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About Peter

Born New York City, 1945. 1959 High School of Art & Design, Photography. 2000 Maryland State Arts Council Grant. 2010 FotoGrafia Festival, Rome, Italy. Observational from birth, expressive soon after, 50 some since making my first exposure. New York City (Manhattan) born, Subway raised, Public, (Art & Design) High school. Working on Project: "R.I.P. BALTIMORE", 12 year project, bringing awareness to the ongoing murder rate in Baltimore City. Project: "Walls", Examining the... more

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Looking

R.I.P. BALTIMORE

I started to see the graffiti, "R.I.P." everywhere I went in Baltimore. I went past one 2 blocks away from where I lived, it was on a wall on the corner of Whitelock, and Druid Hill Avenue, "R.I.P. TROY." That is when I decided to start recording them photographically. I began asking people, showing them R.I.P. on a piece of paper, "Have you seen this anywhere?" Many said NO, right there in their own neighborhood on the walls, and people were not seeing them. I did not want to be alone viewing this madness.

Statistics of Baltimore Maryland, since 1990

  • Population drop: 100,000
  • Houses demolished: 50,000
  • Elementary school reading grade level: Low
  • HIV/AIDS: High
  • Heroin addiction: High
  • Murder rate of approximately 300 per year

It is this murder rate as manifest through the graffiti "R.I.P." that I have been documenting since 1999.

From the time of sitting next to my mother on the NY Subway, feet dangling off the edge of straw seats, ceiling fans turning, and the endless supply of every type of face parading before me, I enjoyed LOOKING!
All of my relatives expressed themselves audibly, or visually. Painters, Sculptors, Designers, players of violin, piano, and wind instruments. I loved LISTENING!
I found myself visiting Raleigh, North Carolina in the mid 50's to see my Uncle, who was Professor of Design at N.C. State University. It was the first time I saw, 4 bathrooms, and 2 water fountains. I never thought in terms of, 2 kinds of MEN, and 2 kinds of WOMEN. I never thought of two different supplies of, WATER. I looked at the signs, the plastic engraved ones, the brass etched ones. I thought about the machines that made them, the people operating those machines, the spelling out of words:"W-H-I-T-E M-E-N", "COLORED MEN", "COLORED WOMEN". The drilling of the holes, the person screwing the signs to the door, mounting them to the water fountain. Days later I saw new signs on two fountains in the Sears and Roebuck, downtown Raleigh: "MEN" and "GENTLEMEN". I hated HATRED!
It was more as, not understanding the thought process behind it all. But there I was, LOOKING at it, wondering, was I the only one seeing it? Back in Manhattan, we had 2 bathrooms, 1 water fountain. Later I came to understand the the thought process was not unique to North Carolina in the 50's, but everywhere, just not as that graphic. The same without the 'Signs'.
I returned to NYC, to Junior High School, to Eisenhower's February, 1955, "Brotherhood Week". There was a Poster competition for the Week. I depicted a traditional movie theatre, bright Marquee, carpeting, ticket booth, and movie posters. The theatre was bordered with a sidewalk out front, and an alley on the side. The alley wall I did in charcoal grey with a single door lite with a single yellow light bulb illuminating a sign: "COLORED". I was told by my Art teacher that it would not be accepted, because that "Was not Brotherhood", I responded, I know.
I have been involved in photography 50 years. The joy is in the seeing, story telling, assembling. Years ago I heard a woman describe, define, DOCUMENTARY: " The function of a documentary is not to make a court case, Thats the function of the courts. The function is to raise a reasonable doubt that perhaps the world works in a slightly different way then the way in which you had previously perceived that it did."
In 2004 I wrote, We must hold the mirror up, there should be no bliss to those who choose to ignore.

This is a world wide condition, and not difficult to understand when we look at the examples, the teachings, and the chaos available to us. When governments kill their enemies, the people will sometimes kill theirs. We have become insensitive and distant with ourselves, our families, surroundings, and the world. We don't recognize Peace, harmony, the natural world. We haven't learned from the ancestors, the elders. No history, no past, no past, no future. We look to overpower, and yet feel we have no power, we are entertained by "REALITY" shows that are illusions, and true reality, we don't see. I have been looking at the City of Baltimore, in the State of Maryland, US for years, and its murder rate, and conditions. I have recorded my observations of the past 12 years, because I wasn't finding anyone that was seeing what I was seeing. Ignorance is NOT bliss.

Law enforcement bring no peace,
courts can bring no justice.

The markets "Super", got no food,
6, 11, News, on just for us.

The Guiding Light is all but dim,
billboards, posters, bright.

Papers tell us what to do,
but all we do is fight. ...........Peter Barry

  • Body-more

    We are storytellers, observers, mirror holders, and provocateurs of thought. I once wrote, "we must hold the mirror up, there should be no bliss to those who choose to ignore." This portfolio is part of a larger body,
  • Tombstone

    The tombstone shape is often used. I have seen rows of 3,4, and 5, each bearing a different name on the same wall.
  • Big Yak

    Westside B'more, over the years I have seen this and other walls bear different names at diferent times, some added to, at other times erased clean, and started again with a new dead person. I have this wall in 4 different forms, over a span of years.
  • Gun

    Guns are also a common symbol, of all varieties
  • Man under

    This gave me the feeling of life and death, above ground, and underground. Of calling out, and being quiet. Signs and symbols, and what do we see?
  • Fuck wit us

    In the thousand plus slides I have, many containing messages, I call these, Utterances'
  • Ricky's alter

    Pouring Libations. Port St. & Lafayette. I visited this corner over a long period of time, and saw, and recorded the evolution of this 'bottle alter'. It started at the corner of the building, and over time grew to spell out Ricky's name in bottles.
  • Eli

    This is why I do this, to call out to the deaf, and to shake the dumbed.
  • White out

    Is this how we make it go away?
  • Snow bottle alter, pouring libations

    The tradition is for a person that knew the person that died, to pour a small amount of the bottled drink on the ground, and then drink the remainder. The empty bottle is then placed on the ground. <p> Pouring Libations: <p> a. The pouring of a liquid offering as a religious ritual.</ul> <p> b, an act of pouring a liquid as a sacrifice (as to a deity) <p>...In hip-hop culture, libation has taken the form of pouring a small amount of liquor onto the ground in remembrance of ancestors or friends who have died.

Looking Out

what is art? who is an artist? i don't make art! artists do that, go ask someone else. I express myself, I do it for me, ask me about that!

Alone with myself, inside looking out. Crowds, people in a bar, just a film for my viewing. Sometimes a table top model I walk around selecting my angle, slicing my fractions of a second out, displaying them on paper stored in an envelope. A glass aided ear to the wall of a housing project, a periscope in the palm of my hand on the Lexington avenue line looking up the nose of a mutha look'n, Bad. I've walked the street and never looked up, other times been down so far I'd have to turn over to look down. All of it there, no categories, no boundaries other then the ones picked up at the 6:30, 7:30, 9:00, 10:30, 12:00, and 12:45 at St. Raphael's, or presents from my Mother and Father. The bell sounded loud at P.S. 150, and rang in rounds, at Principals offices, guidance councilors, and auditoriums. Hurdles to be scaled before the assent of subway steps to the reality of the possibility of independence. Rides to Harlem, the Bowery, the Village, walking down alleys, stepping over Eddie, glass-eyed Eddie with a hollow leg filled with white Port and a mind with the response time of a turnip.
Reading the messages of Jose' on the "while you were out" walls of the subway, twenty days later seeing the transit crew steam clean his only claim to fame and drip it down the ceramic tile wall to be absorbed in the cement platform that has supported millions like him.
Could be New York, could be Mexico, maybe Baltimore, the Eddies, the Jose's, the faceless names trying to be different in a tribe that can't justify their own existence accepting the different. But could I expect anything else when looking outside their hut, to only see the back of another hut, having it's garbage thrown in a truck. How can I not see the calligraphy of field corn in the snows of Stormstown, or the rear screen projection of a communal auction in a society that might work better if the subways weren't laid to their porch. Or are they the same just on a smaller scale?, with parking lot lines, and arrows to show them the way, with trophies of lesser and greater, a mounted deer, a mounted toilet seat, conquest over the elements.
And are the elements understood? or are they divided up for ownership, to be protected or taken. Are they ours to have, to be hidden and coveted, or are they for the use of all tribes, owned by none. When we look at outlaws do we ask, "how true are the laws they live outside of?"
and who are the people making the laws, and for whom? Is there any different goal from tribe to tribe?
I've thought, Do I see to much?, or not enough? The answers are the quest, for without questions there would be no need for answers, and without this process growth would not exist. As I look around I see balance, the shopping bag nomads, the sax players for pennies, the street corner groups that coexist with and within the rain-dropped windows, the carved manhole covers, and the transparent drapes. My world is a theatre where I may be both actor and viewer. I comfort myself with tranquil visual space, the simple use of non-subject is both calm and sarcastic. Maybe Tao is the way, the loud silence, the cluttered emptiness. I used to define balance as centering, mathematical equality, to be attained by striving to reach that vault kept standard that bogged, that paralyzed ones movement and distorted the free evolution of creativity, as any short sighted boundary can. The exploration of the boundaries and the distance between them is the energy, the resource that feeds the growth of creative sensitivity.

Portrait

...Portraits are relationships where the camera is secondary, and comfort is natural. A place to be less, or observe others being so. Portraits are the result of collective energy, it is not something that is done by one.
...These are portraits of friends, in my apartment in the "Brexton". Rose Hays owned the Peabody Book Store and Pub, and the Brexton apartments, both were very colorful. Tall ceilings and a nice mix of east west light..
...I was 15 and worked in the neighborhood portrait studio. There was a large floor stand View camera, using 4x5 and 5x7 inch sheet film. Watching James, the owner do his thing, I saw the connection between the subject and photographer, eye to eye, no camera between. There on the heavy stand, eye level with his subject, was the camera, 1 exposure at a time, Jimmy would wait for that smile, the expression, the sparkle in the eye, the feel he wanted before pressing the shutter release. Its all about relationships.

  • Diane

    Diane, 8-9 months pregnant and animated, we danced, 4-5 rolls.
  • David

    David and I are both drummers, and we enjoy expressing ourselves.
  • Nzinga

    Floating is what Nzinga does.
  • Amirah

    Amirah traveled a full range of emotional expressions, this is but one, at a relaxed point. 4 rolls of film that afternoon, wonderful.
  • Layla

    I met Layla in 1986, photographically comfortable.
  • Zericote

    Stability is a good quality to be audience to. Examples are the best teachers. We all have a quietness when we rest.
  • Tulivu

    These are slices of time, flattened out, 1/1000th of one second at a time.
  • Al

    Al Washington and bicycle are one, on the move, just like here.
  • David

    The cheerful always travel lighter, and so, farther.
  • Bamidele

    We all share the space, and time. She moves.

Reggae

My travels with, and in the reggae music world. Voices and images from big stages, to kitchens and livingrooms of singers and players. We all express ourselves, in a cane field in Jamaica, or a football field in Europe. Music and photography is all about timing.

  • Jah Youth

    Big Youth, Manley Augustus Buchanan, (sometimes called Jah Youth)
  • Elders in studio

    3am Lion and Fox Studio, D.C. "Rastafari Elders" recording session and album cover shoot. We met outside the Black door (international, customs) at BWI airport, one at a time exiting, and entering. Invited by, and for the Smithsonian Program of world folk music. 21 year connection on many levels, drum, camera, reasoning, food, and song.
  • Luciano and Dean

    Luciano with Dean Fraser, Irving Plaza, NYC. Luciano's premier US concert. Big room, I slice some time out, weighing many elements moving constantly. You pick a vantage point and look.
  • Pidow '93

    Ras Pidow, 1993 in the loft, Westside, Baltimore. Living in Babylon is a job.
  • Isvibe On The Rock

    Israel Vibration (Wiss, Skelly, & Apple) Kingston Harbor, JA. "On the Rock"
  • Gold and Don

    Gold and Don Carlos. In the studio I lived and worked in, above the Peanut Factory. Music, drums, Domino table, photographs, and comfort.
  • Apple

    Apple in Israel Vibration, at the International Pavilion, late 80's in the old "Ethel's Place" across from the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Baltimore. Balcony view, small stage. A good tight night, everything on, nice.
  • Wiss Bulgin

    Wiss Bulgin, Kingston Harbor, JA. Israel Vibration "On the Rock" session. We all are comfortable after many albums and travels. The Harbor was quiet that day. Everything just feels good, from where I stand.
  • Isvibe Kingston, JA

    Israel Vibration (Wiss, Apple, & Skelly) in downtown Kingston JA. One of the locations for "On the Rock".
  • Isvibe 87

    Israel Vibration (Apple, Skelly, & Wiss) in the Arboretum on New York Ave. Washington D.C. Our first meeting, "Strength of my Life" album session. Great location, big natural spaces, and no rush. We wandered, we drove, good choices of vibe. The cover image could be in any country.

Junction

I can see ultraviolet and x-ray

I can hear all phons and decibels

360 degrees are always in view

The five colors the the human eye will blind

The five notes the human ear will confound

The five tastes the human mouth offend

Lao-tze

Should I not paint in colors to be seen?

Should I not speak in tones to be heard?

Would I have what I can see and hear

imprison me?

Or should I speak and draw of doors?

Eye Sights

Walls

Some make Quilts, some do mosaic work, We put parts together, the collage makers, painters, and others through a camera frame. And HOW we put the parts together, thats on us, the ones who express themselves.
I am taken with the compositions available in the city using the element of Man marking his spots, or in many cases the covering up of man marking his spot. There is an endless supply of walls in Baltimore that appear for a fleeting moment.

  • wall, yellow & brick

    Sometimes in an attempt to understand, we misinterpret, and at times we search for the cost, and miss the value. - Peter Barry
  • Plum square

    I love layers. <p> ...All understanding begins with our not accepting the world as it appears. - Alan C. Kay
  • mirror

    Eastside, Ashland and Wolfe, Hopkins area. A bathroom mirrored cabinet, wood paneling (knotty pine). layers to peel back, lives exposed.
  • Two Blues w/wire

    Contrasts and compatibility, the two blues, the Vee and the corner, the flat and the contrasty, and the sharp and the soft..
  • footprint 1

    Basic and busy, the divisions and placement feels good.
  • Blocks with shadows

    Simple elements, on a complex ground. The three dimensional splashes on a two dimensional field.
  • formally known as fireplace

    Interior walls become exterior in Baltimore when a Rowhouse collapses, or is demolished. Living room, Bedroom, Bathroom walls are now suspended, 1 floor up, on the now outside of of the house next door, that used to have a house next to it. Paint, wallpaper, outlines of stairways, and electrical outlets floating on the outside wall of a house. What is displayed is available to the eye for a brief time, and then covered with concrete block.
  • wall, steps, blue & pink

    I find these to be delightfully busy, and layered, with soft colors, and sharp shadows.
  • Wall, Green/Yellow

    Baltimore
  • Wall, Blue

    Baltimore

Subway NYC

...I was in the subway from birth, 15 cent tokens, straw seats, leather hang straps, ceiling fans (NO air conditioning), rivets and I-beams, and penny gum machines. I can feel my legs dangling sitting on my mothers lap, or next to her by myself. The movement, rhythm, the sound and the faces, it was an entire world. It was a way of traveling a distance seeing different places. I could go from the depths and caverns of Wall Street, to the sand on the beach of Coney Island for 8, 2 cent deposit bottles, in 45 minutes. I could ride in the first car and look out the window at tunnels, bridges, Brooklyn going by, and then, the ATLANTIC OCEAN. The subway is rich.
...These were made in 1994, during 4 months after my father passing, and my mother in hospital for 2 of those 4. I processed the film in the bathroom, dried the rolls hanging on the shower curtain rod, and sleeved them. Over a thousand exposures, and none of them ever in print. This is the first time I have viewed these in positve form. I never made contact sheets of them.
...I can't see, unless I look, I look everywhere, millions of faces on the NYC Subway, quiet barns, portraits of trees, people, shapes, forms, patterns, question marks, magnifying glass, story telling, or just a zen brush stroke across a snow covered field. The process is clean, just dance, let go, assemble the frame. Moving, weighing, balancing, the contiuous flow of all the elements are weighed, and image decisions are made.

  • Subway 3

    We can travel great distances on our own, on foot, 3 to 4 stories of steps, or 50 to 75 foot long tunnels. Along comes a train, you get on, and do the same thing on the other end. You keep moving.
  • No. 7 Times Square

    This is the New York City Subway, and New York City in general, sleepy and busy, still and moving. Here everything is moving, lines and space, direction and base. I love the gum pocks on the station's platform, and the seated masses. One half the image is transient, and one half stationary. The "No. 7", Times Square, The begining and the end of the line between Times Sq. and Main St. Flushing. We just get on and wait till it goes, the rest, move ahead.
  • Bongo player 1

    New York City is a city of rhythm, and the movement of the people moving through the subway is a major element of that rhythm. Now you add the layer of the musicians into the mix of sounds and movement, and it becomes a statement, a perfomance, a flavor of the experience that is part of moving that many people there and back. People on the move, off of one line, up and out, or switch lines. There is little time to spend listening to the offering.
  • Bongo player 2

    Platforms fill and empty with people going to, and coming from, timed with trains arriving, and leaving. In between those times, one can express oneself, and the space, ......changes.
  • Grand Central

    A wonderful stage, big space, audiences come and go during the intermissions.
  • Subway 1

    Lexington Ave. The ritual of looking, it's a dance. You can see the reflections change on the wires, pipes, and reflective surfaces down the tunnel that catch the headlights of the N, "It's coming!"
  • Subway man 2

    Life down below, we act out. It's a community, we are family.
  • 14th St.

    Moving platforms on the curve. The marvels of the underground: steel, concrete, rivets, and machinery. Stretches of 10 blocks in a straight line, and some times like the curve at 14th street, a time for flexibility. you know where to walk.
  • Subway 2

    Rush hour, some got on 9 or 10 stops ago, they are the seated ones, the newspaper readers. Some are entering or exiting. You get on and look for a good spot.
  • Trumpet

    It is part of the fabric of the total, the big picture, the expression. The sound levels vary greatly along with the vibrations. Most people don't take the time to experience what is possible, and hear the range.

eyebservations

Balance, it's not an equal thing
weighing left and right,
The Plums go here, the pounds ounces there,
Dollars, cents, the fight.

The canvas size, the finder frame
the edges that we see,
Thats the scope, the scale
the assembly for to be.

The placement of the forms
the colors, parts, the notes,
The fluid flow of elements,
the finished, thats our hopes.

And how we go about it,
the critics rant and rave,
"He means this", "she sees that",
the galleries, stash and save.

But in that fleeting, private moment,
the space between the beats
We dance, we play, we utter,
the sum, it flies, it leaps.

Balance, it's not an equal thing
colors, black and white
The choice, the placement, what is, what isn't,
thats the joy, not what's right.

The weighing that is done,
the shifting of my sights,
I think, "Fill dirt wanted"
here's the heavy and the light.

Give me a space to fill, a pause to sing,
a sound not to make,
Put all you have, Anywhere,
i'll find that spot to stake.

The rhythms where it isn't,
the colors where it's not.
The balance comes from, this right here,
and that, ..........Oh not.

So tell me what I'm saying,
and what I'm trying to show.
You see me standin over here,
that's him .......he had to go!

I'm sayin the eye sees this, at times sees that,
sometimes its round, and times, its flat.
Where it goes, and how it sounds,

I'm sayin: ........I can't tell you that !

..................peter barry

  • Hadley N.Y. 1959

    In the field that at times grew corn, or hay, is now a portrait studio. Good light. The Hudson River is a 1/4 mile behind that chair.
  • Hay rake Hadley, NY 1959

    I used to operate this, my brother was drving the Farmall Cub pulling it. These were quiet times, open space, air and light. Natural elements, teachers, timekeepers, designers, and Thunder storm maker. And the bounce of that seat was floating.
  • bird billboard

    North & Maryland Ave. Balt, MD. An intersection where people are going somewhere else.
  • Washington Square Park, NYC, '59

    Sunday's in the Village, Folk Singing Permits. NO Conga Drums allowed. Open space at the base of 5th Avenue, Washington Sqare Park. Sundays were for a 100 little groups and gatherings of singers and guitar players, doing, "Folk songs." 4, 5, 6 people in a circle learning a song, or teaching some chords, vibrant time. The cities Parks Department issued Folk Singing Permits. Remember: "NO DRUMS ALLOWED"
  • Druid Hill Park, Baltimore, 1992

    "The park vibe" Conga style, and play'n towards each other. More congas back then. Sundays in the park, since the 60's, we just show up with a drum, horn, a something to sound the beat.
  • Malcolm X Park, D.C. '92

    Malcolm X Park, D.C. Sundays, each one different. Conversations.
  • Santa in the Automat '59

    Horn & Hardart's Automat, NYC 1959. "Coffee 2 Nickles". These were marble wall panels, part of the construction of the small chain of fast food restaurants called, the "Automat". Open late, some 24 hour, I found a Salvation Army Santa Claus., 2 nickles.
  • Washington Square Park '59

    Sunday's in the Village, Folk Singing Permits, a conga beat, a kazoo's cry, a trumpet's call. The beat circle, talk'n different stuff. But we're all together in the same park, collective energy.
  • Sister on the 7

    You don't DO New York City, you let it unfold, you travel along, and look, observe, travel along. We had just surfaced in the daylight, seemed like a weekend day, quiet. I never saw her face.
  • NYC street healing

    "Words are abstractions that draw attention away from the particularity of the things they represent" ................................ alfred korzybaki, 1930

Peter's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.