Filed under: Art Gallery | Tags: canadian-american, j & k, january wedding, winter
Each time I go to complain about the cold, I think back to last month on January 4, when these two lovely kids exchanged vows on the Clemente Bridge at 9 in the morning. Jeff was my assistant, and the two of us layered up to brave the cold, clear day – nine degrees and just as we parked the car to walk over the bridge, Kendra and James emerged from the parking garage, holding hands, and as she lifted the hem of her gown to cross the street, revealing blue velvet shoes, I started to tear up. James is an old friend from high school whom I haven’t seen in over 20 years, so yeah, I got a little sappy, and felt honored that they asked me to capture the quiet moments in their big day.
Filed under: Pennsylvania | Tags: impossible project, mckees rocks, ohio river, px680, rust belt diary
Recently at a party, I chatted briefly with a woman who coincidentally grew up in a town near the one I’m from. Coraopolis..which high school? I shook my head, for some reason apologetic that I went to a tiny high school that nobody ever heard of, feeling the old, familiar tug in my chest that I spent years trying to shake: trying to explain Nowhere to people who are from Somewhere. I spent my adolescence dreaming of escape, and most of my twenties and thirties trying to find ways to get the hell out of nowhere and off to somewhere, figuring once I arrived, I’d have it figured out. But somewhere along the way, I slowed down, paid attention, looked around, admitted: I like coming from nowhere. I like finding other places in the middle of nowhere, and documenting them for others to see, so that they too can go nowhere and see lives lived beyond all the places in the world that everyone typically wants to be. I love driving to different parts of the city and walking streets I thought I knew. I love being the passenger along roads I know with eyes shut, identifying them by their twists and turns. I love driving along Island Avenue, the road to Coraopolis through McKees Rocks – the route that I’d take to visit my mother. I know this road by the way the light dappled across row houses in late morning, and by the dark, black clouds that shook out a rainstorm one frightening summer afternoon, causing a flash flood. I know the view from the McKees Rocks Bridge, the way the sunset bounces off the gold dome of the Orthodox church in the Bottoms – it always leaves me lighthearted, happy, even – a beacon of hope after my mother died. And one late morning on our way somewhere, Jeff and I finally did stop the car so I could take these photos, because the October light was too beautiful for me to resist. It’s strange to look back at more ordinary moments like these, not knowing the cold, endless winter awaiting us, the creative ways we’ve spent our time as we push towards spring.
Filed under: Vintage Photo Album | Tags: 1890s, 1900s, paper moon, tintype, vintage photography
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been a wee bit obsessed with paper moons, finding it difficult to resist that sinister smile on Mr. Moon’s skinny little face. Paper Moon is one of my favorite films (I love the book too, Addie Pray, on which it’s based), and over the years, I’ve added a few to my vintage photo collection. (Okay, more than a few, so I’ll share more of these in a future post.) Paper moon photography, according to this article from the Hutchinson News, was popular from the late 1800s to 1930s – think of them as a photo booth precursor, a way for people to capture a silly moment when going to a carnival or state fair. It wasn’t practice yet for people to smile at the camera, so finding one of those too is always a treat.
Filed under: Pennsylvania | Tags: impossible project, polaroid, route 88, rust belt diary, spectra
Last week, Jeff and I had our portraits done by a group of teenagers at Creative Citizen Studios, a nonprofit “celebrating artists with disabilities.” We also got the opportunity to present our artwork. I displayed the originals of the photos in this post on a table and watched as the kids looked them over. They had great questions: When were these photos taken? They look older. What can you do with a chicken that big? How did the photo [of the houses] get like that? This one, one kid said, holding it close to his face – has a ghost - matter-of-factly before shuffling it back, and I thought, holy shit, that’s pretty wild. I tried taking a photo on the second floor of the notorious haunted antiques store that day, and the camera mysteriously jammed. How could he have known this? I included it to show the class some common mistakes in instant photography, how not everything in art is perfect. We left the class that night with a gift: drawings of the house with the sun setting behind it, and a tiny pig tucked in one corner. It made me happy to see them continuing stories from where I started them. I’m especially excited to have the class as our featured artists for the March Penn Arts installation, stay tuned.