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.

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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

 

Montmartre— in light and dark

Montmartre— dans la lumière et l’obscurité

Sacre Coeur blackand white photo angle from belowThese are photos from our first afternoon in Paris. It stayed light til 8:30.

Now, you know, I’ve been dreaming of the trip— now that it’s over. As I did before it was born. Friday was two weeks since we left for farther shores. It went by fast and slow, as time does.

Felt like four days; felt like four weeks. Away –and three cities away– will have that effect.

streets of Montmartre, photos in black and white
streets of Montmartre, photos in black and whitestreets of Montmartre, photos in black and white

Life is different —and the same— when you return. That is to say, life is the same but you’re a little different.

streets of Montmartre, photos in black and whitestreets of Montmartre, photos in black and white

Continue reading “Montmartre— in light and dark”

A hundred eyes look upon us but cannot see us

b&w photo of a building facade with many windowsA hundred eyes look upon us but they cannot see us

b&w photo pf brookly nbridge, manhattan bridge in distanceTwo bridges in fog and no one to cross them

Enduring the caprices of the gods

photo of blurred trees in winterNone of us is a stranger to the need for endurance. It’s a universal theme; always returned to in stories.

We endure. And in the strength we needful gain in our small hero’s journeys, we encounter the requirement of meaning. Neither the smallest nor greatest of trials is endurable without that ineffable, elusive thing we all seek: for life to be meaningful.

photo of a tangle of winter trees

It’s the only way to make sense out of the chaos that resides in the spaces we all (humans, gods*, nature) share. Time gives it and robs us of it. All is ever. Change is the greatest weapon of the gods; we convince ourselves the we are in control, but it’s they who pull the strings.

The gods love(d) us for our plodding predictability; made games for their amusement of disrupting and manipulating us. Some of the meaning we seek can be found in the ways we regard, respond to –and endure– these disruptions.

.   .   .

*I use this word in the sense of the gods as we’ve always invented them; stories of the forces which we do not understand made fathomable, endurable.

Also: read The Marriage of Cadmus & Harmony.** It’s an incredible, applicable unpacking of Greek mythology, full stop.

**The Times review is good. But beware! “This desire to remain at a respectful distance from the ancient world keeps Mr. Calasso’s book, for all its real learning, from being a work of scholarship.” That’s a sentence that, in my opinion [IMO], is bullshit— or rather, a mere opinion (despite the author’s ‘real learning’).