ReRuns: Jim Leisy: The States Project: Oregon
This week we are revisiting LENSCRATCH posts, Mixtapes, and Interviews. Lenscratch Art Director Clay Lipsky has selected this post written about Jim Leisy by Heidi Kirkpatrick: You never know when you’re going to make a new friend, it just happens. While on a surreal trip to China to exhibit art at the Lishui Photo Festival I met a mellow fellow from Portland named Jim Leisy. His good humor and spirit were instantly recognizable. During our time there we became fast friends and our dialogue continued once we headed back stateside. Jim’s artwork was a brilliant reflection of him, a mix of his smarts and talent. Sadly, not long after our return Jim passed from a heart attack. As our mutual friend Heidi Kirkpatrick often writes, every day is a gift. I enjoy the magic, wonder (and nearly voodoo) that Jim has infused in his work. It is one part alchemy and another part witty insight. Also, his use of an antiquated process to create work this is simultaneously modern yet timeless is refreshing.
The first photographer I would like to introduce is Jim Leisy. My dear friend died of a fatal heart attack in March of 2014 only months after our infamous trip to China. Jim and I were a part of a group of American photographers invited to exhibit work at the 2013 Lishui Photography Festival. The exhibition, Unconventional Photography, was curated by Yan Li and Blue Mitchell. Jim and I got lost in China. We traveled by bullet train to the wrong Lishui, and without a doubt, we took the craziest cab ride of our lives. Jim was the gift of that trip. I miss my friend; I miss his wit and curiosity. I miss his generosity and kind nature. I miss his endless conversations. I miss him calling me to talk about one of his wonderful ideas. Amateur Physics is the first work of Jim’s I became aware of. It’s smart and funny, just like him.
Jim Leisy, artist, photographer, musician, and publisher began making photographs at age eight and worked in many different formats. His worked has been published in a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, including The Chicago Review, Diffusion, High Desert Journal, The New York Times and The Oregonian, where he contributed performance photos of Chamber Music Northwest concerts for more than ten years. He participated in Photo Reviews in Portland, Houston, and Los Angeles and was included in the cohort of American photographers featured in the 2013 Lishui International Photographic Culture Festival. The American exhibition, curated by Yan Li and Blue Mitchell, focused on alternative printing processes. Jim showed Amateur Physics, his Van Dyke-printed portfolio of witty explorations of scientific principles. In January 2014, Amateur Physics also took him to a residency at Caldera, an artists’ retreat in central Oregon, where he was awarded an additional Spotlight grant to print the project in 3-D. Jim’s work has been widely exhibited and is held in private and museum collections, including the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and the Portland Art Museum. Jim was a founding member of the Photography Council at the Portland Art Museum and created its highly-popular Brown-Bag Lunch Talk series.
Amateur Physics explores the interface between art and science. The photographs illustrate an idea, process or device from science or mathematics. Some people have math and science phobias, my goal is to ease their fears and encourage appreciation. The portfolio is a visual ramble from the literal to the metaphysical, with a dash of humor.
The Amateur Physics back story: I am not a scientist, but have been drawn to science all my life. Amateur means “lover” in French. In 19th century England amateurism was a badge of honor and amateurs made many scientific breakthroughs. In 1842 Sir John Herschel, an important English amateur scientist, invented the process used to print Amateur Physics, the Van Dyke Brown Process. It is one of the earliest ways to make a permanent photographic print.
My image making process embraces technologies that bridge the 21st and 19th centuries. Images are invented in my studio either on a small set, or constructed from multiple image sources via computer. From the final digital file an inkjet negative is created to make a Van Dyke Brown contact print. I apply by hand the Van Dyke Brown solution on 100% cotton rag watercolor paper. The negative and hand-coated paper are sandwiched in a spring-back contact frame and the image is burned in using ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun or in a UV light box. Each print is gold toned and then fixed to enhance its archival potential. The creation of a single photograph often takes many months, but I find it a profoundly enjoyable and rewarding experience.
Posts on Lenscratch may not be reproduced without the permission of the Lenscratch staff and the photographer.
ReRuns: Jim Leisy: The States Project: OregonAugust 24th, 2016
Sofia Marcus-Myers: The States Project: OregonJanuary 31st, 2016
Larry S. Clark: The States Project: OregonJanuary 30th, 2016
Ray Bidegain: The States Project: OregonJanuary 29th, 2016
Jake Shivery: The States Project: OregonJanuary 28th, 2016