Hours of Idleness-A Photographer's Journey in St. Louis

Natalie Slater, Bake and Destroy

Posted in awareness, Chicago, family, interview, learning, perception by Jason Gray on June 13, 2013

Click on pic to go to photographer’s site.

Chicago blogger and baker, Natalie Slater, escapes all stereotypes. ¬†At a glance, you may think that you’ve got her all figured out, but spend an afternoon (or a week) reading through the content of her blog, BakeandDestroy.net, and you will surely reform your assumptions, time and again. Part of what you will uncover is that Natalie is a tech-savvy, self-promotion guru, a loving and supportive mother and wife, a veritable repository of counter-culture factoids, and a hell of a baker.

She is also a dear friend of mine, having put up with my disappearances and re-appearances over the years, and as such, has agreed to kick-start One Round Jack [my interview site; indefinitely postponed] with the following question and answer session. When you are finished reading, be sure to check out her celebrated blog!


Brian Motl, Bike Culturist

Posted in interview, perception by Jason Gray on May 31, 2013

Brian and I met under the oddest of circumstances, we both were working for a short time selling luggage for a retailer in Chicago’s Water Tower Place. Hawking high-end luggage was a stretch for me, so I can’t imagine what exact circumstances brought Mr. Motl to be employed at this particular shop on Michigan Avenue. In any case, we soon found common ground in the Dot Game (I am still the champ, Brian), and in playing music over the store’s sound system that was wildly offensive to our clientele. Sometime during that year, I got married, and my mother selected Brian to be the human tripod for her video camera, another unlikely partnership for Brian (the result is the only surviving video record of my wedding ceremony).

All of this is relevant only to illustrate that Brian is the type of guy who is at home anywhere, despite the fact that, for at least as long as I have known him, his singular obsession is with an object that is designed specifically to take you places.

I had hoped for this interview to be a really thorough introduction for the outsider into Brian’s signature world of bikes, beer, and anti-bon vivants, but he responded in typical Brian style by keeping things painfully simple and direct. I couldn’t even squeeze a picture of a bike or two that he has built out of him…

Oh well, the world is probably better off not trying to nail down what makes a guy like him tick. So do yourself a Brian and make yourself at home, pop open a beer, read this exceedingly brief interview, and then get back on the road where you belong.


Ramon Norwood aka Radius, Electronic Artist

Posted in Chicago, interview by Jason Gray on May 27, 2013

Ramon Norwood, aka Radius, is not an enigma; you meet him once, and you understand him for life. This is not to say that Norwood is simple, just consistent about his passions. After all, how could someone who sites their influences as “everything and nothing” be simple, or inconsistent?

It’s somehow true that Radius’ music embodies both the present and the absent, and that is truly a difficult thing to phrase with words. His creations fill even as they hollow.

Ramon and I have known each other for over ten years, and in that time, we have had a knack for drifting away and then crossing paths again at improbable intervals. This too, is a possible comparison to his music; the evanescence followed by the unexpected resurgence. Maybe not.

Nevertheless, one thing about this music is for certain true, whether you are after the everything or the nothing, Radius has something for you.


Dinah Grossman, Cheap Tart Bakery

Posted in art, Chicago, interview by Jason Gray on May 26, 2013

Chicago-based pastry pro, Dinah Grossman, is a woman of many talents. She performs Tango, has a super-sharp wit, and of course, bakes delectable treats, among other things. Her business, Cheap Tart Bakery, employs the latter ability, and I imagine that a lot of people will be taking notes as her enterprise grows. I know from personal experience, that the food industry is a difficult market to be successful in, but when you have a true talent, it just shows (I didn’t).

Dinah and I met several years back, when we were both working at a job that did not utilize either of our full, innate potentials. She struck me then, as she still does, as being extremely self-assured and competent, but also accessible and adaptable. In other words, capable of seeing things from many points of view. She had traveled extensively, which struck me as remarkable for her age at the time.

She once gave me a short story of hers entitled, Tucson Days, which illuminated the extraordinary thoughts of a few ordinary people grasping for a glimpse of the profound and hoping to find it underlying the unremarkable reality of life. The story is written in a fluid prose that borders on something Kerouac would have been fortunate to contrive during one of his long typewriter benders. There is a bit of Updike in there as well. Thankfully, I still have this copy; a short excerpt:

“I wasn’t sure what any of this had to do with an impending nuclear explosion, so I sat and watched the sun melt away, glancing at Hershel’s face for clues. Moshe picked at a hangnail. Hershel, who was nodding in grave understanding at Garrison, apparently found it all terribly relevant. After a while we climbed down off the roof and Garrison got on his bicycle and rode off into the dark.”

So, what does all of this about Dinah have to do with tarts? In my opinion, everything.



Posted in 35mm, art, Chicago, perception, photography, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on July 23, 2012

Midwestern will be a self-published, limited-run book, and also represents a body of images in an ongoing project. To me, the Midwest is an idea, a place, a condition, and more. The pictures have a relationship of context that forms a dialogue when viewed altogether.

The street photography that I do originates from a desire to connect with my environment in an extraordinarily personal way. This type of photography is very instinctive; I respond to what the surroundings provide, adding little. The picture-taking is focused, but is also very organic; this is the result of a hypersensitive connection between the camera, the mind, and the eye.

All of the images were photographed between 2008 and 2012, mostly in either St. Louis or Chicago, or at points in-between. (more…)

Free Album Download

Posted in art, Chicago by Jason Gray on March 14, 2012

My good friend, and Chicago DJ, Radius, has posted his new album, Sleeping Wide Awake, for free download on the Chicago-based, Moment Sound’s website. After you listen, read my 2011 interview with Radius here.


Posted in 35mm, art, awareness, Chicago, photography by Jason Gray on June 26, 2011

Some of you might recall a series that I started several years ago, and that was somewhat erroneously referred to as “Photo-Impressionism”. In any case, here is a slight expansion on that old, abandoned project; picked back up in the city where it began. Enjoy.

All Nikon D50 with Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G lens.

More after the jump–> (more…)

Chicago Street Photography, Part 3

Posted in 35mm, art, awareness, black and white, Chicago, photography by Jason Gray on June 19, 2011

Part three of my recent trip to Chicago-land.

All Nikon D50 with Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G lens.

More after the jump–> (more…)

Chicago Street Photography, Part Two

Posted in 35mm, art, awareness, Chicago, perception, photography by Jason Gray on June 18, 2011

Five pics are never enough to fulfill a Chicago fix. Here’s five more, and part three is coming tomorrow…

All Nikon D50 with Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G lens.

More after the jump–> (more…)

Chicago Street Photography, Part One

Posted in 35mm, art, awareness, black and white, Chicago, photography by Jason Gray on June 17, 2011

Who doesn’t like some good, old-fashioned, street photography every now and again? These are part one of the fruits of my latest expedition to the “Hog-Butcherer of the World”.

All Nikon D50 with the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G lens.

More after the jump–> (more…)