These days the freelancing lifestyle has been keeping me plenty busy. So much so that I almost didn’t have a chance to enter the Japan Day poster art contest this year.
The deadline came and went and I watched it blow by because I just couldn’t fit it into my schedule. Then they extended the deadline and added two free tickets to Japan to the prize. I finally had a couple of days off for the first time in at least a month so I pulled an all nighter just in time to make the deadline earlier this week then slept till mid-afternoon.
I wish I’d had more time to develop the illustration, but when a deadline comes a calling you just gotta let things fly. The dominate image of my illustration was a paper crane. I’d foraged around the apartment for a paper crane to use as reference and found this little guy my wife had folded and tucked away snugly in a sake cup on a bookshelf. To be perfectly honest, I think I like this photo better than my illustration.
I’ve been watching the Ken Burns classic documentary The Civil War the past few nights. The stories are told mostly with still photographs and read letters.
I have been moved to tears while listening to the Gettysburg Address. And I have eaten beans and collard greens two nights straight after listening to a soldier in a letter home pine for his wife’s (or was it sister’s) beans and collard greens.
Below is an except from the documentary 1990 documentary of a letter a soldier wrote to his wife before battle. (Sullivan Ballou Letter)
Thursday was the last night in a series of free sunset summer concerts at Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, NY. Having regretfully missed all in the series, when I arrived home, I literally ran over to catch the last half of Bobby Sanabria’s jazz and Latin music concert. I arrived out of breath, plopped down on the lawn and worked away in my sketch pad while enjoying the music. That is until I was told to put my sketch pad down and dance the merengue with everyone else by Sanabria himself.
On my walk home after dark the old gothic mansion caught my eye. After I tried unsuccessfully to capture a steady image I snapped this picture by placing my camera in the grass blindly and pointing it in the general direction of the mansion. This photo reminds me of images that I took with a pin-hole camera when I was in high school which usually had a very low perspective because the camera needed to be placed on a solid surface for long exposures.
The past couple of years I have spent a summer afternoon in Astoria Queens, New York at the Musical Saw Festival watching Natalia Paruz, The Saw Lady and musicians from around the world of all ages playing the musical saw. And when I say musical saw some people have custom made musical saws and others perform with saws that they literally purchased off the shelf at a hardware store. Natalia’s saw doesn’t have teeth because the New York Police Department won’t let her play in the subways with a toothed saw because “it can be used as a weapon.”
A week from now, Saturday, August 7 will be the 8th annual Musical Saw Festival. Each year she also has a small art exhibition focusing on the musical saw, which includes a painted portrait that I did of her playing the saw.
I first met Natalia back in 2008 when I began working on a series of photo essays and paintings of street musicians. Last year at the Musical Saw Festival I watched as she and 52 other musical saw players played their way into the Guinness Book of World Records for the “Largest Musical Saw ensemble.” That night I pulled a saw out of my tool box and gave it a try. I didn’t make what I would call “music’ but it was certainly playable.
Often while enjoying a meal or walking down the street something ordinary and often fleeting may catch my eye. In the middle of dessert to the surprise of my friends I began admiring the artistic quality of my half eaten dessert and had an impromptu photo session with my brownie and gelato.
I trudged outside about 2am last night with a tripod and a camera in a plastic bag for these shots. The exposure was about 10 seconds and there was a wonderfully surprising effect that I hadn’t counted on, which was tree limbs blowing in the wind and blurring, while the heavier branches remained still, making for a somewhat surreal scene.
When I began toning the photo to fix the orange light cast by the street lights, I stopped here when the photo took on a pinkish hue, which reminds me of the Cherry Blossoms in Kyoto, Japan.
Taken about 2 am on a tripod in Irvington New York, where more than 18 inches of snow fell.