Archive | Paroikia

Space and the end of Easter…

I just helped a friend board the Blue Star ferry ‘Delos’, en route to Pireaus.  It is Sunday evening, May 12, on Paros and the Easter season has ended…finally!  The smell of lamb fat has rinsed from my hands, the out-of-towners are returning to their homes and the island is quieting down.  I was shocked by the crowds already on board the ‘Delos’ as well as those embarking.  Hordes.  Masses.  All with rolling luggage dragging behind them, seemingly forgotten in some small dusty corner of their minds.  Passive traveling at its worst.  Why is it that we forget about the items directly behind us and we tend to lead with memories from so long ago ahead as if they are current events? Hmmm…

On the other hand, the Aegean Center students enjoyed a lovely day out at sea with Captain Tassos and his crew for our spring “Boat Trip”, a somewhat circular route around Andiparos, stopping at Despotiko, then Taverna Zombos on the southern side of Andiparos for a mid-afternoon feast: gigantes, kolokithokeftedes, bean salad, xoriatiko salate, calamari, oktopodi salate, saganaki tiri…a true food event.  I needed some space, some time alone so I stayed back at the school and worked on my current painting, a view from a balcony overlooking a small courtyard adjacent to the school.  I had three hours of quiet for this and I managed to work very well, very hard and productively in that short span. Then I hopped in my trusty FIAT Panda, drove to the Andiparos ferry, went over, swam  at both Livadia and Agios Giorgos beaches, took some pictures (film and digital) and met up with the rest of the school for the above-mentioned meal.  Orea!

Here is an image from today.  A view of Andiparos–Leica M8, Voigtlander 28mm, ISO 160, F/16, 1/125, hyperfocus…clouds and wires

Some walls, a lamp,  sea, sky, clouds.  Enjoy!



News from Paros…a journey of small bites…

Lupens blooming along the path to the monastery of Agios Kyriaki

Lupens blooming along the path to the monastery of Agios Kyriaki

The first week of the spring 2013 session at the Aegean Center has all but ended.  As I sit in Pebble’s Jazz Cafe, overlooking the bay of Paroikia, the sun begins a slow descent towards the faint outline of Sifnos to my west.  Since my return at the end of January the sunset has moved slowly north along the ridge of that island, the daylight has increased and the temperature has become warmer.  There have been welcome harbingers of a lovely spring: warm, breezy with high clouds and only sprinklings of rain, barely enough to dampen my laundry hung out to dry, birds singing in the bright morning…

My work for the next few months has been laid out for me, a buffet of grand proportions.  My own large-format portrait work, which I have written about before, takes priority if I wish to have the printing finished by the end of May and the work at the framers by June.  This is the beginning-of-the-end of a long-term project, the seeds of which I planted during  the winter of 2011/2012.  I have two or three more sittings to arrange and then I can begin crossing tasks off the list.

I am also teaching in the darkroom, guiding the bright and eager minds of our small cadre along the meditative paths of silver photography.  I have been impressed in this first week by their enthusiasm, previous experience and general attitude towards the idea of ‘slow photography’.  I can only hope that they, too, feel as if I am an able mentor for their journey.  There are two or three returning students working on the darkroom, which benefits everyone.

The third element is my return to oil painting.  I loved it the first time last spring and this time around seems no different.  Just today I was working on a piece and I was struck by how much I love oils: their malleability and fluidity, the ability to push them around on a properly prepared canvas…

The fourth menu item this session is a fascinating journey into the world of Johannes Vermeer, more precisely his use of the camera obscura in his work.  There are three of us working with Jane Pack and in the next few weeks we will construct a full-scale replica of the master painter’s  camera, discover how he applied it and use it ourselves to draw, and then paint, some still lives.

When I realized a few days ago the scope of the labors set before me, my heart and mind quaked.  I quickly spoke to an advisor which helped.  I know that I can accomplish all of these things, but like a plate of food at the above mentioned buffet, this kind of smorgasbord can seem impossible to consume.  Like any dinner, it starts with the first bite.   Before I know it will be the end of May and I will be ordering coffee and dessert.




Spring unfolds at the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts…

The spring session has begun here on Paros at the Aegean Center.  The students have mostly all arrived, riding in on the winds and waves.  It poured rain all day yesterday and the streets turned into small rivers.  By last night the clouds had rolled away and today is sunny and bright.  I have many thoughts running through my head, so many raindrops, really, and in many cases just as discarnate.  Add them up, however,  and they are a flood, a river of their own.  I found it comforting to stop thinking.  I loaded up some Plus-X, grabbed my tripod and headed down the now undimmed streets of Paroikia.  Action, not thinking, always improves my day.

I will be painting again this session.  I will also apply the finishing touches on a large format photography project that I began last year, a series of portraits of people I know here on Paros.  They are students, ex-pats, local Parians…My Greek barber, Nikos, for instance, as well as the English owner of a local cafe.  A motley crew to be sure.  I will finish the principle photography and printing in the next three months, bring all the final proofs to Athens and have them matted and framed.  I hope to accomplish this before the end of June when I head back to America for a month.  When I return in August I will hang the show and open the exhibit.  It will be the culmination of my work here at the Center, my Masters Thesis in Photography, if you will.  I have no idea where the show will be.  I’ll stick my neck out again.  So far that hasn’t been the most successful venture here on Paros.  I have lost my head more times than not (certainly gaining wisdom) but what choice do I have?  “Action and more action…”, as they say…What follows my exhibition is anyone’s guess.  I suddenly feel lost at sea with the prospect of September.

I will be assisting again in the darkroom with the students, as I did last fall, so my energies will be focused on their work more than my own.   Like the weather moving in circles, alternating rain, sun wind and calm, the Aegean Center is part of the cycle of  change.  I cannot do much except sit back and trust the process, let the story write itself and accept the results.  Once again, to assume anything would be foolish, self-serving and arrogant.  As of this morning I am excited to work with five or six (maybe seven) students, some who have never handled silver emulsion and some with more knowledge.  We shall see how the session evolves.  I remember having many preconceived notions of photography when I arrived here on Paros three years ago.  They were soon dashed in favor of a new and vibrant dynamic.  As a lotus blossom, spring unfolds…



News from the sick bay…

The rains have come in to stay, or so it seems.  It is winter in the Aegean and it is damp and cold, the kind of damp that seeps into one’s bones and begs for all to just stay in bed.  There have been a couple of days of sunshine, but other than that it has rained, drizzled, poured down and showered.

Last Sunday evening I was sitting in my apartment reading when suddenly it felt as if all the energy had drained from my body and mind.  I was ill, I knew it.  I managed to stay awake for another hour or so but then I was in bed and out like a light.  The next morning I woke up as sick as one could be. My lungs were full of crud, as were my sinuses, swollen glands, etc…I took the advice of friends and went to the doctor who gave me a prescription for antibiotics, expectorant, throat gargle and high strength ibuprofen.  As the days have progressed I have improved but I feel I am not out of the woods yet.  Three more days of pills and I should be, well…right as rain.  Over the days friends have brought me food.  Chicken soup from one, a fish stew from another.  Today I was given some onions and carrots so I could make lentil soup.  These are some of the finest people I have ever known.

On another note, my quarantine has given me the chance to photograph my immediate surroundings from the viewpoint of the small balconies on either side of my flat and out my kitchen window.  They have an abstract quality that perhaps I would like to paint also; geometric shapes of varying hues of tan to white, blue expanses broken my myriad antennae.  I’ll post some images next week.

So it is movies, books, soups, plenty of fluids and lots of bed rest for me.  I have been reading Joseph Campbell and Edward Weston; James Bond and Harry Potter–comfort foods for the mind, body and soul.  The weather is supposed to improve by Monday and then John and I can get back to work building benches and so forth.



Guidance, delineation and communication…

It began with lamp posts in 2005.  There was a quayside in Ermioni, a boat on dry dock and an ornate iron lamp post looking out over the still water at sunset.  Then there were more lamp posts in Bosnia, arcing around the gentle curve of a mountain road, leading to where…?

Now there are stone walls climbing and moving across the landscape of the Kyklades.  They have been accompanied by electrical poles, maybe telephone lines, I am not sure…

I have been photographing them for the past few years, mixed in with all the rest.  Driving back from an area here on Paros the other day I was struck by how these all are indications of the hand of man in an otherwise wild landscape.  I have a choice.  I can bemoan the state of affairs regarding these structures or embrace them as something more, strong vertical and horizontal lines, shadows of human needs.  I have thought of lamp posts as bringers of light in the darkness, guidance along dim roads.  The stone walls define our boundaries, of both self and property, for they are often too insignificant to keep any creature at bay.  The poles signify communication over distances.  Guidance, delineation and communication.  I would post some examples, but I feel that everyone has an idea of what I am speaking of without the illustrations.

It is raining here.  Last night the deluge dropped a hail of roaring ice in Paroikia.  It woke me at 4AM.  It also deposited all the red, sandy dust that has been blowing from the south, out of the deserts of North Africa.  This is the scirocco.  The air was clear this morning and as I drove south to visit some friends for coffee I marveled at the archipelago surrounding me: Sifnos, Serifos, Sikonos, Ios, Kimolos, Syros, Tinos, Andiparos…rugged walls ran through green hills, telephone lines stretched thinly into the blue distance and, even though the sun was bright, my heart was gladdened to see the occasional unlit streetlight along my path.  If I came this way on a dark and stormy night I would not become lost in the tempest.