Kaleidoscope Central: Jerome, AZ

I recently traveled to Jerome, Arizona (AKA “the largest ghost town in America”) and had a chance to visit one of my favorite shops. Nellie Bly is an incredible store dedicated specifically to kaleidoscopes. These are not just your average, run-of-the-mill kaleidoscopes, but out-of-this-world, amazing, magical kaleidoscopes.  Some incorporate massive crystal rock structures embellished with copper and brass. Others are made of stained glass panels embedded with glass beads (the rotating element) which makes vibrant and colorful glass patterns when it is spun around. All are whimsically constructed by extremely talented (and highly collectible) kaleidoscope artists. I don’t think there are any two alike in the whole store.

I have two small kaleidoscopes from Nellie Bly, but would love to own more. I especially want to have the giant kaleidoscope seen at the store’s front door. Botanica is a large sculptural work with a planter basket that is ideal for an outdoor garden. You can fill the planter with virtually anything: flowers, cactus, glass globes, stones…well, really just anything you can think of–even lace and yarn skeins.  The removable mirrored scope mechanism focuses on the planter’s contents. The planter bowl itself rotates 360 degrees which makes the patterns and designs change. The scope, though stationary in one place on a circular arm, rotates, too.  Botanica is pricey, but one of these days I will definitely have to take the plunge.

Here are a few photos I took at Nellie Bly by placing my trusty little P & S camera lens up against the viewing glass of a rather large kaleidoscope.

Kaleidoscope 2 by Janet Towbin

Kaleidoscope 1 by Janet Towbin

Kaleidoscope 3 by Janet Towbin

Kaleidoscope 4 by Janet Towbin

All images copyright by Janet Towbin, 2014.

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Chalk Wall Wabi Sabi

Another Tuesday spent in the print studio at Mesa and I was able to see (and capture) a few more wonderful chalk abstractions. They appear on a cement wall in the courtyard outside the print studio just for me (I am not kidding–I doubt anyone else notices them!)  Last week’s rain created some interesting nuances; there were drips and smudges in the chalk which, to my mind, made them even more interesting.  To me these wall drawings exemplify the Japanese aesthetic of wabi wabi as they embrace the qualities of impermanence, transience and imperfection.

According to Richard A. Powell, wabi sabi acknowledges “three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.” I love that concept and can easily apply it to life, art and beauty.

I also like this quote from Leonard Koren’s book Wabi Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers, Stone Bridge Press (a book I highly recommend) about how one can achieve wabi sabi in their work: “Pare down to the essence but don’t remove the poetry.” 

I keep wishing I could paint or draw something to resemble these chalk drawings. But I guess I will have to settle for capturing their transient beauty with my digital camera.

ChalkStract by Janet TowbinChalkStract 1, 2014; Digital photography

ChalkStract 2 by Janet TowbinChalkStract 2, 2014; Digital photography

ChalkStract 3  by Janet TowbinChalkStract 3, 2014; Digital photography

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What Happens When…?

What happens when you combine and layer two unrelated images in Photoshop? Magic!

Pansy Pool Mandala by Janet TowbinPansyPool Mandala; 2014; Digitally manipulated photography; size variable.

Below are the two images I merged together. The final creation (above) is so much better than the two images in their original form.  Talk about synergy!

Pansy Mandala Inverted by Janet TowbinPansy Mandala (Inverted); 2014; Digitally manipulated photograph; sizes variable.

Pool Mirror by Janet TowbinMirrored Pool; 2014; Digitally manipulated photograph; sizes variable.

I wonder what will happen if I merge the pool water image with an agave? Or, maybe a…????

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I Heart Hearts: A Photo Essay

Here are a dozen photos of hearts I’ve taken over the past few years. They are being sent to you along with my wishes for a lovely Valentine’s Day.

A Heart Full of Goodness by Janet TowbinA Heart Filled with Goodness; 2012

Love in the Abstract by Janet TowbinLove in the Abstract; 2013

Dear to My  Heart by Janet TowbinDear to My Heart; 2013

I Heart You by Janet TowbinI Heart You; 2006

Lots of Love Locks by Janet TowbinLove Locks; 2013

Heart Milagro by Janet TowbinHeart Milagro, 2011

Love Is In the Air by Janet TowbinLove Is In the Air; 2009

My Newest Love by Janet TowbinMy Newest Love; 2012

Paper Hearts by Janet TowbinPaper Hearts; 2009

Shadows from the Heart by Janet TowbinShadows from the Heart; 2013

City Hearts by Janet TowbinCity Hearts; 2005

I Heart Banksy by Janet TowbinI Heart Banksy; 2012

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