Jon Crispin's Notebook

Trip to Central New York

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This past Wednesday my pal Craig Williams hired me to take some photographs of the old Lock 52 in Port Byron, NY.  It is now an historic site with a great visitor center (open seasonally).

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The entrance to the site is off the New York State Thruway and is really interesting and well worth a stop if you are driving East.

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These limestone blocks are enormous.

Craig had me photographing some views to match historic photographs of the lock when it was still in use.  We worked for a bit before lunch which was at a really great diner in Port Byron.  I sat facing this flag, which I had seen before but never understood.

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Here is the text from the card above the stars. “This is a police flag.  Each strip on the emblem represents certain respective figures.  The blue center line represents law enforcement, the top black stripes represents the public, the bottom black stripes represents the criminals.”  I hesitate to be negative here, but as someone who is really interested in design as a way of conveying ideas, this seems completely wacky to me. / Great lunch though, fine diner with nice people.

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I am really digging this fish display on the wall above our table.  Award winning!

At lunch Craig mentioned that Brigham Young lived in Port Byron before heading west and that his house was still standing but in rough shape.  Some work was started on a restoration, but due to poor health of the two contractors, it was stopped.

Port Byron Historic Lock #52

The plaque on the door reads “This wood frame house built by James Pine circa 1818 and later occupied by Brigham Young and family.  Young’s first child a girl named Elizabeth, born here September 1825.”  Given the Mormon’s interest in history and genealogy, I was shocked to see this property is such a state of neglect and apparent disinterest by the church.

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A restored tavern is on part of the historic canal site.  These bottles sit atop the bar, which is partly original.  It seems rye whiskey was seriously popular in the 19th century. / After Port Byron I drove down to Ithaca to spend the night with my friends Brad and Tania.

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Their house is filled with great things including tons of Fiestaware.

A trip to Ithaca is never complete without a visit to the Lincoln Street Diner.

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Peter had just received the latest OSMO camera and we got the chance to goof around with it.

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Very cool.

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Lookin’ good Sport!

Thanks for following.  Happy Holidays.

 

 

 

David Beck 1953 – 2018

Posted in Architecture, Art, Uncategorized by joncrispin on 02/11/2018

David Beck in his studio

It is very rare in our lives to be around genius.  I was so fortunate to spend several days with David Beck in his San Francisco studio back in 2005 when Peter Carroll and I worked on a film about David for the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

David Beck in his studio

Claire Larkin at SAAM hired Peter to make a short film about David’s piece “MVSEVM”, and I was hired to shoot stills and help set things up.

David Beck in his studio

I remember that David didn’t particularly like to be called a miniaturist even though the scale of his work was often quite small.

David Beck in his studio

I was terribly saddened today when Claire emailed to say that David had died.  Here is his obit in the Times.

David Beck in his studio

David was truly a genius.  I was completely in awe of his creativity and craftsmanship.  His spirit and sense of playfulness were as abundant as his talents.

During the shoot the four of us laughed so much and had an absolute blast together.  As we were packing up and getting ready to leave, I lost a bet with him about the name of the actress that played the lead in the Munsters.  He nailed it with Yvonne DeCarlo.

Peter’s film is linked above, and “MVSEVM is on permanent display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in D.C.  Watch Peter’s film and listen to David’s voice, which sadly will not be heard again.

Hope and Feathers/Walks

Posted in Architecture, autumn, Buildings, Jon Crispin, Uncategorized by joncrispin on 09/10/2018

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The opening for the Hope and Feathers exhibit was lovely.  Quite a few American Demographics folks made the trip to Amherst, and it was a grand reunion.  Special thanks to founder Peter Francese for coming down from New Hampshire, to Brad Edmondson who wrote a very flattering piece about me, and to Mike Rider who designed a lovely flyer for the show.  Seeing everyone made me happy.

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The folks at Hope and Feathers were great, and thanks to Bronwen for all her hard work, and to Simone for hanging the photos.  And thanks to Michelle for agreeing to this somewhat out of left field project.

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It is great to have our Peter back home for a while.  One of the benefits of having him around is that we often take walks in and around Amherst, and it is fun to grab a camera and take some pictures.

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I love the Autumn and how plants adapt to the changing seasons.

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Concrete too.  But it doesn’t change much.

Thanks for following.

Symbols

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  Whenever I am here in Nepal I always keep an eye out for bricks, as seeing them makes me think of my good friend Richard Pieper.  Most buildings are adorned with them, and the walls surrounding the Royal Palace are all brick.  On our daily walk to the World Education office we pass by a large section of the Palace wall which is undergoing a post earthquake renovation.  I saw this pile and noticed the markings and didn’t think much of it at the time, but the next day I stopped and took this picture.  It is not at all uncommon to see the swastika used as a symbol in various ways around Nepal.  It got me thinking about how we in the West are so conditioned to see the obvious negative aspects of it.  I went to the wiki page and learned a lot of interesting facts about its history and usage.  I would encourage anyone interested to check it out.  What got to me especially was that under the section of the wiki that showed the varieties of swastikas, the Hakenkreuz (second row, bottom left) gave me a visceral reaction.

We head back to the US on Sunday.  I have managed to pick up a bothersome cold and have been a bit less active than I would like, but Cris’ work ends today and we will have some time to goof around tomorrow and Sunday morning.  Thanks for following.

Boudhanath / Full Moon

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Last night was the full moon and Cris thought it might be a nice idea to go to Boudhanath Stupa and have a stroll around.  We have come here quite often, but always during the day.

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It was a beautiful evening, the temperature was perfect, and the feeling was very peaceful and relaxing.

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This giant prayer wheel spins constantly and is just inside the doors of the little temple on the site.

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The area is really interesting.  One enters the main gate at 6 on a clock face and everyone strolls quietly around in a clockwise direction.  The stupa is on the inside of the clock and  is surrounded on the outside by restaurants, guesthouses, and smaller business enterprises.  Dogs and pigeons are everywhere.

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Nepal is so interesting in terms of religion.  The culture here blends Hinduism and Buddhism in what seems to me a beautiful way.  I have talked to Nepali friends about this and it seems quite natural to them.  If you think about religion in the West, there isn’t so much crossover.  The closest I can think of to this is Unitarianism, which is how I was raised, and seems to encourage people to take the best of all religions and build a personal philosophy around what you find useful.  One year my Sunday School was called “The Church Across the Street” and we spent the entire time visiting just about every church and denomination in Meadville.  I loved the Holy Rollers.

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Because one walks in a circle around the stupa it is easy to just keep going without realizing where you entered, which I eventually figured out is one reason for the visit.  I just had the feeling that it would be possible to walk all evening and not feel the time passing.  It was a lovely experience.

 

American Demographics / Hope and Feathers Exhibit (Image #7)

Posted in Architecture, Jon Crispin, Uncategorized by joncrispin on 28/08/2018

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Another Robby Aceto hand coloring gem.  So subtle.  I took this on a walk around residential neighborhoods of Santa Clarita, CA and had no idea what was going on with this house (I’d never seen anything like this in the East).  Some kind of art project, maybe?  It turns out it was much more prosaic than that.  Fumigation!

Things are moving ahead with the Hope and Feathers exhibit.  Postcards are printed and I would be happy to mail one to anyone who wants to send me a postal address.   Leave a comment and I will email back and get your details.

Roosevelt Island Talk

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The Roosevelt Island Suitcases talk went really well.  Took this photo from the Tramway on the way back to Grand Central.

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I made it back just in time to get the 9.06 to New Haven.

Thanks to Judy Berdy of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society for inviting me back.  It was a lovely evening.

Julianne Wick Davis / Grand Central Station

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The evening at Joe’s Pub was amazing.  Julianne Wick Davis’ song cycle based on my suitcases photos was really incredible.  I was completely blown away by her talent and drive to get this going.  The project is still in the early stages of development, but it is so exciting to have been an inspiration to her. / I was so thrilled that my buddy from Wittenberg, Chris Brigham came out from Chicago for the event.  It was so great to see her.

I am on the Metro North train heading back to New Haven which goes in and out of Grand Central Station.

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It is quite a place.

The suitcases site has been having a slew of problems of late.  We are close to getting it sorted and it is currently back up and running.  It appears that it has been innundated with bot attacks attempting to take over the site.  Thanks to Steve Fox at Born Digital for all his hard work.  It has been very frustrating and costly, but fingers crossed we are working towards a resolution.  Cheers all, and thanks for following.

 

 

Back at the Boston Public Library

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, Jon Crispin, libraries, People, Uncategorized by joncrispin on 21/03/2018

BPL Lions

I was back working in Boston yesterday and had a break between locations to go back to the amazing Boston Public Library.  These lions are guarding the stairway to the reading room.  Just after taking this photograph I noticed these 2 women on the far stairs.

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They were happy to be photographed.  I’m not really sure what was going on here, but they reminded me of the daffodils that all of us in New England are so desperate to see.

Boston Public Library

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, historic buildings, Jon Crispin, libraries, Uncategorized by joncrispin on 16/03/2018

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Doing some work in Boston today.  Came in here to quickly edit some photos. Amazingly enough, this is my first time in the Boston Public Library.  What a room.  Love the green lamps.

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