off to New York City!
Tomorrow--Monday--my friend Pat and I are off to New York City. Again! My third trip to New York in eight months. Lucky me! The trip is (officially) to attend my dear niece Carolyn's wedding to her beloved Jonathan in New Jersey on Saturday, April 4, but we're extending it to have 4 days and nights in the city first. One of those days David Alan Harvey and I are planning to meet for a final edit of my Falling Into Place self portrait project. And Pat's and my nights are already filled with plans for theater, dance and music. Oh my, I'm getting excited just writing about it!
Although I'll have my laptop along I doubt if there will be any tme for "computing," so this will probably be my final entry for the week. Have a lovely week everyone...
P.S. I took this photo from the ferry last August.
Xavier and I first met when he was 7 years old. I was very close to his family during the years that his father had serious health problems and his mother needed a supportive friend. But when things got back to normal, we pretty much went our separate ways. Xavier and I had not seen one another since he was 11. He is now 24. But yesterday was OUR day.
Xavier's mother Pat is Program Coordinator at the Hannan Center for Senior Learning where I'd been working on my Active Elders photo essay since last June. She encouraged him to attend yesterday's opening reception for my exhibit. I recognized him immediately and we found time to have a real heart-to-heart talk.
Xavier and I always had a special bond and it has only grown and deepened. It may seem strange that we had such a long time apart, but I now see that both Xavier and I had to travel some tough paths before we could reconnect. He describes his path as having been from hell and back. As we talked knee-to-knee, he kept saying, "I've missed you SO much." Well, so had I.
It's such a gift to have this "old soul" back in my life. I know I have things to learn from him.
my gallery show opening
What a success! And I'm not talking about my photos; I'm talking about the people. Today was the opening of my "Active Elders" exhibit (go to my website
to see a tight edit of the portfolio) and a good time was had by all. At least that's how it seemed to me. Many of the women and men whose portraits were on the walls were there, as well as folks from other chapters of my life like Pointes For Peace, the Raging Grannies, St. Leo's church community (where I haven't been since 1993), a woman who works out at the same gym as I, two women from our neighborhood, and even Maria who had done all the printing and mounting of my photos and her co-worker Clarence who was EVERYWHERE today taking photos! My husband was there even though he rarely ventures beyond the perimeters of our community. Dear Eddie. Nine of us from my chorus--the Gaia Women of the Great Lakes Basin--sang, and everyone joined in as we'd hoped. Mary Alice had made beautiful song sheets and was the perfect song leader for the day. By the way, two of the Gaia women and one husband (pictured here with Mr. Freeman) came across the border from Ontario to be with us.
Oh my, it was like a homecoming...and I didn't have to leave home. Because that's what this gallery feels like to me, home. It's in the same building as the classes where I've taken at least 1000 photos of these amazing elders over the past nine months. And they are now like family to me. How fortunate I am!
You'll be interested to know that after all my worrying about people being upset that their pictures weren't in the exhibit, no one said anything negative at all. Everything was love and joy! Just goes to show what a waste of time it is to worry...
Mary views my show
Well, it's up! All forty-two of the large photos and eighty of the small ones are on the walls of the Ellen Kayrod Gallery in Detroit awaiting Friday's opening reception. So the work is ready but am I? This is a strange feeling, to see months of work "in the flesh," no longer just on my laptop. People ask if I'm excited and I have to admit that is not exactly the word I'd use. Relieved. Satisfied. Grateful. Those words more accurately describe what I'm feeling. A bit uneasy too. And my uneasiness was borne out by an encounter I had while the curator and I were hanging the show on Monday.
One of the maintanence workers in the building that houses both the Senior Learning Center where I took the photos and the gallery where my show is hung, came into the gallery to check things out. His first comment was, "I don't see any pictures of me here." Now, this is a fellow I only saw a few times during the nine months I was working on this project. I don't even know his name and I'm sure he doesn't know mine. But he went on, "I helped you out that time. Remember? Why didn't you take a picture of me then?" I tried to explain that I was focusing on the participants in the classes, but he was having none of it. "There's a picture of Larry, my boss." Well, yes, that picture of Larry working the desk in the lobby was the first one I ever took. And Curtis, his co-worker, was also photographed. But only because he often joined the art class to draw and paint. I tell you, this fellow hammered away at me for a full five minutes without let up. Nothing I said satisfied him. So do you see why I'm a bit uneasy about the opening on Friday?
I was so conscious of this problem while choosing which photos to show. I knew some folks were going to feel left out and probably hurt if their picture wasn't included. But I've met at least a hundred individuals over these past nine months, many of whom were not in the few classes I focused on. And of course the photos I showed needed to satisfy my rather rigorous demands for quality. Anyway, I did the best I could to show as many people as possible in my final edit. That was why I included the 4'x6' photo collage with 80 small prints.
OK, so I just need to clear my head, realize not everyone will be happy, and go on from there. I feel good about the show myself and terribly grateful to the wonderful people who let me into their lives. Friday will be fine if I just stay true to myself.
installing my Active Elders exhibit
On Thursday Mary Herbeck, the curator of the Ellen Kayrod Gallery in Detroit, and I got my photo collage completed and hung. We would have gotten some of the forty-two 12"x18" photos hung too but we ran out of the velcro fittings they required. Mary had thought we could use another substance to hang these photos that are mounted on foamcore, but it turned out they were too heavy. Apparently she was able to hang two walls on Friday and said there was so much traffic coming in and out of the gallery that she finally had to close the doors. After my having been taking photos of these elders for over nine months, there's lots of curiosity about whose portraits made the final cut. Actually it was my anticipation of this heightened interest that inspired me to add the collage of eighty 4"x6" photos to the show. I wanted as many persons as possible to feel included. I was fortunate to find the perfect poem by the great African-American poet Langston Hughes to post beside the collage. It goes:
I been scared and battered.
My hopes the wind done scattered.
Snow has friz me,
Sun has baked me,
Looks like between 'em they done
Tried to make me
Stop laughin', stop lovin', stop livin'--
But I don't care!
I'm still here!
by Langston Hughes (1902-1967)
On Monday I'll be going back to the gallery to continue helping Mary hang the show. There was a bit of a problem with three photos that needed to be replaced due to some minor imperfections, but Maria, the printer who has been doing all my work, made a gigantic effort and managed to accomplish the task this afternoon. Today I also completed my Photographer's Statement that will be mounted on the wall of the gallery, so I am finally finished with my responsibilities. YIPPEE!!! The exhibit opens with a reception at which my women's singing group will perform--I'll be singing with them too--on Friday from 12:30-2:30 pm, so we're in good shape.
This is my Photographer's Statement:
Photographs are NOT the experience itself; they are mere glimpses into a moment that passes as soon as you’ve “captured” it with your camera.
What you see on the walls of this gallery are glimpses collected over the months I’ve been privileged to share with these amazing women and men who carry the history of our country’s best and worse times within the cells of their being.
How grateful I am for their openness, teachings, kindness and contagious love of life. Photos are nice but personal experience is everything.
March 27, 2009
Ed and his brother John
It's always special when these two guys get together, and today was no exception. There's a twinkle in my Eddie's eye when he looks at his beloved older brother, and I see it in John's as well. Don't they look alike?
Friends, I apologize for being so derelict in keeping up this photo blog and thanking you for your kind comments. Tomorrow we hang my "Active Elders" photo exhibition and that will be a huge relief. I used to show my paintings and multi-media works in galleries back in the 1970s and 80s, but this is my first exhibition in 24 years. It's also the first SOLO show I've ever had. Gawd, a gallery looks big when you have to fill it all yourself! Well, I have forty-two 12"x18" mounted photos to cover three of the walls and eighty 4"x6" prints to cover the fourth wall. There's even a small wall where I want a Langston Hughes poem to be shown. I'm almost done. YIPPEE!!!!!
me, me, me...
"but i agree about the future test in showing something that's not all about me, me, me."
The above is a quote from one of the posters on Burn Magazine
. He wasn't referring to my essay
but he might have been. Yes, nine months of pointing the camera at oneself can easily deteriorate into navel-gazing. I was just lucky that I started my "Active Elders" photo project at the Hannan Center for Senior Learning just two days after my self portrait series. They've been running concurrently and I think that has saved me from getting too focused on "me, me, me." Sometimes, though, I've felt like a juggler trying to keep one too many balls in the air.
Right now both projects are coming to a climax of sorts. The exhibition of "Active Elders"--of which you can see a tight edit on my website
--is opening on March 27. The gallery curator and I start hanging the show next Thursday, March 19. On Monday I'll be picking up the last six mounted prints at the camera store. The show includes 41 prints--12"x18"--mounted on foamcore. There will also be a wall of 85-90 small 4"x6" prints.
My challenge has been to choose photos that show as many of the participants in the Hannan House classes as possible, while keeping a close eye on quality. It has not been easy. But that's why I'm adding the small prints--just so everyone will be seen. And I also wanted to keep my print prices low enough so that folks could afford to buy them. That's where the foamcore came in. It really looks quite good, though, so the artist in me is satisfied.
The photo-taking phase of my self portraits essay--"Falling Into Place"--is also in its final month. By now it's not easy to come up with new ideas but I'm doing my best. This morning I made yet another attempt at photographing myself getting out of bed. I've been working at this since my very first day of shooting and was not yet satisfied. This one might work, though. I like the lighting. It kind of makes the whole thing look a bit mysterious, which to me is a plus. I'm trying to avoid overly-obvious shots, but it doesn't always work out that way.
Gosh, long-term projects are a challenge. Trying to stay edgy can be almost impossible. For me anyway. I often find myself sliding into a narrative, storytelling mode that borders on the obvious, and that's not what I want. I want visual poetry. Easier said than done.
last week winter, this week spring
March is doing its level best to keep us guessing. In the past four days we received enough rain that, had it been snow, it would have accumulated over 15 inches/38 cm. But lucky us, the temps stayed above freezing. However folks who live in low-lying areas close to rivers and creeks were not so lucky. There has been flooding all over the state (Michigan). Today the rains have been replaced by sun and wind...and lots of puddles!
I haven't been on PBase very much of late, partly because of my many photography-related deadlines and partly because I've been putting up a brand new website. CLICK HERE
to check it out. On the main menu, you'll also see a link to my new blog. Lots going on!
Yes, spring is springing and with it comes new beginnings. Who knows where this will all lead. All I know is that I am loving every minute of the journey.
International Women's Day
Saturday my women's community gathered for six hours of sharing song, stories and food to celebrate International Women's Day. As part of our celebration we were each invited to light a candle in honor of a woman whose life has given us hope and courage. As we lit the candle we shared the woman's name and told a bit of her story. Such a crowd of witnesses hovering around us! How little we know about how our lives touch others. But each of us is a model for someone, a living example of what it means to be a woman of truth, power, love and courage.
So who would YOU have lit your candle to honor? What woman has lived and maybe died in a way that shows you what it means to be a woman?
March in Michigan
I used to hate March. I was still expecting spring to arrive when it's supposed to--on March 20 or thereabouts-- and it never did. Not in Michigan anyway. But now I love this crazy month. One day it will be 10 degrees F/-12 C and the next it will be 60 degrees F/+15 C. You never know what's coming next, except one thing is certain: spring will come eventually. And even when it's cold and snowy, there are already signs of spring if you look closely. The buds on the trees are getting fatter every day. Birds are singing with more verve and energy. Squirrels are running around like crazy. And here in this state that is surrounded on three sides by water, the lake ice is starting to break up. Soon I'll be hearing "ice music," the tinkling sound of shards of ice brushing against one another on wind-whipped waves. Unearthly!
Tony Ciavarro inks Todd Sedlar
Talk about eye candy for a photographer! That was what the Motor City Tattoo Convention was for me. This three day invitational event brings the "best of the best" tattoo artists from around the world to downtown Detroit every winter...and they're ready to ink any willing body. However, to get an appointment with the top artists, one must make a reservation months ahead. I'm sure that's what Todd did to have Tony Ciavarro of Stinky Monkey from Massachusetts add to his already impressive body art.
I'm still working on the many many photos I took on Saturday, but when they're done I'll post a new gallery. You'll be the first to know!