In Remembrance

Years ago I managed a cavernous 25 yr old antiques shop. The owner was a retired Air Force Colonel with a passion for collecting. Everyone suspected the shop existed as an excuse for him to stay on the hunt. He would purchase entire estates simply to acquire "that special something." Needless to say, I spent a lot of time plowing through overstuffed dressers & unmarked boxes. The man had (literally) rooms full of items that he had forgotten about. In the "library" under a stack of mouldering magazines from the late 1800s, I found some WWII era photo albums. Most of the photos are only marked with time & place. Very few names. The Colonel didn't recognize them & figured they must be from some random estate sale. For $10 they were mine.

I've no idea who these people are. I believe the original owner is the balding fellow 2nd in from the right as he appears in many of the photos taken across Europe. The photo above is the 1st in the album.

These albums are bursting with pictures of monuments, ruins, cannons, scenery, military parades & picnics. Every few pages there is a similar shot - rows & rows of crosses. Only the date & location changes.

Each Memorial Day I find myself pulling these albums out & paging through. I wonder who these people are. What did they see & think & feel? Are any of them around today and what stories could they tell?

This year, these questions sent me googling. Click on the links below the photos (these were the titles on the original pics) to see what connections I've found. Please keep in mind that these links aren't necessarily associated with the photos, just my own word-association game. (For example, the Mme Pell link connects to a USA WWII propaganda film Salute To France)

Memorial Day for the War Dead
by Yehuda Amichai
Memorial day for the war dead.  Add now
the grief of all your losses to their grief,
even of a woman that has left you.  Mix
sorrow with sorrow, like time-saving history,
which stacks holiday and sacrifice and mourning
on one day for easy, convenient memory.

Oh, sweet world soaked, like bread,
in sweet milk for the terrible toothless God.
"Behind all this some great happiness is hiding."
No use to weep inside and to scream outside.
Behind all this perhaps some great happiness is hiding.

Memorial day.  Bitter salt is dressed up
as a little girl with flowers.
The streets are cordoned off with ropes,
for the marching together of the living and the dead.
Children with a grief not their own march slowly,
like stepping over broken glass.

The flautist's mouth will stay like that for many days.
A dead soldier swims above little heads
with the swimming movements of the dead,
with the ancient error the dead have
about the place of the living water.

A flag loses contact with reality and flies off.
A shopwindow is decorated with
dresses of beautiful women, in blue and white.
And everything in three languages:
Hebrew, Arabic, and Death.

A great and royal animal is dying
all through the night under the jasmine
tree with a constant stare at the world.

A man whose son died in the war walks in the street
like a woman with a dead embryo in her womb.
"Behind all this some great happiness is hiding."
This post originally aired in 2009


I'm Back!

Tokyo Pavillion, Epcot, Disney World

Last week my fickle phone, which got me through the 365 Days in A Garden project, expired. I'd avoided upgrading since I didn't want to buy all new olloclip accessories. Well, now I have a snazzy new iphone 5s, but there will be no macro pics until I save my pennies for new lenses. 

One thing I am loving is the improved low-light performance. My (refurbished) 4s often had a hard time focusing when lighting was less than perfect and would sometimes refuse to take a picture. The 5s doesn't have this problem. The top photo is of the firework show outside Epcot's Tokyo Dining restaurant - note the reflection of the light fixures in the window. The next two photos were snapped at sunset.

sunset - Champion's Gate Golf Course, Florida

The following two pictures were taken with my old phone a few days before it quit. The guys surprised me with a Mothers Day weekend visit to the intracoastal waterway for some fishing and relaxing.


This big fella is patiently waiting for some dinner. He is hoping the fishermen will toss him anything that is too small to keep.

This is simply a sun-bleached Sunday morning on the water. A nice breeze and a cup of coffee and I am in heaven.


Back Up and BullsEye

Hey there. Long time, no see! 

I've been up to some fun stuff lately, took lots of photos with my phone, neglected to back them up... and.... you can probably guess where this is going.... my phone died. I know, I know. First world problems & all that - but has it thrown a small wrench in the works.

It will probably have to be replaced so crossing fingers to see what can be recovered. If photos (of recent Sangria & Stories cigar art/history talk, the Repurposed Doo-Dad Art and Sculpture competition, a day at Keel & Curley Winery and misc. nature shots) can be retrieved, I will share them soon. If not, I'll pop back with summaries and lots of links.

close up of Bullseye by Seth Apter

In the meantime, here is a fun tutorial from Seth Apter's The Altered Page blog. He has included a shopping list, plus clear instructions with photos. Here is the project link. If you are new to Seth's blog, be sure to look around. He is a mixed media artist, author and art instructor & always has something exciting to share. Seth is also the person behind "The Pulse", an interesting series of Q&As with visual artists from around the globe. You can find buttons to a few I've participated in on my sidebar.

I've got to run. Will be back soon (with or without pictures). Here's wishing you a creative day! 



While the Year In A Garden project has ended, I can't resist Mother Nature's charms.

Pics were snapped with iPhone 4s (and with olloclip macro lens on top) at Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, FL. It is a small but lovely taste of "old Florida", and there is always something colorful to see. 



Double Indemnity - SOLD

Spotted the new Illustration Friday prompt, Revenge, and decided it would be a good day to share this piece made for the 100 films show at Blue Lucy Gallery. This was a fun project! Blue Lucy provided each artist with a 16" square wood panel and a list of 350 famous movies to choose from. We were instructed to pick a fave and have at it in whatever materials caught our fancy. 

Blue Lucy Gallery, St. Petersburg, FL

When I was a kid there were only a few channels on TV (and you had to actually get up and turn the clunky knob to change them).There wasn't much kid's programming, so I watched a lot of old movies. By the time I was in grade school noir and monster flicks were my favorites. To get some ideas for this piece I revisited the Billy Wilder classic, Double Indemnity. It was great fun watching Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck fast talking and causing more trouble than they can handle. If you like old films, you've got to check this one out. I downloaded it from Amazon for $5 but have since seen the DVD at my local library.

Sorry for the poor photo, by the way. It was a quick midnight phone snap before boxing up for delivery. I had a grand time with charcoal, chalk and white acrylic over a collage of zebra stripped papers. The whole piece has a light-sucking vibe, except for the highlights. It is treated with a UV resistant matte finish and the sides are covered with chalkboard paint to mimic the surface of the charcoal.

100 films opening night
- Articulate Suncoast's photo nicked from Blue Lucy's FB page

If you are in the St. Pete, FL area I recommend checking out this show. While a narrow space, Blue Lucy is one of my favorite galleries in the Tampa Bay area. They regularly feature local talent and usually have something wonderfully whimsical going on. 100 Films is running in conjunction with the indie Sunscreen Film Festival, which runs through this weekend. The show will be up until May 10. So far almost half of the pieces have sold! If you can't visit, you can check them out on the Blue Lucy's facebook page.

But back to Illustration Friday! How can you resist 'Revenge'? Post your interpretation of this exciting challenge and share it over at IllustrationFriday.com. Or if you are feeling more curious than inspired. pop over and see what everyone else is sharing.


STOMP wakes up the Straz!

"Amazing!  Rhythmic! Powerful! Awesome! Exciting!"
- My family's enthusiastic response to the opening night performance of STOMP at The Straz Center in Tampa. 

My son started playing drums at school this year and has been banging away daily on just about every surface he passes. This new musical passion, plus his recent enjoyment of Tan Dun's Water Concerto (performed by The Florida Orchestra - also at the Straz), had me on the look-out for percussion based events. When the opportunity to tap our toes to STOMP came along, we jumped at it! 

Here is a quick and dirty pic I snapped with my phone before the show. Photography is prohibited during the performance. The other images here are provided by the Center. Once things got started the jumble of objects (barrels, buckets, lids, and other bits of "junk") shown above turned into amazing instruments under the hands and feet of some insanely talented performers. STOMP opened with stage sweepers who's cleaning evolves into a vibrant musical number. Brooms were swirling about like dance partners and pounded so forcefully that a few broke, and were deftly replaced, mid-stride. 

Throughout the performance, the set is a musical jungle gym with musician/dancers climbing, jumping and even swinging from harnesses while pounding away on the all of the pieces, as well as an assortment of "found" objects. These guys made music with everything from tin cans and newspaper to inner tubes and giant barrels. Everything but the kitchen sink... oh wait... they played that too!

The lighting was another strong component of the production. Spotlights focused on eye catching moments; shadows exaggerated dancers' movements. At times the theater was plunged into in total darkness. This served to pique the audiences curiosity, while exaggerating intriguing sounds. One unusual set of instruments turned out to be accordion-like plastic pipes. At another point, the darkness was lit only by a cigarette lighter sonata. 

It is recommended that children under age 4-5 stay at home. This is understandable, especially during he darker or noisier segments. However, this really is a family friendly performance. Talking with my guys after, we were all pleasantly surprised by the unexpected humor, both visual and audio. They also really enjoyed the audience participation and had fun trying to keep up with the speedy, sometimes silly, rhythms. 

This show was the first time I have been in the middle of such an animated crowd of toe-tapping, laughing, clapping & stomping people.  I highly recommend treating yourself (and your family) to STOMP this weekend! Performances run through May 3rd. You can purchase tickets at this link, while supplies last.

Disclaimer: The Tampa Bay Bloggers were invited to attend STOMP! at The Straz Center for the performing arts. I received 3 tickets to this event in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.