Lately, I’ve Been Seeing Red

While small in size, the red purse dominates the canal scene. [Click photos for larger versions]
A red purse dominates the canal scene.
A red mailbox is a very rare sight these days.
A red mailbox is a very rare sight these days.
Even in a busy scene, the color red will stand out like no other.
Even in a busy scene, the color red will stand out like no other.

Not all colors are alike. How’s that for a tautological argument? But let me explain. I spend a considerable amount of my time on earth walking around cities searching for interesting photographic subjects. And while my somewhat optimistic searches don’t always prove fruitful (ok, some of it may have to do with my inherent photographic limitations), there is no denying that colors, or the lack of them, kind of influence what I look at, or at the very least, what I find interesting. They make objects stand out from their surroundings and dramatically influence the visual choices we make out there in the world.

So what is it about the color red that usually makes it stand out supreme from other colors? It’s not even my favorite color. But no matter where my eyes take me, red is a color I’ve found impossible to ignore. In its own silent way, it screams at me, demanding my visual attention like no other color out there (well, maybe with the exception of the neon oranges that some tourist groups wear so they won’t loose anyone). From a fashion perspective, you would not catch me dead wearing such a color. Perhaps because different to other colors, I don’t find red to be a passive color, or unassuming for that matter. It visually pokes you and demands not to be ignored. In its own convoluted way, it represents both passion and pain, smiles and tears. It can’t hide and cannot be missed. It pulls more than it pushes, and demands a photographer’s attention like no other. Resistance is futile, so it’s not even worth trying. Isn’t that wonderful?

 

The Perfect Season

The most colorful time of the year is upon us. [Click photo for larger version]
The most colorful time of the year is upon us. [Click photo for larger version]
Don’t know about you, but as far as I’m concerned, there is no more perfect season than autumn. Sure, it’s wet, days are shorter, and you definitely need to bundle up a bit before going out. But that’s precisely what makes it so perfect. Nature’s colors at their best, sidewalks covered with fallen leaves, and chilly temperatures that elevate every quiet moment to the level of supreme enjoyment. The heat is gone, and so is the colorless haze that unmercifully mutes the summer colors. The sounds of life’s constant drums are reduced a decibel or two, and nature’s lights are dimmed a bit as if to force us to slow down and take in the transformation that is going on all around us. So here’s a salute to the perfect season: bring out the port wine, dust off the scarfs, put logs on the fireplace, and watch the reluctant sun barely raise over the horizon. Walk out, let the morning dew caress your face, count the colors of the leaves, and breathe the clear, chilly air of a perfect autumn day. Worry less, live more, sit on a bench, hold someone’s hand, and stare at the magnificent spectacle that lies before our very eyes. Let go, let in, and just be. Let nature remind you that every year is different, that you are different, and that in spite of the changes (or because of them), life will still be as colorful as the golden trees adorning the autumn countryside.

 

Tiffany Windows Survived The Wrecking Ball

The Arlington Arts Center is home to beautiful Tiffany windows that miraculously survived the wrecking ball in 2000.
The Arlington Arts Center is home to beautiful Tiffany windows that miraculously survived the wrecking ball in 2000.
Originally ornamenting the Abbey Mausoleum near Arlington Cementery, the windows survived the neglect that ensued with the Abbey Mausoleum Corporation financial problems.
Originally ornamenting the Abbey Mausoleum near Arlington Cementery, the windows had been boarded over and survived many years of neglect.
Light splashing through the Tiffany glass windows completely submerges the entire gallery in a golden glow.
The afternoon light splashing through the Tiffany glass windows completely transforms the entire gallery into a golden masterpiece.
The Arlington Arts Center plays a leading role in Arlington's artistic and cultural life.
The Arlington Arts Center plays a leading role in Arlington’s artistic and cultural life by promoting the work of regional artists.

Royally holding court in a back room at the elegant Arlington Arts Center in Arlington, Virginia is one of the most incredible pieces of art in the entire DC Metro Region.  Can’t blame you if you have driven past the historical Maury School building without realizing what treasures lie inside.  After all, the imposing galleries and monuments down the road in Washington, DC are a much bigger magnet for area visitors short on vacation time.  But if there’s anything that demands a separate road trip on its own merits, the golden Tiffany glass windows at the Arlington Arts Center must be it.  Not that a photographer can claim any degree of poetic justice in describing such a magnificent piece of art, but as a hopeless romantic with a camera I found it impossible to enter this sun-bathed room without being transported to the elegant world of New York high society during the late 19th Century.  There, covered by the glowing yellow light of an afternoon sun, I couldn’t help but feel a little underdressed.  Shouldn’t I be wearing a tuxedo while waiting to waltz the night away with my beautiful companion?  Have the cocktails been served yet?  Will the horse-drawn carriages be on time outside to slowly carry us back home after the most marvelous of nights?  I swear that all these thoughts crossed my mind before I had to swap memory cards on my camera, so maybe there’s really something to all those time-travel rumors we keep hearing about.

Incredibly, though, these Tiffany masterpieces, which are now part of the Arlington Public Art Collection, were almost lost to the wrecking ball fourteen years ago.  After many years of neglect and disrepair, in 2000 the U.S. Navy took over the building, and before tearing it down, allowed Arlington County to salvage anything of historical value at the site.  As described at the Arlington Arts Center Blog, the windows were finally discovered after having “been boarded over and long forgotten” in the long-neglected mausoleum.   I can just imagine the faces of those tearing down the wooden planks hiding such incredible treasure.  So much for a day’s work.  So if you are in the area any time soon, pay the great folks at the Arlington Arts Center a visit.  Who knows, you too may be transported to a world long since gone, but not yet forgotten.  And in case you’re wondering, your carriage will be waiting for you outside.