The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Car

I never figured myself as one of those to get a new car for Christmas. Realistically, I am not much of a new car person. I become too attached, keep them, become comfortable with the interiors, and not lured by shiny new bells and whistles.

December 10, I set out on another road trip in the trusty Volvo -- something I have done many, many times since it came home with me in 2005. With an exterior shielded by years of living in our garage and an interior in near pristine condition due to the dog cover for the back seat, the Volvo did not show her almost 11 years of service.

My daughter and I enjoyed a full, albeit short, visit to my hometown to celebrate my mother's birthday. I found time to venture out early to shoot at some of my favorite local spots -- just me and the Volvo. One morning I parked, ever so briefly, in a "No Parking  Tow-Away Zone". (an omen of things to come.....)

On the way back to Georgia, as we were making excellent time, and near the middle of South Carolina, the old Volvo coughed and shuddered. I thought the interstate had become quite rough -- but it had not. It was the Volvo. Just moments before it passed large trucks with ease but now labored on the slightest incline. The check engine light flashed at me once, then twice, begging for help. There was no defribrillator at hand. We pulled off the freeway and found sanctuary in, what else, a Waffle House parking lot. After catching our breath -- us and the car -- it started just fine and lapped the parking lot as if to say to me, "only fooling...".

I ventured back onto Interstate 85 to try to head home, only a couple hours away. But it wasn't fooling. Thinking back on that portion of events, it must have been similar to that bit of complete clarity a dying person has just before the end.

The shuddering returned more violently than before. The light flashed again. The Volvo barely made another hill. I had to get over onto the shoulder of the road since I could not hold a decent speed. With flashers warning others I had trouble, we limped and gasped to the next exit. 

While on the phone with my husband, now sitting in an Exxon lot, I looked in my rearview mirror and noticed another lot behind us filled with new Volvos. There was a dealer nearby -- this must be an overflow lot. A quick Google and I found them. The online chat person (there to facilitate shoppers) gave me the roadside assistance number and remained on chat with me while I used my daughter's phone to contact them and make arrangements for a tow. The dealer was less than a mile away.

The Volvo was toast -- at a youthful 140,000 miles.

I had not thought about a new car. The search was on. In place of the XC90, I wanted to go smaller, sportier.....I had been driving SUVs since, well, before they were cool.

After days of searching and driving different vehicles -- we settled on a new Mazda model; the CX-3. It is small, sporty, in what I like to think of as 'Rolling Stone Gray,' and fun to drive. It has bells and whistles -- and I have some learning to do...

RIP Volvo, you were loved. Long live the CX-3! Just please don't make me get a speeding ticket! Thanks to Greenville Volvo for all they did to help us out even though the XC90 was DOA. And thanks to Kyle Brooks, aka Black Cat Tips, for my new bear head sticker since my old sticker went away with the Volvo...

Merry Christmas to all!

Friday, December 4, 2015

A Frame, A Frame, My County For A Frame

After months of frustration and displeasure concerning the projects developed and completed by the Fayette County Public Arts Committee (FCPAC), I had the opportunity to attend a meeting of this committee last Monday evening. My attendance was to observe, see what projects are in the works, and witness their process. 

When I entered the public meeting space, I noticed a very large (6x8 foot??) black wooden frame leaning against the half wall. I soon learned that Commissioner Steve Brown had plans for this repurposed frame. He retrieved it from the trash at a local school and had stored it at his home -- where he said it was no longer welcomed by his wife. Strapped and tied to the bed of his truck, he carted it to the county meeting room -- to leave for someone else to store while a plan is hatched. The plan is to cut the frame in half and secure it with a strong hinge -- to enable an easier way to get it from one community function to another. 

"We have enough engineers around to figure it out," said Brown.

So I wonder, the county engineers are going to spend time figuring out how to properly collapse/fold the frame for transporting. Also, there were discussions of creating backdrops, attaching items around the frame to look like clouds and such, and affixing Velcro to it to secure a logo for FCPAC. The backgrounds, per the discussion, would be painted by students. This frame project is all about giving families a place at community events to make memories/photos. It is also, since the logo placement was discussed, to promote the FCPAC. 

Sounds like an interesting idea. I think something like this would be a great project for a scout troop or a school art club. Is this public art? If the FCPAC is looking for something to give families a great picture perfect spot and also promote their committee, how about something like this Hense mural on Atlanta's Beltline...

I've seen a lot of photos on social media of people standing near this work of art. It promotes the artist, the Beltline project, and it is easily accessible (no need to cart around something that really is craft, not art). 

I remain concerned about the direction of the art committee when I observed a lot of precious volunteer time consumed with discussion of a project that is craft and really doesn't promote public art in any way (beyond a logo). Oh but wait -- there is also talk of a puzzle project. A sheet of plywood, cut and painted, to be made available for meetings and downtown festivals -- for children to play with. And what is on this puzzle...

"Importance of public art, everyone has a creative bend, whatever," said Commissioner Brown.

Discussion continued on more interior projects in the county administrative complex -- something about decorating around an elevator and putting up something to rival a FatHead in the Human Resources Department. Does decorating county office space seem like public art? Are these projects to elevate and encourage art in our county? One committee member mentioned the annual Old Courthouse Art Show was not on the schedule for 2016; reason given, not enough good art. It seems to be true -- there is not enough good art being promoted by a committee formed under the purpose of finding ways "to use art to enhance the County's reputation, to contribute to the civic environment, and to enrich the lives of citizens and visitors through the involvement of professional artists to integrate public artwork throughout Fayette County". 

....are visitors going to come to Fayette to view the newly redecorated Finance or Human Resources Departments? The elevator? Artwork in a private employee breakroom? Have their children's pictures taken in a frame that is so tall at least three or four (or more) feet of space is left above their heads? How does a children's floor puzzle promote the importance of public art when there is very little artwork to show them?

A better use of that giant frame is to mount it to the wall in a county government office and fill it with more art from the students. And I know that the committee has no interest in paying for a mural by Hense, but it could be something from another artist, in a very public place, and it could be a start. Fayette County is home to the parents of a great, and becoming more well known everyday, muralist/artist -- Black Cat Tips! (if you haven't, you need to go to that website and watch the videos about Kyle Brooks and his art)

Kyle Brooks, AKA Black Cat Tips, with his Beltline mural
The day I took this photo of Kyle in Atlanta, a woman pushing a stroller stopped by. She asked him if he painted another mural on the Beltline and he said yes. (His style is very identifiable.) She leaned down to speak to her child telling him that this is the artist who painted the pictures he loved so much. She went on to tell Kyle that her son loved his painting, that he pointed at it and talked about it when they passed by on their walk. It was wonderful to observe a connection made between such a young child and the artist he admired. Perhaps that child will carry forth his love of art and remember the day he met Kyle. 

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