Exhibition - December 31, 2011 - February 7, 2012 • Midland Arts and Antiques Market, Indianapolis

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Exhibition Review

Here is Charles Fox's (NUVO) review of our exhibition at Midland Arts and Antiques Market:

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Great thanks to everyone who attended the exhibit, and to Ron and Julie Kern. I appreciated the chance to talk with many of those who were able to stop by. The photographing of my hometown will continue.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ron - Snapshots of the Exhibtion

Here are a few snapshots of the exhibition - click on the photos to enlarge:
Main Exhibit Sign
Information Desk
Mike's Hometown, Hartford City Work, Panorama
Ron's Polaroid Work
Ron's Polaroid Work
Ron's Truth From Perceptions Project Work
Ron's Truth From Perceptions Project Work

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ron - Exhibiton Has Ended

Big and Huge Thanks to Satch for designing and installing (and "deinstalling") the exhibit
February 7th was the last day of our 2 Photographers Works In Progress exhibition at Midland Arts and Antiques Market in downtown Indianapolis.  It was a real kick having an exhibition during the Super Bowl festivities.

Big and Huge Thanks to everybody at Midland, Robert, Steve, Greg, Michael and all of the staff!

And, Big and Huge Thanks to everybody that attended and viewed the exhibition.  This was a labor of the love of photography for Mike and myself and we feel that exhibition was pretty darn great.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Another New Photograph of Carmel's Grain Elevator

Now that Carmel, Indiana has an historic preservation code it only seems right that, based upon the spirit of passing that code in the City Council with a vote of 6 -1 and the Mayor signed the bill, the demolition of this great structure would be tabled until the required commission is set up and the structure is properly evaluated.  Indiana Landmarks has commented to me via telephone that they believe the grain elevator should be saved and re-purposed.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ron - New Photographs, Carmel Grain Elevator

I thought that I would post two new photographs of the Carmel grain elevator.  I am preparing a new blog post and when complete I will leave a link here.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Fox59 - DoItIndy

DoItIndy's Ben and Tolin were live on Fox 59 this morning with the Top 3 Indy Urban Events and our exhibit was featured as Number 3!  Big and Huge thanks to DoItIndy and Ben and Tolin!

Friday, January 20, 2012

DoItIndy Top 5 Urban Events January 16 - 22, 2012

We made DoIIndy's Top Five Urban Events for the week of January 16 - 22, 2012!  How COOL is that?  Big and Huge Thanks to Ben and Scott!!!  Check out their Facebook page too!

Ron - International Polaroid Exhibition and Prism Magazine

Ron - I've made a blog post about the international Polaroid exhibition in Dublin, Ireland in which I have three photographs.  As you know, the Polaroid work grew out of the 2 Photographers Works In Progress project.  There is a special edition of the online fine art photography magazine Prism made in conjunction with the exhibition.  Check out the blog post for all of the details.  Thanks!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Nuvo Review by Charles Fox

Click on this link to read Nuvo's review by Charles Fox of the 2 Photographers Works In Progress exhibition.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ron - Press Release for Dublin Exhibition

Go to this link for the press release about the Dublin exhibition in which I am exhibiting three pieces from my Polaroid work.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ron - Dinner

Last evening we had a wonderful Japanese/sushi dinner at Ocean World with Mike and Karen Stroup. As usual the conversation was invigorating. And, as usual I told too many long-winded stories.

We reviewed the past year and all that happened directly and indirectly as a result of our project. The bottom line is that we are quite happy with the exhibit and the blog where we presented a bunch of information letting those interested into our thoughts, processes, inspirations and methods.

The offshoots were interesting as well. They ran the gamut from winning an award for a Christmas cookie to starting new blogs to trying to save an historic landmark from demolition.

The 2 Photographers Works in Progress exhibition continues through February 7 at Midland Arts and Antiques Market. Don't miss it. It is one of the best exhibitions of photography made by local artists that has ever been presented in Indianapolis, if I do say so myself.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ron - The Imminent Demolition of Carmel's Grain Elevator

Contrail, Power Line and AbandonedGrain Elevator, Carmel, IN
(Click to enlarge photographs.)

"Thus we have the American grain elevators and factories, the magnificent FIRST-FRUITS of the new age." - Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture, 1927.

A photograph of Carmel's landmark historical grain elevator structure is one of the two anchor images of my project, Truth From Perceptions.  Currently it is in the 2 Photographers Works In Progress Exhibition at Midland Arts and Antiques Market in downtown Indianapolis.

I had also written about the area in a post from this blog dated August 9, 2011.  These photographs were included in that post:

This is a portion of what I wrote about this area:  It was a gorgeous winter day and it was like the sky was playing its own concerto.  The interaction of the natural clouds with the contrails was quite something.  The area where these photographs were made is one that stills reveals Carmel's history as a small town whose livelihood likely revolved around this grain elevator adjacent to the railroad tracks - maybe that is why I'm drawn here so often.

Imagine my surprise when I read on Twitter this past Saturday that it is a done deal that the City of Carmel is going to demolish the grain elevator.  Apparently, technically, it is the Carmel Redevelopment Commission (CRC) that is going to do the deed. According to City documents the CRC requested the Board of Public Works, which consists of the Mayor and two appointees, to write a resolution to demolish the structure.  Apparently that three person Board of Public Works has the power to act on the behalf of the CRC and indeed they did.

From what I've been told from a very reliable source the CRC can do whatever it wants to in this area by virtue of zoning law.  The CRC is an appointed government entity that does not answer to Carmel's City Council and therefore the citizens of Carmel.  And today I found out that they actually are able to encumber the City of Carmel with debt without getting approval from the City Council, ie the Citizens of Carmel.  That was a shocker.

Apparently the Mayor and the CRC have a plan to build an additional water tower straddling the Monon Trail that has fountains or some such thing and rather than consider integrating the grain elevator into the plan they are going to demolish it, again, with no public input.  There are instances where these structures have been reused in various ways.  Being a part of the Arts and Design District I would hope that rather than tear down one of the last historical structures connecting Carmel to its past that the CRC would come up with a more creative solution.  Maybe even ask the public and artists and architects for some ideas.  But recent history shows that Carmel's government likes shiny new things.  Problem is that, not much later, those shiny new things become dull older things that seemed like a good idea at the time.

It was extremely disappointing to see in an Indianapolis Star article Carmel Clay Historical Society's (CCHS) board member Fred Swift easily dismiss this structure as having no historical significance.  Yet in the next breath he makes the case for the structure when he acknowledges that the structure has been a part of Carmel's landscape for ninety years and was one of Carmel's largest employers before Carmel was a "big suburb."

Apparently now that Carmel is a suburb we no longer have any use for our agricultural past.  I expect more than this from an organization that is supposed to be protecting our history outside of local politics.

I find it ironic that the CCHS is housed in, what I'm certain Mr. Swift considers historically significant structures, railroad depot buildings that were repurposed to suit CCHS' needs and are in the shadow of the grain elevator.

Even more ironic is this news story from Current in Carmel; the first two paragraphs are here:

The City Council Monday night approved an ordinance authorizing historic preservation and the creation of a historic preservation commission. 

The ordinance, which passed with a 6-1 vote, was proposed to “provide a means to promote the cultural, economic, and general welfare of the public through the preservation and protection of structures and areas of historic and cultural interest within the City” and to “maintain established neighborhoods in danger of having their distinctiveness destroyed,” among other stated purposes.

Zack Myers of Fox 59 news interviewed me for their story on the demolition of the grain elevator.

I encourage you to read an article about all of this written by Jonathon Haag that can be found on his blog, Innovate Carmel.

Here is a recent letter to the editor of the Indianapolis Star by Jane Oakes:

Maybe we can progress without
tearing down grain elevator

6:41 PM, Jan. 05, 2012

I hadn’t thought about the Carmel Grain Elevator in years, but all of a sudden the story on Wednesday, Jan. 4 (“Eyesore or landmark, elevator’s coming down”) brought back a virtual flood of memories. When I moved to Carmel as a child, there were 771 people living there, as attested by a sign at the south edge of town.

At the Carmel school, all in one brick building at the east end of Main Street, I was in the same class with both Fosters and Kendalls, the families that owned the grain elevator. The Monon Railroad was a large part of the community from the proximity to the grain company to the hook by the large door that snagged mailbags each day. Putting a penny on the tracks was an exciting pastime; I’ll bet if I looked carefully enough I might still have a very thin, flat, smashed penny. Progress does not always mean removing the past. Sometimes it means honoring it through visible memories.

Jane S. Oaks


A fellow grad from Carmel High 1976 had this to say about the grain elevator:

The Carmel Grain Elevator should be preserved as a historical landmark... Even as the town moves forward, and the landscape through the years has changed, it should always leave reminders of what once was.

Mike Sapp

Also there is a discussion on Carmel City Councilor's Rick Sharp's Facebook page.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Friday, December 30, 2011

Exhibition - Midland Arts and Antiques Market, Indianapolis

The Exhibition is up thanks to the hard work of Satch and the staff at Midland Arts and Antiques Market.

Now that the exhibition is up, Greg from Midland will design and install the furniture, accessories, art and antiques that will make up the center of the exhibit area. Midland is going to look great for the New Year and for Super Bowl visitors. Be sure to make a trip downtown to check it out.

Thanks to Satch who designed and installed the exhibit
Here's a quick video preview of the exhibit: (making these videos still pretty much terrify me, but it is part of the project so I press on!)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

Ron - "Societal Instincts," Hand Written Original

This is the original hand-written poem that started the Truth From Perceptions Project.

Copyright 2011, Edward Henry Satchwill III
Reprinted by Permission

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ron - Printing

I have finished the printing for the exhibition at Midland.  I will be putting together the final order of the hanging over the next few days.

There is still much to do, printing of signs, artists' statements and the like.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ron - Photograph From Along the National Road

This is one of my favorite photographs that I made as a part of Truth From Perceptions.

The door of the business has handwritten hours for every day of the week. No fancy sign here, not even one telling us what the business is. Obviously the locals know.

 The windows of the building have been bricked in at different times. The contrast of the air conditioner bringing in fresh air and the exhaust fan that jettisons the stale air from a seemingly closed off space adds to the mystery of the business.

 This business, in my mind, is a perfect metaphor for the financial and economic crisis that the small towns and their people are facing.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mike and Ron - Discussion 4

Mike's and Ron's Books

Scroll down, in the left margin you will find links to Mike's and Ron's books on Blurb.

Ron-Truth From Perceptions Printing

I've begun the final printing for the Truth From Perceptions portion of my exhibit.  There will be two sizes of prints - approx. 11"x17" and 6"x9."

I talked to my nephew, Edward Henry Satchwill III, last evening and he will be writing a piece for the Truth From Perceptions portion of the exhibit.  This will close the circle.  His poem was the main inspiration behind this project and now after seeing the photographs contained in the exhibition he will write about those photographs.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ron - Polaroid Work Printed

I am making progress toward the opening of the exhibition.  This afternoon I completed printing the Polaroid work.  Satch and I are quite pleased with the results.

And, for the Truth From Perceptions Project I have edited 110 photographs down to 45 for the exhibition.  Making over 500 negatives over seven months has been a challenge that I have truly relished.  I feel that it is imperative that I make a book that presents the entire scope, at this point in time, of Truth From Perceptions.

Currently I am designing the layout of the exhibit and doing some additional writing as well.

Thank you for continuing to check out our blog.  And I would like to give a special shout out to the people from overseas that have taken the time to look at our work.

Examining a Fuji Negative

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Press Release

Here's a link to the press release (pdf) for the exhitbition: http://www.box.com/s/3gobx49t5dn20bitus79

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ron - More Photographs and Thoughts

Well, I thought I was done with making photographs before the upcoming exhibition.  But on Wednesday a few things presented themselves and I had to pay attention.  At times when I least expect it, a photograph presents itself.

The fact that I am entering a new chapter in my photography, and as I am in the midst of editing for our upcoming exhibit, my view of photography continues to clarify.  And, what I  experienced this past week validates what I have been thinking and feeling.

When I am photographing I feel and sense the spirit of what I am seeing.  The "design" of the subject or scene (natural or manmade, intentional or incidental) becomes an integral of the final composition.  I examine and present nature's and/or man's mark, the combination of which is often society's response to my subject.  The resulting photograph shows the condition and existence of the subject within a context, literal or metaphorical.  That being said, trying to recreate my feelings and perception through a lens and onto film via this machine, the camera, is incredibly difficult and at times more than frustrating.

As I imply in my artist statement, which I will post directly below Satch's photograph, I photograph within the environment that I know or find myself in - the world in which I live.  I do not find it necessary to travel to a locale to make photographs that present something exotic, unfamiliar or detached from my day to day existence.  Rather I endeavor to delve into my surroundings within the scope of where I live my life.

When I first read Edward Henry Satchwill III's poem "Societal Instincts" I became more acutely aware of what I was trying to say with my photography and the "Truth From Perceptions" concept was born.  (Full disclosure - Edward Henry Satchwill III is my nephew.  His poetry continually provides inspiration, and I thank him for that.)

My future photography will continue to be informed by these ideas.  As I enter a new chapter both photographically and in my life, which will be discussed in detail at a later date, these ideas and concepts will continue to inform and guide my work.

Ron with his Polaroid Camera, Photograph by Satch, 11/23/2011

You can read the poem "Societal Instincts" at this previous post.

My Artist Statement:

I aspire to discover and reveal the spiritual essence and truth of my environment.  For me, photography is a vital element of life; it is esoteric and abstract, yet temporal and existent.

Anything at any time can be subject matter.  Often I make images as a reaction to the environment in which I find myself or to something that I observe by looking beyond the obvious characteristics and form of a subject, either instantly or over a period of time.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Indy Star Article and Press Release

Here's the link to the Indy Star online article about 2 Photographers Works In Progress, written by Karen Stroup.

And here is the press release for the exhibition:

For Immediate Release November 30, 2011
From Ron Kern, ronkernphoto@gmail.com, 317-507-7888
Exhibition - 2 Photographers Works In Progress, Ron Kern and Mike Stroup
December 31, 2011 through February 7, 2012
Artists Reception - Friday January 6, 2012, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Midland Arts and Antiques Market
907 East Michigan Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 46202
Hours:  Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday Noon to 5 p.m.
Carmel resident Ron Kern has been making photographs and studying the art of photography for over twenty five years.  Recently Ron, while examining the contemporary state of photography, realized that, because of the proliferation of billions of images across the internet all vying for our attention, the public’s perception of photography had begun to take on a disposable nature.  
Ron Kern - “As I thought more and more about the current state of photography I felt that I needed to do my little part to bring attention to the fact that photography still has a rightful place in the fine art of self-expression.  As I tried to imagine a better way to show what the art of photography was all about the idea of 2 Photographers Works In Progress was born.  I invited my long time friend and colleague Mike Stroup to join the project.
2 Photographers Works In Progress offers fine art photography enthusiasts a look into the creative process before, during, and after a photography exhibit goes up.  Visit 2PhotographersWorksInProgress.net to see how fine art photographers Ron Kern and Mike Stroup think through the challenges of developing their respective visions for their photography and to learn more about the inner motivations of both photographers for the works they create.
“We want to engage people who like to follow fine art photography to participate with us as we both work through the creative process and challenges to get to where we need to be to assemble our work for this exhibit,” says Kern. “The web offered us an opportunity to provide people with a glimpse into how both Mike and I use the camera to create art.”
Kern and Stroup have been on the Indianapolis fine art photography scene for over 25 years and have shown their work locally, statewide, and nationally.  “This is the first time, though, that we have explored the potential of the web to invite others to join us both before and during the exhibit and after the exhibit to learn how our work with our cameras is never-ending,” says Stroup.
Midland Arts and Antiques, located near the center of downtown Indianapolis, features over 200 independent art and antique dealers from around the Midwest.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Revisiting Ron's Essay

Now would be a good time to revisit the idea of and the concept behind 2 Photographers Works In Progress. Click this link to go directly to the blog post that contains Ron's essay.

Mike Discusses His Hartford City Project

(At the beginning of the video Mike and Ron do a bad SNL Weekend Update Chevy Chase impression, well, mostly Ron)

Video - Ron Discusses Recent Polaroid Work

Monday, November 14, 2011

More Polaroid Work

I've pretty much wrapped up making Polaroid photographs for this portion of the project.  There are several more ideas percolating.  Satch and I might work together on a couple of them.

Here are three photographs from the ongoing Polaroid work/process in progress.  I am very happy with these and will be doing more of this work.  It has been rewarding showing this work online directly after discovering and making these images.  Thanks for checking them out.
Sign and Billboard
Cement Machine
Grain Elevator and Delivery Truck

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mike- Post VIII

                                                                      -- THE MALL --

Probably built in the mid to the late 1960's, the Muncie Mall offered the chance for people in the surrounding towns to drive a short distance and have numerous stores and shops to chose from. Located about 16 miles to the north of the Mall, the people of Hartford City were no different. While our Mom never owned a car, we would ride with friends to the mall to buy our new school clothes. Saving a few dollars on a pair of shoes, and a couple of bucks on pants or a shirt was important at the time. But you know, I don't think we realized what would happen. Maybe it's only human nature, but I don't think we understood the changes that would take place, in Indiana and all across the country. Month after month, as several years pass, and it adds up. Or, for the downtown businesses, it didn't. Of course, they gradually began to close. The last photo above is where the JC Penny store once had been.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mike- Post VII

Not there Remember the character, George Bailey, in the Frank Capra film, “It’s a Wonderful Life”?  George gets the chance that many of us don’t get to see what our lives would be like and how others would be like if we were not there.  But what do you do with the knowledge of knowing that something “was” there but is “not there” any longer?  And what does it mean to be “not there?”  If you remember something that “was” there that no longer “is not,” does that mean it is “still there?”  I want people to stop and think beyond the literal when they see my photographs to imagine or remember what used to be but is not there now.  With each passing day, we chip away at the canvas of time and place and people and layer after layer is not there the next day, replaced by some thing or someone else.  I believe time is dynamic and dimensional and that to look at my photographs is to take a step back into time with me to enjoy the memories I have of a precious small town that is now not there.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ron - Work Flow

I get many questions about how I make my photographs so I thought that I'd briefly outline my workflow for the Truth From Perceptions project and my past processes.

In the past, in another photographic life, I developed my film and worked in the wet darkroom.  I did do all of the necessary testing for the Zone System for both T-Max and Tri-X films.  Also, I used Polaroid Type 55 positive/negative film for most of my 4"x5" work.  For printing I used a Selectol Soft and Dektol developer combination and occasionally used Weston's Amidol developer, depending upon the type of work I was doing.  I used two different enlargers, one for medium format and one for large format.  My paper of choice was Oriental Seagull, variable contrast.  I also worked with the "historic process" of Van Dyke Brown printing.

Today I have eschewed the wet darkroom in favor of the digital darkroom, but I still photograph using film.  The reasons for this are very straight forward.  Maintaining a wet darkroom and printing on silver photographic paper is very expensive.  As I do not consistently make prints of any great quantity the cost of having to replenish chemicals became prohibitive.  And the cost of silver paper is not cheap.  Working into a final print involved many sheets of paper that would drive up the cost.

Seeing a fine print made in the wet darkroom still makes my heart race and I do miss making those prints.  But, if this was the only way to make photographs I would no longer be making pictures.

iMac and Scanner
The digital darkroom has enabled me to continue my work and the quality of prints make from a high quality inkjet printer on photographic-like paper rivals, I said rivals, silver prints.

All of that being said, I still photograph using film.  I have the control that I want for making images when using film.  I still use the Zone System when making exposures and I find that film has a latitude, scale and feel that I don't see when I look at digital photographs.

The video below shows the camera and light meter that I am using for Truth From Perceptions.  After making exposures I have a lab, typically Roberts Camera, develop the film.  For the Truth From Perceptions project I am using Kodak BW400CN.  I have found that this film has a nice long scale and a fine grain structure.  At normal development it accurately reflects the metering that was done at the time of exposure.  The film is developed using the C-41 process so film development is quite affordable.

After film processing I scan the film using a flatbed scanner with 24 bit color settings at a resolution that will provide the size of prints that I desire.  I use Adobe Photoshop Elements on an iMac as the digital darkroom.  I adjust brightness and contrast and dodge and burn as required to make the expressive print that reflects what I visualized when I tripped the shutter.  I do slightly adjust the sharpness of the photograph only to ensure that the digital file will accurately print.  And, I fix all of the dust marks.  The one thing from the wet darkroom I do not miss one bit is print spotting.

My final prints are made using an Epson inkjet printer and are printed out of a RIP.  In an exhibition in January of this year at the Harrison Center for the Arts! in Indianapolis I exhibited 16"x20" prints of my Indiana Small Towns project and many people took for granted that the photographs were silver prints.  They did look great and I was quite pleased with the results.

So, there you have it in a big nutshell, my past processes and an overview of my current workflow.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ron - Polaroid Work

I continue to explore the use of Fuji instant film and an old Polaroid camera. At this point I am thinking that this method may be very important in my future photography. Here are some recent photographs (click on the photographs to enlarge):
Kewanna, IN
Kewanna, Indiana
Hamilton County, Indiana
I am especially happy with the Kewanna Water Tower and Hamilton County photographs.  In the HamCo photograph I was able to convey the surreal scale of the scene by using a combination of foreground, the main subject and the distant background.  The quality of the negative adds to the mystery.  I just happened to come upon this scene while driving to dinner and, needless to say, we were late for dinner.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Video - Discussion 1

Mike and Ron discuss the current state of photography and their project, 2 Photographers Works In Progress. Video by Satch.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mike- Post VI

Gone When I go back to my small town, I feel that the town that I see is not the town that I remember.  That town is gone. Businesses are gone, retail stores are gone, drug stores are gone.  “Out of sight, out of mind,” may be true.  Deceptively powerful is the impact of place on our memories and once the places are gone, what happens to the memory?  Once you are gone, does the memory then die?  Or does it live on through others?  “Gone” is a pretty powerful term in that it suggests “no more.”  I could have made the choice through my photographs to match photos of buildings the “way they used to be” with “they way they are today.”  But that would be too easy.  Instead, I have climbed into the deeper abyss that challenges us all to keep our memories alive through the people we love today.  My images confront the reality of that potential loss of memory of things we hold most dear.  It is up to us to show and talk about those memories for them to continue on after we are gone.

Mehling's Drug store - This was one of two or three drugstores that had been on the square at one time.  Mehling's was about a ten minute walk from the high school that has been torn down for many years.  The old brick school building had gradually deteriorated over time and apparently, it was decided that a new school building was in order.  I had gone to the old high school and was in the first graduating class of the new school.  I recall seeing small pieces of plaster fall from the ceiling and mice scurrying around the old building. 

For many years, Mehling's had a lunch counter and booths where teenagers and other townspeople would come to eat the typical cheeseburgers, fries, and sodas.  About 1968 or 1969, all of that was removed and was the last of its kind in the downtown.  Probably in 1969 or so, I started to work there part-time.  I would basically keep the store and the rear stock areas cleaned up and would also take newly arrived merchandise to stock the shelves.  The pharmacist and owner was Mr. Pat Mehling.  The store manager was Mr. Sam Hollis.  You don't get any more "Andy of Mayberry" than with a name like Sam Hollis. 

For several years after that time period, new businesses were built at the north edge of town.  A Marsh grocery store and a nearby fast food restaurant were built on the site where in the 1950s and 1960s had been the Jones Dairy.  Our next door neighbor, Mr. Bob Jones (who would head the cast in my version of Hartford City's Mayberry), had delivered milk in the city from that dairy.  As with the changing times in many small towns in our country, Mr. Mehling could hold out no longer and eventually sold out his business and went to work for Marsh as their in-store pharmacist. 

Here are images of the building along with the old and faded sign that would slowly turn during the day in the place that once was Mehling's Drug store.  A knick-nack store has occupied this space for many years.  From cheeseburgers and conversation to cheap figurines --- go figure.