Going to the Myth of City: Pittsburgh, PA

The Shadow of Night by Robert Qualters (oil on canvas, 54 x 68”, 1985)

The Shadow of Night by Robert Qualters (oil on canvas, 54 x 68”, 1985)

Robert Qualters is a masterful visual storyteller, a man immersed in immediate action and Fauvism’s strange colors. He and his art are rooted in Pittsburgh: the mills and neighborhoods, the bakery and shoe store. Qualters focuses his brush on those places people forget, ordinary mom-and-pop shops in neighborhoods that haven’t made it further than wherever they started.

In the book Robert Qualters: Autobiographical Mythologies (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013), author Vicky A. Clark writes, “All places, especially cities, have meaning beyond their most obvious characteristics. There is both the natural topography and the constructed urbanscape.… Place is a location where the symbolic meets history and memory.” Continue reading

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Exploring Wilderness in Tongass National Forest

Wilderness photo by Deborah Bloomfield

Wilderness photo by Deborah Bloomfield

What is it like to be by yourself in a very quiet, lonely place?

Photographer Deborah Bloomfield took on a five-year project, journeying by plane and finally skiff to reach Baranof Island in the the Tongass National Forest in the Alaska Panhandle. Not a major tourist destination, but the right place to capture the blue-black, gray-greenness of the wild. A place to feel astonished. To feel a sense of survival. Continue reading

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Three Places to Visit: Forest, City, Bricks

Japanese folding screen

Japanese folding screen

It’s so hard to write. Let’s face it… life gets in the way, and demands that the laundry get done and the children be cared for. We need jobs to pay bills. The body needs medical care and time to laze about.

So, my solution: go somewhere—physically, or psychologically.

In the next three posts, I intend to help you get away to some unexpected locales: the Tongass National Forest, Baghdad, and Penn Station.

Are you ready? You’ll need a pad and pen, so you can write about your journeys.

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The Beauty of Being Elsewhere

The ancient city of Antigua

The ancient city of Antigua

Guatemala is a beautiful, magical country — and I only experienced part of it in my recent travels. I went to remove myself from my happy life in the desert, and found rivers and jungles and ancient cultures. I immersed in green views, which was heaven for my eyes. The people’s smiles and kindnesses wrapped me, made me safe and happy.

While I was there, I began (quickly) to want to share this country with others. Continue reading

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Excellent world: I am taking a break.

“Women At The Chichicastenango Market” (photo by Elizabeth Rose)

Yes: that’s right. I am taking a break. By which I mean, no computer, no phone, no email, no answering anybody for anything.

No language, even. I am packing my 17 appropriate Spanish words, and my mangled understanding of the rest, and some sunscreen and sneakers. I am going to Guatemala!

Have a beautiful week and a half. I will try to return with some fresh thoughts.

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