Life As an Itinerant Artist - Redux

Framing Information

December 03, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Beyond Basic Black

While I carry several different styles in stock, that doesn't mean that your choices are limited. Please give me a call for a personal consultation to discuss your particular design needs. I work with several large national frame moulding distributors on a regular basis, and can provide custom framing services from a simple gift to a whole office project.  Call or email, and I can provide corner samples, and more images of frame projects.

Classic Frames

The corner chart illustrates the main frames that I stock and hang on my art show walls. Click on any picture to see it larger in the frame information gallery.

Frame Styles
  Redwood and Cherry3" Redwood paired with Brazilian Cherry cap Solid Walnut Frame3" Walnut frame with hand-carved v-groove and walnut cap Basic Black Laminate Frame3/4 Black Frame -- perfect for smaller groupings 1 1/2" Black Wood LaminateWider Black Laminate frame suitable for larger work Palladio Hand-waxed frameBlack/brown Palladio frame with hand-rubbed beeswax finish
  Redwood/Cherry Solid Walnut Basic Black Wide Black Palladio Hand-waxed


My favorite frame for the moment is Palladio, in black/brown. It's a mildly distressed wood frame with a beeswax finish. The dark tones complement most of the "Dakota Montana" and "Stories Told in Things Left Behind" series. I pair it with TruVue's Conservation Reflection Control glass (CRC), which pairs a diffusion layer to keep glare down, with a UV protective coating on the back. Frames are finished on the back with sturdy hangers, plastic coated wire which won't rust or stain your walls, and a black Tyvek® dust-cover.

Peaceful Easy Feelin'Peaceful Easy Feelin'Horses and corral, working ranch near Hot Springs South Dakota   River ViewRiver ViewRuins of the settlement at Lee's Ferry, this window looks toward the landing. Limited edition of 250, signed and numbered.

26 x 20" Palladio Frames with Conservation Reflection Control Glass


The Gallery Frame

Another old standard is the black wood gallery frame. On the larger pieces, (20x26 and above), it's a 1 1/2" matte black style, with simple square lines. For smaller pieces, a variation of this frame in a 3/4" molding is used. And as a third option, I offer a metal frame with a brushed "Florentine" finish, also in black.

Typically with the gallery frame, I use TruVue's Conservation Clear glass, which is offers less expensive UV protection, without the reflection control. Larger pieces (up to 30x40) can be framed and glassed, either in the Palladio style, or in a black gallery frame. On occasion, I also use acrylic glazing to keep the weight down for a more traditional presentation in a frame.

Medium width black frame 8411"Door, Unopened", 16x20 showing proportion of mat and frame. Special Order only.    Thin black gallery frame AF104"Door, Unopened" in thinner black wood gallery frame with conservation glass


Glassless Styles

I've also begun producing larger prints in several glassless configurations. A canvas photograph is laminated to a backing board (GatorBoard) and then framed. The backs are finished with heavy-duty hangers, plastic coated wire and a black Tyvek dustcover.

These laminated pieces also look great in my new custom barnwood frames. You can get these in a number of styles, including the Western style barnwood frame; a redwood / Brazilian cherry combination; and a solid walnut composite. Each frame is crafted by hand, one at a time. Four types of hand-made reclaimed wood frames are available to you, in sizes 16x24 on up to 6 feet wide. 

Redwood/Brazilian Cherry

Redwood and Brazilian Cherry Frame"Watering Hole" 48x32 in a custom made redwood and cherry frame.

48x32 "Watering Hole" in a Redwood/Brazilian Cherry custom frame. Overall size approx. 60" x 42


"Driftwood in the Moonlight" 36 x 24" Redwood and Brazilian Cherry custom made frame

36x24 "Driftwood In the Moonlight", in Redwood/Brazilian Cherry. Overall size approx. 46" x 34"


Leave A Light in the Window framed in walnutWalnut capped frame with hand scribed v-groove 48 x 32

48x32 "Leave A Light in the Window" framed in 3" solid walnut frame with walnut cap. Overall size 58" x 42"


Western Style Frame

You can also choose a simpler barn wood style, the Western Style frame. Constructed of simple aged wood, it frames a traditional image perfectly at an affordable cost. 

36x24 Gray Barnwood "Western" style frameDry Well in classic Western style frame 36x24

36x24 "Dry Well" in Western style gray barn wood frame


Panoramic Photos

In the Shadow of the Bear, custom barn wood frameHandmade frame, 48x20 image

48x20 Panorama "In the Shadow of the Bear" - custom made from reclaimed barnwood


Traditional canvas frames with liner

For a more traditional look, I use a dark-toned 2" square frame with a 1" linen liner, as well as a wider 3" rustic frame paired with a 2.5" liner. These are lightweight, and avoid the obvious issues of shipping and hanging a larger piece of glass.

48 x 20 In the Shadow of the BearTraditional 2"Black frame with 1" natural linen liner

48x20 Panorama "In the Shadow of the Bear" - traditional black frame with 1" natural linen liner


"Roll Out the Barrels" in a traditional frame with liner3" Brown scoop frame with 2" natural linen liner

48x32 "Roll Out the Barrels" framed in 3" Brown Scoop with 2" natural linen liner


Linen Liner Styles

The two styles with liners can be configured with different width liners. I carry three liner widths, in a natural linen: 1", 2" and 3". See the chart below for a comparison of how each looks.

Linen Liner Styles
Liner Width 1" 2" 3"
2" Antique Black Frame 2BLK 1L2" Black frame with 1" Natural Liner 2BLK L22" Black frame with 2" natural linen liner BLK2 L32" Black frame with 3" natural linen liner
3" Brown Scoop Frame 3BRN L13" Brown Scoop frame with 1" natural liner 3BRN 2L3" Brown scoop frame with 2" natural linen liner 3BRN 3L3" Brown scoop frame with 3" natural linen liner

The styles shown are by no means the only frames available to you. Please feel free to give me a call or drop me an email with your requirements. I can also post alternate ideas modelled after your room. Contact me for details on how that can be accomplished. I look forward to working with you on your next decorating project! 

Fair to Midland

November 18, 2017  •  1 Comment

One summer ago, I met a lovely family from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at the Krasl Art Fair on the Bluff in St. Joseph, Michigan. She had grown up in West Central South Dakota, and we had a great conversation about the farm country. As it turned out, her grandfather had built one of the grain elevators in town, and I volunteered to make a photograph of it for her.

Moonset, BadlandsMoonset, BadlandsSage Creek Campground, Badlands National Monument, SD

Later that summer, I had the chance to make a quick trip out to Midland. It's a long drive from our ranch near Hill City, so I camped in the Badlands the night before to get a head start on the morning. Camping is free at the Sage Creek Campground, if a bit spare in the accommodations. I did a bit of a hike the evening before, saw the buffalo herd from a great distance and almost stepped on one of the prevalent rattlesnakes.

Midland ElevatorMidland ElevatorDakota Grain, Midland SD The next morning, I hopped in the truck and made tracks for Midland. There are three elevators in town, a big concrete structure now owned by Dakota Mill & Grain. Down the tracks there are a number of grain bins and right in town, there is an ancient wooden elevator that no longer appears to be operating.

Rarin' to GoRarin' to GoMidland, SD

Kathy had given me some ideas on other places in the area to photograph. After the sun got a bit higher in the sky, I headed down Bad River Road, towards Capa and Van Metre. Along the way, handmade signs indicating the presence of a historical Indian trail popped up along the fence line. 

Indians This Way CameIndians This Way CameBad River Rd, Midland SD

The RoostThe RoostCapa, SD Before reaching Capa proper, this old homestead  stands proud along a weedy reservoir. The remains of a toothpaste display sit in the living room, showing that perhaps this building was also used as a store. Capa itself consists of a church where the front and back wall still stand, but the roof and center has collapsed. The school and several houses surrounding it are mostly locked up. I was working my way through the field and making pictures in the backyard of the most central house, when I noticed that the electric meter on one house was actually spinning! The front door was open, and I could hear a fan blowing. Later I learned that this is the last remaining resident of Capa. I probably should have knocked on his door and made friendly conversation, but I had miles to go before finishing this particular assignment. 

Cold SpellCold SpellCapa, SD School's OutSchool's OutCapa SD His & HersHis & HersSchool Outhouses, Capa, SD

A bit further down the road is the leaning remains of the Capa Hotel, which was distinguished by a small hot spring and spa in the back. This area was well-known for its hot springs, as evidenced by the Inn at Midland, which also advertises Hot Baths. The structure was a bit too decrepit to go into, but picturesque nonetheless.

Capa Hotel and Hot SpaCapa Hotel and Hot SpaCapa SD After leaving Capa, I moseying further eastward. A couple of the bridges on Bad River Road are quite sketchy, but solid. The road almost peters out in a couple of places, even though the GPS indicates a through path. I never did find Van Metre, although I did find this ranch on Van Metre Rd. 

Patriotic ActPatriotic ActNear Van Metre, SD

Eventually I came out on a main North/South route and headed South towards Murdo and I-90. Along the way, I came up on a combine moving slowly along the road, headed towards the next field. He graciously pulled over to allow me to pass. A mile or two later, I spotted some magnificent sunflower fields, and had to stop to make photographs of the sunflowers.

Waiting for the SunWaiting for the SunCentral South Dakota

This crop is catching on in the Dakotas, and South Dakota has been the top sunflower-producing state in the US three years running. While I was shooting, the combine caught up to me and passed. Back on the road, I waited patiently for an opportunity to pass. Luckily for me, he turned off on a field road not too far down the highway.

Long RoadLong RoadLooking towards Murdo SD

After twenty miles slow miles, the road jogs into Murdo, where I joined the interstate, and headed for home. A journey well worth taking. I feel as if I didn't cover all of the photographic possibilities, and one of these days plan to head back to the prairie for another go. If you'd like to see the rest of the pictures, click here for the full gallery.


This is the general area covered -- from Midland to Capa to Murdo, SD.

A Brookside Story

May 02, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

My first show of the month is in Kansas City, MO. A favorite in KC, and a favorite of mine, the Brookside Art Annual takes place on Brookside Plaza just south of 63rd in Kansas City. The last time my wife Karyn and I were there, it was cold. And snowy. We tried to setup on Friday morning to be ready for the evening show, but heavy snow hampered our efforts. The big tent, which many artists are under, collapsed during the afternoon, and forced the cancellation of the Friday evening show. We all came back on Saturday, set up in record time, and had a great show despite the cold. And the best part of this particular show was meeting one particular person. 

Splendor in the GrassSplendor in the GrassMercedes on abandoned homestead, Ardmore, South Dakota.


We had a corner booth outside the main tent, on a soggy plot of grass. It was so wet that show volunteers brought hay bales to soak up the excess snow melt. We constructed a back room as sort of a warming hut, and fired up a portable propane heater to stay warm. On my outside wall, we had this large image of Ardmore, South Dakota. Ardmore is one of those towns that I come back to again and again, to document its decay, and to keep an eye out for changes. [image Splendor]. During the show, a woman and her husband came to the booth, and spent some time standing in front if this picture, admiring it, thinking. Finally, she approached me, and said/asked,"That's Ardmore, isn't it?"

I replied, yes, and gave her some background on how I came to make the shot. She replied," I believed my sister-in-law lived in that house." I was taken aback. We meet lots of people during the course of a show, and often, we share common friends, or geography. But I'd never met someone who had lived in one of the abandoned towns I photograph. Not even a relative. Teresa introduced herself, and her husband Cyrus. We exchanged information, and later that week, she forwarded these images of her sister-in-law, Estelle and her husband Paul Allen, in front of the house. The distance between the vibrant town in the sixties, and an abandoned Mercedes in the 21st century is wide. Note the cut grass, and the sidewalks in the second picture. These two pictures are priceless to me, and I thank the family for letting me display them here.

Paul & Estelle Allen HomePaul & Estelle Allen HomeArdmore, South Dakota
April 1966
Used by permission of the family
Paul and Estelle AllenPaul and Estelle AllenArdmore, South Dakota
April 1966
Used by Permission of the family

One of the most rewarding aspects of my job as a visual historian is meeting folks whose history reflects our common experience. The stories in the photographs are often left to the imagination, and it's heartwarming to run across people who can provide details about the places I visit. In that way, a little bit of history is preserved, and passed down. Perhaps you have a story to tell. Many of my shots were the results of someone's reference or an offhand comment while shooting the bull at a show. Come visit me at this year's Brookside Art Annual, and share your stories. Booth 182, outside the big tent on the south end of the show.

Just One More

December 28, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

I've wanted to get a shot of the Red Door in snow for quite a while now. Got my chance after Christmas, when we had 10" of new snow and blizzard conditions on Christmas Day. The door has faded since the first shot I made of it some years ago. I wanted to capture the layers of snow piling up on the masonry work, so this image is not cropped as tight as Red Door, and Red Door II.

Red Door in WinterRed Door in WinterThird in the series -- shot after 12" of snow in December, 2016


The Year in Review

December 14, 2016  •  1 Comment

Reeds and Outlet RocksReeds and Outlet RocksSylvan Lake, Custer State Park, SD As 2016 draws near to the end, we often reflect on the things we accomplished and the tasks left undone. I spent a few hours this week, looking back on my photographic journey. It was a good year. Click here you'd like to see the full slideshow.

As usual, there was time spent in the Black Hills. I was on the road for art shows a good part of the spring, spending time in Florida, Texas and Mississippi. Spring and summer brought the usual warm temperatures, and two road trips. The big expedition of the year was to the Wind River Range, between three western art fairs in Denver, Park City and Evergreen, Colorado. I climbed my first fourteeners, thanks to Ed Dunne, who I met at the Park City show. Karyn and I reconnected with Tom & Randi Nigut in Evergreen, and their son Zach, who worked with me in another life in Chicago. 

A Winter's DreamA Winter's DreamBear Butte, SD I started the year with a week in South Dakota. For some reason, shooting in January always yields interesting images. Mom and I went looking for a barn out by Bear Butte. That drive proved fruitless, as Bear Butte was socked in. The next morning, I tried another approach, and was able to shoot "In the Shadow of the Bear" in sub-freezing temperatures. I also visited the famous Meeker Ranch near Custer, and made friends with some lonely ponies in the aspen grove in Palmer Gulch.

Singin' the BluesSingin' the BluesGround Zero Cafe, Clarksdale, MS Other highlights of the year: a driving in a torrential downpour in Memphis, with dime-sized hail so fierce I had to pull off the road, on the way to the Ridgeland show near Jackson, Mississippi. After the Ridgeland show, the trailer burned out a wheel bearing and had to be driven 25 miles on a smokin' axle to have it repaired. More rain on the way home, through Vicksburg, and on to Clarksdale, where I made some interesting pictures of the Delta Blues Cafe and almost broke my wrist falling backwards off of a curb.

Souls of the Dear DepartedSouls of the Dear DepartedChickamauga Battlefield, GA From Clarksdale to Chattanooga, and an unremarkable show at 4 Bridges. The highlight of Chattanooga was a visit to Lookout Mountain and the Chickamauga Battlefield. The stillness on these hallowed grounds never fails to impress me. The view from the top of Lookout Mountain shows the strategic importance of the Tennessee River. After Chattanooga, spring was upon us. A quick flight to Rapid City, and a late spring snow storm gave me an interesting view of Sylvan Lake and a beautiful shot of Harney Peak and Elkhorn Mountain snow-covered with green fields (below). Another visit to Owanka to see if the elevator had collapsed yet. It hadn't.

Lazy SundayLazy SundayPalmer Gulch, South Dakota

More shows in Springfield, Illinois; Birmingham, Michigan; and St. Joseph's Krasl Art Fair. In between, I again drove the truck out the Black Hills, where I was able to do some hiking. Rediscovered the Golden Slipper mine, where we rode horseback as kids. Mom and I drove out to Dewey, at the edge of the Black Hills. Dewey is an old railroad town, with a few residents still hanging on. One rancher stopped by in his pickup as we were lunching on the grass. He seemed surprised and amused that we'd come all the way out to Dewey to sit under a scrawny cottonwood and picnic, until I explained our historic mission.

New LifeNew LifeSagebrush Pals Clubhouse (former Presbyterian Church) Dewey, SD Back in Michigan, Kozo and I drove to St. Joseph for the Krasl Art Fair on the Bluff. We skipped Ann Arbor this year, and thankful, because it was beastly hot. At the end of July, I wanted to spend more time out west. This time I hauled the trailer out to Denver for a three-show tour. First up, in Denver, the Cheesman Park show. Kozo and I spent time with my niece, Noyes Combs, which turned out to be the highlight of that show. From Denver, I took the trailer up past Cheyenne and across the prairies to the Hills for another week in Palmer Gulch. 

I hung out with family, and then went out to the Badlands for an extended day trip over to Midland to shoot rural scenes and the elevator for some folks I met at Krasl. (Kathy's grandfather built one of the elevators in Midland, and she gave me some great locations to scout.) I spent an evening camped in the Sage Creek Natural Area, and hiked up on the bluffs overlooking Sage Creek. 

Midland ElevatorMidland ElevatorDakota Grain, Midland SD After Midland, I went through Capa, where I almost stumbled on the last remaining resident. I was photographing the abandoned school and the collapsed church, when I inadvertently walked into his backyard. I noticed the the electric meter was running, on what appeared to be an abandoned house. The front door was open, and I could hear his fan whirring. Too shy to make his acquaintance, I did get some interesting images from Capa, including one of the outhouses behind the schoolhouse. Further down the road, near Van Meter, I came across this flag and cow remains. Driving south to pick up the interstate, I headed for home. There were a lot of miles covered that day.

What Once Was...What Once Was...St. Barbara's Church, Miniature church near cemetery, Imlay SD Later that week, my brother Dave and I went looking for St. Barbara's church again, and this time we found it. It wasn't the church I was looking for, but the expedition was worth it. (See previous blog post). St. Barbara's sits in an incredibly remote, incredibly beautiful spot along the White River in the Badlands. All that's left now is the miniature church and the graveyard, with the remains of the church foundation up on the hill.

Wild HorsesWild HorsesPilot Butte, Rock Springs, WY Back on the road with the art show trailer, on the way to Park City, I hiked up to the top of Pilot Butte, near Rock Springs, Wyoming. There's a Masonic plaque bolted to the rock at the foot of the cliff. Wild horses roam the plateau of White Mountain, and I was lucky enough to get close to one of the bands before they quietly moved out of range onto the prairie.

Mt. Helen,  Mt. Sacajawea, Fremont PeakMt. Helen, Mt. Sacajawea, Fremont PeakIsland Lake approach to Titcomb Basin, Wind River Range, WY After Park City, I headed up to the Wind River Range in Wyoming, to clear my head and do some backpacking. Overnighting in Pinedale, I left the Elkhart Park trailhead early in the morning, and walked up to Titcomb Basin. A three day trip all-told, with two overnights between Little Seneca Lake and Seneca Lake. Island Lake was busy with backpackers as it's a popular base for those seeking to bag peaks  up in the Basin, or head over Indian Pass or Dinwoodie Pass.

Titcomb Basin TarnTitcomb Basin TarnWind River Range, Wyoming The light was beautiful, with the threat of thunderstorms almost constant. Rain only came in the last five miles on the way back to the parking lot, with pea-sized hail for a few minutes. More Winds pictures, here.

Open RangeOpen RangeNewcastle, WY From Pinedale, I went back to our ranch in the Black Hills to do some maintenance around the place. I didn't do a ton of shooting, but I did head out towards Wyoming for this shot of the stove sittin' in a field. On the way home, I discovered an old round barn that had been converted to a dance-hall, and a deserted gas station. Later in the fall, Mom and I went down to Buckhorn, and talked to the folks who owned the bar there. They said they knew somebody who'd gotten married in the bar there, but didn't know any of the history behind it.

Kelso RidgeKelso RidgeRocky Mountains, Clear Creek County, CO Back in Denver for the Evergreen show, Ed Dunne and I hiked up Grays and Torrey Peak. One of the first snows of the fall left almost 6" of snow on the trail and added to the challenge. The shot of Kelso Ridge with a snow storm fast approaching is my favorite image from that walk.

September saw us back in Michigan for three shows in a row, and a trip to Peoria for the final show of the season. The axle that burned out a bearing in Jackson, MS burned out again coming into Peoria at 10PM Thursday night. It was bad enough to force me to rent a trailer for show set-up. I was able to tow the trailer to a repair shop and park it. Hauling the show material home in the U-haul, I drove back to Peoria via Indiana to pick up a new axle for the trailer. Got the trailer fixed and towed it home.

Stay AwhileStay AwhileFairburn Hotel, Fairburn SD In October, I caught the last of the fall color in the rocks in the Upper Pine Creek Natural Area. Visiting the ranch town of Fairburn later that week, I met the new owner of the Fairburn Hotel. He was gracious enough to give me a tour of the interior and share his plans for the building. I drove by Dan O'Brien's buffalo ranch and watched the bison grazing on the way home, and that was it for the Black Hills in October.

The Garden GateThe Garden GateGreen's Plantation, North Caicos, Turks & Caicos Islands Karyn and I took our annual vacation to Grace Bay in the Turks, where we went exploring for the first time. North Caicos and Middle Caicos Islands are accessible by ferry. We went over with friends, and visited an old plantation, and walked the secret beach on Mudjin Bay. We also visited some caves and hung out with bats. A key takeaway from this trip? Bring lots of bug spray. The no-see-ums are fierce while waiting at the ferry dock.

Bottle Creek DaydreamsBottle Creek DaydreamsNorth Caicos, Turks & Caicos Islands And that's the year in pictures. View the whole slide show, or view more pictures in the gallery. Things left undone? I'd like to go back to the Winds and spend a little more time. I felt rushed in three days, and didn't get to the head of Titcomb Basin. I still need to find the church in the Badlands. And I'm starting to work on a new project that will take photographs of mine and match them to shots that Dad and my mentor, Hugh Lambert used for their ghost town research in the 60's and 70's. 

If you'd like more information about any of the images, please call or email. Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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