my favorite piece of real art that i own is the photograph "garland cow" by my friend bob sherman. i love it for so many reasons; the color, the texture, the architecture, the dark man in the striking white beard and striking red robe, the exotic locale steeped in a deep history of everything i have never known... and then there is the cow. the cow, WALKING DOWN THE STAIRS behind the striking dark man. WALKING DOWN THE STAIRS, MUNCHING THE FLOWER GARLAND he managed to get from around his neck. i can't get enough of that. i enjoy it every day, the idea of being there in a moment of something so beautiful and so silly in such a heavy place. i don't know, i just really feel it.
bob was born and raised in queens, ny and began taking pictures with his kodak brownie hawkeye around the age of 7. now he is always off to some far-flung, fabulous land soaking up some life. i have selected the following photographs from his website, including my own, and asked him to tell me a little about them. i will post his beautiful portraits separately
Garland cow: taken in Varanasi, India , 2/97. Varanasi is the holiest city of India. Garlands of flowers are a common form of showing devotion and worship. This part of Varanasi is on the Ganges River. The photo shows the steps, called "ghats" that lead down to the river. I was in a boat on the river when I took this shot. I was at least 200 yards away from the man in the shot and I was surrounded by many other boats. Yet the first 4 times I attempted to take the shot the man in the scene covered his face. An hour later I walked up to the man and he spontaneously said to me that it was rude of me to attempt to take his picture without first asking him. I immediately agreed and we spent the next 1 1/2 days talking about the necessity of the experience of lonliness on the spiritual path.
Afghan horsemen: taken in Band-i-Amir Afghanistan, 7/75. These men are playing a game called bushkazee in which a dead goat is "the ball" that is taken to the opponents goal. The bushkazee can last for days and spectators need to be on horseback to see the entire game. I was standing in the middle of their "playing field" when I took the shot. Band-i-Amir was a spectacularly beautiful place. The surrounding mountains look like a scene from Monument Valley with the addition of 7 amazingly beautiful lakes. The area is in the middle of nowhere so hopefully it has not been destroyed by recent events.
Varanasi alley: (left) taken in Varanasi, India, 3/03 in a back alley of the oldest bazaar. This is a 3 1/2 minute time exposure that was taken at 4 in the morning. The blue cast is how film records shade. If one looks closely there appears to be a ghost at the end of the alley. In reality this is a man that has a bicycle at his side. As soon as he entered the alley he froze when he spotted my tripod. He was only in the shot for the last 20 seconds of the exposure. It was so dark that his image appears ghostlike. The time before dawn is quite magical in India.
Pink Prayer: (right) taken in another holy India City, Haridwar, 2/05 at around 8 p.m.. The Ganges River here is quite clean as Haridwar is much closer to the source of the river. There are chains along the river here because the current is so strong. Bathing in the river is a vital part of worship. Every night there is a wonderful prayer ceremony performed at the river that involves many burning candles. This shot was taken just after the cremony ended.
bob is also a clinical psychologist and sends a "daily dose" with a photograph every day and tells me something like this: "Each indecision brings its own delays and days are lost lamenting over lost days... What you can do or think you can do, begin it. For boldness has magic, power, and genius in it. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe". you can sign up for that via his website