July 2014



For those of you who do not know me, my friends would gladly tell you that I own a soapbox. And I’m not afraid to stand on it. In the last 3 years, I have tried to be sensitive of other’s opinions and keep that to a minimum in this space. But, this issue we called for submissions of Food and Water, and I was struck by a number of emotions I went through while looking at a bevy of great images. There is nothing more life-giving and life-sustaining, very few things as visually beautiful, and nothing as important to the future of our world than food and water. As you look at these images I hope they’ll conjure positive thoughts to ways we can be more respectful to both.

In the past 50 years food production worldwide has moved from small family-oriented operations to large-scale corporate farms. As with most things, there are pros and cons to this change. With the population growth accelerating each year, it’s unrealistic to believe we can continue to feed everyone with small, private gardens. But, because corporations are beholden only to their stockholders and their company’s bottom line, they don’t always have their customer’s best interests at heart. Access to clean water is changing as well as we move that into the private sector, also. We’ve relied on corporations to provide us with all sorts of amenities – automobiles, clothing, electricity, health care, etc. But, none of those are as important as the food we eat, or the water we drink. Where some of us can afford an expensive car, for example, which is safer, more economical, longer-lasting, and more comfortable, others have to rely on a less-expensive, not as safe, less-economical and uncomfortable model. The loss of life attributable to this difference is minimal. What we’re facing now, though, is how some can afford organic, tasty, nourishing food grown in optimal soil, with few if any pesticides, while others must suffice on food grown in over-crowded fields of nutrient-depleted soil, bathed in fertilizers to produce rapid growth and pesticides that are killing anything in their way, resulting in “food” with little or no food value. What is the benefit in an unhealthy populace? How does a country remain strong when its citizens are not?

A friend of mine said to me years ago, “if they think wars over oil are bad, wait until we start fighting over water”. My well is continuously refilled with clean, pure water. Filtered by the soil, replenished by the rain, and pumped into my house on demand. I’m the richest person you know. And like most people, I take it for granted most of the time. With over-population staring us in the face, this must change, too. We have plenty of water, but it’s not all drinkable. And the small percentage that is drinkable is being heavily taxed by our greed, overuse, and rampant pollution. What on earth are we thinking? I’ve always felt reassured that Mother Nature would take back this beautiful blue orb long before she allowed us to ruin it, but I’m not ready to see that happen.

Now, on to a lighter note! The amazing Burk Uzzle was at Woodstock 45 years ago this August. First of all, how can it be 45 years? And secondly – groovy, man. In this issue he shares not only his iconic color image of the couple, Nick and Bobbie Ercoline, wrapped in a blanket, standing in a sea of young, optimistic, mostly naked and stoned people. It graced the Woodstock album cover; you know the one. He also shares a collection of black and white images from those heady days, and writes us an essay of what it was like.

Barbara Griffin and Brett Abbott have been friends and peers for a number of years and it shows in her interview with him about the High Museum of Atlanta’s Wynn Bullock exhibition ongoing through January 2015. They also discuss the generous financial gift received by the High this spring to support growing their photography collection and staff. And we learn a few choice tidbits about Brett that we didn’t know, also.

Jerry Atnip pulls double duty this issue with two interviews. First, Andy Cotton, of Cotton Carrier, who has grown his idea into one of the finest companies for camera-carrying equipment. If you’re not familiar with their company you should be, and here’s where to start.

Jerry also sits down with Marty Stuart, country music legend, and photographer of that world and its legends for the past 30 years. Oh, the stories he could tell – and does! The Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville has just opened a retrospective of his work which will run until November. Remember this on your summer travels!

There’s a little gallery in Texas that everyone is talking about. ASmith Gallery in Johnson City exhibits the work of both amateur and professional photographers through juried and invitational exhibitions. It’s a great way to have your work seen by pros who serve as jurors, and judging from the interview with Judy Sherrod in this issue, there’s the bonus of having a really good time at the openings! Plus, Amanda (the A in ASmith) shares a brownie recipe…

Last, but never least, we go back to our feature of Food and Water one last time with Last Look. Susan Todd-Raque pays homage to the rural farmer in America with a look at the work of Mike Disfarmer. “In the small mountain town of Heber Springs, the Arkansas portrait photographer known as Mike Disfarmer captured the lives and emotions of the people of rural America during the two World Wars and the Great Depression. Critics have hailed Disfarmer’s remarkable black and white portraits as “a work of artistic genius” and “a classical episode in the history of American photography.” – the Disfarmer Project.

And, with that I give you our Summer Issue. And Happy Birthday to Us – 3 years and growing!

Stay cool