In Training

I started to notice murals on my first major trip south – they’ve been a big part of the political and artistic landscape in Latin America for centuries, from the earliest civilizations we know of right up to now.

(Simon Bolivar, somewhere in a park…)

(The Hermit, Key IX of the Rider-Waite Tarot, beside the door of the Hard Rock Cafe’ in Cuenca.)

The last time I was in Ecuador I saw more straight-out graffiti than actual murals, which was disappointing, but they’re still to be found, everything from public art to portraits of political figures to advertising to political commentary for those who don’t own the newspapers….

Anyway, last Thursday afternoon I managed to beat the traffic down to Rosenberg for a Chronicle gig, so I spent some time roaming around and spotted this train-in-progress blowing through a side wall on 3d street. As you can see, it’s not small.

But, at the time, there was no one around, so I kept on wandering. I haven’t done enough small-town walkabout lately, so it was pleasant to get back to it. Checked out several antique shops and a couple of street scenes….

And about an hour or so later, I came back up the street, and met the muralist, Paul Sanchez. Nice guy, Paul. Puts up with all sorts of strange characters who come up and ask questions and stick cameras in his face and whatnot.

He says he’s done the entire mural with those little tiny airbrushes with the half-ounce paint cup, which I notice he has to refill about every ten seconds. He says he’ll be finished here in three or four days.

I’m going to have to go back next week and get the whole thing minus the scaffolding. It’s going to be grand.

(Mr. Sanchez has a website over HERE with some nice galleries, too. Take a look…)

Update, apology, and KITTEN!

Discovered about midnight last night that for some reason the blog wasn’t coming up. I’d been backing up the archives a couple of days ago so I know it wasn’t down long, but nonetheless it WAS down. I don’t know what happened or why, but when I contacted the tech support guys I heard bullwhips and vacuum cleaners in the background and a couple of fading screams that sounded like dustbunnies dying horribly, and the blog came back up again. So here we are.

I got nothing.

But, by way of apology, one of my neighbors has a kitten.

His name is Francisco and he’s very very cute.

Enjoy.

I must get back to copying the archives. Only about three more years to go.

29.71529 N, 95.47829 W — Burnett-Bayland Park

GULFTON — There are days when making a living as a photojournalist doesn’t seem like the best idea I ever had.

Last Saturday wasn’t one of them.

Newspaper work , at its best, can be interesting and far from routine. But, as a guy I was working with on a story once commented, “You don’t work for a newspaper. You’re with the Comical.”

True enough – but that “with” is the difference. I’m not staff, so when there’s nothing coming in (which is the usual case these day, for most newspaper freelances) I get to go walkabout.

And I found a bunch of other people going walkabout, too….

Or rideabout as the case may be…

As well as a couple of politicos, basically waving the flag – they’re already well known in the area.

Houston City Council District J representative Mike Laster (center) with staff….

Sylvester Turner, a local with a long resume in city and state government, now running for mayor.

and an assortment of dancers, martial artists, skateboarders, teachers and students from Baker-Ripley Neighborhood Center just up the road.

29.697 N, 95.529 W

One of the most interesting things about Houston is the huge variety of cultures and peoples who’ve come together to create this melange we have…

When I go collect my daily bread, every few days, I walk past the True Buddha Temple in Sharpstown, for no good reason except that it’s between Base Camp and one of my favorite panaderias, the Arandas over on Beechnut. Usually it’s a morning walk for me, and the gates are always locked. Yesterday, I got a late start and they weren’t, and the light inside was quirky but workable. (Late in the evening it’s almost totally backlit, since the front of the Temple and the statues face due east…)


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I actually shot the dedication ceremony when the Temple opened (it’s a converted church, I forget which denomination) and found the people there to be very nice and quite helpful. Unfortunately this was back in the film days and the slides, somewhere between then and now, have gone awry.

Somewhere about four years ago I grabbed the slightly wider view, en route from A to B..

Someday I’ll have to go back and talk with these folks… I’m idly curious which flavor of Buddhism is practiced here.

Cooling my heels… and other body parts, too….

Been camped in Mom’s back room for a few days doing the stuff you do when your elders get elderlier, and woke up this morning to find Fort Worth gone all winter wonderland and whatnot….

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That’s not actually snow, it’s ice – we had a sleet storm come in about weird o’clock. Something over a hundred crashes this morning around the area, and my truck has neither studs nor chains. Looks like I’m here for a while.

I have food, coffee, running water, and crossword puzzles to work with Mom (one of our long-term hobbies). And intermittent Net access. All life is suffering.

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Well, except when it’s not.

Forward into the past…

When I first got serious about black and white photography I spent days wandering the Arboretum in Memorial Park and some of the back trails at Brazos Bend. (This was a while back, long before there WERE digital cameras.) It was a lot of fun and I actually got reasonably good at it. And then came the newspaper work, and eventually came the digicams, and I largely quit the field. It was a lot of time, and effort, and nobody but nobody was interested in buying B&W, or even talking about it. I still have my darkroom but I haven’t actually done anything more than stroll in and dust in several years.

But this afternoon I went walkabout at a section of Terry Hershey Park I haven’t visited for a while, and when I got home and started really LOOKING at the photos I brought back I realized – I’m still seeing it.

I don’t like the results of the conversion quite as much as I do the results I get from film, but that’s probably due to not having practiced as much as I should.

But… it’s time to get the old cameras out again. There are still things they can teach me, and well, I think I’m ready to go back to school.

Onward, into the fog….

Last week I was wandering around at Bastrop, looking at fire damage and getting depressed. Then I found these guys, and they reminded me that there’s nothing to be sad about. It’s just the Wheel turning.

Sometimes you’re on top of the world, and sometimes things just run right over you…. but the Wheel keeps turning, either way.

Let’s hope 2015 has more up than down.

So the batteries are charging and we’ve got a bunch of blank cards; it’s a new year and time to hit the road.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

And so I found out, courtesy of several people’s careless FuBar posts, that a kind of shirttail relative (my sister’s daughter’s significant other, which makes him I don’t know what to me but he’s reasonably cool so I don’t worry about it…) landed a solid role in the Sam Bass Community Theatre’s Christmas show, over in Round Rock. This left me with no options but to grab the little Panasonic and gas up the truck.

It was a very fine show… The adults were believable and the kids were a riot. Almost literally.

As Usual… pix behind pic. Click Pic.

Get Lost!!! (N29.76223, W95.56478)

Found myself wrestling with a bad case of cabin fever yesterday afternoon. Lots to do, as always, but the only thing I really felt like doing was throwing on a pack, grabbing a camera bag and my staff, and hitting the trail.

So I did. (It’s pretty hard to get lost here in the Big City with major streets everywhere, but you can lose the sightlines in the park and it FEELS much more “out there” than it actually is.)

It was a very grey day, which kind of limited the possibilities, but I found a few others…

They’re over HERE. Go look. If you’ve got money burning a hole, you can even acquire copies of your very own, suitable for hanging over the sofa, or the desk, or… (And if you don’t have money, or have better things to spend it on (food, housing, whatever) you can still look. Looking remains free.)

Steampunk

I keep an eye on the doings over at the East End Studio Gallery, because it’s run by some of Houston’s more talented East End Artists, and although I don’t make it over there as often as I ought to (I keep forgetting to put them on the calendar…), once in a while the stars align and I get to sneak over there and be sociable. Or sociable-ISH, anyways. Well, tonight was the second and last night of their Friday Night Steampunk Group Show. Tell the truth, Steampunk grabbed me when it first came up, back when it was more of an engineering motif than an artists’ aesthetic. I’m not particularly enthused any longer, but some of the artists who show at EESG are talented as all get out, so I went on over.

As usual, a mixed bag. Couple of pieces I very much liked, several I thought were okay, most in the middle, and a few that were beyond bizarre. There was a pencil drawing of a Steampunk Penguin going to war that was worth several looks and a couple of good laughs; Julie Zarate showed a painting of a beautiful woman with a clockwork heart and somehow got the skintone to work out so that she looked very believable as an artificial person. There were some other renderings of steampunk-ish women which were attractive work but just didn’t grab me. Pretty much all of the 3d stuff fell into the “I appreciate the amount of work that went into this but it’s just not to my taste” category.

But the pictures were fun.

Quantum Mechanic (flyers) by Deborah Hill.

Steampunk Owls (Mach I-VI) by David Anderson.

Heart Art Project by Francisco Garabito.

Quantum Mechanics (from a series) by Deborah Hill.

Hmmm…

I found the audience more interesting and attractive than the artwork, frankly.

Uh oh… I’ve been caught…

The Selfie craze is getting a wee bit out of hand…