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Guest Post from Lora R. Fisher, Creative Director of Galri Montaj Contemporary Art

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The Accident

I once won a Blue Ribbon at the Oregon Polk County Fair.

At first thought, not a particularly noteworthy accomplishment, but there is a back-story that I believe is worth telling.

I grew up in a small town in western Oregon. Built on the industry of ranchers, farmers, loggers, and those who provide services to them, Oregon was primarily a rural economy. Each summer, county fairs from Multnomah in the north to Klamath in the south blanket the state.

The town of Independence where I spent my adolescence was in Polk County, which had a classic county fair: dusty, noisy, smelly, and filled with reunions, laughter, and opportunities to show off your skills through a variety of competitions. Women took advantage of the opportunity to present their canning, sewing, and baking prowess. 4-H projects of lambs, hogs, and cattle were a major draw for the kids, along with a decrepit-looking arcade of rides and games where we learned what it meant to waste money.

There were also art competitions: watercolor, photography, and landscapes, primarily, with birdhouses, quilting, needlepoint, and wood-carving filling the crafts portion of the competitions.

During this particular summer, I noticed that they were holding a graphic design competition. Since I was fortunate enough to have access to art classes and spent much of my time drawing, I decided to give it a go. The theme of the competition was ‘Oregon Tourism’, which seemed easy enough.

Since Oregon is also known for outdoor activities, I chose ‘Ski Oregon’ as the slogan for my poster. My design concept was to have the silhouette of Mount Hood in the background. My media: tissue paper, glue, and poster board. Brilliant, right?

I discovered very quickly, however, that applying Elmer’s Glue to tissue paper can be problematic. I had selected a particularly vibrant turquoise tissue to represent the sky in my poster. Painstakingly tearing it into the shape of the sky over Mount Hood, I managed to create the silhouette of our beloved volcano.

After applying the glue to the tissue and then wrestling the gooey substance onto the white poster-board, I was horrified to see it scrunch into a wrinkled mass of turquoise that looked surprisingly like a topographic map that had lost its sense of direction

Hoping to repair the mess, I peeled back the soggy, disintegrating, glue-slathered, and seriously mangled tissue to find a fascinating repeat pattern of turquoise dye floating on a pure white background. The image left behind was the perfect negative outline of Mount Hood.

Knowing an opportunity when I saw one, I carried on with this wonderful surprise effect as the backdrop for my poster. The next step was to add text by tearing another sheet of tissue into the shapes of letters to create the slogan. I happily found that smaller pieces were much easier to handle, and entered this marvel in the fair. Because of this accidental brilliance, coupled with adolescent courage, I received a Blue Ribbon for my efforts.

More important than receiving a blue ribbon, however, was discovering the joy and reward of ‘accident’ in the act of creation. Every artist can recount similar moments of surprise and horror that become the strongest elements of an artwork. It’s alchemy at its purest, and is a huge part of what motivates us to create. And, I believe, it is the driving force behind creativity: curiosity motivated by accident and egged on by chutzpah.

It’s my contention that ‘The Accident’ is the source of all great works of art, scientific discoveries, heavenly bodies colliding, and genetic mutations — powerful stuff.

Forty years (or so) later, I acknowledge that an accident can also be the beginning of a career.

Let’s actively encourage accidents by providing the space for our children to experiment with all manner of media, from mud to metal. The next great accident is waiting for a perfectly wrong combination of materials to collide.

Lora R Fisher
Creative Director, Galri Montaj Contemporary Art

Lora Fisher

The Arts Empower Us…
The arts provide countless opportunities to bridge diverse cultures and to engage with and enrich our communities. Numerous studies have demonstrated that the arts also enhance learning and increase engagement in the classroom, while providing opportunities to benefit from creative collaboration.

The passion that artists exhibit to unite and uplift through the arts, to protect the environment, and to stimulate and support community engagement, are my inspirations.
 My goal as curator of Galri Montaj is to support the creative process, to provide opportunities for emerging artists, and to be a part of the life-changing experience of the arts.

Galri Montaj Scholarship Program
If you would like to support our continuing efforts to provide low-cost services to artists,
please consider donating to the Galri Montaj Scholarship Program.
Your gifts allow us to provide opportunities for talented and deserving emerging artists.

Lora R Fisher
Galri Montaj Contemporary Art

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Meet Talented Photographer ~ Glen Green

This week I welcome Glen Green, who is definitely one of my favorite photographers. His creativity, composition and use of light is brilliant,as is his passion for capturing images that are complex and stunning…Welcome Glen!

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Tell us a little about yourself. When did your interest in photography begin?

Currently, I live in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. My interest in photography is tied closely with my interest in the arts. Ever since I was a child, I loved to draw and I followed that passion first into illustration, then into sculpture, then painting and around the time I was 15 or 16, into photography. I was fortunate, in high school, to own a Nikon (a gift from a family member) and to have the opportunity to take photography classes and to learn about development and dark rooms.

After high-school, I went to University for fine arts, where I studied drawing, painting and photography. But I always maintained a love of photography and film-making in general.

After college, I went into professional fields, and became involved in desktop publishing (then, in its infancy.) I taught myself Photoshop 1.0 and made my living for several years doing photo retouching.

My career has varied over the years, but has always tracked towards the arts and communication, particularly as they intersect with technology. The advent of modern DSLRs made it easier than ever to affordably experiment with photography.

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Smithfield Street Bridge reflected in the Monongahela River, Pittsburgh PA, January 12, 2012, Photo by Glen Green

Who are your influences? Do you have a specific photographer that stands out in your mind? Why?

I look to a broad range of visual artists for inspiration from a panoply of painters to sculptors, film makers and photographers. I can list names, but that seems limiting – It implies that I have a favorite. But, I don’t want to duck the question wholly, so I’ll say that I’ve recently been enjoying Trey Ratcliff’s photography and his approach to sharing, using Creative Commons licenses. I also appreciate the surreal nature of his landscapes and his philosophy of the democratization of photography. He isn’t overly ‘precious’ about photography.

1937 Cord Car Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum Photo by Glen Green — 8369-73wtmk_med
1937 Cord Car Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum Photo by Glen Green

What is the most important thing to remember to get a good image? What advice would you give to those just starting out?

I’m seldom comfortable with saying what is the most important ‘thing’. It implies absolutes where there probably aren’t any. There are lots of important things to remember and it almost certainly matters what you’re trying to accomplish. The most important thing when photographing a person is likely different from the most important thing with photographing a landscape. And even then, it’s not so simple: photographing an older person has different challenges than photographing children.

Perhaps, if I had to make an umbrella statement, I’d say: it’s important to have an idea but be open to happy accidents and new inspirations.
As for advise for those starting out, perhaps the best thing I can say is: know your tools, but don’t use their perceived limitations as an excuse for not getting a good photograph. There are some excellent photos being taken with phone cameras these days and some remarkably bad photos being taken with the best SLR cameras on the market. ‘Limitations’ can be springboards for creativity.

Trains, Gare de l’Est, “East station”, Paris France Photo by Glen Green
Trains, Gare de l’Est, “East station”, Paris France Photo by Glen Green

What is the most memorable response you have had about your work?
I like it best when people get their nose close to the work, back up and then get close to it again – you get the feeling that they’re really trying to take in the image. And I have to confess that it’s a habit that I have: I study the work I admire and it pulls me close and pushes me back.

Where do you find your inspiration? Do you have a favorite subject/theme you like to photograph?

Nature inspires me. That might not be a unique answer, but it is a truthful one. As for themes, they vary but I’ll say that I’ve always loved nudes and landscapes. I also love the surreal and I love nature reclaiming ruins. – There is redemption and hope and humility in that.

Telescope and Sunset, Eiffel Tower, Paris France Photo by Glen Green
Telescope and Sunset, Eiffel Tower, Paris France Photo by Glen Green

What kind of gear do you use? Do you have a favorite piece of equipment or software?

I’m a Nikon guy, but I’m not a zealot. Gear is gear. I won’t say that there isn’t value and even flexibility from a good piece of equipment, but it shouldn’t define your art. But, as far as one of my favorite toys, I’m a fan of the ‘Promote Control’ by Promote Systems. It’s very handy for long exposures, HDR and time-lapse. But, I also love my phone’s camera. It’s not even the best camera out there – not by a long shot, but it is light, portable and virtually always on me. – It’s been said that the best camera is the one you have with you. And playing with a camera phone takes the pressure off of fine tuning settings and allows you to experiment and to always keep an eye out of the interesting.

McConnell's Mill State Park
McConnell’s Mill State Park Photo by Glen Green

Can you tell us what is coming up for you and where we can find you online?

I want to explore pin-up photography, but I feel that I have my homework cut out for me and I need to teach myself a few lessons first. Other than that, no big trips planned in the coming months so I’m happy with summer at hand and the opportunity to catch some classic Americana in the hazy days of summer.

As where to find me: I’m online all over the place. My photography home can be found at GlenGreenPhotography.com, you can read my perspective on the digital frontier at GlenGreenPro.com and you can find a whole list of my sites and social networks on http://xeeme.com/GlenGreen. There you can look me up on Facebook, LinkedIn,Twitter, Google and more – I’m always happy to connect and share.

I would like to thank Glen for taking time out of his busy schedule to chat with us. Please take some time to check out Glen’s work, you won’t be disappointed!