Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Artist of the Week

Dominick Mastrangelo

Photography is an area of the art world that can occasionally be discounted or overlooked, but it is the immediacy and, in many cases, the honesty of photography that keep it a vital medium. When compared to painting or sculpture, the immediacy comes to the forefront because you are able to capture a moment in time quickly and accurately. However, it is the human element, the perspective that which the photo is taken, that makes each photo uniquely artistic. One of my favorite new photographers, who recently has created an amazing, clean and beautiful (much like his work) website, is Dominick Mastrangelo.

Recently, Dominick was kind enough to answer a few of our questions on subject matter, world travel, and as always music.

Orange Alert (OA): Define your style of photography.
Dominick Mastrangelo (DM): My style is firmly in the traditional black and white, analog camp - primarily urban landscape and environmental portraiture. Lots of geometry, symmetry, repetition. I don't rely on any heroic photoshop techniques. Generally what you see with my work is what you get. On more than one occasion I've heard my work referred to as "cinematic." I like that description.

Recently, I've returned to dabbling with photo-based mixed media and alternative processes which I find is a nice change of pace. I make the occasional polaroid picture as well. But I'm never away from traditional black and white photography for very long.

OA: What do you look for when choosing a subject?
DM:I don't think I'm looking for any one thing specifically. I do tend to be drawn to abandoned things - buildings, train stations, grain silos... In Fort Worth they are knocking buildings down at an alarming rate. I think as a photographer I have a responsibility to document all this before it's gone forever. I feel especially gutted when a building is brought down before I have a chance to make a picture.

I think there's something deceptively powerful about repetition and the way simple lines converge and interact with each other. That's probably what I look for most. I think some contemporary art and artists spend too much time trying to figure out how clever they can be. Often to the point of absurdity. I think simple can be just as effective.

OA: Who are some of your biggest influences?
DM: Harry Callahan, Roy DeCarava, Cindy Sherman's "Film Stills," Man Ray, Edward Weston. Diane Arbus's sprawling Revelations exhibition at the MFA Houston really floored me in a way I wasn't expecting. As did the Hiroshi Sugimoto exhibit that just closed at the Fort Worth Modern. The irony that most of their work has nothing to do with architecture, save for maybe some of Callahan's and Weston's work, is not lost on me. I find it quite funny really.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention photographers Peter Feresten and Richard Doherty. They are not only brilliant photographers but were my professors at Tarrant County College in Hurst, Texas. My friend Mark Penland who runs the lab there has been a big influence as well. Their instruction and photographic philosophy laid the groundwork for who I am as a photographer.

Lastly, I'm very much inspired/influenced by films with good cinematography and art direction.

OA: If you could photograph any place in the world where would it be and why?
DM: Of the cities I've visited it would be Barcelona. Hands down. Fantastic architecture and a bustling city by the sea. It reminds me a lot of Chicago which I love photographing whenever I'm home for a visit. There are so many places in Europe I've yet to photograph. Prague is probably the next place I'd like to make pictures.

OA: As a music fan, is there any time when music affects your photography?
DM: When doesn't it! Music and film both, really. I'm always listening to music or humming something to myself. In the studio, driving around looking for things to photograph, scanning images... I'm constantly trying to find ways to meld music and photography. I'm particularly drawn to Danny Clinch and his beautiful images for each song of the Afghan Whigs' record, "Black Love".

I've never been overtly conceptual in my work so music helps in that regard.
A perfectly phrased lyric, a pulsating bass line, a simple melody - I'll latch onto something that I hear and try to work it out in my head.
Eventually, I think it comes out in my photographs. If only recognizable to me.

Bonus Questions:

OA: What are you currently listening to?
DM: Silversun Pickups, Long Winters, Beirut, Tokyo Police Club, centro-matic, Jens Lekman and Loney, Dear. The new Shins and Arcade Fire records have been in heavy rotation as well. Singer-songwriter-guitar virtuoso St. Vincent (also a member of Polyphonic Spree.) Oh, and I can't forget Midlake. A truly wonderful band from Denton, Texas.

OA: Coffee? Yes or No, If yes, where is your favorite place and what is your drink?
DM: Yes, please - with cream and sugar. Though I should point out I'm not one of those people who craves it within minutes of rolling out of bed. My favorite place for a cup of Joe is probably Ol' South pancake house in Fort Worth. Even better if it's at 2 a.m. The Spiral Diner here in the Fort is good as well. I also enjoy various espresso drinks. Lattes mostly.

OA: Last good book you read?
DM: "How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization" by Franklin Foer. I love that he takes such a politically and economically charged idea such as globalization and reworks it in the context of soccer. It's so obvious yet nobody's really made that leap - tying the two together. The anecdotes and the writing are first rate. But being a life-long soccer fan and Liverpool FC supporter for eight years now it was always going to be an easy sell.

Over the past six years, Dominick has exhibited his work in several shows and galleries in Fort Worth. In 2006, Dominick received first prize for two-dimensional work in the Texas Wesleyan University juried exhibition Here I Am at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center. He was also selected to the 2002 Art in the Metroplex regional juried exhibition. For more on Dominick, and information on how to purchase prints visit his website.


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