Don Sichler

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Artist Statement

In February 1984 I was very successful amateur photographer. I just completed my 2nd solo exhibition of my photographs. This exhibit, at the office of the Manhattan Borough President was called “New Yorkers in Public”. The press release for this exhibit described me in this way:
“A Manhattan resident specializing in candid photography, Sichler is intensely fascinated by New York and its inhabitants, and his photographs capture the many moods and characters that make the city a unique and wonderful place. An award-winning artist, Sichler has exhibited at the Washington Heights Art Shows, Automation House, Gallery 12, and the Gracie Square/Carl Schurz Park Association Art Shows.”

In 1985 I lost interest in photography, stopped exhibiting my work, sold my Leica camera and developed other interests. In 2005, after 20 years of not taking a picture, I purchased a moderately priced digital camera and rediscovered my passion for photography. Now I am again intensely involved in making an exhibiting my photographs. My photos today are very different from what they were 25 years ago. My work at that time would best be described as documentary photography. I did what is commonly called street photography and was inspired by the expression “The Decisive Moment”. I recorded special events and people doing there normal every day activities. My camera helped me be an outside observer without being part of the event myself. It acted as a wall between the rest of the world and myself. As a result, if I photographed an event I could not be a participant. Consequently, I rarely made family pictures.

Today I consider myself an artist who uses a camera and a computer as tools. I don’t create art. I discover it. My camera records what I find and the computer is used to develop and expose it. Sometimes the completed picture looks very different from what the camera recorded. I call my photos alternate reality. It is reality because it is not a painting. It is real. It is actually what the camera captured in its memory. It is alternate reality because I use the basic tools in Photoshop to emphasize certain aspects of my photos like color and design. My goal as a photographer is to get my pictures to look like what I saw in my mind’s eye when I snapped the shutter and help the viewer see and experienced what I did. I once said to a friend “I would like to show you some pictures I made of that old building across the street” he said “I don’t need to see your pictures. I see that building every day.” I replied, “You don’t see what I see.” Windows are some of my favorite things to photograph because they reflect what is inside and outside. As in life, sometimes it is hard to determine if what we see is coming from the inside or outside.

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