Living Image Exhibition Catalogue, Exhibit Through October 29th, 2017

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Living Image Exhibition Catalogue © Halide Project, Oct. 2017

Immense gratitude to Philadelphia’s Halide Project and coordinator Frank C. Barbella. The respect shown to the selected photographers in the Living Image exhibition is something many organizations fail to demonstrate. It’s really an honor to be showcased by such passionate folks for the medium.

The juried analog photography exhibit is up through October 29th, 2017 at Gravy Studio & Gallery, Philadelphia.

New Zine Release – These Windows Are Tinted To Help You Sleep, Michael Ast (Sept. 2017)

Happy to announce the publication of my zine These Windows Are Tinted To Help You Sleep, printed in an edition of 50. Now available.

Info & Ordering

These Windows Are Tinted To Help You Sleep, Michael Ast, zine, Cuba, Vinales, road trip, low-fi, self-publish, photozine, black and white photography, visceral, stream of consciousness, driveby, tinted windows

Living Image Exhibition, Oct. 6 – 29, 2017, Gravy Studio (Philadelphia)

Excited to be one of the selected artists for this upcoming exhibition, showcasing my photo etchings at Gravy Studio & Gallery, Philadelphia.

Living Image, Halide Project, Gravy Studio, Gravy Gallery, Philadelphia, philaarts, analog photography, analog, printmaking, photo etching, photopolymer, photogravure, Michael Ast, photo exhibition, call for entry, The Print Center, John Caperton

“Juried from an international open call by John Caperton, the Jensen Bryan Curator of The Print Center, the works on view in Living Image demonstrate the breadth, depth, and delight of contemporary analog photography. Showcasing an array of traditional and alternative photographic methods, Living Image brings together artists from the region, across the county, and beyond.” (Halide Project)

Opening reception & juror talk on Saturday, Oct. 7, 5:00 – 9:00 pm. Exhibition runs from October 6 – Oct. 29, 2017.

These Windows Are Tinted To Help You Sleep – Proof Approved, Michael Ast

These Windows Are Tinted To Help You Sleep, zine, self publish, self-publish, Michael Ast, Vinales, Cuba, Havana, low-fi

New zine / proof. Some small changes made and the go ahead to print an edition of 50 on 100# smooth Mohawk paper has been approved. The images in These Windows Are Tinted To Help You Sleep were made during a bus trip to Viñales, Cuba, out a dark window, in an R.E.M. state of consciousness, after 4 long, hot Havana days and nights. An 85mm lens pressed against the window at f1.2. I like exploring and illustrating the psyche amid landscapes unknown.

More info and portfolio to come in coming days.

Cuban Spirit – A Week of Surprises in Havana (Aug. 2017)

Habana Vieja, old Havana, Havana, Egrem Studion, Cuba, cabaret, dancer, fan, yellow, Afro Cuban, Cuban, Estudios Areito, Michael Ast, journal

Dancer / Habana Vieja © Michael Ast, 2017

I miss the surprise and energy of what I experienced last month in Havana so much. I won’t go into a tirade on my boredom with the U.S. and its overarching dismal character pervading the airspace. We all know, this ship is anchored in mire. Instead, I’ll tell a story.

We had just gotten downstairs after witnessing a Cuban jazz recording at Egrem Studios, notorious for the multitude of international acts from Josephine Baker to the consummate sessions led by Ry Cooder, producing his all-star Buena Vista Social Club cast of ambassador musicians. It was to be a surprise like so many that spontaneously occur in the beat of a second in Havana. Tony Leal Rodriguez, current trombonist of the Buena Vista Club, had invited us the night before at dinner to come watch how things are done. Feelings of being in such a sanctuary are inexplicable. In any case, the gentleman at the bar next door, who unlocked the door to let us in earlier, and up the 3 flights of stairs, was now gone. No trace of anyone to let us out of the building. Vira wandered off in search of assistance down a circuitous hallway. A couple minutes later, “I found someone! I found someone!”, she exults from down the hall. She rounds the corner. “Wow!!! You really found someone!”, I blurted. Urszula, Britt and I erupting into praise of beauty. Another surprise. The radiating dancer of course is happy to strike a quick pose for some pictures. She was in the middle of a cabaret performance. She hailed the club manager. He comes. He motions to follow him. We pass nondescript doors, seemingly apartment efficiencies. He unlocks a door. There’s a crowd in a dimly lit room around small tables mesmerized by the choreography of dancers. The four of us stay with the lady in yellow and the manager, cutting through the performance, and led to another door behind the stage. Bright light. Rum, beer, drizzle, afternoon locals on the bar terrace, where we first began our dip into Egrem. Salida. Entrada. A microcosmic moment of the Cuban way. How one doesn’t long for more of such to escape the daily muck? I plot already my return.

Habana Vieja / Viñales (Aug. 2017)

Havana, Habana, Habana Vieja, Havana Vieja, Cuba, Old Havana, tool sharpening, grinder, fedora, Michael Ast

Habana Vieja © Michael Ast, 2017

Habana, Havana, Havana vieja, Habana Vieja, retro car, Chevrolet, Chevy, broke down, Cuba, 50's, spare tire, Michael Ast

Habana Vieja © Michael Ast, 2017

Vinales, Cuba,Viñales, cigar, tobacco, smoke, Cuban cigar, Michael Ast

Tobacco Farmer, Viñales, Cuba © Michael Ast, 2017

Return from Havana

Omara Portuondo, Havana, Hotel Nacional, Cuba, Cuban jazz, Bossa Nova, jazz, Michael Ast, respect

photo credit Urszula Albolik

I went to Cuba for some grounding perspective on life. I lived with the locals through the cherished guidance of my friend Urszula and all her artistic Cuban friends that she’s made through the years. What I witnessed during the intimate stay in Havana is something I’m incapable of describing in words. The thriving character of Cuba is best embodied in their music, for certain. It’s an essential ingredient to the tenacious spirit and endurance in a country of very challenging hardships. A week in their great capital felt like a month for me. At times, I felt my own spirit nearly break, but Cuba allows no such surrender. The oppressive heat at this time of year, for one, is a significant challenge for foreigners visiting from their privileged worlds. In Cuba, you take nothing for granted, and celebrate the little you have through a meekness, which roars like happy thunder through dance and song everywhere, all the time.

To stumble upon the announcement of a rare performance by Cuba’s exemplary singer and national treasure Omara Portuondo was the greatest surprise of the week, among many surprises. Overwhelming gratitude and happiness to stand on stage with such a saint, a most beautiful, expressive human being, singer, performer and persevering personality, while leaning into her ear, “Gracias, eres bella.”

Interview with La Imprenta, August, 2017

Michael Ast, La Imprenta CG, Michael Ast interview

I interviewed with Spanish publisher and printer La Imprenta CG on behalf of their interview series with photographers published in their “Hello Photography” 2017 calendar. It’s Now featured on their blog.

The English translation can be read here: ENGLISH TRANSLATION

The image chosen for the month of August is from my photobook “a musing from the rocking dock”, which La Imprenta printed in September of 2016 on behalf of publisher The Unknown Books.

Original interview (Spanish): INTERVIEW at La Imprenta

Solo Exhibition of Photo Etchings at Rue Principale through August

I hung a show of my photo etchings this afternoon . . . . Happy to be a part of 187 Rue Principale’s environment, a farm-to-table, French-inspired restaurant in Emmaus, PA. The exhibition is on view through the month of August.

Print Info:
Hand-pulled photo etchings made from original photographs, utilizing the intaglio printing process of photopolymer gravure. Some prints incorporate a second “aquatint” etched plate.

All prints are made on Hahnemühle Cooperplate 300gsm paper.

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Photo Etchings, Solo Exhibition at 187 Rue Pricipale, August, 2017 © Michael Ast

Cowell’s Cove / Santa Cruz (July, 2017)

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Cowell’s Cove / Santa Cruz © Michael Ast, 2017