It's Been a While

This site has been quiet as other projects have been getting more of my attention. But recently words & images got some love from me when I decided to print them large for the wall as I've always wanted to. And doing them as metal prints has proven to be a fantastic fit. 

A couple now hang as part of a show of 29 Venice Beach artists at the Hängar in Los Angeles. More will be on display in a couple months as part of another show. It's exciting to feel excited about words & images again. I sense some new creations brewing.

'Journey' & 'We Don't Collide' at The Hängar in Los Angeles. (24" x 36")

'Journey' & 'We Don't Collide' at The Hängar in Los Angeles. (24" x 36")

more roadtrippin'

If you've been here before and read Ellie's post, you know that I have taken advantage of the geographic diversity of my friends in distributing my cards in an array of settings. Well, even before Ellie got underway, dear friend Eric had approached me about trailing my cards across the U.S.

In his own very generous words, "I've known Debbie for many years from our careers as film editors in Los Angeles. We've kept in touch, and I've watched her evolve over time into an accomplished photographer and blog writer, who has now emerged as a poet - always growing as an artist. When I first went to her 'I Hold This Moment' website and saw the cool 'words and images' cards that Deb was taking out into the streets and posting at random locations, I thought, 'Aha!  Deb is now a guerrilla artist!' As I planned my escape from Los Angeles for the summer, back to the old family cabin in Saratoga Co., NY, I decided to take her up on her request for help in getting her cards into new territory, and offered to post some of her cards along my cross-country drive, guerrilla-style: I'd stealthily post a card, then be on my way out of town before anyone noticed the important message I'd left behind, compelling them to hold that moment!  What an adventure!  

"Armed with seven of her cards, I loaded my car and headed east. Unfortunately, by the time I took my foot off the gas pedal, it was five days later and I was arriving at the cabin. So instead, I decided to post the cards in various New York State locations..."

Eric is an astute observer of humanity and the goings on around him. Here are his musings prompted by his postcard dispersal.

July 8  Northville, NY
"When we "go into town" for groceries and stuff, the closest place is Northville (pop.1050), eight miles away. My co-conspirator Leslie and I are sitting in the laundromat and I'm struck by this poor woman sitting over by the dryers, and how miserable she looks. I notice there's a bulletin board next to the exit.  Then I think, 'Duh! This woman needs a little cheering up, and probably could use some inspiration, too.  I'll post one of Deb's cards.'  And up went the card that begins, 'you search for your personal portal to your personal path...' Hopefully, she'll come over and read it."

July 21  Northville Laundromat
"I'm back here with another load of dirty laundry. The sad woman is nowhere to be found, and much to my disappointment, Deb's card is gone. It's been replaced by a colorful flyer called 'God Loves You' put there by the Broadalbin Methodist Church.  
'Here we go again,' I'm stewing, 'big box organized religions, and their well-funded proselytizing! How can we hope to compete with the Methodists? The little mom and pop ideologies just don't stand a chance!' But upon reflection over a bag of Mike and Ikes from the vending machine while my laundry does circles in the dryer, I realize that 'God Loves You' is not such a bad message at all, and in any case, the messages on Deb's cards are all different, and as such there is no specific dogma, creed, or 'word' contained in them as a whole. Anyway, I shouldn't get all hung up on the meanings of the cards; my job is to get the them out there, where the public can find them. In a recent e-mail, Deb had suggested putting the cards in well-trafficked places. Maybe Northville is just too small..."

August 8  Albany, NY
"The bus station in Albany is tucked beneath a downtown maze of exit ramps and overpasses, like a necessary but unglamorous organ; a spleen, or maybe a colon - since we're talking about bringing people in and sending them back out. Several thousand people pass through here every day, coming from or going to Buffalo or Boston, Montreal or New York City, and points in-between.

Eric, a postcard below his shoulder.

"Outside, several eager cabbies wait for fares. Inside, people wait for their busses. A young man slumps forward, dozing off. His cell phone slips to the floor. A family sitting in a booth in the snack bar chats loudly in some foreign tongue, interrupted by the ticket agent who slips inside the doorway and informs them that they're about to miss their bus.

"Our friend Robin has been visiting, but now she has to leave, and we're dropping her here to catch a bus to Logan Airport in Boston. I place a card in the snack bar, next to a greasy poster of a giant hamburger. People here have time on their hands as they wait to depart.  I can't resist posting Deb's card 'Beginning' ('when you climb out of a hole...').  She must've had the Albany bus station in mind when she wrote that!"

 

 

August 21  Edinburg, NY
"We take the back way home from Northville, up Tennantville Rd.  Leslie, a set painter by profession, notices this half-demolished old shack by the side of the road, saying it reminds her of a movie set, where one wall of a room is left out to accommodate the placement of the cameras. We stop to check it out, and I feel a sudden urge to post a card in this beautiful but surreal spot.  It's not exactly a 'well-trafficked area,' but we're here as a couple of lookie-loos, and others may stop here, too.

"The owner comes out of the house across the road to see what we're doing. Far from being angry at us trespassers, Dave (who is about fifty) is amused at the number of people who have stopped to look at the dilapidated relic, which is being dismantled piecemeal and hauled away by a neighbor in his spare time. He asks about the card which I've tacked to one of the walls and I say that I've been posting a number of them in various places for a friend in California. When he asks what their purpose is, I say, 'She's an artist.' This explanation seems to satisfy him. He chuckles and nods his head. Dave is a good man.

"He gives us a brief history of the area: Tennantville was a 19th Century hamlet located several miles deeper in the woods. There, a few dozen workers were employed in logging and milling lumber, as well as manufacturing various wood products from canes to toothpicks. He isn't certain how old this shack actually is, but when he acquired the property several years ago he was told that it had once been a little convenience store which served the rural community.

"Seeing that he has piqued our interest, Dave points to the barn next door, battered and leaning to one side. He tells us that the barn was the scene of a snowmobile fatality seven or eight winters ago when a drunken snowmobiler, traveling at high speed, failed to negotiate a curve in the road and crashed into the barn head-on, dying at the scene. A crude sheet of tin still covers the point of impact. Behind the barn sits a deep stand of Ponderosa pine, thick treetops cutting out the sunlight to the forest floor below - gray, gloomy, timeless - nature silently waiting to reclaim all trace of these old structures.
  

"I feel a brooding sense of energy here.  Long before we arrived to post our card, many souls passed through this very spot, and at least one of them died here. Without getting too distracted from being in the present moment, I believe it's good to be aware of the past, and of those who have gone before us."

August 28  Edinburg, NY
"I drive past the old Tennantville Rd. shack a week later and an additional two-thirds of it has disappeared, including the wall where the card was posted. Apparently Dave's neighbor has been continuing the demolition. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust."

  August 31  Saratoga Springs, NY
"Except for a couple of brief hiatuses for world wars, folks have come to the Saratoga Race Course each summer since 1863, when wealthy Easterners would arrive in Saratoga Springs to partake of the curative waters, to watch the horse races, and to escape the heat of the big cities. Today, old money families like the Whitneys and the Astors still come here, rubbing elbows with tens of thousands of common folks, all watching the races, hoping the Thoroughbred they've wagered on will win them some money.

"I post one of Deb's cards under the grandstand, just around the corner from a bank of betting monitors which is being studied intently by hundreds of fans between races. Later, I cruise back several times to stalk the posting, and am disappointed to see that everyone seems so intense in their study of the betting monitors that nobody is drawn over to look at the card.  I could probably put a burning cross on the wall, and no one would notice. Actually, the one thing that probably would make people notice the card would be to attach cash to it, or at least a parimutuel ticket for an upcoming race. But that isn't in the ground rules, I suppose - although no actual ground rules were included with my supply of cards."


September 9  Saugerties, NY
"I drive south a hundred miles to Saugerties to visit my old friend Alan, whom I've known since our days as freshmen in the college dorm. Just a few miles from Woodstock, its more celebrated neighbor, Saugerties has reinvented itself from a dying old river town on the Hudson into a gentrified patron to tourism (with a few rough edges), fortuitously positioned a convenient distance for weekenders up from New York City.  Alan suggests that we post a card at a civic arts project he has seen: an exhibition of about two dozen large sculptures and assemblages displayed on the sidewalk along a three block stretch of Main St. We park and walk.

"Our favorite sculpture combines elements of two local landmarks: the old Saugerties Lighthouse, and Big Pink, the historic house in the nearby woods where The Band wrote and recorded their breakthrough album "Music From Big Pink" in 1968. We made a pilgrimage there a couple of years ago. The Band had long-departed, but the house, now just another residence in exurbia, is still pink.

"Back on Main St., a little girl makes faces at us from inside the window of a beauty shop. A bored crossing guard at the corner watches us post Deb's card. It looks right at home, nestled between the lighthouse and the pink house."

September 27  Brooklyn, NY
"We are in Brooklyn, visiting Leslie's brother and his family before she flies back to LA. It's unseasonably hot for the end of September, and everyone is hanging out on the sidewalk, or cooling off in Prospect Park. As we walk around, I carry Deb's card with the image of all the old staples from long-ago ads covering a telephone pole as I search here in Brooklyn for another telephone pole covered with old staples on which to post it. Unfortunately, the telephone poles around here are all metal - there's not a single patch of rusty staples to be found - but I do come across this cool classic archway at a corner of Prospect Park. Knowing that Deb is a dog lover and dog rescue advocate, I place her card on a metal pole beneath a flyer for dog walking."


September  28  Brooklyn Parade Grounds
"The Parade Grounds at the southern edge of Prospect Park has a rich history: Civil War era troops drilled here from the 1860's until late in that century.  Baseball diamonds were added, and for many years thereafter, it was the scene of Brooklyn's highest caliber sandlot baseball games (Brooklynites Sandy Koufax and Joe Torre played here, among many others).
 

"Just across from the Parade Grounds, back in the late 1940's, young writer William Styron lived in a rooming house, fleeing Manhattan, as did so many before and after him, for the cheaper rents here. His upstairs neighbor was a woman who had been relocated to Brooklyn after having been liberated from Auschwitz. She became the inspiration for Styron's acclaimed novel 'Sophie's Choice.'
  

"Today, we sit on the sidelines, watching our niece and nephew play in the kids' soccer league. If Brooklyn is the melting pot of America, and I'm pretty sure it is, then right here is where they make the special sauce. Several thousand people of all ages and ethnicities will visit the Parade Grounds today. I post Deb's card 'If a tree could speak...' on a tree next to the sidewalk just outside the main entrance.  Hopefully, it will attract some attention."

 

 

October 11  Edinburg, NY
"I want to thank Deb for the privilege of posting her cards. It was even more fun than I imagined! As I looked for interesting spots to post them, I found myself looking at old familiar places and seeing them in entirely new ways. The experience of posting Deb's cards, then photographing the posts and then writing about them, expanded my role to to that of 'collaborator,' if only temporarily. But isn't that precisely what interactive art aspires to?  Thank you, thank you!"

-- Eric "Mondo" Jenkins

And I want to thank Eric for taking me and my cards on this journey of his NY travels, of offering a glimpse into a different kind of lifestyle far from my California roots. As always, I welcome anyone who would like to post cards in their travels or in their territories.

If you are a Southern California resident, I want to alert you that I have a large-sized words & images piece, 'Beginning,' in an upcoming exhibit "American Dream: Lost or Found" at Orange County Creatives in Laguna. Exhibit open from November 3 - 28, 2014. Please hop on over.

in the hands of others

Part of what appeals to me in my postcard project is the idea of enlisting others to help spread the cards. So imagine how pleased I was when a fellow photographer from another part of the country (Minnesota), took on the challenge. 

library announcement wall

In the (generous) words of my new friend, Ellie Kingsbury, "I had the great fortune of meeting Debbie at a photo workshop last year. I instantly loved the idea of her postcards, and when I had the chance to see her again last month I asked if I could take a few to post in my own city. My appreciation for the combination of text and imagery deepened as I contemplated where to post them. It's a challenge writing something of substance with the brevity that this project requires, and Debbie does a great job with it. I can also just imagine how many images she goes through before she finds just the right one to complement her prose."

secluded walkway between two lakes

secluded walkway between two lakes

"It's a brave thing indeed to challenge a culture that demands speed by saying, 'No, I want you to stop and look and read and appreciate.'

"I also admire the guerrilla tactics of display.  It reminds me of an ad exec's interview that I read some years ago. He lamented that any message coming from his agency costs millions to post, but any kid on the street could tag for free. We can't deny art in its simplest form is of the people for the people."  

 

 

 

next to Lake Calhoun, which is in the middle of the city, where there is a junction of bikers, pedestrians, and an outdoor eatery.

a bridge going over the Mississippi

"I Hold This Moment also serves as an encouragement for us all to realize our own forms of self-expression. One location where I know people share this ardor is a bridge over the Mississippi that connects Minneapolis and St. Paul. A group of mostly elderly people have walked that bridge every Wednesday afternoon rush hour for over ten years to protest U.S. involvement in the violence in the Middle East. Though I had a blast riding my bike around town finding great places to post, I was most excited thinking of the viewership here."   

'Take Note'

pedestrian bridge over Interstate 35W

between the new Guthrie Theatre and a very old flour mill which exploded in the 1980's and whose shell is now the location of a farmer's market on Saturdays. Tyrone Guthrie glances to a nearby postcard.

neighborhood park

downtown St. Paul

"I had so much fun doing this. I felt a little like a tourist and a little like a scavenger hunt messenger.  These past couple of weeks have been gorgeous and I felt really thankful I had a reason to bike around and blow off an afternoon."

Well, I want to thank Ellie. She put in a lot time spreading my project and has also been a source of great encouragement. And I welcome any others who would like to post in their town or in their travels. (Another friend is well underway on the East Coast, posting and documenting.)

 

Now I want to encourage you to put your eyeballs on Ellie's fantastic work by visiting her website:  http://elliekingsbury.com.

And as always, I welcome your thoughts.

park bench beside a well-used running path

home turf


I’ve been back in Los Angeles for three weeks now, and as always for me, returning home is a challenge, a transition. I’ve been determined to stay in creative motion, printing new cards and getting them out into the world. I hop into my car without a plan other than to go and go.

On impulse, I stop. I dot Santa Monica in areas of heavy foot traffic. I wander into a park. I stop to buy some food and see a pole beckon.


Days later I head to downtown Los Angeles. I will attend a gallery opening where I have pieces on exhibit, but first I wander the streets and have some conversations.

The opening occurs on Art Walk night for downtown LA. The streets flood with people. It’s nice. It’s a walking celebration. I lob cards into the streets. And I wait. That is the thing with a project like this. Unless you stalk your posts, you don’t know which get seen, which get studied. You don’t know if they blend into the landscape or call attention to themselves. It’s a leap. Always a leap.

 Evening arrives, and I head to the gallery opening. I’ve been wanting to see my images printed super size, and the results please me. At the same time, the experience encourages me to rethink some designs.

In keeping with my goal to stay in creative motion, I complete a trial design of a book of words & images. It’s been a more than a year since I’ve been doing this work, and in looking back on some earlier cards the editor in me raises her hand. I chop some words, shorten some phrases, rethink some endings, some beginnings. I think that my mind and eye is growing sharper.

The book arrives. I’m happy with the results. And I look towards the next phase.



across the land & the sea

I have found my way to Italy, to a small town called Guardia Sanframondi, about  1 1/2 hours from Naples. For the month of July I am part of an artist residency - Terra Vivente - where I am photographing, writing, playing with broken glass, and moving a paintbrush across paper. During this time of exploration and creation there is a two-weekend art event called Ri-Creare, in the Centro Storico, the historic part of town that is undergoing enormous rejuvenation. I am fortunate to be participating in Ri-Creare and am exhibiting large prints in one of the art spaces.

one of the Ri-Creare exhibit spaces

While my pieces are in English, many English speakers are enjoying Ri-Creare, and they digest my words and translate for their non-English speaking friends.

I have placed 4x6" cards along the pathways to the assorted exhibition spaces. Today, after 3 days of festivities, I wandered the streets and only found 1 card remaining in place, which hopefully means that the 'missing' cards have found their way into homes. 

 

The events around Ri-Creare spark the town to life and create wonderful gatherings making new friends of strangers.

With weekend one behind us, I look forward to weekend two, and may even attempt to craft translations to post beneath my large pieces. If you are in Guardia please come find me at Ri-Creare and say hello.

before & after...

I envisioned it like a totem pole, images stacked vertically, a way to gather attention where the singular card may not succeed. 

Rose Ave., Venice, CA ...near the Rose Cafe

I have not been sending cards out into the wild lately. Maybe it was that I was devoting all my energy to other projects, prepping a photography exhibit of shelter animals, photo jobs here and there, thinking. Lots of thinking.

Is that not what all creatives do? Swim in pools of thought? Sometimes drown there. (not that others do not swim in pools of thought, of course.)

Amidst creative confusion at home and a hunger pang that could be satisfied via foot, I set out. I see a welcoming tree. Prime locale. Lots of foot traffic. 

Within moments they are up. A bit of an assortment. Lots of words. Sparse words.

 

The next day I grow curious. It often is not so effortless to return to a posting site. Out my door, down the block. Turn. Turn. Walk. Walk. Will anyone have pulled off a tear tab with my website URL? I wonder.

the remains

Yes, I am pleased to see all cards have been snatched. Push pins still in place means they have not been victims of wind. This is deliberate. This indicates interest, appreciation. Two URL tags have been torn away as well. Curiosity.

And this encourages me. If by chance you reading this are the one who gave the cards a home, please leave a comment or send a note. I am always interested in the story of the encounter.

Sneak Peek

two fellow exhibiting artists help hang the show

 

 

Are you in the Los Angeles area on Saturday, March 22, 2014? If so, please come meet me at the opening of 'Art By Vegans,' an exhibit to benefit the Animal Advocacy Museum.

I have three words & images pieces in the show. If you've only seen my work at postcard size, I hope this will be an additional treat. The wall sized prints are on sale with 50% of proceeds benefitting the museum. I plan to sell postcard size prints of additional works as well. If there is a piece you'd like to request in its petite size, comment here or email me and I'll aim to have it at the opening. (6 - 10 p.m.) There will be vegan appetizers and live music (as the evening progresses.)

 

as we work on placement.

Animal Advocacy Museum • 280 S. Los Robles Ave. • Pasadena, CA 91101

Out of Town

ready to be sent off

ready to be sent off

A friend in Carmel, CA enthusiastically contacted me saying she'd love to post some of my cards in her area. I have more than been welcoming such an offer as I can't easily roam to all the places I'd like to share my words & images.

I printed up a selection, and off they went.

'Left Behind' in Sand City, perched near a busstop where kids wait to head to school.

'Left Behind' in Sand City, perched near a busstop where kids wait to head to school.

I like picturing the cards in new territory, from upon a post near a busstop to upon a tree on a glorious path. No one has emailed saying they've seen them in place, but I take it on faith, that these are just where then need to be in order to be seen and inspected. 

'Listen' in Carmel, CA.

'Listen' in Carmel, CA.

listen_carmel.jpg

Is there a pole near you longing for a card?

New Territory

As much as I imagined sharing postcards during my trip to Japan, it did not happen. There was something about the cultural differences and the language barrier and the pace of my wanderings that didn't leave me sufficiently open to dipping into that terrain. I won't say never to Japan. I will say, 'not this trip.'

Now back in Los Angeles for a few days and slowly reorienting to driving and understanding conversations that swirl around me (bombardment, I say, bombardment), I wanted to reignite the project. 

Enter, Culver City. The largely redeveloped city has a vibrant downtown area which encourages walking. Restaurant next to restaurant next to restaurant.

The serendipity of the strolling hug, given the card posted, made me smile.

Shouts and Whispers (Washington Blvd between Native Foods and Kay & Dave's)

Vibrant colors and a breeze...

Break Out (Washington Blvd.)

I was happy to come across an active Farmers Market with plenty of foot traffic. These guys gave me a look and made me wonder if they would swivel about as they passed to see what I was up to.

We Don't Collide (Main St., Culver City)

Pathways (Washington Blvd.)

Rising (Washington Blvd.)

Sensation (near La Cienega on Washington Blvd.)

If you wander out to visit the cards in person, please leave a comment or drop me a note to let me know. (clicking on the photos will enlarge them for viewing)

An Array of Postcards

Ready for posting. Next week I leave for Japan. I will take a stack with me and scatter them in a foreign land.

In this printing, I moved titles to the backs of cards. Feel free to share you preference in comments.

(click on images to view larger)

origins

The project began before I knew it was going to be a project (how many other projects hold that pedigree?!).
A glimpse at a telephone pole pierced with countless staples. A photo. An idea. The first piece. Left Behind

' Left Behind ' in an earlier format.

'Left Behind' in an earlier format.

More pieces followed on its heels. And more. Today I wanted to revisit the first inspiration, post image on source. Sort of like a thank you. An acknowledgment.

leftbehind_posted.jpg

Another spot on my mind, just a block away. An image I've seen daily for nearly a year. It, too, prompted a piece. But when I went walking today, something was off. Wrong.

Instead of the rich red heart that has greeted me daily, I saw a whitewashed tree. I felt loss. I felt a piece of joy had been obliterated. Because it had.

The original background image for ' Love Me .'

The original background image for 'Love Me.'

' Love Me ' tree whitewashed.

'Love Me' tree whitewashed.

As I posted my card, an artist nearby said, "I like that. I like it a lot." Turns out he was the one who had painted the heart.

loveme_veniceposted.jpg

The artist introduced himself as 'Chris' and asked if I had more of the cards. I told him I'd run home and print him one. A group of us stood and discussed how sad it was that his heart had been painted over, as if it didn't belong, as if it were ugly graffiti to be erased. It belonged. And I will miss it.

And sad as it was to see the heart banished from the landscape, its disappearance led to a moment of conversation. Creators talking to creators. I don't know how many times we have passed each other on the Venice Boardwalk, but today we took the time to stop and speak. And I know from now on we will always say hello.

Chris Ouk

Chris Ouk

Please visit Chris' website (http://chrisouk.com). I thank him for providing the origin to  'Love Me.'

would you recognize me?

As I spread my words, my images, I wonder if you detect my voice. I wonder if someone who knows me and chances across a card would know I was its creator. I'd like to think so. I'd like there to be a pause and a wonder.

'Airborne' posted in Atwater Village

Three neighborhoods now play host to a few cards. Scattered neighborhoods. Impulse postings. I look for places of foot traffic, near cafes, places people linger and take in scenery. Without a spy cam I don't know if the cards have been observed, studied. I don't know if any have been taken down, flipped over, leading to this site. No one has come forward. It may be early for that. Or I may discover that people need a nudge. Like I say, 'Work in Progress,' me and this project.

'Speak Tree' on Tujunga in Studio City.

It was no accident, placing this piece in front of 'A Place to Create.'

I aim for this to be a conversation, not a monologue. I aim to spread my thoughts and discover yours. I aim to collide with new ideas as this continues. Lots of aiming without a specific target. Just how I like things.

'Horizons' posted outside Aroma Cafe on Tujunga in Studio City.