Tag Archives: 2021

Art Versus Decor

Print made for a private booth at Dressler’s Restaurant in Charlotte

One of the household projects Kathy & I have been dabbling with over the last year or so is some decorating.  We’ve been in our condo for just over 7 years, and other than buying new furniture and hanging some things on the walls it’s been pretty much the way it was when we moved in.  We just never got around to “finishing” it – traveling is way more fun!  But now that we’ve been spending more time here, spending less money on travel and are generally tired of looking at the same stuff, we’re trying to change things up a bit.

Print made for a hallway at Dressler’s Restaurant in Charlotte

When we downsized from our old house, we had a lot more prints hung there than we needed for our new place.  There were several that had been admired by friends and family, so I was happy to give some of them new homes.  Others I removed from the frames, stored the matted prints in an archival box, and they are under the bed.  I sent the frames to Goodwill.  I’ll probably never hang the prints again but I have them and they are out of the way.  I had new prints made for some specific places, but for the most part we just recycled prints that had been hung in our old house.  I haven’t wanted to spend money on prints for prints’ sake without a specific location to hang them.

One of two grids of prints made for a banquet room at Dressler’s Restaurant in Charlotte
One of two grids of prints made for a banquet room at Dressler’s Restaurant in Charlotte

I have never collected prints by other photographers.  I have several prints from photographers that mean a lot to me, and with the exception of one that needs framed, I have them displayed prominently (sadly, I don’t own a Curto 😉 ).  One of our rooms is dedicated to prints of paintings by an artist in St. Martin, and that room doesn’t need a thing.  But there are places in the house that just need decor.  We recently had our bedroom and bathrooms painted.  I have a beautiful grouping of prints on wood that I rehung in our bedroom over the dresser, but the other bedroom and bathroom walls are currently bare and awaiting our inspiration.

Prints made for the dining room of Dressler’s Restaurant in Charlotte

We’ve constantly struggled with the question of what to hang on the walls.  I obviously have a huge selection of photographic material, but (a) we’re both sensitive to the idea of not wanting our house to be a “photography gallery,” (b) there is only so much wall space and (c) deciding on what to print and hang is a huge challenge.  Printing and framing is expensive, and once we’ve put down a few hundred dollars for printing and framing (or for canvas or metal) we’ve always felt like we needed to be willing to live with it for a while.

Prints made for the ladies’ room of Dressler’s Restaurant in Charlotte
Print made for the men’s room at Dressler’s Restaurant in Charlotte

But is that really the case?  I consider a lot of my work to be “artistic” but I don’t consider myself to be an “artist” in the sense that any of my work will ever mean anything beyond a close circle of family & friends and a few “accidental” clients.  If I went to Ikea, brought home a carload of decor, hung it on the wall for a few years and then tossed it in the trash, so what?  But other than the fact that it’s my work and it cost me a bit more than Ikea, what’s the difference if I throw or give it away after I get done with it?  We don’t mind spending (say) $300 on a case of wine or a fancy dinner, so if we spend that same money on a few things to hang on the wall, I don’t see anything wrong with considering them to be “consumables.”  Better to give them away to an appreciative recipient of course, but we don’t have to live with them forever.

Print made for the bar at Dressler’s Restaurant in Charlotte

So the question I’m struggling with is this: If we consider replacing artwork to be no different than buying a new bedspread or draperies or having a chair reupholstered, so what?  As long as we’re good with the money, no one cares but us.  Yes, I would always try to find a new home for old pieces with someone who appreciates them.  But that appreciation is more likely to be because they came from me rather than them being an artifact with some kind of collectible value.  It feels a little weird to think of it that way, but I think it is OK.

Print made for the bar at Dressler’s Restaurant in Charlotte

Pride and Patriotism

Fourth of July Parade in Belhaven, North Carolina

It’s hard to not be moved by a sense of pride in this great country when our democratic system is permitted to function as it was intended.  I shed a few emotional tears watching the ceremonies today, but I look forward to our future with optimistic and hopeful anticipation.

Fourth of July Parade in Belhaven, North Carolina

I need to go back and re-watch or read Biden’s speech, but the words that keep returning to my head are when he referred to ‘leading not by the example of our strength but by the strength of our example.  Amen to that.

Fourth of July Parade in Belhaven, North Carolina
Edenton, North Carolina

All Used Up

Long-abandoned truck chassis along the Mount Holly Trail

I spotted this old relic during our walk a few days ago.  It might make for an interesting photo study, except for the fact that it sits at the very end of the 1.5-mile trail!

I keep thinking that this would make a decent black & white image, but I haven’t come up with a version I’m happy with.  When I take the color out the tones are all the same and the image looks like a flat, jumbled mess.  I’ll keep working with it to see what I can do, but in the meantime I like the color version just fine!

Mount Holly Trail at Mountain Island Park

Mount Holly Trail at Mountain Island Park in Mount Holly, North Carolina

Kathy & I were recently looking for someplace different to walk besides the sidewalk between our neighborhood and the main drag, and decided to explore the Mount Holly Trail at nearby Mountain Island Park.  Walmart and Micky D’s are only so scenic!

Parking area and playground for the Mount Holly Trail at Mountain Island Park in Mount Holly, North Carolina
Mountain Island Hydroelectric Facility in Mount Holly, North Carolina

The park is located next to the Mountain Island Hydroelectric plant at the south end of Mountain Island Lake, just outside the town of Mount Holly and only about 8 miles from our neighborhood.  The park contains a large parking lot with fishing area, small playground and hiking/biking trails.  We walked the 1.6-mile trail to the end and back, which made for a nice afternoon.

Mount Holly Trail at Mountain Island Park in Mount Holly, North Carolina
Mount Holly Trail at Mountain Island Park in Mount Holly, North Carolina

The trail is mostly an easy walk for anyone in reasonably good walking shape.  There are a few hills, mostly on the far end from the parking area.  A portion of the trail surface close to the parking area is pretty coarse gravel, which makes for rough walking for a bit.  This area of the trail is close to the river, and I would guess it floods occasionally, thus the need for heavier base.  We were there on a dry day without a lot of heavy preceding rain, and there were a few muddy places along the trail.  Overall the trail is in very good shape, but I would suggest sturdy shoes.  The woods should be very pretty as the trees and vegetation green up in the spring.

Mount Holly Trail at Mountain Island Park in Mount Holly, North Carolina
Mount Holly Trail at Mountain Island Park in Mount Holly, North Carolina

We were there on a Wednesday in January, so there was not much traffic, mostly couples and people with dogs.  We saw a few mountain bikers on main trail as well as the adjacent mountain bike trails as it got later in the day, but not too bad.

Mount Holly Trail at Mountain Island Park in Mount Holly, North Carolina
Mount Holly Trail at Mountain Island Park in Mount Holly, North Carolina

We’re hoping to explore some more walking & hiking areas over the coming months, and I will report on them here for anyone who is interested.  Or anyone who just wants to see the photos!

Tom’s Trail Summary:
Length: 1.6 miles to the end, or 3.2 miles round trip.  There are several options for shorter loops, or out-back for a shorter distance is possible.
Terrain: Mostly flat with occasional hills
Surface: Mostly dirt with a few gravel places.  Recommend sturdy shoes like hiking boots.
Comments: The trail is shared with mountain bikers and dog walkers.  No motorized vehicles.  Pleasant walking along the Catawba River.  Should be pretty in the spring as trees and plants green up.  I tried to find a link to a trail map but could only find a Google Map to the parking area!
Mount Holly Trail at Mountain Island Park in Mount Holly, North Carolina


Minds Over Mayhem

Moonrise the night before the official full moon, October 2020. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Like many people, I am astonished and embarrassed by the behavior of my fellow humans, especially over the last 24 hours but indeed over the last what? 24-48-60+ months?  The extent to which people can be deceived, incited and provoked to extremes is frightening.

It’s very popular right now to talk of impeachment, imprisonment and removal from office those who have corrupted and vandalized our democracy.  Whether it happens or not remains to be seen, and I don’t necessarily disagree with that approach.  In fact, in many ways I welcome it as a lesson to those responsible and as a deterrence against continuing such behavior.  What I ultimately hope, however, is that once all the angry words settle down and people go back to their lives, cooler heads can take a look at the problems in our country today and try to come up with meaningful solutions.

The question I keep coming back to is this:  How desperate are the people who are attracted to false hope, lies, deceit and corruption that they so fervently believe in it to the extent that they can be moved to such atrocious actions?  This is more than racial, religious, ideological or political difference.  This more than an undercurrent.  It is a raging river.

Whether by chance or by choice we as a society tend to be attracted to turmoil like moths to a flame.  Thankfully, I spend most of my time doing things that I find calming and rewarding, and don’t get myself too riled up over all of the negativity that has swirled around us for far too long.  I don’t ignore the media, in my opinion that would be irresponsible.  But I have managed to insulate myself and – for the most part my opinions and attitudes – from most of the mayhem so that I’m not living with the anger and angst that many people feel and that I might otherwise be dealing with.  Not everyone is able to do that and I feel fortunate that I can.

I don’t have the answers.  I can only hope that the changes coming over the next few weeks, the next few months and the next few years, can head us in a more positive direction.  One where we can disagree peacefully, work together for the common good to find equitable solutions to problems and to live in peace within our own country and in our world.  Let’s hope for that, and where we personally are able, live that.

Another Sunrise…With A Bonus!

Aerial demonstration of birds over Mountain Island Lake

I had to wait until this morning to have my first sunrise opportunity of the year.  The weather the last few days has basically been crap, but the forecast for this morning held promise.  Rather than set an alarm I told myself that if I woke up in time I would head out to see what I might find.  Usually when I try that approach I either wake up too early or too late, but this morning I woke up at 5:50 which was just about perfect.

Clouds lit by city lights from Mountain Island Lake from the Riverbend Boat Launch.  No, that’s not a fire – Christmas Lights!

I arrived at the boat launch area right at 6:30 and was treated to some amber city-lit clouds low to the horizon and a clear sky with clouds above.  Pretty sweet!  No fog this time, but that was good for better reflections.  I got a few shots of that then aimed my camera at the causeway to catch some light trails.  There is a lot more traffic on a Monday morning than there was on the Sunday morning when I last visited!

Car trails on the causeway over Mountain Island Lake

The parking lot was completely deserted when I arrived, but the first boater showed about about 6:45.  He was well organized and put in quickly, but it was too dark to get anything usable.  The second boater arrived about 7:15, took his time futzing around with this gear and finally left the dock just as the sun was coming up.  That made for some good light on the boat as it putted through the No Wake zone.

Father-daughter morning fishing expedition
Sunrise over Mountain Island Lake from the Riverbend Boat Launch

The bonus though was that, all of a sudden, I heard birds, lots of them.  Then overhead came a huge cloud of some kind of small black birds, probably starlings, grackles or similar black birds – hundreds of them!  And that cloud was followed by another, then another.  I have no idea how many of them there were, but there were a bunch.  Fortunately I had my camera set up for a wide angle shot of the water and sky, so I was able to catch a few frames with the birds, even though they were a bit blurry.  They were moving fast!

Sunrise over Mountain Island Lake from the Riverbend Boat Launch

So in addition to a pretty sunrise I got an impromptu air show! All in all it was a worthwhile visit and I got a few shots to start off the new year.  The weather looks like might deteriorate again the next few days but I’ll keep a lookout for another opportunity!

Sunrise over Mountain Island Lake from the Riverbend Boat Launch