During the last week of the March and the Beginning of April the 6th annual Palm Springs Photo Festival took place. My Wonderful and talented friend Liz contacted me one day and told me I would be a great fit as a volunteer. At first I was skeptical, I was tired of assisting and had a few good and bad experiences but more of the latter. After messaging Liz back and forth the benefits were apparent and I signed with a recommendation from her.
Soon after my application was approved, I was in touch with one of the most hard working people I was yet to meet, Ms. Courtenay Nearbug. I wanted to assist the hard hitters of the festival but my late application there was only one option I had and that was to assist some one who would later become a large influence on my work, and a good friend. His name is Arno Raphael Minkkinen
I signed up to assist Arno with out knowing his work very well, just the images that anyone could find while searching the vast space of the interwebs. I figured, it would be a great experience assisting a fine artist. Even though his work is not like mine, I felt as though I still would learn alot from him. Come to find out, that last sentence would be an understatement.
I was responsible for a ton of things and one of them was to drive everyone around to locations. The first location was Banning (google it).
I got to drive pretty much brand new vans with Air conditioning that blows ice cold air.
Arno created an amazing exercise. He had us flip a coin three times to determine how our adventure went. The first flip was head= 2 miles/tails= 1 mile. The second flip was heads/tails = left/right turn. The third flip was head/tails = stay for 20mins/10mins. This exercise was to have our minds work in ways that are unplanned and to find something interesting in a foreign place with a limited amount of time.
After critique, The class took a trip to the salton sea. We ended up in this little trailor park by the salton sea coast. It was a peculiar place to be. Everything looked run down and the place had a identifying stench to it. the area surrounding the lake had no sand but was made up of shells. Arno was loaned a Leica M9 and an assortment of lenses for the workshops but was not impressed by them and told me to go ahead and use them. Here are a few shots I took during our visit to the Salton Sea.
We also had models for our class
We also stopped by 29 Palms
This was the roughest day for me as an assistant. I had to prep the van, prepare the lunches and get everyone to Joshua Tree by 5am. Was rough, but this was the first time I really was able to work with Arno. He deconstructed the scene and showed me what he was looking at. It was amazing to see how his thought process worked. It gave me a new way of understand narrative and concept in Arno's work.
It was early morning when we arrived. Arno told me to go and do my thing. I decided to explore and rock climb a little bit. Im not to much of a landscape guy but it was really an amazing experience to be in nature with no one around being able to breath in clean air and watch the sun rise.
Day four was a final critique and I was fortunate enough to be able to show my work in front of the class and get a group critique. I felt honored and humbled with this opportunity. These people spent over 1000 USD to attend this work shop and festival and I pretty much was able to learn and absorb as much as i could for free. When I got critiqued, I received great reviews and insight on what to do next.
At night they had the final talk which was Arno's time to shine. His talk was sincere and heartfelt to the point he had the majority of the crow emotionally invested in his work. Arno was respectful with his time on stage to make sure he did not go over his time as well as make sure people were kept interested. Toward the end of the night he shared what i believe to be his most impactful work from the series woman and man. The way he presented his work really spoke out to me and I related that to my personal life and how things have been changing drastically. Arno's talk reached out to so many people on different levels where people were crying because of how beautiful his words and imagery related to each other. As he was thanked for his time, the audience thanked him with a standing ovation which was well deserved.
The festival was amazing and fun. all the hard work did not go by without hard play. Open bar and food, with good people and net working, plus a week in palm springs with food and hotel covered. cant beat it.
My next step is THAILAND 2012 to finish my body of work i created in 2010.