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Masters.

25 Jul

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I’m writing and editing these photos at a wine bar/ restaurant, starting to gush about this man in the photo above, who was at Squero the other day.  All I knew of him was that his name is Mauritzo, is is clearly skilled around a workshop, and I’m pretty sure all he knew of me was what he saw- a woman with a camera spending a lot of her time in a boat garage.

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I find it really, really hard to be photographed.  It’s not about looking flawless, it’s about exposing yourself to the lens, the person behind it, and then anyone who will later see that photograph.  When someone let’s me “see in”, it’s magic.  Sometimes I get this deep exchange with my beautiful brides, but it’s hard to get it with a stranger for a prolonged period of time.

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But this was one of those times, and I’m so, so grateful. Mauritzo danced with me.   As my intensity increased, his did too.  As I got closer, his movements got more refined- look at that pinky up!  Dude was fluid.

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And the language barrier is both a blessing and curse.  I would love to be able to get to know the guys, pick the guys’ brains, find out more about their personal stories, the history of Squero, the tales of Venice passed down…but we can’t, which sucks.  But at the same time I realize that since we can’t talk, we really only have the option to focus on what we are doing- making.

And then the chef comes out of the kitchen and looks over my shoulder and laughs.  He worked under this guy for a couple of years at another site, and Mauritzo is the oldest living/working master gondola maker in Venice. What!? Chef’s direct quote, “Maybe after this guy dies, gondolas get made out of plastic.” Damn.

Humbled and honored.  And toasted Pieroni’s with this man at 2:00 on at Wednesday,  Tutto Bene!

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There was also a dog there this day.  He’s cute too, but I think Mauritzo wins in this department. post2-3 post2-10post2-4 post2-9

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Back home: Squero San Trovaso

23 Jul

Do you remember this place?

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The craft-worn hands with the remnants of hard work stuck underneath the fingernails.

squero_7.22.14-4The silver noses of the whale-like gondolas frying in the sun.

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The posed scrap wood pieces, outdated nudie calendars (garage standard), trinkets of travel, and stuff that’s floated to shore curiously placed around the shop. 

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The tattoos on the bodies that mirror the carvings of the gondolas.squero_7.22.14-5

squero_7.22.14-12And most importantly, Claudio & Luca. squero_7.22.14-83 years ago (literally, to the DAY!) while in grad school, I started photographing at Squero San Trovaso for over a month. With some planning “fingers crossed” pieces, I returned to Squero yesterday, unsure if the guys had received all/any of the ways I had tried to reach out to them to ask if I could come visit once again.

I tried to creep up on Squero. I went up the canal on the other side to get a distant peek with the other tourists, and saw Luca. I had no idea if he or his brother would remember me, and if they did, if I’d be welcome to come spend time there again- if this was going to be a moment of disappointment or excitement. He saw me and stopped what he was doing. He just stood there with no expression. I stood frozen, trying to read his face from across the canal. “Ciao Luca” I said quietly and waved. He smirked, then smiled wide, “Ciao Lisa!” and motioned me to cross the bridge. I cried. (duh). I was so happy. These guys have no clue what a gift they’ve given me in my life by allowing me into their space to let me play, document, meditate, create, watch and just be. I pulled myself together, and crossed over.

squero_7.22.14-13squero_7.22.14-14I walked in the back entrance to Squero, and the scents of fresh sawdust, sweet and sticky black lacquer, gasoline and salt immediately brought me back to the first time I walked in the Squero and they told me to get lost.  

Right then, Luca appeared with a big smile. He submitted to the big hug which I forced upon him. Claudio resurfaced later in the afternoon- small smile, and an even more reserved hug then his brother . When I returned in the afternoon light to photograph, they let me in as if no time had passed, returning to our old habits. Luca, constantly aware of the camera unless in a task that requires full concentration, and Claudio, not giving a shit what I did or where I was as long as I wasn’t in the way. I was so happy.

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If you are still looking/ reading this journal entry then bless your heart. Thanks for your time, interest and help in remembering these moments I never want to forget. More to come soon. For real. (not like in 8 months).

❤ L

Last of Lisbon Love List.

5 Jul

1. Our street.


2. The mix of modern subways and “elevator” trolleys to help with the hills- and the fascinating people on board.

3. The arts being culturally (and monetarily) supported as a “real” jobs. This mangy little love bird was being nursed back to help by the local potter who he/she is perched upon.

4. This old port bar that Kelly and I could only probably find again if we had that much verde again.

5. This girl.

6. The “Skeleton Church”, or the Carmo Ruins, built between 1389 and 1423.  The frame remains in tact after that wild Earthquake, and amazingly was never restored.  This is a cherished (yet not-so-frequented) ruins site of Lisbon, and is possibly the most intriguing ruin site I’ve personally seen.   The interior is used as a small museum with a curious range of artifacts from B.C. jewelry  to mummified children from Peru from hundreds of years back!

7. Night lights on quiet streets.

8. Morning light on quiet streets.

9. This man at Casa Brasileira Bakery, who served Kelly and I breakfast every morning.  No matter what we ordered, the cost was 3.60 euro.

10. Doing this with you, Kel!  Thanks for making this an incredible beginning to summer… ❤

Africana, Cabeleireiro de Homens

29 Jun

Thank you, Africana, for welcoming me into your beautiful shop for a photoshoot!

the things we ate.

28 Jun

The way to a girl’s heart in absolutely through her palette, (eh, L?) and Lisbon, you got us baby!  Here are a few of the many delicious things Kelly and I devoured.

red wine + tylenol pm = happy red eye.

Do not adjust your screen. That IS white wine!

NOTORIOUS. Pasteis de Belem!


Lisbon Laundry and Tiles

27 Jun

Kel and I loved playing eye spy with the air-drying laundry and colorful tiles hugging the old buildings of Lisboa. What a good reason to slow down and look up!

sleepless

9 May

ideafull.

Interviews with Some Little Italy Originals

18 Apr


Last Tuesday evening amidst the rain and thunder, professor Mark, four classmates and I were escorted by William to two apartments in Little Italy to meet some of his friends and family, and hear some stories about the good ol’ days- and the good new ones too.

MaryLou and Naci talked about growing up in New York’s thriving Little Italy of the 1960’s- pulling the water plug to create a “beach” in the summer, living in old buildings where the bathtub was in the kitchen (which made for some compromising situations), and being in a community tight enough that when you did something bad in public, your folks knew about it by the time you walked in the door.


They compared the “old” and “new” crowds for annual feasts held by local churches, and William told us of one of his favorite festival events- the grease pole.  For this game, a telephone pole was placed in the middle of the street and covered with axel rod grease, and teams of four or five guys would  piggy back, climb, and stand on each other’s shoulders in attempts to make it to the top where the cash prize (and pride) was.

Every person discussed love and family, and how there’s nothing more important.  I couldn’t agree more.
 Thank you so much William, MaryLou, Naci, Rocco, Angel, for your hospitality, and sharing pieces of your personal and community history.

Noey and Pat featured on Lovely!

4 Apr

click on the image below to enjoy this lovely post.  : )

Thanks Paloma & Lovely, Mr. & Mrs. Melody, and as always, my Katie.  ❤

Italian American Unity Rally

28 Mar

On Saturday, a rally was held outside the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Cathedral commemorating Italian Unity Day.  This event was a symbol of solidarity in the Italian American community of Little Italy and beyond.  Representatives of community organizations in neighboring Chinatown also showed their support. “A smaller Little Italy does not make a better Chinatown.” One official said.  “The reason why so many of us come to this country is because diversity is tolerated, accepted, believed in and celebrated.  We celebrate you, our sister neighborhood, Little Italy.  We need you.”

 

This event was the manifestation of brewing emotions and a need for action on the heels of recent tenuous circumstances in the IA community.  Leaders asked the people gathered to no longer accept Italian Americans being portrayed as gangsters, “bimbos and buffoons” on television and in films, and also made plea to challenge notions of all ethnic stock characters in the media.

The rally celebrated the full continuation of the Feast of San Gennaro, an annual cultural and religious festival of old Little Italy.  This year, the festival location and duration were threatened by the Merchants Association of boutique shops of “NoLita”, but the festival prevailed.  This is considered a huge “win” for IA community.

This rally took place one day after the 100 anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, where 146 immigrant Italian and Jewish workers, mostly young women, perished in a fire at the sweat shop sewing factory in which they were employed.  The tragedy changed labor laws in the US, and supported worker’s unions, another hot topic in NYC over the past month.

Little Italy and its Italian American community are shrinking rapidly.  The once 30 block neighborhood is now around 4 blocks.  In 1950, the census estimated over 5,000 Italian Americans in the neighborhood, and last’s estimated just under 400.  NYU’s class, Documenting Little Italy under the leadership of professor Mark Bussell, is attempting to collect stories of Little Italy before they slip away entirely.  Through our partnership with the Italian American Museum, we hope to keep these stories and this rich New York, Italian American and American history alive.