Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ole Blacksmith

I got some pretty good candid portraits at the Gypsy Caravan flea market and this one is a favorite. This man and his brother make black iron ornaments and implements for home and garden. He insisted his wife come sit on his lap for the picture and you can just see the affection. I'd love to send them a copy but their card doesn't have an email or web address. Tom or Jim, you have my email on my card. If you see this send me a message and I'll be happy to make you a print.

Yesterday's post received the least response in a long time. I really like it. Well, I once used the nickname Strangetastes. If you think Friday's picture was strange, wait till theme day on Monday. That photo hasn't actually been made yet. Hope I can pull off my idea.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Chosen One

From the Gypsy Caravan. How do you decide what to buy at a flea market? You pays your money and you takes your choice. De gustibus non est disputandum.

the family is going to St. Louis' delightful Shakespeare In The Park
festival. It's in a natural bowl in Forest Park near the Art Museum. People go early, bring a picnic dinner and watch all the wacky stuff at the pre-performance Green Show. This year they are putting on The Merry Wives of Windsor. The audience will sip wine and wait gleefully to see Sir John Falstaff get what's coming to him. They don't allow photography during the performance but there's lots to shoot before.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday Arch Series

Something a little different. I went over to East St. Louis, Illinois, to see whether the new Mississippi River overlook opposite the Arch had opened. It's been under construction for a long time and looks really cool. However, the official opening is June 6 and the guard chased me away. She cheerfully told me, though, that thr railroad police hadn't been hassling anyone about taking photos from the tracks across the street. Hence this one.

This picture looks like it was shot with a
Holga, a fairly cheap plastic film camera that can make some really crazy images. Check the galleries on the Holga web site or or look at a Holga group on Flickr like this one. Well, I'm a big fake. I did not go old school on everyone. This is a digital effect done with a Photoshop plugin called PhotoTools from onOne software. And it was shot with a Lensbaby. And, um, it's a HDR image. More toys. Toys R Us.

There is a new Arch photo
today on GATEWAY.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum


The Gypsy Caravan was loaded with little figurines, dolls and toys, virtually all on sentimental themes. Would you buy any of this stuff for reasons other than irony? Readers of this blog know that I am not a fan of cute for cuteness' sake. If something cute turns up here, it's for a reason besides getting an "aaah, isn't that sweet?" reaction. But, as I've said before, you pays your money and you takes your choice.

I had a doddering old Jesuit for an ethics class when I was an undergraduate. He was fond of nattering on about the Latin phrase de gustibus non est disputandum, that is, there's no disputing taste. He meant that what he and his pals thought was good taste was beyond dispute. Reverend father didn't get it. He might have loved this stuff from the flea market but I can't be sure. What were his tastes? He might have been horrified at the music I like, both now and when I was 20 (I was 20 once, you know). You might have thought that his ideas about ethics were totally corny or that they were principled and based on centuries of thought. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

So, I don't think it's a good thing to look down your nose at porcelain figurines (even though I might sometimes), at least not publicly. What delights me may make you choke. Your ideal may provoke howls of derisive laughter somewhere. I won't dispute your taste if you don't dispute mine.

Many more photos have been added to my Gypsy Caravan set on Flickr, which you can view here.

TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series with all new material! Think cheap plastic camera.

AND BY THE WAY, the video on U "R" Us' post yesterday on Chicago Flair is ROTFL funny. It's a birthday party invitation. We shoulda been there. Check it out.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

At The Gypsy Caravan

The rain held off enough yesterday for me to shoot one of the two events to which I was invited. Showers moved thought the area all day. The Renaissance Faire is on again next weekend and will have to wait. but the other photo op was a treat.

The Gypsy Caravan, an annual fundraiser for the St. Louis Symphony, has been going on for 37 years. Never been before. it's a gigantic flea market where you can buy anything from the ridiculous to the sublime. I was reminded that gray days are great for small scale photography: saturated colors, no harsh bright spots and shadows, no squinty eyes. I wandered from vendor to vendor, uttering my magic words: "Hi, I'm doing volunteer photography for the Symphony." They opened all doors.

BTW, I'm very happy with this picture. Kind of Diane Arbus-y, although it's in color. There is a growing set of pix from the Gypsy Caravan on Flickr here.

TOMORROW: trinkets and figurines.

Monday, May 25, 2009

From Virginia To Canada

This picture violates the Prime Directive. It was not shot in St. Louis, Missouri, but rather in East St. Louis, Illinois. Same for yesterday's post. Well, it's the same area. The location is the railroad tracks just beside the Mississippi. Just who is rocking from Virginia to Canada on a freight car? This looks like the kind that carries new automobiles.

Lots to shoot today on our Memorial Day holiday, dodging the thunderstorms we expect. I'm hoping for good luck.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Yes, I actually got out and shot some new Arch pix yesterday. One vantage point I used was the light rail station on the Illinois side of Eads Bridge, looking back across the Mississippi toward downtown. A young man came by and struck up a conversation about what I was doing. Terrence was on his way to work on the train. He was outgoing and engaging, and thought that surely he should be one of my subjects. He was right. I like his hand gesture - it looks like he's framing a picture.

Virginia to Canada. No, not our Virginia. She's going to France.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Le Roi Saint

The original St. Louis, King Louis IX of France. He makes an appearance here from time to time. The monumental statue is atop Art Hill, in front of the St. Louis Art Museum. The official name of this thing is The Apotheosis of St. Louis. What a concept. We could use an apotheosis around here.

Gonna get back out with my camera on this holiday weekend. I have two fun invitations for Monday. Someone from the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra asked me to shoot the Gypsy Caravan, their gigantic Memorial Day antique, craft and flea market. Later in the day, Mrs. C. and I will head out to the St. Louis Renaissance Faire. As regular readers know, I received a personal summons from the Queen of the Faeries so it must be magical.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Gyros In The Night

Mmmm, what aroma. Grilled meat and onions. Breathe the smoke deeply. Not a diet recommended bt the American Heart Association but so, so good, a big boy's treat. This is a shaky, hand-held photo but Virginia liked it.

It's a holiday long weekend in the US with our Memorial Day on Monday, giving me time to go shoot some new stuff. And there's something special to photograph - the Queen of the Faeries gave me a personal invitation.

OH, AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO U "R" US, Chicago photoblogger extraordinaire and heir to the STL DPB fortune. Stop by his blog and give him your best wishes.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday Arch Series

The Arch sucks up the sky around it. It maintains its own personality while reflecting its changing surroundings.

There is a new Arch photo
today on GATEWAY.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Meriwether Lewis Gets Wet

Spring means high water on the Mississippi River as seasonal rain and snow melt from up north reaches is us. My preferred water meter is the statue of Lewis and Clark emerging from the stream on the Missouri shore near the Arch. I've illustrated this on the blog before. Here's a post from when the river level was average - Clark and the dog are able to breathe and their boat is afloat. On the other hand, during the big flood of March-April 2008, only Lewis' hat and lower sleeve stayed out of the Big Muddy. It's all part of life on the Mississippi.

Thursday Arch Series

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Demon Monkeys

A last photo from the Museum of Natural History in New York. These two are not pets for the kiddies. Just look at those choppers! They are the stuff of bad dreams but oh so small, no more than a foot or 30 centimeters.

Time to get back to images of Missouri if I can find something from the archives.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Face Off

No, not a confrontation on the savannah. The American Museum of Natural History in New York is full of dioramas of animal habitats from throughout the world, expertly constructed for accuracy. They have been around for decades - I was fascinated by them as a child. It feels like you could step right into the picture.

Back home in The Lou now. Might find something local for tomorrow or might have something more from New York.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

STL DPB On The Road: The Dummies of Wall Street

We were walking around the financial district. I wanted to take Cindy and Alaina past the New York Stock Exchange, Federal Hall and all that stuff. The intersection of Wall and Broad Streets was blocked. A security guy told us that they were shooting a TV commercial "for some bank that will probably be out of business soon." An actor dressed to look like a businessman came out of the subway with a wild look of confusion on his face, running randomly among these, well, dummies, costumed to look like the people who would normally be around. It was quite surreal. By the way, that is the NYSE in the background.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

STL DPB On The Road: Live From New York, It's Friday Night

Here we are in the Big Apple. As mentioned earlier, we met my paralegal of 26 years, Cindy (on the right - doesn't look like it's possible, does it?) and her daughter, Alaina. Cindy brought Alana here for an 8th grade graduation present and the young lady was set on seeing Times Square at night. A few minutes later we walked by a Best Buy store on 5th Avenue and saw Green Day inside doing a promotion. Alana got right on the phone and told her friends.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Report From Washington

We spent several hours at the Newseum, the high tech temple of all things information. It was fascinating. One current exhibition is called G-Men and Journalists, about the FBI's attempts to control or manipulate the news media. In the lobby of the museum we found this chilling, life-size image of long-time FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover (supplied by Madame Tussaud's), a dark name in American history. The FBI headquarters is just down the street. They sure remember him.

But, having daydreamed about leaving a career as a lawyer for one in photography, it occurred to me to veer off in yet another direction and become a television news reporter. See below.

We're taking the train to New York this afternoon. Who knows what adventures await.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday Arch Series

A Mississippi River excursion boat glides past downtown, going to its mooring under the big wicket. The water level is high and the current is fast.

Below, the sign on the Arch garage. My sentiments exactly.

TOMORROW: STL DPB reporting live from Washington, D.C. Remember, there were bad guys before Cheney.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rollin' On The River

I’ve never ridden a Segway and it looks like a lot of fun. Glide St. Louis Tours will zip you around downtown or Forest Park on these gizmos. I featured the company once before in the early days of this blog (click here). Gotta go join them one day soon – bet I’d get some good pictures. I generally avoid taking photographs while driving (although, um, I’ve made exceptions, and I only do it with a point and shoot). Can you get in trouble for taking pix on a Segway?

This makes for a nice (sorry) segue to the Thursday Arch Series, which is tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

At Least Someone Is

Who's hiring in St. Louis during the recession? The big casino, Lumiere Place, is. As I've mentioned here, there are a shocking number of these in our Midwestern city. Business must be good - a fool and his money...

The unfortunate large building in the background is the
Four Seasons Hotel, which is attached to the casino. We stayed there once. It's really swanky inside but the exterior is an eyesore, IMHO, with awful, garish lighting at night.

Today is a travel day. Heading for a legal conference in my specialty in Washington, DC, this afternoon, then up to my home town, New York, for the weekend.
As the man said, if I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere. So, either a STL picture on Wednesday or a late photo from the nation's capital, the Arch on Thursday and then a few days of East Coast fun.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Vision Thing

You did not have to go through a security check to enter the art fair at Laumeier Sculpture Park but you did have to pass by an inspection of sorts. This is Eye by Tont Tasset. There is no further information on the park's web site. It's at least two meters in diameter. You can interpret it all sorts of ways: observe the observer; anatomy class for giants; really big brother is watching you; the world's biggest ocular prosthesis; wow, man, that is really freaky; and on and on. What do you, uh, see in it?

By the way, the title of this post refers to a quote by former president George H. W. Bush (George I), something he said when he was asked why he wasn't paying more attention to the long term needs of the country.

There is a new Arch photo
today on GATEWAY. About time.

TOMORROW: at least someone is.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Art In The Dark

I'd never been to either of our major art fairs at night before. The one in September in Clayton is in an urban setting, surrounded by streetlights and buildings. Laumeier Sculpture Park is a large wooded area out in the suburbs with less light pollution. As the sun set it felt a little like going camping with artists. I hated camping when I was a Boy Scout. (I also hated being a Boy Scout - hi, ho, the city life for me.) But I might be willing to find a lean-to and sleep with the great sculpture of this place, more about which over the next couple of days.

I shot a bunch of new Arch pictures yesterday.

I see.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Artists' Portraits: Frances Kite at The Laumeier Art Fair

There are two big annual outdoor art fairs in St. Louis. One opened last night at Laumeier Sculpture Park, which is a special place. We went directly to see an old friend, Frances Kite from Lawrence, Kansas, who makes exquisite cloisonne jewelry. Some of her work is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. We met her and her husband, Dwain Workman, at the first of these fairs, perhaps twenty years ago. Workman is a painter, sculptor and wood craftsman of great originality. We have several of his - well, they can't be categorized but they hang on walls - in my office.

My wife does not have jewelry lust. I don't think she owns a diamond and has no interest in them. However, she's bought a couple of Kite's gorgeous pieces over the years. She saw a new work last night that drew her in and, well, Mother's Day in the U.S. is tomorrow and we had a good month at the ofice in April and it's simply beautiful and why not. St. Louis, get out to the fair this weekend, go meet Frances and buy her stuff. You won't be sorry.

TOMORROW: more from the art fair.

Friday, May 8, 2009


There is some weird stuff hidden in corners of this city. I was driving near the Arch last weekend, hoping to refresh my photo inventory. The Mississippi was just above flood stage from all the recent rain in the Midwest, so the floodgates near the Arch were closed. I detoured down a back street and noticed this. Screech to a halt and whip out camera.

Say what? Sputnik was history's
first artificial satellite, launched by the Soviet Union in 1957. The name is just the Russian word for satellite. What did that have to do with an old warehouse on the St. Louis riverfront? I nosed around some more and found a sign on a door that said Sputnik Importing. Odd name. Even more odd when I found the company's web site, promoting "vintage clothing and modern furniture," most of which looks like thrift store kitsch. And yet even more odd: although the site lists two addresses in St. Louis and nowhere else, most of the text is in Japanese. I'd like to pay a call on them. Konichiwa!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thursday Arch Series

I was barely able to come up with an Arch picture for today. Long day at work yesterday, tired and spacey at the end and left my Macbook at the office. My backup drive at home has a Firewire connection and my old Windows laptop doesn't have that kind of port. Whine whine whine. This pic was on the old Dell. Not great but it will do.

This photo was taken from across the Mississippi in E. St. Louis, Illinois. I was standing on Eads Bridge, our oldest bridge across the river. You can walk all the way across, which is a pretty cool thing to do. It gives some sense of scale between the Arch and the rest of downtown.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

It Doesn't Sound Mexican

In the midst of the Cinco de Mayo parade there was a really hot rock band. I want to tell you, they were not playing La Bamba or La Cucaracha. Their dress had modern fabrics but the music and style would have fit in at the Filmore deacdes ago (and I was a frequent habituƩ of the Filmore East so I know). The singer with the pineapple tee shirt has got a big Janice Joplin thing going. The guitarist in the top photo looks like he'd like to be Prince one day. I gave up on rock years ago in favor of music that had more to chew on (Michael Gordon, anyone? A little Astor Piazzola?) but this band was like childhood comfort food. You're never to old to rock and roll.

Thursday Arch Series. Sure hope I can find something in the archives 'cause I ain't been down there shooting in a while.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


One of the things I enjoyed the most about about the Cinco de Mayo festivities was this group of young ladies from St. Cecelia's parish school in the neighborhood. They all wore traditional Mexican dress-up clothing and danced through the streets as part of the parade. I was lucky to find them hanging out on a corner when the parade was forming up. I walked over to them, gestured with my camera and said, "SeƱoritas - ¿permiso?" They thought it was pretty funny.

I've added a lot more photos to this set on Flickr here.

TOMORROW: that doesn't sound like La Cucuracha.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The People's Joy Parade

It didn't look very Mexican but it was a lot of fun. The Cinco de Mayo festival had a parade for the first time, a come-as-you-are affair for the decidedly eccentric. The impresario was St. Louis artist Sarah Paulsen. She was one of the first people I photographed when I started going around to artists' studios and saying, "Hi, I'm Bob Crowe. Can I take your portrait?" Luckily for my self-esteem she did not give me the heave ho. The portrait turned out pretty well. You can see my photograph of Sarah here.

More from Cinco de Mayo

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Cinco de Mayo

St. Louis doesn't have a big Hispanic population like many U.S. cities but what we have is full of enthusiasm. There is a growing, energetic Cinco de Mayo festival in early May on Cherokee Street. Cinco de Mayo is a curious celebration. It's mostly observed in the State of Puebla, celebrating the victory of the Mexican forces against a far larger French army in 1862. It's not a national holiday in Mexico and is far less important than Independence Day on September 15. The U.S., however, has seized on it as an excuse to swill gallons of Corona and Tecate, gobble burritos and listen to brassy mariachis.

I shot 1,037 pictures yesterday. (I promise I won't post them all here.) Most of them were the usual repetitive, poorly composed junk but there were some pearls. Here, a father and son wear the headgear of luchadores, the masked wrestlers of lucha libre, the wildly popular Mexican form of professional wrestling.

There is a growing set of photos from the festival on Flickr here. More to come over the next few days.

Saturday, May 2, 2009



The opening of the Character Project photography show Thursday night was fascinating fun. Eleven artists were represented and one of them was in attendance, Eric McNatt. Check here for his statement about this work. He depicted the people of Brownwood, Texas, his home town, located in the exact center of the state. You can see his photos of little leaguers, homecoming queens and country musicians here. If you are in New York, you can see his work at a group show that opens today at Stricola Contemporaty Art in Soho.

There was a prize for an outstanding high school photographer. It was won by Abie Kanyuck, a student at
Crossroads College Prep, the only private, non-sectarian high school in the City of St. Louis proper. It is tiny and the quality of education is extraordinary. That's what ShadowyOne and U "R" Us, heirs to the St. Louis Daily Photo fortune, think. They both blossomed at Crossroads.

You can see the show at the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission Gallery today from 9 to 6 and tomorrow from 10 to 5. It goes on to San Francisco and Los Angeles from here. If you can't make it, you can buy the book here.

More pictures from opening night are on Flickr here. I expect to add others over the weekend.

TOMORROW: ¡Viva Mexico!

Friday, May 1, 2009

CDPB Monthly Theme Day: Shadows

What is an x-ray besides a high-energy shadow? X-ray images are photographic negatives so the light area here is the shadow of my left hand and wedding ring. The hand is a bit messed up from rheumatoid arthritis but you have to know what to look for. All you clinicians, licensed and amateur, are welcome to state your findings.

Today City Daily Photoblogers the world over are exploring places where the sun don't shine.
Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.

AND BY THE WAY, I made it to the opening reception of The Character Project touring photo show last night. Wow. St. Louisans, you owe it to yourselves to check this out. It's at the Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar, across from the Pageant. It's only on display through Sunday - check here for opening hours. The show will be the subject of my post tomorrow. Here's a sample: