"A good photograph is knowing where to stand." ~ Ansel Adams

Norb Blei


by Norbert Blei


Every piece of writing is a journey to the interior, this piece I am presently writing as well, a search for words to find direction: what I already know…what I saw…what I see presently…what there is to tell about the work of Suzanne Rose, by way of revelation.


Time, at this particular moment, is not on my side (or anyone’s), photographers especially, who must catch it, hold it in an instant.




I’ve just returned from the Miller Art Museum in Sturgeon Bay—an even longer journey than usual from my northern end of the peninsula given the intense heat, traffic…these lazy, crazy days of summer. A scorching afternoon. I’m dead-tired. But I promised to take in the show of Suzanne Rose’s photographs before it ends, July 17, and I’m running out of time, leaving for elsewhere, soon.


Readers take note: July 17: “Capturing The Four Seasons of Door County.” See it. Believe it. Love it. You won’t experience anything here quite like it again.


Not “outer” Door, the iconic barns, bays, fields, sunsets… But “inner” Door.” A plain purity of image. What we don’t see. An artistic vision based on an Eastern sense of mindfulness. Suzanne Rose has the knowledge and instinct to see what’s really there, expose it through her photographs.


A show like this should put to rest that never-ending question: “Is photography art?


Go—see for yourself.


Sixty photographs you wished you owned–one or all of them. Black-and-white—stark (or subtle) contrast. A sure sign of a serious photographer’s commitment to art: to reveal the real thing—“inside.”


This is the kind of exhibit you wish were on permanent display because to see these photographs once is to never quite let go. They keep calling you back for greater concentration, confirmation. The images lodge inside of you. They have that power, so perfect and alive in the moment: a flower you will not forget, a fog that will never lift; the way the rain falls—and stays forever in your heart.


There is so much here; one cannot tell it all. Let the photos speak for themselves. Who needs words in the midst of image which speaks a language of its own?


So I enter the Miller Gallery on a miserably hot afternoon in July…It’s empty but for me and the receptionist—who ignores me. Good. The way I like it. I don’t want people talking and gawking all around me. I’m just looking, though given this show: really looking. Please leave me alone with all this stuff.


The first photo that catches my eye is “Self-Portrait.” Self-portraits always fascinate. What I like about this shadow image of hers: it could be me. Upon reflection (which all good art generates), it is me!


Then “Sunlit Fen” grabs hold of my eyes. I can’t turn, look away, move on to the next image. I am there. I am in it, the wetlands…fen-deep in water and woods. “Fen,” resonates …natural…uninhabited. Quagmire, mud, marshy…peaceful with an edge. The way things are when we just let them be. Beautiful word, “fen.” Such a feel for place—caught forever.


The oppressive July heat begins to lift, drift away. Air conditioning, no doubt. But the comfort I feel is before me, right there in black and white. The seasons beckon. (Forget summer for now). Let the cooling begin…I break ranks, the usual line of viewing, and move all over the place…whatever calls my attention. I want rain, I want fog, and today, above all, I want winter. This artist brings all this and more. July melts away.


“Falling Music” brings on the rhythm and sound of summer rain. So refreshing. I feel and hear it falling. This image holds me a long time for reasons known and unknown. My own love of Eastern philosophy and poetry—a Bashō, sensibility, which I now see the artist and I both share. Her own deep bow to the depth of that spirit so alive and breathing in her work. This photograph, I see, is accompanied by a perfect haiku:


       the sound
           of the raindrops—
                 also grown older


“Show, don’t tell.”


Bring on the rest of the seasons. But for now, this moment, bring on winter.


I want snow, I want cold. I want the silence of emptiness. I want the white path–Bashō’s NARROW PATH TO THE DEEP NORTH.


If Bashō had carried a camera, these would be the photographs of his journey.





July 7, 2012


published online at N.B.Coop News


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