“Barber Chair, Eastern State Penitentiary” One of my favorite places to explore is Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, PA. It was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. I can get lost for hours photographing the prison, as there is always something new to be found as I walk the halls, cell blocks & grounds. Although the vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America’s most notorious criminals, including bank robber “Slick Willie” Sutton and Al Capone, I find places off the tour path the most fascinating. Away from the crowds, just me, my camera & tripod. Although signing liability waivers upon entry is no longer required, you must still explore with caution and stay with in the “open” sections. Among the rot & ruin you can feel the spirits of those that once roamed here, it always feels like someone or something is watching you. That heightened sense is wonderful to my creative mind, as I am more attuned with my surroundings. I never tire of this place or the feeling it gives me.
“Barber Chair, Eastern State Penitentiary”
One of my favorite places to explore is Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, PA. It was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. I can get lost for hours photographing the prison, as there is always something new to be found as I walk the halls, cell blocks & grounds.
Although the vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America’s most notorious criminals, including bank robber “Slick Willie” Sutton and Al Capone, I find places off the tour path the most fascinating. Away from the crowds, just me, my camera & tripod.
Although signing liability waivers upon entry is no longer required, you must still explore with caution and stay with in the “open” sections.
Among the rot & ruin you can feel the spirits of those that once roamed here, it always feels like someone or something is watching you. That heightened sense is wonderful to my creative mind, as I am more attuned with my surroundings.
I never tire of this place or the feeling it gives me.
Sometimes waiting will get you the perfect addition to your photograph. I was in West Hollywood taking photos outside of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Out of the corner of my eye I could see a woman in red heels looking over all the names. I knew I wanted to include the heels in my photo, so I set up the shot & waited, it didn’t take long until she walked into the frame just where I wanted her.. CLICK.. got it.
"Bugged Eyed & Screaming"
I love when I find human elements in inanimate objects & it always takes me by surprise. I am pulled to the subject & must record it, taking my time as though it were a real person to bring out the personality that I see.
Street Performer: Hollywood & Vine
Street photography is not always about snap & run tactics. On a recent trip to West Hollywood I came across a man playing drums on the corner of Hollywood & Vine. I could have just snapped his photo & went on my way, but he was amazing & I stopped to listen. He was a character, not only playing drums but interacting with the people around him. I found out he was homeless, a vet and many more details of his life. He found out I was from NJ & had a few jokes about that LOL. So happy I took the time to stop & met this wonderful man.
Inspiration comes when you least expect it & from places you would not think.
I have always struggled with church. It started back when I was a kid. I was raised Catholic, attending mass & CCD and grew up thinking I was the devil’s spawn & that God did not love me. Why? Because the priest at that church ingrained that in my brain. I will not go into details here, as I have yet to fully understand his actions. I would later, in my adult life, come to realize that he was the abusive one & that no child should have to endure what he inflicted upon me. So if the priest was the evil one, maybe God really did love me.
I did marry in a church… had my children baptized in a church (different religions). All the while searching for the right fit, one where I felt comfortable. Some had priests that reminded me too much of the one that abused me. Others were full of bigotry & hatred. I was looking for a loving God that would accept me for who I was. I did find Good Shepherd in North Jersey where I felt welcome & joined a few of the ministries. We attend for a few years before we moved to South Jersey.
My quest began again. I think I have been to churches of almost every christian religion and yet I only find exclusion, bigotry & hatred preached in the name of God. Or priests that remind me too much of my childhood terrors. One church did welcome me, but I never sat to hear a sermon. They delegated me to nursery duty every week, as I had 3 small children. The one time I did try to attend service I only received dirty looks & rudeness from the parents who had to take their own kids into church as no one was minding the nursery. My quest continued.
Years later, while helping my daughter with a school project on equal rights, I came across an online article titled “Is NCIS’s Pauley Perrette the coolest straight person ever?” ( http://www.afterelton.com/people/2009/8/pauleyperrette?page=0%2C0 ) At the time I had no idea who Pauley Perrette was & had never watched the show “NCIS”. Reading the article I was struck by how much she loved her church and thought to myself, “is there really such a place out there?”
So I found the church website ( http://www.hollywoodumc.org ) and started my research. I listened to the sermons. I liked what I read & heard. I listened every week as the new sermons were posted & became addicted to this church. That was fall 2009 and I am still loving this church. Not only are the sermons filled with the love of God, but with love toward each other, of acceptance no matter what. The outreach & community service are vast. This is a church where I could feel at home. Downside is they are on the other side of the country, a long commute to attend personally. Recently the church expanded to twitter & facebook, places where I can communicate with the church & its members. One of the merits of social media.
It was here, in the twitter universe, where inspiration for creating glass mosaics was born.
One of the pieces was inspired by @HollywoodUMC & @revkathycl . So I went to work on this piece, incorporating the church tower with its bright red aids ribbon, hands in service outstretched to god & the rainbow symbolizing acceptance for all people regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, occupation, or station in life, radiating outward, welcoming all. Pouring everything I felt about this church & its people into my art, I worked on this for weeks… driven to finish my vision.
I am honoured to be able to gift this glass mosaic to Hollywood UMC, to be able to give back to a place that has unknowingly given me so much. I feel blessed to be able to attend service in person Sept 4 (a small detour on my way to PhotoshopWorld Vegas). I have already been in contact with the pastors & church members reaching out to welcome me, making me feel like I am truly a member & loved.
I am honoured, humbled & blessed… and totally excited to be able to make this pilgrimage.
Got a call from a friend wanting to know if I would go on an adventure with her. Since I am always up for adventures… the answer was YES!! We ended up at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton NJ. We spent the day roaming trails on the extensive grounds, a visual treat for the eyes & a relaxing experience for the soul. The trails are arranged in such a way that even a directionally challenged person like me can not get lost.
More photos from the day can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/3ulzagb
“Grounds For Sculpture is a 35-acre public sculpture park located in Hamilton, NJ. It was founded in 1992 on the site of the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds by J. Seward Johnson to promote an understanding of and appreciation for contemporary sculpture for all people.” http://www.groundsforsculpture.org
I trip into NYC is not complete without stopping at the awesome “Donna Bell’s Bake Shop” in the Theater District/Hell’s Kitchen (301 West 49th Street). All the baked goods & sandwiches are handmade & totally delicious. The lemonade & ice tea are the best around!! And owners Darren & Matt greet you with warm smiles and great conversation. I’m totally in love with this place!!
For more info on Donna Bell’s visit their website http://donnabellsbakeshop.com
"Moon Over Philadelphia"
While at the Philadelphia Zoo I had a chance to go up in the zoo balloon. The observation section is surrounded by netting, to keep people/objects from falling out, with just barely large enough openings to shoot thru. With several signs warning to keep hands/objects inside I knew I would only have one chance to get the shot I wanted. I worked my way around to the opposite side of the balloon, metered, then quickly framed my shot angling the lens just a bit thru the netting. I got off one shot before I was told to pull my lens back in, but I knew I had gotten the shot. I walked over to the attendant & showed her the image. She must have been impressed because she asked if I could send her a copy. I said yeah, but can I take a few more just to make sure I got a good clear image… permission granted for a few more shots.. SWEET!! The first one was the keeper.
On twitter @PauleyP started a hashtag #ILoveYouSign along with a photo of her hand making the ASL sign. I thought it would make a great “Warhol style” mosaic. I already had the perfect window sitting in my garage. A friend had rescued it from a horse stable & gave it to me months before. The idea & the window were a perfect match!
Size: 34.5” x 29”
UPDATE: PauleyP loved this piece so much, she purchased it. It now resides with her in West Hollywood… YAY!!
I was photographing a group of young girls. I had made fairy costumes for each of them: tulle skirts, flower crowns & magic wands. We were having a great time playing & shooting. The youngest, 4 year old Abbey, caught her reflection in my lens & was fascinated. As she came closer & closer I kept shooting… until she bumped into me & we both toppled over. After much giggling & checking to see that she was OK… I looked to see that I had the shot of the day!
Portrait of a man I trust & respect. Hoping that he will get us back on track.
Pencil on stonehenge paper
Harry Kalas was the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies for many years. It was a sad day when he passed and I was moved to do a portrait of the Philly legend.
Pencil on Stonehenge paper
The long hot days of summer… sun, sand, surf & the boardwalk. As the sun sets the rides are set aglow & glisten with golden light
Sometime a heart breaking event is what triggers the creative muse. My friend Casey got news that his beloved cat, Henry, was very ill. So many people rallied around Casey, some he only knew online, that I was moved to create “Brought Together”. I gifted the mosaic to Casey, as a tribute to all those who came together to help in his time of need.
Recycled Glass Mosaic Inspired by all the folks on #TeamHenry
Dedicated to Henry William Stratton
May 1995 - July 13, 2011
Beloved cat & right hand man to Casey Stratton
Size: 27.75” x 25”
You can read more about Henry here: http://www.caseystratton.com/blog/2011/07/letter-to-henry/
There are so many good people in the world doing great things to help others. Many don’t wait to be asked, they just raise their hand & say “I’ll do it”. This was the inspiration behind this piece.
Glass mosaic inspired by: @revkathycl @HollywoodUMC @PauleyP @ChadDarnell @caseystratton @CAMPAIGNFORCARE @comfortscarves @URM @KnitsforNeeds @Habitat_org & other volunteer friends.
Size: 27.75” x 25.75”