Friday, March 2, 2018

First Friday Photo Friend - Robert Coomer

This month's First Friday Photo Friend is Cincinnati's very own man of steel. Yes, it's true, an infant male landed in the middle of America's Heartland. The child was raised on a farm in  Brown County, Ohio.  As a young boy, he curated and collected scenes made with his toys.  Disillusioned with clean up time the child learned the extraordinary power of drawing his collections. This power would keep those toy curating moments memorialized.  As a young man, he journeys to UC College of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning wherein the photographic darkroom he discovered the power of chemicals, silver halide crystals, and red lights. It was then he knew what he was sent here to do. Today he grips a camera in one hand, a power tool in the other, standing in front a pile of metal plates our man of steel emerges. Sanding, painting and creating. Hours turn into days, and days turn into months. Finally, he is finished, giving the world Art in Decay.  He is Robert Coomer.

Years past and Robert grew to maturity... A short break will be taken as the writer seem to be choking on the last sentence. We will return momentarily...

Years past and Robert had grown to maturity when my paths crossed his on a hiking trail in Ohio. His  Lois Lane, Tabby accompanied him.  Each was wearing a camera pack, but Tabby does not shoot.  She was there for the hike and to support her husband. The instant I figured out that Tabby was carrying gear for Robert she gained hero status in my eyes.  Proving behind the Man of Steel is a superhero, a woman, Tabby.

I was intrigued and wanted to know more about Robert's work.  After a bit of internet investigation, I realized Robert was more than the photographer he led me to believe. But what is he hiding?

One night in a parking lot,  under a solitary street lamp I was chatting with a friend when out of the darkness Robert appeared. I decided it was a good to time question him about my suspicions and the rotten art he spoke.  A smile buried deep under the mask of his beard appeared as he answered,  "Art in Decay is my newest body of work, and probably the most artistic. My goal is to build a believable artifact of time, connecting the subject of my image, to the strata that I am printing on. I want the viewer to look at my pieces, especially the steel work, and believe they were made from pieces from within the photo. Maybe I stole a piece of metal off the tin roof of the old house or barn and printed on it?"  Then he turned and opened the back of his SUV. The light flickered, and the wind blew as he shuffled through large felt wrapped bundles.  Unsure what was going to happen next my body began to shake. I forgot my coat and was cold. With the strength of a man that has done the task a hundred times before, Robert started to reveal Art in Decay.  Metal plates made the images come alive. Captivated by the beauty of the industrial print.  I could not look away, it was as if I was entranced by some unknown power.

Our steely man has assumed the disguise of a plaid wearing, mild-mannered photographer. He carries the camera, post to social media, sells his work in galleries and art shows.  But far away from civilization he uses his powers. A piece of steel scarred with pits and rust rises from months of neglect.  Debris fall to the ground as Robert uses his hand to pick up the metal. Utilizing a power-sander he is faster than hand sanding, more powerful than a sanding block and able to leap two steps in a single bound.  Chaos erupts in the workshop. For hours metal panels are single handily sanded, cleaned, painted and even washed in acid.  As the dust settles, our hero uses his laser eyes (aka a big printer)  to apprehend another piece of the Art in Decay collection.

The infant of Brown County is now the Man of Steel, fulfilling his call to art.  Robert battles the never-ending need to take his photography to the next level through his print production.

Please note some details in this blog post have been fabricated. I have never seen Robert leap over two steps in a single bound.  I may have molded my story to give the appearance I am friends with Clark Kent assuming a pseudo name, when in fact I was indeed referring to my friend  Robert Coomer.  For complete information check out his work at the links below:

Completed art piece of  Robert Coomer / photo by Robert Coomer

Metal print in acid bath / photo by Robert Coomer

Distressing bolts with fire to burn off oils / photo by Robert Coomer

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