Thursday, July 31, 2014

standing on the corner ...


in Wimbledon SW19.  Sometimes, walking to the station, one manages to get out one's camera just in time when one sees a composition just calling out for it ...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ruskinian neo-gothic

Back to the Farringdon Road - to 109-111 to be exact: it would be hard to find a purer piece of Ruskinian neo-Gothic, faux-Venetian architecture anywhere …  I'll borrow wholesale from the English Heritage description:

Printing Warehouse. 1864-1865. By Henry Jarvis for William Dickes, chromolithographer. Red brick set in Flemish bond with painted stone dressings, extensive glazing; roof obscured by parapet. Fine Venetian Gothic Style. Five storeys; 6-window range (each with tripartite sashes) all in pointed form. Windows diminish in height as they go up. 2nd and 3rd storeys have 2-light windows with colonnettes. Tripartite sashes to top storey with pierced trefoil decoration to stucco recess above windows. Pierced parapet with Gothic style balustrade. Round-arches to ground-floor set beneath pointed archivolts; bays articulated by engaged columns. Entrance at left end bay with doors of Gothic design; entrance at right end has been replaced by window.

Even more wonderfully, it's called Prince Consort House. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

sheep may safely

The last time that I was properly in Clerkenwell was about thirty five years ago, when I was walking round taking photographs of locations that George Gissing wrote about in The Nether World - and there was a sufficiency of Victorian buildings, and little workshops, and closed shops, to make one think that one was, indeed, still back in the late C19th.  Now, the Farringdon Street Buildings - the new "model housing" that Gissing derided for being inhumanly bleak - have been demolished - the Survey of London says in 1976, so either I got there a split second before they came down (possible); or I made a misidentification - though I certainly did return to the site in the 80s, and it was gone …

However, I remember Clerkenwell Green as grimy, not as being full of little design stores.  And I don't remember St James's at all - a very endearing Georgian church on the outside, though it too has been built on the site of an earlier church (well, several, including a nunnery), most especially the church in which Pocahontas married Thomas Rolfe.  Inside, though, it's less compelling, apart from some goo Victorian stained glass.

And post-Victorian - this sheepy much have been one of the last to be produced by William Morris & Co (they folded in 1940; this, I think, was 1938).  Then I was fooled by the window below: I thought it looked like a Burne-Jones, but it's actually by George Wooloscroft Rhea.  

It's a real bonus, when I discover places in London that are new to me, or have been made new ...

Monday, July 28, 2014

she's no angel

Seen today in the window of the Oxfam thrift store in Wimbledon Village (together with a whole lot of old Fulham Football Club programs).  Unspeakably irresistible.

low key ruin porn (July 27th)

About half way between Santa Fe and Albuquerque is a pre-recession attempt - maybe some ten or twelve years old - to grab the tourist market: a complex that certainly advertised all kinds of amusements and food and little shops and treats.  But.  I never saw anyone actually turn in there, although I have it on reliable authority that at least once, a coach trip from Albuquerque to Santa Fe carrying members of the Renaissance Society of America were forcibly taken there for half an hour or so.

And then it was abandoned, and for a few years had a very, very optimistic sign up saying that it was available for film shoots,

but I have a feeling that it will slowly slide back into the desert.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

lots of happy hugs (at Bread Loaf Santa Fe graduation)

It's always very bitter sweet when the summer comes to an end - I feel so excited and proud for our graduates, but it's also very hard to say good bye, or at the very least au revoir, to a group of good friends.  But it's also extremely moving to be a part of a celebration that manages to combine much enthusiasm for teaching and education, and also, each year in Bread Loaf New Mexico, is about acknowledging the spirit of place.  And this year, the lessons of p-funk, too.

Above, a pile of certificates waiting to be given out, with celebratory - celebratory what shall we call them?  Garlands, maybe, of braided thick twine, with ribbons in them.  And here's Cheryl Glenn, looking atypically solemn and concerned (and less atypically, distinguished) before we're about to process down.  

Some faculty - first, Simon Ortiz;

Bruce Smith;

Carol MacVey and Patricia Powell;

Carol, solo (Patricia's eyes were closed in that one ...);

and now some hooding;

and garlanding;

and lots of very happy hugs.  Clearly, I was sitting behind the activity ...

... and I could go on: so excellent seeing so many happy people ...

Friday, July 25, 2014

window tiles

I hadn't been to Artesenos since they moved to a store just off Cerrillos - the place to buy Talavera tiles and tin stuff and and and all kind of great imports (apparently Jane Fonda got a lot of the fittings for her Pecos ranch - now for sale - there).  So this was the first time that I saw the stained glass in the style of tiles windows in their entrance ... I had a great browse, trying to put together nine tiles into a pattern to make - well, that part of it didn't quite work out, but at $2 each, that won't break the bank.  And even if there isn't going to be a tiled table top by tomorrow (resuscitating an old metal table frame), at least I sufficiently sanded a piece of wood (today's triumph - rounded corners!) that has now been glued in place to fit the gappy top.  There is something very satisfying about working with wood, perhaps because it bears no resemblance or relation to grading or report writing.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

serendipity and blogging

I had a fascinating conversation at lunchtime with Jeff Nunokawa about the different ways in which we approach our daily blogging practice: without wishing to speak for him, the essential distinction is that he starts from within; from feeling, or emotion, or affect, or state of mind, or state of being, or whatever it is that one wakes up in, or with (with, that is, in the sense of a mood, not as in with a cat pawing one's face wanting kibble).  Whereas I start from the concrete, from a thing observed (and, of course, to a greater or lesser extent, from an image).  It's rare that I'm hunting for a visual equivalence; it's also rare that I start off the day with a pre-meditated plan that ends up, in fact, being where I end up.  I rely a good deal, I was saying, on serendipity, on attentiveness, on looking.   

Today was a case in point.  I was pretty sure that I was going to have another go with those fish.  Indeed, I took twenty four fishy shots (I'm quite partial to some of them).  Actually that's twenty three fishy ones, and a rather blurred picture of some reeds, taken by mistake.  But then, when I was driving down St Francis, later, in search of a bottle of melon vodka (it came to me that a glass of this would be just the thing with which to celebrate the end of teaching, but it wasn't to be found - though Susan's wine and spirits are going to try and order one for me ...) - there, out of the window, when I was stopped at lights, was this mural - much more summery and cheerful and celebratory than those fish, or even, probably, than the elusive vodka.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

goodbye, bag

I've had this bag a long time - probably since the early 90s.  I can't claim any notable provenance for it: I didn't lug it back from the Peruvian Andes (curiously, I don't know, and don't deeply care, what happened to a rather similar bag which had those very roots).  Rather, it came from a store in Little Clarendon Street, Oxford, called Tumi - a very reliable emporium of South American folksy stuff, including, undoubtedly, nasty cassettes of people playing pan pipes.  It's been to a number of Bread Loaf summer schools; it's acted as a camera bag; I've just been very fond of it, even if, for years now, it's effectively been no more than an art supplies storage bag.

Until last winter, when it was one of the random objects in this house to succumb to moth.  Not Moth, the cat, but those small flying things with fabric-hungry larvae.  So out it went into the frost, to get eggs and larvae killed by the cold (I think it has that effect - at least, I hope so - we're always putting suspicious looking fabric in the freezer).  And there it has stayed.  I think mice may have been nesting in it.  It really is beyond use.  But it's hard to say goodbye.  Alice - gently, tactfully, sensibly - has suggested that maybe I can take a photograph, and let it go.  So, bag: thank you, and good bye.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

feline fustration

Really, it's too bad - they think - why can't they be allowed out to catch the little lizard that's on the table covering out there?  Mind you, batting the window in a frenzied fashion is tolerable at breakfast time: in the middle of the night, it's not - and last night mice were using the outside bedroom window sill as a super-highway, given the pounding that the window itself was receiving at the end of Walter and Moth's paws.

Monday, July 21, 2014

ophelia selfie

Well you may ask ... Penultimate class today, on Photography, the World, and the Internet, and once the presenters had taken us through the serious stuff, like twitter images of the downed airliner, it was on to selfies ... and they sent us off, of course, to take a selfie and send it to them with a tag (in a very small time span).  So back to the fishpond for me, given that Ophelia had figured in various ways earlier in the course (Bellocq, Tom Hunter), and that, well, fish have been featuring in my photographic consciousness.  I look more suntanned than wan and drowning, but then, my attempt using a different filter, even if pallid, makes me look as though I'm heading off to a nunnery to try and seduce all the nuns.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

summer colleagues

I'll miss you guys!  L to R, Bruce Smith (not that he actually counts as a summer colleague), Jeff Nunokawa, Patricia Powell, Jesse Aleman, and Simon Ortiz;

Carol MacVey, and Jeff again;

our fearless leader, Cheryl Glenn;

my friend and general Bread Loaf supremo for the last twenty years (looking curiously soulful), Alfredo Lujan;

a better picture of Simon;

and a pin-up picture of Jeff.  One more week!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

new mexican onions

I disrupted this Santa Fe Farmers Market display just a few minutes later, and came home with some of the red onions.  Set out like this, they look as though they belong at the County Fair.  By this stage in the summer the market is in full swing: I bought a lot of different colored and very knobbly carrots; new potatoes; leeks; chives - and more - all bounty to add to yesterday's Eldorado haul.  But there weren't any baby alpacas ...

Friday, July 18, 2014

the adorableness of baby alpacas

Look who I found in the Eldorado Farmers' Market this afternoon!  I think I was so excited that most of the photos of the two alpacalets were slightly blurred - hence the two delightful images of one of the young mothers, below.  I certainly moved round the market in a state of rapture, and feel quite lucky that I managed to come away with some perfectly rational purchases, like Siberian Kale.

Note how they've been clipped for summer, giving them a rather fetching corduroy effect.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

we don't like thunderstorms

[this is for Barry, marooned by the weather in Dallas].  Poor Walter Gomez.  Every time there's a thunderstorm, or even a thunderstorm in the offing (for this evening's effort suddenly veered off to Pecos, leaving only a rainbow), he takes refuge.  Usually, as here, it's on the top shelf of the shoe rack in my closet.  All the other kitties decide that they're going to be as macho as possible about extreme weather, but not our Walt ...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

layers of fish

I've been looking at the fishes in the pool at St John's for twenty years, on and off, and taking pictures of them (or their ancestors) all that time.  I took half a dozen or so today, and thought that I'd see what they would look like layered (blended; different amounts of transparency, and so on ...).  Maybe I'll take some more pictures of them next week, and try another set ... I could become all metaphorical over this - years of memories overlapping, etc etc, but the truth of it is that I like layering photos of fish ...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

the cafe fina cat

I suspect that it can be a very good life being a restaurant cat.  Here's the orange kitty at Cafe Fina - about 7 minutes drive away - sprawled out on top of the free newspaper contraptions.  I really wouldn't have minded a day like that.

Monday, July 14, 2014

the trials and tribulations of travel, relieved by ...

... some genuinely crazy art installations in DFW terminal 4.  I was glad to be on a flight that left there this morning.  Let's just say that the rest of the journey included a 3 hour delay in DC, with the entire aircraft burst into applause when we took off with one minute to spare before flying is banned for the night from the airport I still persist (for obvious reasons) in calling National; a van ride through Dallas suburbs with four Gujarati, blaring Indian music on the radio; and eventually laying my head down in my (complementary) hotel bed (the connection to Albuquerque having been long missed) on a pillow that can only have been stuffed with old socks and lumps of kapok.

the hesketh hike [for July 13]

This summer is clearly the summer of hunting down youthful haunts ... here's the house in which Alice grew up, in Chevy Chase, on Hesketh Street.  I'd been there once before - a gentle stroll from Chevy Chase metro stop.  Yesterday, after lunch - and before entering into an endless travel saga - I walked south from Bethesda down a pretty woodland trail (in constant danger of being mowed down by cyclists or very determined runners); stopped to consult my iPhone map, and realized I was only a short distance away from the Formative Environment.  That, at any rate, was what the map suggested: I didn't check the scale, and twenty five minutes (and quite a steep hill later, and the temperature was 95), I dragged my very sweaty and probably crazy looking self along the right street.  It was hard to hang around taking photos - there was a limo waiting, engine running, next door - so I quickly left to walk back again - not by such a circuitous route, but it was certainly a serious couple of hours walking ...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

research time!

You can't imagine how happy I was when these volumes turned up on my desk in the Library of Congress!  Although I'm ostensibly in DC for another reason, a day's hard-nose-to-the-grindstone research has been a terrific boost.  These are the volumes of Flash! - an African-American newspicture periodical from 1937-38 - that the NYPL doesn't have, and that I've therefore not seen before.  It's truly a strange publication - very determinedly upbeat (though that shifts a little, over time); very much aimed at and about the successful elite in DC and, to a lesser extent, Baltimore; and, yes, with some pretty good examples of flash photography.  My favorite news item of the day?  March 20th 1937 ...

“Roland Hayes was well received by Wash’s top drawer set in his recital last Friday night … The artist’s repertoire included both foreign and American offerings, but the selection, “Dawn” with words by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, and music by Coleridge Taylor was the best received…Hayes showed exceptional control when he calmed the audience when the curtain burst into flames /17/ from the sparks of a flash light camera…However, Percival Parham, accompanist for Hayes, caused subdued laughter, when the somewhat feminine pianist placed his hands upon his hips, and assumed an air of remonstrance when the vigilant stage fireman spilled extinguisher fluid on his music.”

That's got to find a place in the book ...

Friday, July 11, 2014

will wilson, zig jackson, and the "normal man"


In the Museum of the American Indian - the DC one, not Santa Fe - to see the Will Wilson/Larry McNeil show (very good, but disappointingly small) - both use platinum prints to (re)present today's Indian, either through forms of photo-collage or, in Wilson's case, portraits that deliberately echo, riff off, look back to, re-appropriate Edward Curtis.  Wilson styles himself a "transcustomary artist" - I love the phrase, not least because it describes what I do when I step away from pure digital: he uses digitally derived negatives to make his platinum prints.  Actually, his process is even more complicated.  he has his sitters pose before a non-digital view camera, makes tin type portraits of them, scans the tin type, and gives the tintype to them in exchange for the rights to continue to use their likeness.

It was a no-photographing gallery, so I apologize for yet another appropriation, but it was irresistible, and amplifies the point in hand.  So I'm looking at the image to the right of the one in the foreground.  This couple are standing in front of Wilson's portrait of Zig Jackson, himself well known for his pictures of tourists photographing Indians.  This portrait involves Jackson and Wilson leveling their cameras at each other.  The large man (both of them were looking just like Duane Hanson's tourists) was mansplaining the Mandan to the woman (Jackson is part Mandan), including their C19th near obliteration through smallpox.  Large woman peers more closely: "So - he's Indian?  Oh, I thought it was a picture some Indian took of a normal man."


Thursday, July 10, 2014

fur hat, fur coat

One knows that one's no longer in the West when one passes a big, big shop selling fur coats and hats: this betokens somewhere that's decidedly cold in winter, and that doesn't have quite the same ideological sensibilities as Santa Fe (where, of course, it's also quite cold enough).  Maybe there's also a sizable population of elderly Russians in Bethesda?  I was hoping against hope that Gartenhaus was the furriers that may have a brief bit part to play in Alice's current writing, but I think that this might be too much coincidence to wish for ... 

It's more or less 35 years to the week since I landed in the US for the first time, to do research in the Library of Congress (anyone else remember Laker Air?) and had my first encounter with the beltway - and there was a whole lot less traffic on it then.  A penniless graduate student, I was wonderfully hosted by a couple who gave me a gin and tonic (with lime in it!  lime!  I'd never encountered that in G&T before) when I arrived, in order to revive me.  What I never let on to them was that I'd revived myself before I ever called them to say that I'd made it through immigration - I found a Baskin Robbins outlet in the airport.  Exotic ice-cream!  So much more exciting than Walls!  I can't remember, alas, what flavor I had ... but I do remember that it was extraordinarily humid.  Today the humidity had converted itself into full-blown downpour.   So a raincoat would have been a more appropriate garment to be cutting and hemming than the one represented in this strange window set-up.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

the photograph I couldn't take

... was the other side of the road from this, about four hundred yards earlier: the clouds, the thin sheets of rain, and above all the light falling on the landscape were a dead ringer for Laura Gilpin's amazing photo of a storm over La Bajada.  Only she took this in 1946, when I-25 didn't exist; when she could presumably pull over, and stop, and get out of the car, and wasn't driving at 75 miles an hour.  All I could do was pick up my camera and point it hopefully in the other direction (by this stage there was a cutting in the way of the real view), and click blindly, whilst keeping my eyes firmly on the road (I promise).  I guess Gilpin wasn't hampered by a grubby windshield, either - but that was soon cleaned when I hit the storm itself, heading into Albuquerque.  These skies never disappoint.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

how convincing is this buffalo?

... obviously, to you or me, not at all: it's an absurd piece of Westernalia sitting outside a neighbor's house, made, I guess, of resin.  So it's more than a little surprising to find a bird sitting on its back, as though it were real.  On the other hand, this isn't an egret, picking - what is it that they pick?  Lice?  Bot-fly larvae? - little tasty treats from the animal host, but a towhee.  I've never thought that towhees were very smart, at all - this confirms it ...