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Visit with Jim – Art is Air for the Mind

My friends are familiar with my history in photography while the broader community may not know how I arrived here.  I invite you to take a moment while I share that story and further down settle on three photographs in order to understand the trademark thought behind the phrase Art is Air for the Mind™.  A few decades ago a distinct moment of self awareness  for this passion starts with Estrelle, an ED nurse, in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles.  For years, I struggled to find an artistic voice with my camera and photos.  Joshua Tree, Beaches, Poppy Fields, Death Valley, Sierra Nevada mountains were places where I tried to define my voice but they never quite worked.  She allowed me to take pictures of her magnificent orchid collection.  In her backyard, I could slow down and spend time thinking about how the flowers caught my eye.  Mornings after the busy overnight ED the sun would slowly and deliberately move through the greenhouse glass and flowers.  Orchids in bloom, flowers in decline, imperfect flowers, colors galore and unusual perspectives appeared in front of my lens.  Soon I was capturing, printing and framing.  The photos hung them in the ED adding color and energy to an otherwise functional clinical space.  A few years later the ED moved. The staff wanted and took every piece of artwork off the walls and brought them home.  I was taken back, humbled and reflected about the importance of adding light and positivity to peoples’ lives through art.  I underestimated the karma that comes with brightening peoples’ lives. 

I was very happy to see people enjoy my artwork.  But it was highly evocative of other photographers.  Who wouldn’t want to be an Ansel Adams, Annie Leibovitz, Edward Weston and others.  That early work was pleasant and rewarding but felt hollow and perhaps uninspired.  Was I simply a mimic?  

The photos did not have an authentic unique voice or brand that I could call my own.  Nothing that would empower me to move out from underneath the shadow of amazing artists and live in my own sunshine.  That step out onto my own platform was (is) not easy and requires humility with an ability to be both resilient and open.   To be able to tell my story, my technique then importantly listen to and embrace the feedback. It was all important. 

I refined and honed my technique and found myself in this curious place between a camera and microscope with Oils, Inks, Glass and Air as the core elements. 


This unusual perspective of understanding the behavior of light within the constraints of four common elements resonated deeply.  It blends my scientific mind with my artist mind.  I found myself most content and happiest with the finished work that came from this space.  The intentional step: take an alternate view of the ordinary materials was a big leap forward.  It compelled me to become more and more skillful in capturing the behavior of light within one lens: 100mm Macro. A new universe of fragmented broken moments in time and in small near microscopic spaces that I could discover and share with everyone appears every weekend for me to capture and share with my community. 

I began to understand that art can infuse air into our experiences, as an artist and as someone who enjoys absorbing the experience of art.   Walking with colleagues from FIU at the Kampong National Tropical Botanical Garden in Miami I was listening to them and deeply learning about the critical reason and need to preserve botanical species: to ensure we have air to breathe.  As a scientist – physician, I knew this, but was not fully aware and hungry to learn more.  An adjacent thought and emotion arose as I listened: Art Was Air for the Mind™.  For the human experience creating art, observing art and immersing in art breathes air into our minds. 

From that moment on, the trademarked phrase exemplifies and amplifies my passion for the photography that I create.  Each photograph here is unrelated in time. But they are connected in the artisanal craft and the amount of creative air created in our minds as I experiment, capture and then print them.   In live shows, it is so much fun to watch people’s face brighten with the ‘aha’ moment or deepen as they consider the photo and how it was born.  Every image has a very different emotional connection for me.  


The first one at the top has the fire and energy of core of the earth’s forces producing beautiful colors, gems and stone.  It is just as beautiful from afar as it is up close.  It is far more beautiful as a print than on a screen.  Patterns of movement and stillness fill the image.  The colors shift with the light of the room and time of day.  Whether printed on  Moab Lasal Matte or on metal, the print’s nature and impact hold true. It is a statement of power, creation, and yet was born on top of a small piece of glass.  It lasted but a few seconds in front of the camera lens. 

My next selection is strikingly reminiscent of a several possible moments of intense energy and warmth.  It can be a fiery crucible that brings light, glowing heat and an energy to any room it lives in.  I say “lives” because this photograph can’t sit quietly on a wall and not illuminate the observers’ mind and experience.  The detailed filaments of orange and yellow and black can collectively bring us to a campfire in a nearby forest or yard.  Alternatively with our imagination we can travel to a magma chamber or to a vision of the surface of the sun.  It warms the soul, the mind and the room.  Yet, it too, was borne in a small petri dish. 

Then lastly, we move to a third image that won an award in Miami.  To some, it can appear to be iron rich sand at a beach with water, lakes or puddles stretching out ahead.  Others have seen a seaweed covered cetacean eye and mouth moving in from the right, hinting at its quiet observant presence. Still, more people see a view from outer space gazing back upon earth and the space where ocean or sea and desert begin to meet each other. This too was the result of a four inks and mineral oil.  They were merging and dispersing as two pieces of plate glass were placed upon each other.  The range of possible interpretations and experiences is only bounded by the imagination of the observer. 

And so there we are: Art is Air for the Mind as an expression of the vibrancy, energy and health that grows from the creation, curation, printing and collecting of artwork.   Three pieces of my photography tied together by a creative process and the air they bring to my life.  I can only hope that they would do the same for you.  All three can speak directly to an emotional place in ourselves and not be reminiscent of a more concrete concept.  I intentionally left out their names as that tends to become an immediate constraint on our creative thoughts.  Even describing what people see tends to become a boundary to our imaginations.  

Join me in a fireside chat via Zoom in the evening to discuss any aspect of my artwork.  To qualify, and join a video conversation send your contact information here and let me know what you would want to talk about.  The selected participants will receive a 25% discount on any of my unlimited edition pieces of art.  I will personally sign the piece at printing.  Even more, the gallery is offering this purchase risk free for you. Free shipping, Free return, and no questions asked if you are unhappy with the art work.  You can keep the print for 30 days to enjoy the selection in your home or office. This risk free offer does not apply to metal, acrylic and other specialized media prints.

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