Last February Lenny Kislin, a wonderful sculptor and curator for Oriole 9 in Woodstock, NY contacted me about doing a show. He came over to my studio and started pulling images. By the end of the second day’s work he told http://www.srsw.co.uk/ me “We are going to show 12, I’m giving you a solo show.” Now all I had to do was get them all printed and framed…
We discussed when the show would run. I chose Sept. 10 through Oct. 10 because that meant the show would be up during the week of the Woodstock Film Festival. Doreen Ringer-Ross, CEO of BMI movie music, was a big fan of my work and had been telling me “Do a SHOW” for the past several years. The idea of Doreen and her guests, the movers and shakers of the Festival week, walking into Oriole 9 with my first big solo show on the walls was irresistible. It’s a long time between February and September. I could not keep quiet about this. I eventually rang Doreen and told her. Imagine my surprise when, a few days later, I opened my mailbox and found an invitation to BMI’s dinner… “Celebrating ‘Catherine Sebastian’s Beautiful World!’” BMI’s art department pulled every bright color from “Cactus”, the show’s postcard image, and created a rockin’ dinner invite.
Never having been the honored guest at an event like this I was completely caught off-guard when Doreen asked me to say a few words. I was told by both Elliott Landy and Robbie Dupree that I did fine—remembered to thank everybody, mentioned that it had taken two years to do these particular pieces—but I also seem to remember calling Doreen a really good sheepdog for nipping at my heels about getting the work out into the world. Oh lordy! Right before the opening a very cool regional magazine, ROLL, ran a six-page spread on me and my work. Good timing, huh?
It was pouring rain the day we had to load in and hang the show. I fervently hoped this would presage a sunny opening. It did.
So many old friends and new fans came out to see the pieces large and live. It was, according to Oriole 9 owners Pierre-Luc Moeys and Nina Paturel, “a very lively crowd, and one of the best art openings we have ever had.” The show also broke a venue record for sales. Best part for me was that my dear friend of 46 years, the great photographer Barry Feinstein, was able to attend.
Many of the pieces have gone to private homes and four are gracing the walls of HBOs offices in NYC. I am especially pleased to say that part of the proceeds for those prints go to the Creative Coalition, contact Robin Bronk at the Creative Coalition, 212 512 8571 to go see them there…
This month’s Fine Art magazine is running another feature article, JB Kline gallery in New Jersey has offered me a solo show in the new year and I continue to create work and talk to galleries.
Meanwhile “regular” work goes on apace. The Sankofa CD just dropped and the covers and insert look terrific. I love having Victoria Levy as my art director! Homespun Tapes Al Petteway DVD with my cover shot of Al is out. Hubert Sumlin’s show review, with writer Kay Cordtz is in Blues Revue, our article on Maria Muldaur is in ROLL this month and we’re working on a piece about keyboard/accordion player Brian Mitchell and Clark Gayton on trombone, tuba, sousaphone etc.
For some of you this will be a first introduction to my work, certainly my new work, as exemplified by the images from the Woodstock show and albums like “American Southwest,” Southwestern Florida,” “My Beautiful Winter” and “My Beautiful Summer.”
Many of you will have seen a lot of the photographs of musicians as album covers and posters and in tour booklets and magazines. I have, in addition, been trolling through a huge pile of never-before-published negatives and slides. I offer here in the albums “Musicians, Archives” and “Musicians, Current.”
I would like to dedicate this effort to my dear Facebook friends who have been the best fans, clients and peer group audience an artist could ever hope for and I will be forever grateful for all your kind words. Your support, encouragement and enjoyment has made all the hard work worth it and FUN!
Woodstock, New York’s Catherine Sebastian has been a photographer since she was a Los Angeles teenager. Her mother was a painter, which no doubt contributed to her daughter’s exceptional eye for what makes an outstanding photograph. Asked to do a small part in a student film at the American Film Institute, she borrowed a camera to document her week on the set. The director liked her photos so much that they ran under the crawl at the beginning of the film.
“I looked at the pictures, liked the composition and thought ‘this is for me,’” she said.
Following her marriage to The Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian, she studied darkroom and printing with Kirk Kirkpatrick and started taking pictures of her world – the city of Los Angeles and some of the musicians she encountered there—for magazines and record companies. She became a charter member of the Soho Gallery West group of photographers, and contributed several of her series of black and white double exposures depicting LA to a collective show.
After moving to the east coast, she shot album covers for Levon Helm and the RCO Allstars, Music from Mud Acres, and Eye to Eye, a collaboration of blues greats including Pinetop Perkins, Calvin “Fuzz” Jones and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith. An encounter on an airplane with Leo Sayer’s producer got her an invitation to return to Los Angles to shoot Sayer’s next album cover for Columbia. With the New Wave scene just starting to break, she became a successful freelancer shooting for publications like Bay Area Magazine, LA Connection, the LA Times and Trouser Press. During that time, Sebastian did album covers for the Textones, and the Plimsouls, as well as for solo projects by Peter Case, Jack Lee and Kathy Valentine.
A watershed moment in Sebastian’s career came some five years ago when she bought a digital camera body. She shot the Chasing Gus’s Ghost show in San Francisco with the new camera, and the images were instantly usable for the CD and for the website. She also became aware of the wonderful possibilities in the digital darkroom. She felt able to mentally sidestep the film vs. digital battle raging then in recognition of the technology’s usefulness.
“All of a sudden it dawned on me that you could take any image and complete the thought; constructing how you’re going to go after an image, knowing the amount of information a digital camera can capture and what you can do with it—and for it—in the digital darkroom. But just as often, I rely on scans of work I shot on color positive or negative film. For me, given my training, it really is all about the computer as darkroom.
Sebastian recently presented her first solo photography show at Oriole 9 in Woodstock. The 12-image exhibit was organized around the theme of the “fire” in nature. Photographs were transformed by the emphasis she chose to apply to their elements. She sold a venue-record five images during the show’s run.
“These photos are a result of the possibilities inherent in a modern world. I've always seen the world this way—bright, colorful, composed.
Curator Lenny Kislin observed: “Taking a giant leap from her universally praised ‘normal’ photography, Catherine Sebastian has taken on this relatively new medium and has produced a body of work which is truly compelling.”