She Chose To Sit With Me

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She chose to sit with me.

Breaking one’s back gives one carte blanche to pre-board a plane.

I like the second row. Unlike the roomy first row, you can still hang on to your stuff, be close to the restroom and away from the aroma of the ever-brewing coffee carafe.

Basically, the plane was empty. She had almost every seat to choose from, but she motioned to the window seat next to me and I nodded “yes”.

It was hot in Chicago that day, and hot on the plane. That heavily moustached woman with grey highlighted hair, twisted into a bun, carried a huge carpetbag akin to what one sees in viewing those circa 1880 B & W photos of European immigrants disembarking at Ellis Island. She wore thick black, pilled winter sweat pants and a tattered lacy pink sweater. My eyes saw her placed in an R. C. Gorman painting, with flowing skirt, surrounded by mesas, pounding corn.

As the plane pulled away from the gate and all items were to be stored under the seat, up came the carpetbag, covering both our laps as she dug for her deep burgundy crystal rosary beads.

As we ascended, the rosary was spun with one hand, as the other fervently made the sign of the cross. The aerobic intensity of self-crossing continued until we reached cruising altitude. The rosary was then secured in a cracked clear plastic box that may have once held a deck of cards. With the speed of a flicked lightswitch she rested her head on the window and fell into a deep snoring slumber.

As a few of my good friends and my children know, I’m not afraid of flying, but I’m not a big fan of air travel. I have a built-in knowledge of seeing a plane come down. Was it the small 2-seater that my daughter Jennifer and I saw nosedive into a wooded area some years ago? I certainly hope so!!! Days before cell phones, in a crowded doctor’s waiting room, I called the police, who assured me that no missing plane had been reported. Hours later, back at home, we convinced the FAA to search. They found a small plane and two passengers hanging upside down in the wires, behind the trees.

Is it some kind of Guiness record to actually have known 11 people who have perished in commercial plane crashes? Not to mention the near misses. I do not want to be part of any such competition.

Back in the air, the pilot announces our decent into Detroit. Seatbelts secured, one last nervous bladder run to the restroom and out comes the carpetbag and burgundy rosary beads.

I wanted to hold that shivering woman and comfort her. In today’s climate of political correctness, I didn’t know what to do. I prayed that, even in my stillness, she could feel my arms around her, silently assuring her that she’d be ok.

That was the most relaxed flight I have ever been on. I have never experienced praying like hers. If that plane had spun or dove or jolted, even with my beloved on my other side, I’d have had my arms around that woman and her burgundy rosary.

Thank you, Dear Woman, for choosing to sit next to me. You would be welcome to share every future flight, sitting next to me.

More to Love Than a Digital Camera

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More to Love Than a Digital Camera

I’m closing in on the end of my 6 week MoMA course, Catalysts: Artists Creating with Video, Sound and Time.

We are to discuss our personal favorite technological device. At this point, I am unable to commit to one.

When I began the class I had never hit the record button on my 3 digital cameras. I still don’t own a cell or a smart phone, but I did start the conversion from PC to MAC and downloaded nearly a dozen programs for video and sound editing. Pushed lots of buttons, crashed programs and the new MAC.

Collaborating with my husband (who restores the computer, after I muck it up), because 6 weeks wasn’t enough time for this person to learn what I needed to know, I’d brainstorm an idea and we’d both go searching for the tools I’d need to accomplish my goal.

I’ve done little else than move from the computer, during waking hours. Taking breaks for Email and FB. Time to step back and digest what I have learned. Really learn the programs and processes. Decide which to keep and which to delete. So much new media technology, artists, performances and dialog – it’s been a dizzying ride.

So, I’ve decided to highlight a meaningful moment in my life with digital photography and Canon’s photo software, Digital Photo Professional, a digital darkroom.

Celebrating my grandson’s 1st birthday, with both sets of grandparents, nearly 1000 photos were taken. Not wanting to disrupt the moments, using a flash, setting up a tripod etc,, most photos were taken with the subjects back lit. In EVERY shot, the auto-focus zoned in outside the windows and the subjects were rendered black.

A few short weeks later, the other grandfather lie in the hospital dying. Family and friends coming in town to say good-bye, only the grandsons were not allowed inside, even into a waiting room. November is Flu season and the hospital was prejudiced in favor of Flu viruses being transmitted via full-sized versus miniature carriers.

Thus, I spent a couple sleepless rights working with DPP, bringing the dark into the light, salvaging and cropping over 500 photos. Printing only a handful of special shots, I created a moving slide and video show of children, grandsons and spouses.

Racing against the clock, I was able to take a laptop with a large monitor with me when I went to say my goodbyes. Our last hours together were spent looking at his grandchildren and celebrating life.

Moving past the digital camera, I’m enthusiastic about keeping up with the Blogs made by Randall and everyone in the class, sharing new videos with and learning from them all.

The Art Guys “LOOP”

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A slow weekend for media art exhibitions in Houston. Most are. We aren’t New York City, after all!

The tail end of a film festival wasn’t quite what I had in mind. Especially, when afterward, I had to listen to people tell me what I had just seen.

Email conversing with an assistant to the curator @ the Museum of Fine Art-Houston, I was directed to Nam June Paik’s Rose Art, as “the only” piece I was going to find. Monumental, but now historical.

So I decided to follow two hometown favorites, Michael Galbreth and Jack Massing, “The Art Guys”. http://www.theartguys.com/

In commemoration of 30 years of collaboration, the Art Guys executed their 11th of 12 monthly events in Houston, Texas, in 2013.

They drove the 38 mile Inner 610 Loop, circling the city 30 times in 24 successive hours. 5:00 PM Saturday 11/10 – 5:00 PM Sunday 11/11.

LOOP was designed to engage the widest possible audience by utilizing a variety of media. “The Art Guys engage the media, because the media engages the public.”

On-line and print newspapers, posters and a detailed Van in the mall, announced the upcoming live event. Michael and Jack engaged their audience for 24 hours via Facebook, Twitter and cell phone. One could follow the 12 hour clockwise, then 12 hour counter-clockwise route and their speed on Glympse, a real-time tracking app that utilizes Google Maps.

I sent my resident photographer out to video the Art Guys passing by on their final Loop. Miss-judging when and where he could get a good shot from the side of the road, they had already passed by. From home, using Glympse and the Find My iPhone app, I was able to navigate him to their location where he was able to follow and film them on the final LOOP.

I called the Art Guys by phone, en route, to inquire about their 12th event. They plan to re-create their 1st piece “The Art Guys Agree on Painting”, where they plunged their hands into buckets of paint and then shook hands over a piece of paper. Only this time from atop two cranes, 30 feet up.

I asked if the paper would be 30 feet up or on the ground. The answer will be revealed December 7th, time and place to be announced.

Summing up the Art Guys’ performances, for the rare disgruntled curmudgeons, who “just don’t get it”, in three words: “They’re Just Fun!”