Category Archives: City love

A my name is Alice

When was the last time you jumped rope?


I loved it as a kid, not as much as roller-skating, but more than playing cops-and-robbers with the neighborhood boys. The problem was, there were never enough of us girls, and the boys were too boyish to jump rope, so we (my best girlfriend and I) had to make do by tying one end of the rope to a garage door.


I remember doing it on the playground at school, too – waiting in line for my turn, the silly songs we sang, and the occasional challenge to try double-dutch, with two ropes swinging in opposite directions.

Do schoolgirls still jump rope at recess?

A couple weeks ago I came across a group of young girls – they were an official neighborhood competitive double-dutch team – during a sort of street festival here in Atlanta called “Streets Alive”. The lady in the photos was having so much fun – and I imagine was remembering her own childhood just like me – that it made me want to give it a go. But for my bum knee, I’m sure I could have done it!

Sweet memories.

Just shooting

IMG_5639Since being back in Atlanta, I’ve gone out with a couple local photography groups to participate in meet-up events; I’m doing this to meet new people and hopefully find new, interesting places for photography, but also to maybe learn some proper photography techniques.

We went a couple weeks ago to photograph an abandoned Astroturf factory and later in the day visited Howard Finster’s Paradise Gardens. The gardens are a dizzying, dazzling maze of sculptural monuments, embellished outbuildings, found-object assemblages, and elaborately painted signs, all interconnected by a series of inlaid concrete walkways. I visited there a couple years ago and was happy to find the gardens in better shape than last time. There’s even a new visitor’s center (and a much expanded “gift shop”). It’s an interesting place and worth a visit if you’re in the area or have a particular interest in visionary or “outsider” art. This summer while in NJ, we took a day trip to Philly and visited the Philadelphia Magic Gardens, which have a similar feel, but on a much crazier scale.

At any rate, what I enjoy most about meeting and shooting with other photographers is the opportunity to see how each of us approaches photography differently; we all share photos on Instagram (via a common hashtag) and it’s really interesting to see the various perspectives and points of view of others in the group. We’re a diverse bunch, with varying skill levels from novice to professional. If you’re interested (and on IG) check us out with #atlantaurbanphotowalkers.

Ghosts of an ugly past

The Gold Dust Twins have been hidden from view for more than 90 years on Auburn Avenue in d’town Atlanta, but a 2008 tornado and the recent demolition of an adjacent building have uncovered this hand-painted ghost sign from the early 1900’s when Sweet Auburn was a thriving African American business district.

The Gold Dust twins were one of the earliest brand-driven trademarks in American advertising during the late 19th century that drew heavily on negative African American racial stereotypes. The twins were often comically depicted, along with a huge stack of dishes in a washtub, and the images appeared on product packaging, in print advertising, and full-color murals painted on buildings throughout the South.

Despite what many consider to be one of the most racist ad campaigns in history, there is talk of what place, if any, this iconic piece of history has in the revitalization of the Sweet Auburn district.

On its route up and down Auburn Avenue, the shiny new d’town streetcar passes the Gold Dust Twins and then this mural of Congressman John Lewis; I hope the incongruity of images sparks conversation among its riders.

Shine on

I was the-lady-behind-the-snowy-owl in a thousand photos taken that night!

Given the opportunity, I’ll complain to most anyone who’ll listen about how much I hate living in the city, but I have to admit (however grudgingly!) that it does have its perks, one of which is the Lantern Parade. It’s such a fun event and is unique to ATL…

It feels like everyone in the city comes out and it’s a crazy riot of colorful people (and their mostly homemade lanterns) and music. A group of us from the Atlanta Audubon Society walked the two mile route together with our lanterns decorated with birds – mine had monarch butterflies – along with an estimated 15K others. It’s a wonderful event for the community; participants come up with a crazy, creative variety of ways to add color and light to the parade and people line the pathway and rooftops to watch. It’s held each year to celebrate the opening of Art on the Beltline, an exhibition that I hope to post about later in the week.

I found the video below to give you a peak at the view from above… I especially like the dusk shots at the beginning with the skyline in the background and at the end from the after parade party in Piedmont Park!

Atlanta Beltline Lantern Parade 2014 – Filmed By American Drone Industries from E.T. Phoned Home on Vimeo.

Art Seen (Erased)

“Each person can take it the way they want to, because it is for everyone …and at the end, if it gets painted over, know that the gray paint will not hide the fears of no one, but if anything, it will make those fears more visible” – Hyuro

Photo from Creative Loafing

“Paint on this wall made for a beautiful mural, people talking about it made for a beautiful conversation. A public space was created and all of a sudden this dead intersection became more human. The mural belonged to all of us, to the ones that liked it and to the ones that didn’t, it was our dialogue, it was our challenge, but now it’s gone. Now we are back to ignoring that space again, now we are back at thinking that erasing the evidence will make us think this never happened… – Monica Campana, Founder and Executive Director of Living Walls

I never had the chance to see Hyuro’s mural before it was buffed over. The neighborhood didn’t understand its message or was threatened by the nudity it depicted. In its 37 “frames”, a woman grew fur and shed her coat; she then morphed into a wolf and walked off. I’m not sure that I understand its message either, but I can see clearly the value of such art, if only in its assault on the blight that is most of Atlanta.  I’m not sure of what anyone could find so terribly offensive in the almost cartoon-like images of this mural, especially considering what we’re all exposed to on tv and in print media, every day.

I’m not sure, either, that you have to like a particular piece of art in order for it to improve your quality of life. What say you?

Sunday in the Park

A photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows they’re being photographed, and what he does with this knowledge is as much a part of the photograph as what he’s wearing or how he looks.

– Richard Avedon





A photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows he is being photographed, and what he does with this knowledge is as much a part of the photograph as what he’s wearing or how he looks.


A couple weeks ago I went to Sunday in the Park at Oakland Cemetery here in Atlanta. It’s billed as a Victorian street festival and includes music, food, and an artist’s market. I went mainly for the picture-taking opportunities, expecting to want to photograph inside some of the spectacular mausoleums (opened up just for this event), but instead and as usual, got sidetracked with people photos. The folks in “period garb” were fun, but I especially liked the steampunk couple!

Market finds

One bag of arugula for a certain spoiled bunny. 

One bottle of blueberry honey that will be hidden from a certain teenaged honey-fiend.

I love that there’s a year-round weekly farmer’s market by the bank up the street, but it’s hard to beat the 140,000 sq. ft. Dekalb Farmer’s Market for anything you could want.

Note to bunny people: I can buy a huge bunch of parsley, for example, for just 39 cents!

Going there is an experience; it’s the sort of place I always want to take visitors to Atlanta to visit. They call themselves a “world market” because they have produce, spices and other products from the world over. They also employ a huge number of Atlanta’s immigrant and refugee population; many of my students work there overnight in the bakery or at the checkout line.

The market up the street, on the other hand, gives you the opportunity to deal directly with the farmer or the person who otherwise made the product they’re selling. There’s value in that. If you’re lucky, they might also let you sample something… this afternoon it was kimchi which, thank heavens, tastes better than it sounds!

Art seen

So subtle, in fact, that I’ve walked past this site at least a half dozen times and never noticed it before!

An artist worked with nearly two dozen teens to fabricate miniature “ruins” within the recessed areas under numerous small rock overhangs and ledges of railroad cut for visitors to encounter new worlds as envisioned by the teens. Before the clays eventually deteriorate in the elements, visitors are able to examine the curious nooks and crannies of the rock wall, scouting for traces of civilizations from long ago to the post-apocalyptic.

Seen along the Atlanta Beltline.

Gardening in a furnace

“One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.”–W.E. Johns

Finally (!) I’m starting to feel overrun with tomatoes. Luckily, it’s the cherry tomatoes that are first to bear and those disappear easily enough. Better than half of what’s ripe at each visit is devoured before I even leave the community garden with the day’s harvest. I munch away while I water and while I weed. Makes all the sweat seem so much more worthwhile somehow.

: )

I planted a bunch of heirloom tomatoes… Rutgers was the first of the “big” tomatoes to ripen, but I haven’t tasted one yet. Each one I’ve brought home has mysteriously disappeared before I got a bite! The first of the lovely pink Brandywines is almost ready… those are a favorite and will be hidden away in my purse, if necessary!

The heat of the sun here is something else… like gardening in a furnace! I’m surprised anything survives, really. I’m approaching this first summer as little more than an experiment to see what’ll grow and how well. Cucumbers did well, but the vines have turned to dust in the last week. Just as well… I was getting a bit overwhelmed with them. The summer squash looked beautiful and I got half a dozen that I still need to cook, but the plants were overrun with bugs. I’m still waiting on the peppers. I also planted tomatillos for the first time… anyone know anything about them? Lots of flowers, but no fruit set. Curious.

I spend some time at each visit just wandering around the garden, enjoying being around growing things. I think that’s what I like most about being there. I love to see what other people are growing and how well their vegetables are doing. There’s a couple of beehives maintained by students… those are fun to look in on. Plenty of bluebirds and towhees, too, keeping the bugs at bay.

It’s supposed to be 106 this Saturday… you’ll find me somewhere shady, for sure.