Miscellany 10: Charlie Frye

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3/26/2015. So there I was
bopping around downtown Lenoir last December shooting some casual panoramas and Christmas decorations, 'cause who knows when you might need some holiday stock for this or that, and I stopped in at the Highland Coffee House for their excellent but ludicrously inexpensive blend. There I got to talking about art with a fellow in suspenders. He has a studio upstairs, and I mostly invited myself along for a look and then BAM! I saw his work and recognized him: this is Charlie Frye, author of mural-sized portraits and rustic folk art comprised of wild strokes and powerful colors. If you've been in downtown Lenoir long enough to wait out two stoplights, you've seen his stuff.

Neat, I said, may I mess with some portraity notions? And he said sure, just don't show this work in progress over here --a commissioned piece-- because he didn't want to spoil any surprises. I didn't think I was getting much in the way of decent photos, 'cause truth be told I had no idea what I wanted (except all that color!), and Charlie, for all his extroverted painting style, was a bit self-conscious with a stranger in his space waving a camera around. Imagine that.

I shot interiors, some casual, available-light stuff of Charlie and Charlie with a young student --he was conducting a class while I tried not to be too much of a nuisance. Mostly I was playing with fast glass (a 24mm F1.4 Rokinon) and wide glass (a 14mm F2.8 Rokinon) and thinking I'd get all this down as if in a notebook and work on the images later, after Charlie's work in progress had been presented and I could regard my pictures as unembargoed. Done.

So here's what I've got. Click on any of these images for a closer look:




Not bad, all things considered. I've done something a little artsy with it: all the colors except Charlie and his student are severely (not to say "overly") saturated, so that the mix of color-temperatures in the light sources becomes an element. Think of it as a weak homage to Charlie's style. The world beyond the studio's windows is in black and white. Because I could. The painting below Charlie's outstretched arm is the forbidden subject and the reason I've been sitting on these photos since December 17. He's gone public with it, so I don't see any harm in posting now.




No, really, you have to click on this one. Go on. I'll wait here. Told you I was playing with panoramas, and I kind of like this for a glimpse of Charlie in his lair.




What's wrong with this picture? Yeah, I know: there's no fooling you, is there? It's reversed left to right so the sign in the window can be read easily. Maybe it's better uninverted. Still, I think it's interesting how flipping the frame focuses attention on the readily legible words in the window while the unmodified image leaves the viewer wandering around in the rest of the studio. Live and learn. (Also, here's a wee game: find as many giveaways as you can. Other than the "Frye Art Studio" lettering, I've found four five cues that the image is reversed.)

The giveaways I (and one reader) have identified are listed in the red box below. Drag your mouse over it to read the text inside (it's been years since I've used this trick):

0) The lettering in the window (it's a gimme; that doesn't count)

1) The truck parked outside is facing right though it is clearly on the far side of the street. That's not a one-way street, and this isn't England or Japan or Australia or any of those other drive-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-road places.

2) Reversed typography etc.: a] Letters in the sign in the upper right of the frame are reversed; b] likewise on a canvas near the center; and if you squint, c] on a cardboard box at far left (congratulations, Cheryl). And d] there's a Hickory Crawdads cap hanging on the easel near dead center. The graphic on the cap shows a baseball in a crustacean's claw; if you were a Crawdads fanatic, you'd know it was backwards.

3) There's a painting of a guitarist on the wall. Either he's left handed or the picture is reversed. I'm pretty sure that's Doc Watson in the painting, and he wasn't a southpaw.

4) The painting in the shadows near the center of the picture shows a soldier in green fatigues with a rifle slung over his shoulder; his hand is resting in the sling. Unless he's a lefty, his picture has been flipped because it's really awkward otherwise

5) The painting of Edgar Allan Poe in the lower right shows Poe from the opposite side compared to the well-known photo on which the painting appears to be based. A quick search for other photos suggests that Poe was always photographed full-face or from the side shown in the photo.



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                   © 2015, David Cortner