He shot 11 Super Bowls: ‘It’s really, really crazy!’

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FOXBORO, MA — Thur., Sept. 12, 2013 PATS JETS MM 17 — Photographers Bob Breidenbach and Jim Davis brave the pouring rain the 2nd half as the New England Patriots open their 2013 season at home against the New York Jets. The Providence Journal/Mary Murphy

So. I originally intended this interview to air and stream on Superbowl Sunday, Feb 12. But then I realized that my vast global audience will be occupied with watching the pregame festivities then, so consider today’s episode a pre-pre-game festivity. It’s an interview with a Providence Journal photographer, Bob Breidenbach, who shot all of the 11 Super Bowl games in which the New England Patriots played. Bob and I worked together at the Journal for more than a dozen years.; I was a reporter. I left the paper at the turn of the millennium and after 38 years on the job he just recently retired. I loved our Zoom visit. Bob is the same good-natured guy I knew back in the day and you’re going to love his lively reminiscences about the shots he got and the ones he missed. As a bonus for you, having listened to this show, you’ll be able to impress everyone at your party with your superior behind-the-scenes knowledge of covering the big game.

As for you listeners who couldn’t care less about the Super Bowl or about football generally, on Feb 12, you can listen to the stunning audio I collected about art in sunny Hawaii during my recent trip there: Lei making, tattooing, painting, printmaking, museumgoing – the whole Polynesian megillah. And maybe your family will still let you dip a chip in the five-layer dip and will make room on the couch during the halftime show.

But now, photographer Bob Breidenbach.

Sunday, February 5, 2017 Houston, TX The New England Patriots vs The Atlanta Falcon at Super Bowl LI, NRG Stadium, Houston, TX Falcons Robert Alford runs a Tom Brady interception back for a touch down in the 2nd quarter. The Providence Journal / Bob Breidenbach
GLENDALE, AZ–Sunday, February 1, 2015-SUPER Bowl XLIX–Seattle Seahawks vs New England Patriots: PICTURED IS:Patriot Malcolm Butler intercepts a ball in the final seconds of the game intended for Seahawk Ricardo Lockette. The Providence Journal/Bob Breidenbach ORG XMIT: PJC1502012244366303
02/06/05 — SUPER BOWL XXXIX, Jacksonville, FL — New England Patriots vs Philadelphia Eagles — Head coach Bill Belichick gets a hug from his father Steve Belichick minutes before the end of the game. Patriots won 24-21. Photo by Bob Breidenbach
Sunday, February 5, 2017 Houston, TX The New England Patriots vs The Atlanta Falcon at Super Bowl LI, NRG Stadium, Houston, TX Tom Brady celebrates with the Lombardi Trophy after the game. The Providence Journal / Bob Breidenbach
Sunday September 9, 2012 Nashville, TN The Providence Journal/Bob Breidenbach The Tennessee Titans host the New England Patriots at LP Field. Patriots receiver #85 Brandon Lloyd leaps over Titan defender #24 Coty Sensabaugh in a 3rd quarter driv e that resulted in a Patriots touchdown by Stevan Ridley to give the Patriots a 28-10 lead. The Providence Journal/Bob Breidenbach
Saturday, January 4, 2020 Foxboro, MA [Providence Journal photo/Bob Breidenbach] The New England Patriots host the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium for a wild card playoff game. Patriots QB Tom Brady greets fans as he walks off the field after loosing to the Titans 20-13. [Providence Journal photo/Bob Breidenbach]
02/24/98 — RED SOX SPRING TRAINING — Red Sox pitcher Dennis Eckersley, who announced his retirement December 10, 1998, takes aim while he pitches during batting practice. Dennis was with Boston earlier in his career but was traded to Oakland and found his way back to Boston. He was the oldest player on the 1998 team, at the age of 43. _TAG:ECKERSLEY
BBSOX Boston, MA — Sunday October 21, 2007 — Providence Journal photo by Bob Breidenbach The Boston Red Sox host the Cleveland Indians for Game 7 of the ALCS. The series is tied 3-3. This is part of an 18 photo sieries of the final out showing reaction of pitcher Jonathan Papelbon and continued celebration with teammates afterwards as centerfielder Coco Crisp caught the final out and the Red Sox won 11-2 over the Cleveland Indians to win the American League pennant and advance to the World Series.PROJOPATS Foxboro, MA– Sunday December 9th, 2007 — Providence Journal photo by Bob Breidenbach The New England Patriots (12-0) host the Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3) at Gillette Stadium — Photo shows
PROJOPATS Foxboro, MA– Sunday December 9th, 2007 — Providence Journal photo by Bob Breidenbach The New England Patriots (12-0) host the Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3) at Gillette Stadium — Photo shows
Boston, RI, Oct, 30, 2013- Game 6 of the World Series at Fenway Park in Boston vs the St. Louis Cardinals. Providence Journal/ Bob Breidenbach
Sunday December 5, 2010 Cranston ,RI The Providence Journal/Bob Breidenbach Div II High School Super Bowl with Woonsocket HS defeating Tolman HS 28-14. Photo shows Woonsocket head coach Carnell Henderson as he is doused with water by his players after Woonsocket defeated Tolman to win the Div. II championship. The Providence Journal/Bob Breidenbach
The story profiles the Newport Rugby Club. They are a small sized team, a group of local guys, who come ready to play hard on the weekends. We chat with team members trying to figure out what draws them to this brutal game. Contact: Dougie O’Neil is the Club president his work number 846-6432 (D & D Fence) or fred lohrum – 846-0206.can fax photos for IDs to Owen Howlett at 789-1932. His biz phone is 789- 6224 Story slug: RUGBY EB05xx RUGBY 4 — Marcel Saucis (right) playing for the Newport Rugby Club puts a straight arm choke hold on Mike D’Andrea of the New Haven Rugby club during a rugby tournament in Newport, R.I. At left is Lou Petrozzello of New haven and behind the arms is Simon Swales of new Haven.
Saturday May 24, 2014 Bristol, RI The Providence Journal/Bob Breidenbach Declan Reed (cq, with glasses) and Nick Viveiros (foreground), Cub Scouts from Pack 6 Bristol work together as they place new flags on the graves of veterans at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Bristol. Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts from Bristol spent the morning replacing weather worn flags on the graves of Veterans at St. Mary’s Cemetery and Juniper Hill Cemetery to honor them and their families on this Memorial Day weekend.
Friday April 17, 2014 Coventry, RI Providence Journal photo/Bob Breidenbach Jeff Hall, Senior Director of Advancement for the Rhode Island Audubon Society, takes us around the state on a birding expedition starting at Maxwell Mays Wildlife Refuge in Coventry and finishing in Jamestown. Photo shows a Black Crowned Night Heron at Narrow River in North Kingstown near the Gilbert Stuart Museum. ORG XMIT: PJC1404171514466842
BORDER_01_BB — In a bid to save a 200-square-mile forest on the Rhode Island and Connecticut state line, the Nature Conservancy has launched a “Pawcatuck Borderlands” program, with a new office in North Stonington, CT. Conservationists say the acres of mostly oak — only 40 percent of it is protected — is the last green valley in southern New England. The forest, threatened by urban sprawl, is home to damselflies, brook trout, threatened songbirds and black bears. Photo shows a pine tree silhouetted against the morning sunrise at Long Pond in Hopkington.
ORG XMIT: The Port of Galilee has traditionally been a commercial fishing port for generations but now it is also a favorite vacation area for many and has also attracted homebuyers to the area. The Block Island ferry also runs out of Galilee bringing thousands of tourists to the area each year. Photo shows 10 year old Matt Schuh of Buffalo, NY as he casts a line from the State Pier in Jerusalem looking back toward the harbor of Galilee as a double rainbow covers the sky after a brief shower late Wednesday (8/23/05). Sam was visiting the area with friends (The Cohen Family) from Buffalo, NY. YEARENDPIX
Wednesday May 28, 2014 Cranston, RI The Providence Journal/Bob Breidenbach During the final round of the Rhode Island Interscholastic League golf championship at the Cranston Country Club, a red winged blackbird hangs around the 8th green.
Warwick, RI, June 21, 2021 – State and local officials continue to search the area around Conimicut Point for 10 year old Yoskarly Martinez (cq,10) who was swept away by strong water currents while playing on the sandbar at Conimicut Park in Warwick yesterday. Valentin Cardona Sanchez, 35, of Central Falls, unrelated to her, drowned while trying to save her and his body has been recovered. Carla Martinez, mother of Yoskarly Martinez (cq,10) prays as officials search the water at Conimicut Point for her body after she drowned at Conimicut Point on Sunday (6/20/2021). [The Providence Journal/Bob Breidenbach] ORG XMIT: 10041814A
Friday May 24, 2013 East Providence, RI The Providence Journal/Bob Breidenbach Former Marine Sgt. Cormick Lynch visits the grave of friend, Eric Valdepenas, at the Gate of Heaven cemetery in East Providence. He served with Eric in Iraq where Eric was killed during the Iraq war and visits Eric’s grave every Memorial Day weekend. He arrives with flowers and new flags, spends time placing them around the gravesite, salutes his friend, says a prayer, and salutes again when he leaves. The Providence Journal/Bob Breidenbach
ORG XMIT: 09/13/01 — The shell of what is left of The World Trade Center stands in the early morning sunlight as a flag flying at half mast waves quietly in the foreground. The World Trade Center was destroyed from a terrorist attack after two hijacked airliners flew into the twin towers and they crumbled to the ground killing thousands. Photo by Bob Breidenbach

Mixed Media — ‘It makes your mind work in a different way.’

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Today, a visit with mixed media artist Kelly Taylor, whose work is abstract and inspired by her love of nature. I find it deliciously goozhy. The work looks to be built up of layers and layers of thickly applied paint, but as we’ll learn as she describes her process, there’s more than paint under there. And as for her tools, we’re talking everything from palette knives to dental picks. Kelly started her art life making collages, but over years of art making, taking workshops, doing residencies, and meeting regularly with likeminded artists in what she calls her tribe, she’s worked in all manner of media. “I’ve never wanted to be idn that little square of just doing one thing. …You have to be willing to experiment and make a mess, not thinking you’re creating a finished piece of art.”

They follow their own star: checking in with nomads Holly & Joe Whiting

“We really like leaving and the excitement of what’s next.”

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Merry Christmas and happy every other holiday in this joyous season! Today, because you’ve been very good, a special treat! We catch up with Holly and Joe Whiting, to whom we last talked in March 2021 when they were about to start their retirement years as nomads, living on the move in the small bus they retooled – called a skoolie — named Sandy. The headline on the openstudioradio.org blog post says it all: “A coupla crazy old people moving into a bus.”

Here’s a link to that show.

So. A year and three quarters in, how’s it going? We talked via Zoom from where they were parked – now in a new smaller, if you can believe it, vehicle, which they call their Nowhere Van, at a Texas truck stop. (We were reliant on the kindness of the hot spot gods so apologies for any audio anomalies!)

Follow their adventures @the.nowhere.van and nowherevan.blog.

Before we join Holly and Joe, I’d like to remind you that WESU is a community radio station, which means it largely depends on the generosity of listeners like you. Please, if you’re writing checks to worthy causes, spare a thought for the station, which brings you the kind of unusual programming you can’t find anywhere else. Just go here and give what you can. There are way cool Thanks!

It’s a tight squeeze, man. Case in point: “We have a toilet. It pulls out from under the bed.”

Top row: That’s their bed in the background; the kitchen; minimal decor

Middle row: Little is right!; a deep thought; they took their bikes

Last row: This is a still from a music video by favorite band Bright Eyes, from which they took the name Nowhere Van.

He shoots! He scores! The art of local photojournalism

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Today, he may be the hardest working man in photography. Wesley Bunnell shoots your kid’s heartbreaking championship game, the town’s fourth of July parade, the cloud of cherry blossoms in bloom at Wooster Square, soft mist over the water in Branford, anything and everything that’s photoworthy and some subjects that you wouldn’t think are photoworthy but that, with his poetic eye, he makes so. Wesley is the chief of photography for Shore Publishing, a group of seven local newspapers between the Connecticut and Quinnipiac rivers. Chief of photography is a grand title but really he’s pretty much a one-man band. I met him this past summer at an art fair where I was exhibiting and he was on the job, and busy as he is, he agreed to a chat for Open Studio. You can get a sense of Wes’s work at his website, wesleybunnell.com. As you’ll hear in our interview and see from his photos, he likes finding interesting juxtapositions, and, as a self-described introvert who enjoys meeting people, he’s something of an interesting juxtaposition himself. All I can say is, his heart is in it.

Oh, and if you enjoy this kind of programming — and really, where else are you going to find it but at WESU? — please donate during our current pledge drive by clicking here and giving what you can. It’s you who put the community in community radio! Thanks!

Make art, you big babies! An evening with Jerry Saltz

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If you’re listening to a radio show about art, it’s a safe bet you know who Jerry Saltz is. He’s an author and New York magazine’s senior art critic. He won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 2018 for his essay, “My Life as a Failed Artist” and his first book, in 2020, was How To Be An Artist. His Instagram account has 581,000 followers, of which I am the most avid.

His latest book, a collection of his criticism, is called Art is Life: Icons & Iconoclasts, Visionaries & Vigilantes, & Flashes of Hope in the Night.

This episode is a recording of his talk, sponsored by House of Books, a small bookstore in arty Kent, CT. Largely directed to artists, it offered Jerry’s down-to-earth, tough-love motivational advice (after all, how hard can it be to make our [expletive deleted] mediocre work?); his views on art, of course, and his personal history (he drove a truck and has no formal art training). He also threw in a few mean impressions — of thinking David, by Michelangelo, and active David, by Bernini — and their significance to art history.

Mensch that he is, Jerry even bought the audience pizza. Everyone left smiling.

Thanks to Jerry and to House of Books for letting me record the talk.

The last thing I’ll say is that, like independent bookstores, and like artists,  community radio depends on the support of people who love those things, which add so much to life. Please, during this, WESU’s fall pledge drive, give what you can by clicking here. Thanks!

A novel inspired by Artemesia Gentileschi. The message: art heals

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Today, a blast from my Rhode Island past. More than two decades ago, when I was a reporter in Providence, I knew a writer named Carol Bonomo Albright and she crossed my radar recently to let me know she’d gotten a novel published. It features a plot element about art – the art of 17th century painter Artemesia Gentilleschi. If the name is familiar it may be because the Wadsworth Atheneum put on an exhibit of her work not long ago, and I toured it for Open Studio with my art historian friend Fran Altvater. I’ll put a link to that episode on the openstudioradio.org blog post. But back to Carol. She didn’t even know I had this radio show but of course I invited her on. Our conversation touched on Carol’s writing life, the novel – Hold Up The Head of Holofernes – and how art heals the three main characters. She reads three sections of the book, each set in a different time period, and we even had enough time to touch on Carol’s growing up in New York’s Greenwich Village. It’s a yeasty episode about art and writing. You’re going to enjoy it.

Mentioned in the episode: Caravaggio’s Judith beheading Holofernes, left, and Gentileschi’s. Which do you favor?

A link to the discussion of the Wadsworth Atheneum’s traveling Artemesia Gentileschi exhibit

‘We can’t make wands fast enough’ — the magic of an inspired idea

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Ed Bareiss in front of his Stafford Springs, CT, store Orchard Works Magic Wands

Today, in the spirit of the season, we tour a Stafford Springs, CT, shop that designs, carves, and sells magic wands. Harry Potter fans especially, take notice! Are these lovely carved sticks really magic? you ask.

Well, it was a certain kind of magic that compelled Ed Bareiss to pay attention when, a little more than 10 years ago, the parents at his daughter Hillary’s birthday party marveled at the dozen or so wands he’d made as party favors and urged him to start selling them.

Fast forward to today when Orchard Works Magic Wands is an international business that’s about to have two locations in tiny, out-of-the-way Stafford Springs, and that sells all over the country at loads of comic con style events, with buyers including some way cool celebrities you younger listeners will recognize.

That birthday girl Hillary, by the way, is now a student at Hartford Art School, which is how I met her and learned about the family’s magical business. Ed tells the whole story and give us a tour.

You can access the shop at orchardworksCT.com and orchardworksCT@gmail.com.

Oh, and BOO!

Dominique Schultz helps spread the magic by selling at conventions around the country.

They traffic in the graphic … novel

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Listen to the eariler episode

Welcome to the first Open Studio episode of the new WESU-FM season!

Last September, I did an episode about the graphic novel featuring interviews with two professors who teach the form. Because there’s so much to the graphic novel — and because I’ll be teaching a course in it for the first time at the college where I teach, the University of Hartford’s Hillyer College, I thought we’d revisit the subject.

Graphic novels, for those unfamiliar with the term, take the comic book into the deep end of the pool. One graphic novel you may have heard of is Art Spiegelman’s Maus, set in Nazi Germany. Another is Alison Bechtel’s Fun Home, which was made into a Broadway musical.

As with last year’s guests, both of today’s, interviewed via Zoom, have developed creative approaches to reading, analyzing, and even creating graphic novels.

Prof Patrick Gonder, left, teaches at the College of Lake County in Illinois and Rocco Versaci teaches at Palomar College in California. Both specialize in the graphic novel.

Here are their syllabi:

Prof Versaci has used this transcript of the Tennessee hearing on banning Art Spiegelman’s Maus from the curriculum.

One of Versaci’s students, an art major, was inspired to create this as a gift to his professor:

Prof. Gondor uses this page from Files on the Ceiling to illustrate how graphic novels can tell a story more effectively than film or novels:

Some titles mentioned in the episode:

Blankets, by Craig Thompson; Flies on the Ceiling by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez; Hot Comb by Ebony FLowers; Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross; Mr. Miracle by Tom King and artist Mitch Gerads;100 Bullets by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso; Fables by Bill Willingham; This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki; Unflattening by Nick Sousanis; Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing series; Ms Marvel by G. Willard Wilson; Syllabus by Lynda Barry; and of course Maus by Art Spiegelman and Fun Home by Alison Bechdel.

Taking in the Middletown Arts Fest: a walk & talk on Main Street

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Rachel DeCavage, owner of Cinder & Salt, and a founder of the Middletown Arts Fest, which just wrapped up its second summer season, marks off sidewalk spaces before vendors start arriving.

Today, we caught up with Rachel as she did last-minute prep for the August festival and then we took in the event itself, talking with artists and musicians and vendors and shoppers. For those of you who didn’t get to any of these summertime first Friday events – and, sorry to tell you, it’s too late for this year – it was an opportunity for artists and craftspeople to display and sell their wares on the wide sidewalks of Middletown’s wide main street, for performers to strut their stuff, and for visitors to discover and rediscover what a cool and creative community Middletown is.

This was the last installment of this year’s series about making Middletown more of an arts destination. Find the previous two — and last year’s — in the blog’s archives.

Images from the event