Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hawaii, BA and Tim Easton

tim easton
Originally uploaded by brian_adams

Winter is finally giving way to spring, the appearance of pussy willow buds, hot dog stands and long days pushing aside the dark quiet nights into a kind of manic reemergence of life. The birds can be seen in the sky making their way back to us, the sounds of the city that have been muted beneath snow are now buzzing with energy.

I have so loved the winter, but I have never been more excited to toss aside the coat and walk through the streets freely beneath slim clothing.

After our adventures in Shishmaref, AK, BA and I boarded a plane to Kona, Hawaii, where we photographed our dear friends' M & A's wedding and made their wedding cake. When we landed in the airport, the humidity met us warm and shocking--we felt the comfort of t-shirts, jeans and tennis shoes, and it was wonderful. Throughout the week of our visit when we weren't assisting each other's artistic endeavors, BA and I spent afternoons wave-jumping in salt water, lying poolside with poetry and magazines, and skateboarding on soft, smooth pavement. We had a wonderful visit with friends old and new, and we left with sun-kissed skins and only good memories: traipsing together at the "edge of the world" with a herd of wild goats, picking wildflowers, and laughing on our air mattress late into the night.

It was my first trip to Hawaii, and although I found it far less photogenic than the mountains and ice of Alaska, I see why it is so beloved. There is something magical about the heat, about the green, verdant life sprouting up against an ever-blue sea cresting against a blackened shore.

Just two days after returning to Anchorage, I began teaching poetry classes to a group of brilliant "at-risk" youth ages 9 to 14, working with them to create a book of their poetry to premier at a May reading downtown. I am always so inspired by youth, especially those as talented and insightful as these children; they ask all the right questions, and their poems inspire my own. Among many things, working with this group of young people has me questioning why it is that so many adults lose the sense of wonder in the world around them with which we are all born. When is it that most adults stop asking questions about the world around them? When is it that we stop seeing?

This is what I love most about artists and about being an artist myself: art requires that we look, that we see, that we feel. It requires that we question, that we accept that most questions have no answers.

"We make our arts because we have to," Tim Easton said to me in a recent interview. "We make our art and we trust that our passions and our art will take care of us."

BA and I recently interviewed and photographed Easton while he was visiting and playing shows in Anchorage, and it was so enjoyable and inspiring that, like most stories we work on, it did not feel anything like work. We enjoyed coffee with Easton, drove to one of the most beautiful bluffs and beaches in Anchorage, spent a day being cold together and talking ("rapping" as Easton says), and then huddled together in the Taproot prior to his performance to enjoy a warm and satisfying meal. The next day, we were invited to an exclusive party and barbecue far up on the hillside, where the snow is still feet deep and spring feels months away. The sun glinted through light flakes as a group of musicians played music freestyle on a range of instruments inside; after filling up on some of the best barbecue I've had in my life, it was more than indulgent to enjoy their creative energy--it made me feel alive.

As BA and I pulled away from the party, our artistic souls and bellies satisfied, we looked at each other and smiled: summer is on its way.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

2010, Part One

shishmaref, ak
Originally uploaded by brian_adams

It has been months since I've updated this blog, so first, let me say that I am bad at this and that I am sorry.

Thus far, 2010 has been a wonderfully exciting year of changes and travels, beginning with the birth of BA's nephew on January 28th. It was the first time that I've been very close to a birth--in the delivery room up until the final pushing--and although there are many things I could say regarding how I felt, the easiest is for me to say that it changed the way I view life. Witnessing the exhaustion of a woman during and after delivery, a father holding his son for the very first time, and a brand new life--veiny, and so very small--emerging into the world we so often take for granted, everything seemed simpler somehow. Why would we ever complicate our lives unnecessarily when it's amazing that we've made it at all? When we've already gone through so much?

During the month of March, BA and I embarked on the most exciting project I've worked on in a while--creating a multi-generational cookbook of Native Alaskan recipes in Shishmaref, AK. We traveled to Shishmaref for one week, during which we interviewed elders who contributed to a cookbook created in 1951 by the Shishmaref Day School (the receipt of which originally inspired the project), and then spent the rest of our time working with the school to gather new recipes from the current students or in the community visiting with families, discussing Native Alaskan foods and trying our fair share. The experience was exhilarating, both on a personal and professional level; Shishmaref is a beautiful place of welcoming people, breathtaking landscapes, and exciting foods. Read one of six published pieces of our trip here.

It's just another reason why I feel so blessed everyday to live in Alaska.

This being said, BA made a very big decision last week: we will be relocating to New York City in September where I will begin my MFA studies in poetry at the New School. We will return to Anchorage in the summer, and then again (for an indefinite/undisclosed time) to Anchorage after I've finished my degree and published my first book.

Right now, BA and I are working on the many post-production aspects for our book project, going to Hawaii to photograph a friend's wedding, and then, there will be more to write, I'm sure. (And, next time, I won't allow the months to pass without an update!)