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Sometimes the best discoveries don’t require meticulous planning, a long journey, or special shoes.  Sometimes you just have to see what’s in front of you.

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This is some of what Belgian photographer Harry Gruyaert has been seeing and recording for the rest of us over the last 40 years.

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He is credited with helping to prove the point that European photographs could be in colour and still be taken seriously.  Not that there is anything wrong with black and white.

ITALY. Sardinia. Near the town of Cagliari. Poetto beach. 1998.

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SOUTH KOREA. Seoul. 2007.

Mr Gruyaert claims that he doesn’t think much about all this, and he avoids talking about it if at all possible.

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The British Journal of Photography did manage to get a few words out of him, which can be read here

All images © 2015 Harry Gruyaert / Magnum Photos

 

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Our heroes are by definition magnificently far above us in what they do and how they do it. If you take a moment to look at the heroes of baseball, it seems not so impossible that you too might someday do what they do.

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The costumes (simple, soft, comfy) and the main actions of baseball (swing, run, throw, catch, run, slide)  tell you how sweetly uncomplicated it all is.

For a kid looking on, enthralled, obsessed, it almost looks possible.  I can wear  a uniform like that. I can swing like that. I can feel it.

 

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At least that’s how it seemed in 1959, and we can hope that it is not far from the truth today.

eddie matthews and hank aaron
Of the many who played the simple game at the highest level, these two Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron, twin gods of the Milwaukee Braves in 1959, represented to the kid just about everything that was worth being if you were human–including approachability.  Yes, you could imagine them coming to your house and throwing the ball around.  Yes you did imagine it, over and over.

HOF Weekend 1967 Robinson w Aparicio 3530.2000_NBLAnd those Milwaukee heroes didn’t seem to mind that you also worshipped others, like these two Baltimore Orioles, Brooks Robimson and Luis Aparicio (1967).  Real heroes understand that.  They know it is not betrayal, it does not diminish them.

mickey-mantle-si2Mickey Mantle (the Marilyn Monroe of baseball ?(without the tragedy), seemed to understand that as well as anyone.  There seemed to be no envy in his rivalry with other players, no bitterness in his blazing competitiveness.

The best in baseball, at least in those days, always had time for the kid who worshipped them.

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Brooks Robinson, sitting down, taking time.  The kid is the batboy for the team.  The BATBOY! Baseball even has a JOB for a kid, a JOB among the gods, a job in heaven itself.

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What a game.

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This batboy became a Chief Justice in the Court of Queens Bench in Canada, but we bet he never felt more glad to be alive than right there, the boy in charge of the bats.

Found here

If you are lucky, there is a game going on soon near you, and if you are super lucky, it unfolds in a place like this bit of heaven.

nat baileyNat Baily Stadium, Vancouver, BC

 

 

 

 

 

 

it’s always amazing to see what nature is up to when we aren’t there

white sands national monument john hunterup there in the wildest places, the farthest places from our small lives, that’s where you’ll see what can happen without us.  it is always original, never trivial, never trending.

ice greenland nyteven when these farthest places change because of the accumulated effects of our daily lives. the result is all nature’s own–spectacularly un-human,  beautifully bereft of our precious cliches.

We can’t help but drop our jaws and shed some tears of admiration before we go back to our day job.  But some have chosen to find work, put down roots and raise families right up against the raw originality (and harshness) of remote places. La Rinconada Peru REMOTE-6This is upper Peru. Life unplugged from everything except life.  It isn’t easy of course, but the miracle is that it exists at all.  Found here

Frozen-Ittoqqortoormiit-GreenlandAnd this village is on Greenland in the upper middle of nowhere looking bright, cheerful, remarkably at ease.  Part of a collection here

The only rival to the remoteness of the highest and coldest places on earth are the oceans where, we are told, you might sail for weeks without seeing any land at allocean-yonaguni-ring-shape-oxygen-ascending-risingThe only mark on this part of the Pacific is an air pocket…

landsat image of antarcticaThe remotest places have many lessons to teach us, if we will only listen and look, lessons about beauty, humility, responsibility…

hiroshi sugimoto-seascape-north-atlantic-cape-breton-1996Just look .

Image by hiroshi sugimoto (seascape-north-atlantic-cape-breton)

Music, good music SOUNDS good, of course.  But we’ve noticed that the best music also LOOKS good.

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That’s Edythe Turnham and her Band up there, lookin’ good.     photo Dorothy Hilbert Collection seen here

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Small music groups, particularly, seem to have great visual appeal.  This is something like a family portrait–the resemblance is there–but where everyone has their own special piece of equipment and job to do. Found here.

When we go to see live music, we go to watch as much as to listen.  What we experience at the time, and what we take away, has a lot to do with what we looked at, what we saw.

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Artists of every era have used musicians as subjects.  It’s just natural.

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Fernand Leger, two performances, same band, new look. See here.

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Jan Miense Molenaer painted this portrait of a family musical event in Haarlem, Holland, in the 17th century.

Lots of paintings of musicians at work here

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This scene of how to walk like an Egyptian while playing a tune is from the Metropolitan Museum collection, found here 

In our time, some of the most eye-appealing performances, we think, are given by the string quartet.

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Bretano Quartet.

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Borodin Quartet.

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Performers at the Kairos chamber music festival, go here.

But for our money, nothing quite beats the genius solo performer deeply in tune with the music and the moment

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Miss  Holiday, the song, the look, none before or since quite like that.

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Mr Hendrix was an eye magnet as well as an incomparable musician. Fine photograph by Tom Gundelfinger O’Neal, lots more here

 

Glenn Gould recording the Goldberg Variations in 1955

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Glenn Gould,  Joni Michell.  Music like no one else.  Looking like no one else.

 

Listen up and look on.

 

 

outsider photo nhung dang badger

The world is (still) full of wild things, plenty of them pretty weird in appearance and habits.  Yet we humans have never been satisfied with nature’s menagerie.  Since way back when, we have imagined things even more wild and more weird. Like this unnerving critter photographed by Nhung Dang (spotted here).

 

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No surprise the Japanese have been heavily into conjuring up unusual creatures from the imagination.  There was a whole show of them in London.

 

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The USA can claim many  producers of eye-poppng imaginary animalia, sometimes under the banner of Folk Art, sometimes Outsider Art, sometime…Art.  This wild dog was here.

 

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And in the USA, there is no shortage of well produced, well attended shows featuring objects and  drawings of creatures who have never actually roamed the earth, but which are very much alive in the minds of some artist.

 

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And then there is England, which might hold the all time record for the number of its citizens who have turned their imagination and their natural skills to the rendition of new life forms.  The above drawing is a collaboration of two sisters born in the 1840’s with time on their hands and wonderful, playful minds.  Here’s the story.

 

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Kate Bradbury, a current artist from England, emerged late, blossomed quickly, makes things no one else could never dream of.  This is her  Angel.  More

 

 

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Let’s give the last word and image to the Asians. Eunmi Chun is Korean, and she makes animal figures out of dried intestinal skin and human hair (sometimes gold-leafed), beautiful forms sewn together, see here.

Wild.  Thing.  You make my heart sing.

Nature is the crucible, churning out an infinite variety of living things.  And still, some of us turn our heads and minds to the invention of things that, so far, never were.

Wild.

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