Richard Trenner

Where the Land and Water Meet:  A Father and Son Show
Artist’s Statement—Richard Trenner
The point of greatest interest is where the land and water meet .—Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1841

Nelson Richards Trenner and George Lewis Trenner, 1910

My father and his father were inveterate photographers of life “where the land and water meet.” I learned to love photography and watery places partly from them. And I’ve helped my own sons, Miles and Winslow Radcliffe-Trenner, learn to love photography and water places, too.

This past January, when Win returned from a school trip, his brought a camera loaded with wonderful photographs of Patagonia and South Georgia Island. When I photograph, I like to juxtapose visual elements—colors, textures, shapes, objects, and moods—to stimulate perception and thought. One variety of juxtaposition I’m drawn to is elemental: land and water. So each of my photographs in this “Father and Son” show combines land and water in some form, whether literal or implied.

Cityscapes, on view at the Gallery 14 from October 12 through November 11, 2012

Four New York Photographs

My parents, born in Manhattan a century ago, might have lost more chances for adventure than they gained by crossing the Hudson River and staying in New Jersey for a long, long time. Perhaps a sense of this loss—combined with the fact that they still had relatives living on that too rich and too thin island on the east side of the river—explains why my family and I made innumerable trips to the city when I was a kid. When I got old enough to take trains and busses on my own, I kept up the commute to the island of infinite seductive distractions.

Is there any place better for walking with camera in hand than New York City? My father’s London-born father took thousands of pictures in his adopted and adored New York. (We still have many of his glass plates and black-and-white prints.) And my father himself photographed in the city with the swell Leica he’d bought as a graduate student in Berlin about 1932. Nowadays, I’m really just following suit when I pick up my Nikon and, in more ways than one, go to town.

I made the four pictures shown here on two different days. I made “Angel and Warrior” and “One Block and Seventy Years Apart” not even ten minutes apart—early one cold January evening as I was walking north on Fifth Avenue near 59th Street. And I took “American Triptych” and “Times Square Collage” on a nearly 100˚ F August afternoon as I was sauntering from Madison Avenue to Penn Station and the train back to New Jersey.

“Angel and Warrior” shows Augustus Saint-Gauden’s “Sherman Monument” (1903), a late-career masterpiece some 12 years in the making. Saint-Gaudens modeled the mounted equestrian figure of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman from life. And—expedience being the mistress of invention—he modeled the allegorical figure of “peace” after his lover, Davida Johnson.

“One Block and Seventy Years Apart” poses the Heckscher Building (1921) in front of 712 Fifth Avenue (1991). Warren & Wetmore, the architectural firm best known for the design of Grand Central Terminal, capped the Heckscher Building with a romantically ornamented early French renaissance-style “crown.” (Today it is called the “Crown Building.”)

“American Triptych” shows three slices of Avenue of the Americas architecture, with the Empire State Building making a chimerical gesture of superiority from over on Fifth. And “Times Square Collage” shows nothing less than “the crossroads of the world,” 2012-style.

My grandfather, who arrived in New York City well ahead of the automobile, and my father, who watched lamplighters making their rounds in the dusks of his Manhattan childhood, would both have called these last two pictures “futuristic.” Of course, “the futuristic” quickly becomes “the historic.” Time stops at nothing.

Digital Noir, Black and White Photographs, March - April 2012 Show

Miscellaneous, 2012

Richard Trenner: Professional Biography

Richard Trenner’s father, Nelson Trenner, and his paternal grandfather, George Trenner, were serious amateur photographers, as evidenced by Kodachrome images from the time of Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953 and albums from the Spanish-American War in 1898. Catching the shutterbug from their work, Richard began making photographs with a single-lens reflex camera when he was 12 years old. Several thousand photographs and many years later (2008, to be exact), Richard won the first formal recognition for his work when one of his photographs was named best-in-show at the Focus on Sculpture juried competition at Grounds for Sculpture. Other photographs were selected for the same annual show in 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Richard had a solo show, sponsored by the Princeton Arts Council and held at the Princeton Public Library in 2009, and another at the Chapin School in Princeton in 2010. He became an Associate Member of Gallery 14 in 2010 and a Full Member in 2011. His work is held in some 20 private collections.

Richard’s work as a writer is three-fold: criticism (writing and photography), reporting (mostly for The New York Times and The Washington Post), and writing about writing (he has written or co-written three books on communication and is working on a book about writing).

Richard’s work as an editor encompasses journalism, books, and articles. He has edited some 20 books for the Lodima Press, a publisher of fine art photography books. Between college and graduate school, he worked at Little, Brown and Company, publishers, in Boston, and edited two weekly newspapers: The Central Post (South Brunswick, New Jersey) and The Delaware Valley News (western Hunterdon County, New Jersey and Upper Bucks County, Pennsylvania).

Richard, who earned degrees in English from Princeton and Rutgers universities, has taught more than 250 writing workshops for universities and businesses. For nine years, he was a Lecturer in Public and International Affairs at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, where he set up and conducted the Writing Center.

As principal of Advanced Communication Training (ACT), Richard has consulted extensively in communication strategy, knowledge management, and learning and development for such organizations as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, Hoffmann-La Roche, and Discovery Communications. At present, he is building a distance-learning organization focused on writing and also working as writing coach for a number of students and adults. He continues to balance his consulting work with writing, editing, teaching, and—more and more—photography.

Richard Trenner can be contacted at: