River Feale, Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland ...part of the Ireland Gallery
Exactly a year ago tonight the lovely folks of Lovely Listowel came out to celebrate - my visit, my art, perhaps even me. I was and still am touched by all the wonderful friends I made in just a short month during my artist residency at Olive Stack Gallery. And, I countinue to be grateful to Olive Stack who invited me here. Celebrating in Listowel is a community affair. And, it took a community for the exhibit to even happen. Just the week before I wasn't sure if I would even have an exhibit. And, then the magic of Listowel took over when I simply said "Yes" it is done, it is to be, with an open, loving and expecting heart.
The morning of the week before that last Friday I would be in Listowel, the night of the exhibit, I didn't have a printer, access to mats, media coverage, invitations, refreshments planned or anything else one needs to hold an exhibit. By shortly after 6 pm that night it was all in place and I was off to enjoy friends at the 6 - 9 Club at John B. Keane's Pub.
It all came together organically. Even though I had taken over 5,500 images by months end, professional photography labs weren't to be found in Ireland. Thanks to Mary O Flaherty of Chic Boutique the solution walked through the gallery door one morning, as the saying goes, just in the nick of time. Mary had sent Dillon Boyer, who had founded the local photo club many years ago, to drop-by and say hello. Dillon, a kind soul, is a wealth of knowledge about life and photography. He shared his contacts for printing and cutting mats to size who just happened to be in England. Miraculously everyone turned the orders around in about a half a day when it should have taken five. However, no one would guarantee the delivery date simply saying it was out of their hands and up to the Royal Mail. Again, what was to take days took only one or two. That same day I went to the Friday Farmers' Market in the town center and saw Caroline Rigney of Rigney's Farm and Bed and Breakfast. She told me which newspapers to purchase and who to call at the local media. Calls were made and press releases emailed by the end of the day and by the following mid-week the article was in the weekly paper. Two days before the exhibit opening photos and mats were delivered and now it was up to me to mat, sign and package the 35 prints. Earlier in the week Invitations were printed at the local printing and computer repair shop. Store owners graciously agreed to display them on their front counters. I called the manager of the local grocery a couple days before, gave him my budget and left it to him to decide what wine to deliver.
It's the afternoon of the exhibit. The matted prints are on the wall. The wine and glasses are delivered (with the promise to pick-up glasses after the event). And, three lovely ladies stroll in like sunshine. It's Mary Lynch and her girls of Lynch Bakery (home to my daily cappaccino) all smiles as they deliver trays of fresh baked goodies and finger sandwiches. Then there is that moment when you wonder will anyone actually show up. And, by 5 pm the gallery is filling up. Laughter. Hugs. Good cheer. New dear Friends, who I feel I've known forever, show up one after another. Many take a little bit of my heart with them through photography sales. And, even sweet Ann, who has gifted me with wool scarfs, a photography book of Listowel's history and never enough chats, and who has just delivered her latest sweet "hero", comes directly from the hospital to be there.
And, on this anniversary of being blessed with so much love I want to continue the blessings. For one week only, though November 4, all photographs in the Ireland gallery are on sale, 20 % off plus $2 shipping. Normally $60 all 8X10 and 8X12 (size depends on the image) are a total price of $50. For those in Listowel, your orders will be delivered to Mary O Flaherty, who has already placed her order and graciously offered to receive the shipment. Orders will be shipped in plenty of time to give as Christmas gifts.
Now there are 66 images to select from in the Ireland Gallery. A year ago there were only 25 at the exhibit. Hope you find one or a few that touch your heart as you all have touched mine.
Love, From My Heart!
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Juried into "Global Connections" exhibit at Broward Art Guild that opens tonight, 6 - 9pm. Show runs through June 16.
Life is magical, even though most of us, including myself, often overlook it. It's so easy to get caught-up in what's not going right (i.e. as we expected it, our way), the noise from so many outside of us (news of the day, others' complaints) and our own negative mind talk. However, during my artist residency at Olive Stack Gallery in Listowel, Ireland this past October the magic was difficult to miss. My first visit to Ballybunion, a coastal town and seaside resort in County Kerry, Ireland, is a great illustration.
Not brave enough, or was it good common sense, I chose not to rent a car while there. Between driving on the "wrong" side of the street, narrow roads that are mostly unlit, and driving in the dark for sunrise and sunset photographs, I chose to hire the amazing Damian and/or rely on the goodness of others to get to places beyond walking distance.
The first day I arrived, Olive asked me what I hoped to do while there. Among other places, I wanted to photographs sunrise and sunset landscapes. Everything unfolded from that moment. Olive was busy getting ready for an exhibit in America that she was leaving for in about one-and-a-half weeks; although, she didn't forget our conversation. Day 6 of my trip she let me know that she asked her son to drive me to Ballybunion as soon as the gallery closed at 6pm.
It was a perfect day and turned out to be an equally perfect night. Perfect to me while there meant weather was a little chilly and skies were clear. Of course, I loved it all, cold days, overcast days, soft rain days, early morning fog days. A resort town, Ballybunion was about a 10 minute drive away and 40 minutes to sunset that night. Unlike what most photogs profess to do, I did little preparation for the photo shoot. I was in a carefree, let's see where the universe leads space. Where ever John dropped me off was fine. I had two hours to explore until Olive was going to pick me up somewhere near the beach.
With the summer over, the Seaweed Baths and many of the beach side restaurants were mostly closed. No problem, there were three beaches to explore. I started walking from where he dropped me off to what I learned was called "the women's beach" where I saw a young girl riding her horse. Looking up I couldn't miss the remnants of the castle overlooking the ocean. The castle called; I followed walking up a steep hill to the "men's beach" overlook. I set up my tripod in first one place and then moved to another until I found the best position for the photograph I envisioned. I like to compose photographs in the camera rather than do extensive cropping afterwards. This ensure I get the highest resolution for the largest image later. To me it was aligning the castle so that the little light from the lighthouse across the water in County Claire showed along with the cliffs to the right of the "women's beach". I loved the natural curve.
And, then I simply enjoyed the sunset. Sunset actually comes in many phases. Most people, including photographers, leave once the golden light show disappears. I kept clicking my camera every few minutes even after the sun went below the horizon. New colors often light-up the sky. I felt like a child playing in the sandbox only my sandbox was standing behind the camera and clicking away with joy. I waited longer for the special blue light phase. Of course, every sunset is different; not all are equally spectacular. And, if you don't show up you never know.
This night magic was in the air; I wasn't disappointed. By now it's almost pitch black and I had to find my way to the road. And, along the path I met a lovely lady who just happened to be the sister of the woman who owns the Seaweed Bath House and restaurant. We had a nice little chat as she showed me the way. And, when we arrived at the top of the hill street-side, Olive had just driven up.
Feeling led the entire evening, I am so grateful for all who "conspired" so the magic came out to play this night. Hope you feel it in the photograph too.
Where do I begin? It seems too long since I last wrote you about my amazing and magical adventures in lovely Listowel, Co Kerry, Ireland. Since then I was on a mad dash to pull everything together for the photography exhibition at Olive Stack Gallery, hold part 3 of the photography workshop, actually have the photography exhibit, welcome the new artist, pack-in all I could with Tour A Lura Irish Tours director Damian Stack in my last weekend , play with new friend Caroline Rigney of Rigney's Farm and celebrate with more new girlfriends from the John B Keane pub's 6 - 9 Club thanks to the generosity of Caroline Stricks. And, then of course, it was time to pack and take the bus to Dublin to catch the flight home on the other side of the pond with an unexpected extra day there to visit Book of Kells at Trinity College. Much to my surprise, I returned rather tired. Perhaps a case of a combination of jet lag, legitimately tired (I have no idea why :) ), returning to a house that still has to have renovations from a major water leak and mold, and back to the thankfully already active art season here.
In fact, as I write this post, I'm minutes away from leaving for final meeting on arrangements for Endanger Exhibit to be held at end of this month as part of Art Basel in South Florida and pick-up my works for the Fort Lauderdale Home Show this weekend. More on this in another post.
And, about "Mind Your Self". This is one of those unique sayings (well for me anyways) that I heard repeatedly throughout my visit in Ireland. At first I wasn't sure if this was a positive phrase or an admonishment. Friends and strangers alike said it as they parted. I came to feel it was a term of endearment, kind of like "look out for yourself" because we care for you.
As I write this I see there is much to catch up with and I promise you more in-depth on each of these subset experiences. Although, I didn't seem to have the energy to write blog posts I did get almost completely caught-up on editing my favorite images from more than 5,500 photographs from the trip. Creating that new photography gallery on this website is on my "to do list".
In the meantime, please enjoy Day 31. It started with Caroline Rigney picking me up at the gallery and driving to her farm, Rigney's Farm. Rigney's Farmhouse is a handsome Irish country B&B, totally hand build by Caroline and her husband Joe (who was one of my photography students) in West County Limerick. Along the drive we passed the mighty Shannon River and some amazing views. Hospitality is surely Caroline's middle name. Once at her home we enjoyed a couple of cups of coffee and sweet lemon cake, a gift from one of Ireland's top bakers. Then it was off to feed the pigs and other animals on her real working Irish farm. For me that meant a new kind of photography adventure. Rigney's neighbor is Curraghchase Forest Park, 700 acres of pristine nature and woods. Caroline knew I would love walking and photographing this special place. Curraghchase House was the home of Sir Aubrey de Vere, parliamentarian and poet (1788-1846) and friend to William Wordsworth and Alfred Lord Tennyson. Here I along with many others had opportunity to sit in his mediation chair looking out on this nature treasure. Dusk seemed to come too early. Back at the farm, I was the honored guest for a delicious meal made from farm raised meat and greens. I'm not sure I've ever tasted a more flavor rich salad.
I was double blessed this day. Carol Stricks held a little dinner gathering at her house. It was intimate with nine women around the dining room table. Stories and laughs filled the air.
Until next time...Mind Your Self!
With Love, From My Heart!
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.
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
Intuitive Soul Photographer of nature, wildlife and people. Be inspired!