Letters

Letters 07-27-2015

Next For Brownfields In regard to your recent piece on brownfield redevelopment in TC, the Randolph Street project appears to be proceeding without receiving its requested $600k in brownfield funding from the county. In response to this, the mayor is quoted as saying that the developer bought the property prior to performing an environmental assessment and had little choice but to now build it...

Defending Our Freedom This is in response to Sally MacFarlane Neal’s recent letter, “War Machines for Family Entertainment.” Wake Up! Make no mistake about it, we are at war! Even though the idiot we have for a president won’t accept the fact because he believes we can negotiate with Iran, etc., ISIS and their like make it very clear they intend to destroy the free world as we know it. If you take notice of the way are constantly destroying their own people, is that living...

What Is Far Left? Columnist Steve Tuttle, who so many lambaste as a liberal, considers Sen. Sanders a far out liberal “nearly invisible from the middle.” Has the middle really shifted that far right? Sanders has opposed endless war and the Patriot Act. Does Mr. Tuttle believe most of our citizens praise our wars and the positive results we have achieved from them? Is supporting endless war or giving up our civil liberties middle of the road...

Parking Corrected Stephen Tuttle commented on parking in the July 13 Northern Express. As Director of the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority, I feel compelled to address a couple key issues. But first, I acknowledge that  there is some consternation about parking downtown. As more people come downtown served by less parking, the pressure on what parking we have increases. Downtown serves a county with a population of 90,000 and plays host to over three million visitors annually...

Home · Articles · News · Art · Photo Replay
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Photo Replay

Al Parker - August 15th, 2011


Steve Ballance says his interest in photographic processes is comparable
to the ancient practice of alchemy where the wizard attempted to turn base
metals into gold.
For decades, he’s been intrigued by how one’s perception is changed by the
processes that translate subject matter to the viewer.
“There’s a lot of conceptualization in my work,” says Ballance, whose
impressive portfolio is dominated by still life cornerstones of flowers
and female nudes who are often adorned in elaborate paper-mache masks.
Much of it is based on classical myths of the Greeks and Romans.
“I just want them (viewers) to look at it and decide if they find it
interesting. I use the masks to get people to not personalize the image.”
Much of Ballance’s works involve a process known as Polaroid Transfer, in
which the image is photographed on Polaroid film. It is then peeled apart
before it can completely develop and the part containing the dyes is
pressed onto dampened watercolor paper. Ballance then scans them into a
computer and has them printed on an inkjet printer.
“There’s something that happens in the transfer process,” he explains. “I
can’t predict what happens, but I like the way it comes out.”

‘MORE FUN TO MAKE’
His work can be seen at the Artist Design Network in Traverse City and
online at the Gallery 50 website www.galleryfifty.com .
“I’m not that interested in marketing my art, I’m much more interested in
making it,” he says. “Frankly, it’s much more fun to make it than sell it.
My audience is a small audience.”
Ballance’s parents moved the family to Traverse City when he was a
three-year-old. He attended TC schools before heading to Michigan State
University where he majored in psychology.
“I didn’t study art, but my girlfriend was an artist, so I was always
around art,” he recalls. “When I graduated, I took my graduation money and
bought a camera. A co-worker taught me some camera techniques and then I
went to Chicago where I learned how to use a darkroom.”
After suffering a back injury in 1973, Ballance returned to Traverse City
and began hanging out at NMC’s burgeoning art department. “The most
interesting people were in the art department,” he laughs. “So I taught a
photo class there and have been there ever since.”
That relationship continues to this day. Ballance is the program’s
Professor Emeritus, though he officially retired from NMC 11 years ago. As
a professor, Balance mainly taught classes in design and digital
photography.

CONSERVING AS RESOURCE
When asked about other artists whose work he admires, he quickly rattles
off the names of NMC colleagues, including printmaker Doug Domine, potter
Mike Torre and photographer Sheila Stafford.
While a handful of artists like Ballance continue to create images with
Polaroid, or Instant film, it has been supplanted for general use by
digital photography. Consequently, in 2008 Polaroid halted production of
its instant film.
Now only two companies continue to manufacture instant film – Fuji and The
Impossible Project, a group of people who took control of the old Polaroid
manufacturing equipment to continue making Polaroid-compatible film after
falling in love with the works of artist Stephanie Schneider.
“I bought up a bunch of Polaroid film and I still have 15 or 20 boxes in
my refrigerator,” says Ballance, who has also been tinkering with
developing images without the use of a camera, directly scanning objects
on a flatbed scanner.
Several of his floral works featuring vibrant tulips display brilliant
colors and richness achieved by directly scanning them on the flatbed
surface. “I’ve always been interested in the tools that are used to create
images and art,” explains Ballance. “Whether they are cameras, scanners or
computers.”
In his ongoing search for new artistic endeavors, Ballance recently
attended a workshop on photopolymer gravure, a process for producing
etchings from digital images. Some feel that these etchings rival the
quality of traditional copper plate photogravure, while others find that
the lack of differential depth in the polymer coating compromises quality.
Currently he’s focusing on building a studio to house his projects. But
Ballance continues to push the boundaries of image making by examining
creative ways to link-up a digital camera and a scanner together to make
innovative images that challenge viewer’s perceptions and ask “What
exactly is photography?”

 
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