I have a penchant for making art. You'll find clues to what's important to me in the things I make and the ideas behind them. These stories are about that process.

September 9, 2012

Taking the Message to the Public

The Chamomile Tea Party’s First Ad in Washington, DC’s Metro (click image for larger view) It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on Life Outtacontext. But I’ve been busy. With the upcoming election, there is more food for…

February 5, 2012

Are You Better Off Than You Were Four Years Ago?

The latest poster from the Chamomile Tea Party. Click on image for larger view. (Not only is this a remix of a World War II-era poster this is a remix of my first Chamomile Tea Party poster. And aside…

January 29, 2012

New Posters from the Chamomile Tea Party: Polarization is Destroying America

Don’t pigeonhole the American public. We’ve got a lot of opinions that aren’t so easy to categorize. Click on images for a larger view. Polarization of Congress, the electorate, and, most importantly, the issues that are important to Americans…

January 15, 2012

Sold to the Highest Contributor!

A new poster from the Chamomile Tea Party. In today’s Washington Post, Jonathan Turley, Shapiro professor of public interest law at George Washington University, discusses 10 reasons why the U.S. is no longer the land of the free. It’s…

December 10, 2011

The Story of a Photograph That Changed Over Time

I used to say by the time one sees an artist’s work the creative process has long ended. What the viewer sees are the vestiges of that process—the skeletal remains. Yes, there is beauty, horror, and all sorts of emotions…

July 17, 2011

Two New Posters from the Chamomile Tea Party

Two new posters from the Chamomile Tea Party. Click on each of them for a close-up view. It’s been pretty steamy here in Washington. But I’m not talking about the weather. Here in DC, we seem to live and…

July 2, 2011

The Birth of an Idea: the Chamomile Tea Party’s 1st Birthday

Today marks the first anniversary of an idea. One year ago today, as I was walking home from work, my brain gave birth to the Chamomile Tea Party. More specifically, I decided to take World War II-era propaganda posters…

October 31, 2010

The Rally for Sanity? It Was Insane!

I positioned us at the Rally for a good photo op of the Capitol. At the last minute I decided to bring one of my Chamomile Tea Party posters to the Rally for Sanity here on the National Mall…

September 26, 2010

The Genesis of a Message

The latest poster by the Chamomile Tea Party (click image for larger view). Posters distill the essence of ideas or messages to their most economical form. You glance at a poster as you walk by the wood barricades of…

June 24, 2010

Ode to a Pittily Little iPhone Camera That Could

Click on image for a larger view. I picked up my new iPhone 4 this morning. One of the main reasons bought it was for its upgraded camera. It’s been pushed from 3 megapixels to five and its sensor…

February 10, 2010

I Hate Late Winter and I Hate Late Abstract Expressionism

Jeff Gates, From a Series of One Acts… #7, 1987. Click on image for larger view. Before moving to the DC area I spent a year teaching art in Minnesota. I learned to drive in the snow that winter…

November 8, 2009

One Day in East Berlin

An East German Volkspolizei guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in East Berlin, 1974, © Jeff Gates. Click on image for a larger view. I am slowly unearthing photographs and memories from my 1974–1975 trip to Europe. I…

October 4, 2009

On Being a Voyeur: I Have No Complaints

When I was in San Francisco last week for meetings I stayed with good friends in Noe Valley. Being a seasoned commuter I left the house each morning precisely at 7:55 and walked down to Market Street to catch the…

September 13, 2009

Our Real Family Vacation

I went to Santa Fe and all I got was this wonderful portrait of my daughters. Click image for larger view. It’s the week after Labor Day. The girls are back in school and I’ve got deadlines at work….

August 9, 2009

Nailing a Good Photo

My fellow commuter. Click on image for a larger view. It had been a long week. I’d just completed two days of teaching teachers how to podcast: a rewarding activity that reminded me of my years in the classroom….

May 3, 2009

Handling Hotel Bathroom Origami

I have just returned from the GEL Conference in New York—a fantastic opportunity to listen, meet, and interact with many wonderful and fascinating minds. Remind me to tell you about the game Werewolf: a parlor game on the surface,…

April 25, 2009

On Creating a New Stock Photo

Commentary at the New York Stock Exchange On a trip last week to New York for a series of meetings I suddenly discovered the New York Stock Exchange was located directly on the path between my hotel and meeting…

February 22, 2009

On Forming a More Perfect Union: Art and Discourse Chat

Trees with Mormon Temple, 2009, ©Jeff Gates. Click on image for larger view. Yesterday, as I was driving the DC Beltway I suddenly saw the spires of the Mormon Temple above the leafless branches of Rock Creek Park. With…

February 14, 2009

A Presidential Portrait in Cupcakes

Portrait of Barack Obama and Abraham Lincoln in Cupcakes Click image for larger view. Fridays are supposed to be light days with anticipation of the upcoming weekend filling workers heads worldwide. Yesterday, was anything but as our anticipation was…

February 8, 2009

Anatomy of a Photograph

Details from some of my Inaugural portraits As I began to look at the photographs I shot during the Inauguration I realized how many portraits of people I had taken that day: from soldiers and police who were doing…

May 11, 2008

Mary A, His Wife; Bonnie Jean, Their Daughter

Reminiscent of another photograph. Click photo for larger image. Recently, a friend from out of town came to visit. She wanted to go to Arlington Cemetery to visit her father’s grave and she invited us to go with her….

April 21, 2008

Flickr: Anatomy of a Long Photograph

A series of “still” images from Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi (Quicktime, 26 MB). Click to play. Earlier this month flickr announced that short video clips could now be uploaded to the popular photo site. Some photo purists were skeptical, even…

April 6, 2008

Scrolling Through My Photos the iTunes Way

Jukebox Photo Gallery Slide Show at In Our Path If you are familiar with iTunes’ Jukebox Cover Flow (the ability to scroll through your playlist album covers) you might get a kick out of the “cover flow” slide show…

March 23, 2008

In Our Path, a Photo Documentary

The new and improved In Our Path In the 1980s and 1990s I photographed a swath of Southern California real estate that was to become the Century Freeway, or as it’s more commonly called by commuters, I-105. Running east…

March 16, 2008

Ready for a Change

Jeff Gates, From a Series of One Acts… #7, 1987. Click on image for larger view. I’ve been digitizing many of my film-based photographs from the last century. And using Photoshop to place text on an image is soooo…

February 24, 2008

Mary P, His Wife

Jeff Gates, From a Series of One Acts… #2, 1986. Click on image for larger view. One of my photographs is part of an exhibition opening this week at the Baltimore Museum of Art entitled Notes on Monumentality. The…

January 13, 2008

Upgrading the DC Metro’s Identity

When DC’s Metro unveiled a new concept car last week this logo identity mysteriously appeared. Local officials first billed DC’s proposed transit system as “America’s” subway when it went to Congress for financial backing. Last week the Washington Metropolitan…

January 4, 2008

Selling Your House: Say It in Gingerbread

This 1950s Ranch MUST be seen to be believed! Amenities included. A larger view. With the housing market tanking, home sellers must devise new ways to attract buyers. I’d like to offer this suggestion: do it in gingerbread. When…

December 29, 2007

Discovering Star Wars: The Coma Version

I don’t want to give it all away, Randy. But here’s a photo of Darth Vader from the front. You’ll have to see Revenge of the Sith to find out the details of this makeover. “Randy” is a cultural…

July 7, 2007

DoubleTake: one + one = ONE

With DoubleTake I was able to stitch two photos into one. Click on the image to see a larger version. Yesterday, I posted four photos I took as workmen installed new windows throughout our home. Interesting pics, but I…

March 18, 2007

To Be an Artist in Washington

I’ve just posted a short piece on being an artist at the nexus of global power: Washington, DC, on the Multimediale Festival blog. Multimediale is a four day social/political multimedia arts festival taking place here in DC next month….

February 25, 2007

The Restorative Effects of an Accomplishment, Any Accomplishment

One of the photos I found that really made my day. It’s Saturday at 5:15 am and I’m awake, anticipating my cat alarm clock will go off at any moment to say “feed me.” She does this every morning…

October 15, 2006

Cursively Speaking

When handwritten essays were introduced on the SAT exams for the class of 2006, just 15 percent of the almost 1.5 million students wrote their answers in cursive. The rest? They printed. Block letters. Margaret Webb PresslerThe Washington Post…

October 8, 2006

On the Boardwalk

On the Boardwalk in Wildwood, NJ Every summer my family takes a trip to the New Jersey shore. The beaches are wide and the orientation is decidedly family. But the highlight for me is Wildwood’s boardwalk. We always reserve…

March 15, 2006

Art is Power

One Challenge to the arts in America is the need to make the arts, especially, the classic masterpieces, accessible and relevant to today’s audience. William Safire Despite the cessation of open hostilities in the Culture Wars of the 1990s,…

January 1, 2006

A Visit from the Salad People

My family and I usually spend New Year’s Eve quietly together. No loud parties and no dodging the inebriated on the roads. We are not on everybody’s party list. In fact, I don’t think we’re on anybody’s party list —it’s…

November 12, 2005

Leaving Iraq: Literally

Every November I am consumed with the outdoors. It’s not that I want to be but when the leaves fall from our trees there is nowhere for them to go but on our lawn. And one of my prime domestic…

May 10, 2005

I Christen Thee “Commblogging”

The other day I wrote the best blog comment I’ve ever written. Of course, it was on someone else’s blog. Poor Greg. Driving home with his wife along LA’s Santa Monica Freeway he suddenly looks up to see a…

February 27, 2005

The Other Gates

Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s The Gates is a spectacle consistent with [the Renaissance art tradition], a piece of elaborate social theater that’s an unintentional portrait of our time. That portrait can be poignant and charming; most of all, it’s funny….

February 12, 2005

Zoomifying My Life Away

Since shedding my higher level administration duties at work a few months back I’ve been able to concentrate on design and geeky things. Being creative in my day job —I’m in heaven. A few weeks ago we introduced a…

January 8, 2005

Don’t Blog Our Love

Afraid to let your favorite blogger know their limits? Let Outtacontext t-shirts, coffee mugs, and notebooks make it easy for you. Numerous news reports and articles have outlined the perils of blogging. People have lost their jobs for what…

December 4, 2004

Artists Affect Company’s Stock Price

BBC Retracts Bhopal Story (Quicktime, 3.4 MB) Yesterday, on the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, I received the following email, ostensively from Dow Chemical’s media relations department. It seemed to be counteracting a hoax that said the company…

October 27, 2004

An Artist’s Endorsement

I am an artist: an information provider and interpreter. I am part of a group of people who are masters of the search, often drawing on intuition and practice to reveal the ambiguous and the inexplicable. As an artist…

October 22, 2004

Turf Wars

I think September 11th changed everything. Apathy is gone from our hearts. Bethlehem, PA Homeowner Print your own lawn sign from Bill Fisher’s Yard Sign Project Apparently, I’m not alone when it comes to being on the front lines…

August 9, 2004

A New Look!

Inspired by a 1940s postcard I found at a flea market in June, I decided to remake my blog with elements of mid-century Los Angeles as well as the orchards that dotted the landscape when I was just a boy….

August 8, 2004

The Grass is Greener Over at My Place

Sometimes suburbia so mundane. I grew up in a tract house in the epitome of a 1960s suburb: LA’s San Fernando Valley. Oh, over the years I’ve rebelled. Homesteading in Baltimore’s inner city had its charm for a while….

November 2, 2003

No Pains, But a Lot of Kisses

We’re having Indian Summer in our nation’s capital. Yesterday the temperature rose to 80 degrees (27 C). Today will be the same. It is a day when not riding your bike in padded Lycra® bicycle shorts should be a…

May 30, 2003

Such a Match!

September 15, 1990 It was a match made in an art gallery. I was there to support Maryland Art Place in its annual bid to keep its head above water. She had a piece in the benefit show. It was…

May 11, 2003

Domestic Tranquility: My Spotted Record

I, the fashion maven that I am, have declared the 1960s are back! In particular that oh-so-special tie dye look. Well, ok, I messed up. But it really wasn’t my fault. I followed my wife’s point-by-point instructions for removing…

March 13, 2003

Posters for Peace

“Another Poster for Peace is a group of designers who are commited to the peaceful and just resolution of the current crises in the Middle East. Our goal is to help create a grassroots campaign for patriotic dissent as a…

November 23, 2002

Turning Over a Few New Leaves: The Backstory

I have always been interested in the social aspects of technology: that is, how new ideas brought on by technological development seep into the everyday lives of regular folk. In the last few months I’ve been contacted with greater…

September 11, 2002

The Remains of the Day: One Year Later

We are lucky enough to know that we are more than our losses. Jenna Jacobs, Wife of Ariel Jacobswho was killed at the WTC In Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel, Everything is Illuminated, Foer’s American protagonist, Jonathan, searches for the…

August 13, 2002

It’s All in the Background

Some are headline type of people but I’m mostly a peripheral sort of guy. The edges and the background are where I like to live. If you know me, you might be surprised to hear me say that. I…

July 6, 2002

Conceptual Hobbies: My Primer

Once again the news is authenticating my life. The latest example comes from New Scientist magazine. It is reporting that studies now show that people become more eccentric as they age: “Odd and eccentric behaviour increases with age—but flamboyant…

June 22, 2002

Culturally Attaché

This past week I participated in the The World Mediation Summit here in Washington, DC. Attended by government workers, cultural representatives from numerous embassies, artists, and cultural workers, it was sponsored by the US Department of Art and Technology…

January 28, 2002

Reliving Ground Zero

Last week I took a trip up to NYC to see Ground Zero. I’d been wanting to make the trip for some time. And, after working on Dichotomy since September, I felt it was important to take the trip….

January 13, 2002

A Review of Performance Reviews

It’s January in Washington, DC. Nestled snuggly between The Holiday Season and The Tax Season in this town is The Performance Review Season! This is the period when all good federal government supervisors are “tasked” with evaluating the performance of…

December 10, 2001

Moving Forward on a Number of Fronts

If you remember, I was consumed by preparations for our annual Leaf Blowing Festival. While the weather has been incredibly mild for a DC fall and it seemed more like May than November, the festival was a smashing success! We…

October 8, 2001

Maintaining Creative Control

I’ve been working on a web project about 9/11 and have been totally consumed. You know that feeling? Total commitment to an idea and its realization. It’s like the sports equivalent of the zone: you look up and five hours…