Art

Marginalized Voices in Museums

I am currently working on a Master’s Degree in Museum Studies at the CUNY School of Professional Studies. This blog entry was originally submitted as an assignment in the Fall 2019 semester.

Five months before the Metropolitan Museum opened its exhibition, Harlem on my Mind, in January of 1969, Thomas P. F. Hoving, Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York City, noted:

“To me Harlem on My Mind is a discussion. It is a confrontation. It is education. It is a dialogue. And today we better have these things. Today there is a growing gap between people, and particularly between black people and white people. And this despite the efforts to do otherwise. There is little communication. Harlem on My Mind will change that.” [i]

There was no meaningful dialogue. Instead, Harlem residents were excluded from the planning process and artwork by Harlem artist was curiously excluded. The museum instead decided to use oversized photo-murals to display images of African-American people. The exhibition set off protests that fostered activism from the African-American art community that looked to address the patently patronizing discrimination[ii].

The same year the Harlem on My Mind exhibition opened, two museums took root that stemmed from this era of vibrant activism. El Museo del Barrio was founded in Spanish Harlem and was first located in a public school storage room. It focused on the Puerto Rican art from the diaspora that settled in the neighborhood (“El Barrio” is Spanish for the neighborhood). One of the first shows, “The Art of Needlework” was dedicated to the crocheting techniques of Puerto Rican women[iii]. Meanwhile, downtown, The Leslie-Lohman Museum, the only art museum in the world to exhibit artwork that conveys the LGBTQ experience, started to take root when Charles Leslie and Fritz Lohman, who had been collecting art for several years, mounted their first exhibit of gay art in their SoHo loft on Prince Street in New York City[iv].

El Museo del Barrio’s founder, Raphael Montañez Ortiz, was part of a coalition of artists pursuing representation in New York museums. Unlike most museums in New York City at the time, El Museo was founded without assistance from wealthy patrons. It filed as nonprofit organization in 1971[v]. Similarly, after that first loft show in 1969, Leslie and Lohman opened a commercial art gallery devoted to gay art, but it closed in the early 1980s with the arrival of the AIDS epidemic[vi]. The pair then rescued the work of artists dying from AIDS from their families who wanted to destroy it. In 1987, the Leslie and Lohman applied for nonprofit status to establish a foundation to preserve their collection of gay artwork and continue exhibitions. The IRS actually objected to the word “gay” in the foundation’s title and hindered the nonprofit application until 1990[vii].

El Museo moved to its current location in 1977, on the ground floor of the city-owned Heckscher Building, on 5th Avenue and East 104th Street. Meanwhile, the Leslie-Lohman Gay Art Foundation’s first location was in a basement at 127B Prince Street in New York City. In 2006, the Foundation moved into a ground floor gallery at 26 Wooster Street in SoHo. Both museums were founded under a similar premise, but fifty years later, only one of these museums has upheld its innovative mission.

In August 2019, The New Yorker wrote an article titled “The Battle Over the Soul of El Museo del Barrio[viii]” noting that during the annual Museum Mile festival (of which El Museo was one of the founding members) a group of protesters distributed flyers that read “El Museo Fue del Barrio” (The Museum was from the neighborhood). The protesters read from a printed statement, called the Mirror Manifesto[ix], that accused El Museo of abandoning its core values as a museum for the community of East Harlem. The Mirror Manifesto notes:

“If El Barrio means neighborhood, or enclave, and we are defining the institution as encompassing a diasporic latinidad, then what we are contending with is what is now being called “Latinx.”

This is distinct from Latin America and should not be confused. For too long, this ambiguity has rendered Latinx artists invisible. Latinx artists continue to be marginalized, underrepresented, and erased. El Museo has shamelessly latched on to this ambiguity and forfeited its original mission. It has done very little as an institution to foster and cultivate Latinx Art.

The museum has failed to launch a studio residency program, it has failed to create an environment where intellectual work for us, by us, can be incubated. It has failed to cultivate diverse board members that represent the Latinx community. It has failed to expand board members beyond funding/development needs, or made sure to its boards’ institutional actions, partnerships, and programs correspond with its mission.”

How did El Museo get here?

During its first two decades in existence, El Museo’s mission was clearly defined as an institution that researched and displayed the cultural heritage of the Puerto Rican diaspora that lived in Spanish Harlem. By the late 1980s, Spanish Harlem was longer a Puerto Rican enclave; immigrants from Mexico, Central America, and the Dominican Republic had moved into the neighborhood. El Museo, with some struggle, reflected this[x]. However, in 2002, El Museo appointed its first non-Puerto Rican director, Julián Zugazagoitia, a Mexican who was previously at the Guggenheim. That same year, an exhibit devoted to Mexico’s most famous artists, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera was mounted[xi]. For many in El Barrio, elite Latin-American art was overshadowing the El Museo’s grassroots mission. These concerns were fully realized in 2019 when The New York Times reported that El Museo announced that its annual gala would honor Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis, a wealthy German art collector known for her connections to the European far-right and Steve Bannon who once complained that Pope Francis is too liberal. After considerable backlash, she was uninvited[xii]. Two weeks after that faux pas, El Museo was inundated with complaints over a planned exhibit devoted to Chilean filmmaker and artist, Alejandro Jodorowsky. In the early 1970s, Jodorowsky said that a rape scene he performed for one of his films was real and not staged (something he later recanted). The exhibit was cancelled[xiii].

Why hasn’t the Leslie-Lohman Museum encountered similar issues? Both institutions started with the same idea: a museum for the marginalized by the marginalized. While both institutions engage the public in comparable ways, the Leslie-Lohman Museum still has not experienced the full growing pains: El Museo was granted nonprofit status nearly twenty years before Leslie-Lohman and it was only in 2011 that the State Board of Regents finally granted a Certificate of Museum Status[xiv]. However, the Leslie-Lohman museum does publish a quarterly journal, The Archive, while El Museo does not (El Museo’s early research should have been published in a peer-reviewed journal).

Perhaps the one significant thing that distinguishes El Museo from Leslie-Lohman has to do with its very specific geographical connection. The Mexican, Central American, and Dominican immigrants who moved into the neighborhood thirty years ago, as well as most of the Puerto Ricans, are now being forced out via gentrification[xv].  The New Yorker article noted that the board includes only one member who lives in the neighborhood. The article also noted that El Museo’s founder, Raphael Montañez Ortiz, now resides in Highland Park, New Jersey. Interestingly, the Brooklyn Museum has recently explored the impacts of gentrification[xvi]. El Museo needs to do the same starting inside its own doors.

Regardless of who lives in the neighborhood, El Museo’s leadership should not lose sight of the museum’s mission. I would be the first to object if the Leslie-Lohman Museum decided to one day display the work of LGBTQ allies—regardless of their good intentions, they will never understand and properly convey the experience of being LGBTQ, the museum’s mission. The Mirror Manifesto protestors are right, the museum leadership has been gentrified and operating under a disguised blanketed term, “Latin American,” that solely considers the virtue of surname without considering the Latinx communities, and their art, fostered by diaspora (regardless of whether it is from Puerto Rico, Mexico, the Dominican Republic or Central America). And while I certainly think that everyone should experience the work of artists like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, their work comes from a different PLACE that has little to do with Spanish Harlem, or the Latinx communities now living (and creating) in New York City and the United States.

Given the direction that El Museo is currently navigating, it is not hard to imagine that they will one day have an exhibit called “Spanish Harlem on My Mind.”


[i] “Black Artists and Activism: Harlem on My Mind (1969)” Author(s): Bridget R. Cooks American Studies, Vol. 48, No. 1 (Spring 2007), pp. 5-39

[ii] “Black Artists and Activism: Harlem on My Mind (1969)” Author(s): Bridget R. Cooks American Studies, Vol. 48, No. 1 (Spring 2007), pp. 5-39

[iii] El Museo Timeline, scanned published by El Museo del Barrio in 2004. https://www.dropbox.com/s/itcd0gwvbvt2mg2/el%20museo%20Timeline.pdf?dl=0

[iv] https://www.leslielohman.org/about

[v] El Museo Timeline, scanned published by El Museo del Barrio in 2004. https://www.dropbox.com/s/itcd0gwvbvt2mg2/el%20museo%20Timeline.pdf?dl=0

[vi] https://rainbowsudan.wordpress.com/tag/leslie-lohman-gallery-the-ultimate-gay-portfolio/

[vii] https://rainbowsudan.wordpress.com/tag/artistic-outlaws-leslie-and-lohman-have-fought-to-preserve-gay-art-for-three-decades/

[viii] Osorio, Camila “The Battle Over the Soul of El Museo del Barrio” The New Yorker August 13, 2019

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-battle-over-the-soul-of-el-museo-del-barrio

[ix] https://elmuseodelosbarrios.home.blog/mirror-manifesto/

[x] Palacios, Nicholle Lamartina “Latino Art in NYC: A Short History of El Museo del Barrio” Huffington Post https://www.huffpost.com/entry/latino-art-in-nyc-a-histo_b_6305488

[xi] El Museo Timeline, scanned published by El Museo del Barrio in 2004. https://www.dropbox.com/s/itcd0gwvbvt2mg2/el%20museo%20Timeline.pdf?dl=0

[xii] Moynihan, Colin “El Museo del Barrio Drops Plan to Honor German Socialite” The New York Times January 10, 2019.

[xiii] Moynihan, Colin “El Museo del Barrio Cancels Jodorowsky Show” The New York Times January 28, 2019.

[xiv] http://columbiajournal.org/get-real-the-leslie-lohman-museum-protects-an-artistic-legacy/

[xv] Chiusano, Mark “Is rezoning in East Harlem a Trojan horse for gentrification?” AM New York August 28, 2017

[xvi] Davis, Ben “Activism Pays Off, as Brooklyn Museum Embraces Anti-Gentrification Forum”

Edwin Roman

https://edwinroman.com/index.html

Edwin Roman: The Year in Pictures 2019

Last year I noted that 2018 was not a very productive year with regards to photography largely stemming from health issues. 2019 was not much better, but for different reasons. In the fall, I started a Master’s degree in Museum Studies at the CUNY School of Professional Studies. And just before I started at CUNY SPS, I spent time working on the two photography books I self-published in November. The first book, 21st Century Coney Island, is a collection of photographs taken over the course of three years starting in the summer of 2016 and up to August 2019. Proceeds of this book will be donated to Habit for Humanity of Puerto Rico. The second book, A New Yorker in New Mexico, collects photographs from two trips, one in 2012 and another in 2018. Proceeds of this book will donated to the While they Wait fund.

The photographs I am sharing here have not been published anywhere online or in print. They were taken between February and August of 2019. I hope you enjoy this collection.

A Garden Stroll
The first picture of 2019. Taken at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Cherished Time.
People watching in Chinatown on Allen Street.
West Side Weather Vane
As seen near Broadway and 100th Street.
Sole Glamper
This was taken on Governors Island. I wanted to take more pictures of this woman,
but she noticed me. I wish she had not, because she was quite interesting.
End of The Line
A detail from the now defunct Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal at Liberty State Park in New Jersey. This park is just wonderful. I recommend you visit—even if you don’t have a car, you can still get there via the Path train and then the Light Rail.
Stand Out
Even before I color splashed this photograph, this guy’s sneakers stood out!
This was taken on the Coney Island Boardwalk.
Two Benches
People watching at Tallman State Park upstate. In the distance you can see the new Cuomo Bridge that replaces the Tappan Zee. I understand that when it is fully completed will have a pedestrian path—maybe I can get some photos next year!
Cold Bench
A chilly day at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Big Hairy Pussy
Perhaps the person who wrote this has a large cat…?
This was taken in the East Village.
Rockland Bench
As seen at Rockland State Park. Yes, I photographed a number of park benches this year.
Smoking
I was out one day on a photo safari and was standing on Morningside Drive photographing the Manhattan Valley landscape and happen to notice these two young men below me on the steps smoking some weed.
Save Us
As seen in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
C
From my last day out with my camera in 2019.
An architectural detail from a building on 6th Avenue.
Tallman View
Another trip up to Tallman State Park. In the distance is the Cuomo Bridge that replaces the Tappan Zee. Pretty soon the trees are going to grow higher and block the view completely.
Framing
As seen on the Coney Island Boardwalk.
Colorful Sunset
An outtake from my book, 21st Century Coney Island. I didn’t use this picture because I choose a different and smaller square size for the book.
Drummer Boy
As seen at Washington Square Park.
Scooted
As seen in the West Village.
Baby Birds
This was taken inside a restroom at Rockland State Park. This picture reminds me of one I took in 2017 of a little turtle in this same park who was burying her eggs on shore.
Iron Floral
As seen at Riverside Park.
Stone Cold
As seen outside of the Brooklyn Museum on a chilly day!
To Trains
Another photograph from the now defunct Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal at Liberty State Park in New Jersey. This building is still quite elegant.
Time Out
This young man was taking a break after making a delivery. This was taken in Chinatown.
Anchor Up.
As seen from a ferry en route to Governors Island.
Manhattan
What I love about this picture is that there is not a construction crane in sight!
Happy Text
As seen in Bryant Park.
Roar
As seen outside of the Brooklyn Museum.
Good Night Coney Island
I used a different photograph of this young man on the back of my book,
21st Century Coney Island.
Crane Operation
As seen from the ferry en route to Governors Island.
Let Us Have Peace
As seen at Riverside Park, Grant’s Tomb.
Isn’t this what we all want?

Thank you for stopping by.

See more of my artwork at edwinroman.com.

Frida in Brooklyn

I visited the Brooklyn Museum on the opening day of the wonderful and timely exhibition, “Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving.” I naively thought that I could beat the crowds: after all, I had arrived at admissions at 12 noon, exactly one hour after the museum opened. Instead, I was surprisingly told I would have to wait until 2:30pm to enter the exhibition (in the meantime, I was able to enter and explore the rest of the museum)! My first recommendation is to buy tickets in advance. I checked the website and noticed that weekend shows for the next several weeks are already sold out.

My second recommendation is to put away your phone! Visitors are told that photography is not allowed, but that didn’t stop quite a few rude people from taking out their phones and ruining the experience for others. If you are one of those people who just can’t help themselves, consider this for a moment: when you snap a picture of a painting, that you can probably find online via a museum website, how often do you go back and look it? How often do you study it? Why ruin a rare moment of seeing a painting in person by fumbling with your phone? And if you are snapping a picture on your phone for posting on social media, the exhibition has two interesting displays to do just that before you enter the actual exhibition.

The exhibition is presented thematically, using paintings by Kahlo and peers, photographs, and Mexican ceramics to explore Kahlo’s identity. Clothing and make-up are central to this: for example, Kahlo used native clothing to express her Mexican nationalism. It was surprising to see that she loved using perfume and Revlon products (Revlon is the major supporter of this show). Many of these items had been stored in Casa Azul, the home, Kahlo shared with her husband, muralist Diego Rivera.

One of the most absorbing, and heartbreaking, pieces of art was a lithograph depicting Kahlo’s miscarriage. It was as powerful as the “Henry Ford Hospital” painting, which explores the same subject. I absolutely adored the home movies that were shown, which I saw twice! Among my favorite pieces were the photographs, many of which I had never seen before. Standouts were those by Gisele Freund, known for her documentary photography and portraits of writers and artists.

The major problem with this exhibition is how some of the artwork is displayed, most notably the photographs. Many are presented in groups of four, with two of the four well below eye range. This means that if two people stand in front of the four pictures, others have to wait to properly study and contemplate them (as well as contend with the impolite people who insist on taking pictures). With the crowds, this simply does not work. The first two rooms were rather small with one wasted on a second ticket checkpoint. Yes, there were two checkpoints to get into the exhibition: one at the door and one in front of a wall, projecting images of Kahlo. A wall. Interesting.

It has been over sixty years since Kahlo has passed away, but she still continues to fascinate. This exhibition is worth seeing—but only if you can go during a weekday, with minimal crowds. Each piece is worth quiet contemplation. The exhibition notes how much she loved New York City—the world is here and that is what she embraced and probably why we embrace here today. She is a voice from Mexico’s past conveying the need for more bridges and less walls.

www.edwinroman.com

Camera Ready

Edwin Roman: The Year in Pictures 2018

2018 was actually not a productive year for me in terms of photography. I don’t often go out on photo taking trips during the winter months because working the camera and changing and adjusting lenses is difficult while wearing gloves. My first trip out wasn’t until March. I did travel to New Mexico in July and took a lot of pictures, but the following month was hit with a crushing illness that kept me home bound for the rest of the summer and much of the fall. In spite of the illness, I still managed to produce some photographs with those from the New Mexico trip being among my favorites. I hope you enjoy these photographs, I absolutely loved taking them.

Blue Entryways. Edwin Roman, 2018.
Blue Entryways. Edwin Roman, 2018. As seen at Taos Pueblo.
red-sails-in-the-brooklyn-wind2
Red Sails in the Brooklyn Wind. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from Governors Island.
Kitchen Mesa. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from The Ghost Ranch.
Kitchen Mesa. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from The Ghost Ranch.
Sunset at The Triborough
Sunset Under the Triborough. Edwin Roman 2018.

adobe-red-and-blue

Adobe Americana. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in the Taos Pueblo.
Adobe Americana. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in the Taos Pueblo.
Speakeasy-Sal-sepia
Speakeasy Sal. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island.
San Geronimo Chapel. Edwin Roman 2018.
San Geronimo Chapel. Edwin Roman 2018.
Wards Island Footbridge in Black and White
Wards Island Foot Bridge in Black and White. Edwin Roman 2018.
In the Distance on Route 550. Edwin Roman 2018
In the Distance on Route 550. Edwin Roman 2018
Climb into The Cave Dwelling. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Bandelier National Monument.
Climb into The Cave Dwelling. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Bandelier National Monument.
the-sunbather
The Sunbather. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen on Ward’s Island.
bands
Bands. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at the Jazz Age Lawn Party.
The Orange Parasol
The Orange Parasol. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at the Jazz Age Lawn Party.
Underneath with the Tides
Underneath with the Tides. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen under the boardwalk at Coney Island.
Grazers. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Taos Pueblo.
Grazers. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Taos Pueblo.
Juan black and white 2
Juan Views the Atlantic. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Coney Island.
Adios. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen while leaving The Ghost Ranch.
Adios. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen while leaving The Ghost Ranch.
The-Rockefeller-View
A Rockefeller View. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from the Rockefeller Overlook in New Jersey.
I actually used the above photo as the cover for my forthcoming book, People Watching: New York City. Proceeds from this book will be donated to Humane Borders.

www.edwinroman.com



A New Yorker in New Mexico: Seeing Red, A Photo Essay

The first time I ever saw red rocks was in 2006 when I traveled to Las Vegas and visited Red Rock Canyon. I was in Vegas to see the Star Trek Experience at the Hilton, commemorating the 40th anniversary.  Other than the Experience, I found Vegas to be largely tasteless and mind-numbing. Red Rock Canyon and Hoover Dam provided a relief from the smoke-filled overstimulated atmosphere. Red Rock Canyon really made an impression as did the areas outside of the city. It was the first time I had ever experienced the desert and the kind of silence and stillness it offers.

The following year, in 2007, was when I first visited New Mexico. I immediately fell in love! I can recall driving from the Albuquerque Sunport to my hotel in Bernalillo with my eye constantly being drawn to the Sandia Mountains (which still happens). On the third day of that trip, I explored the Jemez Mountain trail and it was here that I first saw New Mexican red rocks. They are nothing short of spectacular. The color is shockingly beautiful. On my third trip in 2018, I saw even more New Mexican red rocks, most notably on my drive to the Ghost Ranch. As I noted in my previous blog entry, the desert varies around the state. I found this to be also true, visually, of the New Mexican red rocks. I did a little research to find out why.

A disclaimer: I am an artist and not a scientist. However, I have a layperson’s interest in science and have done my best to preset reliable information in this blog entry. What I am doing here is trying to get answers to my own observations while presenting artistic photographs. Art and science can co-exist. If you don’t think so, please read this article on Santiago Ramón y Cajal.

Back to the New Mexican red rocks!

According to the Earth Science Club of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology the Earth is made mainly of rocks arranged in three concentric layers. The Earth’s crust contains the rocks we see at the surface. Most rocks are a collection of one or more minerals, but some contain noncrystalline inorganic material (like obsidian) or organic material (such as coal). The ultimate origin of all rocks in the Earth’s crust is the mantle (magma or lava), space (meteorites), or organisms such as plants and animals (organic matter).

According this publication by the NMT Earth Science Club, it notes that the red rocks I saw on the Jemez Trail / Route 4, are rhyolite, an igneous-volcanic type of rock. Interestingly, rhyolite will commonly scratch a knife or hammer. While the red rocks I saw around Abiquiú are sandstone a clastic sedimentary rock composed primarily of quartz grains that may be stained red, brown, pink, or yellow from iron oxides.

I love red rocks and seeing them on a grand scale is an experience I recommend.  I think, in part, I love New Mexican red rocks because they remind me of classic New York red bricks. I hope my pictures properly capture these gorgeous colors of nature.

Kitchen Mesa. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from The Ghost Ranch.

Kitchen Mesa. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from The Ghost Ranch.

Red Rocks on 84. Edwin Roman 2018.

Red Rocks on 84. Edwin Roman 2018.

Red Rock Portal. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen on Route 4 in Jemez, New Mexico.

Red Rock Portal. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen on Route 4 in Jemez, New Mexico.

Route 84 Red Rocks. Edwin Roman 2018.

Route 84 Red Rocks. Edwin Roman 2018.

Red and Green, Inspired by Peppers. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along Route 4 in Jemez, New Mexico.

Red and Green, Inspired by Peppers. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along Route 4 in Jemez, New Mexico.

Canon San Diego. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along the Jemez Trail.

Canon San Diego. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along the Jemez Trail.

The First Red Rocks of 2018. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen en route to the Ghost Ranch.

The First Red Rocks of 2018. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen en route to the Ghost Ranch.

Stopping for Red Rocks. Edwin Roman 2018. While driving to Ghost Ranch in New Mexico along US 84, I had to stop and capture this.

Stopping for Red Rocks. Edwin Roman 2018. While driving to Ghost Ranch in New Mexico along US 84, I had to stop and capture this.

Kitchen Mesa South. Edwin Roman 2018.

Kitchen Mesa South. Edwin Roman 2018.

Sandia Sunset. Edwin Roman 2018. Another example of red in New Mexico.

Sandia Sunset. Edwin Roman 2018. Another example of red in New Mexico.

Whenever I visit New Mexico, I always bring back red rocks. Each rock in my hand is from each trip to New Mexico. I keep several at home and in my office.

Whenever I visit New Mexico, I always bring back red rocks. Each rock in my hand is from each trip to New Mexico. I keep several at home and in my office.

edwinroman.com

A New Yorker in New Mexico: A Photo Essay

New Mexico. Those who know me well have heard me endlessly rave lovingly about this magical place. New Mexicans refer to their state as, “the land of enchantment” — and it is exactly that! It has culture, diverse landscapes, friendly people and excellent food. July 2018 marked my third visit, but it was my first trip with the intention to create. I have always been inspired by New Mexico and thought that I should properly incorporate it into my art. On this trip, I also discovered something else that fosters this inspiration.

On the evening I arrived in Santa Fe, I noticed a storm brewing in the distance. I watched this marvelous lightning show, with great awe, for about twenty minutes. Later, when I returned to my room, I received an alert via the Weather Channel app about a storm in Bernalillo, located fifty miles away. I couldn’t believe that I could see that very storm from such a distance. I then realized that this is the other way New Mexico inspires me: it expands my sight.

Growing up and living in New York City, in a way, has limited my sight. Yes, New York City is interesting (though becoming less so because of the rampant gentrification), but my eyes work in a very focused way. On the ground level, buildings (and even upstate with the trees) force your vision to work in a much narrower way. In New Mexico, my eyes have to adjust and go into the rarely used wide-angle mode. Before visiting New Mexico, I have never been able to see such distances on land before. I found that it is a great way to open your mind: via an expansion of the senses.

On this trip, I visited places like Taos, Abiquiú, Ponderosa, Cuba, Jemez, White Rock and Bernalillo. I found that the desert in Abiquiú is different from the desert in White Rock. I approached this creative trip taking inspiration from two websites I visit regularly: Wandering New York and New Mexico Nomad. Think of this blog entry as, “Edwin Wanders New Mexico!” I hope you enjoy these photos.

Blue Entryways. Edwin Roman, 2018.

Blue Entryways. Edwin Roman, 2018. As seen at Taos Pueblo.

Abiquiú Red Rocks, Edwin Roman 2018.

Abiquiú Red Rocks, Edwin Roman 2018.

Bandelier Cave Dwelling. Edwin Roman 2018.

Bandelier Cave Dwelling. Edwin Roman 2018.

Cliffside Cacti. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Bandelier National Monument.

Cliffside Cacti. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Bandelier National Monument.

Forever by Allan Houser. Photographed by Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe.

Forever by Allan Houser. Photographed by Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe.

Grazers. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Taos Pueblo.

Grazers. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Taos Pueblo.

The Ascent. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at the Bottom of the Sandia Peak Tram.

The Ascent. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at the Bottom of the Sandia Peak Tram.

Adobe Americana. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in the Taos Pueblo.

Adobe Americana. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in the Taos Pueblo.

Green and Red. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along Route 4.

Green and Red. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along Route 4.

San Geronimo Chapel. Edwin Roman 2018.

San Geronimo Chapel. Edwin Roman 2018.

San Geronimo Chapel Detail. Edwin Roman 2018.

San Geronimo Chapel Detail. Edwin Roman 2018.

Kokopelli Plays! Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Santa Fe.

Kokopelli Plays! Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Santa Fe.

A View of Taos Pueblo. Edwin Roman 2018.

A View of Taos Pueblo. Edwin Roman 2018.

Art of Life Gallery. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Taos.

Art of Life Gallery. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Taos.

Vintage Cars in Ponderosa. Edwin Roman 2018.

Vintage Cars in Ponderosa. Edwin Roman 2018.

On Washington and East Palace. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Santa Fe.

On Washington and East Palace. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Santa Fe.

In the Distance on Route 550. Edwin Roman 2018

In the Distance on Route 550. Edwin Roman 2018

Climb into The Cave Dwelling. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Bandelier National Monument.

Climb into The Cave Dwelling. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Bandelier National Monument.

Santa Fe Windows. Edwin Roman 2018.

Santa Fe Windows. Edwin Roman 2018.

Ponderosa Color Splash. Edwin Roman 2018.

Ponderosa Color Splash. Edwin Roman 2018.

Hey, Buds Below! Up is Where to Grow! Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Bandelier National Monument.

Hey, Buds Below! Up is Where to Grow! Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Bandelier National Monument.

Sandia Sunset. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from the top of the Sandia Mountains.

Sandia Sunset. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from the top of the Sandia Mountains.

Adios. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen while leaving The Ghost Ranch.

Adios. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen while leaving The Ghost Ranch.

 

I will be posting more pictures in the coming weeks on my Flickr page.

 

edwinroman.com

Horses and The Narrative in Ancient Greek Art

Camille Paglia, in her book, Sexual Personae, presents an interesting theory on the relationship between cats and ancient Egyptians. Cats, which have a sense of narcissistic personality and ceremony, were the model for Egyptian culture. According to Paglia, Egyptians invented concepts of beauty and femininity from their observations of cats 1. I found this theory thought provoking and would, for years after first reading Sexual Personae, look for other examples of how animals can impact a culture. A favorite example are the Aztecs, who according to legend, founded the city of Tenochtitlan when their god Huitzilopochtli had commanded them to find an eagle perched atop a cactus, devouring a snake.

Bronze man and centaur, mid-8th century B.C.E.

Bronze man and centaur, mid-8th century B.C.E.

Paglia makes an interesting contrast between Egypt and Greece: In Egypt, the cat; in Greece, the horse. Another way to view it is, in Egypt, the Sphinx; in Greece, the Centaur. Paglia hypothesizes that cats were “too feminine for the male loving Greeks” who preferred to depict the more muscular horse in art 2.  Paglia’s theory appears to be realized on an Archaic helmet from the late 7th century B.C.E. where a horse and two lions (one on each cheek piece) are portrayed in repoussé; the horse is about three times larger than the lions.  Conversely, Egyptian depictions of horses appear to be more feminine than Greek muscular / masculine forms (figure III).

One of Two bronze helmets, late 7th century B.C.E.

One of Two bronze helmets, late 7th century B.C.E.

Egyptian Horse, 1391–1353 B.C.E.

Egyptian Horse, 1391–1353 B.C.E.

The ancient Greeks rarely depicted contemporary or historical events in art.  However, horses were consistently present in mythical and historical depictions alike.  This blog entry will examine the presence of the horse in narratives depicted on various Greek works.

Death and War

Ancient Egyptians venerated cats and mummified them. The practice of interring horses was not uncommon in Greece 3 (a pair of horses were discovered buried at the outer end of a Stholos tomb at Marathon (The Mycenaean tholos tomb consists of a circular, subterranean burial chamber, sometimes referred to as the thalamos, roofed by a corbelled vault and approached by an entrance passage that narrows abruptly at the doorway actually opening into the tomb chamber. The chamber or thalamos is built of stone.  Tholoi of this kind are usually set into slopes or hillsides. Burials were either laid out on the floor of the tomb chamber or were placed in pits, cists, or shafts cut into this floor.); a human skeleton was discovered with a horse skeleton in a grave near Nauplia). Like the cat in Egypt, Horses were also featured prominently in works connected to funerary traditions. A Geometric krater, (740 B.C.E.) from the Dipylon Cemetery,

Terracotta krater, 750–735 B.C.E.

Terracotta krater, 750–735 B.C.E.

that functioned as a grave marker, depicts scenes of mourning for a man; the horses are pulling a chariot in his honor 4.  One theory suggests that the horse with chariot was a transporter to the afterlife 5.  The practice of depicting horses on grave markers continued to be common into the late classical period.  Several loutrophoros vessels, which were used as grave markers for soldiers, depict young men on horseback 6.  Ancient Greek citizens were required to perform a number of duties to help serve their community in the best way possible; soldiers saw the act of war as an act of patriotism.  The depictions may be viewed as a commemoration of the solider and horse.  The horse is as proud as a soldier, but unlike donkeys, cows, or bulls, is decidedly trainable and will, with no hesitation, ride into battle.  Horses are in line with the concept of unselfish Greek citizenship (unlike cats, which are self-serving animals).

Depictions of horses were not solely limited to krater or loutrophoro vessels.  A black figure terracotta amphora (Figure V) depicts a departing warrior on a four-horse chariot bidding his parents farewell.  Interestingly, one of the four horses are not depicted in black figure, actually matching the color of the charioteer, also not in black figure.  It is also curious that the charioteer was in the foreground while the solider and his family was in the background and behind the chariot.  Could this have also been a commemoration of charioteer and horse for their contributions to the cause?

Terracotta neck-amphora, 540 B.C.E

Terracotta neck-amphora, 540 B.C.E

 

Mythology and Reality

Rhyton in form of mounted Amazon, 5th century B.C.E
.

Rhyton in form of mounted Amazon, 5th century B.C.E
.

The horse, featured prominently in pottery narratives depicting combat and death, is also a fixture in mythology. One of the most remarkable works of a mythological subject prominently featuring a horse may be found at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, which I had the opportunity to visit earlier this year.  The museum identifies the work as a  rhyton in the form of a mounted Amazon.  Another source identifies this same work as a  plastic vase 7.  The mounted figure wears a crested plume helmet with large appendages on the sides. The red figure vessel behind the Amazonian warrior depicts four figures, Persians and Greek, in combat.  A Persian figure is mounted on a horse and appears to be overtaking a Greek warrior with a spear.  Conveniently, the Amazon’s plume is bellowing on to the scene.  However, it is interesting to note the striking difference between the Persian and Greek horses; the Greek horse that the Amazon is riding is muscular, while the Persian horse appears to be almost Rubenesque and not proportionate.  The Greek horse also has a gait / gallop similar to the horses depicted on the Parthenon frieze, which is a somewhat curious because the Amazonian rhyton was found in Egypt.

Details of the Panathenaic Festival procession frieze

Details of the Panathenaic Festival procession frieze, 447-438 B.C.E.

 

Kylix,
 540–530 B.C.E.

Kylix,
 540–530 B.C.E.

The frieze on the Parthenon is thought to represent the Panathenaic procession, a religious festival held on 28 Hekatombaion, the first month of the Athenian calendar 8 .  The presence of the horse on the frieze of the Parthenon clearly demonstrates their importance in Greek society, real and mythological.  According to mythology, Poseidon desired Demeter and to put him off, Demeter asked Poseidon to make the most beautiful animal the world had ever seen.  Poseidon created the horse.  The horses represented on the frieze are based on the Greek ideal perfect proportions.  Beauty and proportion are bedfellows in ancient Greece.

North frieze, 447-438 B. C. E.

North frieze, 447-438 B. C. E.

One part of west frieze of the Parthenon depicts horsemen preparing their horses.  The care that the horsemen appear to be giving their horses recalls one of the first manuals on riding the horse titled The Art of Horsemanship written by a Greek named Xenophon.  Xenophon, who was a pupil of Socrates, was an equestrian for his entire life, first as a cavalryman and then as a country gentleman on an estate given to him by the King of Sparta 9.  Xenophon, in the same manual, encourages a mutual respect between man and horse: “There are, indeed, other methods of teaching these arts.  Some do so by touching the horse with a switch under the gaskins.  For ourselves, however, far the best method of instruction, as we keep repeating, is to let the horse feel that whatever he does in obedience to the rider’s wishes will be followed by some rest and relaxation.”

Xenophon’s approach to horse care and training appears to be realized on a kylix in the Met attributed to Amasis painter.  The reverse depicts an atmosphere of excitement in Poseidon’s stables, while four grooms attempt to soothe four high-strung horses.  The obverse depicts Poseidon among Greek warriors.  The subjects are drawn from book 13 of Homer’s Iliad: Poseidon, seeing the Greek soldiers hard pressed, decides to renew their spirit.  Prior to viewing this work, I happened to view a Terracotta pykster (figure IX) that depicted soldiers mounted on dolphins.  I found it curious that the scene on the pykster depicting the dolphins was not a work connected to the god of the sea, Poseidon.  Instead, the pyskster chose to depict Poseidon’s most beautiful creature, the horse.

Conclusion

Horses were an integral part of ancient Greek culture. Horses resemble the Greek ideal human form in terms of proportion and musculature.  “Coming to the thighs below the shoulder blades, or arms, these if thick and muscular present a stronger and handsomer appearance, just as in the case of the human being” 10.

Horses are also in line with Greek concepts of citizenship.  “Such an animal, we venture to predict, will give the greatest security to his rider in the circumstances of war.”10

 

 “The majesty of men themselves is best discovered in the graceful handling of such animals.  The man who knows how to manage such a creature gracefully himself at once appears magnificent.  A horse so prancing is indeed a thing of beauty, a wonder and a marvel; riveting the gaze of all who see him, young alike and graybeards.  They will never turn their back, I venture to predict, or weary of their gazing so long as he continues to display his splendid action.  Such are the horses on which gods and heroes ride, as represented by the artist.”

– Xenophon, The Art of Horsemanship

 

1 Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae (New York: Vintage Books, 1990), Page 64

2 Paglia, Page 65

3 Jack Leonard Benson, Horse, Bird & Man; The Origins of Greek Paintings (Amherst, University of Massachusetts Press, 1970), Page 20

4 Fred S. Kleiner and Christin J. Mamiya, Gardner’s Art through the Ages, The Western Perspective (Belmont, CA: Thomson Learning, 2005), Page 94

5 Benson, Page 24

6 Andrew Clark, Understanding Greek vases: a guide to terms, styles, and techniques (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2002), Page 115

7 Clark, Page 129

Columbia University Department of Art History and Archeology Visual Media: Center http://www.mcah.columbia.edu/parthenon/flash/main.htm

9  Xenophon, with notes, by Morris H. Morgan, The Art of Horsemanship (Imprint Boston, Little, Brown, and company, 1893), Page 70

10 Xenophon, Page 5

11 Xenophon, Page 5

edwinroman.com

Scenes from The Jazz Age Lawn Party

Two weeks ago, I hit the streets of New York City looking to foster some inspiration. With my camera, I traveled to Governors Island, thinking I was going to get some interesting landscape shots. Instead, I stumbled upon a most festive event: The Jazz Age Lawn Party! And it was exactly that— a gathering of many people celebrating the 1920s! What fun! It was almost as much fun as Comic Con. Here are some of the pictures I took. I did my best to not include any pictures with 21st century details taken with a 21st century camera. Enjoy!

Speakeasy Sal

Speakeasy Sal

The Orange Parasol

The Orange Parasol

Suspenders

Suspenders

Millinery Product

Millinery Product

Bands

Bands

21st Century Photographer, 20th Century Camera

21st Century Photographer, 20th Century Camera

Camera Ready

Camera Ready

Enjoyment

Enjoyment

Dancing Smiles

Dancing Smiles

American Made

American Made

A Toast

A Toast

 

edwinroman.com

 

Coney Island Winter: A Photo Essay

Earlier this month, I made a long-overdue pilgrimage back to Coney Island. It was the first time I had visited during the off-season in about twenty years. It was also my first time ever visiting during the off-season with my camera. The ambiance during the off season is, of course, quite different. The amusement parks are empty and there not many people around. My eye was drawn to the beach and the ocean—I forgot how much I love that crisp, winter sea air! I hope this collection of photographs conveys that wonderfully peaceful feeling.

Brooklyn Eiffel Tower

Brooklyn Eiffel Tower

Underneath with the Tides

Underneath with the Tides

Pier Noir

Pier Noir

thunderbolt

Thunderbolt

Tidal Walk

A Tidal Walk

Seashell by the Brooklyn Shore

Brooklyn Seashell

Wavy Wood

Wavy Wood

Friend of the Gulls

Friend of the Gulls

Winter Pier

Winter Pier

Juan

One of the great things about living in New York City is that you get to meet people from all of the world—even on a cold, crisp day in Coney Island. I met Juan, who was a visitor from Argentina who agreed to pose for me.

Juan-scarf

Juan’s Scarf

Juan black and white 2

Juan views the Atlantic

Juan black and white front

One Last Picture

 

 

edwinroman.com

No.

Edwin Roman: The Year In Pictures 2017

The featured image of this blog entry was taken on the eve of Trump’s inauguration during the New York City protest around Columbus Circle. I had gone there to participate and document. I didn’t stay as long as I had intended because in the midst of it, I got a call from my sister telling me that my uncle had passed away. Until I started working on this entry, I had never looked at the photographs from that day.

The individual in the featured photograph had the absolute gall to show up wearing a (made in China) maga hat (someone had asked him to remove it so they could inspect the label). I can’t begin to convey the vitriol he encountered, which was absolutely deserved. I watched him for a while and my favorite exchange was with a woman who conveyed that based solely on his appearance, he would be thrown over Trump’s border wall. She noted that most of his supporters would only ever see him as a terrorist or criminal. She completely shut him down and I managed to capture that moment. Ultimately, I thought he did this as a stunt; a way to garner attention and trend online to get his fifteen minutes. He was recording all of this exchanges on his phone.

It has been a long year and I have done my best to do things that counter the limited mindset of Trump and his supporters. I continue to volunteer, engage in activism and create art. With regards to photography, I largely engage in it during the warm months. I consider myself to be a street photographer and hate working with my camera while wearing gloves. This year, I found myself inspired to try and capture the beautiful diversity of New York City.

It is with great pride that I present to you my favorite pictures of 2017.

A Human Right
A Human Right. Edwin Roman 2017. As seen at Bronx Community College during the 60th anniversary celebration.
Devious Smiles
Devious Smiles. Edwin Roman, 2017. People watching at the Coney Island Art Walls.
Wepa!
Wepa! Edwin Roman, 2017. As seen at the “Salsa Under The Sun” concert.
Fuga Aqua
Fuga Aqua. Edwin Roman, 2017. As seen at the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park.
Dreaming in Red.
Dreaming in Red. Edwin Roman 2017. Actors from the off-Broadway, cabaret show, I Dream of Jackie, featuring the wonderful Jackie Cox. As seen at Flame Con 2017.
Rockland Cliff
Rockland Cliff. Edwin Roman, 2017. This was my first ever visit to Rockland Lake State Park during the fall or any time other than summer.
Sharing a Laugh.
Sharing a Laugh. Edwin Roman, 2017. This was the first time I was ever hired to photograph a wedding. This couple was just great and so laid back; they were in sync with my style of photography.
Boarding Squared
Boarding Squared. Edwin Roman, 2017. As seen on the Coney Island Boardwalk.
Brooklyn, The Statue
Brooklyn, The Statue. Edwin Roman, 2017. As seen outside of the Brooklyn Museum.
Goose Goose
Goose Goose. Edwin Roman, 2017. A rare winter picture in Flushing Meadow Park.
Kente Color Splash
Kente Color Splash. Edwin Roman, 2017. As seen in The Bronx.
Two Cameras
Two Cameras. Edwin Roman, 2017. A fellow photographer at work in Central Park.
Sépia Fille
Sépia Fille. Edwin Roman, 2017. This lovely young woman posed for me at Coney Island Beach.
The View Finder
The View Finder. Edwin Roman, 2017. The George Washington Bridge as seen from Fort Lee Historic Park.
Picturing Robin Lord Taylor
Picturing Robin Lord Taylor. Edwin Roman, 2017. This was during the actor’s panel at Flame Con. I actually got to ask the first question, which was: “If Gotham City were a real place would you want to live there?”
Boardwalk Fútbol.
Boardwalk Fútbol. Edwin Roman, 2017. As seen on the Coney Island Boardwalk.
Sara the Turtle
Sara the Turtle. Edwin Roman, 2017. One summer weekday at Rockland Lake State Park I actually witnessed this beautiful little turtle burying her eggs.
Touring The Hall of Fame
Touring The Hall of Fame. Edwin Roman, 2017. As seen at Bronx Community College.
Speed Walking The Boardwalk
Speed Walking The Boardwalk. Edwin Roman, 2017. As seen on the Coney Island Boardwalk.
Sinewy Skirt and Sloppy Star
Sinewy Skirt and Sloppy Star. Edwin Roman, 2017. Whenever I am in a tediously long workplace meeting, I will go into survival mode and let my imagination take over. I often create made up superheroes and villains. This duo is a pair of superheroes.
Exuberance
Exuberance. Edwin Roman, 2017. As seen at “Salsa Under the Sun.”
As seen from the Wonder Wheel.
As seen from the Wonder Wheel. Edwin Roman, 2017. Picturing the world famous Cyclone from the equally famous Wonder Wheel.
The Batwoman on my Shelf.
The Batwoman on my Shelf. Edwin Roman, 2017. An action figure of one of my favorite comic book characters, Batwoman.
Classic Rose.
Classic Rose. Edwin Roman, 2017.

edwinroman.com