By Lavinia Plonka
They say that men are from Mars and women from Venus. When I was younger, I disputed this apparently sexist stereotyping. It implied that in order to understand the opposite sex, one merely had to tune in to the particular dysfunctions of ancient Roman gods and all was understood. As the years have gone by, I’ve come to recognize and celebrate the fact that yes, men and women are different. And maybe we do exhibit some qualities from these mythological entities. But thank goodness life is not straightforward or predictable. Truth is, not only do we have Mars and Venus to color our personalities, but we can also be mercurial, jovial, saturnine and, now apparently, also neptunian, which are defined as HSP, Highly Sensitive People.
My husband Ron on the other hand, is about as Venusian as a guy can be. We can’t go for a walk without him pausing and staring at what appears to be nothing, but turns out to be a delicate blue flower. We are usually late for every dinner party because he’s either having a fashion fit, has decided at the last minute that he must shave and that his hair is a mess, or he has completely forgotten we are going somewhere (OK, that’s not Venusian. That’s just a guy thing.)
While I am busily making to-do lists and trying to figure out Twitter, Ron sits dreamily in his studio creating pictures of stunning beauty. I will come home to find he has brought all his photo equipment into the kitchen because the peace lily has bloomed and “It’s the most beautiful thing in the world.” A man who loves to sleep past eight, I will be occasionally surprised to find him gone at the crack of dawn because the mist, or the snowfall, or the mustard blossoms called him to grab the best light.
Ron always says he doesn’t take pictures, he makes pictures. Back when he was a commercial photographer in New York, in the ancient days before Photoshop, Ron’s specialty was special effects and still lifes. It was the perfect career for a man so right brained sometimes he couldn’t even remember his own address. He would sit in his studio for days on end with cutouts and dollhouse furniture creating fantasy landscapes for clients like MTV and Revlon. I was often his model. He would photograph me, cut me out and stick me in toy helicopters, on top of grasshoppers, or one of my favorites, bewigged as several different characters, flushing down a drain. It was a romantic time.
Since moving to Asheville, where art is part of the atmosphere we breathe, Ron has taken his gift for assemblage, mixed it with his years of fine art training, his gift for composition and lighting and turned it toward an exploration of beauty for art’s sake. Flowers, fish, and clouds fill his lens (and the walls of my house).
He was one of the first photographers to embrace computer technology. (In fact, he was hired years ago by a fledgling Apple to do a series of book covers for their first Macintosh user manuals. Ironically, he had to create all the images in the old fashioned way because Photoshop didn’t exist yet.)
At first, people had difficulty accepting digital photography and Ron’s computer “painting” as art. Ron prints his own pictures on canvas in a technique called gicleé. People used to snort and say “Ha! You just press a button and poof! You’ve got a photograph!” Galleries rejected gicleés as “just reproductions” even though they were signed, limited editions. But Ron persevered. Now every gallery “features” gicleé prints from various artists, touting it as affordable art (another of Ron’s dreams.) And the art of “making photographs” is recognized even by such august institutions as the Metropolitan Museum.
Is it my Martian side, or just my female side that yells up the stairs, “Hey! Dinner’s been ready for 15 minutes! I’m starting without you!” Is it Ron’s Venusian side or his passive aggressive side that forgets to mow the lawn because he spent all afternoon creating a dream landscape from another planet as a background for one of his still life images?
He tells me he’s gotten a show downtown. He’s taken photos of the wall of the gallery and on his computer, is busily inserting his photographs on the wall, trying this arrangement, that arrangement. I come upstairs. “So, have you sent an announcement about the show to people?” I ask.
“Huh?” he doesn’t even look up as he re-sizes an image of clouds shot from an airplane.
“Invitations. Postcards. Facebook. Press Release,” I say.
“Uh. No. Hey do you think this flower looks good next to the fish?”
“What about refreshments? Have you thought about what you’re serving.”
“Wine. I’ll buy some wine. Maybe cheese. Oh. And grapes, I love grapes. What do you think I should wear?”
I sigh, go down to my computer, log into Ron’s Facebook account (he can’t even remember his own password). After sending out an invitation, I sit down and make a list.
What would we do without each other?
You can see Ron Morecraft’s art at Miya Gallery in Weaverville and at the Updraft Gallery in Asheville, where his show is up till June 10. See more images at RonMorecraftStudio.com.