Refractive Reflections of Its Kind

There were three or four of these mirrored sculptures on display in different places around the Naples Botanical Garden in Florida during the 2017-18 winter tourist season. There are different artists and sculptures each year and this was one of the most thought provoking, especially from a photographic perspective. The garden is subtropical so the backgrounds can be very busy; perfect for highlighting the impact of multi-faceted mirrors, but difficult when composing a photograph with the sculpture as the focal point. I used Lightroom to blur the background vegetation.

Response to Becky’s October Squares reflecting something kind or of its kind.

Texture Within Texture

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During the 2018-19 tourist season, the Naples Botanical Garden hosted an exhibit of  sculptures by glass artist Hans Goto Frabel. There was a variety of sculptures made of glass, but these made from mirrors challenged me the most as I attempted to capture them. I photographed them week after week, learning from every attempt.

Jude is focusing on textures as she inspires us to join her in thinking about the foundations of good photography. This week’s assignment is to find something smooth and get in close to photograph it. I have been wanting to do a post on these and this is perfect – although getting in close involves cropping.

The above sculpture was placed on the entrance boardwalk, and the facets reflected the tropical foliage, the railings, and the beautiful floor. The smooth, reflective texture of the mirror facet shows the texture of the flooring boards.

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The next mirrored sculpture was situated where I turned to the boardwalk over The Water Garden. This sculpture was impossible to walk by without experiencing how the facets fractured the landscapes around it. I took a boat-load of photos of this one – and later deleted them from my lap-top. The smooth, reflecting surfaces become even more disorienting when captured in a two-dimensional photograph.

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When getting up close, it becomes even more disorienting.

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You can see other interpretations of smooth textures by visiting Jude’s blog here.

Farewell Delights

I had a beautiful day for my last visit to the Naples Botanical Garden before we headed north. Everything looked really different because they had been cleaning out the water gardens and trimming out the foliage in the other gardens. Then I realized that the glass sculptures were gone – and how empty the garden felt. You can read about them by clicking on these links. Surprise at the Garden and Balancing Act   Here are a few photos from other visits as I continued to practice capturing the beauty that they brought to the landscaping where they were installed.

This exhibit is one of my two favorite from the past five years. I also really liked the origami sculptures. Amazing Lines – Origami   As I wandered around I kept thinking I should walk over to where a sculpture is to see how the light is catching it – oops, it isn’t there any more. But there were many things to catch my interest.

When I reached the succulent garden I was excited to see the cacti that were blooming, especially this one where I could capture the various phases of blooming.

And this one that has such an interesting structure.

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The produce garden is growing nicely, showing people the types of edibles that can be grown in Florida and to provide fresh produce for the chef at the cafe.

As I was sitting at the cafe I saw the chef walking back from collecting something from another part of the garden – maybe by where the bananas grow. My scone and ginger limeade was excellent.

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We are in Michigan now and I am finding delight in the early spring landscape, even though I skipped the long, dreary, cold winter. These images of Florida seem very far away, both in distance and time.

Circle of Friends

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This sculpture by Gary Lee Price was a part of last year’s special sculpture display at the Naples Botanical Garden and I was so excited to see it is still on display. I made several attempts to photograph its spirit last year – but deleted most of the photos. On this visit, clouds blew in as I was finishing my photography walk-about so I had ideal conditions for another try. All my previous attempts on sunny days (Florida isn’t named the Sunshine State by accident) resulted in too many highlights that Lightroom couldn’t correct enough. 

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With the currant administration’s nasty rhetoric about how dangerous immigrants are, especially those seeking asylum, this sculpture holds special meaning for me. See that spot on the bottom left where I joined in the circle – leaving enough space for you to join me._DSC0246

 

This sculpture touches my soul and represents so many of the values I have chosen to believe in and build my life upon. 

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I remember when I first experienced someone who was poor face-to-face instead of just hearing about “the poor.” I was in second grade and we were instructed to get in a circle and hold hands. The girl that was next to me, the one I would need to hold hands with, was someone who I had been only vaguely aware of – she was always on the fringes of our class. This wasn’t a “hoity-toity” private school, just a neighborhood school in a working class neighborhood but she was different somehow, maybe her clothes were a little more warn than everyone else’s or her hair never looked clean. I had to take her hand and somewhere within me I was uncomfortable even though I had never thought about her nor understood why she seemed different. Then I took her hand. Her hand was uncomfortable in my hand and I felt repulsion. Her hand was horribly dry and crusty. And in that instant I knew very deeply in my mind and heart what poor was. Poor is being different, poor is being on the margins because poor is not having enough basic needs to be able to put a decent hand forward. Poor is suffering. That was almost 70 years ago and today I am weeping because of her exclusion from our class and because she probably never had access to the simple rights and privileges I would experience.

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“I hope I can assist the world in visualizing a place where fences and boundaries, both real and imagined, are non-existent; a place where bias and prejudice are long forgotten; and finally, a place where acts of kindness, mutual respect, and love are everyday happenings.” – Gary Lee Price (obtained from his website)

I believe that this statement comes from Price’s very soul because it would be impossible to sculpt these figures to depict his message, his goal, without believing in it with all of his mind and heart. His written beliefs shine so brightly through this sculpture that they have lit my soul.

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The artist has maintained the integrity of each animal’s body but in fantasy has illuminated each creatures’ personality. The penguin has a crown and the elephant has a necklace. The fantasy within the sculpture is the depiction of human experience in these animals joined together, this circle of friends. It expresses joy and laughter and movement, the love and respect within relationship, the display of inclusion in spite of differences.

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I think I almost captured the energy this sculpture emits – the movement that can be felt. I think that when we are in troubled times, like the people of all nations and continents are currently experiencing, it is difficult to see how we will work our way out to better times. We can become de-moralized, feel helpless and incapable of making our world a better place. But we can do it, you and I.

We can embrace and shake the dry, cracked and dirty hand of a person we meet and offer some help while respecting the dignity of the person-hood we see in their eyes. Maybe instead of looking at and seeing difference in skin color, hair texture, or clothing styles we can share a space with them, looking for ways to work together, respecting all contributions. Maybe instead of hearing and being frustrated with a difficult to understand accent, we can work to find ways to listen to what is being communicated so we can find commonalities and relationship for a better outcome for all. We can admire them for being smart enough to be bilingual.

Most important, we in the U.S. can be thinking about the election coming up in less than two years. We need to get beyond the noise of empty promises and lies to understanding the candidate’s values. Do they recognize income inequality and have ideas about how to bring about wages that allow all people who work to be able to support their families without living below the poverty line? What do candidates believe are human rights – adequate education to give all people skills to earn a living and critical thinking ability to participate in our democratic system, basic health care for everyone, adequate housing, healthy food, access to infrastructure? Do they believe children should be protected and taken care of – even Black or Jewish or Muslim or Hispanic? Do they embrace “other” and “different” so that social values can continue to change to make room for people who aren’t just like us? What do they believe about our place in the world? Do they believe we should fight only for our interests or do they believe all people should have a share of the world’s resources? Does the candidate recognize the complexity of international relationships and articulate a way of relating to foreign leaders that is respectful of our rights and the rights of the people of foreign countries?

Different does not mean the same as bad, illegal, immoral, or dangerous. My challenge for the coming year is to find ways to respect different while fighting against actions that are really bad, illegal, immoral and dangerous. I need to clarify my values and work to understand whether proposed national policy is consistent with what I believe. I need to continue working to do what I can to make life better for those individual who have been denied basic needs because of their differences and political greed. And of course there is room for you to join me in creating millions of concentric and overlapping Circle(s) of Friends.

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Let’s join hands.

Searching

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It took me a while to head to the spot in the Naples Botanical Garden where one of the sculptures I had missed on my last visit is located. I got distracted at the lily pond, and my head had to concentrate on saying don’t turn right towards the Caribbean Garden, don’t turn left towards the Asian Garden, keep moving… I was so intent on getting there that I walked right past the Blue Calla Flare. It was only when I stopped and turned around in the Succulent Garden that I saw it.

_DSC0051 I spent some time trying to capture the artistic beauty and technical artistry of this glass sculpture by Hans Godo Frabel on display this season but I don’t think my heart was in it.

I was much more interested in the plants in the Succulent Garden, even though this area still needs some cleaning for the upcoming tourist season. These plants seem to reflect the prickly aspects of my personality of late, and the fact that my darker side wants to push through.

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As our country is getting close to our midterm elections, when we are voting for representatives for national and state legislatures, governors, state policy issues, etc. but not for president, the Republicans, especially the president and his followers, are nervous that they may lose some important races. To get out their followers, they are increasing their lying about supporting the Affordable Care Act, even as they are working to dismantle it, and they are ramping up the fear mongering lies about the hordes of immigrants heading for our Southern border infiltrated by Muslims and murdering gangs, bankrolled by Jews, carrying Small Pox and leprosy into our country. I am fed up, I have had it, and I don’t know how to respond except to vote – which I’ve already done. Now all I can do is wait in hopeful anticipation and dread until the election results are in.

I don’t remember ever hating anyone more than I hate our current president. And I don’t like what this hatred is doing to me. I want to attack everyone I know who voted for him, and even those who may have voted for him because of their party affiliation. This isn’t fair and goes against everything I believe in, but it is so hard to do what is right and good right now. I want to be kind and caring towards everyone, but I feel the darkness right there at the back of my brain cutting off those brain parts that regulate the flow of love from my heart. And my soul is constipated.

I want to curl myself up in a community of safety and loving. I want to become fetal, cover my head from attacks.

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And I want to feel the joy of reaching out, of giving.

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Remember to breath in deeply and turn off the TV, Pat. As I teacher of interviewing skills for future social workers, I would explain the importance of focus. I would help them think about how to make sure the focus of interactions was on the person needing the help, not on the helper. We would discuss how to gently shift the focus between topics of importance. If I am going to find peace and joy in the coming week I have to give up my focus on the evil that is going on in national politics and focus on my small circle of influence. I need to focus on caring and finishing my quilt top for donating to flood victims and knitting the sweaters for my two great grandchildren. I need to put a smile on my face and face the world with strength.

And I need to make some fun – starting with an outing with my honey to visit some of the local consignment shops. Let me tell you of the great deals that can be found in thrift and consignment shops in Naples, FL.