Category Archives: Travel

Summer Solstice Memorial for Nancy Holt at the Sun Tunnels

Yesterday we ushered in the summer of 2014 with a long awaited trip to Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels.  We had been aware of Holt’s passing in February and heard through social media that there was to be a public informal memorial gathering hosted by her colleagues and friends to celebrate her life and accomplishments. With the anticipation of experiencing the sun set on the equinox, and a hope of meeting interesting people doing the same, we packed a lovely summer supper and hit the road.  We were not disappointed.

The Sun Tunnels, as described by the Center for Land Use Interpretation, “is an artwork by Nancy Holt, completed in 1976, consisting of four large concrete tubes, laid out in the desert in an open X configuration. The nine foot diameter, 18 foot-long tunnels are pierced by holes of varying size that correspond with the pattern of selected celestial constellations. There is a tunnel for Draco, Perseus, Columba and Capricorn. The tunnels line up with the rising and falling sun of the summer and winter solstices.”

We arrived in the late afternoon, allowing ourselves time to playfully inspect the tunnels. The wind blew dust in clouds across the open expanse, and through the tunnels.  It was a visceral full body experience that included intense sensory stimulation from the bright sun, high wind, and fine dust.  Even so, our children, Madeline and Caleb were mesmerized by the elliptical light projections, circle openings and the limited color palate of the work and the land. Initially, our voices seemed too loud, too interruptive to the mediative mood of the space but gradually, as the group increased in size, the growing hum of activity was sprinkled with laughter and levity.

When the sun was approaching the event horizon, Matthew Coolidge, Founder and Director of The Center for Land Use Interpretation; Hikmet Loe, Art Historian; Lucy Lippard, curator, critic, and activist and Bruria Finkel, artist and curator spoke briefly about their friendship with Nancy and her immense contribution to land art.  The deeply moving reflections gave personal, historical and social context to the evening, and reminded us of the importance of belonging to a thriving and supportive art community.

 

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Summer 2013: NYC Trip

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At the end of July, I traveled to NYC to meet with several individuals and families I’d been wanting to photograph for quite some time. It was a monumental challenge to figure out how to get around the city with all of the necessary gear, but with a bit of help from friends familiar with New York, some creative packing, and a local photo assistant Sam Dole, I managed to get myself and the gear I needed to each location.  I stayed at Pod 39, a trendy, but closet sized hotel room at 145 E 39th St.  I tried authentic New York style pizza.  It was good, but Chicago pie will forever have my heart.  I am especially grateful to Eric Taubman and Geoffrey Berliner of the Center for Alternative Photography for their hospitality and use of the Center’s roof for shooting.

I met Dr. Gil Tippy first at the Rebecca School in Manhattan.  Dr. Tippy is the Director of the Rebecca School, a therapeutic day school promoting the education and development of children with neurodevelopmental disorders of relating and communicating.  Dr. Tippy recently co-authored a book with the late Dr. Stanley Greenspan titled, Respecting Autism, and is a passionate advocate for developmental, relationship based approaches to the intervention and treatment of autism.  The classic reluctant hero/martyr blend, Dr. Tippy challenges the notion that Applied Behavior Analysis is the right way to overcome core deficits in relating and communicating, and he provides leadership for the growing movement of educators, clinicians, and parents dedicated to engaging children with autism using their natural emotions and interests to build higher levels of social, emotional, and intellectual capacities.  I also had the opportunity to meet several amazing families whose children attend Rebecca School.  These portraits are still in post-production and when completed will be added to the Facing Autism project.

Later that day, I traveled north of Central Park to meet Anthony Di Salvo, The Founder and Executive Director of Sprout Inc. Sprout is a non-profit organization that provides innovative programs for adults with developmental disabilities.  The Sprout Film Festival, an annual film festival featuring work created by people with disabilities, reinforces accurate portrayals of people with developmental disabilities and exposed the general public to important issues facing this population.  Anthony Di Salvo is using film to breakdown stereotypes, and promote a greater acceptance of differences.  Check out Di Salvo’s film One Question.

The following day, Sam and I took the subway to Coney Island to visit Steven St. Bernard, a NYC transit bus driver responsible for catching a seven year old child with autism who had climbed out a window, teetered on the air conditioner before plunging 3 stories into his arms.  The story of his heroism was reported widely throughout the media, and though he caught that child at sacrifice to his own body, he has been known to shrug off attention with the retort, “a hero is a sandwich.”  After meeting with him, it became clear that this one decision made in a crucial moment was not the only thing that made him noteworthy.   He is also known for being a surrogate grandfather to many in his community and has been scrounging up parts to build bicycles for the neighborhood children for years.

Dashing back to Manhattan, we met with Alicia Hansen on the roof of the Center for Alternative Photography, which is, coincidentally right next door to Rebecca School. (small world, eh.) Alicia Hansen is the Founder and President of NYC SALT, a nonprofit photography program inspired by the photographer Zana Briski‘s documentary film, Born Into Brothels,  NYC SALT’s mission is to engage, inspire and empower New York City teenagers by providing them with professional visual communication skills.

The trip was a crazy whirlwind, but truly unforgettable.

 

 

 

 

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A Huge Shout Out to the US Autism and Asperger Association for an AMAZING Conference This Year!

THANK YOU.  It just keeps getting better and better and because the conference was held in Utah this year, the ripple of impact really hit home!  Thank you Dr. Lawrence Kaplan, Gail Kaplan, Theresa Wrangham, et al. for making this conference everything that it was – enlightening, empathetic, and empowering. Thank you Rev. Dolores Wiens, and Dr. Paul Wiens (aka, Granny and Granddad) for painting the town red with our children Madeline and Caleb, so that we could attend together and spend time with fantastic folks like, Dr. Gil Tippy,  aka, DIR/Floortime Guru; Brooklynne Sanders; costumer and young brilliant self advocate;  Jacquelynn Bradley, super awesome Easter Seals Play Project advocate, Julie Matthews, ASD Nutritionist and foodie extraordinaire, and Dr. Judy Zimmerman, the incredible person responsible for figuring out the autism prevalence in Utah — “Auntie Judy” to the kids.  We are so grateful! Here is a sampling of the photographs made during the conference.

We just love these people!

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Paradise Ranch, Las Vegas

I just completed the post-production work on the most recent Martyrs, Saints and Superheroes portrait, Paul Rogers III QMHA, M.S. Paul provides Horse Assisted Therapy (HAT) to individuals with autism, disabilities or other mental health issues in a climate controlled arena called Paradise Ranch in North Las Vegas. Paul and his wife Stephanie are devoted to a working ranch that contributes to the heath and well-being of humans and animals. These folks are just extraordinary people.

Paul is a true horse whisperer with the ability to reach horse and child alike and Stephanie has a grounded administrative giftedness — an amazing partnership! Their beautiful free-spirited children, Aurora and Alex, worked and played right along side ours; like they had known each other forever. Paul was gracious enough to give our children a chance to experience riding a horse around the arena.  The magical way Paul related to Maddie and Caleb in that brief lesson revealed the blend of mastery and artistry he employs in his work and made the benefits of HAT obvious.  The developing facility contains a waiting room, gift shop, play space, quiet respite room for caregivers, a sensory room and a theater stage.  There is even a shoe exchange so that all clients have appropriate shoes for riding regardless of the ability to purchase them.  The potential is limitless and with hard work and passion, Paul and Stephanie are transforming these buildings (formerly a flooring warehouse) into a safe haven for the very important and therapeutic work being done there.  While it is not my intention to declare what historical figure is being referenced in each photograph, we left Paradise Ranch with a sense that we had spent time with St. Francis of Assisi.

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