Saturday, November 30, 2013


With its cornstalks clipped  into a crewcut, this field 
lies fallow in the late afternoon sun.
Even as the furrows run off into the distance,
describing for us an expanse of wonderful open space,
I remind myself that the concrete roads are not that
far away. With homes nearby as well,
all waiting to spread their cancer, robbing us
of this beautiful arable land, lying purple
and gold not far outside Marion County 
and Indianapolis.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Some Assembly Required

Magically, somewhere from one of Santa's storage bins, 
the hats appear, everything from a red velvet pimp hat, 
to Rudolph antler caps, to a funereal black velvet 
"Bah Humbug!" Santa hat.
Then we all gather for a group photo wearing our choice 
of the Christmas millinery. What began as a pretty
casual Thanksgiving stunt, with everyone taking their 
own pictures, now involves tripods and umbrellas 
for diffused lighting.
The picture below is missing four adults and two
of the three-year-old triplets, all of whom eventually
found their places in line. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013


I spent the day with my brother's family in a converted barn 
on the west side of the county. There was plenty of food
and too many little kids to count. The babies kept themselves
and the adults entertained all day and, along with
one large dog, made for an enjoyable time.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


These cat-tails were practically all that remained of the foliage surrounding 
the retention pond near Lafayette and Georgetown Roads.
Everything had been mowed down the large fenced area, 
destroying habitat for water birds that live/d there.
Across the pond a quartet of trees reflected their images
on to the pond's surface, a quiet presence that helped to 
fill in the empty space surrounding them.
Perhaps next year the undergrowth will return, creating
a nursery for the offspring of geese and ducks. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Speedway Morning @ 7

With my little camera barely able to penetrate the still-dark morning, 
I was still able to capture a glimpse of the morning sun 
as it rose from behind the treeline. I boarded the approaching bus
to ride downtown, where the western overcast formed a backdrop 
for the clear morning sky reflected by the Marriott Hotel. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Swimming: Wonder

When I swim, I look into the water
and wonder where I am.
I cannot see my shadow.
It should be there, my movements 
silhouetted below me, but the surface 
of the water reflects it back. 
Broken up by the ripples, my image
is diffused, leaving me to float
and to move in a space where I can have
 the shape I want.
I swim to transform myself into the person
I want to be. Each day I dive into the pool 
the light reflects my shadow back into the air, 
disjointed and incomplete. 
It is up to me to reassemble its form; 
my coaches guide me, but I am the one
who determines how hard I want to work 
and, when I climb out of the pool in the evening, 
the wet shards fall away, piece by piece,
back into the pool as I select the ones 
I want to recreate my whole.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Jasper Johns in Indy: On a Telephone Pole Opposite North Central High School

I found these roman numerals reminiscent of the artwork 
of Jasper Johns. Various incarnations of the numerals 
encompass a large volume of his work, from paintings 
and drawings, to lithographs and etchings.
Although not strictly a "pop artist," his work often employs 
imagery from popular culture, so he is very often included
among the artists from that movement. Johns conceived
of his most famous painting, Flag, after having 
a dream about the American flag. As a student, I became 
enamored of his drawings of numbers and spent 
a great deal of time poring over images
in art history books.

Flag, encaustic, oil and collage on fabric mounted
on plywood, 1954- 1955

Jasper Johns enjoys taking familiar objects, such as the flag
and numbers, and using them to explore how viewers' perceptions 
of them changed as his use of various media converted
them into objects of great beauty and finesse. 

Ten Numbers (Detail), 1960- 1971. Lithograph

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Facets of the Day

Sitting at the Will Call table Sunday afternoon at the Circle Theatre, 
I looked up to notice the way the painted woodwork 
was reflected and broken up by the beveled mirrors opposite.
It made me think that perhaps the most beautiful and sublime order
can be appreciated a bit more when seen disjointed, 
like a jazz phrase brought to sight.

Again, just because I like the song --
and Mandy Patinkin.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Useful Detritus

Work crews installing new lines for the electrical company 
left their tools ready for use Monday morning.
However, each crew seemed to treat the tools with various 
degrees of respect; while this crew at least made an effort to place
their shovels, broom, and supplies in the scoop of their backhoe,
others left them where they were tossed in a pile of sand.
Rain-soaked doughnuts were abandoned to the elements, 
with only their sugar coating melted by the rain.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Textured Tuesday: A Beautiful Mess

On a windy and soggy afternoon, the first thing I encountered 
when I arrived downtown was this ground light,
filled with matted wet leaves thrust into its base by gusts of wind.
All the autumn colors seem to be represented,
creating a sodden wreath around the light to remind
us of the changes brought to us with fall weather.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Art in Indy: Childe Hassam

A storm front went through the Indianapolis area Sunday, 
bringing heavy rain and severe wind gusts. 
This photo was taken around 4 p.m. from a reception room window 
overlooking Monument Circle on the second floor of the Circle Theatre. 
The giant candy cane and toy soldier in the background 
are a part of the holiday decor on the Circle.  

The rainy scene reminded me of the city scapes by American Expressionist 
painter, Childe Hassam (1859-1935). The scene shown above,
Rainy Day on Fifth Avenue, was painted in 1893 and is among the
most familiar of Hassam's paintings portraying daily life 
in New York City. 

There were two concerts Sunday afternoon. The first was another performance 
by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra of the Ravel and Debussy works
scheduled for the weekend, while the New World Youth Orchestra, 
made up from talented middle and high school musicians
played a late afternoon concert. Among the pieces they performed 
was the Concerto in A minor for Piano and Orchestra 
by Robert Schumann. The pianist for the occasion was
Jeeyoon Kim, a native of Korea who, in addition to her concert 
and recital appearances, lives in Indianapolis where she
 teaches keyboard at Butler University.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Wedding Party

As I walked over to the Starbucks located on Monument Circle on Saturday, 
I saw a group of well-dressed, attractive men (Woo hoo!) 
waiting at the Monument's base. Since they were wearing boutonnieres,
I suspected (wiggle of eyebrows) that they formed the groom's 
half of a wedding party.  

When I looked across the street, I saw a line of identically 
dressed women approaching, behind whom was the bride,
their make-up artists, and photographer.

Everyone smiled and chatted happily as they posed 
for their pictures, attracting a few neighborly paparazzi 
who, like me, made pictures of their own 
to record the pretty occasion.

One of the more unusual features of this bride was the henna tattoos 
that had been drawn on her arms and feet. I overheard her brother 
explaining to some passers-by that, not only had the lines taken many hours 
to draw, but that the bride had to wait another long while 
for the artwork to dry, requiring help from her mother to eat, etc.

Among the photos taken, were some of the drawings made 
on the bride's feet. Kudos to the photographer who was willing 
to get down on the cold ground to record the beautiful art. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

After the Concert

Friday night, after working at the symphony concert, 
I went to catch the bus home at the Federal Court building a block away.
The contrast between the worlds inside the concert hall on
Monument Circle and outside the court building could not have
been more pronounced.
The concert consisted of performances of pieces by
Debussy and Ravel and involved the Indianapolis Children's Choir,
which participated in Debussy's La Demoiselle elue 
and Nocturnes. The children of the ICC have purpose and direction
in their lives, with knowledgeable people to guide their paths,
while the children I see at night, just a block away, have no one to guide them,
no positive activities or people to show them a way out
of the danger that dogs their lives on a daily basis.

The children in the choir have their teachers and conductors,
while the children who observed this scene shown in
the top photo often have only the ill behavior like that
of the man being arrested as an example of "adult" behavior.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Swimming: Energized

I don't recall exactly when it happened, but I do remember how --
one evening our coach had us swim sets of sprints, 
each twenty-five yards in length, eight times.
I'm neither the strongest nor the fastest swimmer in 
our group, but those sprints set a fire inside me that does
not go out. I look forward to them, and I look for them on 
our workout schedule; I've gone from dutifully showing up for
our sessions and trying to accomplish the tasks assigned
to me, to working a tiny bit harder each time.
I've joked that if our coach were to show up at my door
at 3 a.m. to tell me I was to go swim the whole thing over,
I'd do it happily because I want to do it again. And again.
It feels good, it energizes me, it's good for me.
I've set a goal of what I want to accomplish, feeling as
though it is something I can really do, if I work hard.

For the past few weeks, I've gone early to watch 
other people swim, making sketches and taking photos.
I look at the sparkle of the water as the swimmers 
churn its surface into sequins and foam, and find it stimulating.
I am trying to find a way to record the moving bodies as
they pass before me, one that shows the flow of the water
as they move through it, yet at the same time gives the viewer
some sense of the human form. I want the realism of the magic I see,
of the way the scene makes me feelbut without 
the mundane recording of a photograph. 

Is it possible that I will ever be able to convey this scene, 
to show the fire that water has set?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Rode Hard and Put Away Wet

Just outside the entrance to North Central High School, these traffic cones, 
torn, tattered, and abused from the hazards of their jobs,
share a mission, marking a bit of broken pavement in the drive.
Meanwhile, the "end" is in sight for ... something.
There was evidence of a lot of spray markings in the area,
perhaps new water or sewage lines, maybe more
fiber optic communications lines; it was, after all,
just outside a fire station where I saw this. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Golden Light

The morning light sneaked in between the taller buildings, 
shining its golden light on the limestone facade 
of the Federal Court Building. In between the posts of the railing,
chrysanthemums looked to have been put in an urn --
positive or negative space?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Beaded Curtain

After swimming Monday evening, I went downtown 
to catch the bus home. It was raining a cold mist 
as I waited the few minutes before it arrived.
I sat on a bench at the Federal court building to watch
the traffic and take in all the colored lights.
Many of the buildings have colored lights as a part of 
their decorative features, accenting their ridges and eaves.
Some change with the season; one building, whose lights are 
usually blue, showed an eerie orange glow for Halloween.
Traffic and street lights cast their luminous sheen
onto the damp pavement and, as the bus prepared to pull
away from the curb, the rivulets of rain took on
the colors of red beaded curtains, the wipers pulling the strands 
aside to reveal the colorful scene just beyond.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pleats and Dashes and Wiggles

At the intersection of Ohio and Meridian Streets 
last Saturday, I looked to my left to see 
a bunch of lines, angles, and pleats. 
They reflected and and intersected with each other 
to create interesting shapes and patterns.
Even the dashed lines marking the pedestrian path
seemed to lead from one series of lines
on the building, to similar patterns on yet another
just across the street. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Decorating the Tree

Waiting between buses to go swimming, I found the volunteers from 
the local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 
had begun their annual task of hanging the long, heavy strands
of lights that make up the World's Tallest Christmas Tree.

Since 1962, the Circle has been decorated  for the Circle of Lights, 
with the Monument lighted in a ceremony that 
takes place the day after Thanksgiving. Up to a quarter million 
people come downtown to attend the event,
which is also televised to an even larger audience.

There are a total of fifty-two strands, using 4,784 LED lights. 
While all the bulbs are checked before being brought to the Circle, 
they are re-checked just before a pulley tows each strand 
up to a permanent attaching point over 200 feet above.

Above is a picture from last year,
just after the Monument's lights were turned on.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Frosty's Green , Umm, Appendage

This window decoration went up not long after Halloween,
so it seems appropriate that Frosty looks as though 
he's being attacked and strangled by a giant green dick.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Trees' Dance

All day, the gray skies hung over the city, 
rain dampening the afternoon as well as the mood.
Against that backdrop, trees performed a strip tease, 
releasing their leaves, one by one. 
The air was filled with the golden paillettes,
floating, swirling, twirling, and gently gyrating their
way to the ground as the trees swayed
to the music of the breeze.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Art in Speedway: Mark Rothko

I knew when the landscape workers planted the roadside 
last year, that that area along Crawfordsville Road 
would provide interesting colors for pictures.
Last week, while waiting to cross the highway there,
I looked up to see the flowers, grasses, and trees
had grown to provide long bands of color
resembling Mark Rothko paintings.

Rothko (1903-1970) was an Abstract Expressionist whose color field 
paintings employ subtle changes in transparency and 
opacity, light and dark to draw the viewer into his works.
Rothko wanted people to experience his paintings in this way,
in order that they have some emotional involvement
in his work, rather than just view them as surface
decoration then walk away.
Hundreds of people drive by this roadside garden 
each day without noticing the luminosity 
of the leaves, the subtle changes in value
of the bands of color that separate them from the
banal architecture just beyond.

A Mark Rothko painting.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Textured Tuesday: Precursor?

When leaves fall onto the pavement. I find myself fascinated by 
the imprints they leave when the rain blows them away.
Sometimes the mark is the silhouette they made as the rain fell
around them, while others gather the sediment the water
washes along the pavement, leaving muddy little prints.
It's almost a precursor to the time, a bunch of eons away, when 
someone finds a broken rock, revealing the image
of a fossilized leaf inside. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Glowing Hearts

Redbuds fascinate me. In the spring they cover themselves 
in fuzzy sweaters made up of tiny pink florets.
In the fall, they produce curly black seed pods that are
backed by heart-shaped yellow leaves.

Here the sun shines through the leaves, 
creating a golden, heart-shaped glow 
that shines like a thousand bits of love, 
there for anyone who cares to see.