Saturday, August 6, 2011


Here is the complete bar series.  I shot this stuff in 1999, and was so over the project when I was done that I burned all the negatives.

Every time the door swings open, all eyes reach discreetly in that direction hoping a familiar shape will fill the doorway.  Strangers are greeted with indifference on thinly veiled disappointment from the babble around the bar, a friendly bartender their only salvation.  Friends are greeted with smiles, handshakes and a certain amount of relief. 
The Crack of the pool balls resonates ubiquitously among the cacophony of voices, music, glassware and laughter.  The distinctive smack of a breaking rack, the thud of a solid rail shot, these are the sounds that define competitive friendships that occasionally border on volatile.
There is nothing surprising about the sort of relief one feels when walking into a bar and finding a friend.  The easy familiarity of sitting down and falling into conversation, greased to ease by beer and whiskey; a friendship forged stronger for the moment, or a lifetime, or something in between.
 Often the relationships in a bar are developed due to convenience or timliness, the bouncer who wouldn't let you in because you forgot your ID, you conceeded to the bartender who knows more about you than you think.  Now you have both in your fold and you within their's.  The subtle and inevitable politics stepping forward to pick up where personalities leave off.

Inexplicably, there are times when the barstools are crippling, conversation is lagging and no amount of beer will calm restless hands nor minds.  It's these times when rolls of quarters are invested in pool and video games in order to distract from general restlessness or tiresome drama.
There are so many reasons, excuses, explanations for going to the bar that have nothing to do with drinking.  Shooting a couple of games of pool or pinball, some liars dice, four-one-twentyfour, all conveniently located at your neighborhood bar, all, of course, best when accompanied by at least one beer...
Business begets business.  The relationships that develop between product reps and bars often become relationships among bar patrons; official business abandoned more with every drink as reps become customers and friends more than associates.
It is rare and strangely ominous that a bar falls silent.  The moments between songs are little bits of emptiness that make all eyes lean towards the jukebox, fingers unrumple dollar bills, voices fall into whispers, all, soon to be drowned out by the Reverend, Beastie Boys, Sinatra, Digital Underground, Ella Fitzgerald, the Clash, Spike 1000, any number of options with which to fill the silence.

There comes a point each night when things begin to swim, when everything gains a certain easy liquid quality.  One or two beers has become five or six, with some whiskey added to the mix, and everything becomes soft, gellid and deceptively graceful. 
Bars, saloons, pubs, freehouses, inns, throughout time have been sanctuaries, meeting places, social necessities, volative and boisterous in turn.  But in any situation the sound of laughter will always distinguish itself in the bar room cacophony. 

The restaurant crews are generally the best customers a bartender can hope for.  They arrive around midnight, one at a time, or in droves with relieved smiles pockets full of cash and succinct and knowledgeable drinking habits.  The presence or absence of these friends can make or break an evening socially and financially.

Conversations braid themselves across shoulders and under chins, words skipping the ears of one person to command the attention of the next.  Smiles float around the words of the eyes of someone further away. 
There is something ironically solitary about bartending.  The job is rooted basically in money; the bartender's base function is to collect cash in exchange for intoxicating substances.  This chilly aspect of the business is whitewashed with jokes, smiles, conversations, fun.  A good bartender will strike and easy balance of all these factors.  But, on slower nights, that balance, that mood can be a long time in coming.
Between the time on the barstools each to his own life and ways.  But among pints and shots and cocktails, respective days and thoughts are exchanged and pondered by those who's friendship is created, bound and permeated by beer, booze and cigarette smoke. 

There is little some of us find in life that is as comfortable as our regular bar.  No matter how intrusive the atmosphere may become, the barstools are tantamount to lazy boys and the conversation abundant.  Each of us has a story in our posture, elbow atop bar, cigarette smouldering, drink sweating.
A quiet bar is sometimes best.  In the winter, when the nights are long, the early evenings in the softness of the dim light sharing a paper and some conversation create a quiet intimacy within a space usually defined by reckless and loud joviality. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The begining of the Ghost Bike Project

This work is currently hanging at Gallery 28  (1228 Grant St @ Columbus, San Francsico, CA)  and will hang until July 28, 2011.  This work looks way better in person, so try to get over there and take a peek.

Missing Ghost Bikes in Portland

Last week I went to Portland, OR for a couple of reasons.  One of these reasons was to do some shooting for my ghost bike project.  According to there were supposed to be 20 ghost bikes installed in or around the Portland area.  I expected that I would not find them all, because previous ghost bike hunting experience has taught me that often, the bikes are no longer where they are supposed to.  So I went with the hopes of finding 10.

My first day in Porland, I managed to find 3.  One of which wasn't even listed on the ghost bike site.  We sought out 16 that day.  So out of 16 bikes that were supposed to be there, 14 of them were missing.  I found this to be incredibly disheartening, but also very strange.  Portland is supposed to be one of the most bicycle progressive cities in the country.  Why would such a high percentage of ghost bikes be gone?  Was the city removing them?  What was going on?

That night I did a little research to find out what was going on.  What I discovered broke my heart.  People were stealing them!!!!  I know that times are hard, but really?  Stealing ghost bikes.

See for yourself:

Bike Portland
Bike Portland Update
Oregon live blog

 I was hopeful when I found this story: Ghost bikes, bike awards and map.  Apparently a troupe of boy scouts took it upon themselves to install a bunch of ghost bikes in the Beaverton area.  They did this in the middle of May 2011.  Surely, some of them would still be there.  In the morning, I tried to get in touch with the boy scout troupe, and some other bicycle organizations to try and find out the location of these bicycles.  Nobody got back to me, but I was able to figure out where the one in the picture on the article should be.  I set out to find the bikes that were West of Portland.

The Ghost bike that the boy scout troupe installed, after a month and a half, was gone.  Seriously?  Some stupid thief couldn't leave it there for a few months?  What is the world coming to.  I continued further west, hoping to find one of the other two bikes that were supposed to be out that way.  But to no avail.  One spot had numerous memorials put up.  (It is obviously a dangerous intersection); but, no ghost bike.

I had all but given up, when I found out that my uncle lived near one and told my step father about it.  They said they drove by it that morning, and it was still there.  So the next morning, my last day in Portland, I decided to try and find the one that was way out East in Gresham, and the one down south in Millaukee.

The one in Gresham was no longer there.  Obviously, some one had stolen it.  It had been replaced with a cross and a picture of the woman who died.  The other one was still there.  It was for a little girl that died on 10/10/10.  Out of a total of 22 bikes that were found or were supposed to be there, only 4 of them were actually there.  Two of them were adorned with many decorations, perhaps discouraging the thieving community in Portland, and two of them were small children's bikes, which of course would be way too small for the average thief.  All in all, pretty sad.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

If you got a Christmas card from me last year, you have seen the first piece from the Ghost bike series. I am part of a group show next month where the theme is remembering. I will have 5 Ghost Bike pieces in this show. This is brand new work that has not been shown before. I have worked very hard on these pieces. Hopefully you will come out and see it. The show hangs at Gallery 28, 1228 Grant Street @ Columbus, in San Francisco, from June 29, 2011-July 28, 2011. The opening reception will be Friday, July 1, 2011 from 6p-9pm.


A ghost bike is a bicycle that is painted all white and locked to a sign near where a bicyclist was killed or hit. They serve as a memorial for those who have been injured or who have lost their lives on a bicycle. Ghost bikes were created in St. Louis, Missouri in 2003. They have since appeared in many cities around the world. More information on ghost bikes can be found at

I discovered Ghost Bikes while shooting in New York in May 2010. I was touched by the sentiment, and profoundly affected by the visible reminders of how fragile life is and how we as a society must be more aware of our surroundings if we are going to keep each other safe. One can pass a memorial hundreds of times and eventually forget that it is there to commemorate a human life. In an effort to remind us that these installations are to signify a spirit that is no longer with us, I have taken photographs of (living) people in my studio and transformed them into “ghosts” to serve as a symbol of the person who may have lost their life at the ghost bike location; to further emphasize that these people will not be forgotten, and that their lost lives will inspire others to be more cautious when riding a bicycle or driving around bicyclists. It could have been you or someone you love.
Bicycle Coalition 

The bar series

Some of you may remember all the photos I did for Fulton Street Bar and Crowbar way back in 1999. Some of them are on display until the end of the month at Bender's Bar and grill on the corner of South Van Ness and 19th Street. If you have a chance, stop in for a trip down memory lane.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Memorial piece

Here is a memorial piece I did. We shot Dave in my studio on 10/10/10 (on his mother's birthday {she has passed}), and I put this together.

updated bobcat photo

So I tweaked a few things on the Zodiac death valley bobcat photo. Go here to listen to them: