Sunday, December 20, 2009

Almost Solstice

Each year, I yearn to post pictures of my tree with its ornaments gleaming in the morning light and each year I resist fearing to fall into worse kitsch than catblogging or posting autumn foliage pictures. Given the cats' delight in the tree I could have gone one step further and included a little catblogging as well. I have allowed this one picture to slip in because it is of a very old ornament which I refer to as the Ancestor. I like how weird it looks with its stars for eyes, its round styrofoam body and the tassel for hair.

Last night, two days before the winter solstice, we had a snow storm. It was a fine blizzard drifting down throughout the night and blanketing the city. I love when it snows at night and the falling flakes reflect the street lights. It seems as bright as day outside and the sky turns pink from the light. In the early morning, things were still quiet for a moment, the city transformed.

Cars vanished under the drifts.

The Grand Theft Auto ad looked almost festive.

The silence was soon broken as people shoveled walks, dug out the lost cars. The snow plows growled, the sun came out. The children were soon outside shrieking and flinging snow boulders left in the wake of the plows. Perfect solstice weather.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Tree Sellers

In December, people are allowed to sell Christmas trees on the streets of New York. Although we call them "Christmas" trees, I think of them as something distinctly pagan. They are the evergreen of Solstice which reminds us that spring will come again.

I love the way the sidewalks become temporary forests.

Walking through, there is often a passing scent of pine, although it is always wise to use caution when sniffing in the city. The good smells quickly dissipate leaving the underlying funk which assaults the unsuspecting nose.

I find it hard to resist the trees, though.

Everything seems more festive when they are around.

There was salsa music playing at this place.

The sellers disappear abruptly with the arrival of Christmas. And then almost immediately, the tree disposal begins.

The city collects the trees and mulches them, using the mulch in city parks and giving it to gardens. The ritual return to the earth of the trees gives a nice pagan end to the holiday. There are more discarded trees which I photographed last year here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Some December Light

It has been busy. In the midst of the holiday weekend I was printing images for a group show. I battled with my little recalcitrant printer which does not like the paper I was feeding it. I have not had time to work on a next round of street art or the next hanging sculpture which has been dangling from the ceiling, imbalanced, for months.

Today was the first calm day in a while. I went out to photograph a faded image on brick over on Bowery. Unfortunately, it had already been covered up by a giant movie poster. From there I just wandered around aimlessly. The picture above is of the new Cooper Union Academic Building. I was sad about the building it replaced which was nothing special but had an elegant simplicity. But the new building is unexpected and fun.

I was further amused by this private garden. It is behind that building on Astor Place that looks like a three dimensional puddle. I seem to remember some grumbling about the garden I am not sure why. Maybe there was concern that pedestrians would cut across it. That would explain the aggressive shrub plantation.

Because basically this private garden is a densely planted shrub patch with some trees and decorative kale in the middle. There are no paths or benches.

I thought there might be a path near the wisteria but I was mistaken. Maybe the garden is meant to be viewed from above. Oddly, there is a perfectly serviceable public plaza on the other side. It is a little bland but at least there are tables and benches as well as a view of the shrub garden.

Hoping to get some more work done in spite of the next round of holidays looming.