You may have remembered when I posted about an abandoned hotel that had become a temporary art exhibition last year (see ArtHotel), well the M5Arts collective is back again this year with another temporary exhibit, ArtStreet. This time the project takes place inside and around a huge warehouse in downtown Sacramento and features over 100 artists from all over the world. Cesar and I spent ages walking around all of the different installations earlier this week, depicting so many stories: sadness, despair, hope, love, current events, degradation of society, history among many other themes. So inspiring, I really wish that it was a permanent feature in the city rather than just temporary. Of course I took a bunch of photos of as much as I could, feeling more and more inspired with every step. If you are one of the artists who participated or you know anyone who did, please don't hesitate to tag in the comments. You can also find a full list of all artists here.
It's no secret - I love Halloween. I love how the traditions go back centuries, originating in Celtic times and turning into a fun, albeit pretty commercial, day of celebration in today's world. I've always loved to dress up, and now, with a family, it's a million times more fun. I left my camera at home for once and let my wonderfully talented mother take shots of us as we walked around the neighbourhood, trick or treating with the kids. Here are a few of the beautiful pictures that she took of us!
(If anyone in the Sacramento area is interested in getting some family, group or band shots done before the holidays she has a few openings available over the next month. You can find out more information on her blog here (complete with easy booking tool), and look at her work on her website here.)
I will have a collection of Autumn photos up before the end of November, but I'm a little behind on just about everything so you will have to bear with me on that! I'm going to try to catch up on all the blog posts that I have been working on over the past month this week.
Chalk It Up is a three day festival held in Fremont Park, Sacramento every year to help raise money to fund children's art education and activities in the area. There are sponsored (paid) squares and community (free) squares, music, vendors and food, covering the entire park. We went on the first day and I was impressed by how much talent there was compressed into one small area! It's a fantastic way to raise money for a great cause and gives all kinds of artists and kids a place to showcase what they can do. You can see all of the photos HERE.
I‘ve photographed a lot of street art over the past ten years, mainly in NYC, often just random shots during my walks around, camera around my neck or in my bag. There is so much freedom, diversity, and talent in this art, paintings that sometimes appear overnight under the cover of a darker sky, or sometimes just commissioned by a company. I love walking around a corner to see a mural staring back at me, or finding a tiny little sketch in a corner, hidden by a colourful tag. Streets shouldn’t be perfectly bland and clean, they should be flamboyant, dusty and loud, full of each and every one of us. Streets should represent us all and streets should change over time, capturing our thoughts and actions, portraying what we are and where we are going. Art isn’t meant to be kept behind lock and key, art is for us all to appreciate, take in and assimilate, look at and smile. We have so many forms of expression and visual art is one of the most evocative and also the one most open to interpretation. It always makes me happy to be in a city that allows artists to freely express themselves on walls and railways and bridges.
It’s sometimes hard for me to walk around Sacramento. I still feel a little disconnected, slightly lost, and wonder why everything is just so quiet. I’m slowly getting more used to it, and continue to walk around hoping to find that part of me that I left back in NYC 7 months ago. I may never find it, as it’s probably just waiting for me to come back, but I am finding that there are more and more things that inspire and motivate me. The Art Hotel 916 back in February for example, and just recently the Sacramento Mural Festival. The festival took place between August 20th and 27th and involved 11 artists (and some assistant artists) and 11+ walls around the midtown and downtown areas of Sacramento. During the week the artists each created a mural (or more than one mural) for us, the people who walk around the streets of Sacramento. These 11 artists (Add Fuel, Alicia Palenyy, Andrew Schoultz, David Fiveash, Dog and Pony, Drew Merritt, Irubiel Moreno, Jake Castro, Kristin Farr, Michelle Blade, and Nate Frizzell), were picked earlier in the year (thankfully they made sure to represent some local artists too) and all went out of their way to really make some buildings and alleyways look spectacular. You can find more information on the official website, including a map of locations and artist bios.
I walked around the area on the 20th, the first day of the festival, where some of the artists were just starting up, laying the foundations of their work. I then went back again on the Tuesday, August 23rd, and took more photos, walking around the J, K, and L streets, and then over towards Old Sacramento, and shot some of the works in progress. And then back again during the day on the 27th to see some of the pieces getting their final touches and others already finished and dried. The only mural I didn’t manage to get to was Dog & Pony’s over on C Street, and as soon as I do I will add some pictures to the album. Other than that I have seen every mural in some form or another, and most of them more than once. While I have my own personal favourites, every single piece of art is super original, beautiful and inspiring. To take an idea and to recreate it over such a vast canvas takes such skill, and it was amazing to see it happening in real time.
I chatted briefly to Irubiel Moreno about just how beautiful I found his mural to be, and he was so humble and friendly, explaining that it was all for us, people of Sacramento. He also told me that he didn’t know exactly what he was going to do or how it was going to turn out until he had actually finished it. The pastel colours were a wink to the name of the location, Lavender Heights, and I found that the sheer amount of work that he put into the mural over the space of a few days was just spectacular. I’m really looking to go back and see the final, final result, and again, stroll through the streets of Sacramento and discover more.
Sacramento is all-in-all a beautiful city, still hovering between small town and big city, and for its size has a huge amount of artistic incentives, festivals and exhibitions. I need to get out and about more to join in. You can find the full album of photos taken last week HERE, as well as a collection below. If you know of any events that you think I would enjoy around here I would love to hear about them, and maybe even join in! All photos taken with a FujiFilm XE-1 and a Canon Rebel.
The mockingbird sits up on his perch every morning, right there on the electricity wires, picking up a new tune every few days, partially resigned to the routine of the days, partially trying something a little more daring. I love hearing his voice as I push the kids towards the park, a sense of common ground, a need to blend in and stand out, and a sense of recognition that routine is what keeps us all going right now. The days are either hot or even hotter, the sky is consistently blue, apart from the grey wisps of smoke that congregate on the horizon when a forest or brush fire starts closer to the city. Every morning we go to the park on the corner, walk around and around a few times to in guise of exercise and then find our special tree to sit under and enjoy the fresh morning breeze. It gets hotter as the day wanes here, so mornings are the nicest times, the time when you get everything done that you need to. The grass is usually damp from the very early morning sprinklers and the dragonflies and butterflies congregate in the air and the squirrels play in the trees, giggling at each other.
The park is part me-time, part breathing time, part place where the girls can roam semi-freely, as long as they stay where I can see them. Luna hands me flowers as Aurora takes her tentative steps in the grass; all of us roaming around barefoot, toes in the dirt and feet in the wet grass. Sometimes my mother comes along, other times my sister, sometimes Cesar when he isn’t at work, but usually it is just me and the kids and often a camera, catching little moments that always feel so important to me and to the girls. We pick up sticks and count leaves, talk about colours and sing songs. We meet the same people every day and smile and say hello, and that always makes me feel somewhat grounded. It’s such a beautiful, peaceful place where we make up stories and dream of flying with the butterflies and talking to the squirrels.
It is now mid-Autumn but summer will still be here for a while, months maybe, and we will continue to enjoy the cool breeze under the trees and the sound of nature in our ears, and I will take many, many more pictures to document all of those simple, but special moments.
There is a full album of photos up on Flickr right here. All photographs taken using full manual mode on a Canon Rebel and a FujiFilm XE-1 with little or no editing.
You can find my first state fair post with photos from the first week HERE, and a full photo album from the entire fair HERE. I can't pretend that we managed to see everything but we did get to see and experience a lot, even though the temperatures soared way over 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the last weekend! If I had been alone it wouldn't have been too much of an issue, but with two small children we had to work our way around the hottest times and places and find shade whenever we could. All in all we really enjoyed the fair and I can't wait to go back next year! Here are my main highlights from the 17 day event:
The Petting Zoo: We went there nearly every day. I only wish that it were a little bigger because it could get a little crowded at times, especially where there were too many adults inside. Luna absolutely adored being with all of the animals, especially the baby goats and pigs. I loved how sweet all of the animals were, even the deer who try to eat your clothes, and how happy the children (and adults) were inside.
The horse racing: This was my favourite! The anticipation, that short moment when the horses fly by, the roar of the crowd when the winner crosses the line. It was so much fun to photograph too, trying to get them all in the frame before they are gone. I do wish that the races had been earlier in the day though, mainly due to the heat!
The fairgrounds: I'm not a big fairground ride person, I usually feel like I'm going to die and that takes away any fun for me. However, I LOVE walking around, the lights, the smells, the happiness and watching all of the rides in motion. Cesar tried the newest ride, this insane spider-like contraption that holds you upside down high in the air before whipping you down to the ground and back up again... He loved it. Luna screamed at it and I took photos of him high in the air, arms and legs spread out in glee and a look of pure happiness on his face.
The pony rides: Mainly because Luna loved it SO MUCH. I think she has developed a pure love for horses thanks to the pony ride and won't stop going on about it! Trigger was her favourite little pony, he was sweet and made funny faces. We are now going to look for a place where she can start taking lessons.
The FOOD: SO MUCH TO CHOOSE FROM. Even for a vegetarian there was loads. My only regret is that I didn't get any funnel cake or churros!
The exhibitions: I really enjoyed walking around all of the different art and photography exhibitions/competitions. It was wonderful to see all of the amazing work that children and teenagers had produced. So many talented artists! I may enter the amateur photography contest next year for fun.
Special mentions: the incredible motocross guys, the adorable lamas and sheep and goats, the music, and the skilift.
All in all we had huge amounts of fun and next year I will be making to-do lists so that I can do much, much more!
A week into the California State Fair already and still so much to see and do, and most definitely eat. This is my first year living in Sacramento and also my first state fair ever (NYC is a fair in itself I suppose), so I was really looking forward to covering the events and going as often as possible - and I think we have already accomplished the latter in the first week! Every day when we come home I say that I can't wait to go back again, especially because it's so super family friendly and the girls really seem to enjoy it.
There is an awesome petting zoo full of adorably friendly goats, sheep, lamas, chickens, ducks, pigs and deer (that love to eat your clothes when you aren't looking) as well as other animals. There are also pony rides and you can even try your hand at milking a goat or a cow. The kids fairground is pretty spectacular with a great array of attractions and games, but be advised that all of the attractions, apart from the carousel, are only for kids of 36 inches and above. Over the past week we have spent a lot of time over by the horses, watching some competitions as well as some shows (although I want to see the Clydesdales as I keep missing them), and paying a visit to our friend Lazarus, the wonderful rescue horse.
Over on the racing track there are 7 or 8 horse races through-out the day over the weekend, and it was so cool to watch the horses and their jockeys trot by, all riled up ready for the race, and then speed past us again, so focused and concentrated on the finish line. Some of the races are so fast that my camera had trouble keeping up and I can't wait to go back and take more photos from different angles. Maybe even place a bet too?!
The "adult" part of the fairground is amazing! Huge and full of some insane rides that I will never try even if you paid me. Yes, I am a wimp. Although I did promise Cesar that I would go on the Magnum with him next week, so there is that... And one of the big wheels! And I went on the pretty swings the other day, luckily without realizing how I would actually feel on them! I might try the ski-lift out though as I bet the view is spectacular, especially at the end of the day when the sun sets behind the largest Ferris wheel. I've always loved the lights, the sounds, the smells and the general atmosphere of a fair, and I could walk around for hours just enjoying myself.
There are some wonderful exhibitions (one of my mother's photos was actually placed in the Fine Art division with a merit), stores to walk around and a ton (literally) of food to try! I was worried there wouldn't be many vegetarian things to find, but no issues there! I still need to find a vegetarian corndog though, and maybe try a deep-fried something or other too. You can actually grab dinner and go and sit on the bank and watch the crazy motocross guys perform their insane moves while flying through the air, or run over to the diving pool and see some guys dressed as penguins dive from an 80 foot high pole. Both events take place three times a day every day and are worth watching more than once.
I still feel like I have SO much more to see and I can't wait to get back there again. My advice to all is to bring some comfortable shoes, wear light clothing, bring sunblock, hats and sunglasses and stay hydrated. There are loads of places to sit in the shade and relax but it's Sacramento so it gets really hot during the day. I also think it's a good ides to bring cash. A lot of places take cards and there are some ATMs around, but I found it was just easier to have cash handy for the rides and for the petting zoo. And if you want to go on as many rides as possible without breaking the bank, go on Tuesday (July 19th) as all rides are $2.
I'm working on a collection of photos, but in the meantime here are some highlights of our past week at the fair! You can check out the California State Fair website for more information on daily events and theirInstagram feed for some cool photos.
Horses have always fascinated me, these beautiful, beautiful animals in all shapes and sizes, trainable but still completely wild, or perhaps unpredictable, capable of understanding and caring, and literally bearing the weight of mankind. I was lucky enough to be able to accompany my mother to the Western States Horse Expo a few weekends ago and had the chance to photograph all different types of horses, from stunning Friesians, beautiful gypsies and sleek Arabians to an array of rescue horses as well as slightly trained wild horses, with many, many others in between. (I'm not too keen on the words "breaking in", so I'm just going to use trained instead). I learnt a lot over the weekend, both about horses and my own photography, take aways to improve and things to focus on over the next couple of months. I would now love to go out and take some showjumping and dressage photos, and also shoot some wild horses somewhere. The girls loved the expo too, and I have to say that the mini horses that Parelli were giving out at the entrance were an amazing touch - Luna refuses to be separated from her "horsey" and he goes everywhere with us!
I will let the images speak for themselves (a selection below and the full album HERE), but I want to mention of few notable organizations that I feel should have more coverage. Hope 4 Horses is a formidable horse rescue center in the area, as well as the awesome wild horse program that is in place at the Rio Consumnes Correctional Center. Imagine Pitbulls and Parolees but with horses instead of dogs. Horses seem to have an incredible ability to heal and love. They really are formidable and amazing and deserve our utmost respect.
Memorial Day, on the last Monday in May, a day to remember those who have served this country in the military and have fallen in combat. A day to remember people who put their lives on the line for something they may or may not have believed in, a day for us to put aside our thoughts and beliefs and to think of those who have died while serving this country (and any other country). In my mind a very solemn and sad day. We went to Mount Vernon Memorial Park and walked around right after the end of the ceremony. Bikers and veterans, children and adults, families helping their elders visit other family members' graves and lots of hushed voices paying their respects. It was already over 90 degrees Fahrenheit and the sun was beating down, but it was lovely to walk around and contemplate the sheer amount of people who have served and died for this country in this region alone.
I've been determined to only use my DSLR on fully manual since I moved here, and I'm quite proud of how OK these photos came out, especially seeing as I was carrying Aurora in the Ergo, pushing Luna in the stroller and Taking photos with one had, adjusting my settings pretty much blindly. All photos taken with my Canon Rebel T1i (I would have used my FujiFilm XE-1 but the charger is buried in one of the boxes in the garage and I don't want to buy another).
I spent many a day roaming around NYC, snapping photos of buildings, signs, art, sometimes even people if I felt confident enough. There was always at least one camera in my bag, digital and/or film. New York City embodies art. NYC IS art. NYC is a huge, moving and continuously evolving piece of art and there is nowhere in the world quite like it (not that I have found in any case). Over the years I captured many pieces of street art on those cameras, from tags to full blown commissioned murals and anything in between. I moved to Bushwick in early 2008 and found layers and layers of amazing art during my walks, blocks of murals and tags; stencils and wheatpastes. Some work was obviously commissioned and legal, other just appeared overnight on an old wall, and left to stay. Some of the art that I photographed is long gone, other work remains in the same place today, but you never know how long anything will last in the city… Street art remains ephemeral. I have only two regrets, one being that I left shooting Five Points for too long and was too late, and the other being not capturing all of the artists names. If you recognize any please leave a comment and I will add the artist’s name.
This collection of photos spans over 6 years and three boroughs (Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens). I used the following cameras: Canon Rebel Ti1, Canon AE-1 (1978 and 1979), Holga and there are a couple that were taken with an iPhone. Artists include: Blaze, Dasic Fernandez, AWR/MSK Crew, TFP Crew, Jesus Saves, Russell King, Bushwick Collective, Goya, Dave-Foto, DYM Crew, YMI Crew.
The (large) collection of photos is up on Flickr HERE. The photos featured below are only a small example of all of the images that I have collected over the years!