Reading DoubleTake Magazine, 1998. #tbt
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
This issue of DoubleTake had an interview with Bruce Springsteen who said “I’ve gotten a lot out of Robert Frank’s photography in The Americans. I was 24 when I first saw the book – I think a friend had given me a copy – and the tone of the pictures, how he gave us a look at different kinds of people, got to me in some way. I’ve always wished I could write songs the way he takes pictures. I think I’ve got a half dozen copies of that book stashed around the house, and pull one out once in a while to get a fresh look at the photographs.”

Reading DoubleTake Magazine, 1998. #tbt
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
This issue of DoubleTake had an interview with Bruce Springsteen who said “I’ve gotten a lot out of Robert Frank’s photography in The Americans. I was 24 when I first saw the book – I think a friend had given me a copy – and the tone of the pictures, how he gave us a look at different kinds of people, got to me in some way. I’ve always wished I could write songs the way he takes pictures. I think I’ve got a half dozen copies of that book stashed around the house, and pull one out once in a while to get a fresh look at the photographs.”

Curriculum: A List of Favorite Anythings by Alec Soth  in the current issue of Aperture Magazine)
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
(1) Personism Frank O’Hara
Whenever I’m asked to make a list, I have the desire to formulate some sort of manifesto. I like rules and guidelines like Dogma 95 (the film must be in color, the shooting must be done on location, etc). But then I re-read Frank O’Hara’s ‘Personism’ and remember that his whimsical, rule-free manifesto is probably the most I’d ever be able to adhere to. “Personism has nothing to do with philosophy, it’s all art,” writes O’Hara, “to give you a vague idea, one of its minimal aspects is to address itself to one person (other than the poet himself), thus evoking overtones of love without destroying love’s life-giving vulgarity.” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

(2) The Photo AlbumPicasso famously said that it took him four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child. In a similar way, the struggle of many professional photographers is to make images with the purity of heart of the family snapshot. As someone whose primary ambition is the making of photobooks, I’ve found the ultimate guide in the vernacular album. After years of collecting these albums, it was great to see this art form acknowledged in the recent Aperture book:  Photographic Memory: The Album in the Age of Photography. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

(3) The Solitude of Ravens by Masahisa Fukase
When asked to name my favorite photography book, I always answer Solitude of Ravens by Masahisa Fukase. Made after his divorce, it describes the feeling of a broken heart as lyrically as a Roy Orbison song. 

(4) News From Home (Chantal Ackerman)In an era when just about every still photographer is experimenting with video on their DSLR, it is eye opening to revisit Chantal Ackerman’s 1976 film of barely moving images. Every frame is perfect. But it is the voice-over letters that Ackerman reads to her mother back home in Belgium that give this film its haunting beauty. 


(5) Pangnirtung by Robert Frank (Steidl) ⠀
Though I’ve never met Robert Frank, I feel like I’ve been having an ongoing conversation with him for the last twenty years. In many of our conversations I question his later work. But with his modest 2011 book about a five-day visit to a remote, Inuit village, I stop questioning and simply enjoyed being in the company of a master. 

(6) I Photograph to Remember by Pedro Meyer
I own an original, 1991 CD-ROM of Pedro Meyer’s multi-media piece, I photograph to remember, but it no longer opens on my computer. Fortunately Meyer eventually put the essay online, though that presentation is dated too. What isn’t dated is the heart of Meyer’s tribute to his parents. The love, humor and vulnerability of Meyer’s intimate family slideshow has stood the test of time.  

(7) Ten New Songs by Leonard Cohen
A number of years ago in a frigidly contemporary German hotel room I discovered Cohen’s CD in a drawer. As always with Cohen, the lyrics are the biggest draw. Nobody is able to speak to the full spectrum of yearning – from physical to spiritual – like Cohen. But what I love most about this album is that Cohen isn’t singing alone. In almost every song the vocalist Sharon Robinson accompanies him. Since that first night in Germany, the blend of their voices has served as a tonic to my loneliness in a hundred hotel rooms. 

(8) What was True: The Photographs and Notebooks of William Gedney
There is so much meat on the bones of this 2000 book about the underappreciated photographer William Gedney. There are Gedney’s wonderful photographs, of course. But these fragmentary glimpses of grace are made all the more meaningful by reading about Gedney’s process in transcriptions from his notebooks and in two unusually illuminating essays by Geoff Dyer and Maria Friedlander. Every unsung photographer grappling with the medium would do well to own this book. 

(9) Im Lauf der Zeit (Kings of the Road) by Wim Wenders
Since I first rented the double-cassette VHS as a teenager, Wender’s depiction of two lonely men on the road together has felt like some sort of prophecy. So when I started traveling extensively with the writer Brad Zellar a couple of years ago, you wouldn’t believe my shock when he told me that Kings of the Road was one of his favorite movies. 

(10) Pictures from Home by Larry Sultan
One of the hardest things to do with photographs is accompany them meaningfully with words – particularly with the words of the photographer. Pictures From Home achieves this goal better than any other book I’ve seen. But I only allow myself to read the book every few years because (1) it is so heartbreaking (2) it is so good that it makes all of my work seem trivial.

Curriculum: A List of Favorite Anythings by Alec Soth  in the current issue of Aperture Magazine)

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

(1) Personism Frank O’Hara

Whenever I’m asked to make a list, I have the desire to formulate some sort of manifesto. I like rules and guidelines like Dogma 95 (the film must be in color, the shooting must be done on location, etc). But then I re-read Frank O’Hara’s ‘Personism’ and remember that his whimsical, rule-free manifesto is probably the most I’d ever be able to adhere to. “Personism has nothing to do with philosophy, it’s all art,” writes O’Hara, “to give you a vague idea, one of its minimal aspects is to address itself to one person (other than the poet himself), thus evoking overtones of love without destroying love’s life-giving vulgarity.” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

(2) The Photo Album
Picasso famously said that it took him four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child. In a similar way, the struggle of many professional photographers is to make images with the purity of heart of the family snapshot. As someone whose primary ambition is the making of photobooks, I’ve found the ultimate guide in the vernacular album. After years of collecting these albums, it was great to see this art form acknowledged in the recent Aperture book:  Photographic Memory: The Album in the Age of Photography. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

(3) The Solitude of Ravens by Masahisa Fukase

When asked to name my favorite photography book, I always answer Solitude of Ravens by Masahisa Fukase. Made after his divorce, it describes the feeling of a broken heart as lyrically as a Roy Orbison song.

(4) News From Home (Chantal Ackerman)
In an era when just about every still photographer is experimenting with video on their DSLR, it is eye opening to revisit Chantal Ackerman’s 1976 film of barely moving images. Every frame is perfect. But it is the voice-over letters that Ackerman reads to her mother back home in Belgium that give this film its haunting beauty.

(5) Pangnirtung by Robert Frank (Steidl)

Though I’ve never met Robert Frank, I feel like I’ve been having an ongoing conversation with him for the last twenty years. In many of our conversations I question his later work. But with his modest 2011 book about a five-day visit to a remote, Inuit village, I stop questioning and simply enjoyed being in the company of a master.

(6) I Photograph to Remember by Pedro Meyer

I own an original, 1991 CD-ROM of Pedro Meyer’s multi-media piece, I photograph to remember, but it no longer opens on my computer. Fortunately Meyer eventually put the essay online, though that presentation is dated too. What isn’t dated is the heart of Meyer’s tribute to his parents. The love, humor and vulnerability of Meyer’s intimate family slideshow has stood the test of time.  

(7) Ten New Songs by Leonard Cohen

A number of years ago in a frigidly contemporary German hotel room I discovered Cohen’s CD in a drawer. As always with Cohen, the lyrics are the biggest draw. Nobody is able to speak to the full spectrum of yearning – from physical to spiritual – like Cohen. But what I love most about this album is that Cohen isn’t singing alone. In almost every song the vocalist Sharon Robinson accompanies him. Since that first night in Germany, the blend of their voices has served as a tonic to my loneliness in a hundred hotel rooms.

(8) What was True: The Photographs and Notebooks of William Gedney

There is so much meat on the bones of this 2000 book about the underappreciated photographer William Gedney. There are Gedney’s wonderful photographs, of course. But these fragmentary glimpses of grace are made all the more meaningful by reading about Gedney’s process in transcriptions from his notebooks and in two unusually illuminating essays by Geoff Dyer and Maria Friedlander. Every unsung photographer grappling with the medium would do well to own this book.

(9) Im Lauf der Zeit (Kings of the Road) by Wim Wenders

Since I first rented the double-cassette VHS as a teenager, Wender’s depiction of two lonely men on the road together has felt like some sort of prophecy. So when I started traveling extensively with the writer Brad Zellar a couple of years ago, you wouldn’t believe my shock when he told me that Kings of the Road was one of his favorite movies.

(10) Pictures from Home by Larry Sultan

One of the hardest things to do with photographs is accompany them meaningfully with words – particularly with the words of the photographer. Pictures From Home achieves this goal better than any other book I’ve seen. But I only allow myself to read the book every few years because (1) it is so heartbreaking (2) it is so good that it makes all of my work seem trivial.

Mushroom ♥ Cheese
I’ve been describing 2014 as the LBM Year of Wisconsin. Along with participating in a group show at Milwaukee Museum of Art and teaching a course at UWM, I’m so excited to exhibit my survey show, From Here To There: Alec Soth’s America, at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art from September 14, 2014 to January 4, 2015. Here’s some of the programming done in conjunction with the show:
Saturday, September 13 ·  6–9 pmMMoCA Night: Alec Soth Opening ReceptionCelebrate the opening of From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America with this special MMoCA Nights. Preview the exhibition beginning at 6 pm. MMoCA director Stephen Fleischman will converse with Soth at 6:30 pm in the lecture hall. Afterward, guests will be invited to ask the artist questions about his work and process. Louka will perform live, and hors d’oeuvres from Fresco will round out the evening. Free for MMoCA members / $10 for non-members. more »
Saturday, September 13 ·  6:30–7:30 pmA Conversation with Alec SothIn conversation with MMoCA director Stephen Fleischman, photographer Alec Soth will discuss his creative process, including his approach to photographing his subjects on location using a large-format 8 x 10 camera.
Alec Soth’s photographs have been featured in one-person exhibitions at the Jeu de Paume, Paris, and Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland, among others. In addition to exhibiting his work, Soth publishes books of his photographic series, including Sleeping by the Mississippi, NIAGARA, The Last Days of W, and Broken Manual through his publishing company Little Brown Mushroom. He is a member of Magnum Photos and has received numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2013. Lecture Hall.
Friday, September 26 ·  7–8 pmSomewhere to DisappearSomewhere to Disappear is a film that chronicles photographer Alec Soth as he traveled nearly 20,000 miles across the United States for his project, Broken Manual. Developed over a period of several years, Broken Manual features images of individuals who have chosen to establish a life alone and live “off the grid.” 2010, France. 57 minutes. Tickets are available at the door 30 minutes before screen time.
Somewhere to Disappear is co-sponsored by MMoCA and PhotoMidwest. Visit photomidwest.org for more information or to purchase tickets for this and other programs organized for PhotoMidwest, including the September 27 screening at MMoCA of In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter. 
Friday, October 10 ·  6:30– 7 pmA Little Brown Mushroom OdysseyWriter and frequent Alec Soth collaborator Brad Zellar talks about the experience of working and traveling with Soth. Soth and Zellar have worked together on such book projects as Conductors of the Moving World, House of Coates, and the seven-part LBM Dispatch, which documents the duo’s travels around the United States.
Along with Alec Soth, Brad Zellar is the Fall 2014 Interdisciplinary Artist in Residence at the UW-Madison Arts Institute, where they are co-teaching the course “Truth, Lies, Memory, and Imagination: The Photograph as Story.” Zellar is an author and journalist whose book, Suburban World: The Norling Photos, served in part as inspiration for the Coen brothers’ film, A Serious Man. Among other awards he has received, his book, Conductors of the Moving World, was featured in TIMELightbox “Best of 2011: The Photobooks We Loved.” Zellar also writes for his blog, Your Man for Fun in Rapidan., found at yourmanforfuninrapidan.blogspot.com. Main galleries.
More info HERE
An article on the show HERE

Mushroom ♥ Cheese

I’ve been describing 2014 as the LBM Year of Wisconsin. Along with participating in a group show at Milwaukee Museum of Art and teaching a course at UWM, I’m so excited to exhibit my survey show, From Here To There: Alec Soth’s America, at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art from September 14, 2014 to January 4, 2015. Here’s some of the programming done in conjunction with the show:

Saturday, September 13 ·  6–9 pm
MMoCA Night: Alec Soth Opening Reception
Celebrate the opening of From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America with this special MMoCA Nights. Preview the exhibition beginning at 6 pm. MMoCA director Stephen Fleischman will converse with Soth at 6:30 pm in the lecture hall. Afterward, guests will be invited to ask the artist questions about his work and process. Louka will perform live, and hors d’oeuvres from Fresco will round out the evening. Free for MMoCA members / $10 for non-members. more »

Saturday, September 13 ·  6:30–7:30 pm
A Conversation with Alec Soth
In conversation with MMoCA director Stephen Fleischman, photographer Alec Soth will discuss his creative process, including his approach to photographing his subjects on location using a large-format 8 x 10 camera.

Alec Soth’s photographs have been featured in one-person exhibitions at the Jeu de Paume, Paris, and Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland, among others. In addition to exhibiting his work, Soth publishes books of his photographic series, including Sleeping by the Mississippi, NIAGARA, The Last Days of W, and Broken Manual through his publishing company Little Brown Mushroom. He is a member of Magnum Photos and has received numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2013. Lecture Hall.

Friday, September 26 ·  7–8 pm
Somewhere to Disappear
Somewhere to Disappear is a film that chronicles photographer Alec Soth as he traveled nearly 20,000 miles across the United States for his project, Broken Manual. Developed over a period of several years, Broken Manual features images of individuals who have chosen to establish a life alone and live “off the grid.” 2010, France. 57 minutes. Tickets are available at the door 30 minutes before screen time.

Somewhere to Disappear is co-sponsored by MMoCA and PhotoMidwest. Visit photomidwest.org for more information or to purchase tickets for this and other programs organized for PhotoMidwest, including the September 27 screening at MMoCA of In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter. 

Friday, October 10 ·  6:30– 7 pm
A Little Brown Mushroom Odyssey
Writer and frequent Alec Soth collaborator Brad Zellar talks about the experience of working and traveling with Soth. Soth and Zellar have worked together on such book projects as Conductors of the Moving World, House of Coates, and the seven-part LBM Dispatch, which documents the duo’s travels around the United States.

Along with Alec Soth, Brad Zellar is the Fall 2014 Interdisciplinary Artist in Residence at the UW-Madison Arts Institute, where they are co-teaching the course “Truth, Lies, Memory, and Imagination: The Photograph as Story.” Zellar is an author and journalist whose book, Suburban World: The Norling Photos, served in part as inspiration for the Coen brothers’ film, A Serious Man. Among other awards he has received, his book, Conductors of the Moving World, was featured in TIMELightbox “Best of 2011: The Photobooks We Loved.” Zellar also writes for his blog, Your Man for Fun in Rapidan., found at yourmanforfuninrapidan.blogspot.com. Main galleries.

More info HERE

An article on the show HERE

At Big Al’s Photo, we’ve had a busy summer making high quality drum scans and fine art prints for exhibitions. Here is what a few of our clients said about working with us!"On more than one occasion I’ve needed work done quickly and Ethan at Big Al’s has come through with flying colors. The drum scans Ethan does are top-notch and need very little back-end work. This saves me even more time when I need to get a print out the door in a hurry. I couldn’t be happier with the quality, attention to detail, and promptness. Thanks, Ethan! Thanks, Big Al!" – Ron Jude"Working with the friendly and knowledgeable crew at Big Al’s has been a great experience and I appreciate them opening their studio for us! It feels good to know that high quality print and scanning services are available at a reasonable cost, no matter where you live." – Ed Panar"Ethan Jones at Big Al’s is a pleasure to work with – he knows the ins and outs of PS, meets the deadline, has a great attitude, but best of all – he makes beautiful prints!" – David Goldes
"Heidelberg Chromagraph s3400 drum scans are perfection. WOOF!"– Misha Soth

If you have any questions about our services please don’t hesitate to get in touch! Remember to check out Big Al’s online, on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.

At Big Al’s Photo, we’ve had a busy summer making high quality drum scans and fine art prints for exhibitions. Here is what a few of our clients said about working with us!

"On more than one occasion I’ve needed work done quickly and Ethan at Big Al’s has come through with flying colors. The drum scans Ethan does are top-notch and need very little back-end work. This saves me even more time when I need to get a print out the door in a hurry. I couldn’t be happier with the quality, attention to detail, and promptness. Thanks, Ethan! Thanks, Big Al!"
Ron Jude

"Working with the friendly and knowledgeable crew at Big Al’s has been a great experience and I appreciate them opening their studio for us! It feels good to know that high quality print and scanning services are available at a reasonable cost, no matter where you live."
Ed Panar

"Ethan Jones at Big Al’s is a pleasure to work with – he knows the ins and outs of PS, meets the deadline, has a great attitude, but best of all – he makes beautiful prints!"
David Goldes

"Heidelberg Chromagraph s3400 drum scans are perfection. WOOF!"
– Misha Soth

If you have any questions about our services please don’t hesitate to get in touch! Remember to check out Big Al’s online, on InstagramTwitterFacebook, and Tumblr.

This Fall, Brad Zellar and I are artists in residence at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Along with co-teaching a course entitled Truth, Lies, Memory, and Imagination: The Photograph as Story, we’ll be hosting a number of public events:
Guest Artists Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin photographer and publisher | graphic designer, illustrator, and author Wednesday, September 10 4:30 – 5:45 pm Room L160 Elvehjem Building 800 University Avenue

A Conversation with Alec Soth about his current MMoCA exhibition From Here to There with MMoCA director Stephen FleischmanSaturday, September 13 6:30 – 7:30 pm Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA) 227 State Street MMoCA event: $10 MMoCA Nights admission/free

 Guest Artist Susan Meiselas documentary photographer Wednesday, September 24 4:30 – 5:45 pm L160 Elvehjem Building 800 University Avenue

 Guest Artist David Rathman painter and multimedia artist Wednesday, October 8 4:30 – 5:45 pm Room L160 Elvehjem Building 800 University Avenue

Gallery Talk with Brad ZellarFriday, October 106:30 – 7:00 pmMadison Museum of Contemporary Art 227 State Street MMoCA event: Free admission to all.

 Guest Speaker Michael Lesy author and professor of literary journalism at Hampshire College Wednesday, October 15 4:30 – 5:45 pm Room L160 Elvehjem Building 800 University Avenue

 Talk by Brad Zellar:“House of Coates Revisited: Lester B. Morrison, Little Brown Mushroom, and Other Lost Broken Men”Saturday, October 18 5:30 pm Community Room Madison Central Library 201 West Mifflin Street

Workshop with Brad Zellar:“How Many Words is a Picture Really Worth? Writing From Photographs”Sunday, October 19 11:00 am – 2:00 pm Wisconsin Book Festival event. See wisconsinbookfestival.org for further details.

Guest Artists The Goggles (Paul Shoebridge and Michael Simons)interactive, immersive storytellers Wednesday, October 22 11:30 am – 12:45 pm Gordon Commons 770 West Dayton Street Registration recommended: go.wisc.edu/f6mqhm

Madison Area Network for Innovation and Collaboration (MANIAC) Lunchtime Talk with Alec Soth and Brad ZellarWednesday, October 29 11:30 am – 12:45 pm Gordon Commons 770 West Dayton Street Registration recommended: go.wisc.edu/f6mqhm

Guest Artist Ginger Strandauthor Wednesday, November 12 4:30 – 5:45 pm

This Fall, Brad Zellar and I are artists in residence at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Along with co-teaching a course entitled Truth, Lies, Memory, and Imagination: The Photograph as Story, we’ll be hosting a number of public events:


Guest Artists Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin
photographer and publisher | graphic designer, illustrator, and author
Wednesday, September 10
4:30 – 5:45 pm
Room L160
Elvehjem Building
800 University Avenue

A Conversation with Alec Soth about his current MMoCA exhibition From Here to There with MMoCA director Stephen Fleischman
Saturday, September 13
6:30 – 7:30 pm
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA)
227 State Street
MMoCA event: $10 MMoCA Nights admission/free


Guest Artist Susan Meiselas
documentary photographer
Wednesday, September 24
4:30 – 5:45 pm
L160
Elvehjem Building
800 University Avenue


Guest Artist David Rathman
painter and multimedia artist
Wednesday, October 8
4:30 – 5:45 pm
Room L160
Elvehjem Building
800 University Avenue

Gallery Talk with Brad Zellar
Friday, October 10
6:30 – 7:00 pm
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art
227 State Street
MMoCA event: Free admission to all.



Guest Speaker Michael Lesy

author and professor of literary journalism at Hampshire College
Wednesday, October 15
4:30 – 5:45 pm
Room L160
Elvehjem Building
800 University Avenue


Talk by Brad Zellar:“House of Coates Revisited: Lester B. Morrison, Little Brown Mushroom, and Other Lost Broken Men”
Saturday, October 18
5:30 pm
Community Room
Madison Central Library
201 West Mifflin Street

Workshop with Brad Zellar:“How Many Words is a Picture Really Worth? Writing From Photographs”
Sunday, October 19
11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Wisconsin Book Festival event.
See wisconsinbookfestival.org for further details.


Guest Artists The Goggles (Paul Shoebridge and Michael Simons)
interactive, immersive storytellers
Wednesday, October 22
11:30 am – 12:45 pm
Gordon Commons
770 West Dayton Street
Registration recommended: go.wisc.edu/f6mqhm

Madison Area Network for Innovation and Collaboration (MANIAC) Lunchtime Talk with Alec Soth and Brad Zellar
Wednesday, October 29
11:30 am – 12:45 pm
Gordon Commons
770 West Dayton Street
Registration recommended: go.wisc.edu/f6mqhm


Guest Artist Ginger Strand
author
Wednesday, November 12
4:30 – 5:45 pm

I was completely shocked when a friend in Venezuela alerted me to this story which, according to Google Translate, says: “The levels of violence and insecurity in Venezuela, also forced the American photographer Alec Soth (Minneapolis, 1969) to reject the invitation to participate in the FIA ​​as a foreign artist honoree. A source revealed that the creator asked the American embassy protection and security measures. However, the request was not processed and therefore the artist, who has published his Magnum portfolio, will not attend the fair.”

This is the first I’ve heard of any of this. To my knowledge I was never invited to Venezuela and I certainly did not ask the American embassy for protection.

If anyone has any knowledge of what this about, I’d appreciate if they’d contact me (the journalist certainly never did).