Well, I’ve been out walking these days. At first, I walked to expel nervous energy as a form of exercise. I would walk fast and deliberate. After a week, attention to my surroundings became the source of interest, replacing the goal of physical exertion. Correspondence with people I would meet along the way was a simple wave, (an affirmation of human alliance during these unusual times.) Residential architecture viewed up close, with comprehensive evidence of inhabitant’s lifestyle in full view from the sidewalk is always entertaining to me. I hear many dogs barking indoors and out. There are a lot of dogs in the world!. I don’t hear them when I drive. I see them hanging out the passenger window sometimes, (but they’re usually pretty quiet.)
Chalk Chalk Everywhere
Sidewalks are everywhere in Appleton and on the sidewalks is chalk. Chalk drawings, inspirational messages, patterns, hearts and rambling free associations of color, shapes, faces, cartoons and doodles that sometimes go on for a half block at a time.
Some of the artwork or messaging is finished and there is no one in sight. I move around the drawings, walking on the border grass and continue on my way. Other times, I have met the “artist”, (sometimes in mid production). On occasion, while carrying my camera, from a distance, I made a photograph. One portrait conveys great pride in achievement. Another temperamental artist did not appreciate my presence as she acted out her sassiness. Schools are suspended. The weather is warming, the world has closed in. The sidewalks have become concrete canvases of expression. It is a lovely thing.
On one sidewalk, I noticed etchings. Either no chalk was available or the choice to make a more permanent statement prevailed. Chalk washes away in time. Sidewalk “petroglyphs” can endure. (I’ll check back and see how these whimsical , monochromatic doodles hold up over time)
Photography as a Solitary Activity
In these past weeks, an examination of activities, tasks and responsibilities have been imposed. What occupies my day? My job as a commercial photographer in Northeast Wisconsin has been affected by the pandemic. Projects have been put on hold. For awhile, I simply sat with that reality. Then I took a walk, followed by another and another with my smaller street camera in my right hand. In my walks, I realized the only thing I lost was income from doing what I do. I did not lose the enthusiasm for what I do. I would use a camera to record life’s curiosities, beauties and fleeting moments regardless of income. That realization in the midst of these times was good. I am grateful for that awareness. Strapping on my “street camera” was a creative comfort as I walk.
It’s very windy today! I think I may wear a scarf. (I can always hike it up over my nose and mouth if I need to stop into Kwik Trip for supplies on the way home.)