Filed under: Photography | Tags: Greater Good, Learning, Photography, Religion, Scottsdale
What better place to take a contemplative walk than here, a place meant for contemplation and meditation? I mentioned a few days ago that I’m taking an online class called Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Contemplative Practice through Abbey of the Arts, “transformative living through contemplative and expressive arts.” My cousin recommended this class to me and I love it. If this sounds interesting to you, it’s not too late, you can sign up any time. The registration includes 6 weeks of lessons, podcasts, a daily inspirational email, and a Flickr group to post your photos in, where you can see what the other participants are doing and join in discussions, if you want.
Each week you take a contemplative walk with your camera and explore the weekly lesson. These photos were taken for Week 2, an exploration of light and shadows through which you explore or begin to become aware of your own lights and shadows. The labyrinth is at one of my favorite places in town, the Franciscan Renewal Center (known as the Casa de Paz y Bien), a beautiful retreat center, open to everyone (I wrote about it over a year ago, too).
A photo becomes not only an interpretation of a given place, not only an image to be appreciated for its own challenging beauty, not only a journalistic report of a given moment in time, but also an evocative release, a symbol~even at times a trigger to a stream of consciousness. John Ruskin
Filed under: Art, Phoenix | Tags: Art, Downtown Phoenix, Global Community, Murals, Phoenix
This large, vivid mural in the Garfield district, a historic area in downtown Phoenix, is 6 feet tall by 95 feet long. Its actual title is Knowledge Breaks Down Barriers Created by Ignorance and is the work of Raul Gonzalez, an L.A. based artist, and many youth of the Garfield District. A community activist states, “The mural was designed and created by youth and depicts what is important to them, which includes family, culture, justice, and education.”
The mural was officially unveiled on September 18th. You can read more about it here.
Filed under: Home, Phoenix | Tags: Flora, Global Community, Home, Learning, Phoenix, Photography
Like so many people in this economy, I live on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams. I’m fortunate that the broken dreams aren’t mine, they’re our neighbors’ but it’s sad to have the constant reminders everyday of misfortune.
Last year, I wrote about the house next door to us: the woman lost her home and moved to an apartment. One of her dogs was too big to live there so she went to the Humane Society, fate unknown. A couple of months later, an investor bought the house and proceeded to completely renovate it and the guest house in the back. The job took over 3 months and the investor himself, Tom, was there everyday working alongside those he hired. He was a nice, funny, friendly guy that I talked to often. He did a beautiful job and, in July, he put the house up for sale finally, starting the price a little steep, intending to gradually lower it but sure it would sell fairly soon. A couple of weeks after it was completed, he had a massive heart attack in the middle of the night and died. He was 51 but looked 10 years younger. It was a terrible shock to his loved ones and friends and to me, as well.
Two months since his death, the house still has not sold. It gets a lot of traffic; everyone I talk to who has seen it loves it. The price keeps dropping but there is no buyer. All of Tom’s hard work making this a beautiful home will never benefit him nor will anyone who buys the house appreciate how much work he put into it. Every time I look at this house, which is obviously everyday, I think of him and how he will never reap the rewards of his effort.
Now, last week, our neighbors on the other side, another Tom and his wife, moved out of their foreclosed home. Their home was already beautiful because they have worked on it constantly since moving in 7 or so years ago. His house was his hobby. They did make some poor decisions and borrowed against it to finance another home in Mexico, where his wife is from and where they plan to retire someday but it is still a tragic situation. They now live in a smaller rental house a few blocks away. Since the house on the other side has been empty for 10 months so far, who knows how long this one will sit empty with its swimming pool becoming a stagnant breeding ground for West Nile-infected mosquitoes. All the plants he lovingly planted are already dying off since they quit watering a couple months ago when they knew they’d be leaving.
Our outdoor cats are enjoying all the yards they can quietly sleep and play in now but I find it isolated and sad, not to mention uncertain.
The top photo is from the little shed in the backyard of the first house and the bottom photo is a cactus that once was watered and cared for regularly at the second house. Each symbolizes the broken dreams that fill those houses now. And sprinkled throughout the neighborhood are many more For Sale signs and sad stories. Some others are probably struggling to stay afloat and hoping they will be able to keep their houses. I’m sure you have similar stories in your neighborhoods, too.
So as not to make this an entirely depressing post, here are a few more photos I took walking around my neighborhood. I’m taking a fascinating 6 week class called Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Contemplative Practice through Abbey of the Arts. The first week’s assignment was to take a contemplative walk through your neighborhood and see what you feel drawn to photograph, choose 5 that speak to you, and examine why. Here are a few of my photos from that walk (not all made the top 5).
Another house for sale around the corner. I assume it has a sad story, too, but I don’t know it.
Openings in the freeway sound wall at the end of my street. Someone, I think, placed the pine cones this way.
A natural garage, I think the hood needs to be covered, too.
Bougainvillea glowing in the sunlight…
Filed under: Art, Phoenix | Tags: Art, Downtown Phoenix, El Mac, Murals, Phoenix
After writing about Elmac (El Mac) in my last blog post, I emailed him through his blog and he wrote back and told me about another of his murals in downtown Phoenix, the Phoenix Goddess. So yesterday I went to see her. She is located in back of an old (1927), well-maintained apartment building, overlooking their patio area, that you probably wouldn’t come across by accident. He told me this one was an “oldie, but goodie.”
As you can see by his blog, he works internationally to much acclaim so he is far more than “P-Town’s Graff-Daddy.” Most of his work is not in Phoenix (sadly for us).
One of the coolest things about this mural, I think, is that the skyline in the painting is the actual skyline looking down the alley. Same poles, same palms, sneakers thrown over the lines (maybe not the same pair)…You can click on the photos to see the details better.
I couldn’t shoot down the alley at the same angle because of the brightness of the sun but you get the idea.
Filed under: Art, Phoenix, Photography | Tags: Art, Coffeehouses, Downtown Phoenix, El Mac, Murals, Phoenix, Photography
Now that I’m becoming an “old pro” at mural-hunting, it’s a little like the old Concentration game. I keep coming across muralists whose work I’ve seen before and recognize either by the style or by their signature. Where was the other one(s) by this person?
This one, in the heart of the Roosevelt Row arts district (at Pravus Gallery), was done by “Elmac Kofie.” See the signature on the upper left above. I know I’ve seen that name before.
Oh, yeah, I saw it a mile or 2 away a couple of weeks ago in another section of the arts district (Grand Avenue). And now that I look at both of them, they look very similar to one I blogged about at Zao Gallery recently.
Yes, down there on the left side, amidst her hair, is “Elmac.” The signature is a little different but the style is the same. This was a couple blocks away from the one above it. And back to the one above it:
Next to the Elmac mural is one by Lalo Cota, who I wrote about in my Calaveras post, including this one by him above. Murals at 3 different locations were shown in that post and now here is another one by Lalo, distinct by its style:
This van is outside a coffeehouse/boutique called Conspire. The walls of Conspire have more murals by Lalo.
It’s pretty fun getting accustomed to their styles and coming across them all over downtown Phoenix. Every time I go out to photograph a mural, I seem to see or hear about some other ones. This project could go on for a long time.
Here are some other shots I took while wandering around the area shown above, close to Roosevelt Row. It will give you an idea of what our downtown arts district looks like: mostly old houses and warehouses slowly being converted to galleries, shops, and restaurants: quaint, and in constant transition.
The above building is next to Conspire. I’m not sure if it’s in the process of becoming a business or what but I didn’t want to trespass to see if I could find a signature on its mural.
The next photo is of a typical house in this area and it had some permits in the windows for renovation work so I imagine it will be a new business soon. I love the look of it. If only I could have a studio, this is what I would like. Just half of it would do.
It’s right next to a shop called MADE, where most items are handmade, and is surrounded by many galleries.
Maybe you can get a little of the local flavor from these photos. If you have any interest in seeing all the central Phoenix mural photos I’ve taken (to date), here is the link:
Edit: Wendyvee of the totally awesome Roadside Wonders was kind enough (and better at googling than I was) to send me this link to Elmac‘s blog. Kofie is his friend so the first mural shown is a collaboration. Too cool.