Beware: Sentimental Posting

About 50 years ago, (yes 50), I went through some difficult times and moved from the Bronx NY to Long Beach NY. From a sixth story apartment in a building  in a concrete jungle to a suburban house 5 blocks from the ocean. Now, I was very familiar with Long Beach as my grandfather had a cottage in the West End of the town that we would spend summers at.  I learned to love the water at the ocean and learned to  swim at the Capri Beach club where we had a cabana. (Now those were the days!!!).  I felt both comfortable and at home in the water. So when I moved to my Aunt’s house suffering from severe OCD and other divorce related traumas I immediately exhaled just inhaling the ocean air. Then, when a neighbor introduced me to surfing, I literally entered the ocean and only emerged to eat and sleep, and well eventually get stoned as well, although the latter was possible on the surfboard. It took a couple of years but the ocean and surfing healed me, (at least the surface wounds), and I spent a good five years dedicated to the  surfer’s life. I was fortunate to be introduced to the Oppenheimer brothers, especially Mike whose style and power were almost incomprehensible and through him was exposed to world class surfer’s like Nat Young from Australia.

So it has been weird, enlightening, and weirdly enlightening to be reading “William Finnegan’s Barbarian Days – A Surfing Life” where page for page, and at times world for word I see a mirror of my own immersion in the surfing aesthetic.

Barbarian Days

 

Even his list of music he would listen to from Neil Young, to Hendrix, to Cream, to later Beatles, and Paul Butterfield. And I would add the James Gang!  The only element missing was the array of Black Light posters, which may have been specific to our set as Oppy, (aka Mike Oppenheimer), was a talented artist who would make forays into the canyons of NYC to sell his posters, (successfully).

But I digress. The point is how much I love the ocean, how healing it has been for me, and how at the first opportunity I had to be with my daughter at the beach I thrilled just to get her to feel the water. (She was willing but less thrilled as it was a bit cold.)

 

Now, having moved to a Rhode Island beach town, (The Ocean State!) I think always of this coming summer and being at the ocean with Missy A. (aka Freedom Stark). With that in mind I signed us up for swim lesson at the Y and this past Sunday we had our first Daddy/Daughter time in the pool. I was so happy I could not stop smiling. Not only did she look incredibly happily cute in her bathing suit…

Bathing Suit

 

…but she seemed super comfortable in the water and wonderfully trusting of me as I moved through the water with her, coaching her to paddle a little, float on her back, and find her way around the pool. Just rocking back and forth in the water with her established a connection that was both peaceful and electric at the same time. Jen was nearby and yet Missy A. was happy in my arms. For a Dad, with a daughter who spends most of her time with mom, and is rightfully most comfortable and safe in her arms, her contentment with me was both surprising and fulfilling. Surprising in that I thought at some point she would gravitate to mom but did not.  Fulfilling emotionally and in many ways spiritually.  I felt not just “my” connection with my daughter but also that she knew (somehow!) that I was in my element and that I was happy and that she was safe with me. In fact Jen, my ever intuitive wife insisted that I be the one in the pool with her knowing the above would come to pass.

I can’t wait to be back in the pool with her, and although there is a lot more winter to go, I am already excited about our family’s first days at the beach this summer….mmmm..make that this spring!

Sentimentally Yours,

J-Star

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Yea, well… spring is coming…

So, we’re the new family on the block and new to suburbia.  And I was kind of scared out of my wits when something came crashing through the front door. It was the mail! For some reason, our neighborhood was built without mailboxes at the street or even outside the front door. The preferred mail delivery portal is 12″ by 3″ slot in the front door. You’re sitting there , eating your steaming hot soup and BAM! And to add insult to injury , most of what is coming through the slot as new residents are flyers, brochures, and coupons for services that just are not on our agenda like a Winter Sprinkler Timing System that doubles as a Security Alarm, and that can also be adapted to be a garage door opener with a  self oiling track….Maybe next year.

And then, there is the postman. Great guy who has been doing this a long time. And he confesses to me: “You know walking up to everyone’s door is not efficient but I don’t really mind.  But in the winter it’s downright dangerous!  Icy  driveways, walkways, and stairs are the rule” And then he says” You know, may be one day you could be the first on your block with a street side mailbox. Not just me but the Postmaster would really appreciate it!”

Well I can take a hint, especially when me and the family are trying to get those new resident and neighbor merit badges! Thanks to a Home Depot/ Amazon collaboration,  a friend next door who showed me how to make the wet soil of Rhode Island be a more solid foundation, a penny farthing sculpture we found in the garbage in East Cambridge 5 years ago, and my 84 year old Greek Grandma neighbor who explained what I was doing wrong and proceeded to grab the wrench from my hand and finish the install. And this is my “A Cycling Family Lives Here” mailbox.!Penny Farthing Fall

So I had about two weeks of joy with this new mailbox.  Then I realized two things. Our mail gets delivered around 4:45  PM which is now dark. And the temperature has been steadily plunging which makes me loath to leave the aforementioned bowl of soup and go get the mail. So, I am sure glad I got the extra large mail box so i can wait till the next day to pick up the mail,  and if I forget to, there’s plenty of room for all those flyers!  Then, just as I was getting into rhythm with the dark, the cold, and the new mailbox, IT SNOWS!

Penny Farthing Winter

So, now, my mailman has to do this Cirque de Soleil move to get the mail into the Box from his truck and I am waiting for my new Snow Boots to be delivered from Amazon so I can leave the house. I never thought I’d say this but:  “Amazon Drones…My Front Porch is Cleared for Delivery! ”

That said, soon it will be spring, I’m getting some cool spoke reflectors from actual bikes to put on the Penny Farthing. And I do know that the mailbox was the best holiday present our mailman received. Merit Badge being pinned to my bathrobe as I type!

There must be a pony in here somewhere!

That’s the punchline to a joke my rabbi likes to tell about being true to our true selves. Yes we can change and grow but there is very often a baseline that we stay close to. And as Uncle Milty says: “Under Stress, We Regress”.

So 2017 was a stressful year. While wonderful beyond any thing I ever experienced in some ways, there were some less than desirable events. So I am looking at 2018 with excitement, hope, and faith on one side and melancholy, trepidation, and fear on the other. As my baseline is fear, I have to work to shift the balance. Why shift? Because I find that my fear is usually a distortion of what is real and that faith invariably leads me to love, creativity, service, and peace.

This beachball has become my totem of the struggle.

It drifted, literally into the backyard of the house we had just purchased in September. It was very happy, and just liked to hang out, amuse the squirrels, and amuse me. I started photographing it every week or so. Well as the season has changed, it has decided to hang in there. While losing some of its punch, its lost none of its presence. I have decided that we are in this together, to learn something about patience and perseverance. I will create art with this Beach Ball as my collaborator, and together we will start this year believing that the warmth and light that is to come is already peaking through the trees.

Healthy and Peaceful 2018 to All, except those not granting health and peace to others.

Stark

Stark Artist Talk 555 Gallery

S.V.P

Stark Artist Talk 555 Gallery: For those of you who could not attend my talk on April 19th here is the framework I used. We did not record the whole event but it was a great time insightful questions, and really supportive audience.

My images in the EMERGE series at the 555Gallery resulted from a trusting and intimate relationship between my subjects and myself. At first there may not seem to be a direct relationship between these images, and the street photography, the reportage, I do in France. One series is studio based, the other is street based. One involves a very close narrative with the subject, the other a more distant approach. One involves the naked human form, the other forms that are often not human and are if human are not naked although they may be clothed quite engagingly.
Yet for me there is a strong correlation in my approach to both projects. The concepts of awareness, openness, trust, honesty, and effort are at the root of all that I do. I have said that even when I am shooting an inanimate object, I am involved in an emotional relationship with that object. All my work is hopefully both honest and emotional at it’s core.
In this evening’s talk I will explore these themes:
• Openness
• Awareness
• Trust
• Honesty
• Effort
• Emotion

I will show examples from the EMERGE series and from my FRENCH collection and discuss these themes and how they relate to my approach and the resulting work.

Power Suit?

We are not , and always, how we dress.

We are not , and always, how we dress.


As I look forward to summer and my “Just Out of Reach” series on the beach, I want to let my friends and collaborators who have been gracious enough to work with me on my “Power Suit? ” series that I have not forgotten them. The response to this 4 images hanging in our loft has been incredible with people sometimes not even realizing the paired images are the same person. How we dress, what we project, what people’s assumptions are all go into how we are perceived. The issues around class, race, power, and the accompanying dress codes all are at play in this series. Suits, normally a symbol of achievement and to some degree “power” find a different meaning in the case of security guards. Here the suits/uniforms imply a more subservient role. And yet, they do have power of who enters the building and control that path no matter the power or status of who requires access to the building. “Sir, I NEED, to see a picture ID or I can’t let you in.” That said, you can see these individuals true power when they are dressed the way they want to project themselves. Control is perhaps the first definition of power. When we control what we wear, we have power. Even the most expensive suit , work by a venture capitalist, can be a symbol of the lack of power, if that person would rather be in a hoody and jeans. Choice is power.
I will continue to work on this series and hopefully I will exhibit them sometime in 2015 and 2016. If you know security guards who might want to participate in this series have them contact me at jonathan@starkview.com.

MooredI

It’s a period of waiting. The exhibition at 555Gallery is happening and I have an artist’s talk scheduled for April 19th. My camera sits still, my imagination does not. My next project, “Just Out of Reach” will start the week of June 2nd as I need a beach, a shovel, a person, an object of desire, and beautiful light. Send good vibes to the Cape Cod Seashore Ranger Station that they see it in their grace and wisdom to approve my project. They need to make sure I will not hurt, disrupt, and or traumatize the wildlife and the still lifes, like the shipwrecks that are apparently buried under the very sand I intend to dig in!