has to remember that these was made during a time when everything was done manually by hand. It took a lot of work and time as well as artistic talent to design.