Day 230: Magic Still Lives Here, The Work of Paul Mutimear

The 230th Day of the Year

When I first moved to Man­hat­tan, now three decades and count­ing ago, I was stunned by the sur­prises it held.  Any given week might bring a series of ran­dom events and meet­ings that made me a dif­fer­ent per­son than I had been before, some­one more in touch with a larger world.  I have had to spend more time inside than out­side in the last year. Some­times I for­get the power of these acci­den­tal and ben­e­fi­cial collisions.

Paul Mutimear is a magi­cian in his own right and on his own terms — artist, pho­tog­ra­pher, musi­cian, and by self-definition “The Color Guy.”  I met Paul a few years back when I zipped into the Janovic Plaza paint store on Lex­ing­ton and 64th.  Paint­ing walls is instantly ther­a­peu­tic and a fairly inex­pen­sive way to escape your sur­round­ings.  Feel­ing trapped that day, I decided to paint a room.  Much to my delight I met Paul who is not some­one who is push­ing paint toward the next cus­tomer. Every­thing about him has artistry to it. Paul cap­ti­vated me — his man­ner, dress, humor, and vocal refusal to be intim­i­dated by my insis­tence I had the right color. (I did not and not lis­ten­ing to him caused the need for a quick return trip!) We began to talk about cre­ative pur­suits and what he calls his impro­vised life.  He told me a few things about his wife, the artist Kather­ine Bowl­ing, and their life together.  I was hooked.  Occa­sion­ally I drop into the store and we pick up where we left off the last time.

Pro­cras­ti­nat­ing (not writ­ing) ear­lier this sum­mer I decided to “moth” my clos­ets thor­oughly before I packed up the win­ter clothes.  We notice moths mostly for what they leave behind… holes in the clothes we love.  I grew quickly weary of the task. With­out any con­sid­er­a­tion of its ram­i­fi­ca­tions, I decided my main room was too dark.  One long wall had to change its color-costume … imme­di­ately.  I went to Janovic and there was Paul. I was fresh from the moth-killing chore and Paul told me about his pub­lished book of extra­or­di­nary pho­tographs … of moths! Paul’s Moths are not to be killed but instead appre­ci­ated for all their tran­scen­dent and iri­des­cent liv­ing and fly­ing beauty.  His pho­tographs and under­stand­ing of these crit­ters made rethink words such as:  insects, pests, and bugs.

The col­li­sion that brought us into one another’s lives hap­pened for no other rea­son except the Muses pro­vide ran­dom joys.  Ours made me once again savour “the treats along the way” Man­hat­tan still provides.

We are excited and pleased to wel­come Paul Mutimear as our guest on From This Ter­race.  I hope all of you will enjoy your time with him as much as I do.  Please note he has a show up for the next two weeks, if you’re any­where in the area – all details are included below.  Since the gallery is out of the city, Paul has given us a pre­view for those who won’t be able to attend.  It’s his most recent print of a June bug.  Here’s what he says:

It’s called ‘June’ which is the name of the bug, the June bug, so named because it only seems to appear in the month of June. Their evo­lu­tion is a mys­tery to me, as they seem com­pletely ill con­ceived. They have big fat bod­ies and fly as if com­pletely out of con­trol for the entire dura­tion of their flight, which lasts an aver­age of 1.5 sec­onds before they crash into some­thing, and fall to ground and if they land on their backs they seem com­pletely inca­pable of right­ing themselves.

When I shot this pic­ture I had three of them stuck to me from ran­dom col­li­sions. I’ve decided that this pic­ture is an acci­den­tal trib­ute to the leg­endary pho­tog­ra­pher O. Win­ston Link who set up incred­i­bly elab­o­rate shots, with only once chance to get every­thing right, most famously, the express train pass­ing a drive-in movie. My shot cap­tures the wild flight path of the June bug just as a car passes in the back­ground, leav­ing the streaks of red tail­lights. The dif­fer­ence is that mine was com­pletely acci­den­tal and a mil­lion to one coin­ci­dence, espe­cially as cars pass here at night at an aver­age fre­quency of one every ten min­utes! Some­times you get lucky.”


If you are now bit­ten by Paul’s work, as we are here on From This Ter­race, please read on and learn more about his vision and the jour­ney to find­ing his cre­ative path.  I find I can’t look at any of his pho­tographs with­out see­ing some­thing new in each one, each time.


An impro­vised life by Paul Mutimear:

Basi­cally, I have had a strange and under-achieving sort of career, hav­ing been blessed with an abun­dance of cre­ativ­ity, but, grow­ing up, I had lit­tle encour­age­ment. It was also the 60’s and I had lit­tle inter­est in a tra­di­tional “career”. I stud­ied mechan­i­cal engi­neer­ing because I liked mak­ing things and thought it would be inter­est­ing (it wasn’t) and became a musi­cian and record­ing engi­neer before com­ing to Amer­ica with a rock and roll band.

I had always been inter­ested in pho­tog­ra­phy as another cre­ative out­let but never had the patience (or mem­ory) to learn film-based pho­to­graphic tech­nique and only got into pho­tog­ra­phy seri­ously when dig­i­tal cam­eras of suf­fi­cient qual­ity finally became afford­able. My favorite part of play­ing music is impro­vi­sa­tion, partly because I am untrained in music too. Dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy gave me the instant feed­back that I needed to impro­vise — wait­ing 2 weeks for a film to be processed only to find out I had used the wrong set­tings didn’t work for me! It would have been akin to play­ing a gui­tar solo with a 2-week delay before I could hear what I’d done! These pho­tos are the direct result of the new­found abil­ity to impro­vise with a cam­era. The free­dom that unlim­ited shoot­ing and instant feed­back enabled was breath­tak­ing and as soon as I had a cam­era good enough, these pho­tographs came quite quickly.

Inci­den­tally, my music career had a lit­tle boost about 4 years ago when I was able to write, record, and pro­duce my own solo CD (with a lot of help from great engi­neer and pro­ducer, Allen Farmelo). I made it under the pseu­do­nym Paul Brit­ten and it’s called “Life and Death (Part 1)”.

My acci­den­tal career as a col­orist fol­lows a sim­i­lar pat­tern, as again, I have no for­mal train­ing. When Janovic offered me the job, dis­il­lu­sioned with 15 years as a specialty-painting con­trac­tor with ever-increasing over­heads and dimin­ish­ing job sat­is­fac­tion, I impro­vised. Every cus­tomer is dif­fer­ent and I was soon able to find my way by treat­ing every per­son as an indi­vid­ual and impro­vis­ing to their per­sonal require­ments. Feel­ing that I should study a lit­tle color the­ory, I dis­cov­ered that it basi­cally rein­forced what I had already learned intu­itively from my prac­ti­cal expe­ri­ence in color mix­ing and appli­ca­tion. I already had the advan­tage of exten­sive expe­ri­ence in paint appli­ca­tion and in deal­ing with clients but the biggest key to my suc­cess was prob­a­bly just hav­ing an Eng­lish accent!”

Like the moths drawn to the light, Susan, the Stone Sage Lion and I are drawn to this imag­i­na­tive artist and how he re-envisions life-on-the-wing.  I am begin­ning to won­der how the moth­proof­ing will go next year….

In the mean­time, I intend to enjoy the gifts of Paul’s lens.

Good-bye for now from all of us on From This Ter­race.  See you soon!!

©Alida Brill 2011 From This Terrace



For an actual look at the man behind the mys­tery of moths and a few words about color, which after all, brought me to him:  here is a link to a fea­tured piece that appeared in The New York Times:

Paul is rep­re­sented by mas­ter print­ers and print pub­lish­ers Oehme Graph­ics of Col­orado. He has just returned from work­ing there on the new series.

The book Solid Air is avail­able at:

See more of Paul’s pho­tog­ra­phy at:

You can obtain lim­ited edi­tion archival prints of these images by con­tact­ing Paul directly:

You will find his music on

Here are details about Paul’s upcom­ing show:

It’s about a 3 hour drive from NYC (so City res­i­dents who can’t make it are for­given). For those who saw Paul’s last show there, there will be some new moth pic­tures but also a lot of other pho­tog­ra­phy, video and his first series of etch­ings made with mas­ter printer Sue Oehme in Colorado.

Open­ing Sat­ur­day August 20th 5pm — 7pm. The show is up for 2 weeks and Paul will also be at the gallery Sun 21st, Sat­ur­day 27th & Sun­day 28th from about noon until 5pm.

If you are unfa­mil­iar with the loca­tion, here are some clues:


Address: Way­out Gallery, 5046 Delaware Turn­pike, Rens­se­laerville, NY 12147.









Filed under Community, Friendship, Inspiration, Life

5 Responses to Day 230: Magic Still Lives Here, The Work of Paul Mutimear

  1. This is such a won­der­ful adven­ture into a land of color and light…and moths! Thank you for bring­ing Paul’s work to us.

  2. You are so gen­er­ous, Alida. And it’s a plea­sure to see Paul Multimear’s pho­tos and to hear about his cre­ative life. You have inspired me to write about a young friend who is out of work and who has sur­vived on her cre­ative bone. Florence

  3. Sim

    Thank you for shar­ing this story about Paul Mutimear. I also ran into Paul at Janovic, and have had the plea­sure of get­ting to know him a bit. I am always happy to learn more about Paul / he is a unique indi­vid­ual and is what I call explo­sively cre­ative in what seems like lim­it­less dimen­sions. Pick a medium, and Paul has, or can quickly, inno­vate through it. I strongly encour­age your read­ers to check out his work.

  4. Lovely lovely lovely! Inspir­ing in about 100 dif­fer­ent ways!

  5. Thank you all! I must admit I didn’t see these com­ments until now and am a lit­tle embar­rassed but thrilled nonethe­less. Most of all thank you to Alida for your strength, courage and gen­eros­ity! A good way to start a new year!

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