Archive for April, 2009
What goes around April 26th, 2009
Saturday a school bus loaded with designers, manufactures, and salesmen, all wearing bright green shirts unloaded in Maywood before 8 A.M. My wife, Christine, and her professional organization, the Illinois Interior Design Association, teamed with Rebuilding Together for an event they called “What Goes Around” sponsored by Allsteel.
Christine, Ashley Hinz, the leading forces on this project, and their wonderful team of over 45 people totally changed the lives of two women who really needed it. The homeowners, Maggie and Gertrude, hung in the backyard all day and were not allowed in the house to see the transformation. I spent all day making only 18 trips to Home Depot and picking up 11 pizzas so there was little time to make frames.
At about 5 P.M. with *most* of the work complete Maggie and Gertrude got to see their new living space. It was a totally amazing experience to see someone walk into their own house and not believe it’s theirs. As some work was finished in the kitchen they sat on the couch and kept repeating how they didn’t recognize their own house. It was very cool to be a part of this event. The “before” pictures are here.
Suburban chickens April 24th, 2009
At 9 A.M. today I was in a warm room, quiet except for the soft groans that come from someone getting a kick-ass massage. Forty five minutes later I was chasing a pair of hens around a backyard in Oak Park. When I came across an item in an email this week from the Green Community Center about a resident who raises chickens in her backyard I was sold. My love of the bizarre, needs no documentation. I was expecting more than two chickens, to be honest, but then reality sets in and the Village of Oak Park allows two fowl per backyard. The owner, Helen Standen, declined to be photographed. So Poppy and Magnolia became my stars. This is shaping up to be a fad, or a trend, or whatever. There are many websites, Backyard Chickens, Urban Chickens, and even a good blog about one in Chicago. Most days my job rocks.
So I totally want some chickens now. My cats would *love* them.
excerpt from Chris LaFortune’s story:
Perhaps this comes as a surprise, but Helen Standen doesn’t mind that people call her the chicken lady.
“I home school, too,” the Oak Park resident said. “I’m used to being different.”
Standen grew up just outside of Cleveland on 12 acres of land. Her parents owned goats, pigs, other farm animals, but they weren’t really farmers.
Standen’s father traveled a lot for work, her mother was an avid gardener and canner.
“Looking back now that I’m grown up as a parent with kids, I don’t know how my parents did it,” Standen said.
So she’s quite content with just the two chickens that she owns and keeps in her Oak Park backyard. Poppy and Magnolia, two ISA Browns, have a coop in the back of Standen’s yard, a structure she built.
“It’s great for the soul to produce stuff, to make stuff,” Standen said. “It doesn’t have to be of professional quality.”
The Standens first owned chickens in 2004. They’ve lost a few over the years to various mishaps, and the current pair came in last year.
My favorite reporter and partner-in-crime on the Oak Park 365 blog, Chris LaFortune.
Massage Therapy of Oak Park April 24th, 2009
Another day, another home business that seems like a great idea. This morning was Rick Halle-Podell’s Massage Therapy of Oak Park. I met Halle-Podell one night at Green Home Experts in Oak Park working on another story. Halle-Podell claims having such an intimate business in your home forces you to be close with your clients and they become like family.
Hey! get out of my shot, jerk.
Oak Park Suzuki School April 24th, 2009
Usually when I get the pleasure of photographing children playing violins I leave the assignment with a nail-on-chalkboard sound in my head. So I was confused when I pushed open the door to Oak Park Suzuki School. There was beautiful music coming out of this basement studio. After meeting some of Meg Lanfear’s students and seeing how talented they were I could just glide around and make some frames. Parental involvement is a big part of the success at Lanfear’s studio. It was a beautiful way to spent an hour. Then I had to go shoot a stupid science fair. More info on Meg and the Oak Park Suzuki School will be on the Oak Park 365 blog soon.
In my family a violin was called a fiddle, and how could I not drop some video of my all-time fiddle player at a show from my neighborhood. A fella who woke me up by playing the banjo after an epic show. Ladies & gentlemen, the Professor of hillbilly music.Mr. Donnie Herron. You can find video of him playing with Bob Dylan, but he kills when he’s in his element.
Rock Band April 19th, 2009
After a great engagement session with Dan and Cressie, 4 assignments, and hanging with the cats the wife and I decided to hit up some mixers and celebrate Jason Brown’s 31st birthday. First stop was the OFS Showroom in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart for a Rock Band party. I’m not a very big fan of Rock Band, Guitar Hero and the like. It’s a lot of fun, don’t get me wrong, but it has about as much in common with music as Operation does with anatomy.
My biggest beef with Rock Band is more a personal preference to not listen to the same song over and over. Unless it’s the new Thermals single. I could dig Country Band with an upright bass, and steel guitar. Ok, so maybe not. I clearly love music, and Josh and Elizabeth have a lot more songs than the last time I saw the game played. I’m excited to see bands like the Pixies, Mission of Burma, Old 97′s, Neko Case, and The New Pornographers. Josh and Elizabeth are really good at this game, and I hope we can do this again. It’s fun even if some great songs aren’t in the game.
Songs I nominate for Rock Band:
1. The Hold Steady “The Swish”
2. Neutral Milk Hotel – “Holland, 1945″
3. LCD Soundsystem – “All My Friends”
4. Iggy and The Stooges – “Loose”
5. Art Brut – “Formed A Band”
6. The Creation – “Makin’ Time”
7. Buddy Holly – “Rock around with Ollie Vee”
8. BR549 – “18 Wheels and a Crowbar”
9. Unit 4 + 2 – “Concrete and Clay”
10. The Weakerthans – “Civil Twilight”
I could go on all day. Let’s move on to the photos.
Jason’s official party was at Quenchers at Fullerton and Western where I had one of my all-time favorite beers, Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout. It’s a load of chocolate, little licorice, hint of vinalla, kiss of fruit, and coffee undertones. A 10% beer and a mighty fine pint. Jason, Brian Valentin and I stuffed into an old timey photo booth for a souvenir for JB’s 31st. Good times…
Dan and Cressie and Diesel April 18th, 2009
This morning I photographed some engagement portraits for Dan & Cressie in the courtyard of her parents condo in the West Loop. Their awesome dog, Diesel, joined us for the shoot. The wedding is in June and my little brother, Ryan, is a groomsman. Dan and I were both groomsmen in Ryan’s wedding in 2007 where we perfected a dance now know as the “Fernando Rodney.” Needless to say, it’s going to be some fun. The real Hart & Brown Photography gallery will be up shortly. Here’s a preview of the action.
click the 4 arrows above for full screen mode.
Walk of the Cross April 11th, 2009
I was crouched on the ground photographing the way light was hitting a hand. The hand was rigidly clutching a large, heavy, wooden cross. “Act out of strength, not out of weakness.” It was a man’s voice and I’m not sure who said it. I’ve photographed Good Friday events for the better part of ten years and this one really stuck with me. First United Church of Oak Park held this for the first time and has many other events going on this weekend.
At each station was an honest discussion about charity, forgiveness, helping others, ect. I was surprised when a participant (my notebook is at work y’all) mentioned she was a bit embarrassed to be carrying a cross through downtown Oak Park, knowing people were judging her. “I’m more than my beliefs,” she said.
“It makes you think about the brutality, and how Jesus suffered. And how there is still so much brutality in the world today,” One woman said.
I’ve been to the crazy crucifixion re-enaction in Pilsen on Good Friday and it seemed like going to a play, where you know it’s totally unreal. Photographically that event is like fishing with a scud missile. I enjoyed the quiet discussions and real life lessons like helping out at the PADS shelter.
“Act out of strength, not out of weakness.” Those words kept bubbling up in my head all day.
John H. White Keep in Flight Night April 10th, 2009
After my shift tonight I visited John H. White’s Photojournalism class at Columbia College Chicago. Sitting in the back of those rooms on radiators that haven’t worked in years, spotlights on the photos, Lake Michigan at your back, inspiration is everywhere. The room is full of students hanging on every word from John. They quote him, and why the man never wrote ad copy is beyond me. I fell in love with photojournalism in those classes. I was filled with the spirit, and love for photography. It’s hard to keep moving some times when you see you friends and colleagues losing their jobs. You start a project wondering if you’ll be around to see it finished.
The best thing about storm clouds is the one shaft of light that pushes it’s way through. That is what visiting John’s class does for you. You’re reminded why you give so much of yourself. Why you put everything you have into chasing light and pushing that button. I was honored to show some work along with Jim Svehla, Terence Guilder-Shaw, and Corey R Minkanic.
Then it’s always off to the Billy Goat Tavern to for some lagers.
This is one of my favorite photos of John I captured last year.
Tags: Billy Goat Tavern, Columbia College, Corey R Minkanic, Joel Wintermantle, John H White, Mike Schmidt, photojournalism, Rob Hart, Robyn Martin, Stacie Freudenberg, Terence Guilder-Shaw
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Election April 8th, 2009
There’s something so bizarre about politics. It’s like a beautiful mix of sport and professional wrestling, smarts and theatrics. Politicians are always trying to game you into making them look good and we’re always trying to game them into looking real. I can’t help but think of the 1999 movie, Election.
Tracy Flick: Dear Lord Jesus, I do not often speak with you and ask for things, but now, I really must insist that you help me win the election tomorrow because I deserve it and Paul Metzler doesn’t, as you well know. I realize that it was your divine hand that disqualified Tammy Metzler and now I’m asking that you go that one last mile and make sure to put me in office where I belong so that I may carry out your will on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
Charcoal artist April 3rd, 2009
I’ve seen Steve Fisher and his easel set up inside the Buzz Cafe many times. It seems everywhere we go these days turns into something about the economy. Fisher is using the opportunity of unemployment to work on his art full time. The full story is on the Oak Park 365 blog.