Wednesday, March 30, 2011

.a footlocker full of history.

A Footlocker of Family History
little darlings
two boys in a wagon pulled by a goat
a family gathered together
little characters
 A few weeks ago, while at my Grandfather's old home, I went up into the attic to clear it out what had been left up there for so many years.  It was while I was up there that I realized many of the things that should see the light of day more often are usually stored up there for safe keeping, like a footlocker that belonged to my Great-Grandmother Sylvia.  My Uncle had gone up there with me and was the one who pulled it out and opened it up.  I was busy sorting through other things when I heard him say, "Oh. . . wow. . . "  In this old piece of luggage, its metal hardware covered in rust, was a collection of old photos and letters, some of them dating back to the early 1800s.  We sat there on the dusty floorboards of a tiny attic gazing through some of these photos, trying to decipher who these faces were that stared back at us.  We recognized Grandma Sylvia easily.  She had a distinct look and from what we could tell, many of the photos were of her side of the family.  But then, we also came across a photo of two little boys sitting in an old wagon hitched to a goat.  The oldest boy's face looked familiar.  We turned the photo over and noticed the words "Bill and George," Bill being my Great-Grandfather.  Half of the photos had inscription on them, and the other half did not.  Some of them had black paper backing on it, as if they had been torn out of an old photo album.  And so, a new journey begins.

Well I was very honored that the family allowed me to have not only the footlocker, but a suitcase also filled with more family history, as well as old family albums.  My plan is to scan many of the photos to share with the family, but also, I really want to delve more into the history of this side of my family tree.  There was something so . . . I can't even find the right words . . . neat, interesting, intriguing about the people in these photos.  Their attire gradually changing over the years.  Grandma Sylvia was a character.  I still remember her from when I was a kid.  When I wanted a snack, I'm thinking candy, she'd come back with a plate full of celery sticks, peanut butter and raisins running down the center of them.  "Now this is what we had for snacks when I was a little girl."  My first response of course was Yuck!  And now, it's one of my favorites.  She loved Peanuts, Linus and Snoopy being her favorites, and Winnie-the-Pooh.  Her parents opened up one of the first theaters in the state of Iowa.  Her brother Lewis fought in General MacArthur's Army in WWII.  It was pretty neat finding a younger photo of her and her brother sitting against a backdrop of what looks like an earlier model airplane.  This would be my favorite, along with the "goat wagon" photo.  

What I found so comforting and amazing was the sheer amount of photographs that we found.  It was very obvious to me that the folks in my family loved to make photographs.  This has truly inspired me.  The main reason why I wanted to become a photographer in the first place rested right here in this box.  Photographs.  The evidence of time gone by.  My only heartbreak and regret was that the only person I knew who could definitively tell me about the faces in these photos had also been swept away with the tide of time.  Visit your attics, my friends.  Pull out those old photos.  And if you can, find out their history before it too quickly fades away.  

Saturday, March 26, 2011

.the village smithy stands.

There, in a town called Lebanon, not too awfully far from Nashville, a little historical village sits.  Made up of a collection of old cabins and tiny shops, all donated by various patrons, it's a special place we call Fiddlers Grove.  In that village, one of the more active spots you'd see there is the blacksmith shop.  On my last trip back there, I popped in to say hello to some of the wonderful men my Grandfather called friends and fellow smithies.  It was a beautiful day, the kind of Spring day when folks can open up their doors and let the fresh air in.  In this case, the door might've been pushed wide open to let the smoke out!  As I peeked in, the guys at the Fiddlers Grove Blacksmith Association (or FGBA) were busy chatting away with one another, working on projects, stoking flames in their coal forges and pounding away at the anvil.  Immediately, I felt at ease there.  
A Village Smithy
Amongst them, was Bret Hampton, a member of FGBA for 7 years, whose day job consists of working mostly with marble and granite, showed us a project he was working on.  Using an old piece of wrought iron a few kids from his neighborhood found, and three railroad spikes, Bret was in the process of making a rustic coat rack.  Since I had my camera with me, I thought I'd take a few photos.

I honestly was mesmerized by the whole thing.  Unfortunately, I couldn't stay long enough to see the whole piece completed.  With "metal art" running through my veins, I seriously could see myself picking up the trade, which delighted my Uncle Vince of course who proceeded to set aside tools and supplies for me.  So, I asked Bret, who also helps with instruction there at Fiddlers Grove, "If I was someone who wanted to take up blacksmithing, specifically here in Middle Tennessee, what would I do?"  First, he told me that I should look into ABANA, the Artist Blacksmith Association of North America.  Then, after finding some papers for me that gave both the history and specifics of FGBA, he mentioned that once a person joins the association ($50 per year, which includes both the annual dues and costs of materials) you can sign up to take the Green Coal Class, a beginner's course that introduces one to the basics of blacksmithing, which takes place every Tuesday from 7PM to 9PM.  There is also an advanced class that takes place on Friday evenings, also from 7PM to 9PM.  There is no charge for the class, however, students must come prepared with the basic tools.  A list of these tools are available for those who are interested.  

So for anyone who may want to delve into the ancient art of blacksmithing and happen to be in the Middle Tennessee area, contact instructors Danny Parsons at (615) 444-4431 or Broadus Weatherall at (615) 773-4436 for more information.  Also, the famous Wilson County Fair is only a few months away, and these guys will be in full demonstration mode throughout that week so be sure to stop by!  

Friday, March 25, 2011

.coming home.

Inside an old cabin at Fiddler's Grove.  Lebanon, Tennessee

It was a nice, somewhat hectic, refreshing and yet draining trip to Nashville.  Time definitely flies.  It seems almost months ago since we drove up there.  Myself, my two younger cousins, my Uncle and his wife, and my Aunt joined up in Nashville to sort through and clean out my Grandfather's home.  It was a rather fun trip as we all joked around and still managed to work at the same time.  For the most part.  There is a comfort in knowing your quirks are hereditary as other members in the family are just as strange as you are.  The "artistic Evans" side of the family.  For me, being there with all of them really made me realize just how fortunate I am to have this quirky family.  Not just for their artistic talents, but for their humor and sincerity.  It was like being back at the house in Kailua where everyone gathered together, lost in each others' company, anxious to share their stories.  When my grandparent's moved back to the Mainland, we seemed to have lost that connection.  Everyone was so spread out, from Hawai'i all the way now to North Carolina.  But being there with family, despite the sad circumstances, was like coming home.  Even now, I feel myself getting choked up as I realize it is up to us now to keep the family connected, inspired. 

I've been home for almost a week and every emotion has flooded over me.  Tonight, I'm a little melancholy and simply "out of it", partly due to the fact that I had a cracked molar pulled out yesterday that was infected so my face is swollen and still hurts.  I'll quit my crying.  ha!  I am glad to be back here in my own home with my family.  I was grateful that my little one was able to come with me to Nashville.  She enjoyed every minute of it.  And so did I.  I'll share with you more soon about some of the neat things I was able to take home with me, like a suitcase and footlocker of nothing but old family photos dating as far back as the mid 1800s, maybe even earlier.  Another reason why I love photography.  

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend my friends!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

.be back soon.

skies the limit!
Hello friends.  I'll be away for just a little bit.  I'm back in Nashville taking care of some things so I won't have the time to post and shoot like I had planned.  More for you when I get back next week.  Take care!  

Saturday, March 12, 2011

.my heart wanders.

Really, I am writing this as a reminder to myself that come May, a copy of this beautiful book by Pia Jane Bijkerk will need to make its way into my hands.  When I gaze at her photographs, my mind wanders to thoughts of soft lighting and quiet moments.  Of distant travels and treasured experiences.  I love it.  If only you could literally crawl into the pages of this book.  . . . sigh. . .   Here is a lovely post about Pia.

My heart wanders to a place far away.  I am thinking about you Japan.  We are embracing you in our prayers. . . 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

.the story about a man and a lost roll of film.

There aren't that many YouTube videos out there that give me goosebumps, you know, the good kind that come from being emotionally moved.  I love a good adventure story!  I'm not talking about the kind of adventure story that involves the "good guys" fighting off the "bad guys" on the edge of a massive cliff in South America.  Nope.  My favorite adventure story is more personal.  An Ameliesque adventure where one person's random act of kindness not only takes them on an amazing journey, but also all those involved in the ultimate goal, whatever that may be.  And so, here is a true life "Amelie Boy" adventure that all started when a man, on a pair of "crappy, used cross-country skiis" glides along on a very snow covered Prospect Park and finds a roll of film. Here is his story. . .

Thanks to Elle for sharing!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

.instax-ographs :: n˚1.

And so here are the first set of Instax photos that I feel are decent enough to share with you.  Today was really the first day I actually made a point to take the camera out with me.  Got some tires put on my truck today so while we were waiting, I piddled around the tire shop, looking for things to photograph.  Not a whole lot, but it's a start.  Later on in the day, we headed out to Wrightsville Beach.  The photos I took there were AWFUL!  Talk about major washout.  I need to figure out a way to keep the camera from overexposing when you're in a very bright spot.  You would think the "clear" setting (marked by a nice sunshine symbol) would let it know that I'm in a "sunshiney" spot.  Go figure.  As far as I know, the Instax films only come in ISO 800.  If I am mistaken, please enlighten me.  So Char, I'm working on it lady!    Other than that, I can say that I truly adore this camera.  The film is much less expensive than film for Polaroid cameras (which makes me sad) so there's less anxiety when shooting!  Ha!  Now that I've got a handful of decent shots, I may embark on some kind of Instax project.  Hmm. . . just have to wait and see.  

Here are some more Instax photos taken by other Flickrites!   And if you're into contests and Instax, here's one for you.  Happy Wednesday friends!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

.good morning sunday :: n˚7.

Technically, it's a "good afternoon Sunday" to all of you!  I don't know what the weather is like where you are but here in Wilmington today, the forecast is cloudy with 100% chance of rain.  Which means muddy shoes and wet nylons as you run across the church parking lot.  It also means soft, beautiful light. . . my absolute favorite.  Even as I washed dishes after brunch, I could not help but become mesmerized with the bubbles and soft lines forming in my sink.  Honestly, everything looked so much more interesting, calm, lovely.  If British skies are usually this gray, maybe I should look into moving across the Pond if only I would be guaranteed this wonderful light!

And here is my Sunday list:
  • I received an email from a woman who had just recently purchased a painting by my grandmother at an auction in Florida.  She found the Myspace page I had set up a couple of years ago about my grandmother's artwork and copied my email address.  Her determination to find out more about the artist behind this precious painting has given me the encouragement I need to gather more information, photos and stories about my Tutu, C. H. Evans.  
  • Just ordered a copy of Photobooth:  The Art of the Automatic Portrait which features Andrea Jenkin's and her "photobooth Friday".
  • A few more books I'm thinking about adding to my book shelf:  Binocular Vision, Thirteen Moons, and Bliss.
  • One of my absolute flickr faves is Wild Goose Chase, the creative photostream of artist Fiona Watson.
  • As we begin to welcome Spring with joyful glee, I reflect upon the icy, yet beautiful wonder of Winter.  This video I found via the Owl Diary is a wonderful tribute to the quiet season.
A short list today, but I hope a good one.  Go out and dance in the rain my friends!  Just make sure there's some nice warm soup and tea when you venture back in!  Stay well.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

.she sells seashells.

scottish bonnet seashell

I can still hear it.  The faint clinking sound of a soft breeze flowing through strands of capiz shells dangling from a chandelier.  Suddenly I am pulled back to my early childhood, back when my father used to work for Vagabond Traders, a Hawaii based wholesale company that imported a lot of seashells and monkeypod products from southeast Asia.  I can still recall shelf after shelf of seashell covered creations and wooden carvings.  It also brings me back to homes of Filipino relatives who had at least 2 or three of these chandeliers hanging out on their porch.  Needless to say, walking into the gift shop Almost Everything Ten Mile Post was like walking back in time, for me.  Every space, from ceiling to floor, is lined with shells of every kind along with sea fan corals, puka shell necklaces, starfishes, sea cookies and biscuits, sharks teeth and even recovered whale bone.  For a moment, I think I'm back in Hawaii.

The sweet lady running this shop is owner, Sudaphon Thompson or "Hon", a native of Thailand who purchased this unique seashell galleria 11 years ago.  "This place is almost 45 years old.  People come from all over to buy their seashells."  When asked what her best selling item is, she is quick to answer.  "Anything from North Carolina.  Especially this one," and she walks over to a container filled with these small white shells with orange-brown colored "patches" on them.  I look at the description written on a piece of paper taped to the front of the container.  Scotch Bonnet.  Hon also fills me in on some local history about Robert E. Harrill, a man otherwise known as the Fort Fisher Hermit.  More and more, I'm loving this place!

So, if you happen to be this way, head down Hwy 421 towards Carolina Beach and look for the Almost Everything sign located at 6315 Carolina Beach Road, just south of Wilmington.  Don't blink 'cause you might miss it!  And if you're in need of some Oriental groceries, you're in luck!  Hon has also set up a little Asian market in the section beside the gift shop.  So stock up on some rice noodles and curry spices before you go!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

.a little birdie told me. . .

Dear lady, I cannot sing
not when caged up in this little thing.

Please let me out
and I will  promise to bring

wonderful news of the arrival of Spring!

She's almost here. . . can you feel it?!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

.shots out the passenger side window.

little house on the prairie

Daytrips.  Roadtrips.  They're always good for the soul.  Especially when it's as beautiful as it has been outside.  So, roll down the windows.  Let that nice cool breeze dance violently through your hair, and just enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

.the artist's voice :: an interview with brandy kayzakian-rowe.

I remember the first time I saw Brandy's work.  It happened to be on MySpace, back when many of us were just starting to find out about social networks and setting up our profiles.  At the time, I went by the screen name Gypsypics.  So the day that I came across the name Wandering Gypsy Soul, I knew I had found myself a kindred spirit.  Brandy Kayzakian-Rowe may live in New England but her heart is deeply rooted in the South which is evident in her work, whether it be the warmth that emanates from her paintings to the soulful connections made through her photographs.  Besides being a beautiful friend, she truly is one of my favorite artists.  And so begins a new series I'm calling The Artist's Voice to share with all of you the wonderful talents and thoughts of many creative thinkers.  And today, it's Brandy's voice I want to share with you.   

KE:  What has been the biggest influence on your life as an artist?
BKR:  Well, of course all of [my favorite musicians] plus so many more.  My husband Djerek - the most passionate, creative and inspiring person I've ever met, Vincent Van Gogh, Gullah painter Jonathan Greene and also oddly enough, The Cosby Show!  haha!  I grew up watching that show (I'm roughly the same age as Rudy) and watched a parade of amazing and inspiring people including performances by Lena Horne, Joe Williams, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente and Stevie Wonder.  Artists, like Jacob Lawrence and Ellis Wilson, were showcased all over the Huxtable home and truly caught my eye and imagination.  Seems funny but its true.  I really think that show had a big influence on my young mind, teaching a love of all cultures and art forms!

KE:  What are your favorite songs and/or musicians to listen to when you are busy working on a painting?
BKR:  I never paint or edit photos in silence. I find such inspiration from other artists.  Some favorites include Keb Mo, Stevie Wonder, Chicago, Brandi Carlile, Lyle Lovett, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Sarah Vaughan, Miles Davis, to name a few.  I'm kinda all over the place when it comes to music, but another great inspiration to me is film.  I have a love affair with all aspects of film-making and love to play favorites as I work. Anything by Michael Mann (my all time favorite director), Annie Hall and Manhattan (so love Woody Allen), old Sydney Lumet films, The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, Munich, In the Name of the Father, At Close Range, and lately I can't get enough of watching newer films like The Town, Shutter Island, and Edge of Darkness.  Man, looking over my film favorites, I sure do like dark ones!  ha!

And of course when I'm photographing musicians, my true love, I always love to have them play as I snap away.  Nothing better than live jazz, blues, roots and soul music flowing from the source!

KE:  Do you ever struggle creatively? When you do, how do you work your way through it?
BKR:  I have artists block quite often, and when I do, I never force anything.  When I do, I never like the results.  When I get artists' block, I try to go to the places that really nurture and inspire me - things like visiting museums and galleries, film, watch and listen to my husband practice guitar (he's a fav photography subject for sure!) and oftentimes just get out in the car and take a road trip!

KE:  If you were given the opportunity of a lifetime, what would it be?
BKR:  Well... I am in the midst of putting together my musician photography portfolio to send out to agents and reps.  I have a certain agency that I really really want to be a part of.  The portfolio ships on Friday!! My dream is to spend every minute I can photographing artists at work, musicians, dancers, actors, directors and so many more.  I started about 5 years ago in Memphis and Mississippi, and then later in the Pacific Northwest.  You can see some of my work here:
My husband has worked tirelessly to support us both while I've been getting my photo career started and my dream is to one day support him in his music in return.

KE:  Favorite childhood memory.
BKR:  Hmmm, the first one that pops in my mind is when I was about 5 years old.  My father took me to a Padres baseball game to see Steve Garvey play.  I grew up loving baseball and he was my absolute favorite player.  After the game, we walked to where some of the players were signing autographs so I could meet him.  There was a HUGE crowd around Garvey and no way I could get near him.  So I began to cry and wail to my father, sobbing that I wanted to see Steve Garvey!  At that moment he parted the crowd and walked right over to me, picked me up and gave me a big kiss!

KE:  Got a favorite dessert?
BKR:  Mmmm, that has to be a cool slice of Key Lime pie.  Growing up in the Deep South taught me an appreciation of all things crisp and refreshing, and I can't think of anything better than that!

KE:  Any words of wisdom?
BKR:  Be passionate about everything you do, never waste time, hold close your artistic ethics.  Don't be afraid of being a hermit and when you do socialize, surround yourself with amazing and inspiring people!

To find out more about Brandy, visit her website
To purchase any of her artwork or products, visit her Etsy shops: