A snippet from last year. Rings true today as I watch a mythically beautiful hail storm. I drink my coffee in my snug home and watch the sheer curtains of tiny ice beads gale between me and the cottoned hills.
I walk out the door. It’s Monday. It’s April. It’s Central New York. It’s complicated. The wild fields lie flat, the color of wet straw, felled first by frost then snow now sleet and rain and wind. The ground is still stiff with permafrost, daily softening. Nearest the brook lies some hopeful green. Mud season again when the earth speaks in secrets. I find a jawbone, a saucer, a small skull, the bottom of a clay vase. A lawnmower once hidden by waist high burdocks. I don’t hope to recover whats been truly lost, those things that live on in my heart. I don’t hope. It’s enough to collect the bones between snow banks and rocks, between winter and spring.
One life,-a little gleam of time between two Eternities.
I did it!
I love taking iPhone photos. I have had several shows in the past year and I have sold a great number of photos to a wonderful group of collectors.
But, I have never entered a mobile photography contest.
It’s like my writing.
I have written scores of poems, have read them in public, have been published online and in anthologies and have even had a publication find me and ask me to buy some of my poems…I said yes and sold 2 poems to said publication for $1,000.
But that didn’t galvanize me.
I don’t know why.
Ok, yes, I do.
A crippling self-doubt comes over me when I sit down to even think about entering a contest or submitting for publication.
My entire being shouts into my ear— YOU are no good, who are YOU? What are YOU thinking? That photo/poem etc just doesn’t cut it.
The joy of taking that photo or writing that poem is completely chucked.
Are you like this?
OMG, it is so dismal.
Well, today is different.
Thanks to Paul Toussaint’s gentle reminder, I sent a portfolio link off to an actual iphoneography contest.
I wrapped my head around creating a special account on IG just for this purpose.
And not just any contest.
The Mobile Masters Contest.
Wish me luck!
Here is the link to my online portfolio:
Here’s a link to my normal IG account (if you consider being inundated by iphoneography normal):
ONLY DAYS LEFT TO ENTER CONTEST Mar 2nd
WINNERS REVEALED AT SANFRAN MACWORLD EVENT Mar 26th
CLICK LINK TO ENTER> https://gum.co/PROOF/special
The objective of this is to showcase the world’s top 48 artists who are breaking new ground in mobile image discovery and invention.
The mobile platform has leveled the playing field allowing amazing work to emerge from the most unexpected places. Thus ALL levels are welcome, from novice to pro, to submit work for inclusion.
The resulting eBook and Show hopes to prove that Mobile Photography has become a distinctive new movement in the history of the art form.
Over 3000 dollars in prizes and many exposure opportunities for the winning artist.
Easy to Enter. No images to upload or long forms to fill out. We are not judging just one or 2 of your images, instead submit your complete ePortfolio Link like a Flickr Set or Instagram feed.
Your work will be seen by 6 very notable judges. 3 from the traditional fine art photography side and 3 well know Mobile artist. The winners will be announced on March 26 at the Macworld/iWorld Expo Mobile Masters Workshop.
Enrollment for this Event is now open, see Mobile Masters website. http://bit.ly/mmproof
Deadline is March 2nd, 2014
Margo is my neighbor and my muse. We live in the middle of nowhere so it is nice to have a neighbor and a muse all rolled into one. I started photographing her as soon as she moved up here, she is breathtakingly beautiful. What I didn’t know is that she can write like a house on fire. And she has stories to tell. Oh, the stories she has to tell. One day she handed me a manuscript and I read one line. The first line. And I knew right away, this girl can write. Each week we sit down and write together for an hour. We do this three times a week. Each time I am blown away by her brain. Amazing. Never sat across from a writer like Margo. Wow. I always count my blessings out here, there are so many things I appreciate and Margo is at the top of the list. The Modern Love essay that was posted in the paper today is just the tip of the iceberg. Can’t wait for the book!
In March, 2011, Tim, an east coast “friend”, posts a picture on Facebook – a little white house – with a question: “Who wants to be my neighbor?”
I type…“How much?”
He responds, “$34,000 for an 1820’s farmhouse.”
I don’t hesitate, “I do. I want to be your neighbor.”
Dunga Brook was a 2,000 acre dairy farm in her day, but by 2011 she has no electricity, no water, a leaking roof and a failing septic system.
I offer $10,000.
It’s accepted, immediately.
In Gelson’s, I bump into an old boyfriend and tell him the news.
“You’re moving to a house you bought sight unseen off of Facebook? In the middle of nowhere? A place you know nothing about? To live next to a guy you barely know?”
“Yes!” I say.
“Man, Vicki…you have big swinging balls!”
All my friends think I’m crazy.
Strangers ask, “How can you be so brave?”
I say, I’ve been ready to leave LA ever since I got here and now that my son, Connor, is off to college, my GET OUT OF HELL-A ticket has finally been punched.
They don’t know that I hide from sunshine, that I hate Santa Ana’s, that the Pacific turns me cold, that my heart has been broken a million times in a million ways by LA, that I have finally been flattened by grief…my mom, my dad and my grandmother all having recently passed.
I fail to mention that I never thought Connor would graduate from high school, much less get himself into college. I fail to mention that by moving cross country, I am, in effect kidnapping him- no more sharing.
If I can just have him for one more summer, THE last summer, I might be okay.
I’m not brave at all- but I am crafty.
Connor’s dad says nothing when I tell him the news.
He knows I’m crazy.
Years ago, when I left him, he stood in the driveway of our Pacific Palisades home pointing at the Cape Cod we lived in and the BMWs we drove, yelling, “Look What I Give YOU!”
What I wanted was to heed the voice in my head that whispered, “go for love, not the money”.
From then on, Connor travels between us. We co parent, we co exist, we co operate.
But there are cracks in my veneer.
I design shoes that I hate for companies that I can’t stand. I try every anti-depressant as advertised in Vogue magazine. I seem to have a thing for booze and for 27 year olds. I make really great friends that I never ever see.
Months before I buy the farm, I buy a car, but not a car, I buy a truck. I buy a giant silver truck with all-weather tires, gps and 4 wheel drive.
May 2011, I see Dunga Brook for the first time…Central New York…forests, streams, lakes, ancient farms, red barns in all stages of collapse and skies that are actually…blue.
I stay with my Facebook “friend”. His 1890’s farmhouse has no running water, no heat. The closest Starbucks is 120 miles away.
On Mother’s Day, a baby goat is born. Because Tim is masquerading as farmer, he has to drive to the nearest neighbor for help. The toothless local pronounces the baby sound and we share a glass of fresh goats milk in celebration.
My summer plan is to hire Connor to renovate the house. He’ll be too busy to miss LA, he’ll make money and he can keep his eye on the gypsy crew that I’ve hired.
This plan sucks. It is impossible to get him out of bed, driving to the job site he is despondent.
“You’re building your future,” I tell him.
Two weeks into it, the chief gypsy texts me a picture.
“This is what he does all day,” is the caption.
It’s Connor. He wears a sleeveless t-shirt, his work boots are tucked into his jeans, there is a baseball cap over his eyes, the work gloves I bought him are still on his hands, not a speck of dirt.
Connor is in the shade of the pine tree that I was advised to chop down but still can’t, its too perfect, it knows things.
Dunga Brook’s siding is ripped off, her windows are torn out, the gypsies are a blur of activity inside of her.
Connor is sound asleep.
At first, I’m pissed. “I’m paying you!”
Then I’m sad.
My great idea is his worst nightmare.
He belongs back in LA with his life-long friends.
Why did I whisk him 4000 miles away?
I fire him.
Then we take off in my truck, we discover dirt roads, we eat at every diner we can find, we four-wheel drive, we laugh and bicker.
He is my pilot, I hang out of the truck with my iPhone, snapping away, there is just so much beauty.
That fall, when I drop him off at college, we hug goodbye and he says, “best summer ever, mom.”
The renovations drag on, we work without plans, permits or budget, I worry endlessly that we are tearing her down and won’t be able to put her back together.
To keep sane, I spend money. Each design decision is a battle between eh- and all out — all out wins, hands down, every time.
And, I roam the country roads solo, taking photos, nothing is ordinary.
Each night, I update Facebook:
An iPhone photo of an Amish buggy parked by a shed:
Perfect fall day, an Amish man mows a lawn. You know that smell? A poem in every breeze.
An iPhone photo of silver cornstalks:
It’s so beautiful, I could fall in love with just about anyone.
By the time we finish, 8 months have passed, all my money is gone and the gypsies have decamped.
When a February storm hits, my house keeps me warm. I have built the perfect little snow globe.
Spring 2012, a gallery asks me to have an iPhoneogaraphy show. While writing my artists bio, I realize that my childhood dream of being an “artist” has finally come true.
It took a lot of “crazy” to make this happen.
Connor calls to tell me, he’s not coming back for the summer, he’s going to rent his own farmhouse and he has a real job to pay for it.
I’m in a panic, if he doesn’t return now, he will spin off into the world on an ever expanding arc away from me.
I stand in the driveway yelling, “You have to come back, look what I built for you!”
But, that voice speaks up, it says- “Isn’t he your son? Isn’t your job done? Let him go…he is free to roam.”
In June, I shoot Connor a selfie- I’m next to that pine tree, Dunga Brook’s red roof gleams, she’s wears a fresh coat of paint …And you know what?
She looks pretty damn sexy…for an ole farm girl…out in the middle of nowhere.
Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love — that makes life and nature harmonize. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. ~George Eliot, letter to Miss Lewis, 1st October 1841
My third Fall in Central New York!
Yesterday, I drove to Sharon Springs for the HarvestFest and took back roads, it was a blue sky day, the leaves are changing, the corn is blonde.
I LOVE this place. This is the kind of thing that turns me on- a perfect crisp Fall day.
When I left LA , three years ago, I had no idea what to expect. I knew I was going to the east coast, I knew it was somewhere in the middle of NY state. I knew one person, the guy who posted the picture of my house on Facebook (neighbor, Tim), and I knew that the house I bought sight unseen from that post was waiting to be renovated.
I didn’t know where I would work, I didn’t know how far away a grocery store might be (12 miles). I said goodbye to Starbucks (nearest one, 100 miles away) and all the trapping of a city.
Because I had no expectations everything is a bonus.
I am in the middle of nowhere but there are great people here (always great people, no matter where I roam)- Tim has a girlfriend Margo, whom I love and is my photography muse- one of my muses, out here I have so many muses.
The guys who demo’d and rebuilt my house, a fun group of rag tag gypsies, all turned out to have hearts of gold.
I found a job with Beekman 1802 (wholesale director).
I’ve met a fantastic group of women (Leslie, Cheryl, Susan, Carla, Tina, Margo, Kristen, Marjorie, Rose Marie…on and on).
I’ve found a thriving artists community that has a long and storied history from Ginsberg’s beats back to The Hudson River Valley School and before that, settlers and, of course, native Americans artisans.
Recently, I’ve gotten to know one of the rag tag gypsies, the tall one with the long hair, the one with the tattoo on his bicep, the one with the sexy smile, the one who can repair a stove when the mice have taken over, the one who can play guitar, sing like an angel, chase me like the devil, the one who is sweet sweet sweet…he is a handyman if there ever was one.
The beauty and fun of this place never ceases to thrill me.
Just shipped 5 limited editions to Putnam, CT, today!
The Empty Spaces Project – Putnam, CT, Artist reception, Sept 13.
See you there?
“To me they are as beautiful as anything I know,” Georgia O’Keeffe said of the sun-bleached bones and skulls she found in the desert. “To me they are strangely more living than the animals walking around…. The bones seem to cut sharply to the center of something that is keenly alive …”
Lil Jester, the Story
I did know this little guy.
In 2011, I flew from LA to CNY to see my house for the first time (I bought it the month before, sight unseen) and to stay with my neighbor, Tim, who first posted the picture of the house on Facebook.
This was Mother’s Day weekend.
On Mother’s Day, Lil Jester was born, there were twins but one died and this one survived, barely. The mother rejected him, so Tim and I hand fed LJ for the first few days of his life.
There is another story where I was in charge of him and he disappeared and I thought he’d been swallowed by a coyote or ferret and I cried inconsolably, but I’ll save that retelling for later.
Anyway, by the time my house was being renovated in July 2011, he was a handsome young goat with nubs where his majestic horns would be.
In the country, not all goats are created equal and boy goats do hot hold the same rank as a girl goat, a girl can be milked and bred, a boy can be annoying and eaten when he is of the right age.
This was the fate of the little boy goat.
His bones were left in a field behind my house, I knew not where until spring 2013 rolled around and I was on one of my long walks through the mud.
Spring mud pushes bones to the surface that Winter stripped clean.
There he was.
I brought him home.
If you are in upstate NY and near the Hudson Valley/Catskills area this week or Saturday, please stop into LOVELY and say hello to Liz and have her give you a tour of her upstairs gallery. It is LOVELY!
I’ll be there Saturday, August 17th to take the bulk of the exhibit down at the end of the day but Liz will have 9 images on her walls for exhibit/sale, going forward.
Gallery of the show: