March-April 2014 – The On-Line Magazine of Art, Information & Entertainment – Volume 10, Number 2
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Simone Kearney / Poetry



The road is squeezed into something the width of a thumb,
say. And though it’s a sin to see the authorized articulation
of compression, why don’t you come in, make yourself at home —
here’s a triad of dumb waiters for you to rest your moustache on.

Forget about how beauty walks a razor thin edge, how gravel
is a common ingredient of roads, or that too much economy
can lay waste to the layers. Since I’m drunk, I must tell you
that your bank book isn’t my kind of bank book, and even

though you make good guacamole, I don’t love you, I love
my housemaid whom I abandon late evenings by the western
wing of the western pool where the willow has a good hollow.
Bloated navels under the arches of a dancer’s taut foot, little

shoulder blades cutlets nicely sent towards my tongue, I imagine
it all as mine. And how long can I keep looking at this side
of your face? Are you your mother or your father? Litigious?
Religious? Prestigious? Regardless, please share this pie with me,

I know it’s a stretch, but now that you’re tangled in the heap
of my voices in concrete, you might as well take my arm, confuse
me with this road’s profile, size reduced by half and half again
in the  mirage — profile in the profile between the roads. Watch

the cracks condense, bald spots in the middle where the root
used to be, the obvious tendrils to make me stop dead in my tracks.
Still, I keep waffling in the same sound of your forehead swaying
side to side, or remember when you woke up on my armchair, my legs

in your lap, a lash on a cusp taking precedence over the stories I’d
concocted? Forget the one about the flood that got broken in two,
tho floods can’t break that way as a big old bell bangs out some phrase
like “What is the cause of this clamor?” or “Who among us did this?”

The Nature of It

I write about you as I would Nanking,
your self-propelled intelligence, your
insubstantial neck denied a collar,
your elbows with touching sleeves.
I think that hut-shaped hair induces
a kind of unfazed boredom in a damp
articulate suburb of your head.

As technology advances, you’re more
a mail-order bride’s flawless hem,
a good title stowed away in drawers.
The reverberating, foreseeable future
waffles before you in dream-mode,
little modules of foliage, a half-eaten
pork pie — it stands in for you, love.

You like inland vacations and girders,
gum-like structures, a flurry of ostridges,
hermetic lakes. It lies before you in this
easy-to-manage box all wrapped up.
Though you lack warmth, put a mirror
to your face so that it leans, as it would,
off one of those high bourgeois balconies.


About the poet:

Simone Kearney’s poems can be found in Post Road Magazine, Elimae,
Maggy, Sal Mimeo and Supermachine. She was a recipient of the Amy
Awards from Poets & Writers Magazine in the fall of 2010. She works as
a lecturer at Rutgers and Pace University, and writes for the
Thierry-Goldberg Projects gallery in the Lower East Side. She is also
a visual artist, and lives in Brooklyn.

August 25, 2012   Comments Off

Lauren Tursellino / Poetry



The roof was empty and dark

As if all the stars had died,

And let their souls breath black.

I couldn’t’ dream of the exhaust

That would undulate from their explosion

Eradicate the pipes they smoked

Just to confirm they existed.

Not knowing, of course, something had won.

For before I made it inside, there was one,

Planet or star, I did not know,

And it did not matter,

Because being bonded,

With a handkerchief tying my mouth,

With my body ready to wither,

My soul wanting to escape,

I made it mine; the light was not in my hands

But pretended to be, and seeing it

Through a mirror, I knew this was I,

Nature does not lie except in kindness,

It’s the cruelty it supplies that puts

Every breath, on a pedestal with limp legs,

On the verge of making a fake precipice.

I wanted the light to talk,

To say that Oscar and Goethe had it right.

The endless tears would cease,

And there was holiness to their banter.

But I knew, walking inside,

This conversation could only last so long,

Because life does want to die

And death is its reflection in a clear pool.

Where every undulation,

Every little wave, puts me, it,

And Narcissus together in a trinity of ghost.

I did not want to be the body,

I only wanted it to reach out its light

And Christen the night, and even

The rood upon which I bleed.

Nothing ceased when I went inside,

Except my forgetting to say,

There is more life in frozen light

Than there could ever be in the voice

That does not melt; not hearing all it said,

I bore no conscience in the words that fled.



The white mirror breaks into pieces,

Unnumbered, not cumbered by the red sun

Who would rather it were falling,

And not just beyond the horizon,

But spreading its shrapnel everywhere,

Where shadows ignite, break their smiles,

And all the gallows of the air in black light

And shallow roots, flower in despair.


Still then the swan would fall,

From the mirror’s broken glass,

In feathers and eyes and beak and song

Would color Leda with its dead volcano,

And sever the roots sleeping deep in birth,

Flowering her – to flower itself – in the frozen earth.



I peel your rind away, and hold it up to the black sky. The moon is no longer white, for I cover it with your orange skin. Your body is exposed to the dark light of shadow; the last time it will feel the zephyrs that have traveled so far, just to envelop it. And maybe get a taste of blood: your blood, the cold acid that will not burn, but to destroy itself.

But I am the one who destroys you. I take your pieces away, not to eat. I let them fall in the grass, until they’re gutted. And I want them to rot. To feel the grass, the dirt, and moon envelop them, until they each have their own new rind.

There is no logic to the time it takes for this rind to set a shroud of air around your body. But your body is no longer your body. You are a ghost of another body. And when the rain falls, its shrapnel pelts my skin, but tears at your host, the rind that would protect your ghost, and turns you into dirt.

Still you are armed, with your own shrapnel, to violate the earth, seeds that would grow, if planted. But I let your first rind slip. So it would fall, and be eaten. And the moon is white again. And the rain has stopped. And the sky is an obsidian sheet, scarred with white lights.

And my shadows overwhelm the grass, and the zephyrs nestle like bees seeking their perfect flower. And I have to let you go. The stars look upon me; I don’t know if they think I’m right; to take the night, and cast an orange shroud around it, and dream of the body that was, the ghost that was, now becoming a root deep in the earth.

If I take another body, after daybreak, and peel its rind, and hold its orange against the sun, I’ll be blinded. But at night, when the moon shines white, I am bound, to the body that was. For I can see, in the darkest night, the light of shadow, the seeds I didn’t plant, the ghost that didn’t become, but still made a body, for me.

A star wants to grow, not to be brighter, but to illuminate the black surrounding it. Torn from a greater body of light, that imploded into white shadows. Its rind is now a root of obsidian. So when I look up, I do not see, as it were, the black or white. But the orange rind, the light I held against the moon, that couldn’t be held forever.

Still it becomes forever. No longer a ghost, it hosts the bodies that follow, gives them its own dream of body and rind and ghost. And if I catch my reflection in a pool of water, I dare not hope, but know, you will be staring back.


About the poet:

Lauren Tursellino has an MA and BA in Literature. She’s published in The North Shore Sun, The Improper, College Bound Magazine, The North Shore(ian), and The Abiko Annual. Her literary and artistic influences include Federico Garcia Lorca, Rilke, Keats, Baudelaire, Joyce, Wilde, Bruno Schulz and H.D. She has been living with SLE (Systemic lupus erythematosus), the most recent manifestation involving her kidneys. Still, she abides by Wilde’s affirmation in De Produndis: “where there is sorrow there is holy ground,” and will always attempt to approximate beauty in her words. She believes, at heart, beauty is at best elusive and is its own design.

August 25, 2012   Comments Off

Art and Poetry at Ground Zero

Empire State Building, 1 WTC, Chrysler Building ©Sacha Webley, 2012©2012 Sacha Webley

Empire State Building, 1 WTC, Chrysler Building 


 At Ground Zero,

a convergence of the arts

by  Dr. José Rodeiro
Contributing Art Editor

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work.

— Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 1855

On April 30, 2012, a rare convergence of the arts occurred in and around Ground Zero, as 1 WTC surpassed the Empire State Building as New York City’s tallest building. This architectural triumph garnered worldwide attention for the building itself, those who built it, and the project’s primary consulting architect, David M. Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP. Taking place simultaneously was a poetry reading organized by Meriam Lobel, curator at Tribute World Trade Center’s Visitor Center (TWTC-VC), and involving among others, poets Alan Britt and Peter Messana, student Emma Kuby-Vasta, photographer Charles Hayes and students from William McKinley Intermediate School 259, Brooklyn, N.Y., and Elysian Charter School, Hoboken, N.J. Art exhibits and more – all in memory and honor of the victims and heroes of 9/11.

@ Charles Hayes Photo 2012

Meriam Lobel

But an additional historical take on that day makes 2012 something special, as 2:00 p.m., April 30, took it’s place in New York’s architectural foot-race. This was not the first time the Empire State Building contended to be NYC’s tallest building. During the Great Depression, art was – amidst deep economic fears and afflictions – generally regarded as unessential – perhaps, a bit like today’s post-2007 Great Recession. Then, as now, several gargantuan architectural projects materialized.  In 1930, the Empire State Building withstood a height challenge by the Chrysler Building’s planners, especially its principal owner, Walter P. Chrysler. As 1930 unfolded, both Art Deco edifices went head to head striving to become New York City’s Tallest Building. In the end, the Empire State Building won by adding a lightning rod at its peak, to reach a height of 1,454 feet, while the Chrysler Building topped out at a mere 1,046 feet.

In 1972, until its demise in 2001, Minoru Yamasaki’s original World Trade Center twin-towers challenged and surpassed the Empire State Building, to take the title of New York’s tallest buildings.  In light of this spirited history, completed 1WTC will reach 1,776 feet,  honoring the year of the signing of America’s Declaration of Independence, and earning it the nickname Freedom Tower.


Alan Britt and audience at Tribute Center poetry reading.©2012 Charles Hayes

Alan Britt and audience at Tribute Center poetry reading.

So, while construction workers added steel according to blueprints, in order to guide architectural ideas to fruition, the force of human imagination revealed itself in poetry, art and song.  In A Defence of Poetry, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley argues that civilization owes its genesis to art.  As Canadian-born, Los Angeles-based architect Frank Gehry said,  “In the end, the character of a civilization is encased in its structures.” With this in mind, Lobel wisely encourages young people from area schools to utilize The Tribute WTC Visitor Center as a place to experience human creativity, especially the resurgence of art and life after 9/11.


About the author:

Ragazine.CC’s contributing art editor, Dr. José Rodeiro, is Coordinator of Art History, Art Dept., New Jersey City University, Jersey City, New Jersey.  You can read more about him in “About Us.” His painting is the cover illustration for Britt’s book of poems about 9/11, Alone with the Terrible Universe, reviewed elsewhere in this issue of Ragazine.CC by poet and author, Paul Sohar.


August 25, 2012   Comments Off

Samantha Zighelboim / Poetry


When it comes to being thankful or to considering the dead:
all argument is against it; but all belief is for it.
Consider, then,
Dutch elm disease—a feisty fungus brought over on a ship
fascinating new fauna and fascinated naturalists.  It can
take down
a 200 year-old tree in a matter of months—what then? We
have more sky
once the thing is dead. All belief is for it: who doesn’t
want more sky?
All argument is against it: who wants a dead tree? Simply
put, ghosts
exceed all composition, and gratitude doesn’t deserve any.
What are we left with then? The purest cornerstone for an
This may resemble something like beet salad, but the only
thing is the color of beet. Nothing else could possibly
matter, and isn’t
allowed to, either. Another example may be found in the
bark of a sick tree
in Amherst. But only the bark, you see: not sickness, not
the tree, not the place.
We can apply comma splices to our sentences but all
argument is against it.
We can pretend we are paragraphs of wonder and believe
everything is for us.



How many kernels does an ear of corn have?
Guessing — in this case — is your best bet. Now
think: were we to interrogate the ear, threaten
seasonal shucking, would it eventually let itself
say: Listen, this is how this is going to be, we’re
going to diagram it and outline it as precisely
as possible and that’s the end of it. No more
of this popcorn and polenta hopefulness—corn
is corn is corn and then there is just that
and only that. Solution? Take two sentences
and make them one. CONVERGE. An example:
Hey, I haven’t seen you in a while + I still know
how you eat sweet potatoes at night might result
in: Now that you’re back, I will not forgive you.


Reading what E.D. read before she died
is only a means to an end in this case,
a four-hoofed sentence. That’s sort of sad
for you, no? A subject and a verb — destination
and transport. — How limited must you be?
Point A:
Even rocking horses deserve
the dignity of a decent conclusion.
Point B:
Writing a conclusion is always
the easiest part, particularly for people
who have no problem abandoning.
So what’s the issue? Let’s map it out.
Cartography has advanced enough that India
ink gets to take a breather.We begin here,
end up there. Not a profoundly difficult
concept. Not a tearjerker. Get over it.|
Point C:
That saying about how if a tree
topples in the jungle, it is
the loneliest moment.
That is not how the idiom goes
and plagiarism is a serious offense—.
A bag of books and a broadside are left
behind for us and that is love, and you know
nothing about it, you idiom-wrecker, you
contortionist, you Professor.



It does not necessarily follow
that because the answers have stopped,
the questions no longer need to be asked.
That they have no desire to be asked.
You teach me to transform miles into stones-
throws and meanwhile, I wonder why space
exists at all. Any space, really—but particularly
that one which is unfilled with a reality, any space—
mine or yours, but never both. You are mute.
Eventually you say you have no answers
or that the answers are not yours to give.
This is an unsatisfying answer to a question
I didn’t ask. Which way is West? I can’t tell you
that, it depends on this variable or that variable.
But were I to point my toes West, which way
would that be? Oh, you should only point your toes
in one direction, and it should definitely not be West.


My feelings are valid, even if they’re projections.
Still, I missed you last night and your pictures
on the wall. Across the tiny river I wished for wings
and wept when I finally knew I was a runner, not
a flyer. I knew

you knew. You’d have been proud of me. I dreamt all night
of a common
language and eggplant parmigiana and the living proof there
should be now.

Tonight I used my kitchen for the third time in ten years.
It was lonely. The cat misses you and I can’t explain
to him that you’re still here sometimes. Aren’t you?
Today, you  once told me, was a magical date — a string
of stark ones this

November — but nobody cares about palindromes anymore.
The difference between the extraordinary and the not is enormous, isn’t it.

About the poet:

Samantha Zighelboim recently received her MFA from Columbia University. Her poems, translations, and book reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in  Maggy, Thumbnail, BOMB, Rattapallax, and The People’s Poetry Project. Currently she’s working on her first collection of poems, and lives in New York City with her cat, Buddha. She teaches English and Literature at Mercy College.

August 25, 2012   Comments Off

Sarah Silbert / Creative Nonfiction


Mondays Can Be Like Sundays

By Sarah Silbert

From the oval-shaped flower-bed there rose perhaps a hundred stalks spreading into heart-shaped leaves half way up and unfurling at the tip red or blue or yellow petals marked with spots of colour raised upon the surface; and from the red, blue or yellow gloom of the throat emerged a straight bar, rough with gold dust and slightly clubbed at the end. The petals were voluminous enough to be stirred by the summer breeze, and when they moved, the red, blue and yellow lights passed one over the other, staining an inch of the brown earth beneath with a spot of the most intricate colour. The light fell either upon the smooth, grey back of a pebble, or the shell of a snail with its brown, circular veins, or falling into a raindrop, it expanded with such intensity of red, blue and yellow the thin walls of water that one expected them to burst and disappear.

                                 — Virginia, Woolf, “Kew Gardens”


Life’s pace feels far too fast. Days and weeks lift like startled birds from a field, disappearing before I’ve barely noticed them. For counterbalance, I’ve been re-reading Virginia Woolf’s short story, “Kew Gardens,” which illustrates an oval-shaped garden bed in a city park with the most un-hurried of descriptions. A grass blade, a spot of pollen, the shell of a snail – each bit of life is an adventure in exploration. Color, texture, shape, and light swirl together so that one’s consciousness becomes engulfed by the garden’s sensuality.

"I am thirty-nine. I have three young children: a seven-year-old stepdaughter, four-year-old son, and one-year-old daughter."

I am thirty-nine. I have three young children: a seven-year-old stepdaughter, four-year-old son, and one-year-old daughter. When I connect to my family as Woolf communed with Kew Gardens, my sense of wonder becomes so intense, I lose all form. Electrons and protons fly off, and I am light, shining out beyond my bones and skin, wafting into the sky and trees around me.

Human life doesn’t make such ecstasy easy. Take my kitchen sink. It is always full of dishes. By full, I mean jammed from edge to edge, as one person after another tries to shove one more cup or bowl in it. People start balancing dishes on top of other dishes, so the sink becomes a physics experiment of towers-that-might-or-might-not-fall. I can clean every single one of those dishes, go to the deck to hang laundry, and by the time I return, the sink is full again, and most likely, peas and raisins and the baby’s corn puffs cover the floor, which needs sweeping as often as the dishes need cleaning.

I am not complaining, merely illustrating why an artistic wonder for life is hard to sustain. Chores need doing, from changing a diaper to lighting a fire. Then add the paperwork of managing health, home and car insurance, taxes, doctor appointments, electric and propane bills. And all these daily duties are done around and beneath a job. For me, that means teaching a four-four load at a community college where students are as busy, if not more busy, than I.

Still, I believe our bodies and minds deserve a chance to sink into the rich and sensual details that make up our organic reality, because only then can we love it fully. I’ll never forget the words of a dear friend: “On your deathbed, are you going to regret not having vacuumed more?” From this perspective, much of what I do is distraction from what I will miss. To keep myself focused on what matters, I am writing about all that makes my heart zing.

Naked Wild Boy and Baby at the White River

People from cities and warmer territories cannot understand the omnipotence of winter in Vermont, when our whole world gets locked under ice. House roofs, yards, rivers, cars, fields and forests disappear under snow drifts as hard as granite in winter’s sub-zero temperatures. Color ceases. For seven months we live in black and white like stars lost in night.

White RiverWhat will always keep me is the drama of spring. This long-awaited season explodes out of the ice, a triumphant “hurrah!” of fireworks streaming red and gold and blue and green. With gigantic gulps, the earth swallows away the snow; rivers and ponds swell to bursting with sluicing waters. People walk along Main Street taking off hats and jackets, letting their faces and arms turn hot pink in the sun. They say hello to people they don’t know and “How-have-you-been?” to people they do.

This last spring, my kids burst barefoot out of the house at first light. Their skin was as white as the remaining snow piles, which they tore into with bare hands and threw at each other (and which baby Grace then ate). It was Monday, and I decided to take the two younger kids to the town park while their older sister Stella was at school.

Beside the park runs the Third Branch of the White River, and in spring, this path of water is a frothing ocean of movement. The kids heard it and smelled it before they saw it. Mix wind with a lion’s roar and the watery notes of blue jays at twilight, and you will know that springtime sound. The smells were of upturned earth, moss, and pine. We picked our way through a three-foot-high hedge of weeds, then clambered over rocks to find a small a beach of sand. I could feel the river’s spray from ten feet away.  Immediately, the kids kicked off their shoes. Clothes and diapers followed. Drew and Grace raced each other into the water, with me screaming behind them, “Beware the current!” Ignoring me, they danced in the water like wild horses kicking it up at the beach for a movie.

From the icy cold of the water, the kids raced back onto the sand, digging numb toes and fingers into its mammal-like warmth. Drew threw his body stomach-down and rolled until he was covered chocolate-brown from chin to foot. Then he embraced Grace so that she, too, was covered with sand. Soon enough, they were rolling in the sand together, with Drew screaming, “We are wild sand people, warm and wild sand people!” After five minutes, the sand people pulled each other up and raced back into the water to rinse off, and then they were diving back into the sand, and on and on it went.

Hours passed. Their exuberance never flagged. Eventually, I had to pick Stella back up from school, and I knew, too, that food would soon be necessary. So I chased Drew and Grace back through the weeds to the parking lot where kids laughed and called to each other: “Look at that naked boy and baby!” I didn’t even bother trying to get clothes on them, just wrapped their sandy bodies in their shirts and strapped them into their car seats, planning to hose them down once we arrived back home. They fought me hard, begging not to go home, pleading with me to let them stay free.

“May you stay free,” I thought, settling in my own seat and turning the key. I vowed right then not to lose the rest of the day to have-to’s. Homework, bills, my three stacks of student papers – NO. Even dinner could be a game of hot dogs cooked over an open fire and eaten straight off the stick. The sand people live on!

Crashing Cymbals and Congas on the 15th Day of Rain in June

June in Vermont means rain. Mist swirls, winds blow, and down it comes. In this fertile climate, weeds grow a foot high in a week. Milkweed and meadowsweet reach like seaweed into waving sheets of gray that swipe over the land.

The kids don’t care: they strip down and run outside naked, splashing in puddles as big as bathtubs and making sloppy soups in buckets overflowing with mud and grass. Eventually, they get cold, their feet white and shriveled, their lips blue. That’s when we pull out the drums from underneath the stairs and set up in the living room.

We’ve got two congas and a full drum set, plus all kinds of pots and pans. Grace loves to balance on her high chair and smack her palms on the congas. Drew likes to take charge behind the drum set, whacking at cymbals and snares as if to break them. Stella is always the dancer, twirling around and leaping with colorful scarves flowing out of her hands.

Between songs, the kids take breaks for dress up. This last rainy day, Drew ended up in the pink tutu. Stella got the pirate pants and hat, and Grace wore butterfly wings and a baseball cap put on sideways hip-hop style.  We played musical pillows, indoor soccer with a beach ball, a little gymnastics, and then Eric walked through the door. He was a professional drummer for fifteen years, so when he settles behind the drum set, the house sucks in a deep breath, getting ready to really let go into some body-thumping rhythms. Forget the rain, forget the gray: when Eric plays, the room transforms as purple, white and gold birds swoop overhead, and all five of us swing arms and hips and hair. We toss toys and catch them over our heads or behind our backs. We call out loud to each other and to our own dancing bodies – “Alley-oop!”

I don’t always feel happy or passionate or even awake. Occasionally, my eyes feel black, and I want to hide under a blanket and pretend I have no job, no kids, no one at all in my life. The drums change all that. My feet move as if operated by a happy person’s strings. I see all kinds of colors, and then I become them, stretching out of my rainy day malaise into a rainbow, believing once again: Yes, yes, the pot of gold is here, right here, right now.

The Wonder of Losing a Bottle Cap in a Couch

Stella was at school. Drew was at pre-school. Eric was at work. The day outside was cold and rainy. The baby and I looked at each other. Sometimes you want a party, and no one’s around! Grace was tired of the animal book with different textures of fur on every page. She was tired of the blocks she’d learned to fit together only a few days ago. She was even tired of Drew’s electric choo-choo trains and told me so by throwing all three off the couch.

“Well, then, what do you want to do, Grace?”

She had no response other than to throw yet another toy off the couch. Feeling a bit blank, I reached around her to grab my water bottle and take a swallow. The top of the bottle was loose and fell off as I pulled it from the window sill to my mouth.

“Ooops.”  I was about to get the top when I noticed Grace. Her eyes were huge, as if a genie had flown out of the bottle. She lifted her hands, palms up, right in front of her face and gave one of her telltale squawks:


The gesture she used is the exact one we use when we play ball. I throw the ball, then lift my hands in that exact position and exclaim, “Where’d the ball go?” So now, I asked her, “Where’d the top go?”

She repeated her squawk and held the hand gesture perfectly. I moved a pillow, looked into the depths of the couch. Grace looked with me. And there it was, glowing like an exotic, white orb. Grace screamed. I screamed. Then Grace plunged her hand in and got the top and held it out to me with her eyes shining like two planets reflecting the sun.

I applauded her, then took the top. Grace screamed and applauded me. I tossed the top in the air, and together we watched it rise, fall, then disappear.

Grace: “Squawk” and hand gesture.

Sarah: “Where’d it go?” and hand gesture.

Repeat three times.

Finally, we moved a pillow, then another, until…ahhhh YES! There was the treasured white orb! We clapped hands for a solid minute.

I believe we played this game for a full hour. At no moment during this hour did Grace’s enthusiasm wane. She was enraptured. Here’s the top…Now it’s flying…Now it’s gone…BUT MAMA AND I CAN FIND IT!!!

A feeling of magic began to sparkle inside of me. I felt so lucky to be able to play with my baby like this, in the middle of the day, without any worry or guilt. I didn’t have a thought for dishes or dinner or that long list of professional projects taped to the fridge (highlighted with arrows and exclamation marks). I was as lost in the wonder of that bottle top disappearing in the couch as Gracie was.

When Grace’s older brother was born, I wasn’t so free. His dad was working sixty hours a week sixty miles away, and Drew was either with me at work or in a college dorm hanging out with my team of babysitting students. After our own work day, Drew would be on my back in a pack as I got wood from the back yard and wheel-barrowed it inside to re-start the fire in the woodstove. We’d make dinner, do laundry, and take care of all that stuff one has to manage when caring for a home and child. We were a powerful team, Drew and I, and we had some fun, but we didn’t get to do a lot of hanging out.

Grace and I, in contrast, have had it easier. I’m on sabbatical and don’t have to be on campus all day. Eric is working closer to home, part-time. So I can lose myself in the wonder of my baby’s wonder, and we can play a game. We can watch a piece of plastic disappear, and then we can make it re-appear by moving a few pillows. We learn together: what gets lost, can be found.

Thank  you, Grace, for this moment, two people, so happy, grateful, full of love.

Dates with Drew

Being a big brother can be so hard. Sometimes Drew throws himself across my lap, fingers and toes dangling towards the floor as he sobs. His heart pounds rhythms of pain into my knees; his cries break like glass in my ears. I wish I could give him relief. I run my palms over his soft blond curls and rub his back as he cries and cries and cries.

Before Grace was born, I was all Drew’s, especially the lap-of-me. He could crawl on it anytime, for two-and-a-half years, and then, all of a sudden, a baby was there. And she was there all the time! Nursing, nursing, nursing!

"Drew and I did everything together...."Almost as horrific as the loss of the lap are the toys. The baby’s gotten old enough to take them. She grabs them out of their assigned roles in Drew’s elaborate choo-choo train and tractor dramas, and then she runs away with them, wrecking everything.

She’s also horribly cute. She has red hair and red cheeks and a smile that gets everyone playing with her. It’s sickening, and it’s sad, and sometimes for Drew the whole world sucks.

“Choose three things that are sacred for you and your son,” my midwife told me before Grace was born, “and continue to do them after his little sister comes along. Let him know that no matter how many changes are occurring, you still have your sacred three things.”

I couldn’t think of only three things. Drew and I did everything together. He came to work with me and played with toys in my office or sat on my lap as I typed, and he even came to class. He was also my social buddy, accompanying me whenever I visited friends or went to movies, parties, or concerts. Most importantly, we walked the woods together. Every day, sometimes early, sometimes late, I’d wrap him in sheepskin, give him two Fig Newtons, settle him in his “napwagon” (a jogging stroller), and head out into the woods. We sang together on these travels, a made-up melody with words about flowers and birds or snow and mountains, depending on the season. Eventually, Drew would sleep, and I imagined his dreams full of the forest’s fresh air. When we returned home, we’d bathe, and then we’d do chores or visit friends for dinner. Before sleep, we would read at least ten books, and… How could I possibly choose three things out of an entire life?

What I was able to do was pick one afternoon that would always be ours. Every Thursday, Eric takes the girls, and I pick up Drew at his Montessori Pre-School. In the back of my car is Drew’s “tall” bike, which he rides across town to the cafe, where we eat a pumpkin muffin and read ten (or more!) books. My lap is all his during this time, and so is the rest of me. If friends happen to pass through the cafe, and I say hi to them, Drew puts his hands on both sides of my face and begs, “Please read, Mom!”

When Drew’s ready, we go back outside to bike anywhere and everywhere. My backpack flaps like crazy as I run after my speed freak up sidewalks, across fields, and down slippery banks to the river. We go and go and go until twilight hits and the air gets dark and cold.

This bike ritual must be honored no matter what the weather. When the sidewalks are slick with ice and the wind-chill drops below zero, we’re still out there wearing face masks and boots. If it’s raining, we get soaked, and I bring towels for us so we can dry off in the cafe. Our bike rides have become a part of town lore, and the local paper even ran a colored photo of Drew racing through a puddle as wide as the road. I feel such a thrill running by my boy’s side: we’re a team, he and I, indomitable and joyous and fast.

These dates are sacred also because, in between bike rides and books, we get a chance to talk. Drew opens up about friends, feelings, favorite and least favorite foods, imaginary building designs, toys, places he wishes to travel. Words flow out of him, like bubbles released from an empty bottle held underwater, and I become, again, startled and awake: here is this boy, my boy, thinking and feeling and dreaming his way through our universe! So often, parenthood is too full of trying to feed, clean, influence, and control one’s kids. I treasure this time where I am, instead, free to connect to Drew, exactly as he is, in the midst of our ever-changing lives. You were my first burst of new life, dear Drew, and let’s always zoom off to crazy adventures together!

Love in a Field

Kids are great, they’re a parent’s reason for living… BUT… BUT… BUT…sometimes you have to leave them in somebody else’s care. A million reasons for occasional separations exist, but I’ll focus on the most fervent: You’ve got to have time with the person with whom you made them.

Eric’s birthday is in late May, and we’ve started a tradition of abandoning our little ones with grandparents early in the morning. We pack a slim backpack with water and cookies (No diapers! No extra clothes and multiple baggies of healthy snacks and bug-off and sunscreen and wipes and toys!), and we take off into the woods.

We have always loved to hike together. This early morning, when mist was still thick beneath the trees, we found our way to a river, climbed over one small mountain, and passed through groves of hemlock, then maple, then hemlock again. Our conversation rambled on like the land, touching upon all kinds of wishes – to see Scotland and gallop horses over the moors, to make a map of our territory and give names to all our favorite spots, to sell our novels and give money to our passions (hydro research for him, runaway girls for me). The sun climbed high, and the air warmed. Sometimes we held hands; sometimes we walked single-file. We always felt close.

Around noon, we wound our way back to the homestead, stopping for water and rest in the Upper Meadow. This twelve-acre circle of green has always enchanted me. It’s the first place on the land that made me say, “Yes,” knowing I wanted to live here forever. Far from roads and homes, it is fully enclosed by thick, stately trees at least half a century old. The grass is tall and soft. In the breeze, it looks like a sea cove of gentle waves.

On Eric’s birthday, bright yellow buttercups, orange paintbrush, and cobalt bedstraw were bouncing everywhere. I sighed, sinking down into the tall grasses, pulling Eric down with me. How could I not? Holding hands with a lover in the woods while dreaming like kids is the most delicious form of foreplay. Our clothes came off, and he was inside me as quickly as a starling opens its wings and lifts off ground into air.

And that’s where I felt I was – in air – spinning around and dancing upside down on the sky-blue floor of the world. I could feel the cool earth on my bare back, and then, when we rolled over, a warm breeze embraced me as I rose over Eric. His red curls became green grass, and his eyes closed. We rolled over again, and again. The land held us as we held each other. How luxurious not to be in a rush or behind a closed door! With such an abundance of time, love, and relaxation, every part of one’s body can join in that magical swell of release that lifts two people into the stars right in the middle of the day.

“Happy Birthday,” I sighed, when we lay later entwined on the grass with the wildflowers still dancing. Clouds had moved into the sky, and a few drops of rain started to fall. Yet we dressed slowly and held hands again while walking down the hill to the homestead, ready to grab hold of our kids and re-enter the world. May our birthdays always be magic, just like this.

Peter’s Pond

Late afternoons can be tough. The baby becomes a desperate nursing machine, and Drew needs hugs and lap-time RIGHT NOW! Stella struts in her sarcastic costume, and dinner, oh dinner isn’t ready. It’s not even started, because I don’t know what it’s going to be. Yet it must be dinnertime, because Eric’s here, covered in sweat, diesel fumes, and dirt, exhausted from cutting down a hundred trees and…and…and…I don’t want to deal with any of these people. I want to go for a walk. I want to sit somewhere by a tree. I want to write so the movements of my mind can solidify into language.

Thank the gods for Eric. When he notices that all-familiar desperation gripping me, he places his warm, large palms on my shoulders, leans his scratchy chin near my cheek, and “Want to go running?” he asks. I sigh with such gusto that my breath probably causes waves in the Atlantic. He doesn’t even wait for an answer, just gathers up the kids and lets me hunt for my running shoes.

For some people, running is a have-to. They do it to make their legs and hearts strong, or for some other end. They don’t enjoy it, and they wish that the trial would end the whole time they’re doing it. The opposite is true for me. Running is my relief, my passion, and it’s even become my vice. I want to do it every day, for an hour, or two! And what adult in this modern western world gets an hour or two of time alone every single day?

I gallop up the hill anyway. I feel so light! I hear no human voices, not even my own. There is only the breath of the sky in the trees and the breath of me, one, two, three. I inhale colors – blue and gold and green – and I exhale every single bit of my life, high chairs and car seats and voice mails and emails. I breathe faster and harder, and my legs kick up even more speed, and my arms, too. Eventually the more sticky stuff gets breathed out – the emotional tensions between siblings, between Stella’s mom’s household and ours, between my wish to be a stay-at-home mom and my drive to be a professional writer. I breathe it out, out, out. I’ve been addicted to running ever since I was in high school and learned that frustration and fatigue can dissipate into flight. So I breathe and run, breathe and run. By mile three, I’m more air than flesh, and the bones of my back open into wings. I’m not on the ground anymore. Thank God. I love this earth, but I sure love leaving it, too.

If I have more than an hour, I stop for a moment at Peter’s Pond. This bit of water sits at the top of the mountain, clean as rain. Maybe it’s fifty feet in diameter, surrounded by grass and lupines. I’ve been swimming in this pond for five years now. I first jumped into it when I was pregnant with Drew. He was conceived in December, and once college classes ended in the following May, I began to walk up the mountain every day. A strange fatigue had inhabited me, and I could no longer run. Neither could I be still, though. I had a lot on my mind, and not much of it felt good. Drew’s father and I were fighting terribly, and so were my mother and I. My closest friend died of cancer, and I felt terribly alone without any kind of home or refuge.

The single source of light in my life at that time was Drew. I was utterly enchanted by this growing life within me. I hugged my baby all the time, wrapping my arms around my growing belly and holding tightly. Every morning, I filled a water bottle and took off up the mountain, talking to my baby, letting him smell river water and wildflowers with me. We listened to the mourning doves, the jays, the grouse. I had to rest often on my hikes, and lying on my back in a grassy field, I’d lift my shirt so the sun could sparkle in my baby’s eyes.

When spring became summer, and temperatures climbed into the nineties, that’s when I discovered the blessing of Peter’s pond. Peter had been inviting me to use it for years, but I had always felt shy. Now, I was still shy but desperate enough to let that shyness go. The pond hides about three hundred yards away from the road, so one day in June I just stripped down at its bank and jumped in.

The water made me gasp! I might even have cried out. It was so cold I felt I’d swallowed an ice cube as big as me. My heart beat wildly enough to make waves of its own.

None of these sensations mattered, though, because I also felt the baby kick. And that  sensation eclipsed everything. It eclipsed the pond, me, and the whole world. When at last I was able to climb out of the pond and collapse on the grassy bank, I placed my hands on my goose-pimpled belly and waited for more. “Baby, talk to me again. Morse code. Come on.” I didn’t know Drew was a boy then, so I always just called him, “Baby.” I talked to him often, even before he’d been conceived, but by that pond, with his movements, I finally found an answer.

Every day after that first dip, I swam in Peter’s pond until Drew was born. I did somersaults in the water, floated on my back, dove down deep to plunge my hands into its murky bottom. My mind was so tied up with fears and hurt, but my body felt delicious. So I stayed there, in my body, in Peter’s pond, talking with my baby, the two of us swimming in God’s waters together.

After Drew was born in September, I took a short break from the pond, but by spring, I was back there again, this time with Drew asleep in the jogger. We’d run up the mountain together, and I’d dive in the pond to cool off, and then we’d run back down. Sometimes dragonflies and butterflies would perch on Drew’s arm while I swam. He always seemed so serene in his stroller in the shade of maples.

Peter’s pond has continued to stay with me through even more changes. Eric and I no longer feel like separate entities: we are pledged partners, and his daughter Stella is a consistent and beloved presence in our household. Grace is with us now, too, and our family of five feels like a magical five-pointed star.

More changes are that Eric has brought animals to our land. We have pigs and ducks and cows and turkeys now. Other animals may arrive in the future. (The kids are begging for bunnies and goats.) The gardens have expanded dramatically, and we’ve planted three fruit trees and a red oak. The little clearing and cabin I created eleven years ago has become a lively, even stately homestead.

Family changes are not the only ones to have occurred over these last years of my first becoming a mom. Three presidents have been in charge of our country; wars have ended and re-begun. Gas has tripled in cost, and food seems to have doubled. The stock market has crashed, and so has the housing market.

Everyone’s life is in flux; it’s good to have a touchstone. Standing beside Peter’s pond, then swimming deep into its core, I’m able to feel and even be familiar to myself, no matter how much change has occurred in my life or family or country. And from that place of familiarity, I’m able to see the changes clearly and to evaluate them. I open my arms to the dark waters. I give thanks to all who helped this season exist exactly as it has for my family and me. I don’t stay long. I can’t wait to hug my kids, my man, my home, my life.


About the author:

Sarah Silbert lives and writes in Vermont with her partner and their three children. She serves as an associate professor at Vermont Tech, where she specializes in creative writing and service learning and coordinates a community literacy program for elementary school children. She has published essays in The Sun, Ploughares, Agni, Hope Magazine and other journals.


August 25, 2012   Comments Off

Michael Jantzen / Art & Architecture

Rocking House

Rocking House


The House As A Metaphor

(A series of conceptual art sculptures)

By Michael Jantzen
© 2012

The House As A Metaphor, is a series of conceptual-art sculptures that incorporate a simple symbolic shape of a house in each of the pieces. In some cases the title of the piece is very directly related to its finale form, and in others, the title and the form are more abstractly connected. In every case, the intention was to play with the image of the house, and have some fun with it.

House With One Rotating Piece

House With One Rotating Piece


House Of The Lord

 House Of The Lord


Track House

Track House


Dream House

Dream House


House In The Clouds

House In The Clouds


House With Orbiting Doorway

House With Orbiting Doorway


Heads Of The House

Heads Of The House


House Flipper

House Flipper


House With Four Exiting Piglets

House With Four Exiting Piglets


Shadow House

Shadow House


About the designer:

Michael Jantzen is an artist/designer whose work has been featured in hundreds of articles in books, magazines and newspapers around the world, including previously in Ragazine.CC. His work has also been shown in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  His work merges art, architecture, technology, and sustainable design into one unique experience. He lives with wife, photographer Ellen Jantzen, in Missouri.

August 25, 2012   Comments Off

Raul Villarreal/Artist Interview

Raul Villarreal at home, Foldes PhotoMike Foldes photo

Raul Villarreal at home. 


Cuban in America

 By Mike Foldes

Q) It has been a pleasure getting to know you through the We Are You Project and our introduction by Jose Rodeiro. The book you wrote with your father about growing up in and around the Hemingway household in Cuba, Hemingway’s Cuban Son, offers a unique perspective on the writer and his life, but more to the point, how your father’s and mother’s lives, and your family’s, were shaped by the relationship. How much of those times do you remember and how much of what you remember are your father’s or mother’s memories that they’ve shared with you?

A) Incredibly enough, I remember those days in late 1967 and 1968. I was three and four years old. My father would come home for lunch early in the afternoon and after lunch carry me on his shoulders for several blocks up to the Finca Vigía. I enjoyed that perspective of being on my father’s shoulders. He was not tall at just 5 ft 8 inches, but he was a strong man. My two older brothers would then join us after school. He allowed us to play and roam the Finca grounds freely but we were to be quiet whenever there were visitors and he had to give a tour. Then we watched as the visitors admiringly listened to his every word and how effortlessly the information flowed from his lips. My father relived every anecdote and detail that he told the visitors with great passion and they appreciated him for it.

At the Finca, I was always impressed with a bullfighter suit that was kept in a closet. My father would show it to me often. It had been Antonio Ordoñes’, who was a very famous bullfighter of the 1950s and one of the protagonists in Hemingway’s “A Dangerous Summer.” The Hemingway relationship with the Villarreals has really defined us as a family in the United States and in Cuba. We were very fortunate that Mary Hemingway, his fourth wife and widow was able to get my parents and the five children out of Cuba and into Madrid, Spain in 1972, and eventually the United States in 1974.

My family in Cuba still has visitors and journalists from all over the world visit and interview them. Several of my Hemingway scholar friends who have traveled to Cuba have visited my aunt’s house and met my father’s identical twin brother, who also knew Papa Hemingway. Though my father stopped giving interviews in Spain in 1973 and refused to speak to anyone about his 20 years next to Papa Hemingway, it was not until the spring of 1999, when a friend of mine told me that CBS Sunday Morning was interested in an interview with my father. By then we had started working on the book and my father agreed. He trusted my judgment and I have been his translator ever since.

Raul Villarreal in his studio, Foldes Photo

Raul Villarreal in his studio

We had a wonderful time in Cuba with CBS. They flew us to Havana for a week and Charles Osgood interviewed my father for four hours. They got along beautifully. Osgood was very interested in my father’s anecdotes and details about the house. He was a real gentleman and so was the rest of the CBS crew. “Papa’s Place” aired that June on CBS Sunday Morning with my father’s piece being the opening segment. I was given the opportunity to do the voiceover for my father. It was truly a wonderful experience.

Q) You have said you consider yourself Cuban, not Cuban American or American Cuban. Essentially, you are one of the exiles in the Cuban diaspora. What about your wife and children or the children of other exiles. How do you think they see themselves, and how should they (if “should” is the proper word to apply)?

A) I consider myself Cuban because I was born in Cuba and even though I left the island at a very young age, I feel that my roots will always be Cuban. I am very proud of my Taino, African and Spanish mix. I love my life in my adopted and beautiful country of the United States. I would consider myself a Cuban who enjoys being a world citizen.

I have been very fortunate to have traveled to many different countries and experienced diverse cultures. There is often something from those places that I try to adopt into my way of life. In doing so, I believe that the country, the essence and its people will stay with you always. I enjoy bringing back mementoes from my trips and having them all around the house in different niches, so when I walk by them, a memory would be triggered of the place and I can relive a certain moment.

My wife (Rita) and I have no children. She is Cuban also but arrived in the United States at six months. She considers herself American. Early on in our relationship, we made the choice not to have children. We were then studying a lot and started traveling. We do have many nieces and nephews from both sides born in the U.S. I know that they, my nieces and nephews, feel more American than anything else. They have a sense of where the family is from and speak Spanish (some better than others) and most enjoy the Cuban cuisine, and the Cuban family dynamic, which at times is funny, frantic and loud. Well, at least our family is.

Q)  You say in the book that your parents saw your creative side early on, and allowed it to develop independently of any other direction you might have taken in life. How did having that kind of freedom to pursue your dream differ from what you might have experienced had your family remained in Cuba? I know this is entirely hypothetical, but there are others in Cuba who were unable to leave, who would answer this question in a much different way.

A) Yes, I am very thankful to my parents for recognizing that I was an artist from an early age. I started to draw horses frantically at the age of three. Most of the time, I could be found under a table with pencil and paper at hand drawing a horse. My father’s younger brother Oscar is an artist. He would draw a horse for me and then asked me to copy it. I tried and tried to get as close to his as possible. I drew only horses until I was 10 years old. I love horses and still do to this day, however I have not painted or drawn a horse since 1986. They are too sacred for me at the moment.

I believe that my father’s friendship with Ernest Hemingway gave him a unique insight into an artist’s persona. My parents allowed me to grow as a person and as an artist simultaneously. They encouraged me. For my fifteenth birthday my parents bought me a drawing table. I sill have that table in my studio and it will be there until the day I die. I will forever be grateful to them for their support and understanding. I think that if we had stayed in Cuba, I would have still pursued the artist’s life. It has been my calling ever since I can remember. I really can’t see myself doing anything else.

Q) Do you anticipate with the changing times and relationship between Cuba and the U.S. that you would be able to go back and live a “normal life”, or is the “normal life,” as it were, here in the States?

A) I am always hopeful for a better relationship between the United States and Cuba. I still have lots of family in the island and wish that travel would be easier between the two countries. As far a “normal life” that is always up to the individual and how they want to live their life.  The situation in Cuba right now is not the same as in the U.S. and for that matter, many countries around the world do not have the same standard of living that the U.S. enjoys. There are a lot of things that need to change in Cuba. It will take years but the process has started and I hope that both countries will work with open minds to better their relationships. I have my life and career here in the United States. The U.S. is a great base to travel and explore the world.

Q) From your perspective, what will it take to bring the U.S. and Cuban experiments closer together?

A) From my perspective I think that perhaps more cultural and academic exchanges will help to forge a strong bridge between the two countries. I also believe that the younger generation (those born in the 1980s) from both sides is eager for this cultural bridge and change. With technology the world has become a smaller place and communication is faster than ever before. We live in an immediate society and in order to be a part of that society a country and a system must evolve. China is one of several examples of that change. The Chinese are welcoming and encouraging cultural exchanges. Their society had to evolve to something different in order to survive.

Q) Where did you attend university/study art? What instructor(s) do you remember most and why?

A) I received a BFA from Jersey City State College in Jersey City, New Jersey back in 1988, with a concentration in graphic design and illustration. After graduation I worked as a graphic designer in New York City for 15 years. I worked all for the same company right after college. The owner treated me well and I worked hard and eventually became the art director/office manager. I made really good money but always kept up with my fine art and exhibits.  The reality was that I had two professions which took a lot of time and effort but I did it because I loved it. The undergraduate professor who has had a significant impact in my life has been the internationally renowned artist, Ben Jones, who to this day is a very dear friend and I consider him my mentor. The other professor was Dorothy Dierks Hourihan. I consider her my guiding angel and Godmother. She has always been very supportive and a guiding light. I decided to go back to school for my MFA in 2003. Jersey City State College had become New Jersey City University. I had started teaching a graphic design course there and loved the experience.

Then the following semester I left my job in NYC and matriculated as a full-time graduate student. Ben Jones was still teaching and welcomed me with open arms. During the day I would teach a graphic design course, then, in the evening, switch hats and became a graduate student. It was during my graduate studies when I met Dr. José Rodeiro. I immediately liked him and knew that he would be a friend and great influence.



Q) Who were your major historical art influences? What styles did you experiment with as you developed your own voice and vision?

A) During my undergraduate years, I looked at the work of several surrealists such as Rene Magritte, Max Ernst, Joan Miro, Dalí, and also several Renaissance artists such as Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci. I was fascinated by Renaissance drawing. At that time, I also looked at the work of Cuban artist Juan Gonzalez, and Puerto Rican artist Juan Sánchez. I liked what they were doing with issues of identity and displacement. As a graduate student, I studied the work of hundreds of artists. Dr. Rodeiro was and probably still is very demanding in his graduate art history courses. I was exposed to hundreds of artists from diverse disciplines and even more diverse backgrounds. In the latter part of my graduate studies I started to concentrate more on the philosophical and theoretical artistic approaches, and started to read Homi K. Bhaba’s postcolonial theories, as well as anthologies written and edited by Gerardo Mosquera, a Cuban curator and theorist.

The more I read about post-colonialism in the context of postmodernism, the more I became interested in issues of identity, multiculturalism and transculturalism. Having grown up in Cuba, I experienced multiculturalism and transculturalism at an early age. The issues of identity were a common everyday reality. At some point, I remembered my father telling me how Papa Hemingway would advise him that if he ever wanted to take up writing, he should write about experiences that he knew and actually lived. Hemingway said “because then the work will flow easier and be honest and true.”

I took the advice Hemingway passed on to my father and my graduate work became more personal and focused on my personal experiences as a Cuban, who left his homeland, lived in Madrid, Spain, and settled with his family in Union City, New Jersey in 1974. And since 1996 has enjoyed traveling and experiencing other countries around this wonderful world that according to Hemingway “… is worth fighting for.”

Q)  I understand the We Are You Project as an attempt to bring the Latino population in the U.S. more into the mainstream of American life, including giving them the recognition that comes with it.   That and immigration reform to change the defensive posture of non-Latino populations in the U.S. against losing their ability to marginalize what has been until recently the Latino minority. Would you say this is an accurate view? If not, why not?

A) The “We Are You Project International” is a project that hopes to present Latino life in the United States and the positive contributions Latinos have made and continue to make in the United States for centuries. The goal of the project is also to have lawmakers rethink immigration reform and the anti-Latino backlash currently being experienced in certain states across this great nation. There is an incredible phenomenon happening worldwide, which I call Reverse Colonization. As in the United States and throughout Europe, people from different countries are emigrating legally or illegally, crossing borders in search for a better way of life. Immigrants are leaving their countries, which were once colonized by force and at times denuded of their natural resources, and heading to the lands of their former colonizers. However, the We Are You Project International is more interested in a culturally positive statement by Latinos for Latinos, the United States and the rest of the world.

Q) What is your relationship now with the We Are You Project International

A) I am one of the sub-committee members, which are the core of the project, and also the Special Projects Coordinator. I was able to procure the first two exhibit for the We Are You Project International traveling exhibit, which first took place in this spring at the Wilmer Jennings Gallery at Kenkeleba in New York City. The second will take place during Hispanic Heritage month in The Arts Guild of New Jersey in Rahway.

Q) Do you see or anticipate a power struggle of sorts among the various Latino sub-cultures represented within the Latino population at large and the We Are You, to control the political, social and cultural direction of the movement? Or do you anticipate respect for and an attempt to preserve the distinct elements of the group?

A) That is a very good question and one that is difficult to respond to. From my experience, it has been difficult to get ALL Latinos to unite for a cause. However, the artist members of our group are hard working professional artists and a large percentage are university professors. I think that because of this, we should be able to accomplish numerous objectives. We have art on our side and art is a magnificent agent in bringing people together for a worthy cause.


Hemingway's Photo Collection

[img src=]40
Ernest Hemingway with Blackie (Black Dog) Finca Vigía, San Franciaso
de Paula, Havana Cuba, 1957
[img src=]30
Hemingway_close-up. Finca Vigía, San Francisco de Paula, Havana
Cuba, 1955
[img src=]40
Hemingway sitting in his favorite chair, Finca Vigía, San Francisco
de Paula, Havana Cuba, 1954 (when he found out that he had won the
Noble Prize)
[img src=]50
EH Nobel prize day. Hemingway the day he found out the had won the
Nobel prize. Finca Vigía, San Franciaso de Paula, Havana, Cuba, circa
[img src=]210
Christmas 1957 at the Finca with Siskie in the background, the
Richards sisters, Reneé, Mary and Ernest Hemingway. Finca Vigía, San
Franciaso de Paula, Havana, Cuba, circa 1957
[img src=]60
Boys Playing Baseball. The Villarreal boys playing baseball at the
Finca Vigía, San Franciaso de Paula, Havana, Cuba, circa 1940
[img src=]80
Hemingway, Fanny and Rene. Finca Vigia, San Francisco de Paula,
Havana Cuba 1957
[img src=]60
Rene Villarreal at the Finca Vigía, 1940
[img src=]70
René Villarreal with bust of Ernest Hemingway, Finca Vigía, San
Francisco de Paula, Havana, Cuba 1964
[img src=]40
René Villarreal as Director of the Ernest Hemingway Museum, Finca
Vigía, San Francisco de Paula, Havana, Cuba, 1964


Q) I understand your family has quite a number of Hemingway artifacts, including photos, letters, and so on, that were secretly brought out of Cuba when you came over. What kinds of things are included in this collection and can you share any of these with us?

A) We have around 120 photographs of Ernest Hemingway with my father from the early 1940s up to the late 1950’s. There are some postcards as well from their trips to Spain and Italy, and some items of clothing such as a sweater and a beanie hat that Hemingway took with him on safari in 1953.

Q) What advice do you give your younger students when they come into your class as aspiring artists or even as ‘accidental tourists’?

A) I will try my best to follow the advice of my friend and mentor Ben Jones. I will tell my students to work hard and get their technique down but it is the idea, the concept that counts, and be true to your art, and to be honest and true. I believe that there is a place for everything and everyone in life. “Show up to your life and you will be successful.” That is somewhat of a Woody Allen quote.

Q) Is there anything you’d like to add for this interview that we may hot have touched upon?

A) You have asked very meaningful questions and I thank you for that. It has been a real pleasure. I would add that WE just have to live LIFE, and live it to the fullest, because OUR LIFE and the LOVE we know are the constants that will be truly ours from the time we are born and even after we die.


For more about Raul Villarreal, see:

This interview was conducted in person and by e-mail from April thru June 2012.

June 29, 2012   Comments Off

Pierre Corratgé/Photographer Interview


Norma J 8145 b R2, Corratge©Pierre Corratgé

Norma J


The Doctor and His Camera

by Mike Foldes

NDLR: L’interview qui suit a été réalisée par e-mail en mai et Juin 2012. L’intervieweur ne comprends pas assez bien le français pour s’entretenir directement avec le photographe, et le photographe a choisi d’utiliser sa langue maternelle pour exprimer au mieux ses concepts et ses idees.  Pour les bi-lingues, les réponses apparaissent en français et en anglais.  Pour les autres, nous espérons une compréhension  satisfaisante.  Nous n’avons pas inclus de traduction Google pour les questions de l’intervieweur.  Traductions Google et Hélène Gaillet.

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Ragazine: Pierre, I see you were born in Perpignan. I was only there one time, in 1972 or so. And then I was only passing through, hitchhiking from Barcelona to Paris. I ended up sleeping in a doorway at the train station in Montpellier, not too far away. It was November, getting cold, and raining. I took the next train, to Paris, cutting short my hitchhiking trip. I understand it is a beautiful area – especially in summer – and good for tourists …

Did you go to medical school there?  Are you a general practioner, or do you have a specialty?

Corratgé: J’ai fait mes études de médecine à Montpellier, et exercé la médecine générale à Perpignan pendant 32 ans, jusqu’en 2009.

Trad. C:  I studied medicine in Montpellier and practiced general medicine in Perpignan for 32 years, until 2009.

Q) You began working in photography as a teenager. Did you get support or help from your parents or teachers? Who were your influences?

A) Mon père m’a initié à la photographie, sur le plan technique, très jeune, puis, par des stages, notamment à Arles, j’ai davantage pénétré la dimension artistique de la photographie à la fin des années 70, notamment grace à Christian Vogt, Meridell Rubenstein et Jack Welpott. Ensuite, c’est un vrai travail d’autodidacte, grace aux livres, aux revues et depuis quelques années, l’ Internet. Mon influence la plus forte est certainement le photographe français Jean-François Bauret (years b & d?), avec lequel j’ai beaucoup échangé et qui est un ami. Sur un plan plus général, c’est Avedon qui a le plus influencé mon esthétique et le contenu de l’image. La culture de la photographie nord américaine a toujours eu beaucoup d’importance pour moi, j’ai appris le Zone System en lisant Ansel Adams dans le texte…

 T) My father introduced me to the technical side of photography at a very young age.  Later, through internships, especially in Arles, I delved into the more artistic aspects of photography in the late 70s, studying with Christian Vogt,  Meridell Rubenstein, and Jack Welpott.  Later, I plunged into a great deal of self-teaching thanks to books, photographic magazines and, in recent years, the Internet.  The strongest  influence in my work is certainly from the gifted French photographer Jean-François Bauret, who is a wonderful friend with whom I have shared a great deal.  On a broader scale, Richard Avedon’s work has highly influenced my aesthetic views and image content. The development of North American photography has been of great importance to me; I learned about the Zone System deciphering the context of Ansel Adams’ books…



Q) Were you always fascinated by the female form in your photography? You speak of a personal study of the face and body….

A) Dès les années 70, le portrait a été mon domaine de prédilection. J’ai toujours plus facilement photographié les femmes que les hommes, pour lesquels j’ai trouvé que la relation avec leur image, notamment dans la nudité, était plus complexe et moins décontractée que les femmes. Aussi, dans l’art en général, le nu féminin est plus présent, et ma culture picturale inclut autant Botticelli que Sieff ou Avedon. Je pense que la relation que j’ai avec mes modèles, qui ne sont pas “professionnels” mais viennent de mon entourage, des amies ou des amies d’amies, est au cœur de mon travail photographique. Je ne suis pas photographe à faire passer des messages, non, j’essaie de poser un regard neutre mais bienveillant sur celles que je photographie.

T) As early as the 70s, portraiture became the core and center of my focus.  I have always found it much easier to photograph women than men, where I discovered that men’s relationship to their image, especially in the nude, was more complex and less relaxed than women.  Also, in the art world, the female nude is everpresent.  From what I have learned of art, that includes Botticelli,  (Jeanloup) Sieff and Avedon.  I think the relationship I have with my models, who are not “professionals” by the way, but gather around me as friends, then friends of friends, this relationship is at the heart of my photographic work.  I’m not the kind of photographer to surreptitiously emit secret messages, no, I just try to pose my models in a purely simple and sympathetic way,


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Q) How did you develop the blur technique that you began to use in the ’90s?

A)  Á la fin d’une séance de photographie de danse, j’ai essayé de faire une photographie très floue, car je voyais sur le dépoli que la lumière du fond blanc, sur-éclairé, “mangeait” littéralement le corps du modèle, en changeait les proportions, ne laissait plus que deviner les seins, le pubis : on était dans une abstraction, une déconstruction du corps. La réception de ces photographies a été très bonne, et j’ai continué. Même en numérique, mon flou n’est qu’optique : fond très éclairé, mise au point manuelle décidant du degré de flou. Ce n’est pas un flou “Photoshop”! J’ai ensuite transposé cette technique à la vidéo, et on peut voir quelques vidéos de danse, floues, sur mon site.

T) At the end of a session of dance photography, I tried to photograph a blurred image, because I noticed that a ground glass over-lit with white light,  literally ‘ate’ the body of the model; it changed its  proportions, leaving one only to guess at the breasts, the pubic hair: the work became an abstraction, a deconstruction of the body. These photographs were very well received and I continued exploring.  Even in digital work I like  an optical blur. My background is brightly lit, the manual focus deciding the degree of fuzziness.  This is not a vague abstract on  “Photoshop!”.  Eventually I transplanted this technique to video, and you can see some of these ethereal blurry dance videos on my website. 

Q) You say you had the feeling there was another “calling,” one might say, a parallel path that is photography. Do you still practice medicine, or are you full time involved with photography? How did that transition take place, if there was one?

A) J’ai exercé la médecine de 1977 à 2009, mais j’ai toujours beaucoup fait de phototographie, simultanément. Depuis 2009, je ne fais plus que de la photographie…  Mais il y a, entre la médecine générale et la photographie, une grande proximité dans la relation à l’autre, une “neutralité bienveillante” qui exclut la séduction mais trouve un réel intérêt pour la personne en face.

T) I practiced medicine from 1977 to 2009, but always worked simultaneously on my photography.  However, since 2009, I  do nothing but photography…. But between general medicine and photography there is a very close relationship from one to the other, a “calming neutrality” which excludes seduction but offers a real benefit to an interested individual.

Q) Looking at your portfolio, I am entranced first by the sensuousness of the women. Do you select your models for the sensuousness they convey, or do you find you have to work with them to bring it out?

A) Comme Ralph Gibson l’a dit, la plupart des femmes qui posent nues le font parce qu’elles se trouvent belles. Je ne sers que de révélateur à la beauté qu’elles trouvent en elles, mais aussi à leur sensibilité, leur inquiétude à être photographiées ainsi,  à la nature de leur vraie personnalité. Le “portrait nu” a été théorisé par des auteurs français, photographes comme Bauret, mais aussi écrivains comme Michel Tournier.

T) As Ralph Gibson said,  most women who pose nude do so because they believe in their intrinsic beauty.   I serve only to reveal  the beauty these women find in themselves, and also to explore their sensitivity, their anxiety to be photographed thus, in the nude, within the basic nature of their true personality.  The “nude portrait” has been explored and exposed by many French authors, photographers like (Jean-François) Bauret, and also by writers such as Michel Tournier.


Pierre Corratge / Photographer

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Q) What kind of equipment do you use, and how far have you evolved toward digital photography?

A) J’ai très tôt vu l’intérêt du moyen format, notamment dans la restitution de la structure de la peau. Après avoir beaucoup cherché, c’est avec un Hasselblad (501 C) que je trouve le mieux ce que je cherche pour la plupart des mes photos, notamment avec le 120 mm Macro Planar. Mais j’utilise souvent la chambre (une Sinar Norma 8 x 10 et une Toyo Field 4x 5) en noir et blanc et en Polaroid où je fais beaucoup de transferts. Pour la photographie de danse et de mouvement, le numérique a été un apport extraordinaire, non seulement par la diminution des coûts, mais aussi par la possibilité de discuter immédiatement d’une image avec la danseuse et de changer de petites choses à notre travail à tous les deux. J’ai eu tous les reflex Nikon numériques, mais maintenant, avec mon D800, je ne vois pas l’amélioration qui pourrait changer -en bien- ma photographie : je suis comblé…

Souvent, dans une même séance de prise de vue dans mon studio, je commence par photographier en numérique, je discute avec le modèle de ce qui est important, nous recentrons notre travail, puis, quand c’est cadré, je fais 2 ou 3 films 120 et si, la chambre peut apporter un plus, quelques plan-films et quelques Polaroids (l’inverse de ce qui se faisait il y a 20 ans!!). Je continue, bien sûr, le laboratoire argentique, de la même façon que je tiens à maîtriser moi-même l’impression numérique avec une Epson 3800. Je travaille aussi sur des procédés alternatifs (tirages lith, palladium, virages à l’or…) et j’ai transmis cela à mes enfants!

T) Very early on I understood the value of the medium format, specifically for the restoration of the texture of the skin. After much research, it is with a Hasselblad (501 C) that I found the best of what I am looking for in most of my photos, especially with the 120mm Macro Planar.  But I often use a view camera (a Sinar Norma 8 x 10 and a 4x Toyo Field 5) for black and white and Polaroids when I do a lot of transfers. For dance and movement photography, digital has been of tremendous value, not only by lowering expenses, but also by giving me the opportunity to discuss an image immediately with a dancer or model, enabling us to change little things as we progress during a shoot. I have Nikon digital equipment, and now with my D800, I do not see the how I can fail to improve my photography: I am thrilled …

Often, in a single session in my studio, I start by shooting digitally.  I consult with  the model about what is important, we refocus our work, then, when it’s framed, I take 2 or 3 films of 120 and if there is room to amplify, I’ll shoot some sheet film and a few Polaroids (quite the opposite of what was done 20 years ago!).  I continue, of course, with my darkroom work as well, to master my own digital printing with an Epson 3800.  I also work with alternative processes (lith prints, palladium) … and I have transfered these talents to my children!



Q) Taking a step back, for a moment, how extensive was your work with Polaroid photographs, and is this something you are still doing?

A) Le Polaroid a nourri mon travail sur “l’intervention” : sans arriver aux excès d’un certain pictorialisme, le Pola permet de mettre une distance par rapport à la réalité. Mais le travail de mise au point technique, surtout pour les transferts que je fais sur du papier Arches aquarelle, a été considérable pour cela. Les films (55 PN, 59 et 809) avec lesquels je travaille ne se fabriquent plus, hélas, mais il en reste quelques boîtes dans mon frigo. Mais ma dernière boîte de 809 est entamée… Mais j’ai des dizaines d’épreuves!

Concernant le SX 70 ou le 600, The Impossible Project est encore loin de ce que nous apportait les anciens films. Quand on voit la part de l’imitation des anciens procédés Pola dans les applications numériques, on voit bien que cette spécificité était une vraie création artistique, mais pour moi l’analogique garde une grande supériorité.

T) The Polaroid fed my work on “intervention” without reaching too much  for ‘pictorialism’ excess.  It lets you disconnect from reality.  The work I continue to explore on technical development is considerable, especially for transfers done on Arches watercolor papers. The films (55 PN, 59 and 809) which I work with are no longer manufactured, alas, but there are still a few boxes in my fridge. My last box of 809 is started … but luckily I have dozens of prints!

When it comes to the (Polaroid) SX 70 or 600, The Impossible Project is still far from what we were able to develop with the old films (Kpdak, Fuji). When you see the imitation of original Polaroid processes in digital applications, it is clear that this innovation was a real artistic creation.  Truly,  for me the analog retains great superiority.


Please also visit:

Editor’s note: The preceding interview was conducted via e-mail in May and June of 2012. The interviewer does not speak or write French well enough to interview the photographer and the photographer elected to use his native language to best express his concepts and intent. For those who speak and read both languages fluently, Corratge’s answers appear both in French and in Google Translator’s English with the further assistance of Hélène Gaillet. For those who are not bilingual, we trust the bridges to understanding are satisfactory. We purposely did not include a translation of the interviewer’s questions.

About the translator:
Hélène Gaillet de Neergaard is a previous contributor to Ragazine.CC. Her web site is:, where you can find out her most recent book, “I WAS A WAR CHILD”, her other Writing, Painting, Photography.

June 29, 2012   Comments Off

Alfred Corn/Poetry


Though I don’t minimize impediments
To second-guessing silence at its darkest,

At least one scene comes into shaky focus:
Obsession checking date and time, eyes fixed

On clock-hands as they tick, move, tick, and strike;
A soggy half-life fumbling for the phone

To key an atonal carillon of pings
Assigned to alphabetic numerals

Triggering rings until they ding their target:
“Hello? Hello? Hell-O? Who is it?” Click….

That itch must have been scratched now, breathless breather,
Amusement skittering around the corners

Of a hot rictus laughably at odds
With comedy’s half-pixilated mask.

Eavesdropping human ears, if any were,
Would hear your voice huff out a ha—at what?

At its own serrated, call it, cleverness.
Beyond uncurtained windows January

Branches subdivide the twilight’s agate
Grey and that blank horizon, neutral witness

Of many earlier eras’ months and moods—
Sometimes, an all-consuming nullity

Funneled into this gleaming plug-in object
Firing its blank, its toy obliteration.

Committed caller, snared in spiral-corded
Fables, did I get it, and is spite love.

About the poet:

Alfred Corn has published nine books of poems, the most recent titled Contradictions. He has also published a novel, titled Part of His Story; two collections of essays; and The Poem’s Heartbeat, a study of prosody. Fellowships for his poetry include the Guggenheim, the NEA, an Award in Literature from the Academy of Arts and Letters, and one from the Academy of American Poets. He has taught at Yale, Columbia, and the University of California, Los Angeles. He spends half of every year in the U.K., and Pentameters Theatre in London staged his play Lowell’s Bedlam in the spring of 2011.  In 2012, he was a Visiting Fellow of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, preparing a translation of Rilke’s Duino Elegies.   His first ebook, Transatlantic Bridge: A Concise Guide to the Differences between British and American English, was published in 2012, and in 2013, Press 53 will publish a new volume of poems titled Tables.


June 29, 2012   Comments Off

Marcin Owczarek/Artist Interview

©Marcin Owczarek

The Lovers | 60x60cm | Photograph


 Collage: When One Is Not Enough

Interview by Mike Foldes

Ragazine: Marcin, a lot of your work seems to focus on themes, such as your story boards on Democracy and Animal Farm. Are these collections of illustrations for books, or are you delving into the multi-dimensional aspects of these subjects and finding that not one illustration fits all?

Marcin Owczarek: My art focuses on the human condition and I show the world behind the curtain. ‘Democracy’ and ‘Animal Farm’ are part of this uncovered world. They are not collection of illustrations for the books, because I did not want to illustrate George Orwell’s thoughts, instead I wanted to express my reflection on the contemporary world.

The reason why I called my image ‘Animal Farm’ is that, this book describes the totalitarianism, the world where one greedy tyrant rules, and where the people are not free or equal.  On animal farm, “all animals are equal but some are more equal than others.” Regarding the history of 20th century and the present history of 21st century, I couldn’t find a better reference.

In ‘Democracy’ I wanted to articulate that many modern countries claim to be democratic. In  fact  this is some kind of illusion and behind the mask, the situation is totally different. The situation is more related to the reality descibed many years ago by Orwell that to the democratic process where people have influence for theirs life and shape of present world.

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 Democracy | 70x170cm | Photograph

Q) How did your career evolve into what it is today? Did you start out as a digital collagist, as a painter or photographer?

A) At the beginning I used to create ‘classical collages’ – I mean paper, scissors and glue. Afterwards I found photography in the analogue way. My first artworks with camera I can describe as conceptual. I remember at that time I highly admired the photography by Duane Michals. Approximately, during the second year of my College of Photography, I bought digital camera and discovered the method which might be called digital manipulatiol or digital collage. It was the crucial moment for which led me to the present images I create.

Q) Who were the early influences on your choosing this career path? Were your parents artists? Family members?

A) None of my parents are artists. The only member from my family who had any relations with art- was my aunt who was painter. As far as I remember I didn’t have early influences. In my case, at the age of seventeen I created my first paper-collage. I remember that one day I came back home, took some newspapers. I cut two elements out, first was dead bird laying on the ground, the second was orchestra playing in philharmonic. That first-born collage I called ‘Requiem.’ Since that moment I started consciously to follow the ‘path of art’ and tried to find best medium to express myself.

Q) What influences brought you to an awareness of the social conditions that come to life in your images?

A) I can honestly say that there were three aspects of my awareness: the way I started to perceive this world, hundreds of books I read and my study on Cultural Anthropology. I always repeat that  the great value of inspiration for me are: Antonin Artaud, Guy Debord, Hannah Arendt, Jean Baudrillard, Michel Foucault, Walter Benjamin, Friedrich Nietzsche, Aldous Huxley, Austin Osman Spare, George Orwell,’Tibetan Book of the Dead’…Beside that, the study of  Anthropology gave me erudite knowledge of other cultures what includes for instance: mitologies, beliefs, rituals of ethnic groups, ethnic art, from the ‘primitive’ tribes to western societies. Now I’m able to compare the various and unusual activities of human beings and flourish my imagination. This amalgamation is the source of my awareness of the social conditions.

Q) I don’t see as much of this thinking in American artists. They seem to have a different approach to the same questions. We just did an interview with Xavier Landry, a Canadian, whose works seem to be more European than North American, more surreal than comic. Do you believe the Europeans are farther along in the intellectual evolution than North Americans, and Americans in particular?  

A) From American intellectual artists, writers, philosophers I highly value: Joe Coleman, Jean Michel Basquiat, Beat Generation (Jack Kerouac,William S. Burroughs) Hunter S. Thompson, Peter Lamborn Wilson, Henry Thoreau.

The only problem to answer to that question is that I have never been in America and I have never had the opportunity to converse with any American artist. Without that knowledge I wouldn’t like to describe the intellectual evolution of America.

In reference to Europe, we need to remember that this continent has history full of human blood, had experienced the First and the Second World War, Totalitarianism, Nazism. This is something I presume determined artists to think in other way about the surrounding world. Old people still remember exactly what used to happen in the streets. I think the mature reflection has this kind of historical background and if the contemprary artists look in the future, they see that some parts of that history might repeat. They simply try to desribe it.


Marcin Owczarek/Artist

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Q) Where are you working now? Where is your studio, and how long have you been there?

A) I come from Poland and was born in the city of Wrocław. For the last few years I used to live in Germany, Ireland, Norway. Since one and a half year I live in Belgium. At the moment here is my studio and I work here.

Q) What kinds of equipment do you use, both cameras, printers, paper, and so on?

A) To my work I use camera Canon EOS 7D. The rest is computer programme. I usually print my images on barite paper 285gr.

Q) What are you principal markets? Do you sell you work through galleries, commissions, commercial work?

A) I’m represented by Susan Zadeh (Eyemazing Susan) who runs an excellent  magazine focusing on contemporary photography called ‘Eyemazing’.  Apart from the magazine, Susan also runs an online gallery where I sell my artworks.

Q) What advice would you give to a younger person who is an aspiring artist or photographer?

A) My only advice would be work, work, work hard and never give up! I think that talent is only beginning of the road, but without consequence, resistance – talent gives you nothing. If somebody wants to achieve the masterpiece in art, he needs to work hard. I work with my artworks 14 hours per day, without this kind of sacrification, it wouldn’t be possible to be where I am right now.


To find out more about Marcin Owczarek, please see:


About the interviewer:

Mike Foldes is founder and editor of Ragazine.CC. You can read more about him in “About Us.”

This interview was conducted via e-mail in April and May 2012.


June 29, 2012   Comments Off

Christie Devereaux/Artist Interview

Stormy Weather 20, Acrylic on Canvas, 36'' X 48'', 2012

Fathoming “The Spirit of the Sea:”

an interview with Christie Devereaux

By Dr. José Rodeiro

Brooklyn native Christie Devereaux is a painter with a degree in Industrial Design from Pratt Institute, who during that Pratt interval worked with acclaimed director Robert Wilson, as a modern dancer.  After Pratt, she continued her career as a dancer on tour with the Electric Circus.

In 1969, Devereaux moved to Italy, where she worked as an industrial designer and graphic artist.  In addition, she completed official church and state painting commissions, e.g., a portrait of Padre Pio for the Museum of Padre Pio, Pietrelcina, Italy.  In 1980, she returned to New York, exhibiting at Lever House, Broome Street Gallery, New World Art Center and The Chung-Cheng Art Gallery at St. John’sUniversity.

From 1991 to 2011, Ms. Devereaux worked with both teachers and students in the Freeport Public Schools, New York, where she designed educational murals and facilitated school-wide art projects that were supported by grants.  In 1999, Devereaux was awarded a museum fellowship from Long Island Educational Enterprise Zone where she collaborated on a curriculum-based project, working in conjunction with The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).  As the 21st Century unfurled, she unleashed a series of paintings and sculptures that were designed to engage the viewer in meditative self-reflection; contemplatively assailing her viewers with a host of secular, political, and spiritual perspectives.  Her current series titled “The Spirit of the Sea” (click here to read Review) offers passionate seascapes that reflect on her personal experience with the forces of nature.  This elegant and fluid exhibition is the result of the very talented TIC curator, Frank DeGregorie.   Recently, in Manhattan, at the home of the notable master-draughtsman Nikolai Buglaj (across from the Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center), RAGAZINE’s roving Contributing Art Editor, Dr. José Rodeiro (Coordinator of Art History, New Jersey City University) caught up with Ms Devereaux, and the following insightful conversation ensued:


JR:    When did you know that you wanted to be an artist?

CD:  It wasn’t until my last year at Pratt Institute that I knew my major in Industrial Design was not going to be my lot or destiny.  After studying “I.D.” for four-years, I heard an inner voice, saying, “FINE ARTS!”   We all have an internal voice that guides and informs us about the many choices we make in life.  Finally, I decided to listen to that voice.

JR:    Why do you create art?

CD:   The passion to create art exists within me as a primal need to express my most inner thoughts about the world around me.

I have always been fascinated by the power of language.  For me, art is a universal language, such as music, dance, and math, with which I can explore and express an entire range of ideas and emotions.  Just consider that art has always been the first written language, which we have used to communicate our feelings and ideas.  Children first express themselves through drawings. Also, the first record of art as a language appeared as cave paintings in places, such as Altamira and Lascaux, and earlier.  Other spoken languages have become extinct, but visual art always manages (somehow) to survive over time.  I, too, have a longing to “communicate” my feelings and ideas over time.

With regards to artistic creation, personally, the actual creative process for me has to do with reflecting on an array of ideas, feelings, and issues that range from secular, religious to political.   I am always questioning and exploring those ideas.  My goal is to try on some level to provoke thought or emotions on the part of the viewer, so that they, too, start to reflect on their own perspectives about the various issues they face.

JR:    Where do you get your ideas for your subject matter?

CD:    Ideas come from numerous sources, such as witnessing something firsthand on the street, a conversation, nature, music or even just a few words read (a poem, etc.).   All of these things – that are seen, heard, felt, and experienced  have the potential to inspire creativity and art. 

JR:    Now let’s talk about your recent work  –  your seascapes in The Spirit of the Sea series.  I see that in the past your paintings addressed social and political themes.  Why have you chosen to paint majestic monochrome Neo-Romantic seascapes?

CD:  Throughout my life, I have always painted seascapes; usually, watercolors or oil paintings.  However, this new series of seascapes is different because my focus is tonal or grayish luminescence as a means of examining the effects of refracted shimmering light on human emotions.  I am using the seascape to explore how natural incandescent light encourages meditation and contemplation by means of imaginative-manipulation of light and shadow.

Another new component that I am introducing in this series:  in order to heighten the effects of light and also to create vibrant sensate-surfaces, which constantly change as a result of whatever existing environment surrounds the piece. I primarily use either silver or copper primed metallic surfaces to paint on.

I usually start with a small copper or silver sketch.  Often, I photograph a painting halfway through its completion; and then draw on the photograph to adjust the lighting and the composition.

JR:    Are there any specific challenges when working on metallic surfaces?

CD:   The challenge is always in how the light hits the painting in various environments.   For example, the same painting can look great in a semi-dark room and then look washed out in a well lit room.  When metal-surfaces are beneath the pigment, each painting has different lighting requirements.

JR:    How long does it take to complete a painting?   And, how do you know when it is finished? 

CD:    The length of time depends on the complexity of the painting.  Some small paintings can take longer than a large painting.   Once, the image is sufficiently apparent, I take each painting and place it in as many different  types of lighting situations as possible – in order to see if the composition is still interesting.  I also photograph the painting to distance myself from the actual image.  This process helps me to analyze the composition, revealing anything that is still needed or not.

JR:   I see allusions to Joseph Mallord William Turner.   Are you influenced by his work? If so how?

CD:    I was a teenager when I first saw Turner’s work.  His influence has been profound; because Turner’s paintings really connect to my personal childhood experiences at sea, when I went boating or sailing with my family as a kid.  It is Turner’s light that permeates my childhood memories.   Also, important to me is the fact that I have always seen a direct correlation between Turner’s Romantic sea-images and the Romantic sea poetry of Coleridge and Byron.

JR:   In the new series, I noticed that there is a great aesthetic range from realism to abstraction in your approach to painting your seascapes.  How do you explain that?   Is there a preference?

CD:   Creating challenges is a key component to my art.  By pushing things to the point of abstraction; I am testing and exploring my own limits.  In the future, I would like to continue in a more abstract direction – fully considering and fully animating the veneer, the texture, the light, and surface-façade of my sea-surfaces, dealing with each seascape abstractly as surface.   Again, the intention is to assist the viewer in finding her/his capacity to see the surface as a means for sublime contemplation – as Turner’s or Rothko’s surfaces elicit.

JR:    Thanks, you’ve given our readers plenty of perceptive insights into your work and your future artistic aspirations.

CD:    With gratitude.


For more on Christie Devereaux’s art visit:

( ).


About the interviewer: 

Ragazine.CC’s contributing art editor, Dr. José Rodeiro, is Coordinator of Art History, Art Dept., New Jersey City University, Jersey City, New Jersey.  You can read more about him in “About Us.”


June 29, 2012   Comments Off

Christie Devereaux/Art

© 2012 Christie Devereaux

Stormy Weather 18 | Acrylic on canvas | 36″ x 24″ | 2012


Christie Devereaux’s Buoyant “New”

Sturm und Drang Seascapes:

“The Spirit of the Sea”

 By Dr. José Rodeiro

Art Editor

Pivotal to burgeoning 21st Century “Neo-neoromanticism” is Christie Devereaux’s summer 2012 display of mysterious and sublime monochromatic seascapes floating upon the walls of the distinguished Treasure Room Gallery (within The Interchurch Center (TIC)), 475 Riverside Drive, New York City, NY. The show is insightfully organized by TIC’s eminent curator, Frank DeGregorie, who sympathetically encouraged this art historically crucial “must-see” exhibit, which runs from June 25 through August 27; with an opening reception on Tuesday, June 26, from 5:00 pm to 7:30 pm. Entitled The Spirit of the Sea, her buoyant radical-postmodern paintings of aquatic scenes generate intense, reverential, and awe-inspiring feeling(s), brimming with visual-nourishment and spiritual epiphanies [(viewable Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm in the southwest corner of the historic and monumental edifice known as The Interchurch Center, facing Harlem’s Hudson River shoreline (at West 120th Street); a majestic late-Art Deco cultural institution built in 1958 by John D. Rockefeller II and supported by The Sealantic Fund)].

Argento 21 | Acrylic on Canvas | 48” X36” | 2011

Despite (or because of) her cutting-edge radical postmodernism, Devereaux’s luminous “tonal” seascapes imaginatively blend nascent early-Romantic Sturm und Drang artistic approaches. These aesthetic dichotomies were initially invoked by 18th Century German art theorist and poet Friedrich Von Schlegel as aesthetic dualities (or binaries) guiding the process of human creativity within the natural world via either 1). objective naturalism or 2). subjective naturalism. Both of these Sturm und Drang creative methods were brilliantly paraphrased (in English) by Samuel Taylor Coleridge within his Biographia Literaria, as two types of creative imagination: “Primary” and “Secondary.” Ingeniously, Devereaux’s marine imagery treads between both of these valid and substantial aesthetic positions, wherein “Primary Imagination” correspond to being faithful to physical phenomena; i.e., naturalistic representation, or empirical mimesis [(signifying sheer realistic artistic perception in art)], while “Secondary Imagination” signifies numinous, metaphysical, visionary, poetic and symbolic rearrangements, exaltations, as well as distortions of nature in art. Whereby either, the external transcendent spirit of nature: geist (the “Without”), or the innate imminent spirit of nature: duende (the “Within”), is expressed creatively via art [(What is Duende? )]. A creative inspiration motivating art, as Coleridge stated, which, “Makes the natural world appear supernatural.”

Similar to Coleridge, Lord Byron, J.M.W. Turner, Thomas Moran, Albert Pinkham Ryder, and other mystic Romantic poet/painter seascapists, Devereaux’s seafaring art evokes the same intimate, epic, moody and melancholic nautical-emotions that inhabit these above-named masters’ finest naval works. In fact, consistent with these great maritime masters, her oceanic scenes, as well as shoreline images, are predisposed toward abstraction, reminiscent of the organic abstraction evident in the Blaue Reiter works of Wassily Kandinsky or the late Surreal works of Joan Míro, as well as the sublime (“pure”) enigmatic abstract-abstraction found in late-works by Mark Rothko and Ad Reinhardt. For example, in several of her seascapes, we find identical moody, abstract, and heightened conceptual tendencies that are equally present (as open “arch-writing’ verbal abstractions) in Lord Byron’s“Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage,” when he hermeneutically conjures-up an iconological, vivid, and symbolic picture of the sea, conveying infinite and unbounded interpretation(s):

Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean – roll!
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
Man marks the earth with ruin – his control
Stops with the shore; – upon the watery plain
The wrecks are all thy deed, not does remain
A shadow of man’s ravage, save his own,
When for a moment, like a drop of rain,
He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,
Without a grave, unknell’d, uncoffin’d, and unknown.

As in Byron’s above “Ocean – roll” poetic-vignette, Devereaux’s art connotes a sensation of motion (movement), rushing tides, churning whirlpools, rippling eddies, stirring currents, undulating waves or placid calm. In her work, the dynamic terpsichorean sea is surrounded by energetic streaming or swirling milieus either detained or activated by breezy clouds, spectacular light, ominous darkness or blustering wind. Her most poignant and astonishing quality is an inimitable penchant (or genius) for expressing cinematographic atmospheric and aquatic action(s), suggesting visible motion/movement. This masterful painterly allusion to cinematography (“motion-pictures”) evokes haunting post-war Hollywood films like the unforgettable Portrait of Jennie (directed by William Dieterle) with its striking hyper-romantic and dreamlike New England coastal scenes engendered by epic and dramatic gray atmospheric tonal-value paintings of sea-nocturnes. This subliminal and insightful awareness of cinema in Devereaux’s current marine paintings animate, with faint paroxysms, her sentient seascapes that courageously intermingle paradoxical “primary imagination” with “secondary imagination;” thus, diaphanously joining “sturm”with “drang” as reciprocal traces of Derridaean différance.



In lieu of titles, she numbers each seascape, thereby compelling viewers to enter each image directly (“visually”), as something on the whole abstract, or free from any ancillary “pictorial-narrative.”  Thus, her inherent abstraction presages ethereality, spirituality, and meditation, mapping a voyage toward greater contemplative awareness of all  unfathomable realms: “Within” and “Without.” As in contemporary tonal monochrome 2-D artworks by Vija Celmins, Hugo X. Bastidas, Mark Tansey and Nikolai Buglaj, luminosity plays a major role in her work, i.e., wherein light intricately bounces off each painting’s gray metallic surfaces, thereby, “making the natural world appear supernatural.” For instance, in Stormy Weather 18, which is part of her copper series; sunlight boldly emerges from behind the mountain, moving left-to-right with looming anticipation or foreboding. In another painting, Argento 21 (which means “silver” in Italian), conflicting waves of light clash against dim darkness encroaching, upon an intense and somber gray spirit of the sea, light and dark spar along the center of the image, providing a somewhat exigent emotive experience, as reflections in the water continue to darken – as if an unforeseen and menacing cloud were passing by.  In her work(s), the glimmering light of the deep ocean provides something shimmering, metallic, shiny, glittering and glassy; through which a Byronic mirror-like watery surface endows an identical feeling as that expressed (by Byron) in these below-stated Childe Harold lines:

Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty’s form
Glasses itself in tempests; in all time
Calm or convulsed-in breeze, or gale, or storm,
Icing the pole, or in the torrid clime
Dark-heaving; boundless, endless and sublime-
The image of eternity – the throne
Of the invisible; even from out thy slime
The monsters of the deep are made; each zone
Obeys thee; thou goest forth, dread, fathomless, alone.

             If the 21stCentury sparks a “Neo-neoromantic” revival reawakening the possibility of a “new” ardent emotive art capable of sublime and visionary neo-naturalism, future art historians will inevitably cite Devereaux’s summer 2012 The Spirit of the Sea series of monochromatic radical postmodern seascapes as one of the key catalysts fostering this paradigm shift away from incessant “Neo-neoDada; or ”post-Duchampesque/post-Maciunasean regurgitated anti-art; mindless Neo-conceptual art; inhumane biogenic art, as well as inhuman  hyper-technomania, and other lugubrious latent-20th Century inartistic ills still unfortunately plaguing contemporary art.



As a viable antidote to the current (above-described) importunate art-malaise, Christie Devereaux’s work will be on display in the Treasure Room Gallery at the Interchurch Center, located at 475 Riverside Drive, from June 25 through August 27. In addition, please note that other examples of her work will be shown in Times Square on an enormous electronic billboard on June 18 as part of a VIP after party featuring Questlove of The Roots with Jimmy Fallon. Recently in spring (2012), thanks to the auspices of Jimmy Fallon, another Devereaux seascape graced a vast electronic billboard at Time Square (see Ragazine‘s News, Haps & Snaps).


For more on Christie Devereaux’s art visit: (

About the author: 
Ragazine’s contributing art editor, Dr. José Rodeiro, is Coordinator of Art History, Art Dept., New Jersey City University.  You can read more about him in “About Us.”


June 29, 2012   1 Comment

Galanty Tweets

Writer, professor, social networker, humorist Scott Galanty Miller sends along a collection of his latest tweets aimed at whoever is still listening. Did someone just say something? Would you like to share it with the class?


By Scott Galanty Miller

My friend died before I had a chance to tell him how much he meant to me. (So now he’ll never know that he didn’t mean that much to me.)  •  If you really want to flatter a self-absorbed woman, compliment her I’s. •  At dinner, my blind date had a sudden heart attack and died. Total red flag!  •  People accuse auto mechanics of being crooks.
But my guy only charges me 15 bucks for my weekly oil change.  •  Geez- Why would this person think I have any interest in looking at pictures of her kids?! (Well, true, they’re *my* kids.) •  After sex, I said “I love you”- and she immediately ran off. Did I say it too soon? (Or was it because she was a prostitute?)  •  Without Middle School, I would never have learned how to calculate the square route of how traumatized I am from Middle School.  •  I broke up with the woman I’m seeing because she always brings her suitcases on our dates… and I just can’t deal with all her baggage.  •  My favorite part of the Chelsea Handler program is when she says the unfunny things. God I love every minute of that show.  •  I loved that movie about the low-cal sugar substitute. I hope they make an equal.  •  It’s an honor just to be nominated in the same way it’s an “honor” to get kicked in the nuts. •  It has been almost 3 years since Michael Jackson died, & I still can’t get over the shock of people being shocked when Michael Jackson died.  •  When I’m on my death bed, I’ll probably think, “Is this a Serta?” •  The Federal Government’s Drug Czar is now following Lil Wayne on Twitter. •  The most stressful part of my job is trying to avoid people from work.  •  Do you know what you never hear? “And I owe it all to Ryan Seacrest.” •  According to my dream interpretation book, my common dream where I’m at a Coldplay concert means I have bad musical taste.  •  I remember exactly where I was when Dick Clark died; I was killing Dick Clark & trying to make it look like natural causes. •  Everyone remembers what they were doing when they heard Kennedy died, yet nobody remembers what they were doing when they themselves died. •  We could solve 95% of the nation’s problems if everyone would just calm the f*** down.  •  I always order Coke without ice. (I mean- who wants to snort ice?)  •   Not into improv. I prefer outprov- watching people on stage who are overly rehearsed.  •  Winning the lottery would finally give me the chance to buy all those friends I’ve always wanted.  •  As punishment for the “bounty” system, if the Saints make the Super Bowl, the Black Eyed Peas should play the halftime show again.  •  I’m not embarrassed about failing the math exam because I studied hard and gave 110 percent.  •  ”Do you remember Twitter?” “No.” (conversation between two people ten years from now)/ I was hanging out at the graveyard. Those people need to get a life.  •   The only “drug” I need is the power of positive thinking. (i.e. meth)  •  You never really hear about doctors botching up a sex-change operation.  •  One thing I’ll say about the word “it”- it is what it is.  •  I have an unopened DVD copy of ‘Green Lantern’ on my shelf because I still haven’t gotten around to throwing it away.  •  Stole a car &parked it in a private lot. I’m off the hook, tho, cuz the sign says ALL UNAUTHORIZED VEHICLES WILL BE TOWED AT OWNER’S EXPENSE.  •   I believe that after we die, we’re reincarnated as zombies.  •  The best jokes don’t make you laugh; they make you THINK. (Think about it.) • 
Praying 4world peace. That way, God won’t think I just ask Him for shallow & selfish stuff & He’ll reward me by letting me win MegaMillions  •   Sometimes I feel like Superman in a world full of people-shaped Kryptonite.  •  I hate life. But years of therapy have taught me that it’s okay to feel that way./ How is Rush Limbaugh able to face himself in the mirror? (I mean- do they make mirrors that size?)   •  Kids- stay in school! A new study shows that people who graduate from college are 20% less likely to wind up homeless.  •   If men could get pregnant, ‘abortion’ would be a sporting event.  •  I don’t know why people are so afraid of being attacked by space aliens. We all worship the same God.  •  I went to the Dollar Store yesterday. I bought laundry detergent, a bag of pretzels, and 1/20 of a lap dance.  •  I’m pretty uptight & conservative. In fact, I can count on my rubber spiked glove the number of sadomasochistic sexual encounters I’ve had.   •  ”I’m about to come up with a witty comment for my Twitter page.” (Pretweeted by Galanty Miller)  •  Up until last week, I didn’t know that Facebook was free. I have no idea where my checks have been going.  •  If I could have any superpower, it would be the ability to feel other people’s emotional pain.


Scott Galanty Miller is a contributing writer for The Onion News Network and Us Weekly Magazine’s Fashion Police. Follow him on Twitter at #GalantyMiller and on his website at



June 29, 2012   Comments Off

DJ Pierce / Looking Up

  ©DJ Pierce

4 Dec 2011


Always looking up

Interview by Chuck Haupt, Photography Editor

the first post...

Q: What got you started doing a daily photography blog?

It was New Year’s Eve, December 31st, 2010, in Buenos Aires. I was walking the streets of the Palermo district, trying to decide what commitment I would make for 2011 as a daily contribution to my life, when I walked under a sign that literally read “Up.” The photo of that sign became my first post. The great thing about using a public forum to take on a daily commitment is that it helps ensure I will actually keep the commitment. There is motivation in keeping your promise — especially when people may be watching.

Q: Why the name: “Take a moment, every day, to look up…”? 

I wrote the words “Take a moment, every day, to look up” as much for me as anyone else who may stumble upon this site. The words are a reminder that life is truly a gift worth celebrating and to remember that there is so much more to gain with a daily discipline.

When I was a senior in high school I quoted Ferris Bueller in my yearbook with his famous words: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you’ll miss it.” I see “Looking up” with a metaphorical meaning. It’s a daily promise to myself to do just that — to look up and put a smile on my face no matter what. No matter how busy I am. No matter how self-absorbed I may be. I have this commitment that forces me to look for a shot that will have some meaning or significance to me and my life in some way.

Q: Since you started in January 2011, you have posted over 500 photos. What sustains you?

The great thing about a daily discipline is the time passes no matter what. So if you can keep the daily practice going, the numbers take care of themselves.


DJ Pierce / Looking Up

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Q: Technology surely has made it easier to do projects like yours. Just shoot, tone and post, correct?

Yes and no. When I first started, I used high-end point-and-shoots and SLR’s to shoot. But once I upgraded to the iPhone 4 and I became comfortable with the quality, it got easier for sure. But still there are times when I am faced with international travel, time-zone shifts and the like when just finding Internet service for the posting can be a real challenge.

Q: Are you using any apps that are helping with this process?

I use Camera+ almost exclusively. So far that feels like the most flexible and reliable. Some of the filters I initially loved feel way too gimmicky to me now but the basics are strong.

Union Square, 7AM
28 Jun 2011

Q: Since you are “looking up,” several of your photos, naturally, have birds or airplanes in them. Ever been surprised while taking the unexpected?

Early on I realized that sometimes if you wait long enough, it’s only a matter of time before something flies overhead. What’s really exciting, though, is when I am framing a shot and right as I am about to fire, a bird darts right into the frame. Those are very special moments that help reinforce that I am right where I am supposed to be.

Q: As someone who shoots with an SLR professionally, what is your feeling about the fact that the camera you use for your blog is almost exclusively an iPhone?

I’ll never forget that once I was asking a photographer about the best camera to use for a certain kind of shot. He said to me that the best camera to use, always, is the one you have with you. That was such a great piece of wisdom that I carry with me always.

Q: Lots of photography blog sites are featuring iPhone photographs. As an art director, do you see photos from devices such as smart phones ever being used in national advertising campaigns?

With digital advertising such as banners and other forms of media that resolution isn’t a production issue, of course. The production value of these images is not high enough for certain print applications but that will come soon enough, I imagine.

Q: Have you ever missed making a daily post?

I have never missed a day in that I have taken a photo every day and each one has been posted. There have been days, however, that I have had to delay posting because of being away from any cell or wi-fi network. In these cases, I simply post the photos from the missed day or days so they are all there, in order. Again, it is a daily discipline.

Q: Got a fav?

I’d have to say today, meaning the present. As the artist behind the “Lookup2day” blog, I must say this is my personal photo diary — a record of a single moment of each of my days. So they are equally important to me as a reflection of my presence and therefore I am grateful for them all.

As a creative director? Sure. Some are better than others. But each day, as the collection grows, it becomes harder to pick a favorite.


DJ Pierce is a executive creative director for KBS+P, an advertising  agency in New York.  You can see his blog postings at:

Editor’s note:  This interview was conducted by e-mail in April and May 2012.

About the interviewer:

Chuck Haupt is Photography Editor of Ragazine.CC. You can read more about him in “About Us.”

June 29, 2012   Comments Off

Dennis Maitland / Looking Down

© Dennis Maitland

Scattered About


The view below

Interview by Chuck Haupt
Photography Editor

Intrigued by Dennis Maitland’s “Life on the Edge” series, where Maitland  climbs to the top of  Detroit’s buildings for another perspective of the Motor City, photography editor Haupt gets to the bottom of Maitland’s motivation.

Q:  While viewing your Life on the Edge series, vertigo comes to mind. While shooting, did you ever get lightheaded  or have a fear of heights? If so, how did you deal with it?

A: Funny you ask, I’m fortunate not to suffer from vertigo and have no real fear of heights.

Q: What gave you the idea to starting shooting the series in Detroit?

A: The project was started to capture a different perspective of what  ”I” saw in Detroit. I heard what was being said about Detroit, and as much as some of it could be true I saw something else when I looked through my lens –  the real beauty in truth – Beauty in Decay.

Q: Ever worried about your safety? Do you use any climbing equipment?

A:  Safety is always on my mind. I don’t use any climbing equipment. I’m not sure the photos would have the same meaning/emotion to me if I had safety equipment. With that being said, I’m extremely cautious at all times. If I ever get a bad feeling about something, I trust my instinct and back down.


Dennis Maitland / photographer

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 Q: Since your shoes show in every photo, did you ever think how they might affect the look?

A: When the project started I never thought much about the shoes because there were only a few shots to the series. I liked how the series progressed and it was always the same shoes (mostly) in the shots. I felt it was like a visual story of where I’ve been or a “take a walk in my shoes” feel to the photos. Now that I can look at the collection of photos I’ve taken, my mind is going crazy with ideas for different shoes and how they would make for a deeper story-telling experience.

Q: Are you surprised at the attention the series has been getting? Many are calling you a daredevil. Is that fair?

A: The amount of attention the series has attracted is quite overwhelming and humbling. The first few shots of the series were just an idea I had been kicking around and didn’t expect it to be much more than that. It is great to get the e-mails, comments and responses from people all over the world  That’s cool.

Q: What is our next project? Hopefully, with your feet firmly planted on the ground.

A: I’m on another personal project now and have an another in Chicago at the end of May, but I can’t mention the client.


Dennis Maitland, 25, born and raised in Detroit, is a professional photographer who has documented the motor city (Detroit) and its beauty in decay.



Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted via e-mail in April of 2012.  For more information about his work, visit:


About the interviewer:

Chuck Haupt is Photography Editor of Ragazine.CC. You can read more about him in “About Us.”

June 29, 2012   Comments Off