It is harvest time in Guilford, CT.  I know because the apples are the sweetest in the world right here, right NOW.  We’ve all got time, some more than others.  But the clock keeps ticking and the question is: “How are you going to spend it?”

Just what is it that can’t wait for tomorrow?  What is it that never happened yesterday?  Maybe now is the time.

Read more

Antonio Lopez: Fashion Illustrator

“The CD is in the computer.”


“You mean the images are on the computer, but the CD is where…physically?”

“It is in the computer.  I put it in to help you, but fine I will take it out.”

With annoyance the hallmark of my movements I pushed the start button.

“No!  Just…you’ve helped enough just go!’

With a train to catch, and in stunned disbelief at just witnessing my mom in a Zoolander-style moment, I walked away with a Cali girl-style “What-Ev-er.”  Such was our inaugural day of working together so that she will finally (this time it is for real) publish a book on her friend, the 1980’s fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez.

Beginnings aren’t always chocolate milkshake smooth, but after years of compiling, archiving, and writing my mom is on her way to crafting her book and presenting it to the world; and petty drama aside, I am proud of her.

As for me, my own beginning is directed towards the fairly noble (at least in my mind) if foolhardy aim of sustaining myself as a photographer in New York City.  From today, September 12, 2011 to the 4th of July it is my time to make it happen.

With a D.C. power lawyer cousin making more money in a year than I have made in a lifetime and a close friend who is supporting his parents financially it really is time to show what my investment in money, sweat, and tears was all for.  So while working part-time jobs at BookBook; being the substitute receptionist at the NYU Muslim Center, and just about any free-lance gig that comes my way will probably be my lot, I am ready to show that I can indeed create art.  At twenty-eight years old, I feel that I am out of the “late-bloomer category” and into the “will it bloom barrel!” but here goes nothing.

In the words of Tony Kushner, the commencement speaker for my graduation from SVA:

Working won’t really kill you; completing your work won’t really kill you; you’re afraid it might, but you won’t really die.  Being late with your work, never finishing your work won’t really make you immortal; you only think it will.

And so to begin: This is the first of hopefully many posts to document my attempt at being an artist; and (whether I succeed or fail) to tell of the characters that I will meet along the way.

Read more

Erin Wilson at Integral Yoga (George Goss)

Erin Wilson is my hero.  I only met her several times yet there is a reason to fall “head over heals for her.”  The most obvious if somewhat selfish reason is that she invited me to not only witness, but also to participate in her yoga class for high school students from James Baldwin School in Chelsea, as well as a workshop in non-violent communication.

Erin is the teacher of Integral Yoga’s “Yoga at School” program.  The mission statement is to share with the students “how to manage stress, create peace in their lives, and radiate that peace into the lives of others through breathing practices, stretching, relaxation techniques, and meditation.”

Mine is hardly an unbiased opinion as I truly respect the institution that is Integral Yoga.  It is a sanctuary of peace in the West Village at 227 West 13th Street.  I go to the classes far too infrequently.  I know this because every time I do I am aware of how radically the gentle yoga techniques can re-align my body from long hours spent staring into cyber-space.  As a digital photographer the soothing eye movements are welcome relief to the strain of focusing so intensely on the computer screen.

In writing this article my hope was to present the phenomenal work that Chandra-the director and primary advocate of Yoga at School, Erin, and Integral Yoga do in supporting what are known as “at risk” teens, that in-between age that Erin calls a “no-person’s land.”  Erin describes her students as coming from a culture in which “violence is a way of life” with “really rough backgrounds, such as broken homes, abusive situations, and drug addictions. They are coming with a lot of pain.”

Yet on the day that I was privileged to witness and participate in the class each of us was “at risk” of only one thing: having the most fun yoga class that I have ever experienced.

Okay, I am not saying all of this because Erin is a beautiful, rail-thin young woman.  What blew me away was the use of non-violent communication.  I am a strange hybrid of WASP and Irish Catholic so the notion that once can actually communicate with another person is novelty enough.  I have images flashing of Woody Allen’s film “Annie Hall” where he is sitting around the Easter table with his girlfriend’s family as well as the ruthlessly off-color sitcom “Rescue Me” with Dennis Leary in which a typical conversation among the guys needs subtitles for the real meaning.

But to be able to communicate non-violently is surely a novelty for any culture. In a time when war or the threat of war is the status quo and with more broken homes than ever how beautiful to use language to say how we honestly feel. Instead of letting anger fester each of us has the freedom and the right to say, “This doesn’t feel right.”

Some may criticize this by arguing that it is egoism at its worst.  But this is a great deal of what makes things so wrong: People often do not listen.  In order to communicate effectively it requires stating not declaring, asking not ordering.  If we can simply acknowledge that it is indeed a human person we are communicating with what wonders would happen, what hurts resolved, and conflicts ceased?

I for one walked away realizing how there are times when I have failed to respectfully communicate with others.  In describing the philosophy of “Yoga at School” Erin quoted Ghandi: “Transform yourself and you transform the world.”  She firmly believes that her students can “transform our society,” and it is her hope that yoga is not viewed as “some Eastern thing that is far out and for hippies, but a practice that can teach life skills that can have a positive impact on their community.”  It may take some time but she is confident that the seeds of peace are being planted within them.

Read more