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03
Oct

Louie Gong and Eighth Generation

Posted by / Filed under Blog

Louie Gong City Arts cover by John Keatley

Portrait of artist Louie Gong by John Keatley.
Portrait of Louie Gong by John Keatley.

I love making portraits of other artists.  True, a portrait of anyone is a wonderful mystery waiting to be unlocked, but I always have an extra sense of excitement before I make a portrait of an artist.  I think it is because they are often willing to experiment and collaborate, and are more willing to be patient while I exact my desire for perfection and exploration.  Louie Gong was no exception.

Louie Gong is an artist, activist and educator, among other things.  His heritage is Nooksack/Chinese/French/Scottish, so he brings a really unique perspective to his work, along with a modern sense of style.  His murals are incredible.  When I first saw his work, it felt somewhat familiar in the sense that there is a fair amount of Native American art here in the Pacific Northwest.  But very quickly you realize that something is different about this piece: a modern sensibility that at the same time still feels authentic to its roots.  Then I start to see the Chinese influence which seems so subtle at first glance.  It’s quite brilliant.

Louie just opened a really cool new store here in Seattle called Eighth Generation.  I want the blanket he is wearing, which he also designed.  Christmas wishlist…  If you aren’t in the Seattle area, fear not, they have a great online store as well.

This shot was a collaboration with City Arts art director Dan Paulus.  Thanks Dan!  Here is a link to the full article on City Arts.

21
Feb

Filmmaker Eric Becker

Posted by / Filed under Personal Work

Portrait of filmmaker Eric Becker by photographer John Keatley.

This is a portrait I recently shot of my good friend and colleague Eric Becker, who is a director / documentary filmmaker.  For over a year, Becker has been working on his film, Sound & Vision, which “explores issues facing the nearshore environment. It is a film about the oceans, told through the stories of people working to clean up, protect, and restore habitat in Puget Sound and beyond. The film is scheduled for release this fall.”  I really like this portrait, because it hints at the chaos of documentary filming, while capturing the beauty of the Puget Sound that Becker’s film strives to preserve.

I was lucky enough to see the film at a pre-screening not too long ago, and it is really beautiful.  Not your typical everybody freak out, we have a problem documentary, but one that explains a problem and offers hope, as well as a call to action.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, Becker and I will be leaving for the Philippines with Arts Aftercare next week.  I can’t believe it’s almost time to go.

Retouching by Gigantic Squid.

13
Sep

Henry Seattle Weekly Cover

Posted by / Filed under Editorial Work, Tear Sheets

Mural painter Henry photographed by John Keatley for the cover of Seattle Weekly.

I photographed Ryan Henry Ward for the cover of the current Seattle Weekly.  It looks really beautiful in print if you are in Seattle and are able to track down a copy.  There is something about the rough matte newsprint, muted colors, and heavy contrast that really makes this image stand out.  As the copy indicates, if you live in Seattle, or even visited recently, you have probably come across at least one of Henry’s colorful murals which are spread across the city.  He just finished his 120th mural in the last 3 years.  He has also sold over 2,000 canvases, which is impressive, but even more so when you hear he has only been painting full time since 2008.

Henry signs all of his murals with a big “Henry” in black on a white circle.  It’s hard to miss, and most likely a big part of his success and brand recognition.  Since his work is mostly cartoon-like animals, I thought it would be fun to photograph him in costume as if he were one of his creatures.  My art director, Boo Davis, came up huge in finding this narwhal costume, and big thanks to Henry for being willing to go along with this idea.  It took some warming up to the idea on his part, but I think it turned out fantastic.  The horn was a little problematic, and made the shoot take about twice as long as it needed to, but he was really patient and made it work.  You can read the article about Henry on the Seattle Weekly website.

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