I like Buddhas. Buddhas are calming. I think we can all use some calm these days.
So I decided to concentrate some of that tranquility by collecting all of the photos of Buddhas from a trip to Myanmar a few years ago. Turns out there were a lot.
In Myanmar they practice Theravada Buddhism which is the more conservative of the two major traditions of Buddhism (the other being Mahayana). However it didn’t seem stuffy or overly pretentious in the temples. The atmosphere seemed light, with monks mixing among the tourists and locals. Theravada Buddhism stresses the enlightenment of the individual, self-discipline, and the importance of pure thought and deed. And from my observations, there are no shortage of shiny Buddhas to help and inspire.
The scale of these statues ranged from about average human size to quite large, with some standing (actually sitting) 20 to 30 feet high. Most of the large statues are from the Sule and Shwedagon Pagodas in Yangon, and also the Ananda Temple in Bagan. Others were found in Mandalay, and from smaller temples in out on the Bagan Plain. It was calming to wander among them, or to just to be in their presence.
On a 2017 trip to Myanmar, one of the most magical places for Brig and me was the ancient city of Bagan with so many temples scattered throughout the landscape. Located in the Mandalay region of Myanmar, Bagan thrived during its heyday from the 11th to the 13th centuries when over 4,400 Buddhist temples and pagodas were built in the area. The remains of over 3,800 structures still exist today.
From Mandalay to Bagan our bus shared the road with Brahman cows and whole families on motorbikes, past sunflower fields in full bloom, old ruins of pagodas and other surprises, the 5 hour journey wasn’t so bad. And the Kaday Aung Hotel in Old Bagan with beautiful gardens and an ice cold swimming pool was a bargain at $40 USD.
We spent two days exploring Old Bagan, getting oriented the first day with a couple of guided tours to the larger and more prominent temples in the area such as the Ananda Temple in Old Bagan, and the Shwezigon Pagoda in nearby Nyaung-U, as well as the famous sunset view from the Shwesandaw Pagoda (with a few hundred other tourists).
The best way to experience the temples on the Bagan plain is to rent a motorbike in town and explore at your leisure, so after getting a lay of the land we felt confident enough to head out on our own. Most hotels can arrange a bike rental and will supply a rudimentary map to follow as you make your way through the labyrinth of dirt roads. Bring plenty of water and snacks as it can get hot, and there are no 7-Elevens out on the Bagan plain. We had a fun day riding around and exploring the various pagodas. The area is quite large, and there are so many temples that it felt at times like we were the only ones out there in a post apocalyptic landscape.
I’ll admit this wasn’t what I had in mind when I made this photo of an anatomical model of a human brain in a jar. But when I shoot for stock photography I’m open to different interpretations of my art, so I’m very happy that Men’s Health Magazine licensed my photo to illustrate an article about Dr. Pimple Popper. The dermatologist and TLC host Dr. Sandra Lee squeezed a jiggly lipoma out the middle of a patient’s back… and out popped a brain. or what looked like one. The full article is here with a video. Warning: You won’t be able to un-see this.
The sun was so bright it hurt my eyes as we stood on the elevated platform at 125th Street waiting for the Metro North train to Tarrytown. It was a crisp and clear morning and the first day of Spring, and I played hooky from work to spend the day with my wife tramping through the grass and around the stones at the graveyard, and to make photographs of the statues there. This was a few years ago, but I remember it well because it was one of those mornings where after what seemed like an eternity of grey, the sky opened and the light seemed magical. It’s been a sort of ritual to seek out the cemetery in any new place we go, and the best way to do it is to just follow your instincts and wander.
Originally known Tarrytown Cemetery since its opening in 1849, the name was later changed to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery at Washington Irving’s request (whose story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is actually set in the adjacent burying ground at the Old Dutch Church). After a couple of hours of weaving through the stones of Sleepy Hollow I’d agree with Washington Irving, that a pleasing land of drowsy head it was.
Remembering it was Good Friday, we hopped the train back to the city for fish tacos from our favorite Mexican restaurant (Molé on Second Ave).
It happened to be my birthday too, and a surprise gift for me was having The Sun Magazine featuring this photo below, in the March 2020 issue.
“If somebody went to Cleveland it would make the front page!”
My dad would say things like this. He grew up in the 1920s and 30s in Donora, Pennsylvania, and when he would tell stories about those times, it was usually to relate some hardship, but with a a bit of humor. Sometimes it would just be a statement like “I slept outside with a sandwich in my back pocket”. Other stories might have a few more details like eating mulligan stew with hobos with water scooped from the river with a tin cup. One of his favorites was about a cross-country road trip. He and his friend Mike scraped some cash together and bought a car and headed out west to San Francisco. To save money along the way they would knock on doors and offer to do yard work or odd jobs in exchange for a meal. They’d even coast along the downhill stretches in neutral to conserve gas. Early on in the journey in Ohio, they saw a man traveling with his young son heading west in a goat-drawn wagon, and they stopped to talk. A month later on the drive back east, they saw the man with his son and goats again, still heading west. Here are a few old photos from those encounters, with my dad’s notes on the back.
They made it all the way to San Francisco and saw the sights including the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman’s Wharf, and across the bay to Sausalito, then they made the long journey half-coasting back to Pennsylvania, when they’d returned to Donora he and Mike were welcomed as heroes (although I never saw a front page story)!
Don’t be an ape… save some bananas for the rest of us!
I photographed this image a while back as a greeting card assignment for Avanti Press.
Whole Foods lent me the shopping cart, and I wheeled the the 140 pounds of bananas 2 blocks to my studio (on West 25th Street at the time). The original verse in the card reads “Don’t shop while you’re hungry” or something like that, but I’m repurposing the image to remind everyone to be thoughtful of others during this crisis.
After giving bananas to all of our studio neighbors, the leftovers were donated to City Harvest. Art Director: Key Wilde, Gorilla suit model: Peter Rosenthal
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag…”
Though the quote is often attributed to Sinclair Lewis, apparently he didn’t write it, and nobody really knows who said it first. But the words resonate with me whenever someone says “love it or leave it” as a response to criticism of U.S. policies or the current president. Just because a person grumbles about their country it doesn’t mean they don’t love it. Sports fans are proof of this, as Trevor Noah said “If the Knicks kicked out every fan who yelled at them to play better, Madison Square Garden would be emptier than Mike Pence’s spice cabinet.” That’s right – it’s patriotic to complain about America because we can be better.
Start your week off right with some fresh art & booze!
I’m showing new prints from “UnNatural Disasters” at The Hamilton Whiskey Bar in New York City ~ Opening is on Monday November 18th from 6-10 pm. Prints will be on display through November 30th – Here’s a preview!
The Hamilton Whiskey Bar is a cozy space located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side ~ 998 Amsterdam Avenue (between 109-110th Streets)