I left Paris feeling kind of worn out, like I'd done a lot of walking but not much inspired art-making. It was a lot like my first time in Venice: for the most part, I never really broke through that surface layer. (I wrote a bit about that experience in this post) I don't know why it's taken me so long to realize this, but if I want a more quiet, daydreamy time to photograph, I need to get up early--jet lag be damned!--and go wandering before the throngs hit the streets. That said, despite being out and about at peak times of day, I was happy to discover I'd made a few images that evoke the Paris I dreamed of finding. Here are a few first drafts.
John and I took his youngest daughter, Katherine, to Paris in early April. She said it was on her bucket list (an 11 year-old with a bucket list, go figure) to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and John's sister-in-law, who'd been living in Paris for the last few years, was moving back to the States. Anyone who wanted to visit needed to do so pronto. Off we went!
I'm still sorting through photographs from the trip, so there are more posts on the way, but I wanted to share a photo-an-hour diary of our last day there. (Why not work backwards?) Here goes:
7am - Waking up to the trees in the courtyard...
8am - Out the door and through the gate, passing all the perfect spring flowers along the way.
Our route to the Metro bordered the woods of Bois de Boulogne.
We'd stop every day at the boulangerie near the Metro for donuts and ham and cheese baguettes to take with us for lunch. It was my favorite place to practice French... the ladies there were so nice.
9am - The Metro! Today we planned to start out in Montmartre.
10am - La Cimetière de Montmartre. Old and beautiful and quiet... I loved it here. Previous days had been spent in crowded places and I just felt so peopled-out. I could have spent the entire day here just sitting on a bench.
11 am - We wandered through quiet neighborhoods near Sacré-Coeur...
12pm - Sacré-Coeur was as beautiful as all the photos I'd seen. Behind it, a quiet street ended at a park, which is where we found the La Vie Est Une Aventure! graffiti written on a stone bench.
1pm - We took the far west steps below the church to get down to the main street again. I couldn't help stopping to photograph this tree. Paris in spring!
2:30pm - We stood in line for a good long while to get into Angelina's for their famous hot chocolate (recommended to us by Maureen, our flight attendant on the way over). Yum!
3:30pm - Walking the Coulée Verte, which is an old elevated railroad bed that has been transformed into a walking path. Apparently the first of its kind, it inspired New York City's Highline, which I've also walked. It had started drizzling earlier in the day, so everything was lush-green and bright.
4:30pm - Made some friends along the way.
5pm - A view from one of the bridges.
By the time we got to the end, it was POURING. Katherine's umbrella was turning inside-out from the wind, my shoes had puddles in them, and we underestimated how long it would take to get to the Metro station we were looking for. Of course!
6pm - We stopped in the Marais to hunt for a shop I'd read about in my favorite online sewing magazine. My winter coat needs some new buttons, and Le Mercerie Parisienne apparently specializes in all kinds of unique buttons.
I found two sets that I really liked. We'll see which one works out the best...
7:30pm - Back to Neuilly for dinner at Piccolo Mondo, the restaurant we went to on our first night. The server remembered us, which was fun. I know I know, we should have ended our trip with traditional French fare, but why, when this place was sooo good?
It was a long day --- and a rainy one! --- but we had fun and I am happy we didn't abandon our plans just because of the weather.
Thank you, Christine, for the raincoat, umbrella, and, most and best of all, for sharing your home, stories, and Paris travel tips with us :-)
Part of the fun of going through last year's photos at this time of year is reliving warm-weather adventures in the middle of winter. It's making me look forward to spring! I thought I'd share two of the Starfighter trips John and I made last fall...
SWANK AIRFIELD in Butler, Ohio.
This grass strip (see it right behind the wing there?) is one of my FAVORITE places to go as it's got everything you could possibly want. You can camp right next to the river, go swimming in the summer, there's a shady gazebo for picnicking, it's right on one of Ohio's major bike trails, and there's an amazing diner right in town. It also has an old-skool water pump and a bathroom. The Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) is working hard to get places like this spiffed up and put on aeronautical charts. For a long time, Swank Field was a bit of a secret and not everyone knew where it was. (Hopefully it still kinda stays that way.) From our neck of the woods, just fly north-northeast, pass the south end of Delaware lake, keep on going until you pass in between two small-ish lakes. When you see the three radio towers in a row off to your left, look for the river and the town and swoop in over the valley. No GPS required!
Butler is perfect for scootering, and we went straight down the bike path toward The Whiffletree.
The Whiffletree, famous for its John Wayne decor, is closed on Wednesdays, and the last time we flew in I got so excited dreaming of their amazing home fries, only to have my hopes dashed by the CLOSED sign. (I think our airport home base needs to create a restaurant reference list of what's open when. Maybe a fun summer to-do list item...?) This was not a Wednesday, though, so all was well. Breakfast accomplished!
NORTH BASS ISLAND in Lake Erie.
First stop: Port Clinton for lunch at the Tin Goose Diner (there always seems to be food involved in these trips). It was our original intention to head to Kelly's Island, but we got a late start and really wanted to save that for a day when there was more time to ride around the island. The Tin Goose NEVER disappoints, and their soups are the best I've had ever.
I always love looking at this part of the Ohio chart. Just past the Cedar Point roller coasters... all these little tiny islands with airstrips on them.
We've gone to Kelley's and to Put-in-Bay, but not the others, so I asked John if we could try a different one, and we chose North Bass. We bought some cookies and hot cocoa to go at the Tin Goose, and took off. It was a perfect day for a cookie picnic.
Most of the island was bought by the state in and is now North Bass Island State Park. People still live there, but not very many. It's beautiful from the air! I want to go back again when we have more time to go exploring.
This little building is the post office and airport of the community, Isle Saint George. Somewhere on the island there's a museum in an old schoolhouse, and next time I'd like to go & find out more about the island's history.
This was our picnic view. The beach was rocky, but there were enough flat spots to put down a blanket and have a nap.
Even without the salt, Lake Erie feels just like the sea, which makes me feel not so far away from New England where I grew up. I wonder sometimes about living someplace like this, isolated and remote, even just for a season. Winter with all its snow and ice, or summer with storms and fireflies...
As I go through images from 2017, I'm finally spending some more time on those from the trip we took to Venice and Vienna in the late spring. I posted some of my black and whites from Venice in this post, but was so so excited about those that I never got around to the color ones. It always takes me awhile to figure out what my favorites are anyway.
We only spent an afternoon in Vienna proper, and so I didn't get my hopes up about making photographs that were more than snapshots, but between the old cafes and the sculptures behind wire at the Spanish Riding School, there was plenty of inspiring mood and I was so happy with what I captured that day!
In Venice, we stayed on a quiet part of the island in the guesthouse of the Church of Madonna dell' Orto. With a few exceptions, so of my favorite scenes were in the guesthouse itself, or in the neighborhood right outside the door. Grazie, Padre Petro!
One of my other favorite quiet finds away from the crowds was the Palazzo Ca' Zenobio. We spent an afternoon reading books in the courtyard and wandering through the galleries. I loved the windows with the gold curtains and the delicate woodwork...
Italy is all about espresso---and neither John nor I are coffee drinkers!--- but we managed to find a pot of tea one morning..
And this was what twilight looked like every evening as we walked over the bridge back to the guest house...
Venice, you are my favorite city in the world, and, no, I haven't seen a lot of cities, nor have I even spent that much time with you, but it doesn't matter. Sometimes you just know.
A few photo friends and I decided to meet in Tucson a couple weeks ago to talk shop, pick each other's brains, share new work, meet up with our photo mentor, and attend photographer Masao Yamamoto's lecture and exhibition opening at the Etherton Gallery. (And also do whatever else we felt like doing.) We created our own conference, and are already thinking about next year's plans to meet up again (all photo friends are invited!) It was truly an inspiring week. Here is my short collection of Instagram images from the trip:
Our Lady of the Pinecones. This little backyard shrine was tucked into an alcove at our Airbnb. She wound up meaning a lot to me, coming to represent the guardian of all the new ideas and plans for my art projects that surfaced during this trip. I don't have to worry about a thing, because Our Lady's got my back.
This little guy was the first thing I noticed when I walked into the living room of our Airbnb. He is the CUTEST.
Backyard greenery. I loved this. It took us forever to figure out that the building behind this planter was a garage. We thought it was the host's house because it looked too pretty to be a garage, so we were extra quiet and didn't walk around the yard. The house manual kept mentioning a garage though, and finally we went looking for it, only to discover that it was staring right at us the entire time. Lol!
Swan's house. Four years ago I took a photograph of this tree. I thought I should take one this time too. I loved spending the morning on Swan's back porch, soaking up all I learned during my photo consult and waiting for Elizabeth to finish hers. (While eating delicious, fresh-out-of-the-oven vanilla poppyseed pound cake.) (And helping Catherine un-stick a cholla from her finger. Those things are crazy!)
Prickly Pear cactus, photographed on the drive up to Phoenix. We chose to go the long way that wasn't a highway, so that we could stop if we saw something interesting. There wasn't all that much time in between leaving Tucson sprawl and entering Phoenix sprawl. But oh well.
We visited the Phoenix Art Museum, and got through it in a bit of a hurry as we were going to meet another friend of mine for lunch. Even in a hurry, though, there is always something that makes you stop and really look. I loved this sculpture by Tanoue Shinya. It reminds me of waves on a deserted island that's the texture of maple tree helicopter seeds.
I'm always drawn to big installation pieces, even if I don't understand what they're necessarily about. Things hanging from the ceiling, something that takes up an entire room, maybe video and sound and three-dimensional objects all combined into an experience. This one was very straightforward and so beautiful: Mass (Colder Darker Matter) by Cornelia Parker. These were the charred remains of a church that was struck by lightning. It even looks like it's in the middle of exploding. Mass. Science and religion in the same word.
The Lisa Sette Gallery. After lunch in Phoenix, we popped in to see what exhibits were up and chat with Lisa a bit. Of course, what do I photograph... ? the doorway on the way out.
Patio chairs and table at the Airbnb. This was my favorite place to sit. Sunshine-y but shady, and big enough for us all to share our projects, drink tea (or Woodford, depending on when you stop by), and cheer each other on to do all the good work we want to do this year.
Kitt Peak, looking out from my favorite cliff. I hemmed and hawed about whether to drive all the way out there or not, but after taking Elizabeth to the airport I just couldn't NOT turn west instead of north. I hope it's in the cards this year to go back and stay for more than a couple hours.
Thank you, Tucson. You never fail to deliver just the right mix of art, outdoors, great company, and a kick in the pants to get my work done!
I thought a day in New York would be the perfect opportunity for a photo-an-hour post. Here goes...
8:30am - Breakfast with Lynn at the Eveready Diner in Southeast. She wasn't going to be able to come to the city with me, so we thought we'd at least start out with breakfast together before she dropped me off at the train station.
9:30am - Hillary. Sigh...
10:30am - Ahhh... Grand Central Station. Being here never gets old.
11:30am - On the train I looked up "print museum New York" just to see what would turn up. I had no idea I'd discover the International Print Center New York. Their current exhibit, Just Under 100, is the fifty-sixth presentation of its New Prints Program, a biannual, juried open call for prints that included 98 international artists.
I loved seeing so many different printmaking techniques all displayed in one space. It makes me look forward even more to getting started at the printmaking co-op once fall comes.
12:30pm - The view from the IPCNY elevator hallway.
1:30pm - Thought I'd pop into the Fashion Institute of Technology's museum since it was just down the street a bit. Their current exhibit, Forces of Nature, focused on how nature and science has influenced fashion and even vice-versa. For example, beautiful bird feathers found their way onto hats and couture clothing in the late 19th and early 20th century, but demand for plumage rendered several species nearly extinct and ushered in protection laws which still exist today.
The cape (1920) and dress (1953) above were inspired by new concepts and technologies that brought the far reaches of space closer to ordinary citizens.
2:30pm - The Center for Book Arts. I spent some time looking at exhibits & books and poking around their studios. What a special place! One of their current exhibits, Animation & Printing, presents "a selection of short animated films from around the US and the world, each created using techniques common in the book arts such as letterpress printing from moveable type, wood type, pressure printing, lino and wood cut, etching, silkscreen as well as animation in watermarked paper."
I loved seeing how artists were using printed material in digital ways. Just because we create something in one medium doesn't mean we can't present it in more than one format!
Boxes of fonts! (drooling here...)
This was such a powerful piece. Emily Martin's Desdemona In Her Own Words. While this photo only shows a single print from the folio, visit Emily's website to see the animation and learn more about the work.
3:30pm - Agnolotti at Eataly. Heaven on a plate!
4:30pm - On my way to Mood Fabrics!
I knew Mood would be overwhelming, and it was, but in a fun way. I DID find the red silk velvet I was looking for to make my new "singing" dress (for jazz caroling during the holidays), and I took photos of other fabrics that caught my eye. I'm a little more cautious now about what I buy when I'm excited in a fabric store (or a paper shop or a greenhouse or a...) I don't want to come home with TOO much. So now I'm going through my photos, narrowing down the choices. I'll either stop in quickly on my way back to Ohio or order online.
5:30pm - I loved looking at all the trims. I could have taken home every one of these, even if I don't necessarily have a use for any of them yet :-)
Just as I was paying for my velvet, the Project Runway designers & crew showed up. Too funny. I guess they're filming the next season!
6:30pm - Gotham Writers Workshop. They've got a Friday night "write-in" where you're given a writing prompt (which you can use or ignore), take some time to write, and share your work with the group if you want. Then there's wine & cheese & good cookies, and then you repeat the process. It was fun! I didn't write to the prompts, nor did I share what I wrote (and to me, 15 minutes of writing time -- even if it's twice -- isn't enough.) But that's okay. I'm glad I went and I was able to talk with a couple staff members about their online classes.
7:30pm - The view from Gotham's 14th floor window.
8:30pm - Finished and walking back to the subway. Needless to say, I slept on the train. Goodbye for now, New York!
I was born in Germany and we lived there for four and a half years before coming to the US. (My Dad was an architect and had been transferred over there for a while.) One of my early memories was flying across the Atlantic on the 747. We did this more than once, and each time, my Dad would take me up to the cockpit and I’d get to sit on the captain’s lap and “steer” the plane. I did a pretty good job if I do say so! I will never forget the view, or how amazed I was at all the buttons and switches and knobs.
They’re old planes now, and slowly they’re being retired. Delta’s starting to take them offline - they’re even making a 747 museum! - so I thought it would be fun to take one last trip before they disappear.
One of my brother’s friends is a first officer on Delta’s 747 routes to Asia, and he’s always said I should tag along on one of his flights. When the opportunity came up at the end of March, I decided to go!
Brucie was scheduled to fly to Seoul, spend the entire next day there, and then fly back the following morning. Perfect! No visa required, and only two nights of hotel expenses. John was even able to finagle a few days off to come too. Let’s go!
We left from Detroit. Ahhh, there it is!! Always an impressive sight! Sadly the iconic spiral staircase (leading to its equally iconic second-floor bar & lounge) has been replaced by those business class sleeper “pods”, totally ruining the ambience. Somehow the whole thing felt smaller on the inside. Everything feels bigger when you’re a kid, right?
But no matter! We were able to get three seats to ourselves and take turns stretching out for naps. Now, call me crazy, but I love airplane food, and perusing the flight menu was a highlight. My little tiny partitioned meal of chicken & polenta and a salad and a roll and dessert was delicious.
We arrived in Seoul at night. In the morning, this was the view from the hotel window: Ansan Mountain.
Korea is 13 hours ahead of us, so I should have been going to sleep when it was time for breakfast. I decided to just not keep track of time or look at clocks.
What to do with one single day in Seoul? I was hoping to take the cable car up the mountain and visit the big temple, but both were closed on the day we were there. So we went for a couple walks.
Somewhere in the maze of markets we stumbled upon THE best lunch! Cheap, yummy, and Anthony Bourdain-worthy! I think there were only three things on the menu and all you could do was point at what you saw someone else eating and hope it came your way. If I ever go back to Seoul, I don’t know how I’ll find this place again.
After a nap, we hiked partway up Ansan Mountain, just far enough to see some springtime.
I liked this whirlwind trip. There’s something about doing something spur-of-the-moment just because you can. Who knows when and how life will change, and when you have the opportunity to go on an adventure, I say, go for it. Our time on earth is short.
(and thank you sooo much, Brucie & John!)
Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were happy ones. I wanted to share the last photos of my trip out west before I mentally head into 2017 (I'm still catching up!)...
FRIENDS. Portland was just a jump away from Seattle, and I've been wanting to visit a long-lost friend who now lives there, and also visit extended family members who I knew existed but never met. So I rented a car and drove down.
Jeremy and I became friends forever ago at a local Vermont production of West Side Story (He was a Shark; I played Anybody's). From tromping around Burlington at wee hours to opening Bristol's infamous teen dance club, the memories go back a looong way. Jeremy's now making films and owns more cameras than I ever will. And -- funny -- he showed up for our reunion with a Minolta x370... my very first SLR happened to be an x370.
We had lunch and walked around the waterfront. When I talked about plans for my book Jeremey mentioned that Portland has a co-op that lets members use their space and equipment to work on self-published printing projects. Turns out we were standing right in front of it: the Independent Publishing Resource Center. I bought a few zines and poked around. It is so great to know that spots like this exist! One of my goals this year is to reach out to places to give readings and workshops and it would be an honor to work with the IPRC. I hope they say yes!
FAMILY. When I was growing up, it was the four of us: my brother and I, my Mom & Dad. Turns out we have more family than I really thought about, and over the years someone turns up on Facebook or mentions another relative during a phone call and I'm thinking: Why don't we know this person? A big meet-and-greet reunion would fix that, I suppose, but who can get all these people in one place at the same time? ANYway... I LOVE my niece and her family. We took a late-night trip to their cabin in the mountains & spent the night. I fell asleep right in front of the fireplace. It was such a treat!
I love waking up in the morning and not having any idea what the outside scenery looks like, as if I've been magically teleported to some random spot and have to figure out where I landed. The view was beautiful, and I was sad to say goodbye.
MONTANA. I drove through Montana years ago on my crazy trip around the country and I fell in love with Missoula and its surrounding landscape. Little did I know that last year I would make a friend who lives there! Right in the middle of this:
Again, I arrived at night, and when I woke up in the morning, the light was glittery. It was the first frost of the season and the sun was making everything sparkle.
My friend Elizabeth is a photographer too. We spent the two mornings I was there having toast and tea at her big sunny table and inspired each other to do great things with our projects. I think -- at least from what I've experienced -- that we artists are a solitary bunch when we're doing our work, but need a good dose of visiting so that we can bounce ideas off each other, share our progress, and get re-inspired. I never went to art school, so maybe that's part of the reason why I love my artist friends so much. I think community is important, even if it's one that's cobbled together with people from all over the place via phone calls, Skype, emails, and visits whenever possible.
Elizabeth's place was so photo-worthy. I couldn't put down my camera. My guest cabin was perfectly decked out with cowboy artwork over the bed and little animal skulls on the windowsill.
Her studio was an amazing collection of books and mementos and works-in-progress pinned to the wall. Visit her website if you'd like to see her portfolios and projects.
I have to say, one of the best things about my visit was that Elizabeth's horse laughed at all my jokes:
I don't know what 2017 will bring as far as artist get-togethers go, but I hope it includes another (much longer) trip to Montana. I love the beginning of the new year because there are twelve big wonderful months ahead to daydream about. Here's to great things in 2017!