Road Trip

1961 – 2623 Pollard Street, NW, Lawton Oklahoma

I’ve been thinking for a long time about taking a road trip. I’d like to visit the 18 houses my family lived in up until I left for college at the age of 18. My mom left behind a list of addresses and my idea involves renting or buying a camper van and driving from house to house in the order in which we occupied them. The trip would start in Fairbanks, Alaska and terminate in Orlando, Florida. I would visit Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington State and most of the states along the eastern seaboard. I would photograph each house and journal the memories each place might evoke.

There are some problems with the plan. Several of the houses are on Army posts. I no longer have access to these installations. Also, I might have to crisscross the country several times if I want to do this in chronological order. Maybe that’s not so important. Do I include the ski house in Vermont where we spent 9 winters, regardless of where we were stationed? And, finally, would anybody else have even the slightest interest in my obsession?

This story was passed along by a friend through facebook. I’m inspired by Jon Rafman and his wanderings among unknown and obscure locations throughout the globe via google earth. It had occurred to me that this might be a place to start my project, and now I wonder if I have to leave home at all to satisfy this exploratory calling.

What do you think?


A few days ago I saw the Stieglitz, Steichen and Strand show at the Met. Some of the prints were completely unexpected, though I have lived with the memory of the images they represent and the monographs in which they were published for years. The 3 Steichen prints of the Flatiron building in Manhattan are exquisite, and so painterly that one could experience the direct lineage from the Impressionists, Degas in particular, to the early masters of photography. That these three giants established photography as an accepted artistic medium becomes clear when the prints are viewed on the museum wall from a comfortable focal point.

My photograph, above, is an homage to Steichen

Steichen did stand out as the creative star among this trio, however. Viewing the photographs of Stieglitz and reading the accompanying bios, I did come away with a diminished impression of him as an artist. It seems that Stieglitz photographed what was easy: his wife, the view from his back door. In fact, his obsession with O’Keefe was mildly discomforting. The images were less about creating art, more about holding on to the body of his retreating lover. It was stated somewhere in the galleries that Stieglitz became disinterested in photography after several years, and this is not surprising.

The Strand galleries were the weakest, not for their content, but for the ragged curatorship. Jumping from a paucity of street photographs to a wall of photographs from Mexico with very little to hold them together, this part of the exhibit seemed rushed, almost an afterthought after the depth and breadth of the first two artists.

I do recommend this show to anyone interested in the history of photography, these individual artists, or in beautiful imagery. Much of the work was stunning and held up after nearly 100 years of modern photography.

snow Day

I was walking around campus taking pictures on Friday – a snow day – when I happened upon this immature bald eagle sitting at the top of this enormous tree covered in fresh-fallen snow. I walked closer and closer, expecting the raptor to fly off when it became aware of my presence, but it didn’t. The eagle sat at the top of the tree calling mournfully in that high-pitched screech that seems so at odds with the majesty of these birds. It looked cold. After twenty minutes I walked on, ready to head indoors for some hot tea.

I can’t get enough of this story

Vivian‘s first solo show opens tonight in Chicago. I wish I could go. I actually could go if I really wanted to: hop a plane at the Westchester airport and meet my sister at her place in Printer’s Row and head to the Cutural Center (a beautiful venue, by the way). It’s a snow day, so I wouldn’t miss work. Hmmm. Well, the show is up until April so I will make a point of seeing it.

My sister made a really interesting point about Vivian’s work. She said,

“It seems fitting that she was unknown, this completely original, astounding talent, hidden among all the ordinary people she photographed, whose own astonishing uniqueness she saw and showed in her photographs.”

Sharing a Story

This poignant video tells the story of a secret life and a secret passion. Vivian Maiers photographs are captivating and as powerful as those of the great masters. Each of her images is a beautifully framed little window into her world. Vivian had an exquisite response to light and the nuance of the street in the 1950s and 60s.

That she shot in Chicago is a refreshing departure from her New York brethren.

Each of these photographs says, “look, look at that”. and it’s hard to tear away from them.

Thanks to Karen Varbalow for showing Vivian’s work on her facebook page.