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Posts Tagged ‘everyday objects as muse’

Circles 3 PaperCamera2014-12-24-16-26-07

Listen In Circles, Droid Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2014, photos © 2014 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


I am reading a book of essays that Gail gave me on the different ways that artists make a living. Their studios, how they obtain money, do they have day jobs. It’s good to read because it reminds me of all the ways that artists and writers make their art and writing work with the rest of their lives. It’s humbling. And it teaches me not to give up. I’ve been experimenting with doing nothing really, nothing but practice. I keep up my haiku practice. I do some writing practice but not every day. I do no specific art, no photography, no writing. I want to see how it makes me feel inside to give these things up. It’s a long break, a hiatus from identifying as an artist. It’s good to take a break sometimes. What I am noticing is that it relieves a lot of pressure. Pressure to be something else, to be doing something else besides living day to day. It does relieve pressure. But it hasn’t brought me peace. I look to another day, a small room of my own. Maybe that’s dreaming an unrealistic dream. I don’t know. All I have is this moment. This one moment. In this moment, I end a writing practice and move on.

-from a Writing Practice with No Topic, November 30th, 2014


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When I feel lost, I go back to what I know. Back to my practices. Back to Beginner’s Mind. I am rereading Everyday Sacred by Sue Bender. She writes and sketches her journey with the begging bowl. The image of the bowl became the image of the book. The empty bowl, waiting to be filled.


Stories move in circles. They don’t go in straight lines. So it helps if you listen in circles. There are stories inside stories and stories between stories, and finding your way through them is as easy and as hard as finding your way home. And part of the finding is the getting lost. And when you’re lost, you start to look around and to listen.

-quote by Deena Metzger from Everyday Sacred by Sue Bender


-posted on red Ravine, Friday, January 2nd, 2015

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My first bicycle. Royal blue, silver fenders, metal training wheels bolted on to the frame. Practicing, practicing, practicing until I got it right. Riding a bicycle, my first taste of freedom. My second bicycle, a 26 inch with a wire basket in the front to hold my text books. Books covered in brown paper that was once a bag, drawn on, colored on, with stickers and awkward handwriting. I never had good handwriting. I remember learning to ride a bicycle. The scariest part was the space between the wobble from one training wheel hitting the ground, then the other. Or maybe the scariest part was when the rubber actually hit the sidewalk and it felt off balance, like I was going to tip over, fall to the pavement, scrape my knee.

What I remember about my first bicycle isn’t as much about the object as the person who cared enough to hold the back of the seat until I got my balance, the person who ran along beside me when I teetered, who knew when it was safe to let go after the training wheels were unbolted—let go and let me fly. It’s the memories more than the objects. The objects are triggers. When we moved to Pennsylvania, our breezeway was always full of bicycles. Kids and bicycles. There was always one kid learning to ride a bike. It was the way my brothers roamed the streets with their friends.

I don’t remember riding in a group. It was more of a solitary effort for me. A way to get away and be alone. I clearly remember one ride to elementary school. I was so entranced with the ride, with the process, with looking down and viewing my feet turn the pedals, that I forgot to look up, and ran smack dab into a parked car. It jolted me, my text books flew out of the basket and on to the ground. I caught myself before I fell over but that jolt! when the tire hit the chrome fender, I will never forget it. I was embarrassed and looked around to see if anyone saw me fall. Which matters most? The fall or those who witness the fall.

Now that I think about it, my first bicycle taught me to trust. The second taught me how to fly solo, to be faster than anyone else, to not be afraid. My bicycles taught me independence, to trust myself, how to balance when things were careening out of control, how to stop on a dime right before the pothole swallowed me. My first bike was more than a bicycle. It was the beginning of learning to hold the world in the soles of my feet and the handlebar underneath my palms. It was a way to get away from the crowd, time to think, the feeling I’d later experience again when I learned to ride a motorcycle. There is no freedom like being on a two-wheeler, running under the power of your own two feet.


-related to Topic post: WRITING TOPIC — MY FIRST BICYCLE

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My Refrigerator, photo © 2010 by chickenlil. All rights reserved.


From chickenlil:

This is a photo I took last summer, my grandson decided to play a practical joke on us by loading the fridge with trolls! Had to take a picture of that!



My Refrigerator, photo © 2010 by reccos62. All rights reserved.


From reccos62:

What is on my D or no D? BITE ME from Assateague Island, two PSU football player cards that match the jerseys my daughter and I have, a picture of my honey, weight loss ideas, a school photo of my bonus son.


When we posted WRITING TOPIC — MY REFRIGERATOR on red Ravine last week, our readers were inspired to take photographs of their refrigerators. The above are a few of the images we received. Hope you enjoy them as much as we do. We’d love to see the inside/outside of your refrigerator. If you are so inspired, send your FridgeFotos to info@redRavine.com. Or make a list of what’s inside/outside of your refrigerator and join us in a Writing Practice. When inspiration strikes, follow the Muse!

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My Refrigerator

My Refrigerator, BlackBerry Shots, Golden Valley, Minnesota, September 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


To some, refrigerators are bare places, slick and spit-polish clean. Enamel, stainless steel, plastic. Avocado greens and lemon yellows in the 1970’s. Black, white, and stainless steel, the current aesthetic. For some, appliances are pieces of art — sleek, retro, places that make a statement through even curves and vintage hardware. In our house, the fridge is a place that collects — grocery lists, receipts, magnets, calendars, bits and pieces of our lives. One day, we realize the clutter for what it is, throw the valuable photos and magnets in a shoebox, and toss the rest. Until the cycle begins again.

The front of my refrigerator reflects a timeline of my life, something I call fridge typography. Magnets from Ocean City, Maryland, an old photo of Liz’s sister when she was a small girl, the Morton Salt Umbrella Girl, the official Geocaching logo, Lily and Hope black bear swag from our trip to the North American Bear Center in Ely, Minnesota last July. There is a school photo of my niece, a postcard of Hershey Kisses I sent to Liz when I was in Pennsylvania in May, another of the World’s Largest Boot (size 638 1/2 D) sent to Liz by Bob (or was it Jude) when we were down near Red Wing, Minnesota for a writing retreat earlier this year.


Fridge Topography - 259/365

Fridge Typography, September 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


What does your fridge look like? Is the outside uncluttered and sparse? If so, open the door. What food do you have inside your refrigerator? Is it all fresh and ready to eat? Or are there a few rotten items to be tossed. What about the freezer? Do you have old-style vintage refrigerator coils (remember what it used to be like to defrost condenser coils)? Or is yours state of the art, energy efficient, humming along quietly in the night.




Fifteen minutes should do it. Or if you’re on a roll, go for 20. Get out your fast writing pens and Writing Practice notebook. Jot down My Refrigerator, and Go!




-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, September 19th, 2010

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Berth Of The Night Owl, outside Mickey’s Diner, St. Paul, Minnesota, November 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.







drenched beads of lens sweat
black fog that spawns crusty rain
berth of the night owl







Sometimes the best shots are unplanned. A few weeks ago, Liz and I drove through St. Paul after going to see a music performance of Strange Attractors. It was almost midnight, rainy and foggy. We parked at different spots downtown and took a series of photographs. She stepped out into the rain; I stayed behind and shot from the car. I feel lucky my partner is one who loves the night (and art) as much as I do. It provides opportunities for creative sharing that might not otherwise take place. And we can spend downtime together in our art studio in Northeast Minneapolis.

The best part of this rainy shot of Mickey’s Diner through the windshield is the BlackBerry sitting on the dash. When the photo is viewed in its largest size, you can clearly see the raindrop reflections on the screen. They make it look like the rain fell through the glass. This time the photograph was not taken with the camera phone; she’s one of the stars.


Other Night Owl posts from over the years:



-posted on red Ravine, Friday, November 27th, 2009

-related to posts: haiku 2 (one-a-day), WRITING TOPIC — WINDOW

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Sink Mandala, Kohler Design Center, Kohler, Wisconsin, October 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.







sinks, tubs, and faucets
beauty in beholder’s eye
form follows function


dazzled by bathrooms
Zen nests of relaxation
“sink into our tubs”


preconceived notions
dance and spin down spotless drains
life imitates art










We visited the Kohler Design Center after a writing retreat on Lake Michigan in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin. Most fascinating to me was the history of Kohler Company, founded in 1873 when Austrian immigrant John Michael Kohler purchased a cast iron and steel  foundry in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The company made anything you can imagine out of cast iron and porcelain — from radiators to the first sink dishwasher. From farm implements to a generator for Admiral Byrd for one of his Antarctic expeditions.

Many of these vintage items are housed in the basement museum where we spent at least an hour walking around last week. The top photo is a shot of the inside of a black porcelain sink reflecting daylight through a large picture window. Sinks, tubs, and toilets never looked better. After you visit Kohler Design Center, you’ll not only want a new bathroom, you won’t be able to imagine spending time anywhere else.

Last time I was in Sheboygan County for a writing retreat, our host Jude took us to visit the John Michael Kohler Arts Center. Same family,  in full support of the Arts. The museum’s director is artist Ruth DeYoung Kohler, granddaughter of John Michael Kohler (her portrait hangs in the Kohler Design Center). She must love her work; she’s been the director for 37 years. The museum is housed in the 19th-century Italianate mansion that once belonged to her grandfather.

An hour north of Milwaukee, the Kohler Arts Center is known for giving back and building community through the Arts. Each year, between 16 and 22 artists are selected from hundreds of applicants to spend two to six months working in Kohler Company’s Iron and Brass Foundries, Pottery, and Enamel Shop. Kohler Arts is also on the map for exhibiting Outsider or self-taught art with particular attention paid to large scale installations and architecture. You can read more about the Kohler in the New York Times article by Jori Finkel, Way Off the Beaten Path, Letting the Outsiders In.

Another thing the Kohler is famous for? Its 7 theme based bathrooms painted and designed by artists. What could be more natural? According to the website, “the washrooms were one of the few public spaces where permanently installed works of art would be considered, serving to uphold the Arts Center‘s philosophy that art can enliven, enrich, and inform every facet of our everyday lives.”

If you’re ever in Sheboygan County, add the Kohler Design Center and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center to your list of enriching experiences. And prepare to start saving for a newly designed bathroom.


The Arts Center shall continue its leadership roles of nourishing diversity and building community through the arts. In all programming, the Arts Center shall cultivate connections: between artists and audiences, between artists and communities, between emerging and established artists, between local and visiting artists, between the Arts Center and other organizations, between art forms, and between past and present.


Luxury Bath, Swirl, Black & White, Above: Wall Of Toilets, Kohler Design Center, Leave It All Behind, Everyday Art, Things That Are Round, Kohler Design Center, Kohler, Wisconsin, October 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, October 15th, 2009

-related to posts: haiku 2 (one-a-day), State Of The Arts (haiku for Kuan-Yin), Walking Your Talk (Do The Arts Matter), Martín Ramírez In Rain Taxi, Gripped By Cathy Wysocki

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American Rug Laundry, Lake Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 

I’ve always wanted to photograph the American Rug Laundry building on Lake Street in Minneapolis. At the end of June, I had a chance to photograph the building before and after dining at a nearby Lake Street restaurant to celebrate a friend’s birthday.

I decided to do a photographic study from different angles, at dusk and by night. I’m a long-time fan of vintage neon signs and couldn’t decide which photographs to post, so I left most of them in my Flickr set. The graphic elements make the sign come alive: the rusted screen, angled chains, and black-tipped pins that looks like a larger version of pins a seamstress might use. I am also drawn to the vintage typography. Do you have a favorite shot?

The American Rug Laundry was established in 1895 and is the largest and oldest rug cleaning and carpet repair facility in the Upper Midwest. Large floor rugs used to be hand-delivered and there are some wonderful historic black and white photographs from the 1920’s all the way up to 1954 on their site.

There is also a FAQs page where you can learn some of the differences between handmade and machine made rugs. One of the most obvious differences is that in a hand knotted rug, the fringe is part of the rug and not sewn on as an extension. Another difference is that tufted rugs are almost always covered with a cotton/canvas backing, while the pattern is clearly visible on the backside of hand knotted rugs.

Since our current home has wall-to-wall carpet, we have a handmade rug from Liz’s childhood (last cleaned at the American Rug Laundry) stored in our attic. But I think our next house will have hardwood floors. Which do you prefer?

 
 

Lake Street At Night, American Rug Laundry Chains, American Rug Laundry Clearance, Dusk At American Rug Laundry, Cash & Carry, Sign Study – Rug Laundry, Lake Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 

-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

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