ENDURING

A photo of a neighborhood cafe that I took in April, 1973 on St. Simons Island, off the Georgia coast:

 

Hazel’s still stands, at 1166 Demere Rd on St. Simons Island, GA.  If you google the street view, you’ll notice the paint is long gone and the car no longer lurks in the background.

My maternal grandparents retired from Manhattan to a rambling home on neighboring Sea Island in the early 1960’s. We spent Easter vacations there every year. When I was old enough to drive I would borrow the car and go exploring. The best finds were places like this, that exemplified the island’s rich history, or discovering a small treasure trove of old 45’s (Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie) in a little record store on the mainland.  I explored a marshy pond off a back road and found alligators – a little too close for comfort – and a black bird called a Smooth-billed Ani, which was very rare in Georgia.

Some things endure, some don’t.

I’m white, and the privilege of my race and class afforded me many wonderful experiences in Georgia back then. Not so much the local African American population, most of whom were employed in service to whites, worked long hours and likely didn’t have the time and freedom to wander around anywhere they wanted, in search of interesting sights.

The ease of being Caucasian endures in this country, and the challenges of being African American can still be life-threatening.

Hazel’s cafe apparently endures too; unfortunately I lost the 45’s.  The nameless cafe in the header photo is probably long gone, and alligators are probably scarce in the area, with all the developments and golf courses, but the Smooth billed Ani is still considered a vagrant in Georgia.

(Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance)

Heaped Horizons

Up on Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park last weekend I gazed at the distant horizon of the Olympic Mountain Range, a floating parade of glacier-covered peaks. Marching out to the Olympic mountain tops were folded hills covered in dark spruce and fir. Closer by, the slopes were clad in gold grass sprinkled with evergreens. At my feet, there was yet another horizon, a thin veil of grass stems: horizon heaped upon horizon, as far as I could see.

This week’s Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge is “Horizon”  –  you might broaden yours by checking out a heap of horizons here.

ONE SCENE, TWO TAKES

Or, as the current Weekly Photo Challenge puts is, One Shot, Two Ways.

In either case I think I have an affinity for this assignment, which is to capture two images of a scene, one horizontal and one vertical.  Seeing things in different ways comes naturally.  I often begin looking from a normal eye level angle, scanning left and right. Then I like to think about other ways to see a scene, switching up the viewpoint for another angle.

I could wade through the photo archives and come up with pairs of photos that demonstrate the principle of One Shot, Two Ways, but I’m trying to hew more closely to the spirit of the challenge by using photos taken just for it.  There was an opportunity for a little road trip the other day and I figured I’d look for a scene  that would lend itself to horizontal and vertical shots. Now, which way to go?

We had major construction and road closures to our south, so that direction was out. Last weekend we went north, and going west means Seattle, unless there’s time for an overnight out on the Olympic Peninsula.  So I scanned a map, searching for some place east of us and not too far away.  Somewhere new.  State Route 2, one of the handful of roads that manages to climb the great barrier of Washington’s Cascade Mountain range, would be the starting point, but then what?   I found a promising road on the map – a local two lane that parallels Rt. 2 for a few miles toward the tiny town of Index, famous for its 1000′ granite rock climbing wall.  We had yet to explore Index, so the route was set.

The road lived up to our expectations. It’s a secondary road that few people use, and it was a delightful ride as it lifted and tumbled and whizzed us around its curves. Tall second growth native trees hung with glowing green moss pressed hard upon its edges. When we stopped the car, the silence soothed our highway-buzzed nerves, bringing us back to that grounded place of rest and renewal.

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Index was a cool little town. With about 150 inhabitants, it’s hemmed in by that huge wall of granite, a beautiful winding river, railroad tracks that used to transport ore from mines nearby, and the jutting finger of Mt. Index to the south. There’s a general store, a tiny museum and a rafting and outdoor adventure outfit, and not much else. We heard that homes rarely come up for sale – it’s a tight community in a stunning landscape – and when they do, you’ll need to wait in line and pass muster to buy in. We could see why. Here are few phone photos around Index. Click to enlarge:

You can find more Weekly Photo Challenge double takes here.

MINOR MASTERPIECES

There are works of art which many people with a Euro-centric background agree are masterpieces – the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, The Pieta, Starry Night, Guernica, etc.  It can be hard to view those works with fresh eyes after seeing them so many times.  Examining lesser-known works of art, especially from non-European cultures, can wake up our eyes, deepening our aesthetic experience and maybe even giving us a new perspective on the old masterpieces.

These art works that aren’t so well known but were made with great care and great skill might be called minor masterpieces.

And in fact, (according to Wikipedia) the original meaning of the term masterpiece had to do with a piece of work an apprentice in the guild system made to demonstrate mastery of the craft for admission into a guild. In that context the works photographed here might comfortably be called masterpieces.

This fascinating Indonesian ear ornament, a small gold piece from the 19th century on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York,  shows “warriors clad in turbans and loincloths brandishing swords and shields as they stride boldly into battle, accompanied by smaller figures in attitudes of supplication.”  The expression on the faces and the hands in supplication are so expressive!

A small seated Buddha from the Rubin Museum in New York also has very expressive hands, which held in this mudra, (symbolic or ritual gesture) signify passing along the teaching.

Continuing with the theme of hands in minor masterpieces of craftsmanship, a wooden totem pole in Seattle adorned with an impromptu bouquet speaks volumes about technique and the possibilities of expression in the hands of a master carver.

Another figurative minor masterpiece, this one in stone, decorates a building near Philadelphia’s historic Rittenhouse Square. The artist created amazing liveliness while keeping within the boundaries of tradition and the limits of the decorative frieze.

This minor masterpiece, made of glass, doesn’t necessarily depict anything beyond the indomitable human spirit. It is pure joy as you look up into the whirling colors of Dale Chihuly’s huge installation, the Bridge of Glass, in Tacoma, Washington.

Iznik Ceramics by Mehmet Gursoy

A large hand-painted ceramic dish crafted by a Mehmet Gursoy, a renowned Turkish artist who received the “Living Treasure” prize from UNESCO a few years ago. He revived a lost technique of ceramic decoration, and as he explains here, he designs his pieces with harmony and balance in mind, forming them from natural materials, firing and shaping them himself,  and painting them with the brilliant cobalt, emerald, turquoise and garnet colors that give so much life to the work.

Though it doesn’t have the power of the works above, this is still a “minor masterpiece” for me because I drew it with care and love.  It was many years ago that I pulled the little violet plant from the soil somewhere in New York, brought it home, and drew it in pencil, and then in ink.  I was pleased to catch the lilting spirit of the little violet just as it was unfurling its leaves and lifting its head to the spring sky.

Bloggers have a lot of ideas about the word “Masterpiece” – check them out here – and maybe you’ll find a new perspective on the concept.

Companions – Boon and Otherwise

A “boon companion” is usually one with whom you have good times. There are many boon companions to be seen in readers’ contributions to the current Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge, whose theme is “Companionable.”

My boon companion and I snapped a photo of our shadows one cold day in Manhattan:

These guys may not be boon companions, but they sure make an interesting pair:

I imagine these men that I noticed in a back alley in Seattle spend companionable time together every day – maybe not such productive time according to some people’s standards, but companionable nonetheless:

I’m not sure how much of a companion – boon or otherwise – this man thinks the Great Blue Heron that waits patiently beside him, hour after hour, really is:

On Captiva

These are most certainly boon companions – what trust – a calm face as the toenails are clipped:

Now, to throw a wrench into the flow of this post, did you know that gardeners talk about companion plants? Here’s a perfect example – only foliage, and what harmonious companionship they exhibit:

Back to a more typical view of companionship – this man can often be found playing his portable piano on the sidewalk outside Seattle’s Pike Place Market.  He plays as though there’s no better companion than his piano, and his music draws people whose companionship seems to grow deeper as they listen:

On a lighter note, these guys appear to be great companions too, don’t they?

Tomorrow another Weekly Photo Challenge will be posted. But meanwhile, there are a multitude of photos from last weeks challenge of companions to be found here.