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The Hidden World of the Nearby

Ipswich Sunset

Spring Morning After Storm, Sudbury River, Ashland, Massachusetts

INTRODUCTION



Unique is an over-used word, yet in its original meaning of one-of-a-kind, I believe it applies to John.

He began photographing in 1984 at the age of thirty-three, a bit late to create a substantial and significant body of work. As of this writing in February 2021, John is in his 80th year and still working as hard as ever, although he is mainly printing and writing rather than hauling a view camera around. That has given him 47 years to accomplish what he set out to do, which I believe he has. In spades.

I am a life-long collector and appreciator of fine photography and have representated photographers and consulted for museums. I met John for the first time in 1982 when I received a call from Stephen Gersh, a very accomplished teacher and photographer who told me to expect a call from John. A week or so later I got the call and we arranged to meet.

John brought with him a portfolio of 20" x 24" dye transfer prints, which in themselves told me something because few photographers make dye transfer prints. Because of its technical complexity a fair number try and fail. It is technically very demanding but even today, unexcelled in quality.

My impression of John was that of a polite but confident man. When he began showing me his prints my first words were: “I think I can sell these.” Not only were the prints of stunning quality, but the subjects were unusual. For a photographer of the landscape the grand vistas I expected were missing and in there place were very ordinary scenes, almost “found art” but quietly beautiful in a way I had not seen before.

I think John’s success was attested to by, of all things, a mixed review in 2014 of a his one person show at Olin College in Needham, Massachusetts. The reviewer characterized John’s work as too perfect to hang in his home, yet he dubbed him a virtuoso on par with the musicians Vladimir Horowitz and Art Tatum. Such a mixed review any artist would gladly accept.

Along with his landscapes John has evolved a new technique for photographing flowers in addition to creating striking abstract image from musical instruments.

John now spends his time on his website and making prints for a pernament archive. One can get a good sense of his talent simply by watching the slide show on the home page of his website. Be sure to follow his directions so the show fills your computer screen and to keep in mind that many of these images, due to John’s technical skill, print very nicely at sizes over ten feet.

—Joseph French, February 2021

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