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From The Dirt to The Skies: Pat Bacon

“From The Dirt to The Skies” is on view at Main Street Arts through Oct. 4, 2019

“From The Dirt to The Skies” is on view at Main Street Arts through Oct. 4, 2019

From the Dirt to the Skies is a group exhibition featuring new works in painting, drawing, and printmaking from four of Main Street Arts’ gallery artists — Pat Bacon, Chad Grohman, Meredith Mallwitz-Meyer, and Lanna Pejovic. The artwork is inspired by fog-laden lakes, wooded paths, gardens, and objects plucked from nature. 

In the final interview of the series, executive director and curator Bradley Butler talks with Pat Bacon. If you haven’t had a chance to read the other interviews with artists Meredith, Chad, and Lanna, be sure to check them out and see the way their inspirations, motivations, and color palettes overlap with one another.

From The Dirt to The Skies: 
Pat Bacon


Q: Can you talk about the work that is included in the show and what inspired it?

A: I like reflections, looking in through water, what’s on the surface of water, what’s below it. The same with mud. I ended up printing a lot of diptychs for this show and while the imagery isn’t obvious, I feel like it’s more readable as a diptych. Putting two images together makes the print a little more solid. As singular images I thought they were a little too nebulous, a little too “floaty”. Showing them as diptychs gives the imagery a little more grounding and makes them
more readable. I’d like the work to transcend what it obviously is but I don’t want to make it so mysterious or so unrecognizable. It has to have some recognition, there has to be some point of reference. The singular pieces are from walks in the woods and my response to what I saw.

"Reflection" by Pat Bacon

“Reflection” by Pat Bacon

Q: Where did the diptych idea come from?

A: I felt the singular images were incomplete. If I’m looking at 50 images, two will seem to relate to me and inform each other and I’m hoping it does for someone else also. Why did I pick “those two” that seem to inform each other? You always have design considerations because you want it to look like two singular images but read as one statement but it’s an intuitive process. “The Garden” is a triptych, it just needed that balance. It had more of a cathedral effect with the corn on either side of the greenhouse.

"Garden" by Pat Bacon

“Garden” by Pat Bacon

Q: How does the work in this show differ from previous work? They definitely seem like related themes and images from past work but they are also different and new.

A: I have a new press and it’s bigger, I think that has something to do with it. To have more plate surface to work with building textures helps me. I was very happy with the burn piles and trees that I was working with last year and I felt that they worked well as singular,
standalone images or statements. These just work better as diptychs.

"Fire II" by Pat Bacon

“Fire II” by Pat Bacon

Q: What is on your mind while you’re working?

A: I collect all of my images, mostly on my iPhone and sometimes on my camera. As I’m looking through them, I sort out what I’m intrigued with most and then I’m looking at 100 images and they just seem to really speak to me. From there, it’s a process of deciding which ones I want to pull together. Sometimes I know that there are things going on in the world or in my life that is affecting those choices on a certain level, a more intuitive level. If people relate to my work, they relate to it on their own level with what’s going on in their own life. I don’t want to tell them exactly how to read it.

"Bridge" by Pat Bacon

“Bridge” by Pat Bacon

Q: Can you talk about a specific piece that is included in the show?

A: The one piece that evolved over the course of four years, is “Bridge”. I had done it originally using contact prints in the darkroom and I liked it that way. I also used this image in a triptych, and in a collage but I was never satisfied with the outcome. Then,
when I got my larger press I was able to do it as a double plate and I thought to myself, “Yes, this is how I always wanted to do it”. Through the manipulation of the plate I was able to draw out certain textures and tones that I wanted to come forward. 

For me, this piece has to do with transitions. Between one thought and another, between parts of your life, aging. I’m looking down from the bridge and you can see my reflection in the water and the textures you see are animal prints in the mud. The bridge is on the western edge of Lake Ontario, almost to Lake Erie. I stopped
at a small pull off just to look at the lake and I noticed there was a bridge on the road and I walked down the bridge and I realize there was this amazing pattern of tracks in the mud and I had to photograph it. The image just seemed so important to me.

"Mud Tree" by Pat Bacon

“Mud Tree” by Pat Bacon

Q: You work largely in black and white but there is always a tone, or a cast of warm or cool to your blacks. Can you talk about your color mixing? 

A: “Garden” has yellow ochre and heavy Portland black. With “Reflection”, I used Portland black and Cerulean blue. What’s nice about photogravure is that you establish your palette and then you open a can of black, open the ocre, the blue — depending if you’re going to go warm or cool—black just has such a nice voice between warm and cool as you respond to the image. A lot of these images I have done very warm or done very cool until I really hit on the black that I like. That’s why a lot of them are monoprints instead of editions. I respond to the plate differently every time I ink it, like a painter. And I want the ink to be heavy enough that you can smell it!
Ink is very sensual and tactile, just like paint is. With the heavy texture you can feel that, I want it lo look heavy and substantial.

"I Didn’t Hear You Fall" by Pat Bacon

“I Didn’t Hear You Fall” by Pat Bacon

Q: How does your environment impact your work? 

A: I live in the country and have for the past 40 years or so. I find that even when I’m in an urban environment, I’m taking pictures of the weeds in the sidewalk or the corner of a building that is deteriorating. I can’t seem to capture the essence of what is urban,
that’s why I like to look at urban photographs and paintings, those artists are capturing the vision of where they live, and that’s different from where I live.

I travel the state quite a bit and I get to stop in a lot of very rural places and take photographs, like the overgrown greenhouse in “Garden”, I just found it in a field and shot it. It was a nice unexpected thing to come across. I was so intrigued with this greenhouse and took about 20 shots and then I moved on and do something else.
A month later I pulled those images out and start looking at them, pinning them up on the wall in the studio and then finding other images to go with it. The greenhouse on its own seemed so incomplete to me. I printed it singular but it just didn’t work for
me. The corn images on either side of the greenhouse inform it on a design level with the cathedral effect of the tunnel of corn leaves and the architecture of the building. It also brings forward the idea of the greenhouse effect, global warming, and the earth
coming back and overcoming manmade structures. 

When I find images that work together it’s not a concrete thing right away, I don’t set out to make a statement about climate change. The substance or meaning comes through over time and you just know it when you see it. That process is pretty intuitive and sometimes I look at a print a year after I made it and say “wow, that says it for me”. Your work sometimes is ahead of your life and you can’t read it yourself for another 6 months or a year.

"Fire I" by Pat Bacon

“Fire I” by Pat Bacon

Q: Talk about your studio

A: My new press is in the barn studio next to my house. It was a cold spring, so in April I could print out there using a hot plate to warm the ink. Hopefully I’ll be able to use it up through November and then I’ll move into the house and use my smaller press.

From The Dirt to The Skies runs through Friday, October 4, 2019. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shop.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Julie Herman

I am a Syracuse, NY based photographer with work in the de/composition exhibition currently on display at Main Street Arts.

"Packard Automotive", photograph included in de/composition at Main Street Arts

“Packard Automotive”, photograph included in de/composition at Main Street Arts

I received my BFA from Alfred University, and currently work for Light Work, a non profit photography organization based at Syracuse University. Light Work supports emerging and under represented artists through a residency program, grants, and lab facilities. I also do freelance work and studio photography.

My photographs focus on the decline of American industry, and the effect it has had on neighboring communities. As a child growing up in Endicott, NY, I witnessed the slow collapse of IBM, the region’s major employer. When layoffs began, I remember watching my father worry about losing his job. As offices closed, and manufacturing plants were shut down, the landscape became dotted with vacant factories and shuttered storefronts. As IBM’s presence in Endicott slowly dwindled, the places where I spent my childhood were abandoned, and stand now as derelict property.

The IBM country club pool, now full of reeds and rainwater

The IBM country club pool, now full of reeds and rainwater

Former blast furnace, Pennsylvania

Former blast furnace, Pennsylvania

As I began to search for other towns that had been similarly affected, I saw the same story unfold in other areas; places that once had function and purpose are now empty, nature slowly reclaiming the buildings and their contents. Despite their great amount of deterioration, I find these places serene. A sun beam through the roof, or a seedling rooted in the floor signal hope and beauty where it might not be expected.

Control panel at the now abandoned IBM country club

Control panel at the now abandoned IBM country club

Empty house in a company town in Pennsylvania

Empty house in a company town in Pennsylvania

Forgotten work glove at a Pennsylvania lace factory

Forgotten work glove at a Pennsylvania lace factory

Recently, I have begun collecting mementos from the places I visit. Old invoices, letters, torn wallpaper, and discarded books all tell stories of those who had been there before. I have also been collecting old IBM memorabilia: postcards of the manufacturing facilities, photographs, and items that belonged to my father. I don’t know what I will do with them yet, but gathering them feels like the next step to me.

Collected items

Collected items

I took my first photography class in high school, where I was introduced to a traditional black and white darkroom. Despite the prevalence of digital cameras, analog processes are still central to my image making process. While my freelance work demands the immediacy of a digital workflow, almost all of my personal work is done in the darkroom.

I photograph using medium format film cameras from the 1950’s and 60’s. Shooting with film forces me to slow down, consider each frame, and be present in the space. There is joy and excitement in waiting to see the images; not knowing with certainty that I’ve captured what I intended.  I enjoy the process of analog photography, the physicality of the work, and even after two decades of darkroom printing, watching an image materialize in the developer is a magical experience.

After years of using a community space, I finally installed a darkroom in my basement. The nice thing about developing film and silver gelatin prints is that it doesn’t change much. It’s the same process that I used in high school. There is no need to upgrade to a better camera, a nicer monitor, or faster computer.

You can see more of my work at www.juliekherman.com or on instagram @juliekherman.

Julie Herman is one of 31 artists featured in the national juried exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shopde/composition runs through June 28, 2019.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jeremy Moule

Hi. This is me.

Hi. This is me.

Every photograph represents a moment; whether the exposure lasts a fraction of a second long or spans several hours, the maker is capturing a defined period of time.

I find many of the moments in my images as I wander through Rochester’s streets and neighborhoods. I’m subject agnostic — not a true street photographer — alternating between people, the built environment, and various objects. My mood often guides me and seeps into my images; so do gut reactions to what’s in front of me. It’s a slight shift from my full-time work as a journalist, where I’m supposed to keep my emotions out of my writing.

A little time on my feet and a little patience enabled me to make this photo.

This photo came together after a little time on my feet and a little patience. I think the anonymous subject and I shared a little fascination with the fire-breathing machine.

“Spectre of the Piss Tunnel,” which is part of de/composition, came together in an instant and is a good example of my process.

I was out walking around the edge of the High Falls District and started photographing a stack of newspapers that had been tossed in a tunnel under the Inner Loop. Then a stranger walked past me. The camera I was using, an old Yashica, isn’t exactly built for speed, but I recomposed and refocused in time and click, I got the image.

"Spectre of the Piss Tunnel"

“Spectre of the Piss Tunnel”

The image has a gloomy, tense quality to it, which was my intention.  I knew I wanted the figure to remain in the shadow, so I set my camera’s shutter speed accordingly.


Cameras are tools, part of a process but not the process itself.

With people, I like to preserve a sense of the anonymity inherent in a city environment. The objects and structures I photograph show traces of human presence, if not the impact that people have on their surroundings and environments.

The way we alter our surroundings sends messages, intentional or not.

The way we alter our surroundings sends messages, intentional or not.

Sometimes I use a digital camera, but my preference is usually for 35mm or 120 film. I hand-develop my black and white film as well as my color negative film, and I do my own black and white printing. The analog processes are tactile and meditative, plus I’m generally happier with the results.

The Flower City Arts Center darkrooms are about the closest thing I have to an actual studio, and they’re a valuable resource. So is the community around the center. The folks who work, teach, and create there have given me knowledge, criticism, and opportunity which has in turn helped me grow as a photographer.




Jeremy Moule is one of 31 artists featured in the national juried exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shopde/composition runs through June 28, 2019.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Nick Marshall: Living with Photographs

Photo studio

Photo studio

Hi, my name is Nick Marshall. My work is currently on view in the exhibition Perception of Time at Main Street Arts. Here is a glimpse into my practice as an artist.

I grew up in Canton, Ohio. I received my B.F.A. from Columbus College of Art and Design and my M.F.A. from Rochester Institute of Technology. I have taught photography related courses at Alfred University, RIT, and Visual Studies Workshop. Since 2013, I have been the Manager of Exhibitions and Programs at George Eastman Museum.

There were three important experiences I had with art in my formative years that shaped my practice as an artist.

1) In high school I was introduced to Robert Rauschenberg’s work and it changed my understanding of what materials could be used. (Anything)

2) In grad school I unknowingly walked into a James Turrell installation at the Albright Knox Art Gallery and it altered my understanding of how art can be experienced. (Physical)

3) In 2009 I saw an exhibition of Paul Graham’s A Shimmer of Possibility and it changed my understanding of how photograph’s can shift perspective. (Time)


From Then Until Now (I), 2009, chromogenic development print, 24x18"

From Then Until Now (I), 2009, chromogenic development print, 24×18″

My first love was painting but in undergrad I gravitated toward photography. The process of being in the darkroom and the chance for the unknown was appealing to me. In grad school I became interested in the chemical and cultural histories of photography which lead to my work with vernacular imagery. My series From Then Until Now examined the snapshot as an object that “lives” with us. It’s bends, folds, and tears tell of a tactile history while it’s chemical properties are altered due to the conditions it’s exposed to.

I have continued these investigations into the amateur and consumer aspects of photography for the past 10 years.  I’m interested in the way we live with photographs — from shoeboxes and mass-produced picture frames to touch screens and Instagram. How does the way we interact with photographs affect our memory?

Future Nostalgia, 2018-2019, gelatin silver print, 14x11" (installation view)

Future Nostalgia, 2018-2019, gelatin silver print, 14×11″ (installation view)

Collecting is an important part of my practice. I have boxes full of thrift store picture frames, lottery tickets that have already been scratched off, dead pens, and hand-written driving directions. I’m perpetually drawn to discarded or obsolete objects that carry very little monetary value but have the potential to tell stories.

Found picture frame

Found picture frame

Insert Photo Here (I), 2014-ongoing, chromogenic development print, 24x18"

Insert Photo Here (I), 2014-ongoing, chromogenic development print, 24×18″

Insert Photo Here (II), 2014-ongoing, chromogenic development print, 24x18"

Insert Photo Here (IV), 2014-ongoing, chromogenic development print, 24×18″

My work has always heavily focused on material and the physicality of objects so once I am in my studio, it’s important to touch the things around me — to become familiar with them, put them next to other things, see how they interact, break them down or destroy them. What’s inside? What’s underneath? How is this used? How isn’t it used?

In the studio with Dale

In the studio with Dale (cat on chair)

Photoshop Tools (Eraser), 2018, inkjet print, 24x18"

Photoshop Tools (Eraser), 2018, inkjet print, 24×18″

Every day I am essentially surrounded by the history of photography while at work. I see this time as a part of my practice that informs and influences the projects I take on. For instance, after exhibiting Anna Atkins’s 19th century botanical studies, I started to think about what a contemporary study would look like.

Botanical Study (I), 2016, chromogenic development print with LED panel, 12x7"

Botanical Study (I), 2016, chromogenic development print with LED panel, 12×7″

Unintentionally, the flatbed scanner has become one of my favorite tools in the studio. I was drawn to it’s relationship to photograms and to its ability to alter perception through depth of field and surface.

Touching Photographs (III), 2018, acrylic face mounted chromogenic development print, 13x9"

Touching Photographs (III), 2018, acrylic face mounted chromogenic development print, 13×9″

I hope you have a chance to stop by the exhibition before it closes. My work from Touching Photographs and Future Nostalgia will be on view until February 15.

My new website will be published soon but until then you can find me at marshallnick on Instagram.

Nick Marshall is one of seven artists featured in the exhibition Perception of Time at Main Street Arts. The exhibition can be previewed on the gallery’s Artsy page. Perception of Time runs through February 15, 2019.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Phyllis Bryce Ely: Not My Father’s Iceberg

Joseph Loder Bryce

Joseph Loder Bryce

I began painting this series after the loss of my father, Joseph Loder Bryce, in 2015.

Loder served in the US Navy as a photographer aboard the Icebreaker USS Edisto in the early 1950s during the cold war era. His ship supported the installation of the Distant Early Warning Line (DEW Line) in the Arctic region with a mission to dramatically reduce the warning time of possible Soviet attack. The DEW Line, along the 69th parallel, was the northernmost radar system, taking my father into the Arctic region with his camera to photograph sea and air missions, life aboard the ship, and the extreme beauty of the Arctic landscape and its inhabitants.

Photographs by Joseph Loder Bryce. Caption of lower left photo reads, "Aerial view of the Edito, note the paths we made by circling about in the ice. Sondrestrom, Greenland. 5/18/54."

Photographs by Joseph Loder Bryce. Caption of lower left photo reads, “Aerial view of the Edisto, note the paths we made by circling about in the ice. Sondrestrom, Greenland. 5/18/54.”

I grew up with boxes of these photographs in my life; they were a perennial choice for “show and tell” in grammar school and I loved to share the exotic icebergs, people, polar bears, and frozen ships with my friends.

The images, shapes, places and people I “knew” but never met became a visual foundation for me. I now know I was influenced by my father’s eye for composition, shapes, and light as well as his interest in telling stories that come from landscape. These attributes have become the very context of my nearly 40 years of art-making.

"On my easel: ice formation off Greenland with kayaker, working from my Dad's photos." July 26, 2017

“On my easel: ice formation off Greenland with kayaker, working from my Dad’s photos.” July 26, 2017

After Loder’s death, I found myself engaging with his photos yet again and was struck and inspired by the old familiar shapes and simple colorless format. No longer able to hear my father’s stories about the pictures, I started a new conversation with my paintbrush. I began with no plan in mind as I painted one iceberg, then some polar bears, and then a ship…one by one the photos found their way into my studio. Working on these paintings was a form of meditation for me.

Detail of painting "Exodus"

Detail of painting “Exodus”

My first paintings were in oil on a vivid red ground I typically use when painting en plein air. The vibration of the limited, cool palette against the red quickly appealed to me; I connected with the raw edges of color as I worked, excited by how the colors created an emotional response and competing feeling of calm and urgency. I also chose to work in encaustic wax because of the rich texture and intimate scale made possible in that medium.

Photograph by Joseph Loder Bryce (left) and detail of encaustic painting "Ice Journey" by Phyllis Bryce Ely.

Photograph by Joseph Loder Bryce (left) and detail of encaustic painting “Ice Journey” by Phyllis Bryce Ely.

As I finished each painting I tucked the work away with no particular plan for sharing them,  but knew I wanted them to be together. On New Year’s Eve, I set a goal of pulling the photographs and paintings together for a show, which ultimately led to this exhibit.

"Not My Father's Iceberg" exhibition at Main Street Arts

“Not My Father’s Iceberg” exhibition at Main Street Arts

"Not My Father's Iceberg" exhibition at Main Street Arts

“Not My Father’s Iceberg” exhibition at Main Street Arts

I am grateful to gallery director Brad Butler for his early interest in these paintings, which he first saw when my first iceberg painting was juried into the Utopia/Dystopia exhibit at Main Street Arts in 2017 and was awarded “Best in Show.”

Phyllis Bryce Ely with her painting from "Utopia/Dystopia" (left); Joseph Loder Bryce (1930–2015) at an exhibition of his photographs in 2014

Phyllis Bryce Ely with her painting from “Utopia/Dystopia” (left); Joseph Loder Bryce (1930–2015) at an exhibition of his photographs in 2014

Please enjoy my contemporary consideration of a decades-old Arctic landscape that once was my father’s place in the world. 

Not My Father’s Iceberg, a solo exhibition on the second floor at Main Street Arts, presents paintings by Phyllis Bryce Ely made in response to photographs taken by her father, Joseph Loder Bryce. The exhibition runs August 3 through September 15, 2018 and can be viewed on the gallery’s Artsy page.


Meet the Artist in Residence: Scott McMahon

Scott McMahon, artist in residence at Main Street Arts, during the month of June 2018, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Scott some questions about his work and studio practice:

Scott McMahon

Scott McMahon

Q: Tell us about your background.
I grew up in Killingworth, CT. I’ve been making artwork, in some capacity since I was a child. When I was 5 or 6, my mother was taking art classes and working toward a degree in art. I would often tag along with her to different art classes and studio sessions. What I remember most from that was the process and the feel and smell of art materials and the simple joy of creating something unique.

I took art classes in high school and decided to try a photography class, then taught by the auto shop teacher. He was probably a great auto shop teacher, but knew very little about photography. What he did instill in his students was the idea of experimentation and developing a personal and creative voice. I spent hours in the darkroom, experimenting with the process, solarizing prints, hand-applying developer, printing multiple negatives, pulling developed prints from the trash, re-exposing them, etc. This is when I discovered that photography was akin to painting and printmaking.

After high school I moved to Philadelphia, PA and received my BFA in photography from The University of the Arts. I then went on to receive my MFA in photography from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, MA. I am currently Associate Professor of Art and teach photography at Columbia College in Columbia, MO.

Scott with 360 degree pinhole camera

Scott with 360 degree pinhole camera

Q: How would you describe your work?
My work is primarily photographic and I use a variety of 19th century processes and techniques, such as cyanotype, gum bichromate, salt printing and tintype. My preferred method of generating images is with the pinhole camera. I typically construct my own cameras with a particular project in mind. I am drawn to the element of chance and experimentation that is inherent in pinhole imagery. Subject matter varies in my work. I am drawn to recording the human figure or presence within a landscape or other locations. I am interested in showing the ephemeral qualities of disparate subjects, recording things that may appear both absent and present. I have always been interested in how the photographic image can “capture” and “preserve” moments in time, but yet it can be just as fragile and fleeting as our own experience and existence.


“Breathe” by Scott McMahon


“Deluge” by Scott McMahon

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
My process generally starts with some kind of preconceived idea or thought that I feel moved to make an image about. Sometimes a residual image from a dream that stays with me over the course of a few days influences the start of building a photograph. I try to be observant to what is around me and recognize things I consistently come back to. I keep a visual journal of preliminary photographs, sketches, influences, ideas and examples of work by other artists.

Once the framework and structure for an image or series of images is there, I choose a process that seems fitting for the concept. Most of the processes I use are quite labor intensive and time consuming. I like the idea of images needing time to simmer. Exposure times can take several seconds or several minutes, developing and printing also requires time and patience. I work slowly and savor the time it takes to nurture an image through the process.

Another part of my process is working collaboratively with my dear friend and fellow artist, Ahmed Salvador. We have similar sensibilities and ideas about what a photographic image is and how it can be made. Some of our projects include: Bioluminescent Series. This project involves capturing the light emitted by fireflies onto photographic film and paper. Response Time is a project that involves sending photographic materials, wrapped in light-proof bags or tinfoil that have been riddled with pinholes, cuts and tears. We then mail these packages to each other. The photographic material receives various amounts of exposure through the mail.

Response Time

Response Time (In collaboration with Ahmed Salvador)


Bioluminescence  (In collaboration with Ahmed Salvador)

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio?
The OFF button on my Macbook…no, just joking. A box with a hole in it, of course.

Q: Do you collect anything?
Surprisingly, I collect cameras. The oldest one I have is made by Rochester Optical Co. and it’s from 1898. I love camera construction and the mechanical components. I also see cameras as beautiful objects and small sculptures. I also collect photographs, mostly from the 19th Century (tintypes, ambrotypes, daguerreotypes, cabinet cards, etc.). The photographs are generally of people I have no relation or connection to, I know nothing about them aside for what is revealed in their portrait. I’m interested in the mystery of these, why their visages ended up an antique store, flea market or junk shop and the possible stories and narratives they can tell us. I share this collection with the History of Photography course I teach as well.


“Luna” by Scott McMahon

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why?
I can’t choose one…so I’ll choose six…Video artist, Bill Viola for taking us to places within our consciousness that we should visit more often. Photographer, Sally Mann for the truth, beauty and sheer force of her imagery. Composer, author and philosopher, John Cage for being John Cage. Painter, sculptor, mixed media artist, Anselm Kiefer for confronting a dark past through layers of oil, straw, tar, shellac, murk and mire. Photographer and Optician, Ralph Eugene Meatyard for having an amazing name and creating some of the most haunting photographs in the history of the medium. Robert and Shanna ParkeHarrison for their collaborative genius in creating poetic imagery that deals with loss and human struggle.

"Dwelling" by Scott McMahon

“Dwelling” by Scott McMahon

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
My goal is to work on a few different projects. I’ll continue working on a series of camera obscura images called “Daily Dust.” I’ll also be experimenting with a few new pinhole cameras that have multiple apertures. I’ll definitely be exploring the surrounding area for locations to photograph. A recent interest of mine has been learning about areas in upstate New York where Spiritualism got its start in the United States during the 1840’s. Hydesville (now Arcadia, NY) and Lily Dale have been on my radar of places to visit and possibly make photographs of or about for some time now. I’d like to keep an open mind and see where things take me, as Hans Richter said: “give chance a chance.”

"Visitor" by Scott McMahon

“Visitor” by Scott McMahon

Q: What’s next for you?
I’ll be part of an exhibition at Sager Braudis Gallery in Columbia, MO this September. I hope to exhibit some of the work I’ll be making during the residency.

Q: Where else can we find you?

Scott is teaching a pinhole photography workshop during his residency at Main Street Arts on Saturday, June 9 from 12 to 4 pm. Participants will construct and photograph with their own pinhole cameras. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. Sign up for the workshop here.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Moira Ness

Moira Ness, artist in residence at Main Street Arts, during the month of May 2018, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Moira some questions about her work and studio practice:

Moira Ness working in her studio

Moira Ness working in her studio

Q: Tell us about your background?
I grew up in Etobicoke, Ontartio, a suburb of Toronto. I still live there! My studio, located in Walnut Studios, is in downtown Toronto. It is a nice balance of spending my days in the busy city and heading home to the quieter and greener suburbs. Aside from some sporadic courses I am entirely self taught. I briefly attended Ryerson University for Image Arts, but quickly realized the program was not for me and continued my practice on my own.

Q: How long have you been making artwork?
My first hands on artistic experience with a camera were photo assignments given to me in my early high school photo classes, so just over 10 years ago. They were mostly portraits of my friends on the school property or architecture of the school itself. I still have some of these prints/film! It wasn’t until I received my first DSLR that I really started experimenting idea wise. I started using Photoshop intensively, learning as much as I could from online forums/tutorials with A LOT of trial and error. At the time I really enjoyed superimposing people onto landscapes and was partial to very harsh contrast and filters. I almost exclusively produced work with people/models being the focus, quite different from my current landscapes.


“Caledonia” from Moira’s Nightscapes series

Q: How would you describe your art?
My photography explores landscapes, both urban and rural, with subtle digital manipulations. These manipulations usually simplify a landscape, removing backgrounds or covering up light sources. My goal is to make it appear like the photo is untouched, when in reality I have quietly constructed the final outcome. I consider myself to be a photo-based artist, but I have recently been experimenting with other mediums. Moving forward my works deal with more digital themes, like text algorithms and encryption software, as well as mixed media pieces with simple painting and ink.

Dark Powder

Dark Powder” from Moira’s HEX series

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I have two series I am currently working on. The first is an expansion of the photo series “Cyclical”. Cyclical explores Friedrich Nietzsche’s doctrine of eternal recurrence/eternal return. Nietzsche believed that all events in cosmic history have repeated, and will continue to repeat, in an endless cycle.

In this series I experiment with the idea of eternal recurrence through forced visual repetition. I overlap sections of a photograph in a mirror-like style and then digitally manipulate them to blend seamlessly into the natural background. The limb of a tree is mirrored and then blended to match the opposite foliage. This is in an attempt to compress the time-based theory of eternal recurrence into a series of two-dimensional representations.

A Literal Prophecy

“A Literal Prophecy” from Moira’s series Cyclical.

I started this series last year at a different residency in Upstate NY. I knew I wanted to return to the area to explore more of the region and was very excited about Clifton Springs and the Finger Lakes area.

Her Absence Fills The Spring

“Her Absence Fills The Spring” from Moira’s Cyclical series.

My other project is tentatively named “Numeric Routes”. This work focuses on the graphic representation of raw telecommunication data, merging visualized systemic information with highlighted personal connections. Hundreds of black lines join hundreds of black numbers, forming an entanglement of visualized telecommunication data. Every area code, out of context, lies in a consecutive row of numbers. 415 comes before 416, and 417 comes after, all in circles on a wood panel.


Progress shot from work on “Numerical Routes” series during Moira’s residency.

I am creating a group of nine connected 16” x 16” wood panels, with three connected rows of three. Each panel has a large outline of a circle on it. The outline is made up of consecutive numbers with 100 numbers per panel. The first panel has numbers 100-199, the second panel has numbers 200-299, etc. I want to fuse these numbers with their telecommunication meaning. For example: 647, 416, 289 are all Toronto related area codes. On each relevant panel (panels six, four and two) the numbers 647 and 416 would have a black line drawn between them. 647 and 289 would also have a line drawn connecting them, as well as 289 and 416.

I would continue to create connections between all the different area codes from 100-999 in this manner. Some area codes are not related to anything, in which case a black line would be drawn outwards and off the panels. I will reveal my own personal archive through subtle visual accentuation. I want the viewer to find their own personal connection to a number and then coax them to follow its path through the entangled lines of information.


Detail shot from work on “Numerical Routes” series during Moira’s residency

Q: What is next for you?
I hope to expand my “Numeric Route” series into a whole body of work upon my return to Toronto. I will be participating in the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition. TOAE is Canada’s largest, longest running juried contemporary outdoor art fair. Last year at TOAE I won the Emerging Artist Award and was shortlisted for the Founding Chairman’s Award.

I have a solo show, “Nightscapes II” at Akasha Arts in Toronto in September and a show, “Darling…” in Montreal, also in September. “Darling…” merges my own algorithm generated writing with Keight Maclean’s traditional Italian portraiture. I directly write on her canvas/wood panels before or after she adorns them with her painting.


Q: Tell us more about the workshop you are hosting on May 25!
I will be taking a group of participants on a walk around Clifton Springs to find some interesting night photography locations to photograph in the style of my “Nightscapes” series! I have already scouted out some cool locations and I am excited to share these with the workshop participants! I will teach them what camera settings to use, how to set up a tripod and how to edit the photos. By the end of the workshop they will be able to take and edit a beautiful night shot! I will have my camera and tripod available to use in case someone doesn’t own one or the other. I will also have my laptop available during the day to use Photoshop at my studio at Main Street Arts. You can sign up for the workshop here.

Vaughan Mills

“Vaughan Mills” from Moira’s Nightscape series.

Q: Where else can we find you?
You can visit my website: www.moiraness.com
Instagram: @moiraness
Twitter: @moiraness


Inside The Artist’s Studio with Pat Bacon

If you want a label, today I would say that I am a “photographer/printmaker” knowing full well that I have a painter’s sensibility. I like to color outside of the lines and to experiment, which is not really a practice that is compatible with traditional photography or printmaking. There is a prescribed process and set of steps that you should follow.

Experiment with printmaking and fire

Experiment with printmaking and fire

Printmaking and photography, like all mediums require understanding and mastery. The intrigue for me is to gain mastery while not being a slave to the expected process. When working, I want to collaborate with the subject, using the chosen media to make the unspeakable into something concrete.

Hedgerow Fog, photogravure, 2018

Hedgerow Fog, photogravure, 2018

Burn Pile, photogravure, 2018

Burn Pile, photogravure, 2018

Currently my art incorporates printmaking, photogravure, and collage. Photographic images from my camera, scanner or phone capture a specific moment. What I do with those images after capturing them allows me to elevate the quiet and insignificant in a loud world. Each of my pieces carry the trace the marks of the process of making them.

"Old Orchard" and "Burn Pile", digital prints made from photogravure images with wax and oil paint.

“Old Orchard” and “Burn Pile”, digital prints made from photogravure images with wax and oil paint.

Art is not obvious. Art critic, Jerry Saltz once wrote “Art is for anyone. It just isn’t for everyone”. My work is not for everyone. I start working on something for the possibility of interacting with an image that has the potential to speak beyond the obvious.

Self portrait, in the fog

Self portrait, in the fog

Pat Bacon is one of eight gallery artists represented by Main Street Arts. She is featured in the exhibition CULTIVATE which runs April 7 through May 18, 2018. More information about Pat and her work can be found on our website. View more pieces by Pat Bacon on the gallery’s Artsy page.

From The Director: Into the Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar

The three bodies of work presented in this exhibition are entirely different. Jasna Bogdanovska, Harry Littell, and Nigel Maister have each explored specific concepts through their imagery. Some are abstracted views of reality while others are a document of a specific time and place.

During the installation process of Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar

During the installation process of Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar

Although each body of work is different, there is an overlap between them and a connection from one idea to the next. The name of the show Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar comes from my thinking about each of the artists and distilling their ideas surrounding the work into one word.

The Liminal #31 and #32 by Nigel Maister

The Liminal #31 and #32 by Nigel Maister

Unknown pertains to Nigel’s work and the way that he is investigating the relationship between the real and the imagined. He is using abstracted views of branches, leaves, and other flora as a way to depict the unseen. By pushing the values and colors of his images taken in the dark of night, he creates new worlds that are neither completely real nor entirely a figment of his imagination. The Liminal #31 and #32, part of a larger series (The Liminal) show two sides of his intentions. Both of these images may exist in a dream but one is more like an overload of saturation and visual stimulation, while the other could be a foreboding scene from a nightmare. The push and pull between being overstated and understated is one of the interesting things about the series as a whole and it makes for a varied experience when taking in the exhibition.

Farm drainage tile, Romulus by Harry Littell

Farm drainage tile, Romulus by Harry Littell

Overlooked came to mind when thinking about Harry’s project. He is investigating the upstate NY landscape and the small towns that we live in, drive through, or remember from years past. His photographs sometimes document a rather lifeless subject in a way that brings a depth of possible meaning or emotion. In Farm drainage tile (Romulus), a simple bundle of drainage tile sitting in a field becomes many things all at once. It is a monolithic structure, it is a stand-in for a large bale of hay typically seen in a field, and it is also waiting to go in the ground for its intended purpose. Without Harry finding beauty or an interest in this image, we may have just driven by and not paid any attention.

"Palimpsest" by Jasna Bogdanovska

“Palimpsest” by Jasna Bogdanovska

Unfamiliar connects to something in Jasna’s images. She is investigating her own identity, a dual identity. Born in Macedonia but living in the United States, she found the exact geographic midpoint between her two homes in the town of Grindavík, Iceland. This place that was once unfamiliar to her now became the symbol of her dual identity and the springboard for a series of photographs. Through a layered symbolism, she explores personal stories and ideas that relate back to this. The image pictured above, Palimpsest consists of a book resting on a rock in a shallow body of water. The meaning of the title has to do with a change occurring to something (i.e. a piece of writing or a place, perhaps even a person) with the original still showing through after the revision. In a way, this could be a self portrait. The book may have originally been written to describe a person who was born and lived in Macedonia. Pages inside have then been erased and rewritten, describing someone who now lives in America. The book is resting on a rock, which may represent Iceland, the place that is in between.

Installation shot: Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar

Installation shot: Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar

So, even though Jasna, Harry, and Nigel make completely different work, the overlap between them is present in this exhibition. I would suggest seeing it in person to find your own parallels and connections. Stop in before the show closes at the end of the month!

Installation shot: Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar

Installation shot: Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar

See Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar at Main Street Arts through Friday, March 30, 2018. You can also preview the exhibition on Artsy: Artsy.net/mainstreetarts.

Inside the artist’s studio with Harry Littell

Exploring near Horseheads. Photo by Roger Freeman

Exploring near Horseheads. Photo by Roger Freeman

I live in Ithaca, NY, where I’m a teacher (Tompkins Cortland Community College) and fine art photographer. I think of my studio broadly as the upstate New York region. A sense of place is important in my work.

House with asphalt shingles and vinyl siding, Union Springs, 2016

House with asphalt shingles and vinyl siding, Union Springs, 2016

In 2016 I began a collaborative project with friend and writer Ron Ostman to explore the upstate cultural landscape including houses, schools, businesses, industries, theaters, signs, thrift stores, and places of worship.  The unadorned vernacular architecture of the old farm house above attracted me with the mundane beauty of its simple lines and patterns.

Rhinehart Sand and Gravel, Corning,2017

Rhinehart Sand and Gravel, Corning, 2017

We strove for a  focused aimlessness in our weekly treks. We had no fixed destination. The key was to stop. Often. A main interest became sites that reflect the flux of the built environment. We saw evidence of industries in decline or completely gone. The hulking rusted machinery at a gravel mining operation near Corning is a reminder of a different era.

Cayuga Milk Ingredients plant, Aurora, 2017

Cayuga Milk Ingredients plant, Auburn, 2017

We also saw new industry. The  Cayuga Milk Ingredients plant near Auburn is a high tech milk processing plant serving a collective of dairy farmers, its pristine facade rising above the surrounding agricultural land.

Petrified Creatures Museum, Richfield Springs

Petrified Creatures Museum, Richfield Springs, 2017

I keep my photo technique simple. For this project I used a full frame mirrorless digital camera and two manual focus prime lenses, a 35mm and a 50mm. Some of the artists I look to for inspiration include Walker Evans, Edward Hopper, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Stephen Shore, Alec Soth, Lee Friedlander, and Thomas Struth.

Elmira/Horseheads contact sheet

Elmira/Horseheads contact sheet

Double page spread

Double page spread

Towards the end of 2017 I began to put the project into book form.

InDesign layout in progress

InDesign layout in progress

I use InDesign to combine photographs and text. It’s challenging and fun to find visual and thematic connections between images. The screen grab above shows a glimpse of the process involved in finding a pair of images for a double-page spread. Images that don’t make the cut live in the limbo of the pasteboard outside the page layout. Ron wrote an introduction about our process and an afterward with thoughts on the state of upstate.



The shop signs in the photos above provided an idea for the title of the book, as seen in the cover image below.

Cover, UNROOM: New 2 U

Cover, UNROOM: New 2 U

I used MagCloud, a print on demand publisher, to print UNROOM: New 2 U.  Signed copies are available at Main Street Arts. The book can also be purchased directly from MagCloud.

Printing and framing

Printing and framing

I print and frame exhibition prints in my office at home. Here are two images being prepared for the exhibit at Main Street Arts. A big thanks to Brad for his interest in this project!

Dundee storefront

Dundee storefront, 2017

Ron and I are continuing to work on two offshoots from this project. One is a series of photographs of storefronts,  such as the above second-hand store in Dundee.

Robinson's Wood Shop, Cortland

Robinson’s Wood Shop, Cortland, 2017

Another is a series about upstate New York people and their stories, such as this environmental portrait of Steve Robinson at his wood mill in Cortland.

Wood Hicks and Bark Peelers

Wood Hicks and Bark Peelers

Ron and I have collaborated on a number of books about historical photographers, the most recent of which is Wood Hicks and Bark Peelers: The Photographic Legacy of William T. Clarke, published by Penn State University Press in fall 2016. For more about this project see the New York Times Lens Blog.

See 12 of Harry Littell’s photographs in Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar at Main Street Arts on display through Friday, March 30, 2018. The exhibition can also be viewed on the gallery’s Artsy page: Artsy.net/mainstreetarts.