Vaune Trachtman

The Meadows, 29x23 giclée print by Vaune Trachtman

I live on a meadow and appreciate the subtle changes that occur outside the windows through the year. I take plenty of photographs of the meadow, but none have taken my breath away like the mysterious photographs of my friend Vaune Trachtman.

Vaune’s photographs were recently on display at the Spheris Gallery in Hanover, New Hampshire. In early December we stepped before her collection called Out of Range. Serene, atmospheric and diffused with enlargement, Vaune’s photographs of meadows near her home in southern Vermont vibrated with stippled subtley, harkening some previous century. The photographs invited an atavistic memory of the view out of the window when the ancestors had their portrait taken. You could imagine how they held their heads against metal poles—so as not to move—while the photographer disappeared beneath the black cloth behind the bellows camera, removed the cover from the metal daguerreotype, and took the long exposure that would hang framed in a darkened hallway.

Her image of a gnarled apple tree made me think of lines from a favorite Robert Frost poem. Do you know the one I mean? I also imagined that a doe had just been there looking for fallen apples under the snow and had just left the frame. What else might linger beyond the frame? A tinker and his horse drawn wagon, a puff of trailing smoke from a cobblestone chimney, a trapper on snowshoes, maybe an owl upon a branch. The snow fields that were present in each of the pieces were both negative and positive spaces and brought the world of Snowflake Bentley to mind.

You wouldn’t bat an eyelid if all of these photographs were produced using a camera found in an attic. But Vaune took all of these photographs with a cellphone camera. And not a new-fangled iPhone, either. Just a run of the mill five or six year old Samsung model (if memory serves me). She did the minimum of digital manipulation to the images, which is also surprising. The large giclée prints on milky watercolor paper have the grainy, murky qualities of push-processed film. From humble tools comes very moving art, indeed.

West River Triptych by Vaune Trachtman

Apple by Vaune Trachtman

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. David Petrie
    Dec 23, 2010 @ 14:11:40

    I didn’t know you knew Vaune. This is why I love Vermont. My wife and Vaune became friends in Brattleboro back when Vaune coordinated InSight photography at the Boys and Girl’s Club that my wife started/directed. If Brian’s reading at the show had been later in the evening (and the drive shorter) we might have learned of this one-degree-of-separation earlier. And I agree with everything you wrote about Vaune’s images, many taken in the fields and woods within a mile or two of my house. She captures why I now look forward to winter. Thank you for helping me look at them again.

    Reply

    • 129twigandvine
      Dec 23, 2010 @ 15:56:44

      We met Vaune and Brian when I was on the board for Wild Root Arts and Brian read at the opening of the Hooker Dunham. Vermont is so good with its many connections. I didn’t know you lived so near to their home (which I love, love, love). Soon I will write about Brian. His reading was fantastic. Sorry you missed it.

      Reply

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