Over the years, it’s become crystal clear that my wife is my staunchest critic and supporter. However, adding her to the creative aspect of it all is both a major distraction and a pain in the fucking ass. As someone who has become more of a landscape and street photographer in recent years. My wife is, more than often, right by my side. Whether it be asking a million question as to what attracts me to a subject or being over protective to my history of risky attempts of capturing a moment. A good example would be yesterdays trip to Richmond and my fascination with photographing many of the downtown murals.When asked about “Photographing other peoples art.” and, basically hijacking someone’s creative energy. When my explanation of both documenting and interpreting my surroundings didn’t communicate the intended message. Explaining that my approach and goal while when shooting is to document the artists work respectfully. While also interpreting and conceptualizing in my own way. Why that might some like bull cookies to many. It’s how I do.
Influences and Origins
The other night, I came across a documentary about New York City photographer Ricky Powell (R.I.P.). Perhaps best known for his raw images of NYC personalities and the up and coming graffiti and hip hop scenes. Powell, was, amongst many artists whose art and images inspired me to pick up a camera and document the world around me. The documentary features many of the highs and lows while remaining focused and very interesting. Overall, it had me thinking about organizing, printing, and even attempting to display my work at a local gallery. With so many other, perhaps more important, tasks on my to do list. The reality that I don’t know anyone outside my immediate neighbors in the area. Chances are slim for any exhibitions. Still, I plan on consistently sharing my images on the internet and with anyone who’s willing. The image below was taken more than ten years ago when I lived and worked in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Just as we wear skincare to cover our blemishes and makeup to… wait, why do people wear makeup? We wear masks to hide our pain or secrets. Ultimately, we find a commonality in pain, suffering, joy, happiness and art. As divided as we may seem at times. Many of us, maybe even most, are connected on some level. During my recent travels along the east coast. I photographed many of the murals featuring the many faces and moods painted on the walls, parks, boardwalks and buildings. Each time, trying to understand the message/messages that artist was trying to convey. I’d love to read your thoughts.
It’s become quite evident that art is quite conducive to the mental health of others. Whether you’re creating art or witnessing it. The overall benefits are overwhelmingly positive. After stopping and taking in the creativity of Baltimore’a Graffiti Alley. I thanked my wife for always nourishing my soul by supporting and fueling my love of creativity.
Looking back, it all started as a young child and my Mom. She was a secretary at a rather large advertising company. Though she never made much money. She was always bringing home art and movie posters. Some of which I still have today. On the days I visited her at work. I’d find myself in the art room watching illustrators bring new characters and ideas to life.
I often look back at those times and my Mother’s influence as the gateway drug that inspired my long love affair with art, photography and the people who create it. Over the years, it’s help me process, heal and strive to create. Let art be your muse, the shoulder to lean on and that big blue pill that cures all.
After an already full day in Baltimore. We made a final stop at Graffiti Alley, which is located in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District directly behind the Motor House. It somehow reminded us of a miniature version of Long Island City, NY’s “Five Points.” (R.I.P.) Awash with colors and ripe with the smell of newly created art. We made sure to taking our time to soak it all in. As someone who grew up in graffiti culture and always admired what kind of messages would come from a can of Krylon. It energized me. Seeing that someone was using the name that I once tagged up with was just candles on my cake.
United By… (Fit of Anger)
When I think about my return to Jackson Heights after graduating from High School, I can’t help but recall how much the New York Hardcore scene became the center of my world. During my year and a half in Wayne, New Jersey, I produced a fanzine called “Boredom” It featured a lot of bad creative writing and a few music reviews. When I moved back to my old neighborhood and became more involved with music, I started a new fanzine called “Unite” Each issue would feature five interviews. One being a newly formed, yet up and coming band.
That first issue would include an interview with Fit of Anger. In the months leading up to the interview, I had gotten to know the group pretty well. During the time leading up to their first demo, we’d often meet up and hang out at a place called Monkey Hill Studios. In what was a relatively short time, I got to experience the band perform live while getting to know the singer Nick and the guitarist Chris (pictured here) pretty well. Fit of Anger would appear on the New Breed tape compilation and members, particularly Nick and Chris would go on to perform in as well as form other notable acts in the New York’s 90’s hardcore scene.
Don’t Leave Home without it.
Perhaps due to the wide array of lenses, the weight of my camera or the size of the bag I carry them around with. I have been getting into the habit of leaving it all at home. Leaving me dependent on my iPhone or jotting down the addresses in the hope that one day, I’ll make my triumphant return with my camera loaded, charged and ready to go. Did I fail to mention the look I get from my wife whenever she finds me packing up my gear when we’re preparing to go out? Or her “We’re just going out for breakfast. Why are you bringing your your camera?” The best answer to that question should always be the classic “It’s better to have it and not need it. Than to need it and not have it.” and to quote the great Forrest Gump. “That’s all I have to say about that.”
An Artful Footprint
With my wife feeling under the weather and my hopes to stay somewhat close to home this weekend. I cooked breakfast with what was left in the refrigerator and made sure she stay buried under the covers and slept late. And while we did get out on both days. We made it a point to stay somewhat local while running errands, and making stops for the important things like ice cream and coffee. Most importantly, or maybe most relative to this blog. I made sure to charge my new camera battery and bring my camera with me. The pictures posted here were taken at Judkins Park and in the alleyway adjacent to Blanchard St. between 2nd and 3rd avenue. As time passes, I’ve come to notice that the pictures I take serve as somewhat of a road map to where i’ve been, who I was with and even what I was feeling at the time. Kind of cool, no?
Maybe I Spoke too Soon
In my last post “Sometimes it’s better to go it alone.” Here. I mentioned going it alone when operating as a street photographer. While that thread may ring true in many cases. It can’t go without saying that she is both my greatest inspiration and a damn good lookout and second set of eyes. Often watching my back when I’m shooting in more risky areas. While also serving as a second set of eyes when it comes to security related entities.
Where as today was scheduled to be a very laid back day with a short trip to Ikea for an area rug. We spent much of our day exploring much of Newark, Elizabeth and Harrison. While not dangerous by any means. Select areas might have been a bit private and or restricted. So to my wife, a hearty thanks for being my lookout when it came to shooting and our late lunch in East Newark. I really enjoyed sharing a seat at the counter and getting to know some of the regulars.