I’ve been thinking of my late parents quite a bit recently. The photograph is of my father’s family. They moved from Cornwall in the UK to Central City, Colorado where I believe this shot was taken. Dad turned me on to the Scottish writer John Buchan, and I have a large collection of his books; mostly hardbacks, but a few in these lovely old Penguin editions. These beautiful art deco bookends are marked “Genuine Rocky Mountain Alabaster” and come from Kohlberg’s / Denver, which I assume is or was some sort of a shop.
Pearl had some pretty heavy duty surgery on Tuesday. She had a large mast cell tumor on her side and it really needed to come off. Our wonderful vet Deb Lichtenberg thought it was a good thing to do, and we are glad we went through with it. The recovery has been going well so far. Off to get the temporary drain removed this afternoon and then another ten days before the stitches come out. I took this shot a few days before the operation. We never let her up on the furniture until about a year ago, but hey, she’s 12 and we want her happy.
Central stairway, Chapin House, Willard Asylum
There are a lot of great and interesting people working on New York State asylum issues. I have been following Lin Stuhler’s work on the Willard cemetery for a while, but only had the chance to meet her a few months ago. We keep in touch, and she just emailed me with a link to her recent blog post about the recent open house, and the bill she has been pushing in the state legislature to name the people buried at the graveyard. There is also a link to a really great video that was made by her local cable company. It is an interesting post and there is some nice video footage of some of the buildings and the cemetery. She has a real passion for this issue and should be commended for all the hard work she has done in the name of Willard patients.
Due to a remarkable set of circumstances I was invited to stay at the home of Toby and Jerry Levine while I was in San Francisco. My friend Meredith from the Pelham Cultural Council is a great friend of theirs and encouraged me to get in touch before my trip. They were super hosts and are both very involved in San Francisco neighborhood preservation and development. Toby serves on several boards and seems to be familiar with every important neighborhood issue both past and present. At one point early in my stay she asked me if I was interested in large industrial sites. Indicating that I was, she made arrangements for me to have a tour of a few buildings at Pier 70 that are slated for development.
I only had about an hour and just my little cameras with me, but Everardo, who interns with the development company gave us a grand tour of buildings 112/113 and 104.
I get so jazzed about shooting in these environments.
There is something about this time in the life of a building that intrigues me.
Since I was not able to photograph during its productive era, I can only imagine what was happening in these rooms when they were in use.
But there is usually enough evidence left behind to give an inkling to what it might have been like to work here.
And the light is always so natural and soft.
This building is huge. It was part of a ship building and dry dock facility which at one time was part of Bethlehem Steel. I believe that it was originally the Union Iron Works.
Which at one time must have employed a ton of people.
I especially like old locker rooms and bathrooms.
Nice sign over the urinals.
It is not difficult to imagine people using these sinks after a long day’s work.
I like this little office in the middle of everything.
This is a view of the second floor of 113.
How about the red fingernails painted on this stylized hand which points the way to the rest room?
This color green shows up regularly in buildings like this one. The light fixtures give a bit of a clue to when this office space was last renovated. I’d say mid 1960’s.
These last few shots are from building 104 which seems to have been mostly used for administrative offices.
This is the top floor of 104. You can just see the skylights which at some time were painted black.
The staircases are fantastic.
More lockers here, and it seems odd to me that they were in what was essentially an office building.
There was a small hospital in one wing of 104, and with all the machinery that is saw, I can imagine it was a busy place at times.
Thanks so much to the Orton Development people for granting me access to these amazing buildings. And of course to Toby and Jerry. Here are a few links to learn more about the site, its history, and future. Click here and here.
Yesterday I went to see the Nationals play the Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco. It was an interesting game. Very few hits and not much scoring. The Nationals won in 10, 2 to 1. As you can see it was a beautiful day, perfect for baseball. I was at the mercy of the guy selling the tickets, and just asked for a very cheap seat. Ended up in section 302, which by my estimation is the nicest place to sit in the whole park. The only problem was that for the first time in all my years of going to baseball games, it was difficult to concentrate on the action with this amazing view of the bay always pulling me away from the game. Even if you HATE baseball, it is totally worth $24.00 to sit up here for an afternoon drinking a few beers and being part of a crowd of very friendly people. / After the game I blasted over to the offices of Collector’s Weekly and met with Hunter Oatman-Stanford who wrote this article about the suitcases that really opened a lot of doors for me. We were joined by two other editors and had a great chat about this and that. I was totally blown away when they told me that the story had generated roughly 600,000 views on their site. I really owe a lot to Hunter for his great interview and interest in the project. / Made it out to the airport in time to catch the redeye back to Boston. Got home at about 9.30 this morning and was happy to see the Pearl, who after a bit of a scare this weekend seems to be back on her feet.
I have never given much thought to whether or not I am an artist. And the whole idea of whether or not photography is an art is a whole ball of wax that I try to avoid. So when Pam Winfrey (whose idea it was to have the Exploratorium host the “Normal” exhibit) invited me to be part of an artist’s night, I said yes without giving it much thought. So it was a bit weird for me to be introduced to people as one of the artists whose work was on display. I’ll accept it for the time being but I doubt it will go to my head. The event was pretty cool. Since I was basically alone, I wandered around looking lost for a while before I ran into my refound friend Katie Hahren and her daughter Annie. That loosened things up a bit. Eventually Karen Miller and I ended up signing catalogues and chatting with guests. / One thing about San Francisco that I really like is that dogs seem to be accepted in most public places. When I was at the Exploratorium in February I met a 4 month old black lab who was on his way to work for only the second day. I can not imagine bringing the Pearl to an office job even now when she is 12 and mostly calm.
This is the new Exploratorium on the Embarcadero at Pier 15. It is amazing. Go check it out if you ever get the chance.
One of the projects I did back in the 80s was a documentation of late 19th and early 20th century New York State prison architecture (funded by the New York State Council on the Arts). I shot it all with my 4 x 5 Wista and it is nice to look at the photographs from time to time. This shot at the Elmira Correctional Facility is the only one I took with evidence of a prisoner (note the guy’s hands on the lower left holding the mirror as he is checking me out). The corrections people were super nice to me, although I am pretty sure they could not really grasp what I was up to. If I remember correctly, this is one of the few NY State prisons with this traditional set up….just like in the movies!
I’ll be heading back out to San Francisco on Sunday for an Exploratorium event Monday evening. Thinking about trying to get together with any of you who are interested. Any ideas about a pub somewhere near the Embarcadero where we could hang out at the end of the day on Tuesday? Shoot me an email if you have any ideas.
The current issue of the Old House Journal (June/July 2013) has a story that I shot a few months ago. Kerry Baldridge is restoring a house in Exeter, NH and the shoot was lots of fun. Here’s a link to the online version. Her blog is great and for those of you who live in old houses it is worth checking out. Scroll down to the bottom of the Old House online page for the link.
There will be a rare opportunity to see the grounds of Willard next Saturday the 18th May. I have copied and pasted all the information that I have at this point, and you can view it below. I would highly recommend that anyone who is in the area and is interested make the effort to attend. / This photograph is from my first visit to Chapin House after it had been closed for several years.
Willard Psychiatric Hospital WILLARD – Organizers of the guided tours at the former Willard Psychiatric Center on May 18 are trying something new. This year only two starting times are scheduled for tours so visitors will have more of a chance to explore 9 of the structures that grace the landmark hospital on Route 96A.
“We used to have three starting times but people never had enough time to travel through these incredible buildings so we decided to limit it to two,” said organizer Lee Anne Fox. “This will improve the flow of people and give our 35 volunteers the chance for a lunch break.”
The two-and-a-half hour tours are slated to begin promptly at 9:30am and 1pm at the Grandview Building, built in 1860 and now used by the Finger Lakes Federal Credit Union. Other buildings that will be recognized by those familiar with the site, which began its history in 1869 as the New York State Agricultural College, include Brookside, Bleak House, Hadley Hall and the Mortuary.
Current stones in the Willard Cemetery have only a number, and no name.
Current stones in the Willard Cemetery have only a number, and no name.
Former Willard hospital employees and some current staff of the Willard Drug Treatment Campus, which took over the property in 1995, will be available to answer questions and offer background during the event. Some may discuss ghost sightings that have been the subject of television shows. Visitors will also have the chance to inspect the Willard Cemetery where 5,776 Willard patients were buried from 1870 to 2000. An effort has been underway to restore the cemetery, which is adjacent to hospital grounds.
Cost of admission to the tour is $10 per person. Children under 12 years of age are free. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Child Care Center, an accredited not-for-profit daycare center in the Jackson Building, which once housed Willard’s School of Nursing and is also on the tour. Parking is free.
For additional information contact Carly Hungerford at (607) 869-5533.
My favorite soap is Pears. I have used it for the last 25 or so years. Some time ago the company was bought by Unilever and the original formula was changed. I noticed a difference as did most other users. (Here’s a link to an amusing piece in the Guardian.) I was bummed, but have gotten used to the new smell and feel. Yesterday I was cleaning out my bathroom cabinets and came across this soap dish way in the back on a shelf. When I opened it I was happy to find a bar of the original Pears that had been abandoned well before the change. / It’s the little things, I guess, that sometimes can make life a bit brighter.