Heidi Horowitz: The Photographer’s View

CHC: Well hello there, Heidi. How are you doing today?

HH: Today is like all days, I am so grateful for it!

CHC: Brilliant! Let’s begin with the basics, how did you get started with photography? Was art always in your background?

HH: While growing up I was constantly exposed (no pun intended) to my father’s lens. He was a great photography enthusiast, always searching for new equipment or the best buy in film. I am now in possession of the many photos he took while serving in World War II overseas, during the time he spent traveling as a comedian with “The Major Bowes Amateur Hour”, and of course the thousands of family photos he took. My entire family is creative. My sister, Jane Simonson is a fine art painter, whose works have been shown in various galleries and museums. I couldn’t (and still cannot) draw a stick figure. I knew what I wanted to express on paper or perhaps even in words, yet I just didn’t have that gene. This, my favorite photography quote pretty much sums that up: “The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things in words.” – Elliott Erwitt

CHC: When did your photography really come into play as a serious passion to pursue?

HH: Around 5 years ago, I was constantly taking poor quality pictures with my blackberry (ancient!). Everywhere I went, I documented events as they happened in my life, in order to preserve my memories. On one particular birthday, my kids bought me a “real” camera, a ‘point n shoot’ so that at least I could have better quality pictures.

That was it for me. I signed up for lessons, upgraded to a DSLR, added lenses, more equipment, more camera bodies, even more lenses, and went out on the streets.

CHC: You photograph the everyday. Why People, the title of one of your series? How do you relate as the artist to your subject?

HH: You are correct I photograph the everyday. In my series, People, I look for a ‘story’. I don’t necessarily care what the “true” story is, as I am not a photojournalist. I relate what I call a good photo to a good ballet. I have been a patron of the New York City Ballet for over 30 years. The reason I adore the ballet so much is that for the most part, there is no “story”. Unless it is intended to have one, such as Sleeping Beauty or Swan Lake, (which I still love to see for the pure athleticism of the dancers), but those are not nearly as interesting or fun for me. The same holds true in my photography, whether it is of People or of the dolls in my Mirror Mirror series. The normal stress that comes with everyday life will show on people’s faces and body language, good and bad, whether it is because they are rushed, busy, hot, cold, hungry, tired, happy, distraught, in pain, frustrated because they have to wait for something or for someone, or excited because they are waiting for something or someone!

Rarely do I find a relaxed human on the streets of New York. I relate more to people on the beach. The beach is a wonderful “street”. The public beaches are so much fun for me because there is so much diversity, from very young to very old, the eccentrics, the vast array of body types and so many tattooed bodies! It is their “day off”, time to relax, maybe meditate, exercise, play or simply sleep.

CHC: Your series Mirror Mirror is all about the use of Barbie in eerie, mysterious, evocative and humorous situations in your works (please feel free to agree or disagree), I ABSOLUTELY ADORE these photographs. From what I’ve previously seen as what I like to call “Barbie Art,” I have never been so entertained and fascinated, even in the most mellow situations pictorially. How did Barbie enter your oeuvre? Why Barbie? What does this plastic ICONIC doll mean to you?

HH: Are you sitting down? With all due respect to Mattel © and to collectors, the Barbie doll means absolutely NOTHING to me. [CHC SURPRISED!!!] I do not collect them, “iconic” and as beautifully made as some of them may be. I do not keep the boxes for the “future”. I am not promoting the doll as a product. I do not see the doll as anything more than a plastic “model” that I use to represent the emotional side of me. I find some of the dolls have just the right facial expression or body language that I can maneuver to meet my needs for a certain message I want to send photographically.

CHC: Explain how you shoot your Mirror Mirror series if you don’t mind. Do you pick out which Barbie you will use, choose the location, and have an idea of what you want the picture to turn out like…or do you bring Barbie somewhere with you, have your camera and just go with the flow?

HH: I use both methods, and sometimes will combine the two. A shoot can take anywhere from half a second while on the run or “in the moment,” to weeks for the staged pieces, where I conjure up an idea, make sure the lighting is just right, the props are proportioned well, and the doll in use is clean and ready for work! But, I always have a camera with me anyway, and more often than not, depending upon the day, there will be a random doll in my bag.

This is an example of an unstaged, “I happened to have the right doll in my bag” moment. I had to work out the right proportion, hand and leg position, lighting all of the faces and direction of movement in a matter of seconds while holding my camera steady with one hand. Very difficult!!! The “story” here is  as if she is trying to “blend in” with the crowd, which apparently, she did, as not one person even noticed what I was doing. This is telling of what New York City is, to me. People are distracted by nothing other than themselves. -Heidi Horowitz

This is an example of an unstaged, “I happened to have the right doll in my bag” moment. I had to work out the right proportion, hand and leg position, lighting all of the faces and direction of movement in a matter of seconds while holding my camera steady with one hand. Very difficult!!! The “story” here is as if she is trying to “blend in” with the crowd, which apparently, she did, as not one person even noticed what I was doing. This is telling of what New York City is, to me. People are distracted by nothing other than themselves. -Heidi Horowitz

CHC: Unlike your “Barbie” photographs, do you stage the photographs you take of those in your People series? Do you ever interact with the people before of after you shoot, or is it all about the story the picture tells, and for people to leave the rest up to their imagination?

HH: I never stage a photo on the streets. As I mentioned previously, I am not actually interested in getting to know a perfect stranger’s story. That is none of my business, and it is not my job to report. It is more fun, and way more interesting to me to have the viewer make that up in their own mind, based upon all of the elements that go into a shot.

I normally do not photograph children, but sometimes it is necessary. This is about the interaction between the small child and the large adult, both dressed in costume, but only one of them knows that. As I saw this scene unfolding I literally ran to catch up to it. The “story” I made up in my head was this adorable little girl thinking “OMG I think I just saw the real spiderman! Nobody is going to believe me!” And she is utterly amazed that he is looking directly at her, as if to say, “Yeah, kid, it’s me. Don’t you worry, I am watching out for you.. go ahead and take your daddy trick or treating..and by the way, "Nice job on the feathers.” - Heidi Horowitz

I normally do not photograph children, but sometimes it is necessary. This is about the interaction between the small child and the large adult, both dressed in costume, but only one of them knows that. As I saw this scene unfolding I literally ran to catch up to it. The “story” I made up in my head was this adorable little girl thinking “OMG I think I just saw the real spiderman! Nobody is going to believe me!” And she is utterly amazed that he is looking directly at her, as if to say, “Yeah, kid, it’s me. Don’t you worry, I am watching out for you.. go ahead and take your daddy trick or treating..and by the way, “Nice job on the feathers.” – Heidi Horowitz

CHC: Who would you say are your artistic idols? Whether it be iconic artists, photo journalists, family, anyone…Moreover, whose works do you admire most and draw inspiration from? Do you have a muse?

HH: My most influential artistic idol is my sister, Jane Simonson. Because of her, I was surrounded by art in some form or another throughout my life. There are so many artists that I admire, and I am thankful to have made some amazingly talented friends in the photographic community, but I especially look up to Lori Nix, who’s creative process requires enormous patience, as she not only builds her own sets, but then photographs them in the most beautiful way, each one depicting a sense of emotion, without the use of a doll! David Carol, my teacher and mentor, has been incredibly inspirational to me. He introduced me to the “world of photography” as he himself lives it. He has had me study lists upon lists of who’s who in photography, past and present. If I am in a “slump”, he takes me on “field trips” to places I’ve never been, makes me run to “get closer” to a shot, and reminds me to check my exposure! Whether it is below freezing or stifling hot outside, we will walk and shoot for miles, and at the end of the day I will have learned something new, not only about photography, but about myself.

As for having a “muse”, yes I do have one. Me! I use my own PERSONAL life experiences, whether happy, sad, dark or funny, as inspiration for and representation of ALL women.

CHC: Where can we find and purchase your work?

HH: Some of my work can be seen on my website, Facebook or Instagram. Although, there are many more photographs that I do not choose to show online, I always try to arrange a private showing of my work when requested. Each photograph is produced in limited editions usually of only 12, signed (en verso) and numbered. Sizes will vary, but the Mirror Mirror series always shows best when printed 30” x 40” or larger. All inquiries can go to my “contact” page on the website to email me directly.

My work has also been featured in: Rangefinder Magazine, December, 2013 issue, Best of 2013 ‘Our Pics of the Year’ page 68, also featured as the background for the ‘Contents’ page; Musee Magazine, issue #2 page 47; Musee Magazine, issue #2 page 82; Lenscratch “Family” Exhibition; Lenscratch “Toy Camera” Exhibition; Lenscratch “Backyard” Exhibition; Lenscratch “Summer Fun” Exhibition; Musee Magazine’s Instagram “pic of the day.”

To see further through the eyes of Heidi check out:

Instagram: @HEIDIHOROWITZ21

Website: WWW.HEIDIHOROWITZ.COM

Facebook: HEIDI HOROWITZ PHOTOGRAPHY

XX, CHC

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Jimmy C: The Interview

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Dearest CultureHe(ART)s – we know it has been a long time since we last posted, so we decided to come back with a BANG! SURPRISE! We got to interview the UTTERLY TALENTED Street Artist Jimmy C! Check it out!

You were born in England but grew up in Australia and studied down under, yet we see so much of your work in London… do you have just as much work up in Australia? What is the street art scene like there? I did used to have quite of work in Australia but a lot of it is probably covered over now. I was involved in the graffiti scene in Australia when I was younger, so painted a lot of walls at that time, mainly along the railway lines. I later went on to do commissioned mural works, so some of these walls are probably still up in various locations.

In relation to the street art scene, I was part of the graffiti scene back then, which was an exciting and energetic new art form at that time. It enabled me to find good friends like a family on the street. From what I have seen, the current street art scene is strong with many good artists, and I will aim to go back soon to visit.

How did you come across your infamous technique of drip/pointillist with spray paint? It looks incredibly difficult to master none the less, yet you execute it brilliantly! Does this inspiration come from Impressionism or did you come across it trying to break away from traditional types of street art? Also, do you create works in other techniques with spray paint or are you solely dedicated to your pointillist/drip technique? Thank you for your comments on this, and I first starting working with the dots when I was doing a lot of community arts workshops and mural projects in Australia. In one project I worked with an aboriginal artist who was working with the traditional dot painting technique and he asked me if it would be possible to do this on a wall with spray paint, and I said, I can’t see why not. I showed him how to make dots with the spray can and we went on to paint a wall together, combining our two styles. This led me to start thinking about dots and how to make images in this way. As my background was in figurative realism, my experimentation with the dots came to resemble a form of Impressionism or Pointillism with the spray can. In 2004 I made a series of work which I titled the Aerosol Pointillist series, but I felt that just working in dots was not really enough, which then led me to experiment with drips. That’s when I felt that I had found something more unique and personal, which I came to call the Drip Paintings, which were images made from layers of individual drips of spray paint. I also use a similar technique with lines that I call the scribble paintings. 

The works we have seen of yours are portraits of people – besides the famous people like David Bowie… who are these people? Do you know them or are they random by standards? What does it mean to you to create a portrait? And why do you choose mainly portraiture as your subject over other subjects? The human subject is the main source of inspiration behind my work, and almost all the portraits I have painted are from people I have met or had some kind of interaction with. The human subject in the context of the city is of particular interest to me, and I am trying to convey an essence of the human spirit through my painting with the consideration of hope, resilience, and compassion. I am also part of a tradition trying to seek new approaches to portraiture through painting.

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What is your favourite city to work in? What is your favourite mural you have done? I like painting here in London, and travelling to paint is always a good experience. I have painted in many cities and have great memories, which is so often connected to the people you meet at the time. One of my favourite walls is at 5 Pointz (a) in New York, as it was an honour to have worked in a place that has always celebrated the culture and diversity of styles from the hip hop tradition. Another favourite wall is in Hasselt in Belgium (b), where I got to form some great friendships. 

A:

66. 5 Pointz, New York 2011 Aerosol sur mur

B:

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How do you define your style? A socio-poetical dripping (he)art.

What galleries represent you/where can your work be purchased?! We would love to know! Also, where can our followers follow YOU on social media? What are your twitter/facebook/instagram accounts for our dear friends to keep up with you on the reg(ular). I work with a gallery in Melbourne, Australia called Lindberg Galleries, and also a gallery in Lille in France called Galerie Raison d’Art. Work can also be purchased directly from my studio in London.

For more information check out Jimmy C’s website, LIKE his Facebook page, and lastly, FOLLOW him on Twitter @akajimmyc and Instagram akajimmyc.

Check out some more of his works below!

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WOW. WOW. WOW. WOWWWWWWWW. THANK YOU JIMMY C for taking time to participate in the interview and for sharing your he(ART) with us!

XX, DP and the CultureHe(ART)s Team

p.s. Follow us on Instagram: CultureHeARTs

Walk Around Wednesday: Street Artists You May See on the Reg in London

When walking around London you may have seen some of these works, or works that look similar. Here is a guide to three artists that are seen on the reg from the West to East End.

Mighty Mo: the infamous monkey. Often found in a variety of colours and various facial expressions. If you’re walking around SoHo LOOK UP. Sometimes his work is on top of buildings. Sometimes it’s not: case below – found in Elephant and Castle. But if you come across this animal, now you know it’s MIGHTY MO!

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Christiaan Nagel: known for his ‘shrooms. If you love colour and love shrooms look all over London for this sculptural street artist. The mushrooms vary in size and colour, just like Mo. And, to find his work, you too have to look up to spot it!

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C215: Parisian based artist Christian Guemy’s work can often be found in the East End. Known for his stencil work, he creates elaborate street art that incorporates various layers of colour and incredible detail. While he is best known for his images of his daughter Nina, his subject, well from what we have seen, is mostly people. Truly incredible and inspirational.

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Now go walk it out. Find some art. Embrace it. You never know when it will be gone… That is the beauty of Street Art – at least to me. Seriously, one day it can be there and the next day it has vanished. So take it all in. Take a picture of it. Realise you have been graced by a master of the streets. HOW COOL!!! LOVEEEE IT! LOVE LIFE. He(ART) STREET ART.

XX, DP