I feel I've just been given a wonderful gift. The gift of time. This morning I discovered that I have 2 1/2 weeks - instead of a mere ten days - before I fly to New York to see my dear and long time friend Virginia Avery. I checked the calendar this morning and found an extra week in there that I hadn't counted. So, I have plenty of time to finish up paper work for the 1002 Washington Avenue project and install the plaques when they arrive. I might even get to a sorting project here at home.
Sorting? That would be 40 years of negatives. Some are properly filed in notebooks with labels. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other strips of negatives have been used and reused and filed in envelopes or folders that say 'favorites,' 'the good ones,' 'kids,' 'South Padre,' 'Patsy,' 'London.' It goes on and on. All of this before digital upended my image world.
I still haave boxes of Kodak polycontrast paper in my refrigerator though Laurie Perez, a photographer friend of mine, reminded me that the paper had gone through Hurricane Ike when my house did not have electricity for nine days. I neglected to keep the boxes of paper in a big cooler. It's probably all gray by now, but I cling to it because Kodak's polycontrast N surface paper has a surface on which you can print an image and then draw and erase and draw some more, or perhaps leave all the smudges on purpose. The paper's surface surface remains smooth with never the inprint of pencil point.
You can also paint on it with brushes or hand color a photo by using cotton balls brushed with dabs of Marshall's oil paint colors. Marshall's greens and blues were especially seductive.
I used Kodak polycontrast RC N surface paper almost to the exclusion of fiber based papers because I could do anything with it. And then Kodak STOPPED producing this paper. FOREVER. Their website reads:
"Due to the ongoing transition to digital output technologies in both professional and educational markets, Kodak has announced manufacturing discontinuance of Black & White
Photographic Papers. Sales will cease by the end of 2005."
This was my great loss. I loved making good black and white prints. I printed thousands over decades and exhibited hundreds of them.
I loved making not-so-good prints on which I wrote or drew or painted. I still have a stack in my studio on which I can work, but when they are gone - and when I confirm that the boxes of paper in my refrigerator are grayed, I am done for. No more.
I began this post to say that I've been given an extra week of time that I did not expect. I may indeed have time to begin the great sorting of negatives and strew them all over the room in piles labelled with stickies.
After I finish all those tasks that will close out the 1002 Washington Avenue project.