The Long Way Home


Lincoln Highway
October 15, 2014, 7:10 AM
Filed under: Pennsylvania | Tags: , , ,
A remnant of Fairyland Forest, Laurel Highlands.

Little Boy Blue: A remnant of Storyland, Laurel Highlands.

When Jeff and I stared dating nine years ago, our first road trip together was Route 30, Pennsylvania’s old Lincoln Highway, destination: Mutter Museum. I mapped out the places I wanted to see along the way, but more importantly, this travelers’ road crazy-twisting through mountains provided relief from the PA Turnpike. Speeding highway travel puts my nerves on edge, and finally, I found a man who was willing to travel the roads less wandered with me (metaphor intended). A few weeks ago, driving back from a visit with friends East, we climbed intense mountain passes, and felt the isolation in those forgotten towns nestled in the hills. It was a bright, clear, sunny day, so pretty it made hearts ache. We imagined Model T-s struggling up those hills in the route’s early days, all the stops it took just get a few miles – clever roadside attractions that gave travelers some escape: hotels that looked liked ships, fairytale creatures hidden among the trees in someone’s yard, with signs made clear no trespassing.

 

Antique store in a barn near Gettysburg.

Antique store in a barn near Gettysburg.

TV in Fayetteville, PA

TV in Fayetteville, PA

Bedford, PA

Bedford, PA

Garden near the Laurel Manor motel.

Garden near the Laurel Manor motel.



The Gang’s All Here
October 9, 2014, 7:10 PM
Filed under: Vintage Photo Album | Tags: , , ,
Romanian dance troupe, 1920s

Romanian dance troupe, 1920s

In July, I took a photobook workshop at the Carnegie Museum taught by photographers Melissa Catanese and Ed Panar of Spaces Corners. I wanted to learn more about editing my photography into book form, but when Melissa and Ed pointed out that the act of editing is also a creative act, I started looking through my vintage photos, thinking of ways to categorize them and tell stories. Each time Jeff and I go junk shopping now, I’m not only looking for vintage photos that catch my eye, but also photos that continue the stories in my existing collection. This series captures the different ways people come together to celebrate a moment: whether formal, as in the dancers above, or something fun (and a little strange), like the hay climbers below, posing with a group of friends and family indicates an occasion that demands remembrance. As the photos get passed down through generations, then lost among flea market bins, that momentous occasion becomes a mystery, leaving us to piece together the clues of who they are and what happened long ago.

I found this one under a pile of books in a thrift shop.

I found this one under a pile of books in a thrift shop.

In photos like these, I wonder about the photographer?

In photos like these, I wonder about the photographer?

Lingerie shop, Paris, 1890s.

Lingerie shop, Paris, 1890s.

This one almost looks staged.

Picnickers, early 1900s.

Smokers, early 1900s.

Smokers, early 1900s.

Dress-up, Paris, early 1900s.

Dress-up, Paris, early 1900s.

A card from Uncle Della.

A card from Uncle Della.



In a Cold Sun
October 5, 2014, 8:57 AM
Filed under: Pennsylvania | Tags: , , ,
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It’s a chilly, quiet morning, time I’ve waited to savor all week. I have worked more overtime, catching up after a long travel weekend, and milling through the muck of interview rejection. I like to have things status quo, and everything felt off-kilter. At times, it made me forget the smallest things, left me a little catastrophic and slightly depressed. It’s a territory of which I’m familiar – depression – and so I throw myself into overdrive, trying to compensate for the inertia that could settle in. Even photography provided little comfort, and that scared me. I’ve grown to lean on it to get me through difficult times, and now I’m looking at the broader picture: that not one thing can make up for all the things that are biting at you. It’s too much to expect, much like putting all your faith into one person: it’s a big burden to bear. So at the end of a long week, I took my camera with me as we ran errands, no plan in mind (which is out of my comfort zone – as regular readers may know, I like order). I asked a man at a junk shop on Hamilton Avenue if I could take his photo, and he wordlessly slipped back into his shop, gently closing the door behind him. Later in our friend Sheryl’s garden, Jeff picked peppers, tomatoes, chard and sprigs of dill, while I walked around freezing in the cold sun, capturing tangles of overgrowth, getting lost behind the lens for brief moments.

in the garden

in the garden

Mayflower Street

Mayflower Street

Hamilton Avenue

Hamilton Avenue

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Unblurred: Samantha Stowe
October 2, 2014, 8:21 PM
Filed under: Art Gallery | Tags: , , , ,
Witch by Samantha Stowe

Witch by Samantha Stowe

For October’s First Friday art series on Penn, Studio 5013 features Halloween photography by Samantha Stowe. nighttidephotos.tumblr.com

Grim by Samantha Stowe

Grim by Samantha Stowe



From Beyond
September 21, 2014, 8:08 AM
Filed under: Ohio | Tags: , , ,
from beyond

from beyond

One of the very first drives that Jeff and I took together was to East Liverpool, Ohio: not exactly the romantic trip of every couple’s dreams, but one that means a lot to us because it’s the first route we navigated together. This was pre-GPS. We still used a beat-up, crumpled atlas, coffee-stained, dog-eared and missing pages, but a few states left intact. I had vague ideas of where to go – follow the Ohio River along 65, until you get to 68 and across the border. And then what? I wasn’t sure, but had to figure it out quickly before Jeff had a panic moment at the wheel because he likes to know where he’s going. We’ve come to know the journey so well that we don’t even need a GPS, the atlas long since trashed. He’s the driver, I’m the navigator. Sometimes I don’t know where I’m going, and we end up in unexpected places. We try to make the most of getting lost. I take notes and photos, Jeff scouts landmarks since he remembers places by sight, not names. Sometimes we still forget, and find ourselves braving sticky heat, me fussing with a tripod and camera, trying to get a shot with Jeff as lookout. Sometimes I take too long, we are both hungry and tired from driving aimlessly. Then the shutter clicks. We breathe easy, laugh, and leave, squeezing each other’s hands. We talk about chili dogs from Brighton Hot Dog Shoppe, maybe chocolate milkshakes for dessert, a sunset to guide us home.

A Saturday afternoon.

A Saturday afternoon.

Crook Building, E. Liverpool

Crook Building, E. Liverpool

After the storm.

Portal

Wunder Bar, Route 68

Wunder Bar, Route 68

Ghost sign, E. Liverpool

Ghost sign, E. Liverpool

Along the way: New Brighton.

Along the way: New Brighton.

The secret door.

The secret door.

A faded mural, E. Liverpool.

A faded mural, E. Liverpool.



Quiet Among the Chaos
September 17, 2014, 7:19 PM
Filed under: Art Gallery | Tags: , ,
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It’s been an eventful few weeks: preparation for a job interview (which happened today), publication in Optiko and Pryme Magazine (excited. proud!) and I finally have a website, which I promised to have finished before summer’s end. This blog though is my baby and my writing home, so I’ll be back in a few days to post more. In the meantime, check out my instant photo site. I’ve wanted to have one for so long, and I’m finally glad I got around to it. Now I’m off to curl up with The Lives and Loves of Daisy and Violet Hilton and a bowl of pork dumplings: gifts of nourishment and solitude.



Summer Notes
August 29, 2014, 6:42 AM
Filed under: Art Gallery | Tags: , , ,
Route 66, Cook Forest, PA

Route 66, Cook Forest, PA

It’s funny how, for years, I lived with that “summer promise” feeling in the back of my mind: the one where, once school is over, adventure and change awaits – but it’s only another season. I worked lots of overtime, watched Veronica Mars, buried myself in books. Struggling lately to get through A Tale for the Time Being, but I’m having trouble with fiction these days. My mind wanders. I’d rather be out in the world, photographing my ordinary neighborhood, and others’ ordinary neighborhoods. I reconnected with old friends from home. Seeing them in person for the first time in almost 20 years made my heart swell with love: do they know how much their friendship helped make me the woman I am today? It’s something I feel as if I don’t have to say out loud: coming from the same place, we have an understanding. This summer has been about comforts like car trips and faded photos; accepting middle age with humor and something like grace; finding ways to regroup after years of grief. It’s nostalgia for places so tiny they have disappeared from maps.

July: A birthday selfie,

July: A birthday selfie.

An Amish man in Rogers, OH.

An Amish man in Rogers, OH.

Ohio: When I think of summer, it looks something like this.

Ohio: When I think of summer, it looks something like this.

Old-fashioned fair food.

Old-fashioned fair food.

Our new little friend, Max.

Our new little friend, Max.

A house by the side of the road in Indiana County.

A house by the side of the road in Indiana County.

The end of the road: a mountain town in northern Pennsylvania.

The end of the road: a mountain town in northern Pennsylvania.




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