Tuesday, February 26, 2008

infectious groove

Just when things seem like they can't get any worse, when really, cut me a little break, they could go ok for a few consecutive minutes, right, please? They get worse. And this time, they developed into the Mighty Trifecta of Disappointments.

Where did it all begin? I've been working on it really hard all week, but its been in development for years. The pieces of this I am not too embarrassed to speak of... Firstly, Fear: I found another lump-like area, next-door neighbors with the unholy disaster that is my bodily downstairs trouble zone. And it hurts. I gave it a few days during which it decided to hurt more. Saw the Butcher today. And it was as I feared, a new infection. More antiobiotics, and tomorrow, another MRI and going back to the Butcher on Monday. This means again having to push up that Fix Date probably months more. He also said he might take me to the OR to put a new drain in that wouldn't randomly slice me. A fluffy rubber one. As in another trip to the hospital more before getting fixed. Remind me, if you would be so kind, how close were we to Better?

Not close enough.

ingress © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

The second thing that happened we will just refer to as Rejection and not get into that any further. Oh it was fun, trust me. But it did have a sliver of silver lining after all was said and done.

box shaped heart
box shaped heart © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

And yesterday, came Loss. Back in November, I had planned to meet with the gallery director where I was to have my show in April, but had to cancel as I ended up at the hospital that day and got some bad news that put my mind elsewhere. Then my health, relationship and life in general started to slowly fall apart. And I neglected to make another appointment. So sometime back in December my slot was given away. And yesterday, I gave a shout out to the gallery only to find many months too late, I had forfeited my spot. It was the one thing I was looking forward to, despite the lack of funding and qualms I still had about presentation. There is a sliver of a sliver of a chance I could get a summer session show but I have to work up the nerve to actually face the director now that she thinks I am a deplorable slacker. I think this means the constructs are looking for a new venue. Possibly NYC.

Into this already fairly unpalatable mix let me toss the odd element. I was asked many months ago to judge a photography competition held by the Jewish Camera Club of Philadelphia. Last night was the magic night. Made my way into the bowels of the Jewish Community Center in Bustleton, with a woman from the club who first off noted I was the youngest judge they ever had... and asked if I was still in school? When we got to the meeting I realized I was the not just kinda young... but younger than anyone there by a solid 30-50 years. Everyone was pleasant despite the fact that most of them had just heard about the loss of one of the club members.

spectator © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

The president informed me that I would be giving a short critique to each of the entries from all three categories, color, black and white, and slides. The categories alone made me feel like a babe in the woods. But handing a critique out to people I have never met and who likely have grandchildren older than me... yeah. At the very least it took my mind off the Ugly Other Things for a couple of hours. There weren't a great deal of entries, and it was certainly an eclectic mix. There were a few pieces that when asked to give critique truly made me panic...sending me to... what on earth can I say about this? Which mostly just produced a long uhhhhhhh sound until something popped out.

the reformation
the reformation © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

I've not given critique on anything since college, and it was never my favorite thing to do. At risk of sounds like a pompous-ass, I'm not even much interested in hearing most critiques, unless it is someone I trust and respect creatively giving the critique and I am more interested in hearing about editing a body of work for a specific purpose, rather than my technical skills or ability to compose a shot.

After the category competition results were given out, I announced best in show: a color slide of a very abstract shot of a flamingo... it looked a lot like this shot. I have a soft spot for flamingos, I couldn't resist. (closeted nature photographer). And quite a few people, including the president came up to me and told me I was probably the best judge they'd ever had, and how they were so thankful to get a good critique for once. It was so unexpected and rather nice... especially as an outsider... and as some kid they pulled off the street whose work they had never even seen. Some of them even hit me up for design work. They want me to come back next year. Nutty.

I've rewritten this blog post three times in as many days. The onslaught of stuff this week was just too endless to simply sweep so much under the carpet and jaw on about my daytrip to NYC with some friends and seeing an amazing show and not being able to move the next day. But I did that too.

backwords © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Shanners, her fiancé Josh, her coworker Susan and I all met up in Conshohocken in the morning mist last Saturday to drive up to Trenton to catch a train to Manhattan. The city met us with flurries and gray skies. The MOMA gave us shelter briefly... I had to see the Helvetica "show" which I must admit was hugely underwhelming, though the Philip Johnson Design & Architecture Gallery on the whole was probably my favorite part of the whole museum. Helvetica stuffed into a corner! This should not be! Before we got much further, the collective blood sugar started to drop and we went to our lunch destination, Serendipity 3. Now whatever you've heard or thought about the place... wild desire to have a Frozen Hot Chocolate... etc. Just don't do it. We were ignored for 15 minutes. We all had burgers... which took an hour to come out. Which were tiny. And then dessert took quite some time to materialize as well. Its hugeness took some time to consume. By which time two hours had passed. And the only really entertaining thing going for the place was the chance seating next to a woman who had massive unfettered breasts... who ordered for lunch the biggest hot dog I had ever seen in my life. Larger than my forearm. Pornographic. And talked about Celine Dion and how great it was that the Chinese can accomplish so much more work because they don't worry about human rights violations.

ripple © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

After that display, I attempted to make a run for the more subtle land of Brooklyn to meet up with my long-time-no-see friend and phenomenal photographer, Bernie DeChant. Attempted as in directing me to his place, he took me 17 blocks out of my way... though I have to give him some credit, he had been barely sleeping for the past week in order to get his online store up and running to coincide with the printing of an interview in the NY Times and the final days of the show he had hanging in the Fall Cafe in Carroll Gardens.... he still can't read a map for shit.

water nymph
water nymph © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

We swapped framing and printing tales, checked said (beautiful) show and then our friend Ranjit and his tiny-faced puff Samson summoned us to Prospect Park for a subzero park stroll. Once Bernie lost all sensation in his feet, we parted way with Ranjit, puff and Brooklyn and headed to Union Square, racing against the clock to fit in a spot of dinner before we lost ourselves in Fuerzabruta.

release © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

In his still-fresh nyc-naïvetè, Bernie thought I was taking him to some Broadway Musical. Though I am not sure why he would come willingly under that assumption, I will not question that. We arrived in the theater in near darkness, as it was when I saw De La Guarda... completely seatless. I thought it best not to divulge the secrets of the show to him and just let him get wrapped up in it. The performance and audience share the same space and it is in constant flux throughout the hour-long show. There is no stage per se. There is a massive conveyor belt, exploding walls, people on bungee cords, stairways to nowhere, massive, metallic vertically-rotating sails from which people were suspended, a 30-foot high curtain drawn around the audience with dancers throwing themselves at the wall it created, a tiny pool suspended from the ceiling to which a man was bolted while a dancer wriggled inside it, and of course, a massive 45-foot clear-bottom pool suspended over the audience filled with water into which dancers threw themselves, as though it were a massive slip and slide... grazing the heads of taller members of the audience... while dance-y world-y techno-y music throbbed on. It was every bit as thrilling, gutsy, and erotic as I had expected it to be and then some. And I think Bernie's mind was blown a little. As it should be.

skindiver © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Made me miss nyc just a little, totally unexpected, bit. I can turn my back on that place, but I won't close my eyes to it entirely...

This weekend I'm going to do my best to a. not strain myself b. get out of the damn house c. avoid scheduling my disappointments back to back like I did this week. Fingers crossed that I 'pass' my MRI tomorrow. Nothing quite as much fun as sitting in the tiny deafening tube for your lunch hour. Oh and if you haven't already, go visit my etsy shop, sales are flagging and we can't have that!

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Thursday, February 21, 2008


Something about visiting the doctor always seems to bring me round to the blog, for better or worse... when I take off my pants the words just can't help but follow! The past few weeks have been hinging on this notion that today, finger, eyes, legs, and toes crossed, would be the last check up before surgery. I keep propping up my hope with toothpicks and bubblegum and inevitably, someone with an overzealous oral fixation turns up.

yearn © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

How many times have I heard, just 2-3 more weeks, then we'll see? Do I need to do the math? How many more times do I need to hear it? Well today, everything looked ever so much better. So good in fact, The Butcher said we might consider the tightening procedure again. Oh! Yeah, not so much. I said I've just gotten to a point in the pain spectrum where I feel almost normal again... or at least predictable, manageable discomfort. The offer to start sawing through my flesh with a wire over a period of weeks just seems like the most wrong thing to do.

cupboard bare
cupboard bare © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

For some reason today, maybe it was because of the lack of med students on hand (much to my relief, as there is nothing that makes you feel more like a monster than a smiley, happy, hot med student who then refuses to make eye contact with you after the examination), but The Butcher asked me how non-medical things were going, like.... life. Maybe it was because he caught a whiff of my hanging on by a (both literal and figurative) thread. I've manager really rather well the stuff upper lip with him over the visits. But then... surgeons don't ask those questions. And he did and this took me entirely off guard. My eyes started to sting. I could feel my skin start to heat. And I told him just a little. Things I haven't even written here in so many words. Things some of my better friends still don't even know. And instead of ignoring me, he said for the first time words I have really needed to hear from a doctor. He said people with this condition really tend to find themselves socially on hold, because of the nature of the malady, the uncertainty, the length of suffering, the care of it, the pain, the likelihood of recurrence... and its incredibly hard to deal with emotionally and move beyond a certain point with your life. But we're almost there. Really.

In the interest of not laying down in front of all this and letting it walk all over me, I keep making myself do stuff. It isn't a question of wanting or not wanting to see friends, its more a matter of being able suspend the reality and let myself enjoy things. I spent Friday submerging myself in my latest editorial assignment so that I might make good on my standing Artfag date night with Shanners.

In the interest of not exposing anything of the feature, I was sent to a most uncanny town to create a wall I never thought I would make. When asked by a friend if I 'got any good shots?', all I could say was I got some useful shots. The challenge was certainly unique and surprisingly fun. And blueberry pierogies certainly rounded out the creative spirit of the night. The next day, my friend Gwynn took me to another site I told her about, just a little way down the road from our last escapade.

There is something so vibrant about the experience of exploring an abandoned place. Standing on that precarious ledge where the peaceful quiet slowly unravels the story before your eyes and the fear that the ground will give out from under you or you are overtaken from behind by some other unseen presence.

rapunzel © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Its always seemed as though I attract rather unlikely circumstance. To the point sometimes that I think people think I exaggerate. Flowery language is one thing, but fiction, no. So let me unspin another one. We'd been at the house perhaps an hour. I had finally made my way upstairs. I was stood by a window towards the front of the house and I something caught my eye outside.

draft © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

My heart skips a beat every time I see other people when I see others while exploring, poising myself for a confrontation. I leaned out the window and watched them. Three kids, high school, maybe college age. Two guys and a very tall, very cute girl. We had pulled into incredibly wet muddy drive by an overpass. I called Gwynn over to watch. The threesome were doing their best to avoid said mud, and intermittently pulling out their cameras. I figured they wouldn't be a problem and decided she was probably a model and they were likely shooting her. The boys were scaling the hill of the overpass and collecting planks of foam and wood to make a walkway over the mud for her to cross. I, in my grace and poise, had just barreled on through. We were laughing over this makeshift coat-drop in the rain puddle and they were on the approach when it occurred to me that the girl looked like my boss' daughter. And then I realized, it was. And I called out to her, and she back to me.

surf © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

I suppose it might seem the norm to someone. But in my circles, you run into people you know at the supermarket, restaurants, galleries, on the street. Abandoned houses, not so much.

There was evidence of a squatter living there in 2003, who, according to Gwynn's reading, had been on work release from Eagleville. No recent signs, though. It will be a spectacular site for portraits, hopefully a forthcoming Sherbet Tone collabo-fashion shoot or something similar. The rest of the afternoon's shoot was spent, a quiet meditation on the details of lives once lived here.

chosen © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

The year of the rat upon us, Sunday landed myself and several of my fellow Flickrers in Chinatown for inhaling gunpowder and lion tail waggling. For as many times as I've seen it, the excitement of the constant drumming and cymbals and the sure circles weaving streets followed by explosions and and flood of red paper rain.

overlooked © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

We raided K.C's Pastries in an attempt to spend the extra $10 no one would seem to claim on our lunch bill. Pineapple red bean buns were an excellent way to end the day.

build © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

I'm one day away from a trip I've been looking forward to taking since December or so. My brute force and I will meet you on the other side.

stellaluna © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

(last night, out on the roof, alone in the snow, waiting for the moon to turn red as the earth hid it from the sun)

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Thursday, February 14, 2008


the open heart
the open heart © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Even on those few and far between February 14th's when I was actually seeing someone, I cannot seem to recall one that felt even mildly special. Not in my wildest dreams though, did I imagine that what started one year ago today with the sinking of a scalpel into my tenderest flesh would still be haunting me today. My body breaks, my heart follows, my heart starts to heal, surely... body you can bring up the rear, right? The end of February is filled to near capacity with work, assignments, engagements, travels and possibly some hope.

followers © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

This week is burgeoning... not with the hope so much as the work, billing, sales, assignments, and planning thereof. In the space of a few hours, I sealed the deal with Pantone for a year's use of my wall recognize, was featured on Etsy front page, had a sale on Etsy, and invoiced for Monday's shoot with the Onion Flats architects/developers for AIA as well as a newly commissioned wall for Lifestyle which I will be working on tomorrow. It is clearly time to buy the wide angle I have been wanting/needing.

plume © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Yes... so lots of opportunities and exposure and all the good stuff. But my heart feels barren. Will better marketing and creativity fix that? More sales? How about working harder? Friday-ArtFag-Pierogie-Lost-on-DVD-Nights with Shanners? Well her sofa is softer than mine so I can at least forget about how much my ass hurts for a few hours. Maybe it is just this week, flecked with love and pains that leaves me feeling under a tremendous weight. Perhaps this just feels more like New Year's Day than the day itself and after all the months of not knowing what was wrong with me, setting goals in my mind, over and over... by my birthday I'll be better... by Thanksgiving I'll be better... certainly by New Year's, I'll be better... certainly after a year.... nothing will have changed at all, except the things I seem to have lost in the meantime. Last April I was at a peak of frenzy professionally and finally gathered my strength to change things. How could I have known... it could never be enough.

I know why
I know why © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

This will pass, as it all eventually does. If you came here for tales of romance, I suspect someone ought to tell you, you are at the wrong blog.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

color theory and practice

I am full of color. I am bleeding fuschia and lavendar and orange!

recognize © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Word has just come in that PANTONE, as in the very face of color, has purchased one of my walls for usage in their advertising, direct mail and on the web. I don't know how long they want it for just yet. But THEY SAID YES. My mind is just blown. This weird little idea that crept in a back door as purely a labor of love, something I really wanted to make, is now making me money. This is so huge, its boggling. The exposure alone will be phenomenal. All those designers' and advertisting people's eyes. Whew.

Did I mention that I am friggin ecstatic?


pimento © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Also available for sneak peaks, the work I did for Lifestyle Magazine in November and December, which appeared in two of the January issues. I created a wall for a feature on corporate coffee in Philly. It features the façades of seven coffeeshops. And mini-me in a wig.

half and half
half and half © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

...and the results of the shoot with the artist Dane Tilghman with his artwork at Taylor's of Norristown.

strum © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

sax © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

virgin © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Plus I just-just heard that the photos I took of Ms. Sarah Beaver are going to be featured on a fashion-y blog somewhere... when I get a link I will patch that in.

This last weekend was full of firsts. First and foremost, a visit to The First State. Shanners and I rose early on Saturday to meet a fellow Flickrer, Nancy, aka Apricot X, at the Ches-Del Diner for breakfast. I have never really spent any time in Delaware and aside from tax-freeness, I don't know much about the state at all.

apricot nancy
apricot nancy © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

We started with a flea market in New Castle. The outdoor portion had a few temptations, and Nancy caved in and bought a peculiar box filled with phrases on colored cards that seemed like they might be part of a game, without directions. A sentimental bullfrog. A string of sausage. A piece of frozen mud. A snapshot. A red-headed woman. A block of cheese.

natural © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

We wandered about inside without realizing that this would be the greatest concentration of people we would encounter anywhere in the state that day. While rich in curiosities, Delaware is bereft of actual warm bodies. Of the people we did manage to meet that day, the most magnificent had to be the flamboyant Chinese wig dresser who allowed us full access to his shop with ample photographic opportunities and coaching on what makes a good wig. Not natural hair, by the by. Too heavy.

blades © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

The rest of the day was spent doing loop-backs along the length of Route 13, admiring the oddities we encountered at close range for the most part. A man jogging with an orange unicycle. A soggy, abandoned front yard flea market filled with amazing things. A Victrola museum.

entertainment center
entertainment center © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

All assortment of left-to-decay structures that no one gave a second thought to me entering and wandering around in, even right on the main road. I spent a goodly portion of the road trip in the berm, pulling over every 5 minutes to clamber out, leap over puddles and make my way to the best vantage point. And no one harassed me. Not one honk, cat call, or 'what do you think yer doin?'.

veer © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

And oh the birds. Like last year's New Year's trip down south, the birds amass here like no where else I have ever been. Though you can scarcely see it in the above image, this was moments before we realized we were witnessing a sun dog or parhelion. Which is rather like a rainbow that forms due to ice crystals, rather than moisture and gives an entirely otherworldly effect.

gram © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Delaware is a place of strange quiet out on the periphery of everything, a good place to clear the head.

pinafore © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday I was invited by my next portrait subjects to be a part of a tour to view their sustainable architectural work in Philadelphia. I will elaborate on the who's and where's once it is released, but it was incredibly invigorating to see not only such phenomenal talent in terms of just beautiful design, but such a commitment to finding a way to make real sustainability not just livable and possible, but realistically cost only as much as non-sustainable structures. I've thought of a way to honor their bond and aesthetic in the portraits I am doing of the group next week and I am really excited about the shoot.

negative space
negative space © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

The morning is wearing on and I have been sitting here writing, inventorying and making mostly effortless sales in my pajamas. I think it might just be a good day.

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