DRAWING LIFE by fred hatt

2014/06/06

The Winter Past

Red and White, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Red and White, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

We live in a world of instantaneous sharing, a constant present where photos go up on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram the minute they’re taken, where events are live streamed and live tweeted, where instant pundits make comments on what’s happening right now, with tongue in cheek, or, all too often, foot in mouth. In the analog era, photographs and commentary were never about the right now. There was always enough delay built into the process that at best they were about the freshly recalled past.

I really like having a delay. Art needs time to ripen inside the artist before it is shared. I am always drawing upon my archive, finishing work years after it was begun, finding fresh gems that have lain buried for a while.

For those of us in the Northeastern U. S., the winter of 2013-14 was more than usually harsh. Heavy snowfall was followed by frigid temperatures that turned the accumulation into rock-hard ice, which was layered over by more snow, and so on, for three solid months. Heavy weather conditions often inspire me photographically, and this past winter was no different. But had I shared these shots of my arctic muse at the time, they would simply have reinforced the viewers’ ongoing misery. Now that we are safely into the season of sunshine and green growth we can look back at images of winter with an appreciation born of detachment.

This kind of detachment, this waiting to ripen, this separation between impulse and response, is vital to art. Let us not lose it in the roaring noise of the current.

Blowing Snow, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Blowing Snow, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Driving Snow, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Driving Snow, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Headlamps, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Headlamps, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Throughout the months of January and February, the crosswalk near my home was blocked by a huge pile of plowed-up snow, melted a bit, refrozen and enlarged by cumulative precipitation. I passed it every day. Like Monet’s haystacks, it was a shapeless pile of matter that revealed the mercurial qualities of light.

Snow Pile Variations, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Snow Pile Variations, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Salt Stains, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Salt Stains, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Twilight Tree, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Twilight Tree, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Snow is a great special effect for nocturnal photography, as it reflects and magnifies every kind of light. Dark pavement swallows a lot of the color, but white snow makes all the varied hues of night sing harmony.

Night Plow, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Night Plow, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Glisten, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Glisten, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Today's Specials, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Today’s Specials, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Being covered or partially buried makes sculptural abstractions of everyday objects.

Buried Bike Variations, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Buried Bike Variations, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

KGJW, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

KGJW, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Vacant Lot, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Vacant Lot, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Snow adds nature’s chaos to the designed and built environment, mountain ranges among the towers and boxes of glass.

Lincoln Center Mounds, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Lincoln Center Mounds, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Snow Mound, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Snow Mound, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

White snow makes an ideal screen for dramatic shadows to be projected.

Pole and Shaft of Light, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Pole and Shaft of Light, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Stripes, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Stripes, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Ice Road, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Ice Road, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

At night and twilight, the colors can be downright psychedelic. These are straight photos – no color manipulation or hypersaturation, very close to the effects I saw with my own eyes.

Mountains, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Mountains, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Path of Gold, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Path of Gold, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Spacer, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Spacer, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

By the beginning of March, nothing was left but filthy remnants, tattered scraps, the diminishing cores of what had recently seemed mighty glaciers.

The End of Winter, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

The End of Winter, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Spring arrived as crisp clear sunlight, last year’s foliage stripped and bleached, the ground saturated by snowmelt, ready for new life to burst forth.

Prospect Park, Early Spring, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Prospect Park, Early Spring, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

2 Comments »

  1. Wonderful photographs. I guess it’s easy to appreciate the fleeting opalescence of snow in rural areas. But until these photos, I hadn’t noticed the crazy beauty of it in cityscapes. (I think I’m too busy stumbling around on frozen feet, cursing the heavens for having been born in New England…)

    Comment by Urbanspinner — 2014/06/07 @ 07:50

  2. Snow in the city gets filthy fast. Appreciating the beauty of natural phenomena while suffering their punishments, or seeing the beauty that still exists when mixed up with a lot of ugliness, requires a kind of detachment in the moment. It has something to do with the detachment in time I talk about in the text of this post, but it’s a detachment within one’s experience of the world.

    Comment by Fred Hatt — 2014/06/10 @ 21:52

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress

Better Tag Cloud
%d bloggers like this: