Greetings! This is my place for art and thinking. The images I find out in the world and close to home are sometimes put here. I like to smile and hence like to find images that are smileworthy. I'm also a bit melancholy sometimes and hence you might find images of solitude and loneliness.
Distant Mountain = FreedomFrom the Book "Show Me the Way to Go to Home" photo by Sandy Sugawara Sandy Sugawara and Catiana Garcia-Kilroy’s book “Show Me the Way to Go to Home” is thought provoking, artful, and powerful. Their book is not a “coffee table” photo book although lonely, compelling images are wonderfully sequenced throughout. Rather, the book is a work of art and literature, a masterful, almost lyrical depiction of the incarceration sites of Japanese Americans in America during World War II. Sugawara is the daughter of two incarcerates who viewed their time in the barbed wired camps as something finished, to be forgotten…not to be remembered.
Silence, terror, and time often collaborate to overshadow the physical and psychological wounds inflicted on Japanese Americans during World War II. “Show Me the Way to Go to Home” is a glimpse into America’s betrayal of its citizens and the grievous loss by those interred and a hint of the opportunities lost to the rest of us because they were interred. Incredible, sensory-rich images fill most of the book. Poems by survivors’ family members, artifacts, and historical notes provide additional emotion to the photo journey.
Sugawara was aware her parents were incarcerated during the War, but they seldom talked of it, saying those days should be left behind so that the people could move forward. Just before Sugawara’s mother died, she asked Sandy, “Why didn’t someone speak up, why didn’t other Americans stand up for us?” Shortly after her mother died, Sandy and her friend, Catiana went looking for answers. Their journey, the people they met, the pictures they took, the objects they found all weaved together to create the texture of this magnificent book.
The two photographers spent the next years visiting ten of the incarceration sites, interviewing people, finding images, and stirring up memories of those years. Books like this are difficult. Sandy’s parents were incarcerated not Sandy, it’s really not Sandy and Catiana’s story to tell, they weren’t there…except, they did it. They told the story from their perspective and remained objective by combining today’s images, poems, and descriptions with yesterday’s mementoes, recollections, historical footnotes, and linking incarcerates’ names with current, well-known personalities from each incarceration site.
The sites were all abandoned, mostly empty and desolate, and all in remote, inhospitable terrain. The photographers’ images capture the physical and emotional essence of the sites. I could feel the hot wind blowing sandy grit into my face and the oven-like heat roasting the soles of my shoes. I could hear my feet crunching through the desert sands and the creaking boards of rotting buildings.
The book captures a living story, a monument to the incarcerated people and a beacon to all of us who can learn from the incredibly unjust act of having armed men rip our neighbors from their homes to board trains and buses to carry them hundreds of miles from their homes to these camps. In America. We did not do that to German Americans. Or Italian Americans.
The book has many images with some text. Each site’s section has a one-page description before the set of images. At the beginning of the book are two poems by descendants of other survivors. At the end of the book are images of some historical objects, photos, legislative history, and an essay by Dr. Donna Nagata, “Intergenerational Impact of the Japanese American Incarceration.” A binding attachment is a booklet with images of some of Sandy’s father’s wartime collectibles, kept in a box and not seen by Sandy until after her mother’s passing.
The book is a perfect balance…a peek at what was, a step-by-step walk-through today’s remains of the sites, and a glimpse of what that historic period means to the survivors, their children, and the rest of us.
The book is a work of art and is available at Radius Books.
Birthday 7 haunts me like the bzzzzz of an angry dentist’s drill.
That day’s dream was a red bike with handlebars like a Texas longhorn.
That day’s truth was a backside whuppin’ for a now unremembered 7-year-old’s stunt.
Remembering the whuppin’, that’s the easy part, a broad, strop-like belt
Artfully wielded over my underpants clad bottom,
Accompanied by screaming and anger and searing emotions.
Other birthday memories have come and gone from those early years
But none remain where I can reach.
I got the bike. But, birthday parties fade only to that single day in May.
The reality of the bike’s ride was as good as I’d dreamed.
And ride I did throughout the town and into the places I didn’t know
Where I found that the going was better than the getting there.
And…oh, I discovered the coolest thing ever, adrenaline.
On a sunny day, less than a month from the infamous birthday,
I was reaching new heights of airborne prowess and speeds
Previously unknown or even imagined in my adrenaline soaked brain.
Suddenly in mid-jump, my bike betrayed me and went in a direction
Quite opposite of where I’d intended while my body stayed obediently
Ballistic stopping abruptly on the edge of a newly poured concrete curb.
And then, I discovered pain. Pain like no other I’d known and without end or ebb.
Gathering up my wounded bike I sobbed my way
Through neighbors’ yards telling them all was okay and my arm was not broken.
All night I lay in agony with the throbbing, searing pain
Bemoaning the betrayal of that evil red Schwinn and wondering
How I could modify its obviously flawed design
Into something worthy of my derring-do.
Next day’s doctor’s visit
Added a plaster cast with metal brace, and,
A story to my life.
Immersion in the moment is what I try to do on a walkabout but of course, those moments came at me fast which is why I have a camera. The camera only captures part of the moment though, there's what I was hearing, feeling, seeing...others there...what they were saying. All of my emotion and the emotion I imagine in others sometimes leads me down a complex post processing path. I know that the literalists among you will turn away, that's okay because that's part of the moment. This is an image from Leesylvania Park taken a couple of years ago, imagined again today.
I have a poetry section on this website. Once in a while I add a piece. This is one that I started working on a while ago. This and many others are on the "Poetry" page. Please visit.
I sat next to my grandfather on the floor where he'd fallen.
He lay twitching and shaking from the brain bleed
that would kill him just moments later.
Watching him die,
all that I learned about
love and life
fanned out before my 14-year-old eyes.
Wanting to help him. Terrified I didn't know how.
Then he was gone.
I was alone.
Certainly now the world would
pause or salute or shed a tear.
But nothing slowed;
I am submitting some images for a juror's consideration. The subject is gardens/flowers and the limit is ten! I have sorted through many but can't get to ten. Can you help? Please recommend one that I should dump, or two, or ever how many you think need to be tossed.