Sunday, July 31, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Imagine think about a morning swim in Lake Michigan but with over cast skys threatening to burst open any moment you hesitate. You decide to put your bathing suit on and bike to the lake, checking out the swimming conditions, unsure about making the commitment. It starts to drizzle, oh so lightly. You park your bike, glance at the smooth surface and ask a fellow sitting on the bench how the water was...he said "fabulous." That clinches it.

I swim for some time, in and out of raindrops, enjoying seeing them pinging the smooth surface of the water, wishing I had my camera with me. I then see several feathers floating on the silky surface of the water, again wishing I had my camera.

So that is it....the feather floating so gracefully on the blue grey waters.

The mood? not unlike Harry Callahan's photograph of Eleanor in Lake Michigan.

©Harry Callahan

One more thought that keeps resurfacing that I wanted to share...

Diana Nyad at age 61 will be swimming from Cuba to Florida. Her personal challenge is stunning. The NYT ran an article about her midlife challenge a few weeks ago HERE. 60 hours of non stop swimming covering 103 miles!

Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pier 24 in San Francisco

Another highlight I had while in San Francisco was visiting Pier 24. It was highly recommended by Emily, who had spent some time working there last year. The space is owned by collector Andy Pilara and located at the foot of Bay Bridge. I had no idea what it was about, I only knew that one had to do a lot of advance planning as admission is free but limited to 20 people every 2 hours with appointments made a full month in advance. Talk about anticipation!

July 21

The goal of the space is "to provide an environment to experience and quietly contemplate photography." Mission accomplished. Descriptives from my experience there include...elegant, quiet, somber, contemplative, expansive, reflective and introspective.

Stepping into the gallery, I walked up to a huge photograph. I was caught off guard because there were NO identifying labels on the wall , neither the title or the author of the work. I found myself perplexed and confused, trying to identify, label or add any context to the work. This shifted into feeling slightly panicked. I went to the front desk to find out about the piece and was politely given a brochure with identifying information. It was created by Richard Misrach and titled 2.21.00; 4:38pm 2000 (from the series, Richard Misrach:Golden Gate).

However, I then quickly abandoned the brochure and settled into JUST LOOKING. I felt an incredible freedom to JUST BE with the work. I found myself engaged with the work in a new, fresh way.

The experience has led me to reconsider the use of text with my work.

The exhibiton, titled HERE, was really strong. It will be up until December 16th and I highly recommend it. It is about the San Francisco Bay area and features many heavy weight photographers. I especially enjoyed the pairing of Eadweard Maybridge and Mark Kletts panoramas, John Chiara's camera obscura images, and the works of Todd Hido,Larry Sultan, Jim Goldberg, and Henry Wessel.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Morning Gift

July 25

I am just starting to feel grounded again, after much traveling. I have much to assimilate and sort thru. I am happy today is Monday and just returned from my morning walk. Today I decided to take my iphone with me on the walk...just in case I couldn't resist taking a photograph. What was supposed to be a fast clipped walk became more of a stroll with lots of imaging making. I just couldn't resist.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


I just love marigolds...and I am not alone. In Mexico they are the primary flower in their Day of the Dead celebrations and in India they are often used for sacred rituals in their temples and along their rivers.

July 23

Today 64 marigold plants were lovingly placed in compost rich garden beds in anticipation of a Day of the Dead Salon and fund raiser we are hosting for Ragdale, one of my very favorite places that supports artists in their creative endeavors.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Not in Kansas Anymore

...that was my reaction the minute I stepped onto the Google campus in Mountain View, California. Never been anywhere like it. It was a revelation. My first association was to a preschool Montessori classroom where there are highly engaging and appealing play stations with the sole purpose of fostering innovation and creativity.

July 19

After the 1 hour ride from San Francisco, I needed to use the restroom. The first surprise was the heated toilet seat (not that they really need them given we were in a temperate climate zone). Then there was a panel on the wall of the toilet stall that I had only heard of from someone traveling in Japan...the rest is self explanatory.

On the stall wall was a flyer announcing the Employee of the Month. The chosen employee had organized a program to aid the tsunami victims of Japan. One of the many things Google encourages and promotes is an openness to innovative, socially conscious programs.

I was unable to take any photographs once I was inside the building. In fact, I had to sign an agreement of non disclosure before I entered the building as they are very protective of what they do. However, I can share with you that I had the most amazing, gourmet meal. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided with the job, as are workout rooms, yoga classes and bowling alleys. Need a hair cut? laundry or ironing? oil change? No problem. One can take care of all the daily necessities on campus. There are even sleeping pods available for the weary.

While driving back to San Francisco I started reflecting on how the Google executives have created a work environment in which the creative juices can flow...the everyday mundane needs are taken care of, allowing for total focus and commitment to innovation. The food served was not only nourishing but made with the utmost love and care. It was evident they invest in their employees, unlike anything I have ever seen. I was reminded a bit of what it was like to attend the Ragdale artist residency in which you are supported in such a manner that allows you to focus solely on the creative process.

For a "work" place, it was truly revolutionary and brilliant.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

New Eyes

It feels like I have been traveling the speed of light during the past 2 weeks. Lots to process. I received some recommendations on what art shows not to miss in San Francisco from Elizabeth Corden of the Corden Potts Gallery . I had the pleasure of seeing a wonderful exhibit The Steins Collect at SFMOMA. Gertrude Stein and her 2 brothers, Leo and Michael, were among the first to recognize the talents of avant-garde painters like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. The stunning collection from the Steins' holdings included dozens of works by Matisse, Picasso, Paul Cézanne, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. It was breathtaking.

I then headed over to 826 Valencia to visit author Dave Eggers's (my hero) pirate supply store where I purchased new eyes. I giggled as I slipped the eyes into the Frida Kahlo bird box that contained the wedding cookies I consumed at the coffee shop at SFMOMA, a perfect container for my new eyes!

July 18

Friday, July 15, 2011

PDN Opening

July 14
Photo District News Curators Choice opening. It was quite a scene. Wonderful to see friends from so many different parts of my life. A big thank you for your support...and to PDN and curators for pulling it all together. A truly memorable evening.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Last night I went to a meeting where I heard about renovations on a turn of the century house. During the presentation by the architects I heard the term "sistering." which refers to reinforcement (used for joists).

July 13 ~ Milagros in my Sister's House

I am at my sisters home now and she just received the 4th delivery of nourishing food from a pilot program called Pathways Cooks. It is a program that provides nutrient-rich, whole foods, organic meals to women undergoing chemotherapy and their families in Union, Essex and Morris counties in New Jersey.

This was the brainchild of Karen Feldman who attended a workshop given in California by the Ceres Community Project which states on their website...

"We are in the midst of one of the most profound transformations in human history. Amidst global economic crisis, rising violence among nations, and a deepening awareness of the breakdown of the planet’s ecosystems, a tidal wave of change is sweeping through communities everywhere.

The change is coming not from governments or political leaders, not from the United Nations, World Bank or International Monetary Fund. It’s coming from people like you and me who are looking around our towns, neighborhoods and villages and seeing not just problems but opportunities. Often there is nothing more than the spark of an idea and the willingness of one or two or ten people to dive in and begin."

"At the time, I was dividing my time between two of my passions – working part-time as a chef at a retreat center in the western hills of Sonoma County and teaching horseback riding and training dressage horses at a farm in Santa Rosa. After spending ten years running a home-delivered meal service, I was enjoying the simplicity of getting paid for my work and not having to take it home with me.

On a lovely June day in 2006, I was driving to the barn when my cell phone rang. Sue Curry, my riding instructor, wondered if I could give her daughter a job over the summer and perhaps teach her to cook at the same time. There was no easy solution. I wasn’t in a position to hire anyone – and who takes someone who can’t cook on a catering job? But Sue was persistent and I have always been more inclined to say yes than no when the universe comes calling.

One conversation led to another and a couple weeks later I suddenly thought about a friend whom I knew was involved in the local cancer support community. One call confirmed that, yes, there were definitely families who could use help with meals. Sue offered to pay for the food, I donated my time, and Megan and I began meeting one afternoon a week to prepare meals for two single people and a family of four – all of them dealing with cancer or other serious health issues.

As Megan and I cooked together, I talked about my love of working with food. She gained confidence chopping and dicing and moved on to blanching and sautéing. Every afternoon, we packaged the food we’d made, creating grocery bags of meals for our three families. One of the first times that we cooked, the husband of a woman with breast cancer stopped to pick up their food on his way home from work. I had never met him before and introduced myself and Megan. We told him about the food we had prepared. I witnessed Megan’s pride in the contribution she was making in their life and his deep gratitude for the simple gift of the meals. Something about that moment took hold in me.

Several weeks later, I woke early in the morning with a vision of a non-profit that would bring young people into the kitchen to learn to cook and eat healthy foods and then provide meals to individuals and families who were touched by serious illness. I wanted more people to benefit from what Megan and our three families were experiencing.

What prompted Sue to call me that day? When the idea entered my mind to call the friend who was involved in the cancer support community – where did that come from? And the vision of this as a non-profit, whose idea was that?

The Ceres Community Project’s story is filled with seemingly inexplicable moments, connections, ideas and conversations. An expert in Quickbooks shows up to volunteer just as we’ve filed our incorporation papers and need to create our own accounting system. Someone passes a brochure to a local reporter in a moment when we are expanding. She writes a full-page story and we benefit from a needed influx of volunteers. A professional chef just happens to wander into an event we are catering as a fundraiser, picks up our brochure and calls me – a month before we are adding our second cooking day and I’m scrambling for help.

Over the past three years I’ve deepened my understanding of the energy or spirit at work in the universe. When we are able to open ourselves to its magic, when we learn to be attentive to where it is leading us – not just to our own plans and ideas – amazing things can happen. Today, The Ceres Community Project is truly the co-creation of hundreds of people, each of whom said “yes” in a moment of awareness that they had something to contribute, that there was a role to play in something larger. That first morning when I “saw” what would become The Ceres Community Project, I remember being filled with excitement. The vision was very clear and I sensed an elegance to it – the way that it addressed so many needs in the community and so many things that I cared deeply about. Young people would learn to cook. People who needed healing food would have it. We would help teach people about the link between what we eat and our health. And we’d help to restore the idea of caring for our neighbors, something that had been lost between my parents’ generation and my own.

Despite what I thought I understood, I can look back now and tell you that I barely had a clue about what the universe had in mind when it planted the idea for Ceres. Today, the project continues to unfold in ways that surprise me – and I imagine that a year or two from now, we will still be discovering more about how the heart of The Ceres Community Project wants to express itself."

from New Moon magazine...

"After a few hours of intense work, when my eyes are watery from chopping onions, my hands are cold from washing greens, and my apron is stained with food, I can leave the kitchen knowing that I made a difference in someone’s life—someone I will almost certainly never meet" writes Teen Chef Rita O-Young.

From my sister to the women who have prepared her weekly dinners...

"...Dinner felt like a little miracle tonight. A complete meal, so healthy, unbelievably delicious, and in our own home. Thank you from the bottoms of our hearts. My husband was moved to tears when Michele arrived with the bag of wonders. I think for a moment he felt he was being taken care of, rather than doing the care taking. Your gifts are touching people well beyond patients. My stomach is full, but most of all, my heart is full. What more is there?"

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

PDN Curator's Choice Exhibit at Milk Gallery, NYC

If you haven't seen this months' Photo District News Magazine, it is devoted to Fine Art Photography. My Burn Portfolio is happily included in The Curator section. Brian Paul Clam, Cravelle Pierre, Julie Grahame, Ariel Shanberg , Jeff Dunas and Michael Zide were this years judges. My work was selected for the Nature/Street Photography category.

The work will be exhibited at Milk Gallery ( 450 West 15th Street) in New York City with an opening reception on Thursday, July 14th from 7-11pm. They are expecting 500- 800 guests and should be a blast.

I will be there and would love to see you there too!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Oaxacan Farewell

July 10
Paula and Rufina bidding us farewell as we depart for the airport.

July 11
Just as I am going out to water my garden, an incredibly violent storm rages through. I am grateful to be inside as I see branches snap from trees.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

On Creativity

This was the very first trip (out of the past 15) to Mexico that I decided I wanted to work with a model. I wasn't sure how it would happen but looking back I marvel on how it all came about.
It may be several months before I can assimilate it all but for me, this trip was all about ALCHEMY.

July 9

Friday, July 08, 2011

The Art of Green

This exhibition will featureChicago-area artists and designers who are creating works in a sustainable way and/or raising awareness of environmental issues through their work. I will have 6 images from my Burn portfolio in this exhibition. The exhibition is part of the Green Design series of public programs at Ryerson Woods (located in Deerfield, Illinois).

Circle of Light

July 8
I took this photo yesterday but loved it so much that I just had to share it. Oaxaca is truly a magical place. I am blogging on an iPhone so it feels both freeing and restricting. Will share more as time permits. Meeting with Zapotec healer today whose ancestor was a form changer and moved freely between the animal and human worlds.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

July 6

July 6
Danzon dancing in the zocolo of Oaxaca.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Speed of Lightening

Whirlwind is the best description for the past few days on the Frontera Grill Staff trip. It has been amazing. Lots of pix.

July 3 at Azul Condesa for a most fabulous traditional Mexican dining experience.

July 4 ~ 2am arrival into the city of Oaxaca.

July 5
Just back from Susana Trilling's cooking school where incredible alchemy took place. 5 moles were created in 2 hours by the incredibly talented Frontera staff.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

July 4th Chair Phenomena

July 2

Every July 4th there is a phenomena that occurs in Evanston as the residents approach their beloved 4th of July parade. EVERYONE wants front row seats. The chairs start lining up days in advance.

And for the past 14 years of the July 4th holidays, I have been in Mexico (or on route) with Chicago's Premier Chef, Rick Bayless, and his staff. This year is no exception. Three regional cuisines in 4 days; Mexico City, Puebla and Oaxaca! I hope to be posting from south of the border with my trusty iphone.

Friday, July 01, 2011

The Mongoose

July 1

The Mongoose (pl. mongooses) is any member of a family (Herpestidae) of 33[2] species of small carnivorans from southern Eurasia and mainland Africa. Four additional species from Madagascar in the subfamily Galidiinae, which were previously classified in this family, are also referred to as "mongooses" or "mongoose-like". Genetic evidence indicates that the Galidiinae are more closely related to other Madagascar carnivorans in the family Eupleridae, which is the closest living group to the Herpestidae family of mongoose species.