Leaving New Mexico. November 12, 1974.
Cynthia at dusk in Windsor Great Park. England, Nov. 4, 1971.
This is Brian Coleman with one of his neon art pieces, 1974. Brian died this year, and I haven’t posted a photo of him since. I miss him so fucking much, and think about him every day. I find it hard to talk about grief on social media, as it is such a private thing and so difficult for me to express feelings through this medium. Brian was one of the most frustrating people I knew, but the things that frustrated me were also the things that we all found so dear about him. He truly lived one of the most unorthodox, artistic lives of anyone I have met. One of my favorite Brian stories: in the 70s, he and dad went to go see a rock show somewhere and were being checked out by a couple women in the crowd. Brian said to dad in complete seriousness “They’re not looking at you, Roger. They’re looking at me. I’m SO much better looking than you are!” In recent years, when Brian would visit me, I never knew what shape he’d be in, or if his old Saab would make it to my house. He’d pull up with a car full of neon bits and bobs, doors left unlocked throughout the evening, saying in that unmistakable Rock Lobster-esque voice of his “Ohhhh Kaaaatiieeeee, it’s sooo good to see you! I’m freezing in my tent cabin, you would not belieeeeve what i’ve been up to….” and regale me with his misadventures. Brian deserved worldwide fame for his neon innovations. I understand why the Dan Flavins of the neon world received fame and fortune, but man, Brian was so beyond talented, he should have been right there next to these guys. You can see some of his work at the Neon Museum in Glendale, CA, as well as the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History. Here’s to you, Brian, with so much love.
Double exposure. Taos, New Mexico. October 1985.
My great-grandmother, Mary Graham, on the Berwickshire coast in Scotland, around 1905. She emigrated from Scotland to Napa Valley in 1895, returning to visit just once. I was pleased to find out that she was as forthright and unwilling to take any shit as I am, as evidenced by this diary entry: “We knew if we waited we might get into Berwick late and be unable to reach Burnmouth that night. A nice looking old guard told us the three twenty stopped at Berwick and if we made a rush we might be able to get on. So we made a rush and couldn’t get into anything but a smoker with three men in it. One of them asked us if we knew it was a smoker. We told him we knew but wanted to reach Berwick in time to catch the B train. They said we were perfectly welcome and made room for us. One in particular got quite chatty. I was obliged to begin to read as I didn’t want him to get too friendly. He read awhile. Then the other two men asked him if he would come and help find the Duke. It seems that the Duke of Northumberland was aboard the train. After seeing him they smoked in the corridor which was very kind. Presently he came back and sat down by me. I was very busy reading. He tried to get up a conversation but couldn’t as we wouldn’t say much. When we were coming to the bridge he said “Ah we are getting near the sea. I suppose you are glad.” Then he asked me if I knew the border bridge. I told him I had seen it often. So we chatted till we got to Berwick. He helped us with our bags. Then we lost him. Jean left me to watch our baggage while we went for sweets. I saw him looking for us but kept my head turned. He coughed. I was obliged to turn then, and said Hello. Did you find your baggage all right. He said that it came very near going on to Edinburgh. Then he asked me if he might leave his wraps near ours. Then wanted to know if I would take a turn. I said I would rather sit still as I was tired. When Jean came back how she stared. Several ladies passed, bowed to him, and gave us a good stare. He was watching a man embracing some ladies and wanted to know if we did that sort of thing in America. I told him there were just as many fools there as there are here.”
Aunt Sidney, Catalina Island. June 1981.
Happy New Year! Double exposure taken on a family walk around the hills of El Cerrito, CA. December 1986.
Dad’s cousin Jimmy, double exposed. Taos, New Mexico. October 1985.
Double exposure of mom and her sister Sidney. Big Sur, CA. July 31, 1978.
Greenwich, Connecticut. December 1968.
Poet Gene Fowler. Berkeley, CA. June 1972. Excerpt from a 1971 letter from Gene to dad: “I’m not able to set out lessons like I used to. My mind is wrecked; can’t seem to remember things, or put things together, or project any auras of meaning into anything. Some psychic syphilis seems to have rotted away my central nervous system. Only the tinny surface of brilliance is still there. And a few clues embedded in it that you might mine for your use. I need a cottage by the sea. Dark sea sounds. And quiet, dark women who come and go on feet that make no noise, stopping to hold my brow when i’m raving worse than usual. Salt smell of the sea and love. A study with all the old books for re-reading and parchment to scratch symbols on. Restful walks. And small children along the way, asking what it’s like to be old and to have travelled. A compass and sextant, and fair women to sing to me of the sea. To brush the crawling things from the wrinkles in my skin. I need to sleep and know that in the morning i’ll be a child again, rested and ready to run about, discovering….”
Palo Colorado Canyon. Big Sur, CA. Summer 1978, photo by mom.
ZZ Top billboard, Sunset Strip. Los Angeles, CA. February 1977.
Double exposure. San Francisco, CA. December 27, 1982.
Dad’s writing on an Ektachrome slide, detailing the night he met a soon-to-be lifelong friend, Sheila - tripping in firelight in Mill Valley. Pretty typical example of how dad catalogs his slides- always featuring a place and date, and sometimes a story. Very useful for my metadata entries while scanning and archiving.
Double exposure. Big Sur, CA. August 1978.
A quintessentially Californian license plate. Palm Springs, CA. April 15, 1978.
Hare Krishnas on Telegraph Avenue. Berkeley, CA. August 1970.