Gary Justis

Gary Justis
Bloomington, Illinois, US
April 04
Gary Justis has worked primarily in the area of kinetic sculpture for the last 34 years. He lived and worked in Chicago from 1977 to 1999. He currently resides in Bloomington Illinois, where he teaches and writes stories about his actual experiences. (please take a look at his "Sculpture" link for more info)


Editor’s Pick
JULY 18, 2011 10:31AM


Rate: 22 Flag
child and fish
  Isla petting the Koi   2011  photograph by the author  (larger image)   


For some people in our age, solitude can be luxury, and during intense activities with the mind or hand, deep emersion makes time irrelevant, at least for the few moments when we are totally focused. Good ideas seem to come with this solitary concentration, and there aren’t many precedents for limiting a good idea’s lifespan (death without documentation is the obvious one). It neither rots nor withers, but rebuilds upon itself with every new client.

In photographic images, the light arranges ideas on a flat surface, and makes territories that our minds can enter. When the image is good, we see it and we know it. We carry the memory of it. I believe with images that are memorable, we grow immeasurably, and sometimes get a small glimpse of the eternal.


Christopher Alexander, an architect and author of “The Timeless Way of Building” tried very hard to find an explanation for moments that are eternal. He was not trying to understand perfection, but rather those rare moments that generated harmonies in action, reaction and memory.

He fittingly describes a single experience:


I once saw a simple fishpond in a Japanese village that was eternal.

A farmer made it for his farm. The pond was a simple rectangle, about 6 feet wide and 8 feet long, opening off a little irrigation stream. At one end, a bush of flowers hung over the water. At the other end, under the water, was a circle of wood, its top perhaps 12 inches below the surface of the water. In the pond there were eight great ancient carp, each maybe 18 inches long, orange, gold, purple, and black:  the oldest one had been there eighty years. The fish swam, slowly, slowly, in circles--often within the wooden circle. The whole world was in that pond. Every day the farmer sat by it for a few minutes. I was there only one day and I sat by it all afternoon. Even now, I cannot think of it without tears. Those ancient fish had been swimming, slowly, in that pond for eighty years. It was so true to the nature of the fish, and flowers, and the water, and the farmer, that it had sustained itself for all that time, endlessly repeating, always different. There is no degree of wholeness or reality that can be reached beyond that simple pond.            

Christopher Alexander, The Timeless Way of Building           


The message could not have been more clearly stated in trying to find an indelible sensation coupled with sudden understanding. The image painted in this passage becomes a meditation, while simultaneously functioning as a prayer…one that asks for nothing, but rather brings glorious augmentation to our levels of understanding. 


Images and objects come along all the time, and occasionally give us a small glimpse of the eternal…


reflection 2a

Child and reflection  photographer unknown  (larger image)


Peaceful Family 1

  Victorian Family group   photographer unknown  (larger image)


Weber 2

Weber    2011 photograph by the author  (larger image)


Jolly Group 1a

Jolly Gathering  photographer unknown   (larger image)


Lodge and Moon
  Lodge and Moon  2011   photograph by the author   (larger image) 





 photos  copyright © 2011 by Gary Justis


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Gary, your wonderful post makes me think of the "snapshots" I carry in my memory from a host of events from the past. In some cases I have used those "snapshots" to create pencil or pen drawings long after the experience of viewing the event has long passed.

Your top photo reminds me of a group of photos that I happen to have from the early '50s in which my brother was photographed in a number of shots next to our uncle's new Chevrolet convertible.

"Weber" is a fun and different type of evocative photo--how many of us have taken the time to capture a cool photo of our grill?
Hello John, thanks for the great comment. Images seem to be cataloged in our memories for quite some time. The best ones, those that make meaning in the story of our lives, stay the longest. Have a great week.
I love this post and your first sentence which resonate strongly with me. The photographs you've selected are full of timelessness and poetic nuances, allowing the imagination not only a feast but a repose at its own will. Thank you for sharing.
My kind of post Gary, the eternal reflected from an infinitesimal slice of time captured in memory or on film. Just a beautiful contemplation here Gary, I feel like the man sitting on the edge of the pond soaking in the meaning of it all. This is a beautiful pond you've created friend.
"Images and objects come along all the time, and occasionally give us a small glimpse of the eternal…"

This is wonderful.
love the photos. thanks.
I like very much the idea of a prayer that asks for nothing. Thanks, Gary.
Your wonderful post is both a meditation for the practicing artist and an exemplary work. You continue to expand my horizons in both areas and I am so grateful.
Thank you everyone for your kind comments. I will catch up with each one of you this evening...I have urgent business in the studio today.
Beautiful, beautiful photography...Yes, timeless...
Nice post Gary ! An event can be an instant, but the memory may last a lifetime. And bought to life again and again by a timeless photograph.. We're lucky indeed, we were born into but two and a half generations of hard copy photography. We have albums of images to reflect upon. The current generation was born into the tech age. I fear their images are on hard drives and they don't last forever!

What then will they have to hold and travel down memory lane. Their own one moment in time... The younger generation should read your post and thank you
I never cease to learn from you. You always gently guide my eye, my brain and my heart with beauty expressed like this. Thank you, Gary.
"a small glimpse of the eternal"
Beautiful Gary.
FusunA, You are welcome. I grow more interested in the subtleties of each image with each viewing. Thanks for the great comment.

Barry, Good to see you as always dear friend. I always have your work in mind for much of the inspiration with posts about images. That story from Alexander is profound…I’ve carried it with me for many years. Thank you Barry.

Diary, Good to see you and thanks so much.

Sheba, thanks and me to!

Dianaani, I think prayer can be a way of giving information back to …whatever…an intelligence perhaps. Why do we have to ask for things all the time? Can it not simply be informational?

Stacey, thank you for your continued visits and kind comments…I have catching up to do…

Thank you Patrick. Good to see you!

Jim, we both get a great deal of joy in holding a photo in our hands. That is a vanishing activity. I hope to see boxes and boxes of photographs still waiting to be rifled through at many flea markets and antique malls. It is a very gratifying hunt, and may it last for many years to come. Thanks for your visit Jim.

Sally! Thank you for the sweet comment. I have missed seeing you because I have been crazy busy with sculpture issues for some months now. I hope to catch up w you!

Trilogy, thank you for the sweet sentiment!
This resonates for me. As you know, not a small feat with my limited artistic acumen. The text and the images are just perfect Gary. Thank you.
Your submissions are like a solitary dip in a cool, quiet pond on a moonlit night.
How right you are Gary. So often a photo brings out the story, over and over, it's reflection different to my eye with every viewing. Well said.
Tis why I LOVE looking at photographs, the luxury of a shift in perception, a shift to other times, other lives, other eyes, other minds. I don't even have to know who the photographed were or are, who the photographer is or was. There doesn't even have to be an obvious story. I enter a solitude that defines itself through the slight echo of the content that shares the space. And the present in an instant can become the past or the future, following the vapor trail of history and imagination, the rubber band launch into the still hole of eternity.
Kelly lark…..Now you know that’s not true about your lacking artistic acumen! You have a fine sensibility with your work and comments! Good to see you!

Monsieur…That’s a fine image and very kind. A treasure of a comment…Thank you Monsieur…

Tg, you are right, with every new viewing, we are more mature, more loaded up with new information and new sensations. Seeing art in multiple viewings is important.

Maria, Your comments always deliver a physical sensation when I read them. The poetics of your expression gives me chills…in a good way. You teach me, and our colleagues to see in new ways. I value that very much…carrying your thoughts in my head for hours. Thanks for coming to this forum. If all of us would compile your comments, we would have a meaningful and profound text.
"Weber" is a smile. The stalky creepy way it populates the photo is a chuckle.
I wonder if we'll retain that sense of eternity and timelessness from the viewing of digital imagery? I know that for myself, the tactile sensation of holding an old printed image, turning it in the room's light to reduce glare and get a different perspective stimulates memory of the time and place. Isn't that somewhat like the difference in response to sculpture that can be seen as well as touched?
Captivating photos! Can't stop staring at "Child and Reflection." Your post was a delicious portal into memory and contemplation. Thank you for brightening my Wednesday.
These are lovely.
When one can look at a photo and enter into the scene, feel surrounded by invitation, or emotion of the moment, or silence, when one walks away affected after the viewing...that is art.
I love these photos. The Jolly Gathering could come from many people's memory bank. Thank you
I am telling you G. That image on the cover is just the best! Cheers..AK
These photographs each have a unique voice and speak to me.
Many thanks to the folks I have yet to talk to.... I'm in Grand Rapids installing sculpture, so I will catch up with all of you very soon. With deep affection, G
Incredible photos. Especially the one of the boy and the car.

We seem to be on the same page today -- photography as meditation, "like a prayer..." Yes. -V