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 to Central Park for a couple of reasons. One, I was scared that I’d miss the chance to stroll the park’s beautiful walkways before winter, slow to arrive this year. And, I wanted to take some photos autumnal foliage. Who knows if I’ll have the opportunity to experience Central Park during a lengthy fall again?

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

I set out without a route in mind, which has become my preferred way of exploring with the Nikon camera. Two cases in point: While photographing the park’s beautiful vistas, I came across monuments I’d never seen before. And, I stumbled across a crowd paying tribute to John Lennon, 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  located in busy cities – Hyde Park in London, Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris – Central Park is a respite from the bustle. Located in the middle of a vertical urban grid, the park brings about a sense of peace as soon as you enter its perimeter. Although thousands of residents and tourists come here on any given day – to relax, to visit the Zoo, to skate Wollman Rink – there are parts of the park where you feel as if you’re the only one there.

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

Spread across 843 acres (3.41 km2), Central Park runs the length of 59th to 110th Streets and extends from Fifth Avenue to Central Park West. The Park has been described as “America’s first and foremost major urban public space”[1]. Its design 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

Central Park’s labyrinth of pathways, meadows, bridges, and undulating hills takes a few hours to enjoy. I found myself stopping and starting – to pause at a monument, to ponder a plaque dedication, to watch reflections dance on a pond.

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

Plaque dedication

Benches

My major discovery was Literary Walk, a pathway lined with huge monuments of playwright Shakespeare, Scottish poet Robert Burns… and for some reason, Christopher Columbus. From here, the route continues to the adjoining Mall, a promenade lined with towering elm trees leading up to a staircase that descends toward the beautiful Bethesda Fountain. It no wonder that this dramatic setting is the most photographed part of the park.

“Living is easy with eyes closed.” John Lennon

Shakespeare in the Park

The Mall

The Park hasn’t always enjoyed such fanfare. In the 1970s, it experienced 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] Once crime ridden and a hotbed of litter and graffiti, Central Park was hardly a respite from the city despite its landmark status (1963). In 1980, a “group of dedicated civic and philanthropic leaders”[3] rallied together to found The Central Park Conservancy. 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 more beautiful landscapes. Carefully tended to by Conservancy crews, the area is filled with trees, shrubs, and flowers. From here, you can see the green-roofed Boathouse to the east; glittery weeping willows to the south; and bare sycamore trees backed by Central Park West to the north west. I spotted ducks on the grand lake, whose ripples reflected the yellow and orange leaves of the trees.

“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 two hours, the sun started to set, and I made my way towards the 72nd Street exit, the location of Strawberry Fields and its Imagine memorial, dedicated to the late John Lennon by Yoko Ono. Which is when I walked into a crowd singing Beatles’ songs in unison. I learned it was the 31st anniversary of John Lennon’s death, and as has been customary every year since 1980, fans gathered around the mosaic — now covered in flowers, candles, momentos and messages — singing ‘Imagine’ and ‘Come Together’ to the strum of a guitar. It was a touching dedication to an icon, “known for his social activism and anti-war rhetoric. He was a praised figure, full of wit and wisdom”[5], and I was glad to have played a part in the celebratory gathering. (I didn’t know the words, so didn’t sing along, but I 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]

A gathering of fans

‘Imagine’ mosaic

I came away from Central Park with a completely new appreciation for it. I can’t wait to go back in spring, to explore its labyrinth again, to experience its changing foliage.

“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.

Williamsburg — today’s “it” destination — has experienced exponential growth since the 1990s, when artists revived the ailing neighborhood. The area is still home to studios and galleries, and street artists.

That said, I am in awe of Williamsburg’s street art. See 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