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Artist/Naturalist Pages

Marty Klein

Marty Klein is a pioneer in scanography, the art of using a flatbed scanner as a macro camera. His work is remarkable for its deeply informed connection to nature, for its wit, and for its joy in life. Klein's grounding in photography serves him well in composing his materials on the glass. What gives Klein depth is his intimacy with Nature, for he is a true naturalist, a man of the land. He sees.

From the program for
Marty Klein at Arnold Arboretum:

Marty Klein is fueled by an insatiable and wide-ranging curiosity to see familiar natural forms in new and refreshing ways. Using a flatbed scanner as a camera, Marty Klein captures images of plants and other natural objects with incredible depth and contrast.
The images are very different from traditional photographs, yet remain close in spirit, imbued with an arresting vitality.

Several new works in this show use specimens gathered by special permission from the Arboretum's living collections.

Marty Klein holds a BA and a Masters of Regional Planning from the University of Massachusetts, and over the years has worked as an artist, photographer, blacksmith, and land protection activist.

Go to My Connection to Nature, below

Go to Artist Statement, below


Gallery One: Marty Klein
click to enlarge


Oak Leaves on Bolete Cap

I came on this 8” diameter bolete mushroom in mid-August at Mt. Tom State Park in Easthampton, MA .
I was struck not only by its size, but by the adhering leaves on the yellow and red cap. Beyond that,
I see untold stories. Imagine this mushroom’s origins, beneath the forest floor, waiting for the right moment...pushing up through the leaf litter, its sticky cap gathering leaves as it emerges. A slug and a small rodent have eaten from it. Cracks speak to a lack of recent rain and its age.
I am struck by the interplay of the leaf remnants and the cap.
For me, this image is about beauty in the overlooked, change, and the web of life.

Start of the Great Pea Migration
One of nature's least understood spectacles. Must be witnessed to appreciate the scope of this event that's been occurring for uncounted eons. Why does this take place? What is the deep urge that drives peas to undertake this perilous journey? Science can only guess.
Research is ongoing, the internet claims.
Playing with my food...again.
This composition was inspired by a fall chore and the forms and colors of the season. Viburnum and castor bean leaves, grape vine tendrils and butternuts are included in this image
Garlic Scapes
In spring, sinuously curving flower stalks arise from garlic plants. Farmers cut them, so that the plant will devote its energy to producing bulbs rather than seeds. Over two years, I attempted many scans, none of which seemed to capture their essence, until this, like Celtic knots.
Fern Dance
On a day in May, I gathered a few fronds of two native species - Christmas ferns on the left (their leaves are shaped like stockings) and Sensitive ferns on the right. I am struck by their forms and colors and how the spiral fiddleheads unfurl as they mature.
Romanesco is a broccoli/cauliflower hybrid that dates back to sixteenth century Italy. These came from my garden and following the scan, I devoured my subjects. A delicious composition!
Bladdernut is a small tree that grows along streams and riverbanks. The pods rattle.

Getting Closer to Arnold
Korean fir cones, collected during a July 2009 collecting trip at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston. There's a wonderful Escher-esque quality to the scales that I saw when i scanned the cones.
Spirals in nature fascinate me.
Here are fern fiddleheads
with an ammonite fossil and snail shell

Magnolia fruits collected at the Arnold Aboretum. As they lay on my desk, within a day or two the striking red fruits began to emerge from the odd looking fruits.

June Roadside Foliage
I was inspired by the colors and textures of these leaves of Staghorn Sumac and Joe Pye Weed. Staghorn is a small tree, Joe Pye a perennial growing to 12 feet. Joe Pye prefers wetlands and sports a large, deep pink flower head in August, attractive to butterflies and other insects
By Any Other Name (2010)

Gallery Two: Taller Work
click to enlarge

Sumner and Nancy's Garden
From the late summer backyard garden of two dear friends. This composition includes Dahlias in transition and the stalks of Juncus effusus 'Spiralis', a member of the rush family.
I love the vertical movement and the sense of change.

Clematis on Smoke Bush Leaves
The materials for this composition were collected during a June 2009 visit to Harvard's Arnold Arboretum.
The husk of an emerging dragonfly larva on the stem of an unknown plant, along with striped wintergreen and Indian pipe flowers. The latter two are common July wildflowers in the NE woods. Indian pipe has no chlorophyll, so isn't green.

Amanita muscaria
This species, called Fly Agaric, is better known as it appears in Europe and the western US, where it is red with white patches, the familiar mushroom often seen in kitsch. it was once used as a fly poison.
Modern Nest
A northern oriole's nest, finished off with strips of plastic. Out in nature, I commonly see nests that have some incorporated plastic. It speaks to fewer farms, less horse hair & wool to use, to the adaptability of nature's creatures and to the ubuiquity of plastic litter. Also here are dried umbrella magnolia leaves and beauty berries.

Marbled Glads
Fresh and dried gladiola blossoms. The background is marbled paper created by Chena River Marblers of Amherst, MA.
Mullein and Honeysuckle
Clematis de Valerie
Tulips and Calla Lilies
I love how the flowers 'relate' to one another.

Winecaps under Japanese Maples
Wine-cap Stropharia mushrooms growing under Japanese maples at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston. These tasty fungi often grow in wood chips in spring and summer. The caps can grow to a diameter of 10 plus inches. Robusto!

Three Poppies
Roots of Passion

In His Own Words: My Connection to Nature

Two quotes that resonate deeply with me:

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” -John Burroughs

“Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.”
-Henry David Thoreau

Like Burroughs, for as long as I can remember I have been drawn to the natural world. For me it’s a place of discovery, mystery and awe, recreation and reflection,
a judgment-free zone. Nature is.

In the late 90s, while sitting on a large expanse of secluded beach at a reservoir in the Adirondacks, I had a simple, yet for me, profound epiphany. To my right, all sand and water. To my left, a small steam, and to its left, instead of sand, a field of boulders of varying sizes, covered with and surrounded by colonies of myriad plants.

In this life, I realized, parallel worlds exist. One is “brown world’, that place governed by our societal rules, our obligations and mundane responsibilities, where the majority of humans, of necessity, dwell. Alongside it, is “green world”, nature’s realm, a place that endures, in spite of human influence, be it enriching or destructive. Where time means rhythmic seasons and eons, not minutes and hours. We are mostly outsiders now, yet we are in fact, of this world.

And going further onto a limb: If we are of the natural world, we are also subject to its principles, such as the cycle of creation/destruction. Taking the long, long view, perhaps our species’ role here (like a forest fire?), is to make the planet suitable for the next web of life. Fortunately, as I ventured out further, the limb broke!

For some 30 years, I have been interested in the third kingdom, specifically wild mushrooms, despite a very unpleasant experience the first time I ate some. Presently, I collect/consume perhaps 60 edible/medicinal species I find locally, present several public programs each year, lead public and private walks and use them in my scanography. Foraging for mushrooms requires both a close focus on the details of the quarry, in addition to a broader view and an understanding of habitats, seasons, soils, tree species, weather, etc. Ecology, really. For rewards,mushrooms provide a way for me to stay in touch with nature’s rhythms, living as I do, presently, in an apartment. Not to mention that steady supply of tasty fungi, the exercise provided by the quest. And, in the course of my fungal forays, I invariably encounter other, unexpected wonders.

While I cherish each experience in the natural world, and each one offers its treasures, it’s moments such as these that figuratively bring me to my knees:

On the grass, on my back, reading. A big dragonfly lands on my book, a partially eaten insect in its mouth. It spits out the head onto my book and cleans its face with nimble, predatory legs, six inches from my face.
A winter day, snow covered landscape. Warm air begets fog. From a 100’ cliff, one by one, a flock of 25 wild turkeys launch and glide into the cornfield below like apparitions.
A Cooper’s hawk, clutching a mourning dove in its talons, flies through the open doors of my blacksmith shop, thinking it’s found a shortcut to the woods beyond, only to end up fluttering against a window at the rear. Leather gloved, I catch it, release the dove and minutes later, free the now calm hawk.
After several years of tentative identification and forced restraint, owing to its resemblance to toxic Amanitas, I confidently eat a parasol mushroom (M. procera) for the first time. With hints of maple and a sublime taste and texture, it immediately takes its place as my #1 favorite edible.
Ten minutes, eye to eye at 50 paces, with a coyote at the edge of my yard.
Fishing in a canoe for striped bass, on a tidal river in Maine, during the night of the Perseids meteor shower. An unidentified, persistent noise...bird-like, but not, emanates from the darkness beyond, punctuating the slurping of feeding fish. Shining my light there, some 50’ otter stands on a rock, scolding me for invading its fishing grounds. We negotiate terms.
A muffled peeping from the vegetation at the edge of a beaver pond. I investigate and find a bullfrog, head held firmly in the mouth of a water snake. I lay on the damp ground, spellbound, taking pictures for 20 minutes, fighting an impulse to intervene, watching the frog suffocate and the snake perform a trompe d’oeil.
I imitate the calls of loons, titmice, some owls and others well enough, that they will usually respond in kind and sometimes come to me.
Eating cattail flowers for the first time...a revelation! Pity I let so many years pass, ignorant of those spiky, green treats.

In His Own Words: Artist Statement, 01/2010

I have been an amateur nature photographer most of my life. In the fall of 2006, in the midst of some personal upheavals, I tried using my flatbed scanner as a camera to capture images of plants and other natural objects. The resulting images revealed details in a refreshing way, quite different than what I’d shot with a ‘traditional’ camera, yet close in spirit. Since then, I’ve worked to develop and refine this photographic technique.

This medium presents both challenges and opportunities. For some images, I may spend in excess of 10 hours - cleaning up the dust, pollen and flotsam that invariably accompany my subjects, digitally (and painstakingly) “painting” in the background, while the image is enlarged up to 200%. All images are composed on my scanner’s glass plate - in an 8 by 10 inch area, constraining the subjects I am able to portray. Backgrounds present additional issues. The scanner is analogous to a camera with a macro lens; depth of field is <1". I commonly use paper to cover the subjects and depending on the height of those subjects, the background color often scans unevenly. Thus, the need for the aforementioned “painting.”

The image is captured from below the subjects and occasionally, a small insect or other unexpected detail shows up. I typically compose an image several times, before choosing the optimal arrangement. And despite the options available via Photoshop, the majority of my images are created in one take.

In my work, I strive to portray essences, the glories of natural forms and colors, the familiar and the less-seen details. Fueled by my deep connection to the 'green world,' and an insatiable and wide-ranging curiosity, nature’s marvels and mysteries inspire me. The natural world is my sanctuary...a place for refuge and discovery. Foraging for wild foods, sharing my knowledge of the natural world, land protection and gardening are among my interests. Sharing my knowledge of nature with others is a passion.

The lure of the unexpected and the surprises that I invariably find in nature, entice me...invite me to linger a moment longer, to look a little closer. Ironically, the work is a response to a declining interest in the natural world, supplanted by technological pursuits. (I occasionally need to remind myself of this after several hours at my computer!)

I seek greater exposure for the work; I welcome exhibition and marketing opportunities, commissions and connections.

All images are available for purchase as prints, on fine art rag paper, using archival inks.




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