Walk the ancient stones

buildings on the banks of the river in Girona, Spain
Apartments buildings on the banks of the Riu Onyar in Girona, Spain

In early may we took a trip to Barcelona, Spain and Lisbon, Portugal; along the way we made some day trips to other cities nearby. Here are a few selects from our day in Girona, Spain. These images are of the monastery, the cathedral, and the remains of the medieval wall that once girdled the city.

What’s missing from these are the charming streets, squares, and arcades of shops and restaurants that add to the reasons for a visit to this beautiful city of rivers and hills. I wasn’t so much focused on photographing those aspects as much as simply enjoying them.

Looking up at the bell tower of the Monastery Sant Pere de Galligants
Looking up at the bell tower of the Monastery Sant Pere de Galligants
Layers of imposing structures of the Monastery Sant Pere de Galligants
View on a stretch of the medieval wall that once protected Girona
View on a stretch of the medieval wall that once protected Girona
Cypress trees along the city wall of Girona, Spain
Cypress bend in the breeze where the original stones meet a reconstructed part of the wall
Steps lead down one of the many alleys of the medieval town
Girona Cathedral
Girona Cathedral
The steps of Girona Cathedral
A view down the steps of the Cathedral of Girona, where artists were setting up an installation of ropes and sticks
Charred façade of a building in the square behind the cathedral
Charred façade of a building in the square behind the cathedral
An apartment of stunning contrasts: modern windows fitted into an ancient structure
An apartment of stunning contrasts: modern windows fitted into an ancient structure
The monastery again, in stark black and white
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Shifting shadows and dusk in Barcelona

Barcelona cathedral in black and white
Barcelona cathedral in black and white from our first morning wandering around.
photo of an old document with drawings of a "procession for a good death"
An old document spied in a window in the Gothic Quarter— “procession for a good death”
silhouettes of backlit people walking through a shadowed archway
Silhouetted walkers in El Born, near the Gothic Quarter
Shadows of trees on a stonework building
The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya in early evening
The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya in early evening
Large scale sculpture of a seated nude woman, with tall columns upholding nothing  in the distance
This large scale sculpture sits in front of the museum, while tall columns uphold nothing in the distance. This is in around the steps leading down to the Magic Fountain.
Dusk falls over the plaça looking down from the Museum steps
Dusk falls over the waterfalls that lie between the steps leading down to the fountain
Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia façade in black and white
Another sunny exploration day: Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia, on of the façades
Façade of Casa Mila, also by Gaudi
The side street Façade of Casa Mila, another of Gaudi’s biomorphic masterworks.
View of the water feature in the Industrial Park nearby the Sants train station
Here’s a view of the water feature in the Industrial Park nearby the Sants train station
Part of a façade of a modern market hall building in Barceloneta.
And here’s part of a façade of a modern market hall building in Barceloneta. Seen in whole, it looked like a kind of steampunk spaceship.

Another city of seven hills: Lisbon

The blue church and trolley wires at the edge of the Baixa neighborhood
The blue church and trolley wires at the edge of the Baixa neighborhood

Having spent some hours scanning through my photographs from my recent trip to Barcelona and Lisbon, with side trips to Gerona and Sintra; gathering selects, retouching, etc, I wasn’t sure where to begin. I’m not interested in creating some kind of narrative or linear story of our trip, as it wasn’t linear, and the narrative changed constantly.

So I’ve decided to start with some high-chroma and steep (naturally) scenes from Lisbon, in the Baixa-Shiado and Alfama neighborhoods, and a couple farther afield. The Alfama ones were from our Castelo Sao Jorge day— it was a grand afternoon of meandering and taking things slowly. We also met some peacocks, but that’ll keep til another day.

For now just take in the angles, colors, and alleyways and feel the sun on your face and the cobbles under your feet.

A house tiles in bright aqua in Lsibon
A house tiled in bright aqua
Clothes in the line in Alfama, Lisbon
Clothes in the line in Alfama
an inviting alleyway of yellow in Alfama, Lisbon
an inviting alleyway of yellow in Alfama
Blue patterned tiles on a house in Alfama, Lisbon
Blue patterned tiles on a house in Alfama

On the way to Rossio train station to head out to Sintra
On the way to Rossio train station to head out to Sintra
Looking down steps into a courtyard with a mural devoted to Fado
Looking down steps into a courtyard and its mural devoted to Fado
Terra cotta tiles cover the rooftops of Lisbon
Terra cotta tiles cover the rooftops of Lisbon
An old terra cotta stucco house against bright blue sky
Approaching LX Factory after our day sailing the harbor
Approaching LX Factory after our day sailing the harbor
In a square surrounded by tables full of diners and trees blossoming purple
The square where the Carmo Convent sits, awash in purple blossoms
More orange rooftops looking out to the harbour
Looking down from Castelo de São Jorge at the lovely terraced houses that cascade harborward to the Tagus River
In one of Lisbon’s marinas, bristling with masts of sailing vessels
In one of Lisbon’s marinas, bristling with masts of sailing vessels
A section of the figured arrayed around a caravel on the Monument to the Discoveries in Belém
A section of the figures arrayed around a caravel on the Monument to the Discoveries in Belém

The calm monochrome that follows the feast days

an abandoned sidewalk xmas tree— set out to the street before xmas fully dressed (b&w photo)

These days following the winter feasts bring a quiet with them, not necessarily unwelcome. Often grey and a little lonely, or too-quiet for some, yet there is a gentleness to them that eases the emotional tumult forced by the calendar shift into a new year.

the giant pine in the yard upstate, blocking snowfall on the yard liek an umbrella (b&w photo)

When I was younger, I longed for the new year to turn at Springtide, or during the full heat of Summer. As I’ve got older, the shift has felt more accustomed and proper happening in the dead of winter— it allows a moment, at least, for reflection which those other times wouldn’t afford.

Several pine trees upstate in snowfall (b&w photo)

(I’ll own, this is clearly the result of living one’s entire life in the northern hemisphere, in the west. Nurture and nature have their sway.)

Upstate at the Farm over the winter holiday is something I’d not trade. Cold, and snowy, I can see the sun and shade of summer in every angle— but those white cloaked fields are equal in my mind to their mild counterparts. Some of my best memories are of being alone in a quiet icicled clearing in the woods; or frigid rides along field paths as snow-blanketed as the horse’s backs, and my eyelashes— in awe of the change a bit of weather can make.

Sure, we get more irritable in the cabin-fever months. But also we get closer, cozier, if allowed. Weather does change things. It’s one of the things my cold-climate friends and I always joked about— nothing akin to Russian novels ever comes out of easy climates!

the house at the Farm, blanketed in easy snow (b&w photo)

We complain, yet we can’t rightly imagine life without seasons. Or we try, and give it up for folly. Relegate easy to vacation times, to the fleeting (and also irritating but in different ways) Summer. It all balances out in ways we’ve grown accustomed to; in ways that make sense to us.

telephone pole and wires in snow (b&w photo)

Anyway, I rather enjoy and look forward to the quiet spell after the hectic holiday time —before it turns into the doldrums— at which point I’ll want winter to go. There’s a period during which it’s welcome and agreeable; and productive, honestly.

Eventually, of course, the grey just becomes too much, and all we want is the return of green trees and sunshine. That’ll be hitting us around mid-February, I suspect, when the whole city has lost its luster; after the fairy-lights’ve been long taken down, and all the world just feels like it’s given up.

But, just as we reach our wit’s end, some modest glorious crocus will raise her chilly new petals from the snow, and give a beacon of spring, a bit of hope to see us through.

The skills of observation are the same, whether painted or photographed

Edwardian portrait of a mother and child

Here is my other treasure from the Antiquarian Book Fair (which was fairly well-stocked with so-called Ephemera, that I obv adore)— a stellar and skilled portrait, the likes of this level I’ve rarely seen in my years of collecting Cabinet Card pictures as they’re called when mounted and ‘framed’ on cards like this.

This is a true photographic portrait; staged and lighted with an astute level of skill for the age of early photographs. Lighting and composition are informed by both Dutch and Renaissance masters, that much is clear. Mother was surely holding her breath (as well as her babe) to allow for such a sharp portrait. I’d wager they may have been situated near a window with a cheesecloth or similar scrim to diffuse the available light. Beautifully executed. A+

The floating city; a mirage in the heat of a summer day

lower Manhattan as viewed from Governors Island

My brother came to visit for a few days. We had an adventure-filled weekend, and I’m thankful for his visit, as I was when my older brother and his family were here earlier in the month. Not only to have spent time with them, but also because visitors ensure you get out and do things. Jon and I crammed a lot of summer into three days.

Above is the view of Lower Manhattan from Governors Island. Seen this way, it seems less an island than a mirage or some kind of magic allowing myriad structures to float upon the surface of the water.

Houses on Governors IslandChurch on Governors IslandView of the city from Governors Island

Continue reading “The floating city; a mirage in the heat of a summer day”

Superpowers

b&w photograph of people in a quiet sunny green parkObserving and Listening have become almost superpowers in the contemporary world. Such pursuits are almost the opposite of (though are often mistaken for) ‘consuming’, because to truly see and/or hear takes as much patience and skill as any act of creation. They are the wells that feed creation. Processes —both of observation and research— culminate in the process of making, which is, always, one of translation.

.   .   .

The above was born of a comment left on another artist’s blog; I’ve adapted it to a more generalized sentiment, as I find it to be true.

Apologies for the longer stretches between posts, lately. I’m in need of a schedule to stay on track here, as I re-learn living, and balance with the full time gig/ I’d rather expected more time for writing while I was upstate, but lots of family goings-on took precedence. Happy Summer, and thanks for reading and looking! 

Promise after this one we go home

b&w photo of grafitti in BerlinRevisiting the April trip, zooming back to Berlin, in black and white. We begin here in RAW-Gelande, the graffiti-clad playground to artists and DJs, just over the river in East Berlin..
b&w photo of a corner building and street signs in Berlinb&w photo of a building displaying brutalist-inspired architecture in BelinFeeling a little Brutal(ism) on this corner, but in person it was a rather lovely building. blue sky reflecting in all the glass.

b&w photo of a traditional building in Berlinb&w photo on buildings and spires of a cathedral in the distance in Berlinb&w photo of a lamp post, tree branches and spires in BerlinAs we approached these bristling spires, I was all anticipation, as the light was adding a kind of shadowy drama to the silhouettes.

b&w photo of a cathedral surrounded by stark winter trees in BerlinA stunning, lyrical façade rendered prickly and sere in the fading light and surround of winter tree branches.B&W photo of the exterior structure of a stone cathedral whose interior is empty in a park in BerlinThis cathedral is a hollow shell; was bombed heavily, during WWII, but much of the exterior remains in what is now a park.

I’ll eave you with the ethereal image below— rivulets streaming down from the apex of Viktoria Park, which was neighbor to us for our days in Berlin.

b&w photo of the waterfalls in Viktoria Park, Berlin

A crossing to the farther shore

B&W photo of the shore where we catch the ferryView facing west as we await the ferry

On an Easter Monday back in early May, Z, J, and I went on a cycling wander with our friends in Amsterdam. Though it was chill and overcast, we had a fantastic day exploring Amsterdam Noord.
B&W photo of our bikes on the ferry from Centraal Station
Two of our bikes on the deck of the ferry
B&W photo of the industrial shoreline
B&W photo of the harbor areaB&W photo of a club called Sexyland in Amsterdam Noord
A club called Sexyland in Amsterdam Noord
B&W photo on the farther shore, Amsterdam Noord
Edge of the beach outside at
Pllek (pllek means Place in Dutch)
B&W photo of my cycling buddies on a waterside cycle path
B&W photo cycling through Nieuwendammerdijk
Entering the town of  Nieuwendammerdijk
b&w photo of gables in Nieuwendammerdijk
Bell gables hide steeply pitched roofs
b&w photo of our bike posse
#squadgoals 🙂


Color photo of the Botel