Zinnias Dark and Lovely

Often I emerge from my office about 4 and can’t resist pointing a camera at a bouquet from the garden caught in “perfect” light streaming through a living room window.    Snap, snap, click, click, and in minutes friends around the world are admiring them in e-mails and on Facebook. These zinnias, grown from seed because sprouted ones never do well, were lighting up the room August 10 of this year. No flash, just available light, and if you’re wondering, yes I did some simple manipulation using a “brush” filter.   

Zinnias Dark and Lovely

Beauty is not caused. It is.

“Beauty is not caused. It is.” So said Emily Dickinson several generations ago, and it’s still true. Last May, I asked Hannah Plotka to pose for portraits for use in an ad I was putting together for the playbill for Hudson Theatre Ensemble’s “Rapunzel.” In HTE’s 2007 production of “The Miracle Worker,” Hannah played one of the children at the school for the blind in Boston that Annie Sullivan leaves when she is called to be Helen Keller’s teacher in Alabama. Hannah’s father David has played feature roles at HTE, and Hannah volunteers there, so Hannah was the perfect portrait subject.

My greatest fear going in was that she might feel exploited; after all, who needs to hold still for a portrait when you don’t need one for school and you’re not looking to work as a professional model or actress anytime soon. Determined not to pressure Hannah to be anyone but herself, I was happy to meet her mother and learn she was of the same mind. Hannah would not be getting a Jon Benet Ramsey makeover for the shoot. Fancy sunglasses and bracelets, fine and fun. Makeup, not much. No costumes. Hannah wanted to be photographed wearing her grandmother’s pendant. Years from now when she perhaps has grandchildren of her own, Hannah will be able to show them how beautiful she was the spring when she was no longer a little girl but not quite yet a teenager.

Hanna Plotka 8x10


Hannah Plotka shawl


Hannah Plotka BW ad


Hannah Plotka MW scene

Yesterday, When the World Was Young

Some people don’t like old pictures of themselves, but I enjoy looking back. This was snapped with an Instamatic outside the Conservatory in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco in 1975. I remember it like it was yesterday. This is a pleasure of age that the young can’t quite comprehend.


John Crittenden 1975

Gregory Nye is fun, and serious


Gregory Nye has appeared in several recent Hudson Theatre Ensemble productions, playing various princes and kings for the kiddies, the hero’s best friend in Larry Shue’s comedy-drama “The Foreigner” and, most recently, a robotic actor playing both a TV soap opera doctor and a farmer in Alan Ayckbourn’s “Comic Potential.”  Greg’s ready for paying work on stage and in television, movies and commercials — whoever hires him will be extremely pleased. He can do it all.  





Gregory Nye King Rumplestiltskin

Up on the roof, down under the fish

An artist friend just yesterday noted that the Huffington Post has done a “green” story http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/08/five-fabulous-green-roofs_n_268638.html on building roofs that are planted with all sorts of grasses and gardens. Rockefeller Center here in New York has one that’s pretty traditional — a formally structured set of garden rooms high in the sky. Also mentioned in the article is my favorite, the top of the new California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Open since October 2008, this extraordinary complex is the natural history museum for our time and replaces the old aquarium in Golden Gate Park, sited just across from the beautiful new DeYoung Museum. When I visited on a weekday in late January, it was packed, still very much a hot ticket for locals as well as tourists.




California Academy of Sciences 1

California Academy of Sciences 2

California Academy of Sciences 3

California Academy of Sciences 4

California Academy of Sciences 5

California Academy of Sciences 6

California Academy of Sciences 7

California Academy of Sciences 8

California Academy of Sciences 9

Two faces of Yoko Ono

There’s the dolled up one, presented here http://www.newsweek.com/id/214124 by Newsweek in late August. Then there’s the face I saw when she came to New Jersey City University one Sunday afternoon last fall to open her Imagine Peace show in a couple of the school’s galleries. She drew every celeb-watcher in Jersey, and their cameras. The show itself was beautifully presented, full of photos of Yoko and John playing in the spotlight of the world’s attention 40 years ago and asking for peace in much the same way artists of all kinds could and should be doing right now. Viewers were invited in one gallery to take an “Imagine Peace” stamp, get some ink on it, and stamp the words on any of several maps. I put “Imagine Peace” on Australia, where I’ve got a friend who went home recently after 40-plus years in America. As one might expect with her years of experience, Yoko is expert at moving through a crowd, even as the shortest person in the room. At 75 or so, she’s forever young.

Yoko Ono




Bed Peace

Yoko Ono Stamping


Shows may come and go, Diana stays

I recently dropped in at the National Academy Museum, on Fifth Avenue at 89th Street, to view “Reconfiguring The Body in American Art 1820-2009.” On view until Nov. 15, it features 160 works grouped by themes and concerns. Self-portraits, portraits, sculptures, etc. I got lots of ideas of things to do with photography from some of the most recent works. Anyway, it’s against the rules to photograph anything in the galleries, but the statue of Diana that graces the rotunda is fair game. I forget who sculpted her, but another casting is in some mansion somewhere being enjoyed by the people who own it. I couldn’t resist. So along with a recommendation that you can see lots of shows elsewhere that don’t equal the one currently up these stairs, you get a peek at Diana.

Diana National Academy 600





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