Category Archives: Messages

Once Only Christmas Offer

My hard times are your good fortune! I have a box of fifteen museum-quality, 13″ x 19″ giclée prints made with light-fast pigment inks on fine art paper that I normally sell for 100 dollars each. I need to raise funds quickly, so I am selling the entire box of fifteen prints for 800 dollars, about half the normal price. All prints are individually sealed in archival acetate document bags. The entire box is yours for 800 bucks. Serious inquiries only contact Mark Ellinger at

UPDATE 30 Dec 13

SOLD to friend and author Court Haslett. His book Tenderloin was just published by the Rogue Press. It’s a great read, full of history, and I highly recommend it to everyone. Get out there and buy it!

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Beyond the Central City

Discolandia Despedida

“Discolandia Despedida” (2013)

For those who are interested, I have started documenting other parts of the City besides the Tenderloin, mid-Market and Sixth Street in a new blog I call Through Unsealed Eyes. Check it out, especially if you like nice, large photos.

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Untwisting the Truth

New City for the Upper Class

“New City for the Upper Class” (2012)

Goo-goo goo-goo goo-goo goo
Goo-goo goo-goo goo-goo
Googly, googly, googly goo:
That’s how we fill a column.

— GK Chesterton

Earlier this week, the San Francisco Chronicle published an article, authored by CW Nevius, that begins with Mercy Housing’s acquisition of some of my early photography, recently installed at the Arlington Hotel. What follows is a muddled retelling of my life story, refashioned by Nevius with cherry-picked facts to fit his doctrinaire point of view. In his eyes, success is synonymous with wealth and prosperity and is therefore quantifiable and attainable by upward striving. Misconstruing my perseverance in recovery with upward striving, he assumes that success is a corollary of self-redemption.

The truth is that I often must choose between necessities to survive, and that any recognition my work has received has in the long run made life no less difficult. Due to ongoing health problems, a lack of print sales and commissions has recently forced me to pawn all of my gear just to pay the bills. I simply cannot keep afloat on Social Security benefits alone. For now, until I recover my cameras, I am no longer a photographer. I cannot say where life goes from here. What I do know is that there are no easy answers. There never are.

If Nevius’ journalism is reviled and ridiculed (as indeed it often is), it is because his preconceptions so often preclude veracity. Accordingly, he compartmentalized and re-contextualized my personal history as a “success” story, using the template of a materialist ideology that interprets life as a race to the top and classifies people as winners or losers. Embracing change as the only certainty in life (even death can be regarded as a kind of change) allows me to view my existence as an ongoing process of unfolding and transformation. Insofar as my journey through life is a reflection of my boiling psyche, the highs and lows have been extreme, but this is not how I measure either failure or success. As a perennial student in the classroom of experience, success for me is a lesson well-learned.

By the way, if you would like to read a really well-written article about me and my work, “Histories Intertwined” by Maria La Ganga of the Los Angeles Times is superb.


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Dies Natalis Solis Invicti

I have been faced with some rather serious health problems in recent months and have had far less energy than usual to put together fresh material on a regular basis. I am therefore recycling a Winter Solstice/Christmas post from 2009 that was especially popular amongst my followers. Best wishes for the holidays to everyone!

Solstice 2009

“Lux Mundi Invicta”

While rooting through some old files recently, I found a picture I had painted over eight years ago—seven months after I had been discharged from the hospital and more than a year before I acquired my first camera. Inasmuch as the roots of our seasonal holiday observances can be traced back to ancient celebrations of the winter solstice, and as observance of the solstice is embedded in the traditions of just about every culture, all I needed was a message to turn my old gouache painting into a more or less universal holiday greeting card. The Third Century Roman Empire provided what I was looking for: a festival of the rebirth of the Unconquered Sun, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, held by the Romans on December 25th to celebrate the lengthening of days and the sun’s re-ascension to the zenith following the winter solstice.

No matter how you celebrate the season, I wish you peace.


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