Category Archives: An Indiana Experience
CNN Health contacted me recently. They saw my State Fair photos on Flickr and were interested in using possibly three of them for an online article they are doing on fair foods. Of course, I said “YES!”
But this post isn’t about my photos being selected by CNN for publication. This post is about the fact that they aren’t paying to use my photos, just giving me photo credit. What??? you say. You’re doing a freebie for CNN! How – how – how dare you.
I know. This can be a contentious topic. “I have a photo opportunity for you that will look good in your portfolio. We can’t pay you, though, but it’s a great opportunity!”
Ever heard that? I have. Many times!!!! And I DO NOT AGREE WITH IT! I take offense to it.
So why did I let CNN have my photos for nothing more than a photo credit? I have thought about this on many occasions because this tends to happen to me (though not from anyone even remotely close to CNN’s status). I have had to understand why I don’t balk at saying yes in these situations, but still adamantly oppose “taking photos for free” with the assurance that it will be a great experience for me and one I can add to my portfolio.
Here’s what I’ve discovered.
I went to the Indiana State Fair and took photos for my own enjoyment. I had no plans, other than sharing them on Flickr. It was enjoyable for me to be at the State Fair and to find photo opportunities. No one asked me to do it. And that’s the difference. NO ONE ASKED ME TO DO IT.
CNN didn’t come to me and say, “Hey, we have an assignment that will be a great opportunity for you. Take photos of fair foods and we’ll give you photo credit only. It will be a great portfolio piece.” The fact that CNN came to me and requested use of my photos is part of the original experience…something that resulted because of something I did, not something someone else asked me to do.
So I find it to be an honor that my photos have been singled out.
Here are the three photos they requested for consideration. They selected the first photo for publication. You can see the article at CNN Health and my photo is the second photo in the slide show.
I hadn’t taken a real photo in weeks. Oh, I’ve been playing around with the iPhone and having fun with Instagram and Snapseed, two apps that add a little funk to photos, but I hadn’t taken a dedicated camera out, not even my point-and-shoot!
Also, I was out of wine. I had a growler I could fill with wine from New Day Meadery—a local winery with soooo delicious wine—so I decided to head to Fountain Square where they have a tasting room. I wanted Snap Dragon, a fizzy, crisp, apricot cider that tastes like summer in a glass.
Fountain Square is one of three designated art districts in Indianapolis. I knew if I walked around a bit, I would find interesting subjects to photograph.
But it was a hot, hot, hothothot day and after 20 minutes in the blazing sun, I gave in to an air-conditioned car. Besides, I couldn’t let my chilled cider warm up in the car while I walked around, now could I? I didn’t leave empty-handed, though. Fountain Square is a photographer’s mecca. I can just imagine this on a weekend or at night when lots of people pack the sidewalks.
All this in 20 minutes around one block. When the days cool down, I will go back. And then the fun begins!
Blink and you’ll miss it. You’ll probably miss it anyway because you are focused on driving. I’m glad. That means I get it all to myself, because you won’t see it to stop, unless you’re looking for it, it’s that inconspicuous.
Daubenspeck Community Nature Park is a gem. It is prairie meadows, wetlands, and forest all hugged together on 22 acres. I go there to walk and to meditate and to enjoy the meadow. It is lovely and secluded even though it is surrounded by roads and cars and houses. But once in the park, you forget everything else.
It’s tulip season! And what better way to celebrate it than to visit Garfield Park’s Conservatory and Sunken Garden where their first seasonal flowers, the tulips, are blooming! Because I live on the north side of Indianapolis and they are on the south side, I don’t get to just pop in any time. I have to make it a destination.
When I heard that 10,000 tulips were in bloom, and because I pretty much missed most of spring due to the flu, I drove down to the park. The day was warm for spring and a slight breeze made the tulips sway on their stalks. It is three acres of garden and with few people there, I felt I had the garden all to myself.
I believe the tulips are early this season. Usually they peak in mid-April but I suspect they were peaking while I was there, which happened to be March 30th. I am so glad I made it to the gardens before the tulips finished their spring show. I took a few photos while there. Enjoy!
I am always looking for inexpensive but rewarding things to do in Indianapolis and with the Sunken Garden being free, you can’t beat that! The Conservatory has a $3 charge but that is minimal for the experience of a tropical retreat. And if you want to explore the rest of Garfield Park, do so! It is huge and has many different places you can scout out. Also, I have a Flickr photo set of more images I’ve taken at the Conservatory if you want to check it out. (P.S. I am not affiliated with Garfield Park in any way.)
Last year, Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) celebrated the Spring Equinox with Sun Boxes, a solar-powered sound installation by Craig Colorusso. When I think of what I expect to experience at an art museum, I think of experiencing something visual. Sun Boxes, however, are very plain in appearance and hardly vision-worthy, but that’s a good thing! Sun Boxes are not intended as a visual experience but as an audio experience and so with nothing overtly interesting to look at, you close your eyes and relax into the meditative tones.
I didn’t take a lot of photos that day because, like many others, I lay down, closed my eyes, and opened myself up to a peaceful and rejuvenating experience. It was glorious.
The Three Graces located on the grounds at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) is by far my favorite statue in all of Indianapolis. It is at the end of the sweeping lawns called The Allée in the Oldfields gardens. To visit this statue is to find refuge and tranquility and is well-worth the time to discover it.
There were some things about the statue that I didn’t know but wanted to include in the description above. I knew it was called the Three Graces and that it is at the IMA and that it is located at the end of a expansive lawn. But does that lawn have a name? So I looked it up online. I discovered the lawn is called The Allée and is part of the Oldfields garden. I also discovered that my photo is not unique. If you google “Three Graces, Indianapolis Museum of Art” and look at images only, you will see many photos very similar to mine.
I have been thinking lately about what it is that makes a photo interesting. As much as I like this photo because I love the experience I have getting to it, I don’t think the photo is something truly inspiring. It is rather mundane because of so many similar photos taken of it. You would not be able to distinguish this as a photo I took because so many others have taken the same photo. So I have determined that this photo is what I call an informational photo. It says, “Here’s a photo of an interesting statue you may some day want to visit.” It doesn’t say, “Here is beauty and tranquility” or “This is awe-inspiring” or “This is unique”. The photo has no other value than to show you there’s a really cool statue at the IMA that you may want to visit some day.
I’m chuckling to myself right now. I clicked on one of the images on Google images because it looked like a photo I took. For a minute there I thought it took me to my Flickr page of images I have taken of this statue and I got rather excited because maybe, just maybe I did get a unique photo of this statue. Then I remembered that I haven’t uploaded any of my IMA photos to Flickr yet (with the exception of this one today)! See! That’s how indistinct this photo is.
All that being said, though, the Three Graces is impressive and when you see it you will understand how beautiful it is in its surroundings. And perhaps you will get the photo I’ve missed….unless I beat you to it. 🙂
Art is not just a one-time experience. To really understand it, one needs to return to it and study it or contemplate it. My first time visiting TURF: IDADA Art Pavilion was rewarding in itself but I knew it needed a second visit. My first visit delighted me with the ambitious nature of the project (showcasing Indiana arts and artists) and allowed me to be amazed with my initial experience. I left with favorites. I knew my experience was incomplete so I went back where I gained a deeper appreciation for the installations I enjoyed and those I didn’t understand. TURF: IDADA Art Pavilion is open through February 5th—just two more days! (Three if you count today.) It is part of the Super Bowl XLVI event and is worth taking time to visit.
A cascade of monitors featuring waterfalls flows down the wall, through the rough terrain of black umbrellas, and under a bridge—the very bridge I cross over to move to the next installation. As one of the first installations, it crosses me over from the mundane world outside and takes me into the world of art and metaphor.
A snake or dragon slithers across a screen, each scale alive with smaller videos of a night market. I pause to watch it undulate up and down the screen. Time stops for me as I stand mesmerized by its hypnotic movement.
I didn’t understand this installation the first time through. I was too focused on the rusted cans and the beauty inherent in their abandoned character. Because of this, I didn’t see the complete installation. This second time through, I stood back and all at once I noticed the odd juxtaposing of progress and the debris it leaves behind.
I once lived in a house with a hole in the ceiling. The bathroom tub sat precariously over this hole. I look at the fridge, broken through the ceiling and crashed into the floor, and see a bathtub and I think, That could be me under there.
I sit in a chair and contemplate the swirls on the floor canvas. Each swirl chalked in with a charred bone. Each swirl a microcosmic similitude of the macrocosmic heavens.
A diorama of a fox contemplating drums and a movie of a man turning to nature; one a still life, unable to fulfill the suggested idea, the other real life, quite capable of becoming what it suggests.
The sanctuary of an outhouse amidst a cacophany of sayings and slogans and surrounded by ravens. Nevermore
Vinyl pours abundantly out of a spout, bubbling over the ground and splashing across the walls. I long to be immersed in that liquid. I long to stack vinyl three or four deep on the post in the center of the turntable and listen to, not just the music, but the mechanical sound of the arm settling into the grooves, of the arm retracting when done. And I even miss the scratching sound as the needle jumps across the vinyl when I am careless.
I enjoyed the second time through as much as the first time through. I was wowed the first time but the second time I began to understand a deeper meaning each artist included in their installation—whether they intended that meaning or not. As a viewer, I bring my own background to the installations and add my own meaning to it. That’s the nature of art. It’s a dialogue; a dialogue between the artist, the art, and the viewer. And that is why I like to go back, to return and continue the dialogue.
I stood quietly leaning against a pillar and watched the shadow. It moved ever so slowly. How long? How much longer must I wait for it to finish scraping across the “I” of the XLVI? I must have been standing there for an hour. It felt like an hour. I looked at the time. Only five minutes. Groan.
I stared at the shadow. It stayed motionless. I blinked. It inched. Patience, I told myself. You came down to Super Bowl Village so you could get a photo of the giant XLVI. Don’t blow it because you lack patience.
I had seen photos of the giant XLVI and of the Indy cars that would only be on the circle through today and I knew I had to experience the Super Bowl hype. So here I am, with hundreds of others, taking photos, with hundreds of others.
But I came at the wrong time. I didn’t want a photo of Super Bowl XL! But that’s what I would get if I didn’t exert patience. Yes, I exert patience, because it’s hard!
While waiting for the perfect moment, I wandered around Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument hoping to get an interesting shot from behind. Not as many people crowded the area. I suppose because most people want photos and memories of XLVI and not IVLX. I had hoped for something interesting, but the energy was not as great behind the giant numerals.
I wound my way back to the front. The sun had moved enough so that the numerals became XLV. But XLV is sooooo last year!
While I waited, I went to the end of the Indy cars, hoping to get a decent shot. Nope. Besides for the hundreds of people crowding around the cars, I still had issues with light and shadow. I gave up on getting a decent Indy car photo, especially after hearing one photographer call out another one for getting in his way. Crowds can be that way sometimes. So I pushed through the hordes and went back to the XLVI.
I parked myself against a pillar in the place I had staked out on my walk-about and willed the shadow to disappear so that I could get that one photo I had come downtown to get. Patience paid off. The sun shone straight down Meridian Street and onto the XLVI.
In a few minutes, the shadows would start creeping up again as the sun crossed behind the buildings on the other side of the street. I knew I had a keeper with the above photo. It showed the numerals and I liked the angle, but I wanted more. I wanted something unique. I know the circle well enough to know there are unconventional perspectives. My favorite is finding reflections in windows. So, while everyone aimed their cameras towards the XLVI, I aimed mine at windows. I took a number of photos in this way, but this one is my absolute favorite.
I know no one will call me up and say, “Hey, we want to use that photo on the cover on Indianapolis Monthly!” But that’s ok because I love it. I waited patiently for the light to be just right and I got the shot.
(Now I will shamelessly direct you to my Flickr Super Bowl 2012 photostream so you can see other photos I took. A number of them are reflection shots. I will be adding more to it because I fully intend to go back, hopefully on Monday. I also wrote about my experience at TURF: IDADA Art Pavilion, which is an art pavilion created especially for the Super Bowl.)
The city of Indianapolis is hosting the Super Bowl this year. They took a bold initiative and included the arts as part of the celebration, something no other Super Bowl has done. Right now in downtown Indianapolis in the Old Indianapolis City Hall on Alabama Street, Indianapolis Downtown Artists and Dealers Association (IDADA) presents TURF: IDADA Art Pavilion.
I took my friend, Kathryn, with me. She loves art and art installations so I knew she would appreciate this. She hadn’t heard of it and was a little skeptical. All that changed when we saw the first installation.
I don’t read artist’s statements anymore. Instead, I walk into an exhibit or look at a painting and I bring my own background and my own feelings and understandings to the artwork and if it touches me or says something to me then I am content. I say this because I will be expressing my thoughts and feelings and opinions on the following installations. They may or may not reflect the intention of the artist.
Artist: C. Thomas Lewis Better or Worse?
Eyes, strange and disturbing, peered out over top of me. Mostly unblinking, very human, very inhuman. They saw but didn’t see. Emotionless. All the same but each different.
My feelings in the space intrigued me, however, Kathryn was intrigued with the mechanics. How did he project the eyes perfectly onto the cutouts? Is that a shadow on the wall behind them or is it painted? It’s painted! No, it’s a shadow! Look. Across the way she finds the audio and presses her ears against the wall to hear someone whisper, “Better or Worse?” On the disks in the corner opposite the eyes, the E of the eye chart was projected in various levels of focus. “Better or Worse?”
I looked up at the disks at the moment “Orange” was projected onto one of them. Then it changed to “Purple”. In that instance I understood. This installation was about perception. I saw the color purple but read the word “orange.” What did that do to me? Did it throw me off kilter? Yes, it did. I had just read a chapter in a book about this very thing. Reading the word purple and seeing it bathed in purple engages the automatic nervous system and we think nothing about it. But reading the word purple bathed in orange is jarring and makes us stop and take notice. Is it purple or is it orange? It is this juxtaposition of two different systems that allows us to question our perception. Better or worse?
Artist: Anila Quayyum Agha My Forked Tongue
Language hangs all around me. Strings of letters that, if strung carefully, create words and words create sounds and sounds create language. I was in a surreal world of streaming 1’s and 0’s only, instead of 1’s they were letters, and instead of 0’s they were scripts of other cultures. I felt all of civilization wash over me. I recognized shadow shapes on the wall, portending the future of new words and new languages or revealing the ancient past of languages lost.
This was my favorite exhibit. It told me so much with so little.
Artist: Jeff Martin Switch v2.0
Delightful! Fun! Intriguing! Easily understood and fun to play with. Two walls bearing light-sensitive night lights light up as you walk/run/jump/skip by. Extend your arm, and your arm-shadow lights up. I had too much fun playing with this installation and creating light shadows of myself to think of it as being something deep and philosophical. But that’s ok. I’m sure I could come up with something, but, nah! Let this one be just a lot of fun.
Artist: Lesley Baker Bull In A China Shop
At first, I wasn’t interested. By this time I had seen many installations with technology applied to them that were new and impressive. So to see a wooden bull looking at what appeared to be white flowers on the ground really didn’t grab my attention. My first thought was of Ferdinand the Bull and his flowers.
But Kathryn and I circled around and were surprised to see he was anatomically gifted. Then Kathryn read the title of the installation, “Bull in a China Shop,” and all of a sudden my experience with this installation changed. I backed up and looked at this huge bull in this room. And instead of thinking this enormous beast was out of its element, large and clumsy and destroying precious china, I thought, “Man, this bull is rather ballsy to be in a china shop in the first place.” I have a new appreciation for the idiom, “You’re like a bull in a china shop.” The next time I hear that, I’ll say, “Why, thanks!”
Artist: Mike Lyons A Rapid Validation
I admit, when I first saw this I wanted to run screaming. But that’s because I hate chaos. I hate clutter. It makes me nervous. I need things in some semblance of order or organization. Ten years ago you would have never heard me say that, but lately I’m almost compulsive about it.
Kathryn didn’t like it either but for different reasons. She didn’t like the three TVs with animated blobs on them, especially the last one that looked like a Hershey’s Kiss getting covered with pustules and boils, like a disease. She hated it. However, for me those three TVs kept me sane. When Kathryn said she’d get rid of them, my imagination removed them and the whole chaotic mess inside started to ooze out towards me. I saw it coming, building upon itself because we all know that chaos is the true nature of things and that organization takes thought and control. That…mess…inched towards me like the beginning of an avalanche until I pulled myself together and mentally shoved the three TVs back in place. They may show diseased globs but that dis-ease is what keeps chaos in check. Oddly enough, I may not have liked this installation but it has made me think the most and that is why I think it works.
Artist: Holly Streekstra Step on This Side of the Curtain
Entering through a black curtain into a dark room with a flickering overhead globe chandelier. Between the fritzing on and off of the globes a surreal parlor emerges. Whispers scurry across the walls and I realize I’m in the middle of a seance or some such otherworldly experience.
The globe chandelier lights up and I see into the room weirdly. I see a telescope and a chalkboard on a table. Are they for seeing into the realms of the dead? for automatic writing? And is that a mirror over the fireplace? I look into it but see only the chandelier reflected back. I do not exist. The room goes dark again and the globes flicker. Such a tranquil room; such macabre wonder.
There were other installations worth noting. One that held special significance for me was of a refrigerator that had fallen through the open floor above and had crashed through the main floor. I walked into that installation and exclaimed, “That’s my tub! Only it’s a fridge!” (I once lived in a house where the upstairs bathroom floor had crumbled and exposed the tub to the living room below…I was sure the tub would fall through any day.) Over all, there are 22 installations—enough to satisfy almost everyone.
I am glad that Indianapolis takes great pride in their artist community. I am glad they are including the arts as part of the Super Bowl experience. Way to go, Indy!
TURF: IDADA Art Pavilion is opened Tues-Sun from 10:00am – 7:00 pm. It’s free and it’s worth the time and parking to see it.
(I am not in any way connected to IDADA. I just loved the exhibit and had to write about it.)
I haven’t been posting photos to 365 Days Journey Through the Past for the last couple of days because I’m rather discouraged. Don’t get me wrong, I’m on track. I’ve been adding them to my Flickr account and at the end of the month they will be included in the monthly wrap-up, but right now I can’t help but wonder, what’s the point? I can tell that in the past during January I wasn’t really inspired and under other circumstances the photos would remain filed away on my computer because they really aren’t that good.
Part of my problem right now is that I don’t know what direction I want to go with photography; nature? people? animals? urban? other???? I love cemeteries and have tons of cemetery photos. I also love urban decay and have done some fun things with that. But I’m not inspired by either one right now. I want to include a human element to my photos, also—I had a lot of fun photographing my friend’s children!—but I’m still rather reticent to ask strangers if I can photograph them. I think I need an infusion of newness. I love Indianapolis, but I’ve been here too long without a change of scenery! I need a vacation!
Anyway, it snowed FINALLY and the snow is still on the ground so I thought I’d go to Holliday Park and see what I could find. At first it was the same stuff as always. I live a few blocks from Holliday Park so I go there a lot. Then I went into the Nature Center and sat watching the birds and squirrels through the one-way window. I lifted the camera to my eye and before I knew it, I got lost taking photos. Enjoy!
I used my 55-250mm zoom lens. I set the white balance for cloudy, which worked well outside. When I went inside the Nature Center and shot through the windows, I assumed I should keep it at cloudy. But, nope, when I color corrected in camera RAW, I learned I should have set the white balance to fluorescent. I’ll have to read up on why the indoor lighting superseded the outdoor lighting when my subjects were outside. Hmmmmm…..
UPDATE: I pondered this over the course of the day and came to the conclusion that the actual light hitting the camera sensor was from inside the building, not the outside light, and therefore need to take into consideration the indoor light situation. That is my conclusion at this point, but I’m still going to look into it.