The Long Way Home


Message from my Mother, 1984
October 12, 2015, 6:13 AM
Filed under: Art Gallery | Tags: , , , , ,
message from my mother, 1984

message from my mother, 1984

During fall Polaroid week, I chose images that are personal to me, rooted in nostalgia that I’ve been – to move forward, it helps for me to look back, and somehow, through art, it comes full circle. After sharing stories with a childhood friend about our old neighborhood, I visited to capture it on film. It had been almost five years since I was back on Broadway [real street name], but my heart did a little leap when I spotted it: On the sidewalk by the porch, my mother had traced her name in the cement. I photographed it shortly after she died – I had forgotten it was there, and to find it was a great surprise. I’ve thought of it as a memorial, a place I could go when I felt the need to see her. I feared time took hold and it disappeared, but there it was, her name standing out among the cracks in the pavement. So Jeff and I sat on the sidewalk, leaning against the giant white house converted into apartments (my mum, sister and me on the first floor, an exotic dancer and her daughter, on the second), swapping memories. The tiny cottage owned by the couple with the Doberman that chased kids on their bikes, now bulldozed. My friend Amber’s backyard – in full bloom, and comforting to see the wooden shed still standing 30 years later. Across the street, our neighbor Julia’s house is converting to a storefront, its previous incarnation years before the ’80s when we were kids using t-shirts as makeshift baskets to carry tomatoes from her garden to my mother – gifts Julia offered when she couldn’t find the English words to tell us that if we needed anything, we knew where to find her.

Second St., Neville Island

Second St., Neville Island

 

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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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Polaroid Week: Days 3 & 4
July 18, 2013, 9:22 PM
Filed under: Art Gallery | Tags: , , , ,
north winebiddle street - day 3

north winebiddle street – day 3

Sometimes projects sneak up on you when you aren’t even thinking about it: stories emerge. I feel as if I’m becoming closer to Pittsburgh, as if I’m getting reacquainted with an old friend. It’s when I find these secret city streets: a missing house, and wide open space – that my heart soars. It reaffirms how much I love this part of my life, my home.

from camp ohio - day 3

from camp ohio – day 3

mt. washington: where a house once stood - day 4

mt. washington: where a house once stood – day 4

nowhere house - day 4

nowhere house – day 4



Polaroid Week: Days 1 & 2
July 16, 2013, 11:17 PM
Filed under: Art Gallery | Tags: , , , ,
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sunflower garden – day one

It’s Polaroid Week in the instant film world, and I thought I’d track my days’ posts here. This year I decided to stick around my neighborhood and take new photos of places you may have seen pop up in other photos – notice the infamous graffiti wall in our backyard? Now covered in gorgeous sunflowers almost as tall as I am. It’s moments like these that I really love my home, through all seasons.

5100 s. millvale

5100 n. winebiddle – day one

camp ohio - day two

camp ohio – day two

self-portrati with flower and polaroid (beside me) - day two

self-portrait with flower and polaroid (beside me) – day two



Sunday Afternoon
January 13, 2013, 10:37 AM
Filed under: Art Gallery | Tags: , , , ,
sunday afternoon

sunday afternoon

I’ve mentioned this before, but I keep a photo journal to sketch out concepts or images that pop into my head when I’m doing something else (more like diagrams and text – my drawing talents are nil). What I’ve learned from this process is that the ideas serve mainly as the starting point for a photo shoot – rarely do my first ideas ever come out on film. It’s part of my orderly nature to go in armed with a plan, but the unpredictability of film is teaching me the art of letting go. Last Sunday I went to Sarah‘s, thinking she had a window seat in her new apartment. And that the day was going to be cold, yes, but sunny. And that my timer wouldn’t be a bastard as I hooked it on the camera. None of this was true, and Sarah was patient through the afternoon as I worked with what the day gave me.

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Great Lake
November 25, 2012, 8:49 AM
Filed under: New York | Tags: , , , , ,

dunkirk lighthouse

Sunday morning and I sit here typing with the sniffles. It’s snowing now; I spent most of  yesterday wrapped in blankets, watching old monster movies. There’s something comforting about black and white films: the static in old prints, the grand music. It reminds me of Sunday afternoons as a kid, how isolating they felt if you left the television realm. While organizing my photo files, I remembered the ones taken at Dunkirk Lighthouse from last month’s western New York trip. Dunkirk is a resort town that hasn’t changed much since the early pictures I saw hanging in the lighthouse museum. A map on the wall showed tiny ships crowding the lake’s surface, marking shipwrecks. There are over 300 souls lost in Lake Erie. We searched the lighthouse lawn looking for clues that something once lived there.

lake erie

westfield diner

interstate 80



I <3 Buffalo
November 8, 2012, 8:16 PM
Filed under: New York | Tags: , , , , ,

cold, windy sunday

Curious about our northern sister-city, we drove to Buffalo: sprawling, flat land running east-west like a city should (unlike Pittsburgh, land of winding hills and one-way mazes – I still love you). We stayed at the Lord Amherst Motor Hotel in a tiny room that smelled like smoke and Charlie perfume, and Jeff and I got into a little tiff because I forgot the toothpaste and deodorant. What happens when you haphazardly throw the first things you see into a suitcase and bolt out the door after a long work week? Inevitably you forget things and end up at a local Wal-Mart around 1 A.M. in unfamiliar territory, getting a taste of local culture while shopping for Crest. We never got to eat ‘real’ Buffalo-wings, but we did eat sponge candy which Buffalonians claim as theirs: a chocolate confection with an airy middle like Cadbury Crunchies, but fancier and beef on weck: salty roll flecked with caraway seeds, stuffed with tender, rare roast beef and horseradish. I still dream about that sandwich. Like most rust belt towns, it felt like time stopped in the 70s; it rained most of the weekend, the sky so intensely overcast it turned the world around us blue.

prudential guaranty building, 1894

central terminal

church and pearl streets

allentown neighborhood




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