Sunday, November 4, 2012

On Getting The Fellowship - A Magpie Tale

Photo of Charis by Edward Weston, taken in 1937 at Lake Ediza.
Offered by Tess Kincaid for The Mag *click here*

Lake Ediza is an alpine lake in the Ansel Adams Wilderness near Mammoth Lakes, California. It is now the goal of one of the most coveted backpacking experiences in the Sierras, and one needs a permit to hike and camp legally there. It is quite crowded. In 1937 it was undoubtedly true wilderness.

Google Charis Wilson for a remarkable story of partnership and life.

Wiki says:
"Edward Henry Weston (March 24, 1886 – January 1, 1958) was a 20th century American photographer. He has been called "one of the most innovative and influential American photographers…" and "one of the masters of 20th century photography." Over the course of his forty-year career Weston photographed an increasingly expansive set of subjects, including landscapes, still lifes, nudes, portraits, genre scenes and even whimsical parodies. It is said that he developed a "quintessentially American, and specially Californian, approach to modern photography" because of his focus on the people and places of the American West. In 1937 Weston was the first photographer to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship, and over the next two years he produced nearly 1,400 negatives using his 8 × 10 view camera. Some of his most famous photographs were taken of the trees and rocks at Point Lobos, California, near where he lived for many years.

"Weston was born in Chicago and moved to California when he was 21. He knew he wanted to be a photographer from an early age, and initially his work was typical of the soft focus pictorialism that was popular at the time. Within a few years, however, he abandoned that style and went on to be one of the foremost champions of highly detailed photographic images.

"In 1947 he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and he stopped photographing soon thereafter. He spent the remaining ten years of his life overseeing the printing of more than 1,000 of his most famous images."

The Guggenheim website says:
"Guggenheim Fellowships are grants to selected individuals made for a minimum of six months and a maximum of twelve months. Since the purpose of the Guggenheim Fellowship program is to help provide Fellows with blocks of time in which they can work with as much creative freedom as possible, grants are made freely. No special conditions attach to them, and Fellows may spend their grant funds in any manner they deem necessary to their work. The United States Internal Revenue Service, however, does require the Foundation to ask for reports from its Fellows at the end of their Fellowship terms.

"Guggenheim Fellowships are intended for men and women who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts. (Men and women such as these are considered advanced professionals.)

"The Foundation understands advanced professionals to be those who as writers, scholars, or scientists have a significant record of publication, or as artists, playwrights, filmmakers, photographers, composers, or the like, have a significant record of exhibition or performance of their work.

"Fellowships are awarded through two annual competitions: one open to citizens and permanent residents of the United States and Canada, and the other open to citizens and permanent residents of Latin America and the Caribbean. Candidates must apply to the Guggenheim Foundation in order to be considered in either of these competitions."

On Getting The Fellowship

What are you looking
at or for and why me now
with my legs spread wide?
Or else otherwise
why do you sit for me thus
while I freeze you off?
I guess it's first here -
We're both living on free cash
at this time and place -
out in the mountains,
not in the normal rat race
like we were last year.

November 4, 2012 7:44 AM



22 comments:

  1. Hahaha - love those last lines!
    And thanks for the Wiki history bit. Always interesting. Cheers

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    1. That was the hook for me. 1937 was his first Guggenheim year and 1938 his second, both times because Charis did the application work and submitted him, I presume the first time for his project and the second for the chance to gather all the work of the first year and publish. That is what one site said about it. Later the Guggenheim decided to not award more than one grant to any artist and Weston is one of the few who ever got multiples.

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  2. His detail - thanks to his lugging that 8x10 view camera and tripod all over creation - is still startlingly sharp.

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    1. I have no knowledge of the company in which he traveled to Lake Ediza. He might have had an entourage. The trek to the Lake area was overland on backwoods trails. It still is. So with or without toting things, the end of such a trek is accompanied by the sensations of thorough use of the body for sustained and strenuous motion.

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  3. How strange it was to read your back story - the photo looks so 21st century! Thanks for opening my eyes to the past. :)

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    1. I am not sure what you really mean but her wide open legs goes with the other body shots he took of Charis. She was a constant model of his as well as his companion and helper. He quite often shot nudes and she was his subject a majority of the time. That she successfully supplanted a wife and a lover to reach her life with Weston is probably timeless, a comment on women and men and creativity, the Daemons who drive it all.

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  4. To hell with the rat race...thanks for the background info...thoroughly enjoyed it...

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    1. I hope you come back. I had the chance to add more of the story. Charis drove and Weston didn't. He never learned so Charis and others were his drivers.

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  5. I read wiki too. Couldn't get a handle on it without that. I like the angle you took here. Kudos - good words, as usual.

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    1. I have been researching when I can these wonderful visuals Tess offers. I am most often totally ignorant when I first encounter them. I could leave it like that but that is counter who I am. I want to know. On the other hand I don't want to do much. It is wonderful that Wiki is so easy to access but not all this info was on Wiki. I took the angle I did here because at one point a colleague and I were dreaming of becoming MacArthur Fellows.

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  6. I didn't research. I just wrote what the picture said to me. Interesting facts.

    What did the photographer think as he viewed her through the lens?

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    1. Research is part of how I roll. I am just interested. I knew nothing of Weston before this morning. I discovered a remarkable love story. It's all easily right there in an hour's time.

      If your question is about the actual moment, Charis was interviewed and said she was exhausted at the moment the picture was taken. This image is famous for its sensual nature but within those clothes is a hot sweaty smelly girl with not much left to give. Both of them were at the end of a strenuous backpacking style hike but Weston was a totally committed photographer. He was, I presume, not long for doing anything but setting up camp and eating.

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  7. Weston left his wife and his then current lover for Charis Wilson. She was accomplished as a writer and she was the one who got him a Guggenheim twice. This despite her youth.

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  8. I enjoyed your poem, Christopher. You've included the insecurities of two people embarking on a new future. Thank you for sharing your work and the background information.

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  9. Very interesting background on Weston and I like how your writing hinted at the grant money. Good take.

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  10. Thanks for the history Christopher and your fine words.

    Anna :o]

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  11. Oh this is truly fun- and I too looked up all about this lovely pair. One begs to know didn't her mother ever tell her to sit like a lady! Ha! Ha!

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    1. Probably not at the end of a really hard hiking day. I think she said herself late in life this "pose" was no pose but a signal of deep exhaustion.

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  12. i want to live like this, not necessarily funded:) but beyond the turnings of the rat race, inside of inspiration and seeing. ohhhh, i want this. this is what i walk toward. (how much more difficult it is with children, otherwise, i give most everything else up. i wonder what my life might look like in ten years when they are old enough to watch themselves. i yearn. i begin to move toward it even now. they see this in me))))

    xo
    erin

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    1. I have known this feeling. Not so much any more. Perhaps it is not so much an arrival as it is a letting go as you describe. There are key attachments and engagements. Letting go all the other stuff makes little difference but when you let go one small part of the key, why then everything shivers and kaleidoscopes in consequence. There is a keystone somehow. It is some small thing. It is not recognizable before you take it away. It does not move easily at first, then suddenly it is out. Too late! Can't put it back!

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  13. She certainly looks comfortable out there. Thanks for the history!

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The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.


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