Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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.”

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

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
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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