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Spring Comes Early at Miller House

Typically at this time of year, I am planning April and May photography dates for our historic grounds and gardens, 100 Acres Art and Nature Park, and the Miller House and Garden in Columbus, Indiana.

The absence of any substantial winter weather in the state, combined with spring temperatures ten to twelve degrees higher for the month of March, has produced an accelerated blooming and photography season.

The transition to daylight savings time on the 11th, in conjunction with the vernal equinox on the 20th, and summer like heat of the past two weeks, has created a perfect storm of urgency for photographers.

The most pressing concern was the quick budding and blooming of our lovely magnolias on the east and south locations of the Miller House. A missed blooming season, albeit a short one, means waiting another year to capture these lovelies at their peak and the threat of a cold front or good spring rainstorm made my decision an easy one. April be damned, I’m all in.

Timing, patience, and good light are everything in photography, and my early morning visit to Columbus this week provided another uniquely pleasant experience to photograph a visually diverse residence, inside and out.

Each visit is more compelling and interesting than the previous and I can’t help but imagine how wonderful it must have been to live and flourish as children in these spaces.

These images of the magnolia blooms were captured on the first day of Spring. The Miller House and Garden is now open for tours, so get down there and experience this all-too-fleeting moment for yourself.



Capturing the Tiger: Photographing Thornton Dial

There are many responsibilities as Chief Photographer at the IMA, but none more rewarding than the opportunity to document contemporary artists in the process of artistic creation, social interactions, and exhibition installation.

These moments of observation are significant in service to the mission of the museum, and can potentially provide a collateral glimpse into the inner workings of creative practice.

In the summer of 2009, I was fortunate to accompany Conservation Department colleagues, Richard McCoy and Kathleen Kiefer, on a visit to Georgia and Alabama. The purpose of my presence during the trip was primarily to create documentation related to the evaluation and condition assessment of Thornton Dial’s works prior to the Hard Truths exhibition.

We chose to drive down from Indiana, as I loathe flying with every fiber of my being, and it was an opportunity to immerse ourselves in all things Dial along the way…audio interviews, books for the non-driver, and music steeped in southern culture and history. Setting the proper tone and knowing your subject are so important for interviews and photography, and we spent our driving time together reflecting on one man’s life and how his art connects us all through his personal experiences and vision.

Our days in Atlanta, prior to the scheduled Alabama visit, were a great occasion to spend some quality time with Mr. Dial’s assemblages in person, and provided a precursory opportunity for us to experience the works of art that will inform the photography process.

The grueling temperature of the Georgian warehouse in July was a test of will, antiperspirant, and intellectual mettle, seemingly akin to a purification of the mind, body, soul, and spirit. The sweat lodge effect was less than ideal, but we clearly understood its role in the South and the appropriate lesson that was layered into our collective experience of Mr. Dial’s art.

The most provocative portion of our travel was the end of the week outing to Bessemer, Alabama to meet Mr. Dial…and the only opportunity we had to interview and photograph him at the Dial Metal Patterns facility.

There was no guarantee I would have the opportunity, but my hope was to photograph him in his studio for publishing and media projects related to the exhibition.

Accompanied by collector Bill Arnett, Kathleen, Richard and I made the three-hour drive with anticipatory glee, as this was the moment to apply our research toward meaningful exchange and content creation efforts.

Due to the heat, we spent fewer moments as a group in the main workspace of the open-air building, but I was able to capture images of Mr. Dial’s studio space, as well as details of his art supplies, studio floor, etc. – anything that speaks to the artistic process, the artist’s intent, and can inform a broader portrait of the artist himself.

 Read the rest of this entry »


Picture This

Spring at the IMA has always provided one of the most spectacular opportunities for photographers to capture the natural beauty of our grounds and gardens, a respite for leisure, family activities, and the chance to supplement your portfolio to attract would be business prospects in a sagging economy.

The welcome mat is always out for all to participate in this annual rite of spring and fall, but if you have ever been a guest at a private wedding in the gardens, attended an event in the Nourish Café or Deer Zink Pavilion during peak shutterbug activity, you may not appreciate the migratory habits of local photographers during your special occasion.

Although the plumage and ritualistic mannerisms are interesting to witness, these moments cannot adequately compare to the swallows of San Juan Capistrano, or the great migrations of wildebeest and zebras of the Serengeti Plains.

A component of our mission is to serve the creative interests of our communities by fostering exploration of art, design and the natural environment, and that certainly implies photography, so the question remains: How do we welcome photographers, both amateur and professional to our horticultural oasis, and still maintain the decorum necessary for all to flourish without resorting to complete banishment of photographic exploration?  Read the rest of this entry »


About tfruits

Job Title: Chief Photographer
Interests: Photography, art, historic preservation, reading, gardening, bird watching, research, science and nature programming, American history, architecture, anything meaningful or fun.
Favorite Movies: To Kill a Mockingbird, High Noon, Raging Bull, Sounder, Spirited Away, Dreams…any movie created by Akira Kurosawa or starring Elvis, Lost in Translation Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Favorite Music: All musical genres sound good to me.
Favorite Foods: Bread, pasta, spring rolls, cashew chicken in hot garlic sauce, chili dogs, gyro with hummus and onions, vanilla bean ice cream, fresh apple pie.
Pets: Lost my dog (Kodak) two years ago, but currently looking.
Something Extra: Completely comfortable with absolute silence.

Tad has written 3 articles for us.