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.
I spent more time at the girls' school this visit. The only part of the school that I could get into is the sanctuary. The rest of the facility is closed because of instability and partial building collapse due to the earthquake in 2011. And after walking around the place and seeing the general condition, I don't think I'd want to go in. I've been to Belmead three times in the last 7 months and each time I find a little less of the buildings remaining.
The first image is the sanctuary. The colors of the room reminded me of old color film and so I treated the image with shades and tones of Kodachrome film. I think the film look also enhances the general breakdown of the building. The stained glass windows are gradually failing or being broken and bits and pieces of the ceiling and walls are falling down. Just below the school campus is the remains of an old road leading off to...who knows where, perhaps a neighbor. The Hump Back stone bridge is a little more than a quarter mile down that road which now is only a trail and a rugged trail at that. The stone bridge is over a small creek that flows into Deep Creek just before entering the James River. On the hike back I saw this old gasoline pump standing alone in the forest. Right next to the trail but no standing buildings. I tried to imagine what life was like on the campus fifty years ago.
Chapel at St Francis de SalesCrumbling Catholic sanctuary at the abandoned African American school for girls Humpback BridgeStone bridge on a long abandoned road in Belmead-on-the-James St Francis de Sales property. Rumor has the age of the bridge older than the mansion house which was built in the 1840s Pump in the ForestOld gasoline pump in the forest.
I did a very quick walkabout in what I'd known as Crystal City. Now I guess the name is National Landing and the construction underway is amazing. I worked there, for 8 years! I recognized very little. I am sure all this growth is good but...how do you add 25,000 jobs to a small area like this and manage the traffic? Smarter minds than mine have probably thought this issue through and will do all sorts of imaginative things to the transportation system. Probably. No Manhattan-like skylines exist (yet) but the streets are narrow and the buildings are tall. In some areas to see the sky you need to be in the street. I looked up the price of an apartment and the prices were about what I expected...BMW range.
The infrastructure required to maintain this community will be significant. Probably millions of windows, hundreds of restaurants, and...well you get it. I wonder where they'll live. I found some images of folks working. The first is looking into a restaurant where I think training was happening. The reflection of the crosswalk caught my eye. A short time later, a gentleman walked up to where I'd been standing, looked inside at the folks and knocked on the window trying to get their attention. The last image is just the beginning of the window washing requirement.
Restaurant TrainingThe reflection of a crosswalk and city park in the window of a restaurant Outside Looking InThe new "Crystal City" now called National Landing. This gentleman is trying to get the attention of the people inside where a restaurant training class is apparently being held. Keeping CleanIn the Metropolitan Park area of National Landing. Construction makes things dirty and I imagine that window cleaning is a constant chore
Yesterday I went to an incredible exhibit of Man Ray's portraits at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. He was able to catch his subjects perfectly telling the story of their lives and their art. Ray seemed to know all of the artists in Paris in the 1920s, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, and every other name that was famous a hundred years ago and many, are still famous today. The excitement and adventure of working with these artists when art was really taking off after World War I must have been an incredible experience. The exhibit showed hundreds of his original prints with details of the when the image was made. Man had made more than the norm portrait, his told the story of the person in the image. I had only an hour and finished less than half of the exhibit so I will go back next week. An incredible visit.
The emotion and story in Man's portraits were really quite incredible. I don't do portraits but I do spend time studying those from Tom Wolff and Annie Leibobitz, two incredible photographers who seem to really connect with the people they are working with. Perhaps they are channeling shades of Man's storytelling techniques.
My grandfather was a linotype operator, he typed on a machine that created blocks of raised letters (called slugs) from molten metal which were then put into columns, then onto pages, then onto presses, then inked and made into newspapers. He used to take me into the newspaper building's magical, noisy world and I'd watch the paper rolling through the presses to become our small town newspaper, "The Huronite." The "Huronite:" eventually became the "Daily Plainsman" and the printing presses disappeared into...well, I don't know but I'm pretty sure they're gone. Today I read that the newspaper in Sioux Falls, SD, the "Argus Leader," would also stop printing its own paper and would contract printing out to an out-of-state company. People just don't read newspapers anymore and to survive, papers have to consolidate big operations, like printing and distribution.
I think not reading newspapers is sad because they are run locally, even if they have a wider distribution, and they have a general code of conduct, not always followed, but one that requires a level of integrity and truth that isn't required by foreign trolls or internet posts (like this one). Fewer newspapers is probably better for the trees but I'm pretty sure it's not better for the people.
A quandary. I've been debating this issue with myself for several weeks. On the one hand, Facebook is the only place I stay in touch with folks I haven't actually seen in many, many years and is probably the only way that I'd maintain contact. Peggy, Rod, Ted, Stefan, Stacey, Gerry, Don, Carolyn, Jacque, Dan, Maryanne, Mary, Bob, and many more from recent decades. I've unfriended way too many "friends" who've chosen to "live" on FB by repeating fascist memes, factless "news" casts, and shameless russian trolls. From those "lost friends" I read happy Facebook stories about how things are all so good and happy and wonderful but when actually talking with that person, I find in their real lives they've become ideological hoarders who are suffering and have turned inward to live in creative isolationism.
I note that posting on FB increases my website traffic by 500% and that made me ask myself what was important about my website. I came to the conclusion that this is part of the creative process that I do for me, like making a print and hanging it on my wall. I don't work at selling my art so having a website isn't really critical for that...no, the important part of the website is the act of creating and "publishing" the art. Websites are really only one method of putting art out for consumption, there are other ways. I may begin to explore what other people are doing...sort of a travelogue or catalogue of art in Virginia. If I post on FB in the future, I will probably simul-post through Instagram.
These are two more images of the 522 Bridge at Maidens, VA with a walkway along the river. I imagined that the walkway might have been where the mules pulled the riverboats upriver. I think the name "The 522 Bridge" is kind of a pedestrian name for a bridge close to Maidens.