Wednesday, July 28, 2010

more fun with photoshop

Happy Car, 10:19am

...Never really played around much with Photoshop. But I am quickly learning how people can get sucked in. It's fun to fiddle! Years ago my amazing friend, musician, artist, original Rockaway badass Bob Turano showed me a series of Photoshop self portraits that blew my mind. I'm starting to see the light. There is more digitizing to be done.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Long Beach Sessions (con't)

We begin with Happy Car, complete with new surfboard rack! That only took two and a half years to acquire - hahaha! So to commemorate we took advantage of the weekday off and hit Long Beach in search of surf. We knew there wouldn't be much above knee- to thigh-high waves but we were dying to get our paddle on so we hit it. The waves were rolling , the sets spaced far apart but definitely strong enough to offer some fun rides. The crowd in the water was small and chill. The tide was on it's way out and the north wind would ultimately squash the swell but it kept it clean and fun and easy for a few hours at least. After our morning session I took a few shots, as did Krissy.
This woman was awesome, going after everything determined to stand regardless of the white wash.

A little late on the get-up but hey, having fun is what it's all about.

I never get used to the monster barges in the distance. ...reminds me of my friends surfing Lake Superior waves up in Duluth, MN. Talk about mad men.

For you non-surfers out there you will notice that the nose of my surfboard is underwater while making this bottom turn. Yeah, that is a lesson in what not to do. (!) Oh well, you win some you lose some, either way it's the best feeling ever.

We are always thrilled with the return of the Long Beach sessions. I have been to Shangri-La, quite literally, but let me tell you, it's got nothing on the ocean! ;-)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

"Poverty Continued..." (Bronx 2006)

"Poverty Continued..."
collage on paper
10" x 14"

In 2006 I was a full time student at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. Over the months and through the seasons I would travel through rough barren neighborhoods all over the city to arrive at various oases of floral brilliance that most people didn't know existed or simply couldn't afford. The dichotomy was heavy on the senses.... Yet another reason I went in to public horticulture I suppose.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Clip of the day

Another great old piece from the collage table. ...Life Magazine, volume 23, number 26, December 29, 1947. The story of a grandmother, Lillian Winter, being acquitted of attempted murder on her 17-year-old granddaughter.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Chesterfield Kings (a step back in time)

Among the collage fodder is this great old ad for Chesterfield King cigarettes, complete with great old surf pics from the 60's. Still unsure what to do with the actual page I figured they were worth a quick scan for this Saturday summer morning. And a little shot of the Ventures to accompany. "Tastes great, smokes mild" ...funny how things have changed.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

best part of my day

I was having a miserable day, dealing with miserable people, and letting them get to me which was only making me more angry. I was ready to quit it all and walk away, tell the world to go fuck itself. And then the phone rang. "Gian Carlo Feleppa calling". My brother and little miss Ea were on a Manhattan adventure and wanted to see where Uncle Alex worked. Seeing my little niece bobbing on my brother's shoulders made all that shit melt away. We walked and talked and explored the way a two-year old mind does. This little one, more grown up than all the adults I take care of on a daily basis brought a smile back to my face, just in the nick of time. We boarded the subway and began our descent down to the outer boroughs, safely away from all the lunacy. Before I got off to transfer at 59th Street Ea turned to me and said, "I love you". part of my day.
playing patty-cake on the counter waiting for our afternoon snack before hitting the train

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Summer Containers 2010

Every year I like to do something different with my containers out front. The first year, in 2007 a few months after we moved in, I completely underestimated the amount of sun the summer stairs would receive. That year I did simple pots of New Guinea impatiens and they fried! After a vacation out of town a local woman made a special point of knocking on our door (after church!) to tell my love how terrible our plants looked and how poorly we tended to them. Krissy evaded the woman's arrogant rant, and I was extremely thankful that she didn't mention that her man, the one responsible for said terrible pots, was in fact a professionally trained horticulturist. Hey, no matter how much training you have it still takes years to understand your site. So for 2008 I went totally tropical using plants I knew would want the sun and hotter temps. There were a lot of bright foliage plants like croton (Codiaeum variegatum pictum) and the focal point was an orange hibiscus that bloomed strong all summer long. The pots were smaller and dried out too quickly so I learned I had to increase the size of the pots. If you think about it larger pots will equal larger volume with relatively less surface area so they won't dry out on you as fast. In 2009 I had fun incorporating annuals and some sun loving houseplants together into a very poppy display. However I guess I did a little too good of a job because by the end of summer a couple nice pots full of hot orange and deep purple petunias had somehow upped and walked themselves to someone else's home. Fancy that!, thieves suck. Which brings us to this year. I went to get some new terra cotta pots for the front stoop and I guess I was excited because I ended up doubling the amount of containers I'd had in years past, going from 5 to 10. Due to the theft in '09, and based on the plants I was able to get my hands on for little or no money I opted to go back to focusing on foliage and texture for the summer season. There is a bit of everything, annual to tropical to perennial, from yellow to green to red, small to medium to large, but somehow it seems to work for me.

On the top stair planted with the annual Alternanthera that provides green to purple-red foliage is a Begonia I brought out from inside. The alternanthera will continue to grow and spill over the side of the pot in time, along with tiny white flowers soon to begin. Begonia maculata 'Wightii' is a sensational begonia with white polka-dots on the leaves. I hacked it back hard before moving it out so it is coming back slowly and looking pretty peculiar. A few begonias in the mix this summer are kids from inside and ultimately they'd be happier being more sheltered and protected but whatever, they are holding on fine and providing enough of a look. They're annuals for us here so destined for the compost pile this fall they might be. That is basil in the center, Ocimum basilicum, and so far it has been able to keep a nice low profile. On the other side the pink-silver leaves of Begonia 'Sinbad' I've always admired.
On the left side of stair four is another Sinbad begonia. That one I have had for a few years, and too cut it back hard this spring, but it always looks full and fantastic by the end of the season. The right two pots have a total of five different colored Korean chrysanthemums. They will bloom mid to late fall and I have no idea what color they will be, but their big daisy-like flower will undoubtedly be a great late season surprise. In front of the pot with only two plants I stuck another Begonia chunk, this one a rich dark foliage begonia that I can't remember the name of. Like I said, it's kind of a hodgepodge but it works.
Another of the alternanthera and the dark-leaved begonia are at the left side of the third stair. In the center is Teucrium, the medicinal herb known as germander. A tight little plant with fine texture germander will put up small spires of pink blossoms in full sun, but has yet to get going for me this year. And then on the right is the big light green badboy, Hosta plantaginea. This plant likes to get huge so kind of funny to pot it up, but the white flower spikes that are forming now are so strong and sweet and fabulous that I had to try it. The metal awning overhead and associated runoff has left a few rust stains on the leaves but I don't mind so much.
This Jasminium on the left was offered by a friend last year who couldn't figure out where to put it in her garden. Obviously the fresh, bright yellow foliage is something, so I quickly took her up on the offer. I have no idea what species or cultivar it is. The annual salvia in the center is Salvia 'Cherry Blossom' and the spikes of white and pink flowers are very ornate, though I have found they aren't lasting very long on my hot little stoop. In both of those pots the Oxalis 'Charmed Wine' I had actually written off. The dormant corms of the plant had been inside on the windowsill all winter so I potted them up with the same sort of "oh, whatever" kind of attitude. The little shot of purple definitely helps, not to mention I forever love how the foliage of oxalis retracts and closes up at night. So the big perennials on the lower right of this years display are Boltonia asteroides, the late summer blooming garden favorite. Like the hosta these plants like to get big, but I figured the experiment of seeing how they do potted up was worthwhile. I wondered if they might stay smaller with a more confined root space. Yeah, not so much, as I've already pruned them back a couple times. As the name would imply they too will have daisy-like flowers in a month or two, white with a yellow center, and very charming. Last but not least is one of my favorite cascading evergreens for containers. Juniperus procumbens 'Nana' is a creeping juniper that doesn't grow fast but can still get to a good size over many years. It'll be time to repot that one soon enough, as it too is one of the stoop veterans.
So there you have 'em, summer containers 2010. Cheers,

Monday, July 5, 2010

favorite postcard #139

A million moons ago when I was living in California between the redwoods and the shark infested seas I was given this postcard by my friend Annie. We lived in a perfect little house on a brilliant ranch, and three artists total we all fed each other, artistically, creatively, physically. A remarkable adventure west, it was not without some tough times, some serious personal and professional challenges. In a sense we were all finding ourselves. We all made it out better people and no doubt they were challenges that have made me who I am, a stronger man and a harder worker.

This postcard would live at my various collage tables for years to follow after landing back on the east coast. For clearly it is too fabulous to ever take a Sharpie or pair of scissors to. It sort of became a reminder, kind of like when you would be off to school as a kid and your mom would get those last few important phrases out before the bus gobbled you up. " good, hard, ...make me proud!"

Back in Half Moon Bay I had no idea where Long Beach, NY was. I wouldn't for all those years. Today we just got back from Long Beach, our heaven during our time living here in the city. It's where we want to buy a house and start a family. Close to the city but on the ocean it feels like our little secret, even though we know others are catching on fast! For us it makes so much sense. It's kind of like the light at the end of the tunnel. It's like that reminder, "do good, work hard, make me proud". Accept those challenges, learn from those challenges, do what you know is right.

The next great challenge is on.

...oh and HUGE props to my friend Harry for making the move to a career in horticulture and starting his new gig tomorrow (yeah, I will take credit and say he was a pupil of mine!) and a belated MEGA shout out to my kick-ass friend Annie, who you can now call Nurse Annie. That's right. BANG!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth of July!

"Fourth of July (A-Side)"
collage on paper
7" x 7"

"Fourth of July (B-Side)"
collage on paper
7" x 7"

scans came out a bit blurry because the moist towelettes (Made in the USA) make the pieces 3-dimensional. Oh well. Let's crack a beer and cheers, for America!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

this is awesome

In the last couple years I have met a fantastic woman named Jaqueline, who until just recently worked at the Museum of the City of New York in their education department. Jaqueline coordinated a program called Neighborhood Explorers, a group of bright, self motivating high school students who wanted to learn more about their neighborhood, city, and the world around them. The students meet after school with Jaqueline and other educators through the winter and into the spring, learning everything from urban planning to gardening. In addition to weekly classes and projects part of the Explorers program every year is to take a local space, study it, and help to transform and improve it. Some time last winter Jaqueline asked me if I would teach a class for her and introduce the kids to plants and horticulture. Thinking back to a program that had a huge impact on my life as a junior in high school (thank you Mountain School of Milton Academy!), I was honored and excited to see if I could connect with these kids and pass on the green bug. We set a date for some time in April and after work one Wednesday I walked into Jaqueline's class for my own two-hour session. Even though I have taught plenty of horticultural classes the over two dozen teens instantly had me very nervous. But in no time I was getting to know these young men and women and they were curious to know about me and how I came to do what I do in this gritty city. The time flew by as we walked and talked, about horticulture, about life and careers, about goals and how to achieve them. These kids were so impressive with their questions, curiosity, and creativity. Months later I was invited to the museum to the Neighborhood Explorers graduation and celebration. For the finale of their ceremony they made a killer video documentary of the 2009/2010 program. This is it. Such a great concept and program, such a great group of coordinators, educators and kids. Not to mention so refreshing to find youth that is not painfully obese and troubled and introverted like so many pour souls I see on the streets today. Active and driven and articulate, I'm still just so impressed by these 27 engaging individuals. It's about 13 minutes, and very uplifting. Enjoy.

The Museum of the City of New York’s Neighborhood Explorers 2009/2010 from Museum of the City of New York on Vimeo.