Friday, January 1, 2010

Letting The Caged Bird Free...

A free bird leaps on the back
Of the wind and floats downstream
Till the current ends and dips his wing
In the orange suns rays
And dares to claim the sky.

But a BIRD that stalks down his narrow cage
Can seldom see through his bars of rage
His wings are clipped and his feet are tied
So he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
Of things unknown but longed for still
And his tune is heard on the distant hill for
The caged bird sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
And the trade winds soft through
The sighing trees
And the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright
Lawn and he names the sky his own.

But a caged BIRD stands on the grave of dreams
His shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
His wings are clipped and his feet are tied
So he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with
A fearful trill of things unknown
But longed for still and his
Tune is heard on the distant hill
For the caged bird sings of freedom

-Maya Angelou

Photo taken by Dina Ponder
Art Direction and photo editing By Me

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Venetian Ball - Halloween 2009

Historically Halloween has been the time the veils are thin.

Then again, historically lot's of things have been known to have happened.
And quite honestly?
People often say a lot of things.
Whole worlds have danced through being...which if you think about it can make your head quite spinny with the knowledge that if the veils separating time are thin, one step and you can be entirely somewhere else indeed.

Which is why one should assume a careful step on All Hallows Eve indeed.

...Or maybe you should dance instead.

It is on thin veils I would like to blame my eyes for what I saw this Halloween...then again, it could be the cupcakes. For it was heard that one bite of these enchanted cupcakes could change you into a party reveler, someone who would be dancing the night away...and perhaps even totally unaware of who your partner could be...but I had thought that was only true for the undead, those who passed before us. But I discovered instead it was their enchanted masks that brought them back to their living bodies for the night and the cupcakes are only enchanting to those who are currently inhabiting their living bodies, and thus ensure that once they leave this life that they are able to come back for one more celebration.

Imagine walking down any deserted street on Halloween and coming upon this scene. Hearing the gentle sound of music from days gone by...from a wind up record player, it's scratchy music carrying through the tree tops and up to the full moon in the still night. You hesitate for a only a moment, a bit unsure of where the music is coming from before you continue to walk further down the street, only to stop short by the ghosts of a distant past who are gathering, as they do once a year, at the old deserted house at the end of the street...waiting for the veils to thin enough that they may reach through and pick their enchanted masks...the masks that are only available to them because by chance, or fate, they ate the enchanted cupcakes while they were alive, and ensured they would forever dance the night away on All Hallows Eve.

This is not to say that they unhappily roam the Earth in their skeletal remains every other day of the year, but when given the opportunity they happily leap forth, claiming their once lost loves and live again.

If only for one night.

Peering through the gate of the house at the end of the street you would see this scene unfold...Husbands and wives, Lovers and friends each smiling at each other with their permanent skeletal grin...taking each others bony hands in theirs and gathering for their party, waiting for their masks to appear out of the swirling mists of time.

It is said in this life, if you put on a mask you can become anyone or anything that you want to. Masks breathe life into who you have hidden from yourself and you are free to be what it is you want in every wild dream you have...even if it happens to be such a thing as alive (as it often is) and it is from behind the mask that you realize you are truly magic.

Of course, enchanted cupcakes help...but only in the afterlife.

But the masks? They help bring fort your own hidden magic. The magic that you sometimes have put aside and have learned to hide.

You see the skeletons that are gathered in the overgrown yard reach through the thinning swirling veil and excitedly grab for their masks...the gentlemen so politely helping their ladies with their new faces for the night before reaching for their own, each hand turning once again to the soft flesh they once wore as they grasp their masks and each partier delighted to be alive for one more night.

You would think that given the chance, these apparitions may yearn for more than this one brief night of eternal life, and would jump at the chance to dance each night away...But reanimation is hard on one, and the reality is that they need to lie in wait the other 364 days of the year for this party...after all, one could say that the chance to come back even for one night to experience life once again is a gift, and they are not a greedy bunch.

They frolic and laugh and sing and dance as they follow each other through the thicket to the party that they know lies somewhere around this it does every year. The party that waits in time and imagination set forth by some unseen universal butler and maid, waiting to be attended. You follow them then, by opening the gate and walking far enough behind to not catch their attention, there is no need to be a party crasher and besides, you think you may have seen the littlest reveler wink at you, taking her finger to her lips in a silencing motion, before beckoning you with her little hand to come with them.

Come join the party.

Truthfully however, the partiers would never mind another soul joining them for the is for them in the after life as it was in the living and they abide by the creed The More The Merrier, for it makes the dance so much more fun, and there are always enough masks to go around.

This way, they can switch partners if they wish, because all you have to do is ask...

As they only have one night to inhabit their living bodies, they push through until dawn only stopping to take refreshment and eat one last enchanted cupcake before the veil demands the masks back and they go off to rest once more.

But, that enchanted cupcake is so very important...for it ensures that they get invited to come back next year for another party, and another chance at real breath and real magic.

What would you do if after a night of dancing a thin hand reached out of the swirling mists of time to offer you an enchanted cupcake and the chance to use your own magic to return to your loved ones after you are gone from this life?

Won't you join us?

Special Thanks and Acknowledgments:

DaNece Hacker for her complete creative photographic vision and image editing skills and her complete enthusiasm for this shoot (even if she didn't get to actually be IN it this time)

Clay Lightfoot for being my dance partner and all his encouragement and help in setting up, staging, acting and posing.

Sadira Conley (myself) who organized, propped, costumed, art directed and co created this fun Venetian Party...and who is, as always, totally honored by the outpouring of encouragement and enthusiasm she was lucky enough to receive from her community.

Kim Garrett who is a wonderful long time friend and continuing source of inspiration who enthusiastically waved her hand around and volunteered to participate in this project (and hopefully many more)

Sean Souva musician extraordinaire and a very brave man who for some reason, jumped at the chance to pretend to be dead for an evening...and all around good sport and great friend.

Rowan Rain who is a very talented masseur when she is not eating enchanted cupcakes for the chance to dance the night away, and when approached about joining the party, immediately delved into her wardrobe of party clothes and danced her way over...

Rozzilyn VanTuyl my beautiful and talented niece (who is also tall and much more the model type than some of us, ahem) who donned a mask and partook of the enchanted cupcake for an evening.

Susan Smart who also happens to be my mother...who has been and will always be my first source of inspiration and encouragement. She also owns Keystone Antiques and Gypsy Street Antiques (a few doors down, but is so new there is no listing as of yet) which were both completely instrumental in the staging and propping of this shoot. She stocks a wide variety of whimsical and fantastic antiques, collectibles, and decor at her two shops and welcomes people 7 days a week to pop by and visit. Dancing is encouraged.

Please join all the other parties going on this Halloween that are being hosted and inspired by Vanessa over at The Fanciful Twist! Who, without the invitation, this party may never have taken place (or rather, it would have taken place but certainly not photographed and documented quite the same)

The list of parties is on her sidebar and will be made into a permanent link in time.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Halloween Party - 2009...

Tomorrow is the day...

Another party hosted by the very creative and spooky Vanessa.

(she's not actually that spooky.)
(Only on Halloween, really)
(just like the rest of us...)

Things have been extra spooky and mysterious around Foolsewoode, and I would like to formally invite you to the latest party with The Maestro and The Muse.

The pumpkins are carved and the treats are made...the tricks are plentiful and magic abounds...

Please put on your ball gowns and tuxedos and grab your top hat and masks and join us here in this space tomorrow to kick start your Halloween spirit...

And be sure to bring your appetite for enchanted cupcakes.

Because you never know who may show up...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Mad Tea Party - 2009...

Once Upon a Time (as stories like this are wont to start) there was a girl dressed in a butterfly robe...

She lived in a place not far from where you are now, and she may remind you of someone you know or someone you've been before...she didn't always stand out for any exceptional reasons that I can think of, and did not consider herself magic by any means. The tragic thing happened to be, that she was suffering from a strange ailment. It could have been a spell placed on her by a witch or a fairy that had fallen from grace...or even elf (because they can sometimes be mischievous) or perhaps she had walked through an enchanted spiderweb. Whatever the case may have been, the girl in the butterfly robe was unable to see the colors that surrounded her. And often she found herself in a very un-colorful world where things were always black and white and hardly any shades of gray.

She was not always happy about this, but didn't quite know what to do (along with finding her surroundings more than a little drab, she was sometimes quite I'm sure we all know that it's easy to be that way when you live in such a world) She had lived like this for so long, she was having a hard time remembering what colors the things that surrounded her could possibly be.

One day, while out walking among the rocks in her land...the girl came upon quite a fantastic scene.

There was an entire tea party set up just seemingly waiting for someone to stumble upon it! She looked and sighed thinking to herself that it would be so much better if she could see the true colors she imagined it to be. She walked around the tea party searching for whom it might belong to, and that is when she spied a rather large top hat sitting next to the tea pot.

She paused to think that maybe it would be OK if she put the hat on for a little bit...just to try it out. But she was very scared and wished that there was someone there that she could ask about what it is that she should do. She looked over each shoulder, but only saw some very drab monkeys and they didn't seem to want to say a thing, because they all looked away and pretended not to see her distress...All of a sudden, the girl felt her courage growing as her heart whispered to her to put on the hat. Before she lost her nerve all together, she found herself quickly putting the hat on her head.

And then a strange thing started to happen...

Colors started to fade in swirling around her where there were none before. She stopped to pause...could it be the hat? Was this a Magic Hat in the middle of a Magic Tea Party? She lived in a land full of magic, so the girl decided that this was most likely the case.

After wearing the had she decided it was most fantastic indeed, but she found it to be a little big for her it kept slipping down over her eyes obscuring the views of the colors that were finally starting to creep into her life...She was a little worried as the thought occurred to her that she might have to wear this hat for the rest of her life, unless she wanted to slip back into her small black and white world.

The girl had decided that if wearing the over-sized magic hat helped her to see the true colors of her now much larger world, that she would have no other choice but to wear it, and that she would just decide to be grateful to have found the magic anyway. Suddenly, the thought of stumbling into this magia felice (happy magic) just around the corner made her impossibly happy and she soon found herself giggling with delight...

...Which caused her to almost topple off her precarious perch and made her new hat fly right off her head...

and that's when the colors around her really exploded!

You see...just by having the courage to stop and try something totally different, take a bit of a risk and follow her own inner caused the magic of the hat to flow into her heart and open her up to the colors of the world that had always surrounded her (but she quite often didn't see...)

Sometimes that's how Magic works you know.

She immediately hopped up and decided to explore her new exciting surroundings as the Tea Party suddenly looked so much more see, the colors gave her an appetite that she thought she'd lost. Upon the bright quilt she found herself sitting on, there were plates heaped with goodies and she was surrounded with tea party friends in the forms of now very jauntily dressed monkeys where there was once sad drab little fellows, who were now all of a sudden quite eager to share her smile (I think often monkeys can be fickle like that)

The girl thought after exploring the party, that one of the most fantastic things she found was a white metal bowl full of the most colorful eggs she'd ever seen...

She decided right then and there to pick one up and crack it open to see if there was anything inside (you see, she had fared so well with the hat, her courage was starting to grow and she was feeling bold...)

Can you imagine what was in it?

When she cracked the egg open, jewels of which the like she had never before seen spilled out...along with cupcakes of every color in the rainbow! The girl threw off her butterfly robe and danced a happy dance all along the rocks. After dancing for quite some time, she became a little tired and in need of some refreshment. This is when she remembered that she happened to be at a Mad Tea Party and this may have been the best place in the world in which to be parched...

If Only...

If only she wasn't alone. I mean, of course she did have her small monkey guests, but they were not the best of entertainers, no matter how jauntily they were dressed and how eagerly they smiled. This is when she happened to look over her shoulder to see the mask of the Naso Turco wedged between two pillows...Well, that could only mean one thing! And before she could even think another thought...


Whom did she find herself sitting next to? Yes! It was Lo Sciocco Favoloso (the fabulous fool) who was also sometimes known as Lo Sciocco a Piedi Nudi (the barefoot fool) and the true owner of the bird mask that had previously been resting between the pillows, as if waiting only for a thought to bring forth its magic.

After searching her mind for only a moment, the girl really couldn't think of a better companion for this Mad Tea Party...for his legendary magic entertaining skills were well known in her land!

Lo Sciocco Favoloso immediately served the tea and they started to eat cupcakes, while Lo Sciocco Favoloso serenaded them with the most fantastic songs for no reason what so ever (except that they were enjoying each other's company very much by this point...and I find that magic creatures are so often impromptu like this)

And then Lo Sciocco Favoloso jumped off the blanket to do what he did best...

He had brought along his extraordinary gift of entertainment (he keeps it under his hat, you know) and performed a whole magic act for the girl. She was utterly enchanted...and was surprised to find herself no longer the confused person she was before, as Lo Sciocco Favoloso swirled his ribbons and danced among the rocks...

Lo Sciocco Favoloso juggled and twirled as the girl laughed and clapped. She honestly could not remember the last time she had such a magical day...perhaps it was long long ago in a time before she walked through the enchanted spiderweb? Or when she was bitten on the ankle by an Elf (they really can be nasty creatures you know...or perhaps they're just bored.)

Whatever the case may be, at the end of the day...

Lo Sciocco Favoloso took the girl by the hand and told her that the magic of the world actually lived right inside her heart, and that she was only temporarily blinded to the colors caused by the confusion of looking outside herself. By having the courage to listen to and then to follow her heart when she first put on the magic hat, that even if the colors of the world could sometimes fade, she would now be able to remember how to see the colors forevermore.

The girl knew that this must be true because it made her heart expand with happiness as she found herself laughing with joy...and whenever she had any trouble with feeling confused, she only had to remember to have the courage to look into her heart (no matter what was happening outside of her) listen to her own little voice, and remember the lesson of the Magic Hat and the Mad Tea Party and the kind words of Lo Sciocco Favoloso, if only be reminded of her own magia felice every day of her life from then on...

And she pretty much lived a very happy and colorful life for ever after...

Many special thanks to:

Rich Charpentier for reaching far beyond his comfort zone to find his inner whimsy and proving his creative skills with a camera and a computer and the special way he sees the world once again (he who gets it, and didn't laugh at once unless it was from pure happiness) And for having the courage to take my hand while I led him into a Mad Tea Party.

Clay Lightfoot and his amazing talents and willingness to play and have tea on the rocks...bringing his joy and smile! And when he isn't juggling, acting, or singing is the best and brightest bank teller in our little village.

That girl in the butterfly robe, who is learning to remember to look inside of her own heart and find the magic and colors of the world every day. Who, when asked if she could prop a Mad Hatter's Tea Party...threw back her head and laughed as this was one of the things she'd been waiting to do her whole life.

And finally, our fabulous hostess...Vanessa, who inspires every day creativity with her beautiful life and gentle wisdom. A special friend and wonderful woman who weaves stories and creates beauty just by breathing life, love, and joy into everything she does...if you would like to visit more participants of The Mad Tea Party, please click on her name above and get ready for a wonderful treat!

Friday, March 27, 2009

I guess this is kind of a cross post with Foolsewoode...but, I couldn't resist.

Yesterday I hung this little red dress on the end of my bed on the canopy, in anticipation for Rich's One Man Show tonight at the gallery...and while I was walking by it, I kept envisioning a picture in my, I grabbed the camera, and a mere 15+ shots later, I settled on these two. I love these two...and were almost what I imagined in my head...and were certainly the best I could take working with the dim morning light and my particular lens.

It's so funny what things strike me as fascinating, and almost instantly compose themselves to pictures in my head...things that I can stop and shoot over and over again with the camera. I wanted so badly to take a picture of this dress with the detail of the vintage wooden Parisian Dye House hanger showing through (yet another thing I collect...and I'm feeling the push to take them all out of the closet and photograph them as well...which is going to be quite the ordeal seeing as they're all in use currently)

But the red dress? It's just about capturing a moment in fashion time.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Some of my favorite shots of the day from The Vulture Mine in Wickenburg Arizona...These made me just giddy.

Which I find a little strange, but It's all in the details...

Isn't it?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I've noticed that I'm an UP looking person when it comes to taking I sit here, I have no idea why. Perhaps it's all the art training I've had in my life that makes me search for a more artful and interesting shot. Perhaps it's because I'm usually always looking down while walking (a habit that yields a lot of dropped money and other ground scores...and helps me not to fall or trip while I'm making my way through the world) Perhaps it's just that I'm vertically challenged (this is the polite way of saying I'm short) and things like pillars, are tall and reach UP into whatever medium they're currently enjoying...

I find that I am strangely attracted to pillars.

Mostly the pillars I have seen and photographed with wild abandon are attached to ruins of some sort. This particular pillar came in a set, and was in the middle of a ghost town in Southern Arizona...attached to the foundation of a building that for the life of us, we couldn't figure out what it was...

But, the sky in the background looked amazing.