His pictures talk a thousand words


"Black Lung" and "Home" (left-right)

     The art of photography can take years of work to finally achieve that satisfying impact of a professional artist.  Rarely does anyone pick up a camera and immediately find the balance and proportion that comes with practice.  Although Max Skeans never dreamed of being a skilled photographer, his lack of experience but self-provocation and a natural talent forced his hand when opportunity came knocking. 

     Abstract expressionism influence without the concerns of the non-objective content concerns is the way that Skeans describes his work.  Printmaking capabilities and personal expression are what makes his work special.  Thought provoking may be the term that Max’s viewers use when they stop and stand silent in front of a piece.

"Morning Fiction"

     Skeans had barely started his college stint in experimental music composition, literature and writing when Kent State became a war zone.  Eight years and several combat tours later, he picked up the pieces and went to work as a writer on environmental concerns for the Office of Chief of Public Affairs at the Pentagon.  It was here that a local newspaper editor offered him a job as a full time photographer that included rebuilding a darkroom and providing full photo support for his paper. 

     In 1979, Max decided to pursue his original plans in art and signed up at the Fine Arts Department at the University of FloridaHiram Williams, a senior teacher, referred to Skeans as a ‘painter inside a photographer’s body’ and went to work to set him free.  Here he learned to plant his mind’s image on the goal and not the medium.  Mixed media of conventional photography, drawing, painting and digitally captured images has been the result of UF’s influence on this artist turned photographer then turned artist once again.

     Max has displayed his mixed media at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Chicago Art Institute, Ringling Museum and many other places.  He is currently working on a project called ‘Sandra’s World’ and other sedulous pieces that can only be described as living in the analogue world of human experience. 



   Max lives in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio with his long-time companion, Sandra Goodrich and continues to fascinate the world with a style that has its own language. “My philosophy is to say as little as possible and allow the work to, well, do the work,” says Max, however to learn more about his extensive talents with and beyond the camera, see www.ohiosilver.com.

By Kate Garton

Editor’s note: For the print view version, see: www.scribd.com/doc/51675020/Portrait-of-Max-Skeans


Published by on May 2011. Filed under Archives, Art-to-Art Palette Journal, Bugle Section, Cover Section. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

4 Comments for “His pictures talk a thousand words”

  1. This article showcases this photographer off to his best advantage. It is a comprehensive overview of his life and work. I think the first two photos chosen are exquisite. The typewriter with the image (Morning Fiction) nor the island (Dutchman) were worthy of being with the first two images. I am impressed with Max’s career. However, when I clicked on the link I was extremely disappointed. I found Max is using it like his blog. Then selling bits of his wife imaginary for a $100 a pop. It is clear the man is sophisticated as the images reminds one of Felician Rops and Gustavaf Klimt. Max is a fine documentry photographer. These personal images have been manipulated in photoshop to look like the forementioned masters. We will do not care about their love story, secret messages nor stretch marks. Save it and let the audience like it as a work of art or a photo. Let someone bring their own story to it.

    The feature proves that an artist needs a curator and an editor. Artists or writers both need someone else to edit their works. If it is art then it need to speak for itself. If it is writing then the right forum should be found. In 1865, Nathanson let Pierre Bonnard put his wife Misia Sert of the poster/lithograph. It was the first time that the word and the image were integrated. It is still a classic poster, but it was the contents of La Revue Blanche where Jews found their voices heard in journalism in Paris. The poster was a mile stone in history. Personal views of one’s partner’s private parts manipulated are interesting, but artist should have boundries for his own work. http://www.affinitygalleries.com

  2. ‘Sorry about the website ‘disappointment’ – I was in the middle of loading new work when a home accident resulted in broken ribs. I’ve uploaded new things and have a large offering in silver images being sent up next. Again, I apologize for the ‘lean’ offering when you visited. Please try again. Max (BTW, I’m not married; trying though……)

  3. Seperate from the ‘website’ problems, I’d like to address the main thing Mr. Clark stated with which I totally disagree: “Personal views of one’s partner’s private parts manipulated are interesting, but artist should have boundries for his own work.” (Note: In the body of work, I did for “Sandra’s World” there are at the most 10 nude images and none of those have “private parts” as the focus point)

    As published in my book’s introduction, there is a very long tradition of artists doing exactly the opposite: Picasso, Matisse, Strand, Weston…;in fact, there was a book, “The Model Wife,” which dealt precisely with the subjects and content. However, absent of all that, I do take exception to any suggestion that artists should have “boundaries” because that is what art is about. Taken in the context of my larger body of life work, “Sandra’s World” 2004-2011 was produced with utmost stealth while working with other subject matter. From the personal and photojournalist perspective, I remained detached from the subject for several years before consumating a relationship.

    The point was to record and depict a lady moving from her late forties into her fifties with all the angst and white-knuckles attached. In Sandy’s case, it was smoother than she thought and came with a new sense of self-beauty and significance. I just recorded it.

    From an archive, numbering several thousand images made during that period, only 60 were worked with multi-media tools. ‘Silver Prints’ will be released at a later time. S’sW is also my first inquiry into color since I was an art student. Are there some images stronger than others? Certainly. I made no attempt to make every image a masterpiece. Instead, I chose to depict the subject, mostly uncontrived, as I saw her. From that process some images do stand above others, but it is still the project’s premise I chose to serve first.

    Is an artist’s personal life partitioned from the work? I only speak for myself when I say ‘no.’ For me, to do otherwise, would result in mass-produced factory products.


  4. RE: “These personal images have been manipulated in photoshop to look like the forementioned masters.”

    I normally would not respond to this comment by Mr. Clark. But, this being an art discussion forum I feel a responsibility to defend creative use of Adobe products – including this web site – as any artist would do using contemporary technology. Whether it’s the camera obscura, a move away from asphaltum based oil pigments, the use of metal plates vs stone in printmaking, the use of photography as a subject resource, etc….artists are more inclined to use available tchnology to accomplish their visual goals. Really, are we not done with the disppointment when Bod Dylan went ‘electric?’

    Nonetheless, Mr. Clark uses ‘photoshop’ in the popular, yet pejorative, manner which suggests anyone with photoshop could do the same thing. This is same critical argument that anyone with a 1-gallon can of latex pain could create Pollock-like paintings. Nonsense.

    IF, just IF, photographers such as Edward Wweston and Ansel Adams were alive today, my bet is they’d go digital and do something no one else could do. Ditto with Goya and Rembrandt in their printmaking. That’s the legacy and obligation I have to those who preceeded me and to my profession. We, as artists, work within our era and the the tools available.

    To process images for the internet, Photoshop is essentially required. For the record, Photoshop was NEVER used in any way except to adjust tone and contrast after intial scans of the images addressed by Mr. Clark. As in printing multiples of silver prints, I have worked with HP techs to establish ICC/gamma profiles which bring the DesignJet printers into my creative toolbox. Everything, including multiple run registrations and archival grounds and inks, is now a part – not exclusive – of my image production.

    But, to be fair to Mr. Clark, EVERY IMAGE on the internet looks like a Photoshop product because most of it IS. When the work hangs on the wall, however, perceptions change very quickly. Scaling an image from a 32″ monitor screen to a 14×22″ print is a challenge in its own right but formally trained photographers are used to this.

    But, I can still shoot, develop film, and print the resulting image FASTER than working with digital media. I am interested in how far the marriage between digitally captured images with conventional materials can be pushed. There aren’t many ‘photoshop’ people who would consider running 250kg Rives BFK, slightly damp, through a $1800 printer….Even HP advised against it because they had never heard of it being done…It cost me several sets of print heads which were expendibles anyway.

    Again, I am NOT married and use several models, including myself, for my figural work.


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