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Alicia Henry: Fine Art and Teaching

Posted: April 13th, 2011 | Filed under: artist, dog, painter | 4 Comments »

I was nervous driving to Alicia Henry’s home this past week. She was the first real art celebrity that I’d be photographing for this project. I’d seen her show at Zeitgeist Gallery a few months ago and was really moved by it. One piece in particular literally brought me to tears.

My friend Lain York had put me in contact with her, but was concerned that she might not get back to me — said she was very committed to her work and kept a low profile, when she wasn’t teaching at Fisk University. (That scored points with me. Respect points). So when my phone rang a couple of weeks ago, and it was Alicia on the line, (sounding hesitant and reluctant to be photographed), I got very excited that she’d even called me back.

When I arrived at her home, near the Fisk campus, she greeted me at the door with a warm smile, and even helped me drag my gear into the house. In the kitchen, she was making homemade granola. It was a beautiful old southern home — the residence downstairs, and a studio on the second floor. The feeling in her home was like turning back to the clock to 1945 or so. She asked if I had dogs, and I told her my long story about losing Dottie and Clyde. She went to the basement door and let her three sweet dogs into the house to meet me. Madden, a large German shepherd was ten years old, which seemed very old for a large dog. Her hips were going, but she was still full of spunk. Tango was a little Chihuahua mix, and Missy appeared to be a beagle mix.

We shot some portraits downstairs, and then she took me upstairs to the studio where she did her work. Every room upstairs was filled with works in progress. Faces; full length figures that were life size; all painted on fabric. Either starting with felt, or burlap. Some were stitched. All of them with multiple layers of depth. I wanted to shoot some video of her, explaining the work, but she declined and smiled. Shown below are some of the pieces that were on her walls.

Here is the description of her work from the Zeitgeist site. I’m not much on art talk; I’d just advise seeing the work in person. Walk up very close and really feel it.

Isolation and interaction is a common recurring idea in my work. I am interested in the complexities and the contradictions surrounding familial relationships as well as societal differences and how these variations affect individual and group responses to themes of Beauty, the Body, and Identity. My current work explores these ideas, addressing the process through which groups (specifically female) navigate these issues. This installation will investigate this in five parts. Through a depiction of the roles that age, class, gender, nationality, and race, have in the idea of Households.

I know I’m posting a lot of similar portraits of Alicia, but I just loved her face and her spirit. She’s an Old Soul, but also funny and warm and sweet. I kept asking her about herself, and her history and her work, but she always deflected it back toward me — asking about my work and my motivation. It was like a fun game of Mental Chess. Very enjoyable.

(Above image): Beautiful light pouring into the front foyer area of Alicia’s home. With Madden and Tango.

(Above image): Second-floor workroom/studio area, with works in progress.

(Above image): Front porch, with Tango, Madden, and Missy.

(Above image): Second-floor workroom/studio area.

(Above image): Second-floor workroom/studio area.

(Above image): Second-floor workroom/studio area.

(Above image): Two classic Beware Of Dog signs that she used to keep in her back yard area. But they began to wear with weather, and she liked them well enough to bring them inside to preserve them. I agree.

(Above image): Classic southern front porch.

Liz Workman: Oasis Center, Nutrition, and Yoga

Posted: March 29th, 2011 | Filed under: dog, feature, food, Uncategorized, yoga | 8 Comments »

Liz Workman is an Old Soul. She’s lived three lives already, and she’s only thirty-two years old. She grew up in Nashville, went to Hillsboro, headed to college at Columbia, then hit the road to live some valuable life lessons. She now is the Education Director at Oasis Center, over on Charlotte, in that old Duckhead Jeans building. David Mead is her soon-to-be-husband, in May of this year. (That’s David and Stan The Dog, in the image below. Also don’t miss Stan in the video at the bottom of the page). Liz explained a great deal about food to me, in our time together. She knows the nutrients; she knows what the good stuff is. She also explains nutrition and healthy eating to her teenagers at Oasis, and how it affects their energy and mood.

She and David converted a detached garage to a yoga studio, behind their home on Belmont Blvd, and she teaches there also. She’s full of zest for life when you’re with her — you get it immediately. She’s loud, she’s funny, and she knows her life purpose. Check above for her ingredients for what she calls her “Life Force Salad”. When you see her around town, ask her to tell you the story about her trademark “red yoga boots”; you’ll be glad you did.

Here’s her submitted Timeline, (and she’s only getting started):

1996: Graduated Hillsboro High School
1996: Went to Israel and lived on a kibbutz
1997: Went to Wheaton College (Not the religious one but the one for nice Jewish Girls)
1999: Lived in London for a year started doing Capoeira a Brazilian Martial Arts
2001: Lived in Brazil, and the moved to NYC two weeks before September 11th
2001: Attended Columbia graduate with two Masters in human rights education and history and teaching
2003: Started teaching in the inner city schools in NYC
2005: Certified in Yoga at Laughing Lotus
2006: Moved back to Nashville to work at Ensworth
2007: Fell in Love with David Mead for the second time
2008: “Resigned” Ensworth
2009: Went to Integrative Institute for Heath to become a health Counselor
2009: Started as the Educational Coordinator at Oasis Center
2010: Yoga Studio in the Back of my house finished by my father Building Bob and Sexy David Mead
2011: Got Engaged to David Mead married May 14th 2011

Ruby Guidara: Dogs, Goats, Horses in Watertown

Posted: March 7th, 2011 | Filed under: dog, feature, good friend, great face, home | 23 Comments »

Ruby Guidara moved to Tennessee from Los Angeles. She wanted land. She wanted children. She wanted lots of animals. She found a farm in Watertown, and began filling it with all of the above. She builds sets, and supplies props for the music and film business in Nashville. Travel from her farm, to downtown Watertown, and you’ll find a large commercial building, packed to the gills, with any kind of crazy prop you’d ever need.

Little Thurman roams the farm and helps with all the goats, horses, dogs, and cats. Watch the video to hear him describe his accident with a horse, when he was two years old. He’s doing just fine now, thank you very much. Big Thurman also owns a farm near Gallatin. Big Thurman was 59 with Little Thurman came along. (Gives me hope). Little Thurman has The Great American Farm Face — what a striking and handsome young man. Big Thurman has The Great American Mustache.

Also, these Great Pyrenees dogs are just amazing. Somehow, they come out of the womb ready to protect goats. It’s buried in their DNA. They’ll follow them around, and then, oddly, just lie down in the field and go to sleep. (See bottom photo, and photo above). As we were leaving that day, this one cat was perched on the stone post that leads up the house. It was regal — almost like those cheesy lion or dog statues that flank driveway entrances on Franklin Road.

Zack Maddox and Booger: Skateboarding fun

Posted: February 27th, 2011 | Filed under: chef, dog, great face, mini-feature | 11 Comments »

This is a crazy story — so last summer, I’m on my road bike, on Russell Street in East Nashville, and out of the corner of my eye, I see this guy on a skateboard round a corner, being pulled by a dog on a rope. I did a double-take, turned around, and tried to catch them. They were gone. Poof. Thin air. Like an apparition. For days after that, I went to every bike shop and skate shop in East Nashville inquiring about this mystery couple. No one knew a thing.

Fast forward to a week ago — I’m in Antioch, photographing Gillian St. Clair and her husband. As I’m packing the car to leave, she casually says, “Oh, you ought to photograph my brother; he has a dog that pulls him on a skateboard”. My jaw dropped. I’d finally found him.

So today, we knocked on the door of Zack Maddox, a chef at The Boundry, and we met his wife Lindsey, and his dog Booger. Booger is a boxer, age ten. Watch the video below, and let Zack tell you how Booger got started in the business. He sees a skateboard, and he goes nuts — grabs the rope in his jaws, and takes off, pulling Zack down the street. Happy as a clam.

Zack also told me about his buddy, who has a Blue Heeler that climbs trees to chase down frisbees. I can’t wait to photograph that.