cb adams

Two CB Adams Photographs Chosen for ‘Comestible’ Exhibition at Columbia Art League

Adding to Virginia Woolf’s observation that “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well,” the Columbia Art League’s (CAL) new Comestible exhibition would include “see well.” CAL, located at 207 South Ninth Street, Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts, Columbia, MO 65201-4817, invited artists “to explore our love of food, its role as both a necessity and a luxury in a world where gluttony is far outpaced by hunger.”

Among the featured themed artworks are two digital photographs on metal by Missouri writer and fine artist, CB Adams. One, “Le Nid,” (20x20) is a richly toned, composed image of a pear-shaped apple nestled in a bird’s nest. It is part of My Personal Local, an ongoing project of photographs taken on his property and in his home. Both photographs are for sale and are stylistically similar with shallow depth of field, unusual composition, and deeply saturated colors.

“’Le Nid,’ means nest in French. It was pure happenstance how this image came to me. I had was completing some yard work late in the day, that time they call The Golden Hour, when I pulled an abandoned nest from some shrubs. I had also been cleaning up fallen apples from my mini-orchard of heirloom apple trees when I discovered an odd looking, pear-shaped Lady Apple. The two seemed to beg to be combined,” Adams says.

The other photograph, also part of My Personal Local, is titled “of Tree of Sky of Mind.” The photograph (24x36) captures bare tree branches reflected on the surface of a tumbler of dark tea.

“When you visit my home, you know you are visiting a photographer because I always keep a variety of cameras, both digital and analog, lying around. I never when a ‘photo opp’ will present itself. This photo is a case in point. I was in my kitchen, getting ready to enjoy some Golden Monkey tea, when I saw the sky and trees reflected on the surface. The light was changing fast and my Nikon was struggling with the auto focus. I took several shots, but only this one turned out,” according to Adams.

Adams chose to have these photographs printed on metal because he liked the clean lines offered by this process. “I really tried to match the print with the presentation by using the metal process,” he says. “I didn’t want even a traditional frame to compete with the images. I don’t sign the front of most of my photographs for the same reason. For me, the image is much more important than the person who took it.”

The Comestible exhibition begins on March 14th and runs through May 5 with an opening reception on March 17th from 6-8 p.m. Related to the Comestible exhibit is Let Them Eat Art!, a fundraising event for CAL, on Thursday, April 13 from 6-8 at the CAL Gallery. The event features Columbia-area chefs who create tapas-style food inspired by individual works of art in the Comestible show. Tickets cost $35 per person and are limited to 100. For more information, visit the CAL website or call the gallery at 573-443-8838

CB Adams is an award-winning short story writer and fine art photographer. Adams has had photographs in numerous exhibitions nationwide, including RAW: St. Louis Presents Grandeur, Food Glorious Food II and Under at the Influence at Art Saint Louis, Sacramento Fine Art Center's VISION 201, Soulard Art Market's Urban Architecture II, The Foundry Art Centre's Unrefined Light: Image-Making With Plastic Cameras (St. Charles, MO), SAANS Gallery's The Holga Show 2008 (Salt Lake City), and Somerville Toy Camera Festival (Boston).

Adams’s fiction has appeared in Zoetrope All-Story Extra, River Styx (twice), Missouri Writers’ Biennial (two stories), The Distillery Artistic Spirits of the South, Blue Penny Quarterly, and elsewhere. He received first place in Missouri Arts Council’s Writers’ Biennial Competition and the MISSOURI WRITING! Competition The independent weekly newspaper St. Louis Riverfront Times named him “St. Louis’ Most Under-Appreciated Writer.”

Adams can be contacted through his website: www.qwerkyphotography.com.



I've Become the Chris Crocker of Short Story Writers

Dear Lit Mag Editors,

You have turned me into the Chris Crocker of the literary writing world, forced to wear a blonde wig, cower under my bedsheets with a camcorder, and plead that you “Leave My Story Alone!” as black rivers of mascara slalom down my face with a velocity that would make Tammy Faye Baker envious. In just one year you have reduced me from a hope-filled, cautiously confident writer of short stories with a modest, but not unimpressive of prior publications, into this mewling jumble of unworthiness, low self-esteem, and vituperative rantconteur.

I was lucky that when I began having my work published back in the 90s, the publications came easily. Editors sought me out, asked for new work to consider, and put me into print. Then came That Story. I was high on it, the world, alas, was not. I received plenty of personal rejections from editors, but no consensus as to what needed fixing. Call me immature. Call me a King Baby. Call me arrogant. Or just call me stupid. Because I let that story and its non-publication become not just my writer’s block, but rather a Writer’s Bloc, a Siberian proportions.

So I quit the writing biz until last year, when I picked up That Story, reimagined it, recast it, and rewrote the shit out of it. I started work on other stuff, too, but the first baton in my return to the lit mag marathon was to be That Story. To right a wrong, of sorts. Now, as it nears the 50 rejections mark, that old frustration knob keeps turning toward 11 in volume, especially after last night when I received a rejection from a journal. It was personalized and indicated a good level of knowledge of That Story. That was encouraging. Unfortunately, that feeling didn’t last because the note started out praising it as a “well-constructed” story, then proceeded to list the reasons the readers couldn’t justify “moving the story forward”: -- all of which pertained to its structure. Huh?

Back in my MFA days, I would have shrugged off a critique of my work like that. That’s much harder to do after almost 50 rejections and is compounded by feelings of being a writer who is out of step with current trends in publishing. And it’s hard right now because I received a second rejection for That Story last night, a standard rejection that stated it wasn’t a “great fit.” Whatever that means. At least “great fit” doesn’t contradict itself.

Everything these days seems to be on a spectrum, from autism to sexuality. So why shouldn’t rejection be on a spectrum as well? On one end of that spectrum, it is astounding how some journal’s readers/editors treat submissions, and by extension writers, so cavalierly, especially given than most of them are also writing and submitting themselves. If I read the excuse one more time about the onslaught of current submissions, the billions-and-billions of stories that lit mags receive, I’m going to puke. I’m sure it’s true, but all of us are caught up in this schizophrenic, vicious cycle: more and more writers submitting more and more stories to more and more magazines with more and more ease (I love the online services that make sending out work an exponentially easier task, if you can afford it) while being assessed by an ever-tightening circle of readers. And I’m not including the “more and more” pressure to publish that writers who rely on the academic world for their livelihood tell me they feel. It’s an exhausting cluster fuck for all of us involved.

I don’t have a solution, but I fear that it hurts writers. It hurts editors. And it hurts readers and supporters. That cannot detract from the fact that this system sucks. And yet, good work does find its way into print and cuts through the clutter and finds readers. I see and understand that contraction, and am flummoxed by it.

But I digress. My intent is to give voice to my frustration about my story. When I was younger, I was perplexed by artists who spoke with despair about not being understood. Now I not only get that notion, I feel it, gut level. And what a lonely place that is: to pour oneself into work that is not appreciated, or not appreciated enough. One of my writing mentors believes that if readers don’t get a story, then the writer needs to work harder. That can be true. But I would counter that for at least some of us, the reader needs to work a little harder, as well.

As a photographer, we learn from Robert Capra that “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” As a writer, the reverse is true, especially when the writing itself is complete. The short story form is elusive and vague, yet specific, too.

My commitment to finding That Story a home will continue. I have seen advice to others that sometimes one has to abandon a piece, especially when the responses from editors do not point to some sort of consensus. I am not of that mind. I believe in That Story. I will continue to work on it and I will not abandon it. And I won’t let it prevent me from completing new work. I’ve learned that much from this process.

It’s just this (and I understand my experience is only The Writer’s Plight): I have gestated a good piece of work. I need a midwife to deliver it into print. Unfortunately, almost 50 midwives have told me my baby is ugly, or perhaps, just not un-ugly enough. But I will continue to hawk my baby. There’s only about 950 other journals to go.