Times/P-I, August 17, 2008
Art Straight Up, Hold the Olive by Sheila Farr
Photo of Picture of the Day 572 screenshot printout installation at
McLeod Residence used to illustrate feature story on trend of art galleries
with lounge/bars attached.
Seattle Times photo by Erika Schultz
NOW-NOW-NOW, August 6, 2008
Robert Zverina's AUTOBIOANTHROPOLOGRAPHY by Jeanine
[review of memory (w)hole at McLeod
...The video compilation is mesmerizing:
you don't know how long each clip lasts and you have no idea what the next
subject will be. A cat? A street scene? Making a purchase? Riding a train?
The briefness of each segment, punctuated with a 5-second empty interval
between each, leaves you wanting just a little bit more -- yet also happily
anticipating the next segment. Channel surfing ordinary life, if you will.
full article ]
SeattlePI.com, January 30, 2008
Pain Followed Me Out The Door by Regina Hackett
Here's a shout out to filmmaker, photographer, writer and DJ Robert Zverina
and his irreplaceable blog, Picture of the
Day, which, since Jan. 24, 1998, he has maintained with the humble devotion
of a monk tending a plot of medicinal marijuana.
He's a counterculture Alec
Soth with the same sweetness and free-ranging intellect, but coupled
in Zverina's case with an activist's interest in rubble and how to get on
top of it.... [
Seattle Weekly, March 15, 2006
Morning and Good Luck...
...[C]heck out Zverina's Web site, which he calls Picture of the Day
(www.zverina.com). On it, he catalogs (among other
things) everyday ephemera culled from the salvage work he does for Ballard-based
recyclers/resellers ReStore, poignantly getting at the waste of American
consumerism. For example: An early morning photograph shows a charming 1940s
bungalow softened by evergreens and dew.... Launched in 1998 before blogging
was called blogging, the site utilizes the serendipitous nature of Web surfing
to surprise you into thought. As with his SCAN show, Picture of the Day also
effectively utilizes familiar formatsand, quite frequently, gorgeous,
soothing images to illustrate the cheerless nature of contemporary
ignorance and modern need. [
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 23, 2005
An Air of Rebellion Breathes New Life into the Visual Art
Scene by Regina Hackett
["Infinity of Choice" cited as one of best exhibits of 2005.]
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 23, 2005
Robert Zverina's exalted state of reality: Finding grace
in the commonplace by Regina Hackett
A few years ago, Seattle's Robert Zverina papered the floor, ceiling and
walls of a small space in the now defunct Priceless Works Gallery with snapshots
of his life.
The result was an amazing stream of visual consciousness, all those disconnected
moments flowing into a cohesive whole. Walking inside was like walking into
Zverina's brain and looking around.
It's a great place to be. Zverina finds eccentric grace in the commonplace.
For him, reality is an exalted state, and his praises are stripped bare of
sentimentality by the casual and democratic way he distributes them.
At present, he's showing short, deliberately cheap films on a big screen,
little screen and curtained "polling booth," besides numerous artifacts,
such as altered records and collaged record covers.
Step inside and vote for the tape of your choice. I vote for all of them,
with a special nod to the footage of President Bush mixed with a driver's
education, drunk-driving scare film. Sure scared me.
Seattle Weekly, August 3 - 9, 2005
Best Salvage Blog by Laura Cassidy
The entry for March 24 on Rob Zverina's photo-based blog,
shows two empty rooms in a gorgeous Craftsman home. The text underneath tells
you to "touch picture" to see the "after" photo, which shows the room partially
but carefully demolished. Because Zverina's photos and accompanying text
are so evocative, your instinct is to actually reach up and touch the
screenalthough, of course, he means only for you to mouse over it.
Not all of Zverina's entries chronicle the salvage work he does with the
RE Store, but those
that do (about half) poignantly get at the waste and destruction of our
consumer-driven society. The others just show that his life is more interesting
and thoughtful than yours.
Art Papers, May/June 2004
Review of "Everything A& More" by Emily Hall
Photography has gotten so serious--enormous c-prints showing either everyday
things given gravity and presence by size and glossiness, or elaboratley
staged, crisply convincing worlds just south of reality. Even images of casual
events have become large and imposing, their ambiguities writ large (think
Ryan McGinley, Nikki S. Lee), but this studied casualness is almost entirely
absent from Robert Zverina's Everything A& More. (Priceless Works Gallery,
February 6 - 29, 2004).
This installation gives play to the casual snapshot, free, for the most part,
of the usual earmarks of arty aspiration. (When they appear they are cheerfully
amateurish.) The "everything" of the title is all that's contained in
approximately 5,000 snapshots lining the walls, ceiling and floor of a small
irregular gallery niche; the "more" is what happens when you crowd 5,000
snapshotsbits of life, throwaway moments, accidentstogether.
The point is the accumulation, but it's an accumulation that refuses to be
subsumed into a whole; the tension of the discrete part and the engulfing
whole keep this installation lively and disturbing.
Everything A& More is both specific and not. Every kind of snapshot
you can imagine is there, but they are all, of course, personal beyond
imagination. There's the everyday commemorative (people with babies, a box
of puppies, unknown people horsing around at unknown events), the momentous
occasion (weddings, hospitals), the random, the abstract, the stabs at a
more artistic product (unreadable street signs, nature abstractly framed,
a few attempts at the erotic)a democracy of images, none arguably more
important than another.
Finding a focus is unexpectedly difficult. With all those thousands of images,
your eyes land on the same ones again and again, and it's not just what's
at eye level, or brightest or sexiest. (You could develop a kind of psychological
test based on what images we instinctively return to, like an inverted
Rohrschach, not an abstract blot to find meaning in, but a series of relentlessly
figurative images that you have to abstract.) Because you can't hold that
many random specifics in your head for long, you look for people you know,
familiar things, an organizing principle.
The impulse, of course, is to look for understandable narratives, and some
stories are hidden in plain sight, such as a series of images of young men
doing some half-naked provocative clowning around in a hotel room; right
below, one of them appears at the altar, with his bride. The speed with which
your mind leaps from gay assignation to bachelor party is something that
snapshots encourage; they have no interest in the ambiguity that large prints
As it happens, Everything A& More is not "everything," but only
the unsuccessful images that Zverina has collected over more than fifteen
years of what he calls "compulsive photography." Zverina puts the "keeper"
images where they belongin albums, with friendsand keeps aside
the rejects, although this judgment quickly becomes meaningless. These may
well be the shadows of the moments deemed worth remembering, the B team,
but they are just as intimate, perhaps more so because they're not their
best selvesthey invoke a more formal world (the world of "keeper" moments)
without showing them.
"Compulsive" is a funny word to apply to the human mess shown here, although
compulsive recording is the way to maintain some control over this mess,
over how time slips away. Insisting on controlwith a key to places
and dates, with faces repeating throughout the installation as though they
hadn't disappeared from your lifeis protesting against the inevitable.
Although the easy interpretation of this installation is upliftinglife
in its stubborn irreducibilityreading Everything A& More
in a more existentially depressing vein is also tempting.
The Stranger, January 8, 2004
TO COME: Young Seattle Artists Show Their Stuff by Emily Hall
Robert Zverina's 792 Short Films took me somewhat by surprise. At
first glance it seemed to be exactly the kind of work that I'm so tired of:
fragmented bits of video, something like six hours' worth of it, unanchored
to any system, all things made equal, busily visual and exhausting. It took
a good half-hour of watching--little blips of video shot on one of those
tiny 30-second cameras--before the ideas began to cohere.
"Cohere" is perhaps not the right word for something of so many unrelated
parts, but perhaps it's exactly right when language and art seem to work
in opposition. In this case the elements of postmodernism work in opposition
to that theory's tendency to break things apart beyond recognition, beyond
the possibility of meaning; like Max Frisch's 1980 novel Man in the
Holocene (which assembled seemingly objective information into a really
rather personal narrative), the effect of 792 Short Films is cumulative
rather than alienating. Here's a cat prowling across a roof; here's a girl
in the shower; here's artist Jesse Paul Miller talking sort of dreamily to
someone about something; here's some dishes, and someone laughing. It is
precisely the opposite of Andy Warhol's eight-hour film of a single view
of the Empire State Building; instead of scoping in to notice tiny shifts
in light or circumstance, your perception opens out like a lens. You are
never bored, only longing for a few more seconds here or there, to know what
becomes of something, to hear the end of the sentence. It makes you aware
of your capacity for seeing and taking in and interpreting. It is all
Seattle Times, August 25 2002
Day to shed cars, smell the flowers by Bobbi
Dozens of bikers zipped through the city yesterday, dressed in T-shirts that
read "Cars Kill," "Be Nice," and "Why Not?," spreading the word that being
car-free can be carefree. "Car-Free Seattle Day," a grass-roots effort aimed
at reducing the city's dependence on the automobile, is in only its second
year. But this year's event had new ammunition: a proclamation from Mayor
Greg Nickels declaring yesterday Car-Free Seattle Day.
The city did little to promote the event in comparison to other parts of
the world, such as Bogota, Colombia, where the city center is closed to cars
and violators face $25 fines. In fact, most people here had no idea it was
Car-Free Seattle Day.
The participants bike messengers, bike enthusiasts and a handful of
families hoped that by the end of the day they would be able to get
more people thinking about lessening their dependence on cars.
"It just seems such an important issue," said Robert Zverina, a conceptual
artist and landscaper who won a $5,000 grant from the city to put on the
event. "Cars are bad for the environment, they are noisy, they isolate people
from each other and they undermine communities."
Seattle-Everett reportedly has the fifth-worst traffic congestion in the
country. The Department of Licensing says car registrations in King County
increased from just over 1 million in 1995 to 1.2 million in 2001.
Zverina said he stumbled on the grant program for reducing car dependence
when he was applying for a job with the city. He's lived in New York and
Prague and said he was so inspired by the ease of public transportation in
those cities that he's been on a mission to undo the prevalence of car culture
in this country.
Zverina said he doesn't own a car and gets around the city by bus or bike,
and rents a car when he needs to.
With the grant money from the city, he created a Web site,
and developed pamphlets and fliers about the event.
Among those taking part was Terri Gilbert, the mother of three kids ages
6, 3 and 1. She said she loves taking the bus from Columbia City to her job
at the University of Washington. Her husband, Scott Houghton, who works for
a pharmaceutical company, said he drives a company car but rarely uses it.
"Seattle has an awesome public-transportation system," Gilbert said.
Louise Helbling, who just moved here from New York, said although Seattle
doesn't have a subway system, she's not having a problem living without a
In fact, she prefers it. She biked from near the Central Area with her husband
and 3-month old baby to lend her support.
"It's a great way to become less oil-dependent," she said.
They were one of 50-some bikers who gathered in Columbia City at the Bike
Works bicycle shop and then rode in the Rainier Valley Heritage Festival
Parade. From there they went to Capitol Hill to do some sidewalk art and
then on Fremont to participate in Tour de Fat, a festival of beer and bikes.
Way to Go:
Half hour interview on Diane Weems show regarding Carfree Seattle, August
Press, September 13, 2001
Alternative Transportation Education, Fremont Style by Julie Reinhardt
Sunday, September 16  kicks off the first ever Car-Free Fremont. Whether
you are celebrating a day of independence from cars, or you just want to
have fun without looking both ways before you cross the street, the day is
filled with revelry from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Activities range from the creative
Artbike Rally and Bike Decoration workshop, to educational panels on car-free
living, to the downright goofy belly dancing couples' workshop. Though
technically belly dancing is not a form of transportation, it is sans vehicle
and much more fun than the morning commute.
The focus for this event is not just about reducing our use of cars, said
co-organizer Sarah Kavage, it's also about creating community and "having
fun together in a space that is typically filled up with cars...huge boxes
of metal speeding through the streets."
Kavage and Robert Zverina have "had to really crunch to get all the permits
together" since May after receiving a Car Smart Community Grant. The idea
met enthusiasm and support from the Fremont Arts Council, the Neighborhood
Council and regular Fremontsters. "This is a demonstration project. It's
a start to get the idea out there that there are different ways we can structure
our cities--around people rather than around cars," explained Kavage.
Rob Zverina, who "grew up in a very intense car culture--Long Island and
New York, where it was pretty much assumed that cars were the way to get
around." said he "realized there is a better way of living" after living
in Prague for a year. "I was blown away by the mass transit system they have
there. Since that time I've never wanted a car. They isolate people from
one another, they pollute the environment and they literally kill 40,000-50,000
people every year. So there is a need to re-think our habit and demand better
Panel discussions and many attending advocacy groups will address our regional
traffic and pollution problem. Seattle's move to third-worst traffic congestion
in the country and the political gridlock this summer in Olympia over what
to do about it make this event well-timed. The fact is that the average car
in King County makes 12 vehicle trips a day, and nearly half of those are
to destinations less than three miles away. States Kavage, "The more types
of people who get involved in the dialogue the better. It's not about selling
your car - you don't have to sell your car. There are no rules about how
you go about this. All you have to do is open your mind to what else is out
there. Even if you drive one less day to work, that makes a difference in
the emissions you put out there."
Not all serious stuff, this event celebrates tomfoolery too. Don't miss the
Roller Disco, local artists' bike-rack sculptures, and free in-line skating
lessons. The movie "Breaking Away", a beer garden and auction all benefit
Bikeworks, a southend, non-profit bicycle repair shop. Bikeworks runs community
programs like Earn-a-Bike, teaching kids bicycle repair that lets them exchange
work for a bike of their own. Oh - and did we mention the beer?
Kavage and Zverina hope grassroots support will take this idea to other
communities, "We hope to set a precedent. We'd like to export the event to
other communities in Seattle and beyond." For a complete schedule, go to
SusanFrombergSchaeffer.com, February 11, 1999
Seizing on Accidental Beauty: The
Photographs of Robert Zverina by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer
This picture of Central Park, taken by
Robert Zverina, has
become my favorite image of New York. When I lived on West 86th Street, I
used to walk through the park to the East side, and the walk would remind
me that even in that gray and gritty city there were soft and beautiful places,
but when I moved to Brooklyn, I soon forgot about Central Park and its particular
magic. This photograph, like so many others of Robert's, brings back memories
directly associated with the picture itself, and finally retrieves a veritable
cascade of memories, touched off, I think, by the beauty of the image, a
beauty that manages to call to many other partly buried images of beauty
that I recognize as soon as they return, and which I realize I have missed
before they were brought back by the picture.
This is only one of the pictures of Robert
Zverina's that I admire and have hung all over the walls of my house. At
first, I admired photographs which were formally beautiful as well as affecting.
Invariably, these pictures were surprising as well. One photograph, titled
"The Day That Just Kept Getting Better," is a picture of a field with mountains
in the background, and the field itself is filled with bathtubs that look,
in this picture, as if they themselves were some kind of strange, grazing
No one can walk around in New York without noticing the fire escapes that
cover the walls of the smaller apartment buildings, but I doubt that anyone
pays much attention to them. This picture, with its design made up by the
fire escapes, somehow finds beauty in these old and rusted and constantly
repainted metal exoskeletons. I cannot look at this picture without being
reminded of family stories which revolved around events taking place on these
fire escapes in a time before air conditioners, in a time when mothers went
to work and left their children locked
the apartment, and the children came out onto the fire escape when their
mother's called, and threw down the key to their apartment, first having
wrapped it in a piece of paper.
There is something in his photographs
that speaks of the amazing beauty which is accidental beauty, there for the
seizing by anyone who can see it, and anyone who is generous enough to record
it for others. There are photographs of objects reflected in puddles, in
the hoods of cars, objects which then become distorted and entirely new and
unfamiliar. Some of these images are stunningly beautiful. Others, like the
of one person painting a wall while someone else looks on, somehow become
emblematic of much larger spheres of activity, as if, should you look at
them long enough, they come to stand for all human striving. These pictures
speak for themselves, of themselves, and of many things beyond themselves.
The woman's nude body, striped by bands of light so that she seems to become
part tiger, is such a photograph. Human nature slides into something deeper
and wilder here; it becomes, to me, a profound photo.
Robert's website, which
has been growing for two years, is now a world of its own. Every day, there
is a new picture and a new piece of prose. This site with its new picture
becomes so addicting that on days when for some reason there is no new photo,
I find myself terribly disappointed, as if I had been promised something
to which I was looking forward and found only an empty box. Here he has endless
photographs, each accompanied by a text. The cumulative effect of travelling
through this remarkable maze of a website is something between reading a
novel and seeing a film. Gradually, the lives of people who are young in
New York today begins to emerge, the life of the author of the site representing
his own life, as well as the life of a good number of his generation: the
way those young people live now, as someone or other once put it.
website chronicles his love affairs, his travels to Prague, the illness of
his mother, his time spent with friends, the climbing of a mountain that
nearly killed him, trips across country by train. Here there are many pictures
that are truly accidental, little splinters of life--a friend's toes, an
odd shot of a dog's owner, glimpses of what was going on at the time. These
photos are entirely unlike the "formal" ones, like Central Park Blue, and
on their own they might have trouble justifying themselves. But in this
remarkable website, each of these splinters begins to move in the mind, as
if, out of the corner of your eye, you were seeing a jigsaw puzzle assembling
itself. "Here we are, and there we are," as Eeyore used to say.
I love these pictures, and it is a pleasure to have some of them here.
Contact Robert if you have anything
to say about them. He writes hilarious e-mails.