It seems way too long since I shared about my journey in the magical place called Listowel and Co Kerry. You all inspire me to do so with your kind words about my writings and photographs. I have continued my magical tours with Damian Stack and valued time at Olive Stack Gallery and with Olive. I can't speak personally about the "luck of the Irish", however, I can attest to the magic that I have personally experienced. Perhaps equally or more so than the lush green landscapes, icy blue waters that at times appear turquoise and moody gray skies, the magic is in the people (like the images below).
Take today for example. Actually, it all really started yesterday morning when I finally made the commitment to have a solo exhibit a week from today. For those in Listowel, Co Kerry, Ireland that is Friday, October 28, 5 - 7 pm at Olive Stack Gallery. I had been on the proverbial fence for a day or so about doing the exhibit. It's a wonderful opportunity that Olive Stack makes available to artists in residence. I'm the first photographer she's had and finding professional photography labs is something she had little experience with. It seems that Ireland has very few of them. If I couldn't find a good professional lab there was no point in doing an exhibit. Many folks use pharmacies to develop their family prints. As professional photogs here say, they are for the "domestics". I did my own testing and felt the same. From what I've discerned from speaking with a couple of photographers, most develop their own prints, some send to Dublin and a wedding photographer sends all her work to Portugal. To date I've held 10 solo exhibits back home, each one taking a minimum of three months to organize. It takes time to select, prepare, print, mount and frame the works to be exhibited and, of course, time to hang a show. And, perhaps the most important part is marketing. What's the fun in going through the time and expense of organizing such a special event that reveals your heart's special moments captured through your camera's lens if no one shows up to share it with.
And, then Dillon Boyer walked into the gallery on Tuesday. Something told me he was a special person so I invited him to join me in a cup of tea. Thanks to Mary O' Flaherty of Chic Boutique who recommended that he stop by. He's a retired supermarket manager who is a passionate photographer. Years ago he helped organize the local photography club, lead competitions and has won just about everything he's ever entered. More importantly, he's a gentle loving soul, loves to help people, especially photographers, and loves nature. He shared his preferred photo lab in Guernsey. Tuesday night was part 1 of my photography workshop (see photo below) so I didn't give it more thought, other than where do I get the matting, until the next day.
Next day, Rena Blake, one of Olive's friends from near-by, picturesque Ballybunion, called with suggestions of a photographer who prints for others. I'm sure he is "brilliant" as they say on this side of the pond; however, his pricing was over the top for me. I could perhaps have four prints done for the price of 35 plus shipping in England. Of course, there was the matter of getting the prints here in time for me to mat and ready for show time next Friday.
I felt that help was here, just not quite sure from where. So Wednesday night I sat down to do final edits on photos I had taken to date, make my selections and start preparing them for printing. Of course, sizing them right without knowing the inside dimensions of the mats was still a question. Well in retrospect it's good thing the WiFi service was mostly not working that night. Turns out that when I finally discovered the best mat provider the next day his mats were cut to a different inner size than we generally use in America. Of course, I didn't know that until Dillon magically appeared at the gallery door yesterday morning. When I asked him who he used, it too was a company out of England. He went back to his car to show me some of his works with the mats. Dillon said to call Steve at Cotswold Mounts and he would custom cut what I needed and deliver very fast. So yesterday was a busy day getting 35 prints ready to upload to the printer and order. After three emails to the printer I felt assured that they would arrive in time for me to have ready for the exhibit. Then it was time to order the mats. I figured out the website, ordered my products and was just about to click the order button to pay via PayPal and that inner voice said to check on the delivery again. "Oh, no" it said something to the effect of ships five working days after placing order. That wouldn't work. And, now it's after the end of their day. So I emailed Steve with my situation and order. Too make this too long story shorter, I called him this morning. He said everything was custom cut and best he thought he could do was ship on Monday, although, he would see if his guys could get done today. Seven hours later both the printing and mat mounts companies emailed that the orders have shipped. So it appears that the impossible is possible and everything will be here for me to have a very busy Thursday and Friday putting all the pieces together before show time at 5 pm.
Oh, and back to today's magic. . . what really prompted this blog post. I was up late last night creating the invitations. Typical me, I couldn't decide which images to include so I created two different versions. Then I went to the stationary store, purchased card stock and brought my flash drive with PDF to AllRegions, the local computer service and print shop before the gallery opened. While Bill was copying my file I realized that I didn't have enough cash on me to pay for the service. So I asked if he minded if I came back in a few minutes while he finished the job. Just as I approached the gallery Beatrice Kelly was outside the front door. Over the last week or so I have been helping her with the framing of one of Olive's much loved prints, The Square Listowel, that she bought for her sister. Today she said she wanted to do something for herself. She wanted to purchase one of my photographs as her early Christmas present to herself, the Burrowing Owl. And, so the cash I needed at that moment and more was instantly presented. More than that, it seemed a sign from the Universe that I made the right decision to go a head with the exhibit. All is well. Everything is being delivered on time. And, it will be a brilliant reception.
Oh, and I have to go now. I have delightful work to do thanks to Caroline Rigney of Rigney's Farms. She came by after the market day closed in The Square Listowel to see photographs I brought with me from America. She immediately asked if I contact the media and proceeded to give me a couple of names and numbers. I contact them and they were all positive and asked for follow-up emails and photos.
And, so it goes in magical, Lovely Listowel. Open hearts are simply blessed everyday with whatever you need to keep giving your best.
Enjoy photos below, including a few from this quarter's horse fair held on Market Street.
With, Love From My Heart!
Today marks two weeks that I have been in lovely Listowel. My journey here is half over or is it half full, like the proverbial glass of water. As I reflect back on this too short time the image above from Glateenassig Forest in the Slieve Mish mountains may say it all. Simply golden, shimmering with love and life, peace and joy. Regardless of the weather - it must have changed at least as many times as the 12 hours Damian Stack and I were out touring the Dingle Peninsular this day, the constant is the gentle beauty in the land and it's people. Yes, even the rugged cliffs and worn ruins seem this way from my perspective.
Beyond the green landscapes, what strikes me most is the kindness and generosity of the people in Listowel and vicinity. It's sort of like the theme song from the "Cheers" television show, "Where Everybody Knows Your Name". Starting with my second day arriving here one lovely person after another has dropped by the Olive Stack Gallery to greet me. I walk into Allo's to get a cup of cappuccino and Sarah, our server on my first night here, greets me by name and asks how my home back in Florida weathered the hurricane threat. Other merchants come by with spelt bread and jam because they heard I like it. Another friend comes with a sweet fruit pie reflecting the pure sweetness emanating from her crystal blue Irish eyes and warm heart. The window washer takes time from his day to share one of his favorites walks outside of town. Mary of Chic Boutique, located diagonally across from Olive's gallery offers to take me to Ballybunion to capture the sunset. Even today, two weeks since I've arrived, I was welcomed with a delicious looking cream and strawberry tart. And, the list goes on. Yesterday I saw one of Olive's customers on the sidewalk who was sharing with a friend about my photography. He actually knew the image I took of the "River Feale" and said he's seen many versions and he liked my perspective best so far. I caught a draft in my eye early on and John the chemist, as they call pharmacists here, took time to recommend the perfect remedy. Then there was Pat who just dropped-in the gallery because she was drawn to the beauty of Olive's works in the window. When she heard of my upcoming photography workshop she asked if I had posted flyers at a particular church. Then she said she would. And, friends of new friends who I've meant come by to share more time getting to know me. People seem interested. Like all folks they have their priorities and yet they take those moment to be interests and personal. Yes, Listowel's a small town of only 4,500 compared to my much bigger city background from Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. And, perhaps what I am experiencing mostly has to do with Olive, who founded this amazing opportunity for artist. I am grateful for it all.
Whether it's a soft day, like today, or a blue-sky day, that seems to show up for a few moments during the days since I've been here, it's always golden time here. You just have to see the forest through the trees.
There is no sunset here tonight so it's time to be with some new friends, the 6 - 9 Club, that meets at John B. Keane's. Although, tonight it may be a Baileys with coffee rather than Guinness. some like it sweet.
Enjoy below some more photos from Listowel.
3-Day Photography Workshop With Phoenix
As the Artist in Residence this month, very excited to be offering this workshop at the Olive Stack Gallery to the lovely folks of Listowel and North Kerry. Appreciate your sharing with family and friends. Starts Tuesday. Questions, please email me.
Yeah! Last night was the first time since I've been in lovely Listowel that I was able to capture a "wow" sunset. Thanks to Mary of Chic Boutique, whose shop is diagonally across from Olive Stack Gallery, I got this brilliant moment. Her intuition must have been in high gear yesterday. She popped in yesterday morning and again mid-afternoon offering to take me where ever I wanted to go after the gallery closed. How could I resist. Mary is representative of one of my favorite things about Listowel, it's people. Friendly, compassionate, warm, direct, helpful. For me it was a sense of oneness. More on the lovely folks of Listowel in another post. It's almost that time, Photo Edit O'clock, and want to send out this post.
My choice was Ballybunion. It's a beach town hugging the Atlantic Ocean that's known for the famous golf course and, of course, it's beaches. There are three main ones - Nuns Beach, Ladies Beach and Men's Beach. In parts where the cliffs meet the beach there are caves. There are others as well and I intend to visit them all from varying vantage points. It's also known for seaweed bath, which unfortunately for me are closed for the season, and the ruins of a castle. That photo is coming in a future post.
Mary had perfect timing. At the gallery door promptly at 6pm, we drove off to Ballybunion, a 15-minute drive. Knowing that timing was of the essence, she must have been led. We found the perfect place to park as close as you could get to the perfect location for this photo session. With sunset pretty much over within 20 minutes of our arrival, it was meant to be.
Pictured above is a view from the "cliff walk" at Ballybunion looking out over Nuns Beach and across to Co Claire in distance. Below are two more views of the spectacular sunset over Ballybunion.
Bet you thought I was going to write about nightlife, pubs and the like. Well they are here in Listowel like in most towns, small and large. I even had a lovely time at John B. Keane's on Friday night along with Damian Stack and the 6 - 9 Club, a group of friends who have been celebrating each others for years. Perhaps you saw the photo posted on Facebook of me drinking my first ever Guinness there. As a nature and wildlife photography, after dark has a whole different meaning.
So grateful that my host and founder of the Olive Stack Gallery artist residency was excited to learn more about photography. Although, she's preparing for her own exhibition in America later this month, when ever she can she takes a break from painting to share some of the sites of Listowel. One of the first things Olive asked when I arrived was what were my interests while here. In addition to the well know travel destinations along the Wild Atlantic Way, doing night photography was on the top of my list. Admittedly, I've never actually done much before. With Listowel being some 15-minutes from the west coast, facing directly towards the Atlantic Ocean, this trip seemed like the perfect time to explore it greater.
Day 2 and 3 began my falling in love with Listowel and vicinity after dark. Enjoy my first two attempts of astrophotography in Ireland or anywhere else.
More from Day 3 coming soon. Back to a little photo editing from yesterday's 12-hour photo tour of Dingle Peninsular with the tour director extraordinaire, Damian Stack. It's almost time to wrap up the gallery for today and go out for the night. Can you guess where? If you said night photography you're right. The sun finally came out later today. Lots of clouds in the sky. And, the lovely and gracious Mary of Chic Boutique has offered to take me where ever I want to catch the sunset. So far it's been elusive for me and perhaps tonight will be the night. We're headed to the Cliff Walk at Ballybunion.
Grateful to my friends and neighbors who protected my house in south Florida in preparation for Hurricane Matthew, a category 3-4 storm, while I'm exploring this incredibly beautiful and at times rugged land in southwest Ireland. Writing this I'm reminded of a description I first heard from Brendan, a surfer and construction worker, and then again by Damian Stack, my tour director extraordinaire. They both refer to the land and it's sites - cliffs, trees, mountains, ocean, ocean spray, waterfalls - as having either feminine or masculine energy. Thinking of Hurricane Matthew reminded me of one of the places I visited with Olive Stack (no relation to Damian), my creative host and provider of the artist residency at her gallery. I had mentioned that I had an interest in photographing lighthouses. Olive said there was one near by in Co Kerry. We were rushing to catch it at or near sunset.
Little Samphire Island Lighthouse, situated within Tralee Bay, Fenit, may appear feminine, yet the sky and ocean were definitely masculine energy when we visited. Sunny, happy clouds rapidly turned grey, the winds picked up and the ocean churned. All perfect photography weather adding to the drama. That late afternoon it lived-up to the name of this part of Ireland's western coastline, the Wild Atlantic Way. As the water crashed across the rocks at my feet and the winds raged, I had to hold myself and my tripod very steady until the time came when it was better to move on or risk losing one of us. It felt like the power of a hurricane or at least a powerful tropical storm, albeit without the rain, only ocean spray.
It's Photo Edit O'Clock time (to paraphrase my friend and mixed media artist Jen Walls who lead the way for me to be here). And, there's much more to share. I was out last night for the sunset at Ballybunion and up early today for sunrise in Listowel.
As much as I'm enjoying being in lovely Listowel, my personal standards have a hard time not completing something I committed to do. It's the way I am, have always been. And, if not done it kind of weighs on me, if you know what I mean. Of course, there are always good reasons, extenuating circumstances and what not. And, then it's so easy to go on to something new and leave the unfinished behind.
So before I can download the latest images from last night's mini-drive around the Kerry Head area with Damian, tour director extraordinaire, or edit another image from Listowel, it's time to lighten the load, breathe a little deeper and complete my personal promise to me and you.
Today's day three managing the Olive Stack Gallery, part of my agreement for this wonderful artist residency. I'm feeling more settled in. In-between gallery customers, new friends dropping in to day hello and other business, it's my editing and blogging time. Today was the perfect opportunity to call it a wrap to "30 Photos in 30 Days". When I had so many of my painter friends participating in the "30 Paintings in 30 Days" challenge created by Leslie Seata it occurred to me that this would be a perfect motivation to narrow down and edit my top 30 images from the 14,000 mile cross country trip with my friend Liz last August and Fall to some of America's most amazing national parks. So thankful for John Muir and others' vision and persistence on the need to protect and preserve America's natural treasures.
These last four images were taken sitting on the cliff of the east rim of Grand Canyon National Park. We loved it there. We started the day there and returned to it at least two more times throughout the day. Since I'm sharing a photo tip each day with anyone who comes into the gallery, I thought it may be fun to share one here too. When you look at a scene/subject be willing to photograph it from different perspectives, angles. Sometimes that means looking behind and above you. Here are four different ways I saw the Navajo Point. Let me know which is your favorite.
Hope you enjoy the last four, with love from my heart!
Today is day five in Listowel and I'm so conscious that the time seems to be flying by. I'm having that feeling that "there are so many things to see and people to visit". And, I'm loving it all. So grateful to all who have written that you look forward to the blog posts while I'm here. So writing with a few minutes to spare before hopefully taking a couple of hours spin around the vicinity with Damian, head of the Stack clan (don't know what that means yet and will surely find out), local personal tour coordinator and owner of Stack Furniture, right after closing the Olive Stack Gallery at 6pm tonight. Tonight's a good night and the rest of the week is expected to be clear skies. Yesterday I learned a new phrase, "soft day" Olive called it. Actually it's been the past two days. Grey, clouded-in sky and constant drizzle. It was good for editing photos. I'm on the lookout for perfect places near-by for sunrise photographs for my workshop later this month as well as sunset locations that I hope to visit over and over again while here. I never get tired of sunsets. It seems that every night we're given a new painting to inspire our soul.
Pictured above is the River Feale and Bridge taken in late afternoon my first full day here. I loved how the sun's light reflected off the arches. River Feale encircles Listowel's north-northwest boundaries.
Off for a quick bite, close the gallery and photo tour time.
To be continued, with Love! ~Phoenix
The magical journey has started. Somehow getting myself together for the flight was an all night job. Yes, literally. I never went to sleep that night between packing, still completing entries for contests and fellowships and who knows what now. First leg of trip was a four day stay with good friend and my growing collector in New York. It was the perfect space between the rush of preparing (some three months) and leaving for the journey and arriving in Listowel. We had plenty of time to get caught-up, relax and play. I shared Lindsey with her childhood girlfriend and her husband who arrived from England the same day as I did. Lindsey made sure we had a brilliant time, between visiting the local Parrish Museum, Whaling Museum, sailing the Sag Harbor Sound at dusk, and throwing a wonderful gathering bringing together a number of local artists who have participated in the Endangered Exhibit, which she founded. Though invited, this Miami, warm-weather native, passed on swimming in the heated outdoor pool and preparing for the half-marathon she was running with her girlfriend on Saturday (they finished too).
The flight to Shannon Airport left a little after 11pm. I thought for sure I would sleep through it all. Excitement must have been building and my inner radar on. As soon as the sun came up across the horizon I was awakened. As a nature photographer my favorite times are sunset and sunrise. Actually mostly sunset because there's a greater chance I'll be there. Though I've watched the sun rise many times, this one was extra special. I was viewing it from between 30,000 and 40,000 feet above sea level. It started as an ethereal golden-orange-red glow on a black background and gradually kept growing as the sky lightened and the colors melted to a shining white reflecting off the while clouds below. As we approached Ireland the plane dropped below the clouds and the emerald green that everyone talks about was revealed. It was instant love.
However, what was not loving was the bus ride to Listowel. I knew it was two buses with a transfer in Limerick, a two-and-a-half commute. Normally a one-hour stop between buses at the terminal, when I arrived it was the one time of the day when there was a two-hour gap. Once boarded, it was the local all the way to Listowel. Lots of winding roads, many stops and some five plus hours after I landed, I arrived in Listowel. What stuck me immediately was all the helpful people. First at the bus terminal, two ladies insisted that I should wait inside the terminal and not outside. They carried my luggage there...one large piece, a smaller one with extra camera gear, my camera bag and large tote which held my laptop, extra camera, speakers and purse. Also, an older couple kept a look out for me on the bus to be sure that I got off at the correct exit. When Olive wasn't there to pick me up (simply because of the craziness with the bus times), they even called her from their phone. Although, they also share the same last name, though not related, they knew of Olive and her Olive Stack Gallery. Since then just about everywhere I go people know Olive and the gallery and smile as they acknowledge her.
Arriving closer to 5pm than 1 pm, Olive and I spent a relaxing time sipping tea sitting on the living room/kitchen level on the little sofa overlooking the well-loved view from the second floor of what appears to be the second center of town, where Church Street meets William Street. Unfortunately, for my visit, they had just started a major street/water-line renovation. So the street is torn up and the view is not photo-perfect this trip. I was greeted with not one, but two "welcome baskets" with veggies and fruits from Olive's garden. (Can you guess what was for dinner tonight?) We ended the evening at one of Olive's favorite restaurants, Allo's, which just happens to be down the street. Loved everything about it from the old-world décor to the superb and classic dining to the gracious service. There we met friends of Olives, Liz and Jim, who promised to report back about their upcoming week in Iceland.
As I write this day three has ended. Lots of wonderful photographs and stories to share. Promise. Thanks for following. ~Phoenix