Friday, November 25, 2011

Autumnal Light • 8x8 Pigment Print

This piece is one of several new images showing at the Catskill Artist Gallery's Holiday Show. The opening is Saturday, November 25 from 4 to 8 pm.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Catskill Winter Skies

Catskill Winter Sky 3 • 8x8 Pigment Print • ©Margaret Helthaler 2011

Catskill Winter Sky 2 • 8x8 Pigment Print • ©Margaret Helthaler 2011

Catskill Winter Sky 1 • 8x8 Pigment Print • ©Margaret Helthaler 2011

My recent focus on the Jersey Shore skyline combined with an unexpected late October snowstorm inspired me to explore the wintery Catskill Mountain skyline. In this series of images I have added a soft focus and a hint of texture to create an evocative sense of place.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Little Tone and Texture Adds Vintage Charm

Cape May Lighthouse • 8x8 pigment print • ©Margaret Helthaler

My recent trip to the Jersey Shore has inspired a new body of work. Here the Cape May Lighthouse stands tall with just a hint of canvas texture and tone for vintage charm. Thanks to Brenda Clarke for the wonderful textures she shares on

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Storm Clouds Gather over Morey's Pier in Wildwood, NJ

Approaching Storm • 12x18 pigment print • ©Margaret Helthaler

Just spent a lovely weekend in Wildwood New Jersey and found the landscape - so different from the Catskills - inspirational as always. I love the deep beach in Wildwood and the perspective it added to the lumbering October clouds...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Looking For Spring In The Catskills

Our crocuses have come and gone, but the chilly weather remains. I awoke to heavy rain and remnants of snow here in the Catskills... I dream of warm sunshine and green subjects to photograph...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Morning Light

Winter Morning

Nostalgia plays a large role in my visual work. I suspect it comes from growing up in a multi-generation home, which imbued me with a strong awareness of a history before my own lifetime. Considering my penchant for romanticizing the past, it may come as a surprise to learn that morning is my favorite time to take photographs.

I woke this morning to a fresh blanket of snow bathed in the cool light of the clearing sky. Morning light holds such promise – it creeps, it soothes, it shimmers – it changes by the minute – offering so many possibilities...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Questioning the Permanency of New Media and Social Networking

Pages from my great-grandmother's autograph book, 1881

As I made a post to Facebook this morning – commenting on the weather and joking with a friend – I thought about the changes we have seen in the last decade. When I was twelve years old I bought a small cloth bound journal for my friends to write in. Coincidentally, we soon moved thirty miles away, to live with my grandmother, so the book became a means for my friends to pen their goodbyes. It is a true keepsake.

A few years ago, I was delighted to discover my great-grandmother had kept a similar little book. It was given to her as a Christmas gift in 1881 – she was 14 years old. I have shared a few pages from the book above. Not only does the text in this book give me a glimpse of the young girl she once was, it also shows me she shared my fondness for pansies. I have warm memories of working with my grandmother (her daughter) to plant these little flowers in the old cement pig troughs in the back corner of our yard. Years later, when I married my husband in the nearby garden, we placed pots of pansies on the tables. I felt my grandmother’s presence in their deep, velvety faces. And here, in my great-grandmother’s little book, she offers a small sketch of the flowers above the word “Autographs.”

But I digress... What I’m really wondering is will my daughter have a similar keepsake to share with future generations? In this age of texting and social networking, young people are sharing even the most mundane aspects of their lives on a daily basis. Moving thirty miles no longer means a loss of contact with old friends – they are as close as a touch of a button. But how permanent is this new means of communication? Will these digital archives become the treasures of the future? Or will the ease of their creation and lack of tangibility decrease their sense of value? Will they simply disappear?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Photography and Memory

My Grandmother's Siblings circa 1903
Clark, George, and Alice Sheley

They say you can’t go home again, and for the most part, this is true. When I visit our family property I no longer feel the same connection with the place I once did. But there is one tangible way we can revisit the past: through pictures. When I look at pictures of our family home I am immediately carried back to the time and place when the image was captured. Photographs are deeply entwined with our memories.

Perhaps even more interesting is a photograph’s ability to carry us to a time and place we have never witnessed first hand. The pictures I have shared above are two of my favorites out of all of our old family photographs. The story, as I remember my grandmother telling it, is that a photographer was traveling through the area. He wanted to take a picture of my grandmother’s siblings in the doorway of their home “on top of the hill.” (The family would later move down the mountain to live with my grandmother’s grandparents in the house pictured below.) My grandmother was either a baby, or not born yet, so she is not in the picture. But she would talk about the pictures as if she were there when they were taken. Helen (my great-grandmother) was concerned that her daughter’s hair wasn’t combed. You can see she appears to be fretting in the first picture – with a comb clasp in her left hand and her right hand pressed to her cheek in dismay. Of course we can’t actually see Helen’s face, but after hearing my grandmother tell the story, I can picture it. The children are oblivious to their mother’s concern and are enraptured with the novelty of having their picture taken. In the second picture, Helen has her way and combs her daughter’s hair.

I don’t really know which photograph was taken first. But we tend to add our own narrative to everything we see, and these images are so evocative...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

2011 Resolutions

Our Family Home circa the 1920s?

My resolution for 2011 is to carve out more time for personal projects... As you can see by this tardy blog post - I'm off to a great start. ;-) But I am going to make more of an effort to share what I am working on. My current project is a book about our ancestral home - which was built in the early 1900s and sheltered 6 generations of our family until it was recently sold...