Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
This last week of January seemed like it would be normal, or what passes for normal nowadays. A new virus released in the world, a new era of imperial presidencies launched in the US, the start of Spring in Fresno, and cancer talk around the Trotter household. I had the uncomfortable exam to see if I might have the colon cancer my sister died from. I don't. Marianne's sister received further clarification of planned treatment for her kidney cancer. Marianne had the third of her four chemo treatments. A whole herd of elephants.
After my positive exam on Thursday, I think Marianne and I both breathed a sigh of relief and looked for something fun. For her, it was time to retreat to the art studio, something that has been rare in the last three months. I had to fall back on my mom's standard advice to anxious kids: "Go outside and play."
Play for me generally means photography, but outside was limited to whatever I could find in Fresno. I envy photographers that can work in interesting streets, skylines, and waterfronts of San Francisco or New York. Fresno is more of a challenge.
My first stop was Chris Sorensen's galleries. On ArtHop Thursday, this is a busy place, with 20 or 30 artists showing off. Today, it was almost free of people, but just inside the gate I found iron work that I liked. I can see the pirate in our back yard. (Marianne?) I failed to note the Pirate's creator, but the iron Moby Dick scene was done by Amy Kohl.
At the back side of Sorensen's I checked to see if Bob Kliss was creating his colorful glass pieces. He wasn't, but a tray of pieces-in-progress warranted a picture anyway.
Next week at ArtHop the gallery will focus on photos, so I will need to return for more inspiration. (The small selection of Franka Gabler's work, one of my favorite local photographers, is "permanent" at Sorensen's.)
My next art stop was Clay Hands, a sculpture co-op. Things were pretty quiet here too, but Ren Lee, another favorite artist, was working on one of her imaginative faces. Remarkable imagination, and a nice person to as well.
Robert Ogata's Studio and 1821 Gallery & Studios, other standbys for art photo practice, were closed. Too bad, I like whatever the spaces have. Another standby, M Street Art Complex, looked like it had shifted from a multi-artist gallery to an undefined Fresno School District space. A bit sad to see the change, since this was where Marianne had her first (US) showing.
From downtown, I took the short hop over to Chandler Airport and it's restored 1930s Art Deco terminal. Nice enough late afternoon lighting for a picture. Out back, a small sports plane was getting checked out. I think this looks like fun.
Coming back, I stopped for a single picture in Fresno's Chinatown. Historically, this was a thriving 19th Century community, populated with the folks who built the railroad through the Sierras and who worked California gold fields, before racial prejudice chased them away. Now, this just a few small buildings where the idea of creative reconstruction is surfacing, but it seems to be too little, too late.
Not a big city, Fresno does have a bit of a skyline, at least a half dozen high rise buildings. Ambitious developers are trying to rebuild these too, but progress is very, very slow. It is a shame that too many old structures were already destroyed in the era of "re-development".
Now it was time for the day's main attraction: A Horn Photo "Clicking Caravan" at Heartbeat Boxing. This local camera store organizes opportunities for practicing photography in all sorts of interesting locations; a winery, a museum, an air show, and this one, at a boxer training gym. I chose the opportunity to work with my newish Leica camera and flash. This is not my best sports photography set up, but the whole point was just to get practice.
Background on Heartbeat Boxing. In 2015, Gilbert Ruiz and his wife fulfilled a dream by converting an abandoned, 1930s-era warehouse into a gym for training San Joaquin Valley boxers. Gilbert had been a local boxer and later a Las Vegas boxing organizer and occasional chef. His plan was to parlay his skills into a viable family business.
On this evening, Heartbeat was filled with fans and photographers and decorated with old cars and boxing gear. There were two boxing rings, "Ruby's Ring" in front and a match ring in the larger space in back.
(The back-story on Ruby is that she was Gilbert's younger sister and a top-notch boxer. She had enlisted in the Army and won a number of base championships before her life was tragically cut short at age 21 by domestic violence. The Heartbeat Boxing message about women developing self-defense skills clearly is sincere.)
Throughout the evening, young boxers shadow boxed and practiced on heavy bags and smaller speed bags. A coach provided sparring practice. The older guys are reportedly already professionals and Gilbert's young son George, sparring on the right, has a national ranking.
The younger boxers, guys and girls, were also seriously hitting. No dilettantes allowed at Heartbeat Boxing.
The highlight of the boxing demonstration was a couple of three-round matches, no real contact, but plenty of photo-worthy movement and almost-hitting punches. There was even a cute pair of round-sign holders. Photographers were shoulder-to-shoulder on all four sides of the ring.
In fact, the place was swarming with photographers, in part because Horn had arranged for two or three young models to pose appropriately after we had had our fill of pictures-of-punches. To tell the truth, glamor photography is not my thing, and my gear selection was not well suited, but is was fun watching everyone enjoy the unique opportunity.
With that, I ended my photo day, satisfied with the practice and the exposure to something that is outside my normal interests. Thanks to Heartbeat Boxing, the car owners (above, right), and again to Horn Photo.
I was not sure what might be next for diaries, but I found some pictures in the cameras that seemed to fit in the art theme. First, was a pair of Marianne working on a new abstract art technique, one that introduces her to a power hand sander. We'll see what wonderful work this ends up as.
As for me, I am trying to reintroduce myself to black and white photography. This is where I started about 60 years ago, with a cut-film Speed Grafix. A half-dozen shots in a good day. Days to develop. That was a time when one took particular care with each click. For my first practice, I just took a color flower photo and converted it in Lightroom, following YouTube instructions. It's true, color dominates a picture, but with B&W one sees patterns much better.
John and Marianne