Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Talk

Posted in Willard Asylum, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 28/06/2013

I am really sorry that this is so last minute.  I have been meaning to post this for a while now, but things have been very busy.  I will be speaking at Willard tomorrow at 9 am and 1 pm.  Here are the details.

 The program
features parts of an exhibit which is now at the San Francisco
Exploratorium with suitcases, photos by Jon Crispin, poetry by Karen
Miller,MD and testimonials by former employees of Willard Psychiatric
Center. An update of the Willard Cemetery, tours of the cemetery and the
Romulus Historical Society”s Museum will be available. The program will
be at 9am & repeated at 1pm. The charge will be $10. at the door. For
further information call 315-651-5702 or 607-869-9404.

I would be so happy to see anyone who can make it.

This and That

Posted in Baseball, Community, ephemera, History, Landscape, Nature, Sport, Transportation, Travel by joncrispin on 19/06/2013

We went to see the Sox last night and it was a very interesting evening.  A make-up day game was scheduled for 1 pm.  It started raining in the bottom of the 5th so it was delayed for three hours.  Out tickets were for 7 pm but due to the delay, the Sox allowed anyone with a ticket for the night game to watch the end of the first game which restarted at around 6.00.  Kind of confusing, I know, but we went in, watched them win the early one, cleared out of the park, came back in and watched ours start at 8.00.  The Sox led 1-0 until the top of the ninth when the Rays tied it up on a solo home run.  Jonny Gomes hit a walk off in the bottom of the ninth to win it.  It was a beautiful evening and the rain held off until the drive home.

This morning we drove Peter to New Haven to catch the train back to DC.  We had a great week with him.  The underground walkway to the platforms at the station is a bit outer spacey.

After his train left Cris and I drove to West Haven to walk along the sound and enjoy the beautiful day.  There is a lovely park with a walking/bike path along the beach.  We saw some old guys playing bocce ball and trash talking.  It was very sweet and familiar.  The above view made me a bit sad, as Dave’s Arcade-Carousel must have been very cool when it was still here.  You can tell the original sign just said “Arcade-Carousel” but someone got some stick-on letters to memorialize Dave.  He probably deserves the kind thought.

Mountain Laurel and Vegetable Stock #3

Posted in Food, Jon Crispin, Nature, Plants by joncrispin on 16/06/2013

The mountain laurels are really wild this year.  (Do I say this every year?  I know there are previous posts about this plant, but really, this year is amazing.)  One of the locals told me that this part of Pelham used to be called Mount Laurel and I can see why.  When we look out the window it is almost like there is snow on the leaves of the plants.

I had a great dad’s day today.  Peter is home from DC for a bit (the Nationals are on the road) and I got the chance to chill out and cook.  I made another vegetable stock.  As you can tell by the color, there were lots of beet peelings in it.  You can see my previous posts about it here and here.  I used some of it to make a wild rice thing for Cris and it was great.

Very Good News

I just received word from the New York State Museum that I have permission to start shooting more suitcases.  I’ll call them next week to set up a schedule.  This is a huge relief to me and I would like to publicly thank them for allowing this to happen. / This photograph was taken on 22 May, 1984 on the very first day that I was allowed into Chapin House.  It was a wild day.  My dear friend Richard Pieper was with me and basically ran interference as I was assigned two security guards to follow me around.  He would stop in the middle of doorways and turn around to ask a question thus holding them up so I could be left on my own a bit.  I remember feeling that I might not have much more access than on this day, so I shot 35 mm black and white film with my Leica rangefinders (these two shots), 35mm slide film with my Nikons, and 120 color negative film with my Pentax 6×7.  Almost everything great that I got out of this building came from this day. / I was so thrilled last evening to get an email from Michael Labate who was director of facilities planning for OMH at the time I was trying to access the buildings.  He single-handedly got me access to Willard and I will be forever grateful. He had heard about the suitcase project and was so complimentary about my work.

These broom-like devices weighed a ton and were used by the patients as they walked the corridors.  As it was explained to me, the  wooden floors were in constant need of maintenance, and paraffin would be put on chamois cloths attached to the bottom of these polishers.  I only ever shot this scene in black and white, but it is so very evocative to me.

Mail Online / Suitcases

Posted in Jon Crispin, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 11/06/2013

The Mail Online ran a nice article about the suitcases and used lots of photographs.  I haven’t had the chance to read the whole piece, and will do so soon, but it looks nice.  Here’s the link.   I never read comments in articles like this since there are so many trolls about, and it can be distracting to read what other people think of the project.  But as Cristine was looking at the story last night she read this one out loud and it really made me laugh on so many levels.

“To jump the queue to photographer fame before learning how to use lights, do what this guy did.”

                                                                                                                  – VegasWeddingPhotographer, Las Vegas, 10/6/2013 9:30

I am not even sure I can break it down, but as the work has received so much attention, I guess I have to acknowledge some level of “fame”.  But the lighting thing is so great as I have never thought of myself as a studio photographer and would admit to not wanting to light these objects as if the were, well …… objects!.  My goal with shooting the cases and their contents was to make the photographs look like what they appear to me in my mind’s eye.  So for clarification, and to help anyone else who also wants to “jump the queue”  I’ll include a photo that Peggy Ross took of me at work.  Two strobes and a couple of big ass soft boxes (thanks Alex!).  Works for me.

So a hearty welcome to all the new subscribers to this site, and thanks to Mail Online for the exposure.


Wegman’s Truck

Posted in Advertising, Jon Crispin, Landscape, Travel, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 04/06/2013

I drove over to Albany yesterday to work with Peggy on the Willard suitcases website and meet with the museum people about resuming photographing the cases.  The meeting went well and I really hope to be able to get started soon. I am planning to have the complete site up and running in the next few weeks and it should be pretty cool. / This truck was parked at the Blandford rest area on the Mass Pike and for obvious reasons caught my eye.


Posted in Flowers, Plants by joncrispin on 01/06/2013

We bought this plant at the Pelham Library plant sale and our great friend Kate Hudson told us that it was a primrose.  The leaves look like one, but I have never seen a primrose flower like this.  Cris planted it a few weeks ago and it is beautiful.  Years ago I had made this bed out of mostly peat moss and it seems to like it (what plant wouldn’t?).

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