the corn state…

nobody goes to Iowa for vacation….if you go to Iowa it is for a very specific reason…you are either driving to Colorado from Illinois , or to enter a Presidential primary,  or to grow corn and the animals that eat it….i can tell you for sure that Cecil and Wilma above were not responsible for the Iowa primary results pushing Barack Obama into the international spotlight….they are among America’s conservatives by label…..conservative only actually in the sense of thinking that a man ought to work hard for his family and be independent and the government should keep its hands out of just about everything…the irony of course is that without government subsidies , Cecil would have given up the family farm long ago…

yet Cecil, a hard working man of strong opinions, didn’t see it that way…he figured he was providing Americans their biggest…of course the only food i can remember after milking cows and baling hay all one summer with uncle Cecil and aunt Wilma was in fact Wilma’s chocolate cake…but, forget politics anyway…even if you disagree with the politics of many so called middle Americans, you cannot question their basic integrity…an honest dollar for an honest days work, get the kids disciplined and off to school, fight for freedom if necessary, and get to church on Sunday…..period

our current essayist Danny Wilcox Frazier explored Iowans as no other in his first book Driftless…check it out…brilliant book…he might not have met Cecil and Wilma, but i am sure he would have recognized them quickly if fate had brought him to their front door…

nobody goes to Iowa for vacation…well, i did…as a kid i thought Iowa was the coolest place on the planet…left my beach home , just to go help clean out the chicken house….seemed like fun at the time….wanted to be a farmer even before i wanted to be a photographer…old Cecil had big hands…i always felt he would crush mine with his handshake and basically, he scared the hell out of me in general….2010 was Cecil’s last year, so i publish this little anecdote just for Wilma and  my cousins Marilyn, Doug, Lowell, Julie, Allen, Dale , and their families…

even apparent disconnected aspects of my history i figure play into the whole mix of things one way or another…what may seem important at one point, may lose significance in the long run and conversely something long ago almost forgotten may jump right in your face….all of this goes into every picture i make that truly resonates…not literally perhaps, but deep down…

what about you? do past family relationships affect you and your work? or is the present all that there is?


54 Responses to “the corn state…”

  • “do past family relationships affect you and your work? or is the present all that there is?”

    You might have noticed that the subtitle to my Wasilla by 300 and Then Some blog is “one photographers search for community, home and family.”

    I gave it that subtitle because I realized that this is what my work was all about – my search to find the home and family that, as I grew up, was ever-present before me yet always eluding me.

    When I started my blog, my intent was to constantly weave the past – including family, living and dead – in and out of the present. This remains my goal, but so far I have not been that successful at it, because when you try to produce an ongoing piece of work every day, I find that the present simply overwhelms the past.

    At least on the surface – because the past is always there and the forces that shaped it still underlie all the work that I do.

    My ancestors were polygamist Mormons, including some who sat in jail with Joseph Smith and who crossed the plains with Brigham Young and received a number of wives in services conducted by him. Even though I have stepped away from that faith, their influence projected through the generations upon me is what has pushed me to the edges of their sphere to establish all the connections that show up in my blog – from the Apache to the Iñupiat (the Real People, Akaky – and did you know that Nanuq (Nanook) means polar bear?) to my late Muse in India.

    I won’t explain, but the connections are all there and I am practically dying to find the means and time to do a thorough exploration.

    If I am to accomplish this, I think I have to add a magazine to my blog – but where do I find the time to do that?

    So that’s my answer to your question, David.


    Bill, yes with you it is pretty obvious and i am not surprised by your answer…i think i can help you with many things and will give it a real shot when we meet, except for one…and that is “finding time”…that is the biggie that i cannot figure out either…in my case, and i assume yours as well, life is a fast moving game…when i see a rear camera shot of a quarterback in a football game after the ball is snapped looking at his choices, and even after having a “play”or plan, still needing to make split second decisions with people running all over the place, i can relate….one must constantly prioritize…not yearly , but daily…one must decide not to do certain very attractive things…and yet be able to enjoy totally “wasting time” sitting with friends on the front porch..when to focus and when to let go is the name of the game i think….anyway, that is why we are all gathering here on help each other learn how to spend our time wisely…

    cheers, david


    i know this about you…and what greater tribute could you ever give to your father? good on you…and him….

    cheers, david

  • Thanks, David – Yes, that is the big question – to decide what of all the things you dearly want to do you must set aside and discard so that you can complete something else. What a tough one!

    And thanks again for creating this gathering place.

    Next, I just need to figure out how and when I can get to NYC again and actually meet you!

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