Friday, November 15, 2013

Samantha, Check Cashing Sales Gal

I was sitting outside Chef Ralph's Cherry Ave Grill enjoying an iced tea and a beautiful fall day and I couldn't stop oggling the woman across the parking lot beguiling passing motorists with her printed sign. I wasn't the only one; people were stopping pulling out their phones and snapping pics.

It only took me about ten minutes to figure out why she wasn't getting cold in her miniskirt or how she was able to wave her sign with such reliable rhythm. Or why she had a handtruck behind her!

I went inside the check cashing joint and asked if I could photograph their sales girl--she wasn't responding to my direct requests.

"Sure--everyone else is doing it, and most of them don't even ask," said the woman through the speaking slots in the glass. "Her name is Samantha."

Samantha might even be cooler than the Liberty Tax gal next door. Liberty works mostly in April. Samantha's more of a girl Friday.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Have Love Do Not Enter

Any project as broadly defined—or any place as diverse—as Cherry Avenue is going to provide a wide range of perspectives. It would be impossible to say that there’s one, or even a few, dominant subject(s). Still, as I walk the neighborhood certain themes recur again and again. As I learn and report, these motifs might fall into categories or chapters, as in a book, exhibition or presentation. Here’s one.

I’ve noticed extraordinarily many signs, fences and other measures intended to prevent loitering or to keep unwanted people off of private land. This is not a judgement as to whether such measures are appropriate. Indeed, I can easily imagine a whole string of run-ins, misunderstandings and outright violations that have necessitated them. People tend to be rational, reactive and a little lazy: they’re unlikely to expend labor without cause.

I cannot say whether that history should have been written differently but I also cannot pretend not to see its effects: one preliminary observation about Cherry Avenue, at least its eastern half, is that the space is hotly contested and there’s ample visual evidence of a cycle of invasion and defense. Furthermore, that discussion has developed for some time and there are multiple layers of responses as well, with corresponding visual artifacts.

This is one of several emerging themes. More on some of those later…

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Gospel Explosion

Dancers from United to Worship share inspiration at the Gospel Explosion in Tonsler Park

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Engagement starts with being seen

Overcoming my own shyness was the biggest challenge of Monticello Road. It wasn't easy to approach strangers--even if I see them on the street all the time--and ask them to be part of my project. On Cherry Avenue, that is all the more daunting since I don't live there and lack even the superficial familiarity. Would this effort require even more courage?

Talking through the problem has revealed a partial affirmative: yes maybe more courage but definitely more effort. After all, do we not earn the courage to succeed by doing our homework?

So this project has an additional level of engagement: being seen around the community, talking to people, getting to know them as humans before asking them to try something new.

Adrienne and I met some men in their yard on our most recent walk and spent about half an hour in fun, friendly conversation and taking pictures of their garden. I could probably have asked to photograph them at that point as well, but something told me to wait. Was it my lack of courage or wisdom? Fine line I suppose.

What I do know however is that I will follow up with them and grow the relationship over time. For now, I'll leave a print and a little note.

And go from there.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Freedom Salad

“The city does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightning rods, the poles of the flags, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls.”

- Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities