Finding Inspiration

February 18th, 2013 | Posted by Jill in a little brooklyn love | film - (3 Comments)

There is a tree outside the shuttle entrance at Franklin Avenue and Eastern Parkway, about a half mile from my house. Even though the whole parkway is lined in hundreds of trees, you really can’t miss this one. It’s propped up by a grossly outsized concrete pillar – easily ten feet high – as a kind of crude stake. I have no idea what its story is, but it’s mesmerizing to behold. I don’t think it’s physically possible for me to walk past it and not stop to gape. It’s so ridiculous.

Every time I walk by I wonder whose idea it was to install a concrete mold around this tree, bring in a concrete truck, strap it in with a steel belt, and call it a day. Surely there was a team of people assigned to the installation – it’s far too big for one arborist to accomplish alone. Were they from the Parks Department? A local neighborhood group? Maybe the MTA. It is right outside a subway station, after all. All the pastoral beauty of Eastern Parkway, the nearby Brooklyn Botanic Garden… and yet.

Welcome to the neverending Seinfeld monologue inside my head.

cyborg

I think I might know a thing or two about how this tree feels, at least if it believes in awkward literary devices. Lately I’ve felt restrained by the mountains of work that come across my desk every week. I’ve accomplished loads and loads in the last few months, but it’s been all work and no play. Most every day I’ve woken up thinking about deadlines and gone to sleep dreaming about emails I just couldn’t get to that day. All my other goals and creative hopes have been (temporarily) laid aside. This has to change. I need more.

At the beginning of this year, I put together some lofty New Year’s resolutions – or I should say ‘just lofty enough to be remotely achievable if I can stop binge-watching television.’ I’ve felt a little superstitious in sharing them, but let’s just say I’m very happy with progress so far. Insanely happy. Of course ‘taking more photographs’ is up there towards the top, but so are some long-postponed goals of collaboration and creation. Things are happening, and it feels so good.

But rewind a month and a half ago to the turn of the year. I was in a dark place, a serious downswing. It took a few weeks of being creatively miserable to realize that I had the power to change. Circumstances can’t always change, but my attitude sure can. And it needed to — FAST. So I dug into my bag of tricks for some pretty simple home remedies. When I’m feeling down and in a creative slump, these two things are simple and really help elevate me:

1) Spend time with people who creatively inspire you. TALK. Talk about your dreams and frustrations. Vent, if you have to (but not too much — no one likes a perennial whiner). Ask for advice. Like-minded creative people are your spirit animals. LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN. Ask them about their projects. Listen to them talk about their successes or failures. Communication puts everything in perspective. And then once you’ve done all that fancy communication: MAKE CRAZY PLANS TO COLLABORATE. It’s amazing what impact a little accountability has.

2) Get off your butt and DO something. This is the simplest, but it’s often the one I struggle with the most. (see above: binge-watching television shows) For me, GOING and DOING is usually most effective when it’s done within the framework of what I know best — my neighborhood. If I’m feeling particularly angsty, taking my camera for a walk around the neighborhood where everything is familiar is medicine. I force a new perspective, I see things in a completely different way. It’s restorative. Corollaries: Crown Heights is beautiful and wandering aimlessly is totally underrated.

These two tips never fail me. I may have to repeat them a few times – as my neighbors will attest to after seeing me wander around in the cold this weekend – but eventually I find my way back to center. And now with six weeks of 2013 behind me, I can really say it and mean it: HAPPY NEW YEAR! Good things are coming. I can’t wait to share.

old steelghosts of neon past
Rx

shuttle

welcome home

Around the House

November 17th, 2012 | Posted by Jill in home | instagram | limestone renovation - (2 Comments)


A few months back, I believe I may have declared war on the omnipresent list of projects in my life. “I have PLANS and I am STICKING TO THEM,” I said. Oh, Jill of five months ago. You are so precious. Look at you and your motivation. So young and naive.

In spite of my rosy-hued optimism back in June, let’s just say that at least I made an attempt. My blogs about the house and our ongoing renovation have been woefully lacking and much fewer and further between than I hoped, but at least I gave it the ol’ college try this summer. Back in May, I conspired with one of my best friends to come up with a list of things I’d like to get done on the house. Jen helped talk me through what I’d ideally like to have done first, so I could feel a big sense of accomplishment and maybe – just maybe – finish a project.

So, to start with something fairly quick for an easy win, we decided I should start by hanging up more of the mirrors and artwork that have basically been collecting dust sitting around the house for the last two years. We started with the big round CB2 mirror in the dining room above, which we had to anchor through plaster into 120 year-old brick. The blue version has since been discontinued, but they still have it in white. It’s awesome. And then, on a recent cleaning spree, a bunch of my lamps ended up moving around the house. I painted this vintage brass lamp green a few years back and I’m pretty sure the flying eagle belongs here. Easy. One project down.

Next up, artwork. Now, this project has had a little less success because I’m so indecisive. I know that furniture will ultimately move around and new art will join the family, so I’m a little hesitant to go drilling loads of big holes into our beautifully refinished plaster. Fortunately, I’ve had a ton of luck with the 3M Command hooks and strips. For whatever reason, the hooks seem to work better for my wooden frames and anything on which I’ve already installed picture hanging wire. For most of my smaller art and anything in a metal frame, the small and medium strips work. The big strips have worked well on my posters — all the way up to 18″x24″! I have kind of a silkscreen obsession, so the no-damage hanging is wonderful. I buy them in bulk on Amazon because they’re way less expensive than most stores I’ve seen them at here in NYC.

In order to tackle this project, for a few of my newer silkscreens I had to pick out frames first. I’ve had lots of friends and fellow photographers ask if I have any recommendations for custom frames, and YES. American Frame. I am in no way affiliated with them except as a supremely happy customer. Over the years I’ve ordered many, many frames from them (yep, lots of silkscreens) and always been happy. You can order completely custom sizes (lots of colors, too) and the prices are reasonable – though you do have to assemble yourself. Once you get the hang of it, it’s a cinch.

That’s a print from Jaime Derringer of Design Milk in the photo to the left, above. She had a sale on Fab.com some time ago and I just had to. The triangles are simple, but the tilt of the geometric design is AWESOME. I feel like my right leg has grown a couple inches every time I come home. In a good way. And there at the top of my stairs between the bathroom and the guest bedroom, I hung prints I’ve had several years — from Bee Things, RADROBOT, and Scott Parry. Yes, that is a smiling orange and a horse with laserbeams coming out of its eyes, turning on the hall lights. (Maybe someday I’ll take photos with something besides Instagram to do them some justice.)

I still have loads of prints and silkscreens to hang, but at least I got started. One and a half projects down.

Jen and I also decided I should focus on the master bedroom this summer. For nearly two years, Zach and I have been living without hanging storage or real closets. Folding laundry has been a nightmare, because we couldn’t really hang anything up. Suits and dress shirts were hung on hooks; the back of our doors were utterly ridiculous. It’s shameful. Everyone I’ve ever told this to raises their eyebrows in disbelief (and silently judges).

Part of the problem was just in the planning — I was pretty well decided on the PAX system from IKEA because I’ve heard great things. But there are virtually limitless options between the sizes and frame colors and doors and racks and shelves and pants hangers and on and on. Plus it was almost humorous — once I decided where we’d install the wardrobe, I realized the wall was basically a half inch short of allowing for the full six-frame configuration I’d planned. Ha, ha, ha IKEA. You get the last laugh.

28 boxes and 2 weekends of assembly later, we had our giant closet and LOADS of extra storage space. Plus, I hung another big print from Felix Waser on the wall. Another project down!

Now the view from bed is priceless. Sometimes I just lay in there pretending to read a magazine while I really just admire the new closet and dream of all the other ways we can get organized. Kind of like this guy, who just watched and napped while we were hard at work assembling the monstrosity.

And now that I look at this picture, ugh. I guess I should caulk that baseboard.

Another one for the list.

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Despite the snow coming down all over NYC this afternoon, I took a field trip up the block from my office and stopped into the Leica gallery. I had been meaning to check out the current exhibit featuring Presidential photographer Pete Souza’s iconic work for some time, and it was just fantastic.

The exhibit features 61 of Souza’s photographs from the President’s first term, many of which have become the definitive iconic images of the last four years. The gravity of last night’s election results finally hit me square in the emotion bone as I wandered the empty gallery, alone. Such a beautiful First Family we have, and so much love.

This is the last week of the exhibit, which runs through Saturday, November 11th. Weekdays the gallery is open 12-6, and 12-5 on Saturday. For address and directions, visit the gallery online here. Go! I’d love to hear what you think.

And if you can’t get enough of Souza’s work (I sure can’t), I highly recommend the National Geographic documentary narrated by Morgan Freeman. More about that here!

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“Hurricane Sandy,” by Jane Kratochvil.

The last couple of days and nights have been full of anxiety and nerves as Hurricane Sandy locked in on the East Coast. Though many of us in Brooklyn were spared some of the horrible destruction and fires that Breezy Point in Queens experienced, it was still gut-wrenching. Waterfront neighborhoods like Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay, DUMBO and Red Hook were all victims of heavy flooding and electrical fires. It was scary to watch the local reports and photographs come in on Twitter, but it’s so evident that social media services like Twitter have so fundamentally changed how the media works in emergencies.

Though power is (eerily) still out for a huge number of folks in Manhattan, there’s lots of amazing coverage of the storm and its aftermath. This round-up of photos on The Atlantic is a must-see, and photographs have started to pour in on our Flickr group, some of which I’ve featured below. If you have photos you’d like to see featured here, please contribute on Flickr on contact us via email directly.

My thoughts are with all those recovering from the storm. Please be safe and let us know if there is anything we can do to help!

“Manhattan, 10/30/12,” by Jonathan Percy:
Manhattan 10/30/12

“Hurricane Sandy, the next morning in DUMBO,” by Barry Yanowitz:
Hurricane Sandy, the next morning in DUMBO

“Fort Greene Mercedes Smash,” by Matt Nedbalsky:
Fort Greene Mercedes Smash

“Morning After Sandy,” by Vitaliy Piltser:
Untitled

“Go Away Sandy!,” by Joel Zimmer:
Go Away Sandy

“Statue of Liberty, Sandy,” by Marie Viljoen:
statue of liberty, sandy

“Clinton Hill Tree Down,” by Matt Nedbalsky:
Clinton Hill Tree Down

“Fallen,” by Joel Zimmer:
Fallen II

“Hurricane Sandy, the next morning in DUMBO,” by Barry Yanowitz:
Hurricane Sandy, the next morning in DUMBO