Thursday, March 7, 2013

Gilli Visits Home & More

  OK, I think it's time to finish up the update about Portland before I forget all that has happened there.  Plus a lot has happened since then as well and here it all is in reverse order.

  Right now I'm in Chico CA, at my friend Ricardo's place.  We graduated at about the same time from San Jose State University and he was the original initiator of The Photo Guild, which I carried on after his departure.  I find it very nice to reconnect with him and after having not seen Ricardo for about 5 years it's really good to him not only happily married, but also carrying on with art and music.  His experimental website is like a slow-motion movie, where you chose your own path. 

  Earlier this afternoon we went out to a local orchard and took a few wet plate portraits and here is Ricardo in all his stoic glory.

  Chico happens to be very close to the place that Gilli-the-Gillig had spent the first part of her peaceful existence while working as a school bus for Durham Unified School District.  Today Ricardo and I visited the garage where she lived for 30+ years and had a reunion with the other buses and some of the people who worked with her.  Durham is a small town and their bus numbers still only go up to 10, while in 1978 Gilli was assigned #3. Everyone was stunned to know that their bus went all the way to Maine last year.  Here are some images from this memorable visit.
Gilli, or #3 as she was known here, was happy to see all her old pals #6 and 7

According to the mechanics, this was the very bay where Gilli resided for over a
 decade until she was sold in 2011.  Now #8 occupies the spot and barely fits in because it's 5 ft longer.

This is Kay.  Mechanics at the garage said that #3 was always her favorite and she did seem happy to see it again.  Kay said drove this bus until 2000 and here she is back in her old chair.

  To get to California I had to take a pretty gruesome little mountain pass on I-5 between Ashland and Yreka.  The climb to 4300ft was slow and cold. 

This was the first time that I saw The Photo Palace Bus surrounded with snow.
Cloaked in clouds, Mt. Shasta looked rather majestic and reminded me a bit of Nepal.

  Prior to that I stayed for a day in Eugene with Ryan, a friend from Palomar College whom I have seen in 12 or 13 years.  He was instrumental in the conception process of the idea for The Photo Palace Bus back in 1997.  Back then he and his girlfriend Melinda took me on a long journey along the West Coast and that is when I saw the bus that inspired the construction of Gilli in 2012.  It was incredibly nice to see him and his family.  Ryan is quite a talented artist and I only wish he had a website for me to share with you.  Majority of his best detailed mandala-like works would alas be too detailed for web and should better be experienced live.  
  An amazing moment took place when I saw that Oso - the dog that Ryan got as a puppy in 1997 while on that memorable and life-changing trip.  He was a tiny 2 month old puppy and fit in Ryan's hand, then I visited Ryan in California a couple of years later and remember a giant god that was full of life jumping on me with all his might.  Now Oso is 16 and a proud senior citizen.  

  And now to go back all the way to my Portland visit.  After I took the wet plate workshop with Ray Bidegain he called up a few friends who work in the medium and live in Portland and we all met up in a little tavern for a beer.  All of a sudden I found myself surrounded by 5 people who have been working with collodion for a while and I felt like a complete newbie.  Along with Ray Himslef there was Jody Ake - the famous wet plate photographer and a maker of plate holders of highest quality.  You can find them on his website  Also there were three of Ray's past students. Brandon Fernandez, a superb artistic and commercial shooter.  Clarke Galusha, who learned the process not too long ago, but has already completed a great series of portraits and held a very successful show with it.   And of course Ted Mishima, who connected me to Ray in the first place.  
Here is the whole gang by The Photo Palace Bus.
Ray, Clarke, Ted, Brandon and Jody.

  Brandon was very kind in offering me a place to stay for the night and I readily accepted that offer.  I met his lovely wife and we had dinner and met up again with Ted in a great little neighborhood of Portland.  That city which is growing on me more and more every time I visit.  If only it wasn't so rainy there...

  In the morning I headed to see Clarke and his garage-studio.  Clarke, like some of the others here, mostly uses strobe lighting for his tintypes and so I got a chance to fire off a portrait of him and he he one of me.  I can sit through 4800 watts put through an umbrella and a soft box all day long as long I don't have to go under that 40.000 watt bare bulb monster setup for daguerreotypes ever again.
  I am starting on a series of tintype portraits of my favorite cameras.  Here is a Rolleiflex posing for the Tachihara.

  That was Monday and in the evening I had also had a Magic Lantern Show scheduled in Newspace for Photography.  Newspace is a great place for photographers of Portland - with classes on both digital and analog photography, a great rental studio and rental darkrooms it reminded me of Rayko in San Francisco, just a tad smaller.  Do stop by if you are ever in Portland area and want to develop a few rolls or want to see some great prints hanging in the gallery in the front.

  The show went great and the attendance was about 30 people.  No slides were inserted upside down, so now I think I have finally got the hang of working the projector, keeping the slides in order and talking at the same time. 

  That about catches up the storyline of the past few days.  Tomorrow morning I am off, back to Sonoma County.   Next Lantern Slide show is in Cloverdale on Saturday, then Fort Ross on Sunday and next week there are two more, but I think I'll write an update before that time, so I'll leave those announcements for later.  With 3 minutes till midnight I am going to finally publish this post and wish everyone a good night.

Anton Orlov

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