Thursday, June 7, 2012

Last days in San Diego before The First Journey

Hi to All,

Lat few days in San Diego have been filled with preparation for the departure, which at this point is roughly scheduled for Monday, June 10th.  Knowing that this date is coming up is a bit nerve wrecking because it seems that there is still a lot to do.  The windows still have to be outfitted with display imagery, graphics need to go on The Bus to identify and distinguish it on the road, the bathroom needs major work (though that can be finished on the road), loose wires need some attention, etc., etc.  As I am writing this Gilli The Bus is being worked on by professional mechanics of San Diego Freighliner.  in preparation for the road she's having her shocks and belts replaced along with one of the pulleys on the wonderful CAT engine, and getting all lubed up with a 20-point lube job.  In fact they called about 2 minutes ago and told me that one of the plates that hold the shocks is cracked and has to be welded together... This is definitely going to set me back quite a bit in terms of finances, but it is important to maintain the moving part of the art.

However, I believe it is possible to to do all this and still have time to visit my old stomping grounds, Ocean Beach, CA, and hold the first guerrilla portrait session right by the beach.

It would be a perfect place to start from because the town is located at the very end of highway 8, which runs East and will be our first, and hopefully hardest, leg on our first voyage.  Also, Ocean Beach is a quaint little community full of independent thinkers and that is where I spent a lot of time in my youth, surfing and daydreaming of someday having a mobile darkroom while being gently caressed by Pacific Ocean waives.  History is cyclical, so I feel compelled to follow suit.

It has been a LONG time since I made a print in the darkroom (two months is a long time for me...) and have recently felt like I'm being trained for a new career in construction and design.  Based on that the first mission of The Photo Palace Bus will be decompression and art creation (art creation will of course remain a central theme past the decompression faze).  I look forward to the open road and being guided by intuition and light.  The Photo Palace Bus is, of course, still open to invitations for specific and non-specific events.  If You have an urge to see TPPB in your neck of the woods - contact us and it will be arranged.  While thinking of this, please consider that it would be ultra-nice if The Bus arrived to a reserved parking spot we can count on(Gilli is 35ft long and she requires ample room for turning around).  Otherwise we can visit You for ANY reason - hold a portrait session in Your town,  do a small art show of hand-made prints (vintage and contemporary), give a demo to a local middle or high school or to a few more advanced photographer who, perhaps, have never had a chance to work in the darkroom, but have always wanted to.... Possibilities are endless!  I we would also stop by if you just want to say hi and show us your favorite place to eat (nothing like tasting the flavors of local cuisine, I'm personally looking forward to some good soul food when in The Gulf area).

Otherwise our route will be VERY roughly announced probably the day before we leave.  You can assume that we will be traveling East pretty quickly, trying to get to the coast - AZ , NM and TX have temperatures above 100°F currently and we are rolling with no AC on board.  I can, however, tell You what the first scheduled stop is as we stand right now - Tennessee! You may ask - why TN?

The answer is simple - that is where this years US National Rainbow Gathering of the Tribes of Living Light will take place (long, and perhaps too official-sounding name for a completely anarchistic grass-roots movement...).  As some of my readers may know I have been going to this event every year since 1997 (missing one year in 1999) and that is where I draw a lot of inspiration for my daily life.  It is a place from which anyone and everyone who comes may and will carry away different experiences depending on the energy they bring to contribute.  It is a place where I feel I have created some of my best imagery, though that will be for posterity to decide.  More than that, it was at my first Gathering in Oregon '97 that I was impregnated with the idea for The Photo Palace and every year since, while making my way to various states where it's been held, I imagined myself one day pulling in with an actual studio and darkroom.  At the Gathering I am looking forward to offering free photo workshops, holding family portrait sessions and making prints while listening to the distant sounds of drumming.  I have done that through the years, but on a much smaller scale - every year I came with 100 to 300+ gelatin silver 8x10s from previous years and giving them to people who find themselves in the photos, in 2002 I managed to bring enough equipment to be able to produce cyanotypes on the same day using Polaroid 55PN film (and give those away to happy participants and models), and in 2009 I offered a portrait and photography workshop and had one extremely dedicated student who got a tremendous crash-course covering everything from film speeds and grain structure to 4x5 movements and history.

The Gathering happens from mid-June to mid-July with 4th of July being a day of silent meditation on Peace.  Assuming that Gilli will behave and the time-table is kept intact, The Photo Palace Bus should be leaving TN around June 6th and heading to the Atlantic coast and then up to Maine.  Then it's a long journey back to San Diego, but I hear they play baseball all along the way, so it shouldn't be too bad, right?  I actually have done that drive in 1998, coming back from Limestone, Maine (Google it, it's pretty much the furthest point north-east you can go and still be in US, while being surrounded by Canada) and it wasn't so bad.  In fact it was beautiful and I look forward to doing the same trip in a much slower fashion that will allow for more artistic bonding with the landscape and people along the way.

Well, a lot of work is still ahead and this post is turning into a short novel.  To reward those who at least scrolled though it all to the end I am going to show You a quick shot of the counter as it looked in the short amount of time that the doors were on it, but the little silver handles were still not drilled into the images.
I battled these doors quite diligently.  2-part epoxy is a major pain in the neck and, not having ever before worked with it on any scale, covering large mural prints was a challenge.  The trick is in the mixing the two parts in equal amounts and if even a tiny bit is not completely evenly mixed almost on the molecular level you have a 99% chance of LOSING your piece of art FOREVER!  At least that is what I was told by a couple of more experienced folks after my first attempt failed spectacularly.  The news did not sit with me well at all!  I put about 2-3 hours worth of printing time into each of these prints, they were printed at a facility that I no longer have full access to, and they were printed with developer that is no longer made - and in edition of 1 40x50in each!  So I was not about to give up.  I bought more epoxy and proceeded to pour more layers. That worked to a degree (three of 4 came out from the second time), but on one of the doors I had to pour again, making that one have three layers of this stuff, which actually makes that one look the deepest and slightly cooler.  Now all is left is one door (which is a whopping 19x40in while the 4 doors in the picture are 22x30ish), Ryans cyanotype leaf - I already struggled with it twice and I think, if he helps me this time, I can finally cover all the blotches that are still not set.
So - here it is Presentations Counter With Doors!

Well, I'm off to do some writing for the upcoming website content and to daydream about things that the road may hold in store for the near future.

BTW, for those of You who work and don't enjoy it - the weekend is almost here!  Plus I hope You find Zen in your existence sooner than later and then it's not going to be such a drag at all.
For those who work and enjoy every second of it - good for You!
For those who don't work and enjoy it - congrats!
For those who don't work and don't enjoy it - hang in there, I hope something good is right around the corner for You.

Take god care,
Anton Orlov

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