Monday, November 27, 2006


It figures that the time when the most is actually happening, oodles of slippery tales of trespassing, transvestites, scalawags and amazing lighting equipment, all running freshly through my head... I have the least time to actually write about them.

I write today in the wake of Thanksgiving and my show coming unhung... and my more faithful readers are probably fading off into the distance. While things are fairly stable on the whole, photography as 'business' to me is in flux and lots of things are shaking loose, for better or worse. I felt a little twinge of the sadness as I whisked all my photos from the windows on Butler Avenue. There was some rigamarole the night before where the next artist was amongst the missing and I was told I'd be up for another two weeks, until after Thanksgiving. Then the early morning call came and I was racing around, sweating, cursing, and nearly catching on fire thanks to my now deceased hairdryer. I sold another piece last week, from the show, it was one of the two most expensive, so I officially broke even on all costs for the show. I maybe made like $20. Heh.

After we were done packing my car with my show, the one curator said he wanted to select some pieces to be printed so he could frame them and hang them in his frame shop. Apparently Ambler Theater is still running my ad. Last week, I visited a restaurant that wanted to show some of my work, so I now have 6 pieces hanging at the Funky Lil Kitchen. They serve delightfully inventive food, the menu is never the same twice. I can be quoted as having told the chef/owner "My mouth is excited." They will be up until the show Dustin and I are having together opens at Mugshots in February. This is the announcement piece we put 'together':

joints © Laura Kicey & Dustin Fenstermacher

We are curating the show like an exquisite corps in a way. I select a photo of mine, he follows it with a photo of his that has a common thread, it could be color, location, idea, compositional device, whatever, so long as it shares something with the photo prior and at the same time, leads us away from monotony. Since we are frequently shooting at the same places at the same times, often side by side literally, we decided to capitalize on how our visions are distinctive and harmonious.

Also available for your reading pleasure is 10 Things About Helveticaneue on Utata, a very recent interview with Brittney Bush. Smithmag has asked to show some of my self portraits along with an accompanying interview (which I think will have fairly redundant content, alas). I'll post up a link when it goes live.

This long (too short) Thanksgiving weekend was nothing short of astounding. While the turkey and stuffing was right on par, all other excursions proved mind-bending. Dustin is flexing his studio lighting muscles and I got to lend a hand as photo assistant. Post holiday engorgement, we set up at his grandmother's amazing house for a portrait session.

jingle © Laura Kicey

He managed to persuade her to sit for him in her pink-metallic-flamingo-print wallpapered bathroom. For our Black Friday pleasure, we set off for what has become our traditional Thanksgiving destination, nearby Centralia.

brew © Laura Kicey

Dustin brought me to an abandoned trailer he had previously explored, but I had yet to enter. Apparently it belonged to Pastor Edward Chapman and his wife Marguerite. We found a photo of him and a number of correspondences between he, his wife and friends of their's. They kept a huge amount of newspaper and magazines (in relation to the size of the tiny trailer), spanning years 1999-2001. The latest calendar on the wall showed November 2001.

wardrobe © Laura Kicey

The kitchen was filled with bloated canned foods and cleaning supplies. The floors of the entire trailer were carpeted with books, letters, postcards, clothes and papers. This was another strange contrast to other abandoned homes I'd been in. The other house in Centralia had been carefully emptied of all its contents. The Rementer House had been left basically in the state Mr. Rementer left it when he died. Here, they had left things of possible sentimental value, but in a whirlwind state. Residents of Centralia were offered large sums of money by the goverment to purchase their properties. Many relocated to the nearby town of Mount Carmel. This couple's abrupt-looking departure seems different and so much less methodical, which makes it all the more unsettling.

We continued on our way back home stopping at the epicenter for outdoors equipment shopping, Cabela's. It was staggering in size, content and clientele. Taxidermy everyhwere, fish to big game, waterfowl to trophy heads. Men casually shopping with their families, decked out in head-to-toe camouflage, children toting toy guns.

fishing line
fishing line © Laura Kicey

We walked around with our jaws dragging on the floor. Later filling the hatch with wild boar and smoked ostrich sandwiches. It was kind of like going to an amusement park of natural history museum in this twisted backwards way.

migration © Laura Kicey

Saturday I dropped off a piece at the Muse Gallery that apparently will be in a Small Works show opening this Friday night, 60 N. 2nd Street (between Market and Arch Streets). I have never been in a non-juried show and I am still confused how I pay $20 and suddenly I am being shown in a gallery. Alas I cannot come to the opening. But will check it out in the coming weeks. If I don't check it out I won't believe it is there.

A trek to Jim Thorpe yesterday proved to be my closest-ever legal call in terms of trespassing. Big oops. We took one pass by the Lehigh Valley Railway warehouse on our way into Jim Thorpe, saw someone there and decided to catch it on the way back. Jim Thorpe was slightly more underwhelming that I recalled, having camped there three years ago, B.C. (before camera). After a brisk walk through the town and its shops, a spot of lunch Mr. D and I decided we were up for some trespassing, instead of this nambypamby hippie open-door crap.

So we returned to the warehouse to find twice as many cars outside. We decided we would just go for it anyway. Crossing the railroad that was marked Private Rail, No Tresspassing. We pulled up next to this guy who was erecting up this enormous old camera complete with glass plate (at least 8x10) large bellows and a drape that he eventually pulled over his head while focusing. We said our hellos and I went into the nearest building. Moments later another truck pulls up.

where the twain meet
where the twain meet © Laura Kicey

The guy who gets out calls us out of the building. From the patch on his shoulder he is a park ranger. He informs us we are trespassing, the buildings are dangerous, we can run but he won't chase us. We all just stand there and say nothing. He starts rambling on about the history of the buildings, how they used to repair train cars there, liability, squatters and graffiti, and how they are scheduled to be torn down, replaced with businesses or somesuch, and then the guy with the giant bellows camera asks if maybe we could stay and just shoot outside (since we are all obviously harmless camera nerds).

over the years
over the years © Laura Kicey

Mr. Ranger says he'll check with his boss and disappears into his truck. We stand in silence until he returns. He said his boss doesn't mind if we stay, we must be careful as they are old unstable buildings, etc, liabilty issues. But he is going to have to write us all tickets for trespassing.

Hahaha! Just Kidding! he says.

Still, we continue to say nothing and stare. He told us he wouldn't bother us anymore, but if a state trooper came around we would be in trouble for sure... as he leaves, we thank him profusely and we all immediately disperse into and around the warehouse and outbuildings. Being distinctly uncareful. Those buildings were solid, especially if they were meant to hold railcars... nary a brick had fallen from the vaulted ceilings.


As I am ridiculously backlogged on what I've been up to, I may have to come back and write up my visit to the Kulpsville Flea & Antiques Market and the Norristown Farm Park and State Mental Hospital. Or maybe I'll lazily post up a photo or 8 and just say it was cold and dismal and we didn't trespass but I may have been exposed to PCBs but I'll likely not die for a bit. And the flea market was in an old school that had an inexplicably still-filled swimming pool and lots of school furniture mingling with the items for sale. In the classrooms and offices.

Tomorrow I will be returning for an early morning shoot to Rementer House, with my boss. Wasn't the idea to skip out of work to go shoot, not pull me out of bed hours earlier than usual so I can't function at work at all? Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz......

the sitting room
the sitting room © Laura Kicey

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Blogger H. Cardoso said...

Oh, so great to find your blog! Greetings from a fellow Flickrer who goes by the name of Gurugo... ;)

8:24 AM, December 03, 2006  

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