New York

AFP & GTO play NYC's Webster Hall by Leslie

Earlier this week I shared the photos of Amanda Palmer's epic crowd surfing moment and I'm back with the rest of the pictures from the NYC show at Webster Hall! You can check them all out on Flickr, but here are a few of my favorites.

The show was a perfect amalgamation of everything I've ever seen AFP do. It had some Cabaret flair and a similar entrance to the acoustic show we saw at Momenta Gallery for the Kickstarter art package. There were moments of both deafening, screaming sounds and quiet words spoken gently. The lighting was excellent and each song had it's own mood and color palette. Almost everything on stage was white. Costumes, props and sets were still slightly DIY, while feeling just a little richer and more produced. Screens onstage showed pictures that audience members had submitted or video close-ups of hands playing instruments. Amanda had four variations in her costumes and I loved how she was just basically striping off her clothes as the show went on to reveal different looks. The piece that she put on, rather than take off, was the custom made jacket by Kambriel for the Bottomfeeder crowd surf. It had an amazingly long train made out of three different colors of chiffon. Just look at how it's like a giant bubble skirt flowing behind her on the sea of people. Brilliant.

So, as you've heard me say already a hundred times: go SEE the show and GET the record. You can pay what you want for it, nothing if you are broke, or up to $20 if you want to support the effort. It's amazing, inspiring stuff. What Amanda Palmer is doing to the business of music is nothing short of revolutionary. She's changing the game, right in front of our eyes. It's upsetting to some and thrilling for others. This week she was at opposite ends of the spectrum, pissing off professional musicians and thier unions everywhere by asking for volunteers to play her shows and at the same time, crashing into the Billboard 200 music chart yesterday at NUMBER TEN. (Ukuleles rained down on the world when that happened and today Amanda and team have decided to pay all musicians on tour with them by pulling money from video budgets. I applaud her for this, it's the right thing to do.) I don't think there has ever been, in the history of music, a crowd funded, independent record in the top ten. It's really remarkable. She's a perfect example of doing it yourself, without corporate sponsorship, thinking on your feet and adapting to a changing landscape. You can stay in control of your music/art career, produce material on your own, and be successful doing it. It CAN be done. It's not easy of course, you have to build an audience authentically and organically and create something that people actually want, but it CAN be done. What's really exciting is that this model is true for pretty much any artist, be it musician, writer, painter, illustrator, inventor, etc. Creative people need to pay attention to what she is doing, what she is saying and what she believes in because it really can be the future of everything. WE ARE THE MEDIA. You and me.

Check out the rest of the photos on FLICKR!

Amanda Palmer's Epic "Bottomfeeder" Crowd Surf by Leslie

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During the New York City show at Webster Hall for Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra, there was a moment that simply took my breath away. During the song Bottomfeeder, Amanda gracefully entered into the most beautiful crowd surf in the history of music. She was wearing an epic chiffon train, created by her long time costume designer Kambriel, that stretched out behind her and covered dozens of people, rippling over everyone like water. It was so poetic and the act of literally being supported by her fans was not lost on anyone.

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Quote from Kambriel:

"I’d venture to say her entrance into the crowdsurf was quite possibly the most elegant ever. Floating upon waves of outstretched hands. This amazing moment lasted the entirety of the song, and sent Amanda all the way from the stage to the very back of the venue, around, and up to the stage once more… It was magic."

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I was lucky enough to be up in the balcony and to capture this amazing moment from high above. It would have been incredible to be on the floor and under the train as well, but I'm so glad, from a photography point of view, to have witnessed this from where I did. What a sight.

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Here's a video of the moment as well, taken from the floor. And another one from DC the night after.

I've got a ton more photos from the show, but this moment deserved it's own post. Seriously, if you have a chance to see her show, you don't want to miss this one. It's full of beauty, power, emotion and inspiration.

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Were you there in New York? Have you seen her in another city? What did you think?

Also, if you are interested, check out my post about the Kickstarter show at Momenta Gallery in NYC.

Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra at Momenta Gallery in NYC by Leslie

Amanda Palmer and her new band The Grand Theft Orchestra have an album coming out in September called Theatre is Evil. She made music history by raising 1.2 million dollars on Kickstarter to fund the production, promotion and tour for the record. Chris and I bought the Kickstarter package that included a NYC gallery opening of the art work inspired by music from the record, as well as a special acoustic performance in the art gallery. It was an epic night.

I'm going to let the pictures mostly speak for themselves for the moment (I've got a post brewing about why I think Amanda Palmer is so relevant and important) but I will say just a few things.

  • Almost the first thing I noticed when we got to Momenta Gallery was Amanda. She was heading outside to take pictures and she swept by us in bare feet. For the rest of the evening she was completely present and available to everyone who wanted a minute with her, not hiding in the back room until it was time to go on stage. It was awesome.
  • The second thing I noticed was that the A/C in the gallery was broken. Sweat was literally rolling down my back but the oppressive heat was like another character in the performance. It made things sticky and uncomfortable and it added a rawness that might have otherwise been missing. That was kind of awesome too.
  • The third thing was that Amanda pours her heart and soul into her performances and I was left wondering how she can take in so much energy from her friends and fans and send it back out again. It's like she is an emotional conduit for everyone and that connection is one of the things that endears her to fans and makes her so special. Again, awesome.
  • The last thing was that her bandmates; Jherek Bischoff, Michael McQuilken and Chad Raines are incredibly talent musicians who are bright enough lights to stand next to Amanda and not get lost. It was amazing to witness their synchronicity with each other and I'm pretty sure they could make music with practically anything. Awesome, Awesome and Awesome.

Well done Grand Theft Orchestra and a huge Thank-you to Amanda for an amazing night I won't EVER forget. (Scroll down to the bottom of the post for a link to the entire set of pictures.)

Were you there at Momenta with us? Did you see this performance in another city? What were your thoughts or favorite moments? Personally, I loved the performance of Trout Heart Replica, with the beet cutting and also the performance and artwork for The Bed Song. The ritual of laying out the bed sheets was amazing and Kyle Cassidy's B&W photographs of people laying in bed were so touching, intimate and of course sad.

Finally, if you want to see it all, including MORE NAKEDNESS, check out the complete set of photos on Flickr.

Photo Walk Fridays: Meatpacking District, NYC by Leslie

This week's Photo Walk Friday is super special! Months ago, I asked if anyone wanted to join me for a photo walk in the city. Sandra from Raincoast Cottage, in Vancouver, emailed to tell me she was planning a trip to New York and would love to meet up. Over the next few weeks we emailed back and forth trying to figure out when and where we would go. We finally settled on the Meatpacking District of NYC, just south of Chelsea.

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Advice to Myself: Stay Curious, Keep Learning by Leslie

This bit of advice might be one of the most important that I tell myself. Without curiosity and learning there is no growth or forward motion. Children are exceedingly curious, it is one their defining traits. They are always asking why and how because so much is unknown to them. At some point though, some of us cross a threshold and stop asking those questions. I hope that I never do. I sometimes say that going to school taught me how to learn, how to study things and build on my knowledge. My college education fueled the ten years that I worked in NYC. When I got pregnant I began the learning cycle again with every book and class I could get my hands on about pregnancy and parenting. Now, I am entering into a another new period of learning, taking online courses and attending conferences to learn about social media and developing a creative career in this new era. Today I am starting the 5 week ecourse Get Your Paint On and I'll be attending the Mom 2.0 Summit at the beginning of May. I love this kind of learning, it's at your own pace and flexible enough that I can do it as a parent. My go-to place for learning has always been books, but taking courses online or in person at conferences has accelerated things dramatically and really improved the network of people around me who are doing the same thing. In addition to art, design and social media, I also love to learn about history, science, literature and pop culture.

As I mentioned before, for me this series is an act of learning in itself. As I draw these letter forms I learn about the subtle differences in each letter and font, I look up the history and learn about the people involved. I could easily use the computer to typeset these graphics in a few minutes, but I love the process of drawing them by hand; pencil sketching each letter, outlining with a Micron pen, filling them in with a black marker. It's very satisfying to make something with your own hands and it's an important first step for me to make if I am going to be doing more hand lettering. I also discovered a new hand letterer this week, Sean McCabe, and I love his work. He's also got a section called learn, in which I was happy to discover his hand lettering process is similar to mine and he's also rocking the Micron pens, which I love and first learned about from Danny Gregory.

How do you stay curious and keep learning? What do you like to learn about?

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This week I hand drew the text based on Helvetica. In the interest of learning more, over the weekend I watched a documentary called Helvetica and I wanted to base this week's illustration on this workhorse of modern design. The documentary was filled with renowned graphic designers, critics and type designers (Massimo VignelliRick Poyner, Michael Bierut, Matthew Carter, Wim CrouwelTobias Frere-Jones, Jonathon Hoefler, Hermann Zapf, Erik Spiekermann, Neville Brody, Paula Scher, Stefan Sagmeister, David Carson) giving their opinion about this ubiquitous font. There are two sides to the argument, one is that type should be neutral and not get in the way of the content, the other is that type can and should have a voice and contribute to the message. Words used to describe Helvetica in the movie were all over the map: neutral, modern, idealistic, precise, boring, perfect, urban, everywhere, corporate, socialist, hated, loved, beautiful, easy, thick around the middle. It seems everyone has an opinion about it, depending on their experience, taste and goals for their design. Whatever the opinions of designers though, the truth is that it has been the most used font for the last 50 years on everything from corporate logos to subway signage to garbage trucks. It is an integral part of life in the city and our experience of modern design.

The photograph was taken of the Unisphere at Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in Queens, New York. The park was the site of both the 1939 New York World's Fair and the 1964 New York World's Fair and the Unisphere was built as the main symbol of the 1964 Fair. It was also built on the original site of the 1939 Perisphere. I was lucky enough to attend the 1986 Expo in Vancouver, Canada when I was 11 years old. It was the greatest vacation my family ever took. Talk about learning. Now I have an itch to go to another one, based on the list, I'll have to wait at least 3 years. Don't think I'll be going to the one in South Korea this year, but maybe to Expo 2015 in Milan? I love the Milan EXPO logo, I am so into CMYK colors right now. I'd like to point out that there hasn't been an Expo in North America since the one I went to in 1986. What's up guys? Edmonton, Alberta in Canada had a pretty strong big going for 2017, but it didn't receive the federal funding that it needed. Can we bring it to North America soon? I'd love to take the kids. Camera Equipment: Canon PowerShot SD600 way back in 2008! 

Photo Walk Fridays: Nolita, NYC by Leslie

Nolita, New York City

To the east of Soho, where it's less crowded, is one of my favorite spots in New York City. Nolita (North of Little Italy) is contained within Houston Street on the north, Broome Street on the south, Lafayette Street on the west and the Bowery on the east. Compared to Soho there are smaller, independent shops and a quainter, neighborhood vibe.

My husband and I met my friend Amber on Sunday after our Camp Mighty Reunion, for brunch at Café Gitane and then we walked around Nolita taking pictures. I took pictures of the urban landscape and Amber took pictures of me. I LOVE her shots of me and I put the three pictures that I was taking below in the same order as her shots.

First though, shots from Café Gitane. Baked eggs are one of my favorite things lately, you might remember I also had them during my Valentine's Day photo walk (that was pre-photo walk Fridays.) We also had yummy avocado on toast and the mint tea was amazing and came in a little glass instead of a tea cup.  Check out all the places that we visited in Nolita at the bottom of the post.

The next three images are the shots that I captured while Amber took pictures of me, in the same order as her shots:

I love shooting the street! I find so many great juxtapositions and contrasts, between colors, textures and the things that people leave behind. I love graffiti, street art and when paper and posters are peeled, ripped and overlapping. The layers upon layers are just so beautiful. It's similar to the beauty I see in an abandoned building. Also, have a look at the two bicycle pictures above and below. It's the SAME bike. I saw it in two different places within 30 minutes of each other. I'd love to know the story behind that bike. (Check out the third picture on this page, is that the same bike?)

Places We Visited:

Café Gitane: A trendy, small, French cafe on Mott Street at Prince. There have been a number of movies filmed there and there is a new location on the west side in the Jane Hotel. I loved the baked eggs, avacado toast and mint tea.

Germania Bank Building: Most of the graffiti that I photographed was on the old Germania Bank building. I was sure that this building was abandoned, but it is in fact owned and lived in by the photographer Jay Maisel. The whole building is his house. Talk about epic! I was not all that familiar with his work, though his name did sound familiar. He hosts workshops at his home/building and for $5000 you can live with him there for 5 days and immerse yourself in his world. Incredible.

Armor Lux: This tiny, beautiful shop on Mulberry is where that adorable dog hangs out. His name is Chainsaw. Chainsaw! Isn't that an awesome name? The shop owner, Rachael, was the sweetest person ever. Her shop is the first one in the US outside of France. We bought a Wool and the Gang Foxy Roxy scarf knitting kit as a gift for Chris's Mom's birthday. She loved it. I will be sure to go back and visit the next time I am in Nolita.

McNally Jackson Bookstore: We love book stores and McNally Jackson is one of the best. I spent a good amount of time browsing the magazines and listening to two hipsters discuss art. It was funny and painful at the same time. They have a cafe, a great kids section and they specialize in everything good.

Have you been to Nolita? What are your favorite places to visit? Thanks for joining me again for a Photo Walk! See you next Friday.

Camp Mighty Reunion in NYC by Leslie

A bunch of my Camp Mighty compatriots and I got together in Brooklyn over the weekend for a little reunion. We were strangely color coordinated, and Amber and I ended up accidentally wearing the identical dress. Identical! What the what? Of all the dresses in the world, we choose the same one. It was perfect. The rest of the beautiful people had on shades of blue and grey and both Margit's husband and mine were wearing handsome tweed-ish jackets. There were 2 Robs, 2 Chris', 2 Marks and it was just all so weirdly MATCHY. I like that kind of thing. It's so lovely when things line up and seem to follow some mysterious logic. It's as if the universe all makes sense for a moment.

Jen and Chris were wonderful to host the get together and had a whole spread of food and drinks to keep us content. They have a wonderful apartment in Brooklyn with a giant balcony that is almost unheard of in NYC. Erica had flown in from Canada with her boyfriend Rob to work on an item on her life list: to see every NHL team play, which they did the next day when they saw the Bruins and Rangers play at Madison Square Garden. It was also their first trip to NYC! We gifted Amber with a new book and a promise to read it with her and chat about it over the internet, to fulfill her life list item of being in a book club. Which fulfills an item on MY life list, which is to help 5 people with an item on their life list. I love how these thing pile up into a big heap of awesome. Rebecca and Robbie had also flown in, from Milwaukee, to come to the party and visit the city. It was quite a gathering of fantastic people.

Surprising Amber with a book club:

Life List progress report for our little group since last November:

Amber: Commissioned a piece of art, made a Baked Alaska with Jen and joined (was forced into?) a book club.

Anna: Training for a triathlon in March, taking swim lessons so she can learn how to swim laps and planning a super fabulous stress free wedding.

Chris: Gave his mother-in-law a big sack of Xmas presents and booked tickets for a trip to Japan.

Erica: Completed NaBloPoMo in November and saw the Bruins and the Rangers play hockey at Madison Square Garden bringing the total number of NHL teams she has seen live to 8 out of 30.

Jen: Got bangs and started working with a fabulous artist/illustrator to redesign her blog.

Jill: Taught herself to knit, started decorating her bedroom with a professional interior designer, began working with a design studio on a blog redesign and has submitted articles for print publication.

Leslie (that's me!): Had family portraits taken, volunteered 20 hours at her son's elementary school, attended ALT Summit, wrote a Photo 101 article and got feedback, started folding origami creatures and booked tickets for a spa day with her sister Jill.

Margit: Travelled to Asia, rode an elephant in Thailand and bought a comfortable couch.

Rebecca: Built bookshelves with her Dad and photographed the Yucca brevifolia of Joshua Tree National Park.

Robbie: Solved Rubik's cube, ran a 5K and planted a tree.

We've been so busy! It's amazing what you can do if you set intentions and goals, write them down, share them and ask for help. These simple principles of Camp Mighty are so empowering.

Below is an outtake from the group picture, which is way more accurate of how the night was going versus the perfectly posed picture at the top of the post. We had so much fun! Check out a few more pictures from Rebecca

I have a bunch of other posts about Camp Mighty, so be sure to check those out too if you want to get in on the action and play along. Just click on the "Camp Mighty" tag at the bottom of the post. Have you written your life list yet (here's mine) and started achieving your (big and small) dreams? It's never too late.