Family and Friends

Creatives, Subject 5: The Artist

Cassandra Loomis is an artist for Trader Joe's in the DC Metro area.

With a BFA in Communication Arts and Design (illustration focus) from VCU, Cassandra can be found essentially art directing the visuals in a number of Trader Joe's locations. Whether it's a mural of a local scene, the design of an end cap, or George Washington doing a hula dance, there is always a wide variety of tasks at hand. Additionally, Cassandra continues to take commissions for murals and paintings (including an NFL football player!) as well.

Portra 160NC
Graflex Speed Graphic

bad art from people we like

What do you do when people you like create something that you think is terrible? Starting from one presumption that there are people that like me, I'm sure some of those folks think my art (or some of it) is terrible. So I'm aware enough to consider that I create this uncomfortable situation for others.

But what do you do? What, when your voice seems conspicuously absent from a chorus of complimentary responses? The old aphorism about not saying anything at all (lacking something nice to say) is fine and dandy until the artist in question asks for your opinion.

Maybe I'm just too much of a people pleaser.

Creatives, Subject 4: The Hand Crafter

phil

Phil Barbato makes fantastical plush creatures, prints, paintings, cartoons, and whatever else his mind impels his hands to create.

Having studied fine art at Virginia Commonwealth University, Phil had spent a number of years working as a web designer here in Richmond before deciding to make hand crafting his vocation. Whether it's drawing a bear a day for a year on his iPhone, a wall of small paintings, or hundreds of hand-sewn monsters, bears, robots and sea creatures, Phil's work is unified by a playful aesthetic, reminding me that even serious art can be silly and light-hearted.

Oh, and buy his stuff, 'cuz it's pretty awesome.

Portra 160NC
Graflex Speed Graphic

P.S. I promise I didn't ask the last three subjects in a row to dress with any formality. Purely their choice, but I like how it worked out. I think I'll go for more casual shots on the next few, though.

Creatives, Subject 3: The Web Slinger

ross

Ross Catrow is a web designer/developer and co-owner of PharrOut, a Richmond-based design shop.

There was no major for web design at Virginia Tech while Ross attended, so he chose math in an effort to keep himself interested. It also afforded him more time to watch his beloved Hokies football. Tired of working for other people after college, Ross and his friend, Scott Pharr, started their business so they could be their own bosses. Out of this environment, Ross created RVANews - a publication of broad scope that covers news, events, and editorial content in and around the Richmond area. Ross maintains the website in addition to contributing a portion of its written content.

sgt. warshaw on Christmas morning, with light leak

my brother tom sitting in a chair in a field

My older brother in the field beside my parents' house on Christmas morning, 2010.

This was from the second pair of shots taken with my Speed Graphic, and I used one of the old holders that came with the camera. This side clearly wasn't light-tight at the flap, so the right side is overexposed to the point of near total white-out.

At least the important part of the frame was okay.

the weight of years

paulie smoking a cigar

I got to hang out with my step-dad, Paul, this past Sunday, and we smoked cigars on my front porch before he went home. After I finished my stogie I couldn't help grabbing my camera to take his portrait. I think he was expecting me to tell him when I was ready, but I just clicked off the last three frames on the roll as I saw fit. This was my favorite because I think it really displays the strong but weary figure of a man who's worked a physical job for over thirty years.

FIVE YEARS

I don't write on here as frequently as I used to (just...so...dang...busy), but it's worth pausing to say that today is my fifth wedding anniversary!

Valerie, you continue to be a more amazing wife than I could ever have hoped, and I will love you for years to come :-)

garden state of mind

Part of why I'm writing anything right now is because I feel like every passing day that I don't exercise my creative muscles I risk their atrophy. I sit at my desk at work and can practically feel my brain calcify, or some other ridiculous biological metaphor that comes with having poor writing skills (even when I DO feel creative).

But mostly I'm writing this because I'm really pumped about my upcoming weekend.

Tomorrow is the last work day of this week for Valerie and me since we get Friday off in advance of Independence Day. We're heading straight up to her mom's house in the evening to have dinner and hang out with her mom and sister for the evening. Then we drag ourselves out of bed before first light and drive up Eisenhower's Interstate to Red Bank, New Jersey. This will be my first visit to my home state since the passing of my father in March last year, and it's been far too long. There is much to be done.

You see, Red Bank celebrates Independence Day with fireworks a day earlier than most places. There's a veritable cannonade of colorful explosions in the sky over the Navesink River, a display to rival New York City (and, indeed, formerly executed by the same people). My step-mom carries on the tradition of hosting a serious party at her house marking the occasion, and there I hope to see several members of my dad's family.

Red Bank is, itself, a treat for me. It's like all the charm of Richmond's Carytown on steroids (with some of the same inherent problems, unfortunately, like greedy landlords). Whether it's Zebu, or The Bagel Oven, or even the played-out and kitschy Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash (comic book shop), I don't much tire of walking along Broad or Front Streets taking in the scenery of my youth. I have to dwell on The Bagel Oven for a moment, too, because it's seriously my favorite bagel shop on the planet. I love me some Cupertino's while I'm here in Ole' Virginny, but even their fine bread pales in comparison to the goods on Monmouth St. The only concern I have is whether I can make up my mind between an egg or salt bagel...

On the 4th itself (Saturday), Valerie and I will travel a little southeast to Sea Girt where Jammie (my mom's mom) lives. She's trying to sell her home and move down south to retire near my mom, but while she's still on The Shore I'm happy for the chance to visit her in the home where I spent half my childhood. We're definitely hitting up The Ice Hut, some of the most glorious Italian Ice around, and who knows? Maybe we'll have pizza at The Squan Tavern if I'm lucky. If the weather is as nice as expected, I'll probably take Valerie down to the boardwalk at night so we can see the other small towns up and down the coast set off their 4th of July fireworks displays.

I also have to make sure, at some point, to procure a proper pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwich on a poppy seed hard roll. If half of that sounded foreign to you, you'll just have to make a trip to the shore yourself sometime. Words fail.

On Sunday we'll start the long drive home, but we'll stop in Delaware to see my brother, Mugs, his wife, Valorie, and our nephew, Donovan. There's even a chance that our newest nephew will be there to greet us...

Those are the roughly-laid-out plans, and here's some needless alliteration for you: family, food, and fun. It'll be a welcome break from the daily soul-suck of work this past month. And of course I'm taking a load of pictures :-)