Sunday, October 8, 2017

Ghost Signs


My elementary school days were filled with riding my pony, reading in my treehouse, swimming in the neighbors' pool and playing in the woods. But once I hit middle school, and my dad had a life-changing accident with a table saw, there was no time for play. A lot of the household responsibility fell on me, including helping care for my younger brother.  Being a first-born, guilt and responsibility are attached to me like a heavy ball and chain. So taking a day and wandering in the city with my camera, which definitely falls into the category of play, is something that is extremely hard for me.


It is Monday morning, I should be at the grocery store wandering the aisles, trying to figure out what to feed myself and my family for the week. I should be loading the washing machine with the weekend's exercise clothes and Sunday best. I should be waiting for the grass to dry so I can fill the lawn mower with gas and walk behind it for two hours, listening to my book, and sweating through another set of exercise clothes.


But instead I am sitting at a little cafe table in the city, chai latte in front of me and camera beside me. It is the last week of ArtPrize. ArtPrize is an independently organized international art competition that takes place each fall, it is free and open to the public. This is the ninth year of this heavily visited art extravaganza. It has been a few years since I have attended, the years of my daughter being away at college and visits to her for her birthday seemed to take the place of ArtPrize. Last Friday though, my husband and I had a date day and we came to ArtPrize. With over a thousand entries, we didn't even come close to seeing it all.  My husband is out of town for a couple of days, with nobody needing me, the guilt and "shoulds" have been displaced until tomorrow.

ArtPrize is the justification to come back and play, but what I really came back for was to stalk this building with my camera.


At the top is the ugly glass exterior that was on the building, put on by some misguided souls in the name of modernization, probably in the 1970's. Underneath is the original and glorious brick. I was enthralled by this find on Friday, but didn't have the time or the right light to grab more than a few quick shots. Today, I am back in time for morning light. Fortified by my chai latte and gluten free bar, I walk the entire perimeter of the building, documenting every perfectly preserved ghost sign.



Buoyed by my stalking and capturing of treasures, I set off to find more art. I will revisit a few favorites from Friday, seek new favorites from the previously unseen, cast my vote for my favorite from the pool of top twenty, enjoy lunch in a rooftop restaurant, and eventually go home and mow the grass.

Old guilt is hard to shed, but I am slowly learning to play again.

14 comments:

  1. Good for you learning to play without guilt! It sounds like you did all the things you love doing. Cutting the grass can certainly wait! I'm the first-born too, so I know the feeling. My brother and I were brought up by my dad.

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  2. It is good to take time, you will remember and treasure it.

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  3. wonderful photos! I have a hard time allowing myself to play

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  4. I remember that building . . .
    from my Art Prize trips of past . . .
    I like your “play” . . .

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  5. It is hard for me to play without feeling guilty about it too. I am getting better at it, but make sure I 'work' hard and get a lot finished before I go 'play'. I have a friend who loves photography and we have been scheduling a Photo Day about once a month, for about a year and a half. That is one day I don't feel guilty about now. I guess the more we 'practice' playing without guilt the better we get at it. :) You captured some great images on your day.

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  6. Good for you for taking a day for yourself, Sarah!
    I need to learn to do that more.
    I was out a week or so ago photographing ghost signs here, but have not gotten to post them yet.
    Sadly, they are a disappearing quickly.

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  7. Well, I'm the middle child, I guess I didn't get the guilt complex! I find myself very quickly leaving to do a little wandering and not feeling guilty at all. I've heard the second child is a little more laid back. I'm so glad you took the time to play and took more pictures of this wonderful building. Do you know what the plans are once they remove the UGLY glass?

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  8. This looks like a wonderful day (much better than wandering the grocery aisles...) - I'm so glad you took some time to play!

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  9. I'm like you, I prefer to get out with my camera, it's a form of relaxation.

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  10. Good for you. And the horror of that glass on that beautiful building. Oh, they did something like this in Philadelphia. An old architecturally beautiful building was topped with ugly LED advertising signage. Ugh.

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  11. Even as a youngest child, I find it hard to let myself play... the unfinished projects in my sewing room (and the weeds in my garden) are testament to this. I remember when you went to a coffee house every morning, just to write, and envied you that time. It's good to see you're taking time, just for you. Do you know the plans for that historic building? It looks like some sign restoration is underway?

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  12. I like it when you play with your camera. Posting in B&W was a good choice.

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  13. I'm glad you allowed yourself a play day. You deserve it, and all your responsibilities will still be there the next day...and none the worse for being postponed. I love what they're doing with this building! I agree with Andy that B&W is perfect for these photos. I hope you'll go back when they are finished and show us the outcome.

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  14. I love the architecture of this building and I have never thought of photographing the ones we have in our city. Good lesson.

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