Tim Soter… blog.

I'm much better in person.

Some triptychs.

A few triptychs for today, found a stack of 4×6 mini-prints from the past.


New work update – photo books.

I’ve been working on making more photography books.

First up, a book pairing photos of my maternal grandfather and myself.  Bill “Pop” Ewing was a Philadelphia mummer his whole life and I inherited a collection of photos, years of costumes that he wore.  I’ll be pairing photos of myself over the years wearing different costumes and improvised outfits.  I’ve realized somewhat recently that he might be the relative that I’m closest too philosophically.  He lived a funny life, a raconteur of wit and humor.  Just started pulling this together but shouldn’t be the same long time line as the photo-biographies that I’ve been doing.  Speaking of…


I’ve been wrapping up work on ForTress, a book about photographer Arthur Tress.  It’s been more than two years since I started laying out and working on this book but it took that amount of time to get it to where it is.  Painting on photographs has been very liberating and I needed a book that reflected the free-thinking creative nature that Arthur embodies.

 

SOUL SUMMIT 2017 at Ft. Green park, Brooklyn, NY

Soul Summit Music is a DJ collective known for it’s free, soulful house music events in Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn on Sunday afternoons, during the summer.

Pride 2017

 

 

 

Sam Gross, New York cartoonist

Recently I was at a lecture at the New York Comic & Picture Symposium at The New School – small gathering, fifteen attendees at most. Waiting for it to begin I eavesdropped on a conversation near me, hearing a man introduce himself as Sam Gross. That name that sounded familiar. A quick Google image search brought up a seminal cartoon from my 70s childhood, a truly tasteless cartoon as they were often referred to, featuring a legless frog in a restaurant.

This was the guy who drew that!? Scrolling down through the other cartoons, I got even more excited. I approached him and introduced myself, asking him if he had ever worked with Mad magazine’s Harvey Kurtzman. “Oh yeah, I worked with Harvey at Esquire. Gloria Steinman was his secretary then.” He paused. “She was a real piece of ass.”

Sam Gross is a working New York based cartoonist, his cartoons have appeared in numerous magazines, including CosmopolitanEsquireGood HousekeepingHarvard Business Review and The New Yorker. He was cartoon editor for National Lampoon and Parents Magazine. He has had several books published of his work but perhaps the best title is “I Am Blind, and My Dog is Dead.”   The Comics Journal, in a wonderful interview with him says this, “While he claims to draw for no one other than himself, Sam Gross’s work in large part emerged from the men’s magazine milieu of the fifties and sixties. Much of the time he’s simply cute: A cat deposits a piece of garbage into a can marked “kitty litter”; a long dachshund chases a stretch limousine down the street, and so on. On the other side of the spectrum… Gross’s world is populated in large part by the handicapped, the homeless, and the slightly horrific, all of whom he humanizes with deft strokes and subtle halftones.

A week after the lecture I reached out to someone who might have a contact for Sam.  I hadn’t thought to get it that night, too awe struck.  It took some persistence but I eventually got in touch with Sam and made an appointment to go meet him at his studio where he works on Wednesday, the day of the week he dedicates to going in and cartooning.

He needed a “headshot” for a book jacket and I was happy for an excuse to come talk and ask a bunch of questions. He kept insisting that he pay me, though I didn’t want payment. I’m not sure who suggested a trade.

While in the studio, an actual studio apartment on the Upper East Side I tired to “stare in” all of the information I could. So many book spines and ephemera, I wanted a day in there just to browse. I asked Sam about the binders. Black binders numbered on the side, i.e. “21,601 to 28,000.” He pulled one down and opened it and inside with pages of original drawings, all three-hole punched, each unique.

“I have over thirty thousand original cartoons in those binders.”

The studio was like being inside a cartoonist’s brain. Credit for his organizational skills has been attributed to his upbringing by his father, a CPA.

We talked some more, I asked more questions some about specific cartoons I had remembered.

Then it came time for him to pick out a cartoon, a preliminary drawing as my payment. “I like your cat cartoons. And the really weird stuff.” He took about fifteen minutes and came back with two, specially chosen for me.

I looked at them both, but the choice was clear. The abstract take on the start of human life. I could not have picked out a better one, glad he had this one in mind for me. And as far as being a preliminary sketch, this looked pretty finished to me, drawn on nice archival paper as well. Money wouldn’t have made me anywhere near as excited as this wonderful barter.

Some other Sam Gross gems…

Olga eats a banana.

Carlisle can jump!

Peter Dorosch for Village Voice

“This bird doesn’t follow a regular clock,” Dorosh said. “He’s acting like a devilish teenager.”

Read the full story in Village Voice.

Two images selected for American Photography 33

Happy to be included in the American Photography 33 book this year with an image selected from a story I shot for Refinery 29.  The piece, titled, “How Going From a Woman to a Man Changed My Perspective” let’s Sal tell his transformation story.  It was a real pleasure meeting Sal who was extremely easy going regarding photographing his body and his daily rituals.

 

Also included in the AP33 selections was a photo from my ongoing series of vertical Environments.  Nice to see this get a wider audience, I love finding this situations.  Nothing makes me happier than a bit of beautiful dry humor.

The reason for making art and possibly for simply “being.”

When I was out to dinner with Duane Michals one night a few years ago, I told him that I was really getting to the point where I was questioning why I should make photographs at all, considering that there were millions of photographs being created each day. “Why should I continue to add to that?’ I wondered. If it was just because the world didn’t have any “Tim Soter” photographs that justification wasn’t enough, it was just my ego. And then I confessed to having wondered what the point was of doing anything at all. I wasn’t depressed necessarily, I just was having a hard time seeing what my contribution might be in the connected digital world we live in now, having spent my creative start in the analog world.

Without hesitating he offered, “The significance is in the doing and the expression is the reward.” It didn’t come out as rehearsed and he said it as a scholar might announce something he had proven awhile back. “All we have is the doing, the act itself… “ Duane said and he reinforced the advice that he’s given out to so many. It hasn’t been done until it’s been done by you. “If you want to take photos of nudes but you don’t do it because you think ‘Helmut Newton has already done this or somebody else’ it really hasn’t been done until you’ve done it…“ “You are the event in the history of the universe, it hasn’t been done until it’s been done by you.” “And the expression is the reward.” he repeated. “The reward is you got to express yourself!’ The idea has been shared.

 

And I had to agree… that was it.