October 2008

Only a week to go until the big election.  Since this is perhaps the most important election in my lifetime, and nearly two years have been spent focusing on the minutiae of this very crucial campaign, as it draws close, we need to keep our heads and do what is necessary at this vital hour:  Carve Pumpkins!

©Jeff S. Saxman

©Jeff S. Saxman


Last year I participated in a show at Glave Kocen Gallery, the theme of which was “Side Streets.”  The premise was to show a different side of some aspect of the city of Richmond, or perhaps shed a new light on what we know about our home town.  My approach to the project was literal at the outset, actually focusing on the streets themselves, particularly the cobblestone which to me embodies the rich history we enjoy here.  The result of my technique yielded interesting details of what lies underfoot, and not all were particularly pretty.  Nonetheless, the look intrigued me.  My pieces for the show can be seen among my work at the Glave Kocen website.


Scenic Shockoe Bottom. ©Jeff S. Saxman

Scenic Shockoe Bottom. ©Jeff S. Saxman





And so, on a recent Thursday morning I was inspired to take a walk with this method in mind.  My studio is two blocks from the 17th Street Farmer’s Market, and this was a natural destination. Thursday mornings is when this area plays host to a variety of farmers, florists, and artisans.  My mind was in the gutter as I strode along…








…but soon I was distracted by a lovely bunch of tomatoes and eggplant.  The colors were magnificent, especially the eggplant.

I was in Charlottesville, photographing a marching band competition last weekend, when I saw a fantastic concrete wall, at least 100 feet long, buried under what must be years of color and opinion and inspiration.  The paint is so thick and bright, you feel like you are swimming when walking past.  The elements have tugged at the pigment in places, pulling back skin to reveal in places what might have been expressed years earlier.  In a sense, it is a time line, and very beautiful.

Charlottesville is a great town-  On the downtown mall stands a monument to free speech upon which passers by are encouraged to write whatever they feel (in chalk); and this wall, in a high school parking lot no less, has been allowed to stand as a testament to a belief in, and a trust of, folks’ freedom of expression.  There seems to be no fear of what one might say.

People who know me know that I tend not to keep my opinions to myself, particularly when it comes to politics.  However, I have made a conscious effort to NOT make this blog political.  It is not what I want this forum to be about.  For me, this is about art and inspiration.  That said, though, I thought this portion of the wall was especially cool…

And these details were interesting as well…

I learned over the weekend that one of my submissions to Art 180 was selected as an honorable mention.  Not quite sure just how exclusive that is, but as the title of this post indicates, it is, in fact, an honor to be mentioned.  The celebration is this Friday, but I am unable to make it.  I wish them much happiness at their gathering.


The reason I cannot be there Friday is that I have been photographing my son’s high school marching band this season, and there is a home football game Friday.  I have been enjoying shooting the band, and, I think the band is enjoying my presence and my photos.  As with most performers, they really are a bunch of hams, for the most part.  Makes for some fun photos, though.  Here is one photo that I like…




James River Regiment High School Marching Band.  ©Jeff S. Saxman

James River Regiment High School Marching Band. ©Jeff S. Saxman

There is an organization here in Richmond called Art 180, which has used artists and the arts to provide positive experience and opportunities to many youngsters that may be on a difficult road.  The concept is that art can provide a 180 degree turn for many of these youths.  Check ’em out at http://www.art180.org.


Next week, Art 180 is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and to celebrate, they have been soliciting entries for its “Change for a Ten” exhibit.  The idea is that, on a template the size and shape of a ten dollar bill, you create your own bill detailing the change you would like to see in your community.  Along with your submission, you include a real ten dollar bill, which helps support Art 180’s valuable programs.  Neat!

I worked for longer than I probably should have on my designs for the show.  In the end, I could not decide between two designs and so, submitted both.  The change I am advocating is for folks to open their eyes a bit to the world around them.  In this election year, we have been inundated with quite a load of false claims and accusations (on both sides of the aisle, I must say); a small bit of independent research on everyones part can help cut through some of that, but it does require opening the eyes and mind.

My idea is not limited, of course, to politics.  No matter what we do, be it communicating with coworkers, driving safely and respectfully, or simply being appreciative of those in our lives, we should do it with our eyes open.

As a side note, I found it interesting that when opening a photo you have made of currency in Photoshop, you are first greeted by a notice that says you will not be able to print the file as is, only edit it.  A link then makes it easy to visit the website of the Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group.  Interesting.