Driving through Brocton

After our opening at the Octagon Gallery in Westfield on Friday, we headed to Fredonia for dinner and drinks with friends.  Deb’s friend Steve rode with Allen and me to make sure we didn’t get lost.  Along the way we passed through Brocton, a tiny village within the town of Portland in Chautauqua County.  It would have been easy to overlook Brocton all together if we’d been driving through during the day, but at night its old store fronts and abandoned businesses seem fantastically lit by a combination of rickety street lights and the stars in the sky.

I quickly snapped half a dozen mental images as we whizzed down E. Main Street which cuts Brocton in half along Rout 20.  Just as we reached the end of the strip, Allen insisted we turn around so I could take a picture of something he had seen.  We circled around and I grabbed this shot.  Allen felt the connection to my work would be interesting to me, and he was right.  It’s an abandoned doll shop Called Pegg’s Enchanted Doll House and Hospital.  I can’t wait to go back some night and take more pictures in Brocton.

Instagram Interrupted My Omaha Dream

I was very disappointed when Instagram went down (Crashed) during my trip to Omaha.  It happened right after the fireworks display at my aunt’s 90th birthday party.  Omaha is such a great city and I was really looking forward to trying to capture, as closely as possible, something resembling the  romanticized images of my home town that appear sometimes in my dreams.  I often joke to my friends in Buffalo that Omaha is a perfect, wonderful, far off land that they should visit as soon as possible.  Here are 4 more shots I was able to take prior to and immediately following the crash, before heading back to Buffalo.  Venues pictured include, Film Streams, Homer’s Records, Fireworks at Ponca Hills FarmCaffeine Dreams.

Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living.
– Anais Nin

At Film Streams, Omaha, 2012
At Film Streams, Omaha, 2012
Homer's Records, Omaha, 2012
Homer’s Records, Omaha, 2012
Fireworks for Ann, 2012
Fireworks for Ann, 2012
Caffeine Dreams, Omaha, 2012
Caffeine Dreams, Omaha, 2012

Ophelia: In Search of a Metaphor

Every time I come across this 1852 rendition of Ophelia by John Everett Millais, my mind starts searching for a metaphor to relate back to my project Tangled.  I’m drawn to it almost entirely because of the abundant detail and intense colors Millais used, which are typical of the complex compositions of the  Pre-Raphalite painters.

The story behind Millais’ painting is interesting and strangely aligned with the story of Ophelia.  Elizabeth Siddal modeled for this mysterious Shakespearian death scene, in a bathtub with lamps beneath to warm the water.  On one occasion, the lamps went out and the water grew icy cold.  Siddal became ill, apparently willfully, for she remained in the water without protest as Millais painted on for hours.  She eventually died of a drug overdose that is widely held to have been a suicide.

From Gertrude’s speech about the death of Ophelia we learn that she accidentally fell into the water and then simply neglected to save herself from sinking. This passiveness is very much in line with the way Ophelia lived her life throughout the play – always going with the flow, doing what she was told to do, never making a decision for herself.  What is intriguing to me beyond the sublime aesthetics of the painting is how Ophelia’s story takes a turn with Gertrude’s further observations that Ophelia’s death seemed natural and that she was mermaid-like or a “native” creature in the water.  This is something she had never shown an inclination toward in life.  It’s almost as if the flora of the river and the riverbank, so beautifully depicted in Millais painting had the power to seduce Ophelia to surrender her life to the growth and decay of the natural ecosystem.

I’m still searching for my metaphor.  I feel it very much within reach.

When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide;
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up:
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes;
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element: but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death