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Posts Tagged ‘portraits’

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To see the painting of the girl and her dog up close, a painting rather different than so many of Gainsborough’s other portraits … very moving.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Gainsborough

 

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My portraits in progress series is evolving rather organically, especially in the presence of Robert Yearwood who was my first subject (see here). In a heartbeat, Bob will now say, “Cynthia, where’s your camera?  This is a great photo!” I usually agree.  Recently while at Trinity Church I was in his presence and that of Roberto Paredes. I asked Roberto if I might photograph him.  Bob readily agreed for them both.

We stepped outside and I took this photo. Later, as I downloaded it, a part of my brain still reeled from this week’s hate-speech gone viral on the internet and that being espoused on stage at the Republican Convention. As I looked at these two gentlemen, all I could think was, here are two examples of what makes America great right now.

They are kindness and compassion embodied. Originally from Lima, Peru, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Roberto for about seven years since he started working at Trinity. Like Bob he never hesitates to greet you or to make one feel welcome in his presence. He gives aid unasked and for that I am thankful. He’s taken many a heavy box from my hand even when I should have known better than to pick it up.

“He’s the best,” Bob said. “He’s a true friend.  You got that, Cynthia? Did you get it down on paper?”

Yes, sir, I did. 🙂

Previous portraits in progress

Monroe Chase

The Singing Man

 

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No picture this week but I can share this …

I’ve picked up a few things about him. He’s Haitian and speaks Creole. He joined the neighborhood maybe two years ago. He’s slender, and his skin is like black walnut. Smooth and dark. He’s rather ageless — he could be 40 or he could be 70. Is he good or bad? That I do not know. He does seem to move with grace through the world from my vantage point. I live along a main thoroughfare and along this thoroughfare he walks with an easy gait. And when he walks he sings. Operatically.

Even when I am not peering out of a window, I know that he is near by the song in the air as he moves. I know so little about opera (and that little is thanks mostly to PBS and to Bugs Bunny) and yet when he sings I can recognize what little I have heard. La Traviata. La Boheme. Wagner. And then during a recent rainstorm, when I left the windows a little cracked to let in the wonderful fresh air, I heard his voice.

I looked out a window and there he was, walking along nonchalantly, with his bags from the local grocery store, dark skin and hair, white shirt plastered against his whippet form,  and those khaki pants. His shoes I could not see in the shadows of the looming night. His voice filled the air. This time it was Ave Maria.

His head was tilted back, and when he stepped beneath the glow of the street light, I could see the white of his teeth and eyes. I’d just heard Ave Maria sung at a funeral a week or so before. So solemn that day. This man, my unnamed fellow, sang it with such joy.

We have yet to actually meet. I figure I should not rush out of my home, make him stop his song, to accost him with my questions of “who are you” and “what is your story” or “may I snap your portrait.”

At least, not yet. 🙂

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I first met Monroe Chase at Trinity Church as well. Robert Yearwood, the subject of my first portraits in progress, may even have introduced us but most likely Monroe introduced himself with his hand outstretched.  Active in different ways with organizations like the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute and Trinity’s Education for Excellence Program, Monroe’s generosity, good nature and thoughtful insights are always an inspiration to me.

Monroe Chase

Previous portrait: Robert Yearwood

Learn more about …

Louis D. Brown Peace Institute

Trinity Education for Excellence Program (TEEP)

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One of my mid-year photographic challenges is to photograph more people. Perhaps a post each Sunday? We’ll see … I begin with Robert Yearwood. At some point I may pair stories/brief interviews with these images. Given that Mr. Yearwood has been in this world since 1938, he has a lot of stories to tell. I first met him at Trinity Church.  I’ve learned a lot from him about patience, letting things go, and especially an idea that I have rephrased a bit — that all who enter a place, regardless of age, race, gender, or creed, the clothes upon their backs or the lack thereof, all shall be equally greeted. Whenever I want to be … not nice to someone … I try to remember that idea. 🙂

Robert Yearwood

Robert Yearwood

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Yesterday, in a coffee-stained manilla folder, I found an old personal essay.  I almost posted it on this blog but I remained indecisive about the imagery with which to pair the words.  Embedded in the text was a reference to red dust and that was the image I most wanted — little pyramids of red — but the dust in the story is red Virginia clay not dark Massachusetts soil.  I tried photographing mounds of smoky paprika but the imagery just didn’t work. 

I then tried photographing blue sea glass. In the text there are many references to that color.  There is even a blue glass in the essay but it is a drinking glass and has nothing to do with the sea. So, no.

The essay is about family and that universal topic of death and the revelations made soon after and then long after the passing of loved ones.  I considered uploading this portrait of Steve.  He is part of my family now.  Maybe I could make him a bridge between past and present?  In the end, I decide that wouldn’t work either.  He is not mentioned in the essay at all as it currently exists.  The key subjects of the text, my parents, passed away before meeting him.  He often tells me that he wishes that fact were not so.

As the day grew long, I began to wonder about the appropriateness of posting the text at all with or without complementary images.  An unfinished essay, without direction, perhaps something written years ago just to help me let go?  Not a sad piece, just reflective, but would anyone want to read such stuff?  I kept staring at the words.  Not every passage worked but some did seem like diamonds in the rough.  Maybe.  In the end I decided to post the ice picture, little B-612  (by the way no ice on the windows today),  and to commit to continue working on the essay.   I will keep it out in the light and we’ll see what emerges this year.

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“Of course, my dear.”  As he presented his hands to me – resting them on a book, waving them in the air, etc – he described the work he’d done with those hands over the years.  Keith is his name and he was subbing for a security guard at a local church.  We’d only known each other for less than an hour though when he first saw me his first words were, “Have we met before?”  While I’m horrible with names I’m pretty good with faces and his aged face did not look familiar.  But he did feel awfully comfortable to be around.  And so after hearing him speak for a few minutes with his beautifully accented voice I said, “Sir, when were you born?”  The people around me may have been appalled I asked that question, but he looked at me and laughed.  “1933, my dear.”  Then he took out his I.D. card with his birth date to prove it.

keith hands

For the short while that we were together he described growing up in Barbados,  then moving to England as a young man where he worked for Rover and his various adventures as a stellar mechanic.  He described his first wife and her untimely death that left him with three young children under the age of 10.  He made a decision to focus on the children and not remarry until they were grown.  And when they were grown he did remarry.  There was no question asked that did not produce beautiful, sometimes heartwrenching, stories of family, friends and work. I finally said, “Sir, you should record these stories.”  He chuckled and said, “I’ve lived these experiences.  Why do I need to record them?”

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