Letters 10-12-2015

Replacing Pipeline Is Safe Bet On Sept. 25, Al Monaco, president and CEO of Enbridge, addressed members of the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance. His message was, “I want to be clear. We wouldn’t be operating this line if we didn’t think it was safe.”

We pretty much have to take him for his word...

Know The Root Of Activism Author and rabbi Harold Kushner has said, “People become activists to overcome their childhood fear of insignificance.” The need to feel important drives them. They endeavor good works not to help the poor or sick or unfortunate but to fill the void in their own empty souls. Their various “causes” are simply a means to an end as they work to assuage their own broken hearts...

Climate’s Cost One of the arguments used to delay action on climate change is that it would be too expensive. Such proponents think leaving environmental problems alone would save us money. This viewpoint ignores the cost of extreme weather events that are related to global warming...

A Special Edition Cuckoo Clock The Republican National Committee should issue a special edition cuckoo clock commemorating the great (and lesser) debates and campaign 2016...

Problems On The Left Contrary to letters in the Oct 5th edition, Julie Racine’s letter is nothing but drivel, a mindless regurgitation of left-wing stuff, nonsense, and talking points. They are a litany of all that is wrong with the left: Never address an issue honestly, avoid all facts, blame instead of solving; and when all else fails, do it all over again...

Thanks, Jack It is so very difficult for the average American to understand the complex issues our country faces in far off places around the globe. (Columnist) Jack Segal’s career and his special ability to explain these issues in plain English in many forums make him a precious asset to all of us in northern Michigan...

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

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?”

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5