Graves Fine Art Photos


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Europe's Inspiration

Posted by Curtis on July 30, 2010 at 2:48 PM Comments comments (1)


We are just back from a nearly three week trip to Europe. Our trip included Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Greece, and Turkey. We spent the most time in Barcelona, Spain.

We gave almost a day to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. It was a real experience. I did not know that Picasso was so talented that he had a major Paris exhibit when he was only 17 years old. The works in the museum were done during his early years. They were so realistic that I thought some were photographs. He did not get into abstracts until he was in his 30’s.

The beauty of Barcelona made me point my camera in nearly every direction. It all was so beautiful that I could not stop taking pictures of things like windows and doors. As a result, I brought home some images of that might seem strange but are beautiful to my eye. After Spain, we were off on a 12 day cruise of the other countries.

After a stormy night at sea, we awoke the next morning in the harbor of a French city called Villefranche. It is about fifteen minutes from Nice to the west and thirty minutes from Monaco to the east. We chose to go to Monte Carlo the only city in the tiny nation of Monaco. It was as picturesque and beautiful as advertised. Again my camera worked overtime. The result is a different view of one of the wealthiest Principalities in the world.

On day two we were docked in Livorno. This is a city about an hour and a half to the west of Florence. The trip into the city took us through Tuscany with vineyards and olive groves on each side. But the prize at the end of the trip was Florence, Italy. It is one of the most beautifully rich cities from an artistic point of view in the world. We needed to just sit and take it all in. So that is what we did. Door knockers first caught my attention. I started looking for them. They were stunning. So again I could not help but to take as many pictures of them as I could. But to be surrounded by so many master’s work was somewhat overwhelming. I did my best to capture as many images as I could in the time I had. But then there were the bridges, churches and buildings to photography. Well, I did what I could. The result you will see on the site. My only problem is there are too many to display on a site like this one.

The next city was Civitavecchia about forty five minutes west of Rome. Rome is just what everyone has always told you that it was. Vatican City is not to be missed but the rest of the city will leave you breathless. So again I had to concentrate on taking the camera down from my face so I could take it all in. I did and I have lots of memories to rest on that were not captured in my camera. However those pictures that I brought back will speak for themselves. After two days at sea the next port of call was Santorini, Greece. This was, without exaggeration, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The cities are atop about a 500 foot cliff surrounded by the Again Sea. The views from the top are breathtaking. One just wants to just sit and look. The deep blue of the sea is highlighted by the white houses randomly toped by sky blue domes. I have posted some pictures on the site but the rest are just as beautiful. It made me want to go back just to take more pictures.

The next day we landed in a city called Piraeus. It is a suburb of Athens. This is a city that grew to importance around the 8th century BC. History tells us that the zenith of Athens was in the 5th century BC. People like Aristotle, Plato and Euripides wrote their masterpieces and debated the fundamental questions of knowledge and understanding.

However what is left is a bustling modern city with overcrowded streets, pollution and modern cement buildings. In 1834 when Athens became the Capital of Greece it had only 6,000 residence. Now it has 4.5 million people living on an area of 165 square miles. What visitors go to see is the Acropolis. It is an architectural masterpiece but it is not well preserved and not easy to visit. Too many people and no focus. I have included some images of the Acropolis and they are beautiful. However, everyone sees something different. You just might like the contrast between the old and new Athens.

The next port of call was Kusadasi, Turkey. Its history dates back to 8,000 years BC. Some thirty minutes inland from Kusadasi is the well preserved ancient city of Ephesus. It is one of the best examples of ancient Roman architecture in the world. Building and amphitheaters line the stone streets. They had running water before most places knew what that was.

Kusadasi is the home of many rug making factories. When you think of Turkish rugs it is this port city where most of them are made by hand. The pictures are again stunning and the time was too short.

After a day at sea we were in the beautiful city of Naples, Italy. Sitting about three quarters down the boot of Italy, it is a gem. Besides being the third largest city in Italy, it lies at the foot of a range of low hills on the west coast of the country. It has been and is now the great center of music and culture of Italy. From Naples you can see the Isle of Capri and Pompeii. So, more pictures of a great city were taken. Many more then I have room for on the site. However if you contact me I can send you some images that you might like.

From Naples we were back to Barcelona and after a day of rest back to Atlanta. The pictures tell the story better then I can.

Decorating with Fine Art Photos

Posted by Curtis on March 5, 2010 at 8:56 AM Comments comments (2)

In the past two months I have been asked to provide photographs to decorate the offices of two businesses in Atlanta. One is a large non-profit and the other is a major downtown law firm. In both cases I thought the client was interested in one genre and when I arrived at the offices I was mistaken. This goes to show that you really can not judge your audience before you arrive.

In the first case I thought the client was interested in images that would convey a somewhat religious theme and put together my portfolio to reflect that theme. When I arrived, I realized that any one religion would turn off the others. That did not cross my mine when I thought about the nature of their business. So I regrouped and came up with images that conveyed peace and calm and that seemed to be what was wanted. The framed signed photos have been delivered and are hanging in the offices now.

In the second case the law firm that contacted us was almost the same. Sense they were a major downtown firm with clients from across the country we organized out portfolio to reflect a more cosmopolitan approach. Again, I was not on target. They were interested in the set of photos that reflect the old south. This was not what we thought their interest was but was something that we could do. I am now designing a wall outside of the firm’s conference room that would reflect that theme. Some of the large images printed are on paper and some on canvas. The collective theme of the wall will be stunning.

The experience we had in our Barnesville, Georgia show gave me the impression that the diversity of media is a good thing. It showcases the different ways the images can be presented. After all, presentation is everything. The Barnesville Lamar Art Center Gallery will be open on weekends and running through the end of March.

Although we have many photos that are in private collections in homes, the office is a great place to show and appreciate fine are photographs. If you are interested in decorating your offices please contact us and we will do out best to meet your creative needs.

Photos of Plantations

Posted by Curtis on January 21, 2010 at 1:47 PM Comments comments (8)

The collection of photos of Plantation life came out of my preparations for a Family Reunion. My mother’s family name was Haydel and the family had its second reunion in June of 2009.

I started doing research on my mother’s father’s family year ago. I did not spend much time looking at the places where there were born and raised. For the first time, I took a trip to visit the plantations where they lived. The two plantations were about forth miles north of New Orleans. They were the Evergreen and Whitney Plantations located on the west bank of the Mississippi River. The Whitney, where my Great Grand Father was born, has been in ruins for the last forty years. The only original building still standing is the big house. It is an the first stages of being restored but much has to be done. But the Evergreen Plantation, just south of the Whitney, has been restored and could be visited if special arrangements were made. I went to check it out in the fall of 2008 and found it to be beautiful, un-photographed and staffed with a wonderful historian who just happened to be kin to me through my great great grand father. He was Antoine Haydel a German who just happened to be her great great great grand father. Well, we hit it off and she gave me access to the plantation. I have been back five times now.

The pictures in this collection are, for the most part, taken on that property. The land was first settled in 1760 by a German farmer named Ambroise Heidel now spelled Haydel. He grew foodstuff to be sold in the markets of the somewhat new city of New Orleans.

By 1780 the farm was converted to an indigo plantation and more then 100 slaves were bought to do the hard and dirty labor of growing indigo. Its sole use was to dye cotton for clothing in this country and western Europe. It turns out that the land south of Baton Rouge was too wet to grown cotton. Indigo was a lucrative cash crop that would ensure prosperity to the plantation. In 1790, Christopher Heidel the son of Ambroise and his wife built a two story villa facing the river road in what was known at the time as a Creole style. The villa and slave quarters on the property were all built by skilled slave artisans who had learned how to build houses before they left Africa. By 1799 when Christopher and his wife died, the plantation had been converted from growing indigo to sugar cane.

Magdelaine Heidel Becnel and her husband Pierre Becnel inherited the property and moved their eight children into the Big House in 1801. By this time the property was known as the Evergreen Plantation.

My great grandmother Celeste Becnel was a child of the second Pierre Becnel and a slave woman. She married Victor Haydel the son of Antoine Haydel and Anna, a slave girl from the Whitney Plantation next door.

In 1803 Napoleon sold Louisiana to the United States. By the 1820’s Americans from the northern states had moved into the state in large numbers and the Creole architecture had grown out of style. The new style the Americans liked was called Greek Revival. The Big House you see in the photos was the dream of Pierre Clidamant Becnel. The façade is Greek Revival but the inside is still the Creole cottage he grew up in.

Among the nearly forty buildings still standing from the late 1700’s are twenty-two slave cabins known as the Quarters. It is believed that the only improvement to the cabins in the last 200 years was the replacement of the original thatch roofs with tin sometime after 1860. At first the quarter houses were the only place the slave laborers could live, but after emancipation, they continued to be used as living quarters for the plantation laborers until 1940.

This plantation and its beauty have motivated me to seek out and take pictures of other plantations in Louisiana and other southern states. At this point I have visited and photographed nine plantations in Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina.