"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

looking at appalachia

Roger May's project, "Looking at Appalachia" is getting some well deserved recognition and praise. I'm very proud that I have some work in the exhibition. Roger is the real deal and is extremely earnest and honest and passionate about what he's doing. The show is just beginning its tour, and the Lens blog at the New York Times is featuring it today. Kudos to Roger and to all the photographers involved.

You can read about it here.

(I'm thrilled that one of my photos is included in the article!)


Friday, May 15, 2015

freshly painted dorms coming right up!



Change the Truth's T-Shirt Fundraiser was a big success, and that means the children's dormitories at St. Mary Kevin Children's Home will all be getting a fresh coat of paint.

They really need them. The last time we painted the dorms was in 2008.




Lots of you supported the project by spending $28 for the brand spankin' new CTT tee.




And then board member Fred Grossman and his good friend Rick Mayo stepped up and made generous contributions earmarked for the project. Between the t-shirt sales and these contributions, we met our goal. THANK YOU to all!

The children will get to select the colors. Once the work is done, we'll share some pictures. Kiefa, Sarah, Queen, Erias, Sharon, Trevor, Gabriel, John, Rashid and all the others who deserve to live in as beautiful a space as possible, will be so happy!




Wednesday, May 13, 2015

concert

Our family held the 10th Annual Anita Roos Baker Mother's Day Concert in Lexington, Kentucky this past weekend. The concert has been a wonderful way for us to remember our mom each year - and it's a great free concert and reception for music lovers in Lexington. The talent at the University of Kentucky Music School is impressive, to say the least. They got a standing ovation this year, and they played to a full house! 



My brother, sister and I take turns giving the opening remarks. It was my turn this year. This is what I said:

Thank you for being here tonight.

I am Gloria Baker Feinstein. Along with my brothers, Mike and Ben, my sister, Bobbie and our 94-year old father, Harold, I’d like to welcome you to the 10th Annual Anita Roos Baker Mother’s Day Concert. We’re calling tonight’s program “A Very Special Evening of Music” because there’s really no better way to describe the program that’s been assembled for us.

In fact, each year we have been treated to a very special evening of music. When we first approached Ben Arnold here at the UK School of Music to talk about putting on the concert, shortly after our mother died, we were greeted with nothing but enthusiastic support. We were so grateful to him - for helping us get this concert started and now to Tedrin Lindsey, who has presented us with impressive programs year after year.

Our mother, Anita, a life-long Lexingtonian, instilled in us an appreciation of good music. (She also instilled in us a love of Cincinnati Reds baseball and UK Wildcat basketball, but that’s another story for another night.) As a family, we attended Broadway musicals, and I can testify that I squirmed my way through more than a few operas. Mom had her own beautiful mezzo-soprano voice. She sang in our Temple choir, at funerals and in several small singing groups here in Lexington over the years. Her car radio was always tuned to classical music, and she played the cello for several years. She always looked happy when she was immersed in good music. Mom did this funny thing with her hand when she was listening to something she really enjoyed. She would raise up her right hand ever so gracefully, her pinky slightly higher than her other fingers, and subconsciously conduct the music. With her eyes closed, her hand aloft and a smile on her face, Anita was truly in her happy place when music was playing.

But tonight isn’t just about my mother. It’s about the talented performers who will grace this stage, and it’s about all of us in this room.

The American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said: “music is the universal language of mankind.” He made that statement in the mid-1800’s, and all these years later scientific studies are proving him right. Things like tempo and pitch actually do cause people from different cultures, age groups and life experiences to respond to music in very similar ways. Music can take us as a group to places of joy and sorrow, excitement and calm, fear and safety. Music can cross all borders, time zones, languages and traditions. As a shared experience, it goes back to the days when people chanted as they worked together or when they gathered for any sort of ritual. From our first social bonding as babies to the funerals that mark our passing, music plays an important role in all our lives, and it brings us closer together.

I witnessed this first hand when I took my teenage son, Max, a drummer, to Africa. He quickly discovered that he could communicate all day long with the musicians, dancers and singers he met, some of whom spoke no English, through the universal language of beat, rhythm and musical expression. He talked with and got to know many people, because music was their common language.

Now it’s time to introduce our emcee and pianist extraordinaire, Tedrin Lindsay, who will bring onto the stage Everett and Alicia McCorvey, Benjamin and Margaret Karp, Catherine Clarke Nardolillo, Yoonie Choi and Jonathan Green. On behalf of the Baker family, the Temple Adath Israel Music Fund and the Friends of the UK School of Music, I hope you enjoy tonight’s program. I know my mother would have loved it. I hope she’s listening. If so, one thing’s for sure: her conducting hand will be very busy!


Thank you.


Monday, May 11, 2015

a new diptych

I made this over the weekend while visiting my father. He just turned 94.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

bringing uganda to the kansas suburbs

Natalie Boten is another one of CTT's super stars. She, like Eddie, is always coming up with creative ways to spread awareness about our kids in Uganda. 

For some time now, she has been developing a relationship with the students and faculty at Hocker Grove Middle School. She (along with teacher Kimberly Gilman) have been busy creating a bridge between the kids there and the kids at St. Mary Kevin Children's Home. Kids learning about kids. Kids helping kids. That's the best.

Today Natalie created a Ugandan ambience at Hocker Grove for a couple hours. She played Ugandan music, showed pictures, helped the students make small projects about themselves to deliver to the kids at SMK and fed them a taste of Ugandan food! Natalie made and rounded up the following: posho, g-nuts, beans, rice, chapati, mangos and pineapple! Posho, for those of you you may not be familiar with it, is one of the staples of the Ugandan diet. It is made up of finely ground white corn flour that is mixed with boiling water to form a solid. It's easy to make in huge batches, it fills you up, and it takes on the flavor of whatever is served with it - in most cases, beans. The kids at SMK eat it a LOT. The kids in suburban Kansas ate it today, and Natalie reported that they liked it!

Breaking down the walls between us can only bring us closer together in many positive ways. Thank you, Natalie, for taking the time to bring Uganda to Kansas for a few lucky young people today.













Tuesday, May 05, 2015

look how far a little love can go



My husband, Eddie, is on the board of CTT and has made a trip to SMK to volunteer. He works tirelessly behind the scenes here at the CTT office (our den) and is one of the greatest advocates the children could ever hope to have.

When his team at work decided to raise funds for a charity, one of his colleagues suggested CTT. Together, they pitched the idea to their supervisor. Different teams chose different groups to support, and, happily, Eddie’s supervisor and entire management team loved the idea and got behind CTT 110%.

Over the course of the next three weeks, all members of the team were encouraged to bring in stuffed animals, art supplies, toothbrushes and toothpaste, books, pencils and other goodies for the children at SMK. Some people made cash donations. Eddie would come home from work each day and describe the growing number of items, how they were filling up and overflowing various spaces in the office.

I don’t think I really had a clue until he sent me this photo from work yesterday. The drive had ended, and he and some others had arranged the donated items so everyone could admire the good deed their division had accomplished. That’s Eddie on the left. On the right is his enthusiastically supportive boss, Ja Rita, with her boss, Ben.

Can you believe it?

It was easy and made everyone at Eddie’s office feel so good. Now we just have to figure out how to pack all of this in our duffel bags for the next trip to Uganda. The children will have a very special day when these gifts are delivered.

Here’s the beautiful thing: it’s not just the flip-flops and the coloring books. It’s that people here in America, people who don’t even know them, did something very special for our kids. That’s what will ultimately mean the most to Wasswa, Mourie, Ambrose, Elijah, Shine, Mary, Sarah, Petra, Fred, Rashid, Enock, Erias, Queen, Kiefa and all the others.


Saturday, May 02, 2015

grandma goodies








In conjunction with the release of my new book Some Grandmas, these t-shirts and this tote bag are now available and can be yours!! Email me if you'd like to shop.


Monday, April 27, 2015

show at snapshot


I'm busy getting work ready for another exhibition. This one will open in late May at the Snapshot Gallery in Kansas City. It will be a two-person exhibition, including work by Lynn Whitney.

My part of the show will be titled "Seen/Unseen." Images, most of which have never been shown before, will be paired, but will also stand on their own.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

show at strecker-nelson gallery

Several of my Shredded pieces will be included in "Eccentric Visions" at Strecker-Nelson Gallery in Manhattan, Kansas. The show opens tomorrow night and runs through June 6th.

It's always fun to see older work resurface; at my mid-career retrospective, this body of work was actually the fan favorite.

It seems fitting to post these today, anyway, because it is my father's 94th birthday! It's because of him - and his request that I clean out some old file cabinets and shred some of his personal papers - that I began the project in the first place.

That's my dad on the far right in Pike's Peak image.


Beach


Sunglasses


The Badlands


Washington Monument


Yellowstone


Yosemite


Pike's Peak



Wednesday, April 22, 2015

moving on



Seven weeks ago I had my rotator cuff repaired. Little did I truly understand how rough and how long the recovery from that surgery would be. In the thick of it, I was hazy on pain killers, sleeping only intermittently in a rented recliner, addicted to a shoulder icing machine, always sporting an arm immobilizer (even while sleeping intermittently in the rented recliner), dealing with really nasty muscle spasms and wondering if/how I was ever going to use my dominant right arm again.

I thought I'd read while cooped up; I had a pile of books on my bedside table. I thought I'd binge-watch all the great TV series friends had raved about. I don't know why I didn't do either, but I never seemed to have the energy or level of concentration required. One day, when I realized I had just cruised through back to back episodes of Leave it to Beaver, I knew I had crossed over into complete boredom. So I drew with my left hand to remain engaged and creative. I figured out how to tie my shoes, floss my teeth, write letters and make meals with my left hand (making poached eggs was one of my single greatest accomplishments!). I spent time revisiting past photo projects. I birthed the book Some Grandmas. I discovered and fell in love with Uber.

My friends stepped up. They drove me to physical therapy and brought me chicken soup. They came over just to hang out. My cabin fever got pretty intense.

There were some dark days. There were times I didn't think the pain would ever go away. I can think of at least two days when I just sat on the couch and cried.

Now that I've been freed from the immobilizer, I can drive again. Hallelujah! Life's simple pleasures are glorious.

Throwing away the immobilizer brings on a whole new set of challenges, of course. Not having used my arm for so long means it is weak, and it is kind of stuck in one position. Physical therapy is getting more challenging, as I move from passive (the therapist moves me) to active (I move me)  exercise. I'm supposed to use my arm as much as I can, yet I am limited to lifting a maximum of two pounds with it. (Did you know that a half-full bottle of olive oil weighs in at a whopping four pounds??)  The pain is still enough to require at least an Advil at all times - occasionally something stronger.

I've been told it takes a full year to reclaim ones shoulder after this type of surgery.

My husband has been a rock-star-super-hero, there for me at every single turn and every single bump. He has caught me and lifted me back up hundreds of times over the past seven weeks.

I've had to cancel shoots and even had to cancel my trip to Portland for Photolucida. But I am printing work for my upcoming show at Snapshot Gallery, and I'm excited about how it's coming together.

And I've noticed how particularly fragrant the lilacs are this spring.

Life is good. Onward and upward.


Monday, April 20, 2015

mother's day concert

The following article about the concert we hold each year in memory of my mother is in The Lexington Herald-Leader, my hometown newspaper, today.


Anita Roos Baker

Anita Roos Baker loved her family, music and this community where she lived for 82 years.

When she died in 2005, her family wanted to be good stewards of the music fund that was established at Temple Adath Israel as well as highlight Baker's life and her loves.

What they decided on, with the help of Tedrin Lindsay, a vocal coach and musical director in the opera department at the University of Kentucky, was an annual Mother's Day concert featuring talented singers and musicians in Lexington and at UK.

"She had a beautiful voice and really enjoyed singing," said Harold J. Baker, who was married to Anita Roos Baker for 59 years. "That first concert was so enjoyable.

"The university has great talent and they always put on a great show," he continued. "This year won't be any different. It brings back great memories."

The 10th annual Anita Roos Baker Mother's Day concert, "A Very Special Evening of Music," will feature Everett McCorvey, UK Opera Theatre director, and his wife, soprano Alicia Helm McCorvey; Benjamin Karp, Lexington Philharmonic principal, and his wife, violinist Margaret Karp; cellist Yoonie Choi; soprano Catherine Clarke Nardolillo; baritone Jonathan Green; and pianist Lindsay as emcee.

Because this is a special anniversary year, Lindsay sought out artists who had performed in previous years. The McCorveys, he said, performed at the first concert, and the Karps for the first couple of years. Choi has performed at most of the concerts and Nardolillo in nearly every one.

"This year I will introduce a new singer," Lindsay said, "one of our master's students, baritone Jonathan Green. He will regale us with Cole Porter pieces."

The concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. May 10 at the Singletary Center for the Arts Recital Hall, 405 Rose Street. The concert is free, with a reception following in the President's Room.

"Having it on Mother's Day becomes a time for us to get together with our father," Gloria Baker Feinstein said of her sister and two brothers. "It has become more than about our mother."

Her mother was a soft-spoken gentle woman who loved the cello, singing and Broadway show tunes, Feinstein said. Because her mother shunned the spotlight, Feinstein isn't sure she'd like the idea of a concert in her name, but she's sure her mother would have attended.

The most touching selection for the family is the final song, she said.

"Our mother had handwritten notes in her dresser that requested a certain song (You'll Never Walk Alone) to be sung at her funeral," Feinstein said. "It became her signature song.

"So at the end, Tedrin brings out all of the performers and they all sing it," she said. "Talk about goose bumps."

The audience at the first concert was mostly friends and family. Familiar faces, Feinstein said. Now the faces are increasingly unfamiliar.

When she wasn't singing in the choir at the temple, Anita Roos Baker, a native of Lexington, volunteered at several health and service organizations and was a long-time member and supporter of the UK Friends of Music, a volunteer organization of music lovers dedicated to the advocacy and financial support for the music school.

"My parents were so well respected and so well loved," she said. "In their own quiet, gentle way, they have touched and affected so many people over the years."

And they still are with the concert.

"So many people come and they love to have something more to celebrate on Mother's Day," Lindsay said.

"It is definitely a night (my mother) would enjoy," Feinstein said. "We feel her like a blanket around our shoulders."

- Merlene Davis


Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2015/04/20/3810665/merlene-davis-annual-mothers-day.html#storylink=cpy

Saturday, April 18, 2015

my new book

Please come to a book party!
What:
Signing and celebration of the recently released book, Some Grandmas, by Gloria Baker Feinstein.

Where: 
Reading Reptile
328 W. 63rd St.
Kansas City, Missouri 

When:
Sunday, May 3rd
1:00 - 2:30 PM

A book reading and introduction of the featured grandmothers will take place at 1:30

Who:
You! The event is free and open to all. Please bring your friends and family.

Why:
This is your chance to purchase copies of the book for Mother's Day.Some Grandmas is also a perfect "new baby," young child's birthday or "new grandmother" gift. 

A portion of the proceeds from each book sale will be donated to the foster grandmother program at Operation Breakthrough.

(Plus, there might be balloons, flowers, music, cookies and mimosas.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

twins

Martha and Mary


Derrick and Dustin


There's an online exhibit of identical twins on Feature Shoot today. Below is the description of the concept. Click here to see the work. The above pictures of mine were selected for inclusion, but there's a lot of really good work by many other photographers!

Judged by 
Keren Sachs, Director of Content Development for Offset, a new collection of high-end stock photography and illustration from artist around the globe, the images chosen for this show capture the essence of twinness, of an unspoken bond that many wish for and few actually get to experience. An arresting portrait of one person is difficult to accomplish, but these photographs touch not on individuals so much as relationships between them, that quiet push and pull that can only exist between people who have shared a womb, a likeness, or a lifetime of memories. We can’t all have a twin, but through this diverse set of portraits, we can imagine for a brief moment what it might be like to go through live with such a companion.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

robots and ladders and planets and things

Four-year-old grandson Henry loves to draw and build things. I'm giving him his first solo show here. It's cool to see how quickly his skills have changed over these few months. Don't you just love the way kids think and visualize?


Dad playing the piano



Ladybugs

Butterflies

Spider web

Penguin standing on a D battery (needed for the snow machine)

Robot 

Beach house with ladders and telescopes

Fingernail polish

Penguins under a snow machine

Diggers

Robots thinking about their remote controls

The sun with sun spots




Sunday, April 12, 2015

mama melissa!

Change the Truth is incredibly lucky to have Melissa in its corner. This August will mark her fifth year living and working on our behalf at St. Mary Kevin Children's Home. The following recent missive makes it quite clear that she is a mama to so many now - and a fantastic one at that!

"Mourie lost her first tooth last weekend. As a child, my mom did an exceptional job of making those childhood milestones special. I celebrated Antwain’s milestones with him, and it has become one of my great joys to be present for the childhood milestones of the children at SMK.




In America, the Tooth Fairy is a common myth parents use to trade their child’s tooth for some small money. My mom kept the Tooth Fairy legacy alive when I was a child, and I did the same with Antwain. When Mourie discovered her tooth missing, she shared that Uganda’s Tooth Fairy is actually a Rat, which is crafty enough to eat the tooth after leaving a Ugandan shilling coin in its place.

When Mourie lost her tooth, we did not give the Tooth Rat the opportunity to pay us a visit. Instead I traded her tooth for a Ugandan shilling coin, and we are saving her first lost tooth for her Mommy. For me, it was a special privilege to be there during this moment in her childhood."


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

no guggie again



This was the second year I applied for a Guggenheim Fellowship. This was the second time I didn't receive one.

We artists are a curious group for many reasons, one of which is that most of us are constantly setting ourselves up for rejection of some kind. Like the writers, painters and filmmakers I know, in order to get my work "out there" I have to put it in front of curators, editors, gallerists and the viewing public on a regular basis. Sometimes that's fun and successful, and other times it's kind of like hearing your parent say to your younger self upon presenting a paper or drawing about which you feel really proud: "Can't you do any better than this? Sorry, but it's just not that good!"

Of course, most of us do have jobs that involve rejection: getting passed over for a raise or promotion, getting fired, not receiving any slaps on the back for a job well-done, etc. I know artists aren't alone when we feel under appreciated for the work we do. Perhaps it's just more public and more regular. As well, if there is no support from publications, galleries, fellowships, etc. the artist is compelled to find other means of financial support. It's kind of a shame that the woman who wants to be a dentist can to school to study it, can get a degree and then get a job looking into the mouths of her patients, while the woman who wants to be an artist goes to school to study it, gets a degree and then, more often than not, waits tables or, worse yet continues to make art, but in a "lowest common denominator" kind of way to make it mainstream and accessible. Many teach and have little or no time to make their own work.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. I'm always excited to meet an artist who has managed to make his/her way on the artwork alone, especially when highly personal projects are involved.

As I said in my emails to those who wrote letters on my behalf for the Guggenheim, I will continue to plug away at this goal, as I'm not one to give up easily. In the meantime, I'll continue to be passionate about and grateful for my "job" as a photographer. 

I just wish there was a different way to go about this career, one that didn't require such a herculean effort to attain enough acceptance letters to keep moving forward.

(Oh, did I mentioned all the requests for donated or pro-bono work?)

I'm eager to hear who did get the Guggies in photography this year. I'll certainly offer each of them a hearty congratulations. 

And hope for the best next year.


Thursday, April 02, 2015

these two

My grandchildren are growing up in a wonderland. I love the pictures their mama sends me. I keep telling her I wish I was one of her kids! Henry and Clara are encouraged to explore, experiment, be imaginative, get dirty. Each day is filled with countless discoveries, curiosities and creations. These two are always making up and sharing a delightful new adventure. They love to read, draw and make music and are learning, courtesy of their patient parents, to appreciate the mystery, wonder and beauty of everything around him.

In June they will have one of the most exciting adventures of all: they will be joined by a brand new baby brother or sister!