A Crafty Weekend ~ Brooklyn, NYC

In Brooklyn for the 8th year, Renegade Craft Fair (RCF) set up tent by the foodie stalls of Smorgasburg and the trash ‘n treasure finds of Brooklyn Flea this weekend.

Instead of scrolling through beautiful artisan wares on one of my forever favourite websites, etsy.com, I strolled by dozens of stallfronts selling innovative handmade products… live.

Usually held at McCarren Park, this was the first time the RCF was held by the East River. With a front row water facing view of the Manhattan skyline, this *new* location is genius. Over both sun drenched days, the event attracted many summer lovin’ DIY inspired New Yorkers. Such is the appeal of Williamsburg; a dose of collaborative craftiness injects the ‘hood with excellent added-value.

An event I highly recommend, even if it’s simply for inspiration and ‘stallfront shopping,’ RCF weaves its way around the US and UK throughout the summer, and into fall.

The Renegade Craft Fair differs from traditional arts and craft fairs by focusing on DIY and indie-craft culture. Each individual fair is juried by our Chicago-based staff from hundreds of applications to purposefully feature a curated, eclectic array of young and emergent designers producing original and handmade goods in a wide variety of media.

 We feature artists creating innovative work using traditional craft methods, but not based on preexisting patterns or products.*

Take note: At the end of this post are some dates for residents, or for fortunate travel hoppers, of LAX, SFO, ORD, and LON – the fair is coming to a location near you.

Until then, enjoy these images in, and around, the fair.

Across at Smorgasburg ~ ice shaving at People’s Pops. Handmade equals hard work.

Meanwhile, along the East River waterfront…

Los Angeles and San Francisco, US

LA’s 4th Annual event will take place Saturday + Sunday, July 28 + 29 at Los Angeles State Historic Park.

SF’s 5th Annual event will take place Saturday and Sunday, July 21 + 22 at Fort Mason Center Festival Pavilion, from where you can see the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.

Chicago, US

Chicago’s 10th Annual RCF will take place Saturday + Sunday, September 8+9, 2012. Vendors will stretch down Division St. between Damen + Paulina, in the Wicker Park neighborhood.

London, UK

The 2nd Annual Renegade Craft Fair London will be held Saturday + Sunday, September 15 + 16 at The Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch, London’s East End.

For more info, see their site: renegadecraft.com*

Inspired: Black and White Photography

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” ~ Elliott Erwitt

Torcello in the Venetian Lagoon, Venice, Italy, 1953 ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson

Every day inspiration can be sparked by so many things: a Warholian piece of art; a quote by Paulo Coelho; the dramatic lines of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Today, I was inspired by monochromatic images. I love when a photograph evokes a feeling, and black+whites have a knack of doing that.

Recently I have been paying attention to other elements too; composition, depth of field, lines, expressions, and angles. Reading images in this way encourages me to notice details that I may have otherwise overlooked.

I like this new change. It’s a reminder to look at the world with new eyes. Enjoy the inspiration!

A photograph is usually looked at – seldom looked into.  ~ Ansel Adams

Flooded Piazza San Marco with St Marks Church Venice, 1952 ~ Dimitri Kessel

Picasso Behind a Window, 1952 ~ Robert Doisneau

New York, 1955 ~ Elliott Erwitt

Antonio Gaudi's Churchy Of The Holy Family Barcelona, Spain, 1951 ~ N R Farbman

Check out how much the Sagrada Familia has progressed since then, click here (then scroll to bottom of that post)

People buying out of town newspapers in Times Square during newspaper strike, NY, 1953 ~ Ralph Morse

View of Ministry of Justice and Government Building from Senate Building, Brasília, Brazil, 1977 ~ Julius Shulman

Wedding in London, 1950's ~ Photographer Unknown

Photographers mistake the emotion they feel while taking the photo as a judgment that the photograph is good. ~ Garry Winogrand

Russian Metro, Moscow, 1941 ~ Margaret Bourke-White

Rome Railroad Station,1951 ~ Jack Birns

Rome Railroad Station,1951 ~ Jack Birns

Moscow Street Scene ~ Carl Mydans

Seeing is not enough; you have to feel what you photograph. ~ Andre Kertesz

Kennedy at the L.A.1960 Democratic National Convention ~ Garry Winogrand

Delegates looking at Taj Mahal, 1961 ~ James Burke

Los Angeles Airport, 1978-83 ~ Garry Winogrand

Sharpness is a bourgeois concept. ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson

"Swan Lake", Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson

Cyclades Island of Siphnos, Greece ~ 1961

Hyères, France, 1932 ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Be yourself. I much prefer seeing something, even it is clumsy, that doesn’t look like somebody else’s work. ~ William Klein

French couple at cafe Tango du Chat in the Latin Quarter, Paris, 1949 ~ Gjon Mili

Academy Awards, 1962 ~ Allan Grant

Newspaper boy selling newspapers amidst the traffic on Olive Street in downtown area nr. 6th Street, LA,1949 ~ Loomis Dean

Palm Springs ~ Julius Shulman

A good snapshot stops a moment from running away.  ~ Eudora Welty

Hermes Store, Paris, 1952 ~ N R Farbman

New York ~ Vivian Maier

Flooded Piazza San Marco with St Marks Church, Venice, 1952 ~ Dimitri Kessel

Breathing Travel: A Simple and Savvy Start…

When an article is described as ‘evergreen’, this means that its content is based on tips, resources, or other topics that do not go out of date as quickly as those of current events.

This is the objective of the first post on my Breathing Travel | Documenting the journey blog, where posts are dedicated to my coursework at MatadorU.

Inspired by my sister’s upcoming trip as a first-timer to Europe, I decided to collate a series of tips for her. Take a look and I’d love to know whether you’d add any more tips.

SOLO TRAVEL: Keeping it Simple and Savvy

Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind. ~ Seneca

Barcelona's bustling La Boqueria

My sister is embarking on her first European trip in a couple of weeks and I couldn’t be more excited for her. Living ‘Down Under’, in 200+ year old Australia, the rest of the world can, at times, seem so out of reach; a trip to Europe is definitely high on most Aussie to-do lists. My sister’s own feelings of excitement will undoubtedly give way to wonder, amazement, and awe when she steps foot into London – her first stop after a 20+ hour plane trip. Jet lag? Shelve that for the trip back home to Sydney!

That said, I cannot help but take on the role of protective sister; about 2 weeks out of my little sister’s 4 week vacation will be traveled solo as she makes her way through Mediterranean exotica. As liberating as this part of the trip will be, I wanted to share some big sister advice on pre-planning; to try and avoid any unnecessary solo-traveler anxiety. (Mum, I am doing this for you too).

Sister, and interested others – this list is yours to print out and keep by your side.

Quaint Cannes

Packing:

  1. Don’t buy a black suitcase. Buy a well-made reputable brand – preferably one that is on sale because of a low-selling design pattern, or not-so-popular colour. Why? No-one will really want to steal it, and it will be easily recognizable on the carousel.
  2. Pack clothes to look like a local. Classic basics are ideal to mix n match on a daily basis; go easy on the shoe selection. Please – no ‘I Heart Roma’ T-shirts paired with stark-white sneakers… you know why. Leave the jewels at home.
  3. Keep the toiletries to a minimum. Save room in the suitcase and head to Boots pharmacy in the UK to stock up. Buy a small sunscreen to keep in the purse – the exposed top decks of the hop on/hop off bus tours double up as rooftops for sunbaking.
  4. Be sensitive with electronics. Keep chargers and the e-book safe in your hand luggage AND buy a plug converter.
  5. Care for the Camera. Keep the compact in its case; perhaps buy a second battery and memory card that are ready-to-go in case the others run dry half way through the day. Plenty of pictures will be taken – I know it!
  6. Load up the e-book and ipod with your favourite shows, files, and songs, to make the most out of those plane or train delays. Wandering around with earphones is a no-go, especially in cities like London where crowds and traffic reign. It’s easy to get distracted.
  7. Pack miscellanea. Gather together some wet-wipes, tissues, lollies/sweets, band-aids, notebook with pen, and Panadol/Advil – stash them in your purse. They will come in handy at some point, promise.
  8. Curb homesickness. Take a few of your favourite family-and-friend photos as well as something to remind you of home. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Artful Florence

Money and Documents:

  1. Photocopy documents 3 times: passport, itinerary (see * below), airline tickets, insurance papers, and credit cards. Leave one at home with always-contactable parents/friends; put another copy in your hand luggage, and the other, in the suitcase – just in case the purse gets lost. *Create a detailed itinerary with hotel, tour, train, information, airline details; as well as printing it, email to yourself and parents/friends.
  2. Convert some money at the bank before you leave, say AUD300 into pounds and Euros. Ask for low denominations (5,10,20 notes) so you don’t have to struggle with getting change back. I don’t recommend currency exchange booths – their exchange rates aren’t the best. Use a credit card when possible, and if you need to use the ATM, find one in a well lit public place.
  3. Look up destination specific blogs. When planning your itinerary, blogs are a really good resource to seek out as they can give detailed information on the who, what, where, how, why. Honest, first-hand accounts written by everyday travelers get really specific on the most intricate details, especially the watch-outs. e.g. how much to expect to pay for a taxi from the airport; the best train to catch between cities; Metro timetable limitations, surcharges, hidden fees.
A Fiat in Roma

A Fiat in Roma

Research

  1. Learn some key phrases. Write a few key words in the languages you’ll be encountering, and put these cue cards in your wallet, e.g. good morning, thank you, I’m not interested, HELP! Interest in the local language can go a long way – it can be fun trying to converse (with hand gestures too).
  2. Etiquette. Being culturally respectful and sensitive is always a good thing, especially as a first-time traveler. Even moreso if visiting sacred sites and churches. Here are a couple of good links for Italy: http://www.fodors.com/news/story_3872.html and http://www.cntraveler.com/travel-tips/travel-etiquette/2008/06/Etiquette-101-The-Mediterranean
  3. Museum Passes and Metro cards. Sometimes buying these from home, prior to travel, can give you certain privileges like jumping the queue at those line-riddled Parisian museums.Plus, you’ve just pre-paid so that saves you even more time.  e.g. The Museum Pass in Paris – Goodbye crazy long line; Hello Musee D’Orsay!
  4. Mobile/Cell Phone. You don’t want to be hit with a huge bill for roaming charges when you get home, so give the phone company a call prior to travel and find out your international options.
  5. Pre-book as many hotel nights, train passes, and tours as possible. It’s good to have a framework to travel within – it keeps you on track as time is of the essence.

Pretty Monaco

Solo Travel Tips

  1. Indulge in the café-culture. Coffee is necessary traveler fuel! Sit in an outdoor terrace of a Parisian bistro, or stand in an espresso bar in Rome; people-watch; get a feel of a neighbourhood; and, write a postcard (to me!).
  2. Always take business cards. From the hotel, café, restaurant, store – just in case you get yourself lost in Europe’s maze of streets, or need to show the address to a taxi-driver who doesn’t speak English.
  3. Make friends if you have a good gut instinct about them but don’t give out too much personal information. You can never be too sure…
  4. Going out. Hopefully with some fellow travelers, and try and keep it close by to the hotel – double check whether the lobby is serviced 24/7. Watch your drink with an eagle eye.
  5. Hotel Tips. Ask for a room that isn’t on the ground level, use the safe to stash your valuables, befriend the concierge – they are an invaluable source for maps, tour recommendations, and getting you in to a restaurant.
  6. If you can sense trouble. If you feel that someone may be following you – enter a store or café to surround yourself with people that could potentially help you out.
  7. Keep in touch regularly. Buy a phone card from each country; find out where the Internet cafes are (preferably, there is Internet access in your hotel). Call your mother, she worries! Email you sister, she worries too!

NB: Security lines at the airport – remember to wear hole-less socks and easy to remove shoes; the less metal on you, the better; buy that bottle of water after you’ve cleared the line.

Most importantly, relax and have a great trip. Bon Voyage!

A Roman Espresso

Inspiration: Shades of Black

I only wear black because they haven’t invented a darker colour yet.

Years ago, my sister gave me a magnet with this quote on it, and it’s still on my fridge. Things haven’t changed much.

Anyone who has an affinity for wearing black on black on black – in different textures, of course – will be able to relate these words.  Don’t get me wrong, I do like pops of colour (especially against a dark background); it’s just that black, to me, is symbolic of simplicity, effortlessness and classicism. I love it and I will never give up wearing it.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that I’m drawn to black and white photography, and I’ve been noticing it so much more these days. The varied tones of grey; the depth and strength of contrasts; the drama orchestrated by bold patterns and lines; the feelings conjured up through a perceived mood or atmosphere ~ nostalgia being the strongest.

I’ve come across a number of really inspiring black and whites, and experimented with some myself ~ I share them here, along with a few quotes. If you have any tips or thoughts on shooting in black and white, please share. Enjoy!

First day of Spring, NY, circa 1957 ~ W. Eugene Smith

First day of February: A tourist at the Guggenheim, NY, 2012 ~ Marina Chetner

Lenny Kravitz at Radio City Music Hall, 2012 ~ via Twitter

Untitled ~ © Claire Grossman All Rights Reserved

Give Me a Kiss ~ Kent Mathiesen

Dr. Paul Wolff, Shadows, 1933 ~ tumblr

Portrait d'un assassin de Bernard-Roland, 1949 ~ Voinquel Raymond

Muse ~ Jean-Pierre De Greef via cameravagrant.wordpress.com

Toscana,1965 ~ Gianni Berengo Gardin

Sunday Morning along the Arno River, 1935 ~ Alfred Eisenstaedt

Sydney Harbour Bridge, 1934 ~ Harold Cazneaux

Brooklyn Bridge, from Dumbo ~ Marina Chetner

Brooklyn Bridge, NY, 1972 ~ New York Times. tumblr

Parking Garage, NoHo, NY ~ Brooklyntheory, tumblr

Paris sans quitter ma fenêtre (Les Cyclistes), 1948 ~ Lucien Hervé

Friuli in Italy, 1952 ~ Giuliano Borghesan

NYC, 1950 ~ Dennis Stock

Winter Scene, London ~ Gordon Esler, Your Shot, National Geographic

Zebra in Snow, Ohio ~ Matt Eich, LUCEO, National Geographic

Waiting for releaf ~ © Karen McRae via drawandshoot.me

Central Park Reflections… with a little help from John Lennon

Today I ventured uptown from Brooklyn (gasp!) to visit Central Park for a couple of reasons. I was scared that I’d miss the chance to stroll the park’s beautiful walkways before the onset of winter, which has been fashionably late in making its appearance this year. And, I wanted to take some practice shots of the park’s remaining autumnal foliage. Who knows when I’d have the opportunity to experience Central Park during such an extended fall season again?

“There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…” John Lennon

I had set out without a route in mind, which has become my preferred way of exploring ever since I came into possession of my Nikon. Photographing the details has helped to lead the way. Not only did I come across monuments that I’d never seen before, but I’d also managed to photograph some of the park’s most beautiful vistas along the way. More surprisingly, and perhaps even serendipitous due to my new-found appreciation for spontaneity, I walked into a crowd of fans paying tribute to one of the most loved songwriters and singers of our time.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” John Lennon

Central's Park Lake and Boathouse (background)

Like many parks found in the larger cities of the world – think Hype Park in London and Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris – Central Park is akin to an oasis. Located in the middle of an otherwise built up urban grid, the park brings about a sense of peace as soon as you step within its perimeter. Never mind the thousands of residents and tourists who descend upon it on any given day – whether it be for relaxation, to visit its Zoo or to skate the Wollman Rink – there are parts you will come across, where you’ll feel as if you’re the only one there.

“Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.” John Lennon

Set across 843 acres (3.41 km2) of land, running the length of 59th Street to 110th Street and spanning a width measured from Fifth Avenue to Central Park West, the Park is ‘America’s first and foremost major urban public space’[1]. Having won a design competition, Central Park was based on plans drawn up by landscape designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calbert Vaux in 1858 (they are also the minds behind Brooklyn’s Prospect Park).

“Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.” John Lennon

Surface reflections

A labyrinth of winding pathways, meadows, bridges and gently undulating hills, Central Park takes a good few hours to enjoy, at the least. I found myself stopping and starting – to pause in front of a monument, here; or to ponder one of the park’s many plaque dedications mounted on its benches, over there.

“The more I see, the less I know for sure.” John Lennon

Plaque dedication

Benches

A major discovery for me was the Literary Walk, punctuated with huge monuments including those of the celebrated poet and playwright Shakespeare, Scottish poet Robert Burns… and for some reason Christopher Columbus. From here, the pathway continues to the adjoining Mall. Though I had never witnessed this part of the park’s literary influence, I am familiar with The Mall, and it is no small wonder why it is the most photographed part of the park. The towering elm trees line a promenade along both its sides that visually makes for a dramatic lead up to a set of steps that descend toward the beautiful Bethesda Fountain.

“Living is easy with eyes closed.” John Lennon

Shakespeare in the Park

The Mall

The Park hasn’t always enjoyed as much fanfare as it does nowadays. In the 1970’s, the Park experienced a severe decline as “years of poor management and inadequate maintenance had turned a masterpiece of landscape architecture into a virtual dustbowl by day and a danger zone by night.”[2] Crime ridden, littered and a hotbed for graffiti, Central Park was hardly a respite from the Big City despite its designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1963. In testament to the New York spirit, a ‘group of dedicated civic and philanthropic leaders’[3] rallied together and in founded The Central Park Conservancy in 1980. Together with the City of New York they work towards a common goal:

to restore, manage and enhance Central Park, in partnership with the public, for the enjoyment of present and future generations[4].

Stairwell artwork (leading to Bethesda Fountain). The stonework on this particular balustrade represents winter, old age, evening

It was at the Bow Bridge, one of the Park’s five original cast-iron bridges, where I photographed some beautiful landscapes from its many vantage points. Carefully tended to by Conservancy crews, the space thrives with trees, shrubs and flowers, and encompasses views of the green roofed Boathouse to the East; weeping willows, whose yellow leaves glistened in the late afternoon sun, to the South; bare sycamore trees like stick drawings fringe the Park to the North and the West, their outlines further accentuated by the tall buildings of Central Park West that stoically stand behind them. Water grasses, Common reeds and ducks adorned the expansive Lake, its rippled surface coloured by the reflection of the yellow and orange leafed trees along its banks.

“Love is like a flower-you’ve got to let it grow.” John Lennon

The Boathouse

The Bow Bridge

After what seemed like five minutes, but more realistically a span of two hours, the sun had started to set as I made my way towards the 72nd street exit. Here is also the location of Strawberry Fields and the Imagine mosaic memorial – dedicated to the late John Lennon by Yoko Ono. As the area is frequented by visitors and fans, who only pause momentarily to pay respects, I hadn’t expected to walk in on a crowd of people blocking the way and singing Beatles tunes in unison. Unbeknown to me at that moment, I came to learn that it was the 31st anniversary of John Lennon’s passing. As has been customary every year since that fateful day in 1980, fans were gathered around the mosaic – that had been covered in flowers, candles, momentos and messages – guitars in hand, playing to the tunes of ‘Imagine’ and ‘Come Together’. It was a touching dedication to a much loved icon, “known for his social activism and anti-war rhetoric. He was a praised figure, full of wit and wisdom”[5], and I am glad to have been a small part of the celebratory gathering. (As I sing out of tune, I thought it unfair to participate and simply enjoyed the scene and took some photos).

“Now that John’s a spirit, he has a different effect on people than when he was alive.” Yoko Ono[6]

Fans gathered

'Imagine' mosaic, adorned

In a city that never sleeps and is ever changing, Central Park is undoubtedly a product of its surroundings. It has gone through its ups and downs, and the Conservancy has ensured its maintenance as a must see public landmark. Just as I always seem to stumble upon something unexpected in any of New York’s five boroughs, the same can be said for the Park – a borough unto its own. These days, paying attention to the details paves the way toward my new discoveries, and I have my camera to thank in large part for that. Today, I came away from Central Park with a completely new appreciation for the space. I can’t wait to go back there in Spring, to explore the Park further and to experience the foliage as it changes with the season.

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” John Lennon


[1] http://www.centralparknyc.org/about/ [2] Blonsky, Douglas. “Saving the Park: a key to NYC’s revival”. The New York Post, 3 November 2007 Op-Ed page [3]http://www.centralparknyc.org/about/ [4] ibid [5] http://www.ibtimes.com [6] ibid

Williamsburg, Brooklyn: Outdoor Art Gallery

On any casual stroll around Williamsburg, I always notice pops of street art. And by art, I mean posters, stencil drawings, stickers, logos, and murals as opposed to erratic graffiti that may be perceived as vandalism. Whether it is around a street corner; on a wall of scaffolding that may have presented itself as a blank canvas to an aspiring artist trying to make a political statement; or, right at your feet, on the sidewalk – there’s always a new find that demands a second look.

Despite a recent surge in popularity amongst the Manhattan set as the ‘it’ place to be (especially for Sunday brunch), Williamsburg has experienced exponential growth since the 1990s and continues to be a key influencer on the art community. Its proximity to the City, only a stop away on the L subway, with the added advantage of large loft spaces, lower rent prices and an alternative to Lower Manhattan’s art scene had proven attractive enough for artists, who migrated across the Williamsburg Bridge and revived an otherwise ailing neighborhood some twenty years ago. The area is still home to studios and galleries, and street artists.

That said, I am still in awe of the restraint of Williamsburg’s street art, in that it isn’t overly done, compared with other places in the world such as Berlin, London and even Melbourne, Australia. Until then, I expect to be surprised with stumbling upon the unexpected.

More street art can be found on my previous blog entry: Williamsburg’s Street Art.

Here are some recent finds. Enjoy.

This message is painted on a set of unhinged doors, leaning against scaffolding

Today's new find: a sidewalk stencil

Matryoshka dolls

The garage of a martial arts studio

Martial Arts Studio: Coming Soon

Bird, unexpected

Posters...

Art on a Mattress

Spraypainted colour

Not a bus stop...

A current favourite

Tiki Stencil