Statue in Cozumel
Gargoyles, Grotesques and Sculptures
I have always had a great fascination of carved figures on buildings and in parks around the world. Including them in my city wanderings is usually a plan and I am always anxious to see what creatures I can discover. Gargoyles, grotesques and creature carvings have been around for many centuries and serve many purposes. In architecture, a gargoyle is a carved or formed grotesque with a spout designed to convey water from a roof and away from the side of a building, thereby preventing rainwater from running down masonry walls and eroding the mortar between. A Grotesque is a very ugly or comically distorted figure, creature, or image.
Archway in Lansing, Michigan
I wonder what kind of wild imaginations were involved with the renderings of them and what their original purpose served. Some of them must be derived from dark, scary dreamscapes! Here are a few that have crossed my path:
Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota Florida
Detroit Masonic Temple, Michigan
Water Fountain in St. Louis, MO
Lion Head in Grand Rapids, MI
Ancient Face on an old Irish Church
An ancient Alien in Mexico!
All photography by Robyn Porteen
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I had a chance to take a short break and go to Detroit this past week for a concert. I took the opportunity to photograph the Brush Park District in downtown Detroit. Also known as The Little Paris of the Midwest, Brush Park was a neighborhood for the elite citizens of Detroit starting in the 1850s and flourishing though the early 1900s. Only 80 of the 300 original homes are still standing. Brush Park is a quiet and eerie part of the city, there were only a couple of people in sight during mid-day walking down the streets. Some of the homes have been rehabilitated and are lived in. But there are many standing tall and silent, waiting for someone to come and breath life back into them.
It’s really a sad thing to see these beautiful pieces of art in such ruin and decay. As I drove through this area, I tried to imagine what it must have looked like over 150 years ago. I researched the area online and found only a few photos of that era. I may take some more time to try and find original photos of the area and revisit Detroit with a plan to do comparison photography.
Unknown photographer – Alfred Street 1881
Many of the homes have been taken down and the city has offered entire blocks for bidding. To read more about Brush Park’s past residents, history and which homes have been rehabilitated, visit the Wiki page or the Detroit Historical Society website.
Wildflowers and vines have taken over many of the buildings. It’s a strange type of beauty to see nature in the city, mixing the colorful summer landscape of wildflowers with the red bricks and the neon graffiti.
All Photography by Robyn Porteen – Porteen Photography
Keeping a Postcard Journal – Traveling abroad and experiencing a different culture can give you memories that last for a lifetime. There are many ways to bring those home. When I travel, the two most important items I bring with me are my camera and a journal.
Even though I will take many photos on my trip, I still like to keep a visual record in my journal that shows a sense of where I have been. Postcards can be an inexpensive and artistic way to do just that! I often buy a couple of carefully picked postcards and write a small detail of something experienced that day and then mail it home to myself. That way, I have the date, the postmark from that country and a memory to keep in my journal. Writing down anything you feel will always trigger the memory of that moment, no matter how mundane or crazy. Usually I take the time right before I fall asleep in the evening to prop a pillow up behind my back in bed, grab my journal and write little snippets or made up poems describing one of those moments in time.
Pick postcards that showcase the area, a local artist or a museum you might have visited on your trip. It is a pleasant surprise to receive them in the mail when you return home.
I will tuck them into the pages of my journal for safekeeping. Postcards are also great for miniature framed artwork to hang in a cluster on the wall.
All photography by Robyn Porteen