The End of 2016
How will I remember the year 2016? I've had this question floating in and out of my mind for the past several days while attempting to construct this retrospective. Over and over, no matter how I try to frame the past 365 days, I keep coming up short for words. Positive words, anyway, because it seemed to be a year rife with stunning loss and escalating global confusion. A year of historical upset, punctuated by angry tweets and fake news. Week after week, artists and icons died too early and the nightly news never wavered far from themes of hate, terror, and violence. Like so many others, I tried to stay focused on the positive; to manage the things in my control; and to continue pushing through the days with vibrance, creativity, and fortitude. I tried, even on the gloomiest of days, to seek colors in the skies.
One morning over the summer I woke for my usual run. As I stood by the window in the early light, thumbing through the messages on my phone, I came upon a series of desperate texts received overnight from a friend in London. The Brexit referendum saw 52% in favor of the UK leaving the European Union. She was afraid, uncertain, and sad over the news. I was sympathetic, but I couldn't truly relate. Then, less than six months later, it was me expressing the same to her as the US election results began to crystallize early in the morning of November 9. As the year progressed, it was as though a negative momentum was building. Whether I was sitting in a meeting at work or at the corner table in Starbucks, the background chatter consistently revolved around the growing disbelief of everything that was happening. People, too, were changing. Anxiety hung overhead like a storm cloud, and toward the end of the year, laughs weren't as easy to come by.
Not since the storms of my teenage youth have I needed the creative outlet of art as much as I did this year. The product of this need was new work that I created in 2016 that I am immensely proud of. From several new fine art galleries to my first foray into film. And while I did not complete a proper "365 Project" this year, I did end up with over a thousand images from my iPhone that were captured on a near-daily basis - a habit of shooting daily that I attribute to previous 365 Projects. From this pool of images, I selected 64 snapshots that I will remember this year by. These images, none a work of art but each a frozen moment in time, tell the story of my personal 2016 better than anything I could write.
Looking through these pictures is like viewing a hurricane from space; there are hints of the chaos and the tumult, but taken in total, there is a gracefulness that borders on beauty. These pictures not only remind me of the major events that took place in 2016, but also of the many bright spots I experienced along the way. I ran two marathons this year, including my favorite, the Boston Marathon. I traveled fairly extensively, vacationed with my family, made new friends, and took on new and exciting challenges in my career. I started writing more, sharing more of my work, and continued to grow as an artist. I adapted to the unpredictability as best I could, and never once deviated from the high road. I watched as my two boys grew a year older, and then back at myself, a man one year wiser.
How will I remember the year 2016? I will remember this year by these pictures and with all the memories that go with them. Just the other day I read an article entitled "Was 2016 Really The Worst Year Ever?" In it, the author argued it wasn't necessarily worse than any other "bad" year, but that social media enabled a kind of mass-reaction to the negativity in ways previously not possible in society. I suppose that's entirely feasible. Still, no one can argue with how people feel. And if we take that as an underlying truth, then at the very least, I hope in 2017 we all begin to feel better.
To those we lost this year, who inspired, motivated, or otherwise influenced me in one way or another, thank you. Stars are often brighter in the night sky after they collapse: Muhammad Ali, Prince, Dave Mirra, David Bowie, John Glenn, Arthur Cave, Alan Thicke, Garry Shandling, Gene Wilder, Leonard Cohen, Elie Wiesel, Alan Rickman, Rachel Owen, George Michael, and Carrie Fisher.
Footnotes: Top image, Fujifilm X-Pro2 with Fujinon 16-55mm f/2.8 XF R LM WR, all other images, Apple iPhone 6s