A lady in Helen's The Yoga You Need™ class had seen some of my automotive 'artitecture' prints hanging in the great hall. She commissioned me to shoot her husband's cherished 1955 MG TF 1500 as a surprise birthday gift. We met at her home when he was out of town, and Kathy opened one of the garages and pulled back the dust cover to reveal this pristine green gem. I carefully squeezed into the drivers seat to ease the MG out of the garage, but as I looked at the simple dashboard I had no idea how to start her. I turned the key and I pulled a couple of knobs but with no sounds of encouragement. I decided to just release the parking brake and the car was light enough to push out. But as I tried to relieve the tension on the engaged brake and press in the button at the end to release it, the handle wouldn't budge. Kathy got in and tried too. I didn't want to force anything. It couldn't be that difficult. No shoot that day.
Kathy suggested that she would get him to take her for a spin on his return and she would observe how to release the handbrake and start the car. I would come back the following week while he was away again, and armed with this new knowledge we could do the shoot. In the meantime I Googled, 'starting a 1955 MG' and instantly it was all obvious. I had had the right idea but expected more spontaneous results. I then searched releasing the hand brake on this automobile but there was nothing, so apparently it was user error.
On the appointed day the sun shone and all was right with the world until Kathy confessed that what had been so seamless to him had escaped her watchful eye during their drive. There was little point in starting it if I couldn't release the brake. I gently pulled on the brake handle and instead of trying to release the lock by pressing in the button on the end I did nothing and the handle dropped complacently to the floor. It was English and contrary. By 1984 my Triumph TR-6 had worked more naturally to my hand__I think. I put my left foot on the clutch and my right on the brake just in case. I turned the key 90º and with renewed confidence pulled the 'S' starter knob on the dash and another that I assumed to be the choke which I played lightly and she sputtered to life. I gingerly backed out of the garage and positioned this beautiful classic automobile in the light with an eye on the background and the reflections in the glossy dark green paint. I shot until I was sure that I had what I wanted. I started the car as if I knew her better then proudly drove the MG back into her nest without incident. My angle was slightly askew but Kathy and I thought it best to quit while we were ahead and hoped that he wouldn't notice. We replaced the dust cover, bolted the garage and I left to confirm that I had the shot. We quickly agreed on the best image from my favorites and I ordered the metalprint. It arrived while Bill was away fishing and it was everything that we wanted. I helped hang it so that the surprise would be complete.
A couple of weeks later, Bill was showing his MG TF at the Classic Car Show the same weekend as the Wimberley Arts Fest and was kind enough to come down to my booth to thank me for the wonderful surprise. It was a happy ending to a birthday story about ongoing love; the couple, the automobile and the classics.
we are more comfortable
with the past than the future
because we know how it turns out
Early last May I left a soggy Texas Hill Country and drove directly to New Orleans to follow the Great River Road up the Mississippi. The seed for this adventure was planted in 1984 as I boarded a freighter in the dark of night somewhere along the river and spent two days winding down the big muddy and into the clear gulf waters on my way to Rotterdam.
The early roads followed the river. It was the channel for commerce. To trace that winding river was a very long, slow, and not unpleasant, way to travel. And to this day bulk carriers and fleets of barges transport over 500 million tons of goods per year, slowly. Silts from upstream continue to nourish this river valley and for 200 years have supported an agriculture industry with yields of 90% of the nation's exports and almost 80% of the world's feed grains and soybeans, along with livestock and hogs.
At one time over 600 Steamboats paddled up and down the Mississippi and her tributaries. Sadly many were scattered by explosions of boilers insufficient to their task, while others unwanted and unseaworthy met a more ignoble end and are perched at a pier as the entrance to a casino. Apparently you are never more than 100 miles from a casino along the 2500 miles bordered by 11 states that the river feeds and is fed by.
Sadly the small farms and small businesses and small towns are dying or mostly dead. The land is alive and well but it is now Big AgriBusiness. Fleets of giant air conditioned harvesters have weeded the small operators out. Folks followed the jobs and migrated to the cities or chemical complexes or giant refineries along the river. Once past the tourism of plantations and slavery, the little communities are mostly closed up. Schools vacant and punished, now parking lots for yellow buses to transport students to centralized facilities. Old garages and cafes are boarded up between the towns; now the usual suspects of fast 'food' chain gangs have replaced them. They perch like vultures, overpriced fuel and indigestion, around the bridges that cross this wide brown snake.
And as it turned out, I did not want to explore the cities and commercial strips after all: I was happy to meander these old roads.
I am new to the art show scene; hadn't even attended many until I started to think that they may be part of my future. Like any show they are a lot of work and success in a competitive environment with an unpredictable clientele is a moving target. But there is a collective energy, especially at an art festival, because the individual creativity has its own juice. There is comraderie and inspiration. The public doesn't have to buy to appreciate the work, although the artists sure appreciate it.
A friend had told me about MOO. Their ability to print up to 50 different images/designs on even the smallest run of business cards won me over. The cards I ordered were a huge hit and I probably gave out over 200 of them. So since I put this new website address on the cards I thought that I had better launch it and start blogging about these images and the travels that brought us together.
This rear bumper of a Galaxie 500 is a good example of the collection that I presented at the Wimberley Arts Fest. It was perhaps the most often commented upon and in fact was the first sale. The enthusiasm for this series of metal prints of mostly derelict cars and trucks scattered across America was gratifying and I am still hoping to land a couple more sales. The size and punch of many of these images will dominate a wall, if not the room, and that doesn't come cheap.
Last summer I drove fifteen thousand miles and shot an equal number of images, but this one was from an earlier time and taken just five miles from home. Back in the day my Dad temporarily broke ranks from the GM family, don't know why, but he bought my Mom a Ford Galaxie 500. Maybe it was the bland gray blue paint job or that it was a four door sedan, but I never did like it. This tail light is the highlight of the vehicle to my eye. Perhaps if I had used the brakes more on my Mom's 500, I wouldn't have crashed it. And as if it was meant to be, her next car was a Cougar XR7 GT with the 390 motor. She didn't like it but I sure did! I laugh now that the tires only lasted 9000 miles and dad was going to go after Firestone. He never did buy their tires again.
So when folks ask why I don't shoot the whole car I tell them that even if the whole car is still there, the details tell the story.
All Journeys begin with hope; how they resolve is another matter.
exploring back roads
through forgotten places
seemingly empty spaces
capturing the heartland
You cannot depend on your eyes
The Long and Winding Road
Paul McCartney, from an interview in 1994, talking about writing this song, "I like writing sad stories, it's a good bag to get into because you can actually acknowledge some deeper feelings of your own and put them in it. It's a good vehicle, it saves having to go to a psychiatrist."
CamraCarma metal prints are bold; wall displays of a size, to command the space and maybe hijack the conversation.
Everyone has a car story.
May your trails be crooked, winding, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.