Sunday, May 30, 2010

I got rich at Poverty Bay

Last weekend I Amtrakked to Tacoma to stay a few days with my friend and photog-buddy, John. We'd arranged to shoot a model and planned to take in Graham Nash's exhibit of his extensive collection of rock photographs at the Experience Music Project in Seattle. Needless to say, we had a great time, per always, and I tapped the richest photography vein I've had in years. Awesome fun.

I love Portland's Union Station. These two shots do not do it justice at all, and I'm planning to try to shoot it some evening when it's not crowded and I can take my time. Tacoma's Amtrak station is a cramped, soulless, afterthought of a building in a completely uninteresting part of town. The plantings around the parking lot are its most interesting feature. I got a great shot of a fly resting on an azalea (see Flickr slideshow at left).

But hanging at John's cottage on the bay at the edge of Des Moines, Washington was a perfect antidote for a month-long stress-fest covering two jobs at work (hiring a replacement for a coworker means I get to cram the extra tasks into my 40-hour week. It's a daily marathon and I get kinda tired... ). John collects antique toys and his beautiful home is a visual feast, inspiring and playful, casual and comfy .
This is the view from his front porch--the little sculpture is one of John's. Yes. He's multi-talented.

And here's what we did most of the time at the house: sit and watch the color of the sky and water change from the front window, listening to jazz. I got to slow w-a-a-a-a-y-y-y-y down.

Here's the other thing we did to amuse ourselves:

Saturday we shot a model, Katlyn, who was incredibly professional, lovely and bendy. John and I both did very good work and I'm really proud of the number of good shots I got. Often in the creative excitement and collaboration of a photo shoot, you can be positive you've gotten exactly what you wanted, but then afterward when reviewing the day's shots, you find that really it wasn't all that remarkable and end up with only a couple of images worth saving. Actually, that's what usually happens. Well, not this time. John and I both love to shoot figurative or nude images, so I can't show you much here of what we got, but here are a few I think might be safe enough for family viewing. I adored this girl and hope that we can work together again soon.

[I realize these are fairly pedestrian shots. Guess you'll have to trust me that the nudes are more artistic. Or check them out the next time you drop by my place. I'm kind of proud of being such an interesting grandma!]

The next day we drove up to Seattle early and walked around Pike Place Market, Post Alley and had a gorgeous breakfast at Maximillien's in the Market, before heading over to the EMP exhibit.

[Um, yeah. It's gum.]

This is at the entrance to Maximillien's. I'll spare you the usual food porn shot of my amazing breakfast. I had Oeuf Brouille de la Mer (Srsly. Lordy.) with cafe au lait. Actually I didn't take any pictures of the food. I was too busy doing other things with it.

EMP: Frank Gehry extravaganza.

Last shot. The EMP is covered in panels of reflective metal, tinted amazing colors. I'll be posting more shots from this trip to my Flickr pages and maybe to my Fotoblur account. And printing quite a few for the walls of my apartment!

Monday, May 17, 2010

on a lighter note

Photos from a baby shower this weekend. Guess what? It's a girl: Charley.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Andrew MacArthur, 1955-2010

What I wanted to say is that Andrew died. His suffering ended and now the poetry will change without him.

I have been reading about his illness and its impact on his friend, noko, in her online diary. Andrew cared for her, called her his best friend, appreciated her constant attention to his needs, her consistent accommodation to his requirements. Noko wrote of her experience of Andrew's illness, her suffering over his long exit, knowing it would be spring, and so it is, and now she is very alone with few friends and no children; so much of her life tied up with his.

Andrew didn't want to write about his illness, instead he focused entirely on his poetry and email correspondence with a suddenly ardent old flame, trusting noko to get the narrative right. And over the months of reading her online diary I've come to feel a kinship with her for loving someone so complicated; her years of devotion, her romantic love unrequited, but always valued and trusted by Andrew anyway. And I can relate. Finding myself identifying with her grief, I can't help anticipating inevitable losses of my own, a memento mori in kind.

When I started reading poems in Portland's open mic scene, Andrew was an encouraging presence who was steadfast in his generosity to less experienced poets. Though he largely quit attending the open mics a few years ago, he continued to write, of course, and maintained connections and friendships with several others who were still active in the scene.

I've looked through my endless files of photos of Portland poets and haven't come on a single shot of Andrew. I have portrait after portrait of poets whose tenure on the scene was so brief that I can barely recall their names, but not a single photo of the tall, soft-spoken gentleman in dark colors, smoking in the back.