Finding Hartford, Connecticut for Someone Special

We’re getting ready to move back to California in August after 3 years away. Two of those years were in NYC  and the last 9 months have been here in Hartford, Connecticut.

During the past 9 months that I’ve been in Hartford a lot has happened. My wife and I had a baby.  I made art (as usual). My wife taught at one of the local colleges and I also took Russian class.

During our time here I made the effort to find out  a little about the city of Hartford. I tried when I could in between the time I had available to see the sights, taste the local food, and hear the sounds and feel the environment etc. I took lots of photographs and documented as best as I could for the time we were here but also because it would be great to share with my son the place that he was born.

So if there was any art project during our year that I made here it was for me to find the city of Hartford with my little camera preferably with a bicycle but sometimes with a car. Forever we are connected here because of our son being born here. This is a dedication to the city of his birth.

They call liquor stores package stores or "packys" here in Connecticut.

They call liquor stores package stores or “packys” here in Connecticut.

The 50th Puerto Rican Day Parade happened in Hartford this year. I caught some wonderful photographs this day.

The 50th Puerto Rican Day Parade happened in Hartford this year. I caught some wonderful photographs this day.

 

A beautiful lonely building in the North End of Hartford. A truly beautiful and vibrant neighborhood that is predominately African American. Lots of history in this neighborhood.

A beautiful lonely building in the North End of Hartford. A truly beautiful and vibrant neighborhood that is predominately African American. Lots of history in this neighborhood.

 

The beautiful architecture in this city is just inspiring

The beautiful architecture in this city is just inspiring

This is a logo exercise I made as a reflection and celebration of my time here.

This is a logo exercise I made as a reflection and celebration of my time here.

Bodega Blog


Bodega with White

For the last year I’ve been working on a blog called the Beautiful Bodegas. The blog is a collection of photos and images as a tribute to the neighborhood corner market. I’ve been basically compiling photos of these stores wherever I go and also scouring the internet for images.

Marwa Halal Market

Recently I added a submission page so anyone out there can send me photos of their local markets. I’m hoping people will send photos so we have an online collaborative space. Feel free to look at the images, send me a message and hopefully you can also send me some photos, drawings etc. in dedication to the our local store.

American Liquor Store

 

Beach Hill in Santa Cruz, California

Beach Hill Court

The Beach Hill neighborhood of Santa Cruz, California is a great historic mix of late 19th and early 20th century mansions, cottages, mid-century motels, hotels and a wonderful historic hostel called the Carmelita Cottages. I suggest staying here when you visit, but if you are here for the day, take a walk around the neighborhood before you make your way toward more of the popular attractions in the area.

Beach Hill

The view from Beach Hill toward the Monterey Bay. The hills on the horizon are the Monterey Peninsula.

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One of the many beautiful old Victorian Mansions on the hill.

Beach Hill is situated between the working class Latino community of the Beach Flats, the bustling eclectic Downtown,  the suburban West Side neighborhood, The Municipal Wharf and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk amusement park. All of these neighborhoods are within easy walking distance.

P1180533 Surfside Apartments

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Earlier in the century the neighborhood was an exclusive community of wealthy families in large multiple story mansions. Over the years this has given way to hotels and motels as well as a few restaurants and apartment buildings both middle class and for the wealthy. The neighborhood has a distinct character that also offers sweeping views of the Monterey Bay and views of other neighborhoods in Santa Cruz.

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The many beautiful bungalows and cottages in this neighborhood provide a wonderful backdrop to this famous surf town.

A small walk in this tightly knit neighborhood  should give you a quick sense of what life was back in an earlier period of this city. I suggest to bring a camera and walk around and spot many of the hidden architectural gems.  Better yet, stay for a few days and enjoy many of the wonderful attractions scattered just beyond the reach of Beach Hill.

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Las Palmas is a popular Mexican restaurant in Santa Cruz

Chilly Philly

There are many reasons to love Philadelphia. We can write for hours and hours to share so much of the beauty that makes up this great city. I can’t say I am an expert of this city, but every time I visit I fall in love with this place. My wife and I went down for a visit this last weekend for the Thanksgiving holiday and we met with some friends to take a walk around with our cameras. We spotted lots of wonderful architecture and had a great meal at Monk’s Cafe. It was a memorable day with agreeable weather that just made everything perfect! P1170958 P1170977 P1170978

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We spotted some beautiful tags known as Wickeds here in Philadelphia, I tried to take a few photos of them but this one made by the writer Smock just has the hand quality of a seasoned graffiti writer. Did you know that there’s a distinct graffiti culture here that pre-dates New York Subway graffiti? A very special city for those who love the American folk art form of graffiti.

P1170992I spotted this lovely sign. I couldn’t help but take a photo.

P1180001This is a perfect holiday photo with the skaters and the glory that is the Ben Franklin Bridge.

My Summer Project 2013

Invite for Voices of Taraz Project

Throughout the summer I’ve been working on a project called Voices in Taraz in Kazakhstan. Above is the invite which has already past at this point in time. The exhibit was wonderful and we had a great learning experience. We had a blog for the whole project which was in Russian and English: http://voicesoftaraz.blogspot.com/p/the-idea.html House and Fruite tree Two Buildings in Taraz

Lots of incredible artwork came out of the exhibit! I made some video installations, took lots of photographs and most of all my love for watercolor was fully explored this last summer. I painted my favorite subject which are houses!

Watercolors

And people.
Opening eventVideo Installation and Artwork Viewing a video Viewing Art

We had a wonderful exhibition at the Central Exhibition hall in Taraz! There were all sorts of different people from the community who came! We were really happy to see all of the wonderful people who came to talk about their city and local history!

Gulnara, Daniel and Eva

The artist Gulnara Kospakova (Left) Me, and Anthropologist Eva Marie Debuisson on my right

Opening event

Farukh Badykhov and Sax Player

Event Opening

We got to collaborate with a bunch of really wonderful people too! That’s the real power of art when you can bridge the everyday with a project about their city and they can all contribute a little to the project to make it something really fun! 

Pinata and Children 2 Pinata and Children Pinata and participants in Taraz

My favorite part of the project may have been making a pinata for the kids as a memory of my own childhood to share with them. It wasn’t easy to do something like this because they had little idea how to play this game. I had to teach them plus I had to build the pinata. They had a great time and someone from the exhibit said they were going to build their own too!

I hope to make more projects in the near future! We’ll see what happens next!

Abtodrom (Bumper Cars) in Taraz, Kazakhstan

Autodrome Square Autodrome Original

 

I found this wonderful sign at an amusement park here in Taraz and had to make it into an image. I hope to make it into something in the near future. Perhaps it would make a great print but I haven’t quite figured out what for yet. I love the way the original sign painting follows the contour of the building. For my design I balanced out the size of the O and the letter M.

Chez Panisse Restaurant and The Famous Bunya-Bunya Tree

Chez Panisse Restaurant

Most recently in the news, Berkeley California’s Chez Panisse Restaurant has been damaged by a fire. When I heard the news I was immediately shocked! Soon afterwards many of my friends contacted me to tell me the bad news. Of course I checked the news and there it was on the computer screen on Shattuck Avenue all cluttered with fire engines and news reporters.

I hear it will look different because they had to replace the front porches. I am sure something exciting is coming our way! I also hear it will re-open in June just in time for those wonderful summer salads.

Off the top of my head I would say my favorite salad is the butter lettuce salad with roasted beets and green goddess dressing. Oh but there are so many beautiful salads there! My mouth is watering from my memories! What’s your favorite salad at Chez Panisse?

I took the time to make an image of the restaurant and the Bunya-Bunya tree to meditate on the place,to remember all the wonderful staff meals I’ve eaten there and the great moments I’ve had there. I learned so much from this place and I am truly lucky to have been a part of it. In fact it’s still a part of me every time I make a vinaigrette for a salad, grill a hanger steak, or take half the day to make a cassoulet.  The spirit of Chez Panisse is still with me and I take it wherever I go.

Besides the food, the other great thing about Chez Panisse are the people that work there. They are the real heart and soul of the restaurant’s daily life. A most amazing group of people that I find myself missing here on the East Coast. If it wasn’t for this wonderful group of people that work there it just wouldn’t be the same place.

New England’s “El Barrio del Nueva Inglaterra”- Exploring The Frog Hollow Neighborhood of Hartford, Connecticut.

The view from Park and Broad Street

The view from Park and Broad Street

Recently I took a walk through the “rough and tumble” neighborhood of Frog Hollow in Hartford, Connecticut which is a Latin American neighborhood that encompasses the area around Trinity College.  The neighborhood is  between Trinity College to downtown Hartford on Broad Street but is seemingly worlds apart from New England’s “Little Ivy League College” which is situated on a hill at the highest point in the city.

Trinity College

Trinity College

Broad and Park Street

Broad and Park Street

The heart of the neighborhood is Broad Street and Park Street where the highest concentration of restaurants and cafes are located. Here you can find Puerto Rican, Brazilian, and Mexican food all within a few blocks.

19th Century Farm House

19th Century Farm House

Abandoned Building

Abandoned Building

Apartment

Apartment

Architecture

Mexican restaurant and appliance repair.

Mexican restaurant and appliance repair.

The Billings Forge Cultural Center is also located in the Frog Hollow neighborhood and is worth a visit for grabbing a bite to eat, bumping off some wifi, or getting an espresso drink at their cafe called The Kitchen.  I met the wonderful folks that live and work here and was given a tour of the building that has mixed income housing in a refurbished industrial building. There is a gallery and vegetable gardens on the premises. They’ve just opened a wonderful seasonal menu restaurant called Fire Box which serves lunch and dinner.

Billings Forge

The interior of The Kitchen which boasts an open kitchen.

The interior of The Kitchen which boasts an open kitchen.

The Kitchen

I suggest taking a walk or riding a bicycle from Trinity College to Downtown Hartford along Broad Street to get a sense of the neighborhood. Keep your wits about you!