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Opening Night

Aloha all! It’s been a whirlwind trip on Maui so far. The greatest part of this trip is my sister Maya met up with Ann and me and our good friends Jon and Amy from the Bay Area came for the show and to see the island.

The exhibit is beautifully presented in the Schaefer International Gallery at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center thanks to Neida Bangerter, Jonathan Clark, Adam and others. The large space was divided into two large spaces, one for the Haleakala photos, one for the other national parks. Lots of space for people to move around and look at the photos. It’s so great to see the photos up on the wall.

There was a very nice opening reception for the exhibit Saturday evening. I was presented with three beautiful leis- a very long one made from tea leaves from our friend Amy, an incredible one from Neida and the gallery and one of interlocking paper from Barbara, a docent at the MACC and a member of the local Buddhist Temple.

I did three gallery talks so far. A day before the opening I spoke with the gallery volunteers about the work. They were all curious and asked many questions. I did a short talk during the opening reception. On Sunday I teamed up with Haleakala National Park ranger Theresa Fernandez who provided really moving Hawaiian stories and words for what people were seeing in the photos. 

 

 

It looks like I'm the opening act for the Stylistics!
I received 3 beautiful leis at the opening reception, all amazing.
Haleakala ranger Theresa Fernandez and me after our Sunday Night Sky Stories talk. (Mahalo Neida for the photo)
A walk through with gallery volunteers on Friday evening. (Mahalo Neida for the photo)
 

Heading to Maui

Aloha everyone, Ann and I are headed to Maui for the exhibit of my night sky photos, Infinite Night, at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. Mahalo to Schaefer Gallery director Neida Bangerter for sticking with the idea over the last 3 years and a couple of pandemic postponements. Thanks to the talented staff at the gallery for producing this really nice evite/poster for the Infinite Night exhibit. The show will feature mostly work from Haleakala National Park and my 2019 residency there. Also to be shown will be work from Arches, Chaco Culture, Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone National Parks.

Thanks to County of Maui, Hawaii Tourism Authority, Haleakala Conservancy and Hawaii Pacific Parks for your support!

 

Big Prints!

All the printing is finally done for the Maui exhibit! I inspected and signed the giant prints produced by Laumont Studio in Long Island City, Queens, on Tuesday.

They really look great in person, although it’s hard to get across the scale in these blog photos. A big thanks to Kristen in the UV/Pigment department, who guided me through this project and all the various proposals since 2019. Three panorama images taken at Haleakala National Park were printed on a fine weave linen, 95 inches wide (almost 8 feet). These are the biggest prints in the exhibit, by far the largest I’ve done from any image. Painters use this linen as a canvas to show really fine detail. After the surface is finished with gesso, Laumont can print an image on the white surface. The pliable linen allows the lab to roll up the finished prints around a large tube and suspend that in a large box for shipping. The Schaefer Gallery in Maui will attach the big linen prints directly to the walls. I can’t wait to see them displayed!

(Thanks to my former AFP boss Don Emmert for taking the photos; he joined me at the lab with his daughter Samantha).

Looking at the prints with Kristen, I'm on a stool and not levitating.
Viewing two prints with Kristen, standing on a stool.
Signing a print.
 

Preparing for Maui exhibit

In March 2019 I was artist-in-residence at Haleakala National Park in Maui, Hawaii. At the end of my residency, Neida Bangerter, director of the Schaefer International Gallery at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, offered to show my work at the gallery. Well, a year went by, and we all know what happened then.

Now, after a couple of pandemic-related postponements, I’m proud to announce that the exhibit of my night sky work will finally be opening at the center in September! The show is called Infinite Night and it will be up from September 6 to October 22. Over half of the photos will be from Haleakala National Park, and the rest from other national parks on the mainland.

Richard unveils a 40x60 inch print.
Matt shows one of the Haleakala mounted prints, ready to be framed.

In late July I went to Flagstaff, Arizona, to sign the final prints of some of the pictures in the show. I work with Richard Jackson, one of the best printers in the business, who did an amazing job helping me fine-tune the digital files to print well on fine art paper. He also recommended a new type of paper, Canson Infinity’s Baryta II paper, which I’ve never used before, and the prints look great—better than ever!

Sixteen of these prints were framed by The Framing Department at Hidden Light lab, also in Flagstaff. Kristen and Matt Beatty did a really good job mounting and placing the photos in a simple black frame.

Six really big prints will be hung unframed. Those were rolled around a large tube for shipping to Maui.

In the next post, I’ll show three giant panoramas being printed on a fine weave linen.

Matt and one of the framed prints.
Six very large prints are rolled around a tube and wrapped, ready to be packaged for shipping.
 

New Mexico surge

 

Social distancing at Ft. Union. My walk back to the housing area (rooftops on the left). (Click on photos to enlarge)

It’s been a busy week since I last posted to the blog. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued strict restrictions due to a surge in COVID-19 cases from last Monday until Nov. 30. People are ordered to stay at home except for essential activities. Non-essential businesses have to stop in-person services and essential businesses are to limit their capacity. The state has travel restriction if you enter New Mexico. There has been a mask mandate for anywhere outside your home. In announcing the restrictions, she said, “Make plans for a different kind of Thanksgiving – one without non-household members.”

The numbers are not high by New York standards but the total population is not large so the rate of infection is high for many counties. Fortunately I’m in Mora County, which is 1,934 square miles, population 4,881. They reported 2 cases on Friday.

The Ft. Union park is still open but the visitors center is closed. Brochures are out on a table at the entrance and the trail through the fort is self-guiding. The rangers are good about wearing masks in their offices and around the housing area. It is strange to be isolated out here and seeing occasional news reports.

From what I’ve seen, people seem to be taking this seriously. I went shopping this past Thursday in Las Vegas and the Lowe’s grocery store had many signs at the door an inside instructing shoppers to social distance. They say keep 2 carts apart – roughly six feet. Lots of markings on the floor at the checkout for where to stand and where not to stand. At Semilla Natural Food the precautions were the similar.

For me, it’s pretty low risk at the park. Walking to the visitors center I might see one of the maintenance rangers in his truck drive by. Sometimes there are no visitors in the parking area or park. I did talk in the offices with rangers Mary and BJ yesterday about doing a video interview for their social media as a substitute for the program I usually do as artist-in-residence. And they nicely invited me to the Thanksgiving dinner here in the housing area. If the weather is warm, we’ll eat outside. If it is cold we’ll get our plates and return to our apartments. I just ordered a pie from Pedro’s Bakery in Las Vegas and will report after I pick it up.

The moon has been in a very beautiful crescent phase, getting larger every day this week. I’ve been out every night, sometimes late. I’ve been working on some different ideas about photos and also making some time lapse videos. During these few days, the moon lights up the landscape without washing out the stars. Soon the moon will be too bright, but the last few days have been productive.

Lowe’s signs inside the grocery store.
Beautiful two-day old moon setting. Earthshine can be seen here, a phenomenon observed and described by Leonardo da Vinci. Sunlight reflects off the Earth which then illuminates the night side of the moon (the non-crescent part).
Wagon wheel in the corral lit by the moon.
The International Space Station flies over one of the chimney remnants Friday evening. The 3-minute exposure depicts the station as a streak going through the plane of our galaxy.
 

Viva Las Vegas! (NM)

The train station, still in use. (Click on photos to enlarge).

Yesterday I drove down to the town of Las Vegas for some shopping. Somehow there is another town called Las Vegas. This one is much smaller than the Nevada version and there aren’t any casinos. It has a nice railroad station and the Castaneda hotel, one of a series of hotels developed by Fred Harvey along the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. I took a look at the old central square and there was a big filming production going on. They were filming an episode of a TV show called, “Roswell, New Mexico”. Funny that they came to Las Vegas. I found Semilla Natural Foods for some grocery shopping, which was next to what looked like a pilates/yoga studio.

At the park on Veterans Day, Ranger Greg was dressed in a period U.S. Army uniform from the Civil War era. He thought it appropriate to wear the uniform, which he had done in the past during park events. It was in the 50’s, sunny but cool. Perfect weather, Greg said, for the heavy wool uniform. Greg has amazing knowledge about history of the park, the Native Americans who were part of this region and the Spanish descendants that came up through Mexico (when this was part of Mexico). He also helped run the night sky programs, setting up telescopes and often having groups camp overnight.

The moon has been illuminating the landscape nicely in the early morning hours. The park is very different at night. No big animals, but coyotes that often howl. A bit scary since you don’t know where they are.  

Murals painted on buildings for the TV filming.
Greg in his Civil War period U.S. Army uniform. The rangers greet visitors at an outdoor table.
The Milky Way above a wall lit by the moon.
Remnants of chimneys from the officers houses. Orion and some winter stars are high overhead. On the right is a bright Mars.
 

On the high plains: Ft. Union

 

Driving towards the plains on I-25.

I’m here on the high plains of New Mexico as the artist-in-residence at Fort Union National Monument. The park is at 6,775 feet in altitude and the wind is howling across the plain this morning. Ranger B.J. told me soldiers stationed here would call it Fort Windy.

The national monument is the site of an Army fort that existed in three iterations from 1851 to 1891 in the newly acquired New Mexico Territory. The fort was part of American expansion into the southwest and is situated at the intersection of two main branches of the Santa Fe Trail. You can still see wagon wheel ruts carved into the earth along the path of the trail. Ancestral lands of a dozen native American nations were trod on and settled by Hispanos, people of Spanish descent from Mexico, and then the U.S. Army.

Over a year ago I applied through the National Parks Arts Foundation for an artist-in-residence stint at the park. I didn’t know much about the park, but my friend Rush from Albuquerque said it was in an area with lots of history and it is fairly remote so the sky is very dark. I was accepted in March and wasn’t sure until recently if the residency would happen due to the pandemic. Park employees are careful about wearing masks and distancing. There are not very many visitors so I don’t see many people during a day.

Arriving in Albuquerque on Nov. 2, it was nice to see most people wearing masks on the street, and all wearing masks indoors. Like most other states, New Mexico is seeing an increase in Covid cases.

I’m staying in a small studio apartment in the ranger housing area about a half mile from the visitor center. It’s in a complex with an administration and maintenance buildings. The low one-story structures give it the look of a tiny town. I think three other park staff live here.

Seems like it’s hard to social distance from people here because it’s hard to find other people. The road leading into the park dead ends here, so there is little traffic during the day and none at night. It is very quiet here, a nice bit of solitude.

The park consists of the remnants of adobe walled structures that made up the fort. It reminds me of a more modern Chaco Culture, the park in northwest New Mexico that preserves ancient pueblo Indian buildings. I thought the shapes of the walls would lend themselves to interesting foregrounds against the sky.

(Click on photos to enlarge)

My efficiency apartment in the ranger housing.
The park: remnants of adobe walled structures are preserved.
First night out – Lots of stars!
Second night – green airglow recorded by the camera. Only seen in very dark sites, it is light emitted by atoms recombining at night after being photoionized by the sun during the day.
 

Sky, Moon, Sun

Join us for the opening of Sun, Moon, Sky, an exhibit of night sky landscapes by Stan Honda, on Friday, Jan. 17, 2020 presented by Tribeca New Music and nancy manocherian’s the cell. On display will be Stan’s striking images of the night sky, eclipses and the space shuttle.

The reception will feature a musical performance of Sapphire by Preston Stahly, inspired by a dawn astronomical twilight experienced at sea. It will be performed by violinist Jennifer Choi with a video of Stan’s images.

The exhibit runs until Feb. 6, the framed archival prints will be available for purchase. (The Cell is open Tuesday to Friday, 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm)

Click on image below or check our Facebook event.

 

Night sky

The guard tower and Milky Way. Bright object to the right is Jupiter. (Click on photo to enlarge)

One goal was to try and do some night sky photos of the structures at Minidoka. Thankfully, the site is far enough outside of Twin Falls that you get a good view of the stars and even the Milky Way. As you can see there is quite a bit of artificial light along the horizon from the outlying towns looking to the southeast (from the guard tower) but the view overhead is nice.

The tower and the fire station were taken on two separate night, both around 1:30 to 2:00 am in the early morning. The Milky Way rises about 1:00 am in early May and I thought that would make a good photo. Nearby lights from farms cast a faint glow on the tower and station. The nights I was there, it was very still though somewhat noisy due to the rush of the water in the irrigation canal which goes right by the guard tower.

While the stillness is similar to being there during the day, it was a different feeling being surrounded by the night sky and stars.

When researching the Idaho area, I saw Craters of the Moon National Monument on the map, close to Twin Falls. It sounds like a perfect place for the night sky landscapes so I took a two-day trip out there. Thanks to Janet from the Friends of Minidoka group, I stayed at her family’s cabin northwest of the park. (Friends of Minidoka co-sponsor a yearly pilgrimage to the site and work closely with the park service to support and help fund projects at the site. If you want to support the Minidoka site, the Friends group is a good one to donate to.)

Craters is a large volcanic lava field with an amazing landscape dotted with cinder cones and quite a bit of plant life. The ‘a’a lava (stony and rough) was familiar to me from my trip to Haleakala in Maui where I learned the two major types of lava, ‘a ‘a and pahoehoe, use Hawaiian terms to describe them.

The two pictures here are limber pines that grow in the park. The shapes of the branches are great and make for striking subjects. An almost first quarter moon lights up the gnarled pines against the starry sky. There was little color in the shots so I made them into black and white.

The fire station. The constellation Cassiopeia is right over the roof in the center
Craters of the Moon: The root of a limber pine lit by the moon with the Big Dipper.
Craters of the Moon: Limber pine branches lit by the moon.
 

American Vernacular

A mostly tin man, with axe, on Hunt Road, on the way to the Minidoka site.
 (Click on pictures to enlarge)

My photographer friend Ken and I (see his excellent blog, http://greatvisualtruths.blogspot.com/ ), along with Ann’s help, are on the lookout for photos of what we call the “American Vernacular”. Mostly scenes where you might say, “Only in America” or “Only in Idaho”. Hard to define but we know it when we see it. When I saw the tin man above, I knew it was the American Vernacular. This is on the road a few miles from the Minidoka site. It was a bit scary, as it is wielding an axe.

As with life everywhere, athletic activity is important to the community. Even more so at Minidoka and the other camps with the lack of a normal life. The park service has built a baseball field near Block 22 where they believe an original field existed. The simple backstop, wood stands and single bench for each team recalls the simple materials that must have been used by the incarcerees. Volunteers built this field in a single day with donated materials.

An interesting book for younger children (or even adults) is called “Baseball Saved Us” about the experiences of a boy in the Minidoka camp. Other books on baseball in the concentration camps are “A Diamond In the Desert” by Kathryn Fitzmaurice and “Nikkei Baseball” by Samuel Regalado.

Food production was difficult during the war and each camp often had large areas set aside for agriculture. The camp administrators were not able to provide the usual foods that the Japanese Americans were used to except for rice. Many of the incarcerees were farmers and they began to grow crops that fed the entire camp. At Minidoka a root cellar was built, with timber poles, to store the harvests. It is partially underground with a roof covered with straw and ground cover. We got permission from the park service to go inside. I wore a hard hat in case anything loose fell on me. Emily, the intern, was posted outside in case anything happened. It was boring for her since nothing did happen.

Sunset over the baseball field.
Early morning sun on home plate.
A panoramic view inside the root cellar. There is an entrance at each end to the far left and far right. Horizontal lines get distorted in the creation of the wide view.
One of the entrances to the root cellar.