Nuestra Musica, Celebracion de los Viejitos, with La Familia Martinez, Frank McCulloch y Sus Amigos, La Familia Vigil con Cripriano Vigil, Los Garrapatas, and El Trio Jalapeño, will be playing at the Lensic Saturday, April 17th, at 7pm.

Roberto Martinez, Sr. and his family will be honored. An excerpt from our documentary, Los Reyes de Albuquerque y La Familia Martinez, will be screened.

16 Apr 2010

Curiosity is a wonderful quality. To be open and inspired to question an idea, a sound, a sighting of something foreign and take the time to engage and learn from that inquiry is the core of a rich human experience.
Last weekend, I traveled to Washington, DC with ceramic artist Christy Hengst and 30 of her porcelain birds. The birds, part of a temporary and traveling public art installation, had a date to “land” in various DC parks. On Thursday morning, March 18th, the flock touched down on the National Mall at sunrise. On Friday, they became another group of interest amongst the urban crowd that socializes on the benches and green of Dupont Circle. Sunday, the 21st, the birds held court next to the nation’s Capitol and watched as a few Tea Party protestors and thousands of immigrant rights demonstrators took their signs, flags and hopes to the steps of democracy.

The birds are completely still, yet their glowing white porcelain shape gestures with preoccupation. The birds stand alone and in groups grounded maybe from their own questions and observations written onto them in cobalt blue ink. On their backs are images of war and peace; newspaper clippings announcing the invasion of Iraq, descriptions and lists of varied missiles deployed, family snapshots, poems of peace, a love letter, a recipe for pound cake. Each of the “landings” had a very unique tone. On the Mall, businessman, tourists, groups of school children, runners and bikers out on commute, a field trip, a stroll, spot the birds from a distance, and are drawn to them. The kids came running trying to make the birds fly off, others were more cautious, everyone curious. In Dupont Circle we talked to peace activists and professors, musicians, lovers and friends, veterans and vagabonds hanging out in one of the cities best known outdoor “rooms”. To the side of the Capitol, the birds seemed to evoke their own protest, an understated “land-in”, in comparison to the thousands of marchers determined to make their voices heard by yelling chants and songs of unification into a loud speaker.

Christy explains, “this project is about me exploring ideas and beliefs about war, and on the other side, peace. It’s not about a single message. It’s not about taking sides. This project is putting it all [good and bad] on the same page. In some way, the birds hold the space as witness. The birds seem to be witnessing a lot of different sides of life, holding, in a way, all of these different choices that people have”.

Many people thanked Christy for bringing the birds to DC. Some were impressed by the intention and idea. Many had detailed questions about the process; working with silkscreening and porcelain. Others were touched by a poem they read, or an image they saw and really engaged in the War and Peace subject matter. Still others seemed just delighted by the surprise of a public art installation that graced their daily routine.

Laurence Woodson, a musician who plays regularly in Dupont Circle said, “Artists take the risk for the rest of us. By risk I mean, you’re looking at someone on a high wire and you’re just riveted because, my god they’re on a high wire and they could fall. Or, these birds – I get to see what you have to say about the world in this very interesting way. And, that gets it done for me, because I can’t or won’t make these porcelain birds and put them out here. And because you took that risk and it could suck, you could get ridiculed, you could be ignored. All of those things could happen when you take that risk. I think that’s one of the more interesting roles of art. Artists are also the one’s that provide the means by which we understand each other. Imagine for a second if there wasn’t music, or if there wasn’t art. Just imagine it. What would we be? How would we understand each other? How would we understand ourselves? Art is severely underestimated by most of us and taken for granted. It’s wildly important”.

I have never experienced art at work as I did being part of this project. I filmed clips from the landings and interviewed people who had strong reactions from the project. It was an amazing way to connect with people I would have not otherwise had the opportunity to talk to. The footage and a few photographs will become part of a larger documentary, being produced in Germany, about the project after the touring is complete, later this year.

I sincerely thank Christy Hengst for the opportunity to travel with her and the birds, and connect with people and art in a unique way.

For more information on the project, visit Christy’s website.
For the landing schedule, check out the Birds in the Park blog.

Other Links of Interest:
Link to WAMU radio piece by Rebecca Sheir.
The music of Laurence Woodson, singer / songwriter that you might find on a sunny day in Dupont Circle, Washington, DC
DC Environmental Film Festival

  • Melinda Russell - This is truly beautiful!! Also, who doesn’t like pound cake!!!

I just finished a week teaching one of my favorite classes at the Santa Fe Workshops. What a great class! There is nothing like meeting the excitement and anticipation of students who come to Santa Fe, NM from all over the country on a quest to connect with and document photographically the spirit of people and place.
Images © Photographing People Students

We focused on technical skills; from f/stops and shutter speeds to lens choice and lighting patterns. And, then we quickly moved to the heart of photography; how to find, engage and connect with the subject. These basic photographing people skills can be applied at home and around the world to make better and more meaningful images. Enjoy a look at their work! **Apologies for the technical glitch; unfortunately, the music cuts out after a bit.

Photographing People Class Work, March 2010 from StoryPortrait Media on Vimeo.

And, a glimpse behind the scenes:

I also want to acknowledge and thank my colleagues who shared some of their inspiration throughout the week. Alan M. Thornton, commercial and portrait photographer, talked about the importance of personal projects. Take a look at his Kurdish Portrait project here. Jane Phillips, photojournalist for the Santa Fe New Mexican, talked about building trust and capturing a story in one image. Visit her website to see her portfolio.

Thanks to fellow instructors Raul Touzon and David Robin. Raul has been a friend for a long time. He has supported and encouraged my career unconditionally and always livens up a Workshop week with light and fiestas.

Last, but certainly not least, a big thanks to the course coordinator, Memphis Barbree, assistant and photographer extraordinaire. Her black and white landscape work is stunning, her prints exceptional. She will be teaching an upcoming class at SFW this Fall, check out her work on her website.

Formal family portrait shoots, where everyone is coordinated in white or black shirts, powdered and primped, and told repeatedly to smile at the camera, admittedly, don’t interest me. But, ask me to come and have blueberry pancakes, hang out and color, take a walk and photograph the nuances of a family Sunday, that is a complete joy! The photographs that result act as a little time capsule, a way to preserve snippets of everyday life that don’t linger long.

I also recorded a bit of audio during the day. I turned the microphone on Greer playing Piano, Sophie reading about Mrs. Wishy Washy, Robert singing Chicken Fingers, and Mary reflecting on motherhood. Editing out a few select moments and thoughts, I created a StoryPortrait, a vignette, a short chapter of a day in the life….

Sunday at Home [A Hobbs Family StoryPortrait] from StoryPortrait Media on Vimeo.

Thanks to the Hobbs family for inviting me to spend a mild winter day with them.

  • Mary Stroupe - Such a sweet piece, such a great eye. Thanks for sharing this. This is EXACTLY the work I want to be doing in my next life. Your work is inspiring.

  • admin - Thanks so much Mary! I really appreciate your comment. There are so many stories to be told and shared, why not try to capture some in this life?? 🙂

  • Tweets that mention Sunday with the Hobbs Family » StoryPortrait Media Blog -- - […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mike Hiatt. Mike Hiatt said: Sunday with the Hobbs Family – A great piece of multimedia storytelling! via @larrylehmer […]

  • Tory - This is amazing! really inspiring!

Again this year, I had the pleasure and honor to collaborate with radio producer Paul Ingles on a public radio and online documentary funded by the New Mexico Humanities Council and We the People project. The documentary tells the story of one of the most long-lived and influential traditional New Mexican Hispanic musical groups in the state, Los Reyes de Albuquerque y La Familia Martinez.

The music of Roberto Martinez is housed at the Smithsonian Folkways archives. This issue of Smithsonian Folkways Magazine features a wonderful article about Roberto Martinez and Los Reyes written by Enrique Lamadrid, and our documentary Los Reyes de Albuquerque y La Familia Martinez. To read the article and see the video, click here

Los Reyes de ABQ. Documentary – 5 Minutes from StoryPortrait Media on Vimeo.

We traveled to Roberto’s hometown of Chacon, New Mexico, an isolated mountain village in northern NM to capture images and stories about the beginnings and influences of the music.  We accompanied Roberto and his group, to performances at senior centers, child daycare centers, pueblos, and famed music halls, listening to New Mexican mariachi music and watching the crowd come alive with joy. We spent time with Roberto, his wife and family, at home in Albuquerque for breakfast and birthday celebrations.  His music and story are seeped in the culture and landscape of New Mexico, listening to it, learning about it, you learn about the history of a state and people strengthened by faith and community.   More information and images on the project can be found at:

  • sarah - Genny,
    I seriously want that picture with the moon! I love it. Would pay big $$ for it!

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