I’d studied Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d'Avignon in art history class and I secretly began to wonder if I wasn’t being forced, metaphorically, to appreciate the emperor’s new clothes (surely Picasso was naked).
Lately, I’ve fallen into the routine of taking hikes and shooting pictures of a mountain landscape or two and maybe a close-up of a flower. I think I’ve kind of adopted the conceit that I’m some kind of photo journalist or something. I want my pictures to convey a sense of the amazement or wonder I experience when I take them, and maybe also to reveal or instruct, but I’m not sure if any of it is very creative.
This Saturday, I forced myself to look for possible photos in the ordinary surroundings of my neighborhood.
This isn’t exactly a beautiful mountain wildflower. But maybe it is somebody’s personal vision brought to life and blooming in the real world. My favorite part is the green painted concrete. When I was about fourteen and responsible for lawnmower duties, I always thought cutting the grass every week was stupid and often suggested this labor saving solution – green painted concrete - to my father. I’m not saying this scene isn’t attractive, but I can kind of see why he never consented to digging up the lawn, even though ours was mostly dandelions.
In this humble church, they gather beneath a cheap blue tarp that, never-the-less, suggests a sheltering heaven and perhaps the wind - a moving spirit.
There are a bewildering number of churches in the neighborhood. I don’t think you can walk four blocks without running into some kind of church. They seem to be extremely adaptable, taking root in old houses, or behind former store fronts, or in the shells of extinct industrial facilities. Some churches appear emaciated and hungry. A few seem bloated, but superficial. Either way, they send a message.
A muggy summer evening threatens showers on a long vacant schoolyard. I browse the painted glyphs that stand for hopscotch, four-square and kick-ball. I conjure up ghosts of team-captains picking teams. I almost believe I can hear the distinctive noise of the big red bouncing ball.
This learning institution perched on the edge of a street of ill-repute, looks more like a prison or a fort. A man with a shopping cart searches for a night’s accommodation. He carries a bicycle, some plastic, and maybe a certificate of initial mastery.
On the roof of the school, I saw a row of crows hiding behind a parapet like old-West Indians lining the rim of a canyon waiting to ambush cowboys. The minute I raised my camera…they scattered.