Tag Archives: Humor

Humble Beginnings:

Signs of the South Southeast Museum of Photography,  Juliana Romnes, Photographer

Signs of the South
Southeast Museum of Photography,
Juliana Romnes, Photographer

“Success is not a good teacher, failure makes you humble.”  Shahrukh Khan

As of this writing I am participating in an exhibition at the Southeast Museum of Photography, which is something that I am most proud of. Over the years I have been very fortunate to be able to show my work in some very fine galleries and museums. Talking about the show with my friend and mentor, Bob Lerner, I was reminded of a story about a show that I was in some 25 years ago. I think that it played an important role in some of my attitudes about the vagaries of putting your work in public.

While I was still attending Daytona Sate College, I was asked to participate in an exhibition of photography that was to feature large number local photographers at the Orlando Library. I thought this was a truly important opportunity, which I jumped at. It was for me a validation of my entry to the fine art photography community of Central Florida. Telling one of my teachers about the show, he suggested that I ask the organizers if they would be interested in his work as well, which they were. I turned in my work on time, showing what I thought to be my best offerings and then waited for the opening.

A group of us went to the opening and when we first walked into the door in a very prime place was the teacher’s work that I had suggested. The rest of the show was spread out over the entire library, which is quite large. Looking around, I could not fine my work and was beginning to wonder if they had decided not to hang the work. Then one of my fellow students said that he found where I my work was hanging and we all went to see. It turned out that my photographs was hung in an office, that at the time of the opening was locked and could only be seen in the darkness through the window in the door. I looked at the door and it said that it was where books on tape were kept. Unlike today, books on tape at that time were mostly checked out to the visually impaired, which meant that most of those who came to the office most likely could not see my photographs. I was struck with the irony and to some extent the surreal quality of the how my work was being presented, but rather than get angry, I found it amusing.

I think that almost every artist who shows their work will have one or more stories like this. It value, at least for me, is to remind me that my work is not always going to be placed in what I might think the best and appropriate spot. It keeps one humble and that can be a good thing.

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Dreams of Youth

Ponce de Leon Springs, FL 2013

Ponce de Leon Springs, FL 2013

There is a quote by Aristotle that says, “Youth is easily deceived because it is quick to hope.” I feel that youth is deceived because it believes that youth will last forever. Becoming older does not change this delusion; rather makes one try to chase it. Throughout history there were tales of some fountain where one could have youth restored to an otherwise aging body. There is a story that Ponce de Leon was chasing that dream when he came to Florida in 1511. The story is not true, or at the very least, there is no record directly attributed to de Leon where he mentions it, but it has worked its way into the lore of Florida history. It is funny to me that there are several “documented” locations for the Fountain of Youth throughout the state, when the story goes that he never actually found the fabled spring.

Over the past couple of years I have photographed five different locations that try to attach Ponce de Leon to the myth of the Fountain of Youth. Each has its own historical marker that “proves” the fact that de Leon actually found the spring of healing waters at that particular location. The truth is that he did not find, nor did he even look for the fountain. Fact or fiction has never been a bother to Florida when it comes to an opportunity to attract northern tourist to the state. Beginning in 1511, Florida has treated visitors to its wonders, both actual and those made up. In the advertising world this is referred to as “ballyhoo” and from the landing of Pomce de Leon to Disney the state has been steeped in it. Please do not get me wrong I am not criticizing, for me it is very much part of the charm of the state, and it is part of who we are. I just find it humorous that there are so many locations for something that was never found.

The picture at the top is for De Leon Springs State Park, where Ponce de Leon has become a marketing tool. The bus stop add for a laundromat shows the 16th century explorer holding up a pair of boxers, that  most likely  did not exists in de Leon’s day. The entrance to the state park bearing his name show him with his arm around a young lady in a 20th century styled bathing suite. In the end the ballyhoo is a fun aspect of the history of Florida and how sometimes myths work themselves into an accepted part of history. It is interesting to me that Florida has had to resort to ballyhoo to create its allure when the weather, lovely natural landscape, and friendly people should be enough.

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