Expedition into a Chance-y Dining Room

Glen, (Jamie), Mark, Marshall, Dave (and Shannon) gathered around the table for dessert.

Glen, (Jamie), Mark, Marshall, Dave (and Shannon) gathered around the table for dessert.

With the New Year, Dave and I rediscovered our dining room!

As architects, we’re constantly renovating our home. That means it’s usually in no shape to show. And as collector/artists, we tend to fill our space with papers, objects, frames, art and construction supplies, and other materials waiting to be incorporated into some design or other. To be more specific, the dining room in our house has served as Dave’s photographic archive for years. It’s been chock full of framed prints, storage shelves, packing materials, and the like.

Uncovering the room was a challenge and a thrill.

When Dave transferred his photographic archives from our dining room to his downtown studio we knew we had to celebrate.

Two 2012 accomplishments aided our celebration: (1) last fall, Dave installed enough new porch flooring for guests to access the front door, and (2) in July, I had our dining room table re-built (to overcome structural damage that resulted from the tripod-leg design combined with old age).

So although we hadn’t hosted a dinner party in around five years, we decided to give it a go.

The cats were thrilled — they love to meet people and entertain!

We planned a fairly simple meal and invited over some friends who’ve hosted us for dinner more times that I can count: Marshall & Glen McClure and Jamie & Mark Lewis. Together (we six people and four cats), made an expedition into the unknown space.  I’m happy to report that we had a blast.  Everything turned out well and we look forward to more expeditions into the room next fall….

The Magic Lens of Glen McClure

Photo of Glen McClure when he was featured in Insider's Passport. (Photo by Marshall McClure, downloaded from Insider's Passport.)

Photo of Glen McClure when he was featured in Insider’s Passport. (Photo by Marshall McClure, downloaded from Insider’s Passport.)

Alt Daily has just published a feature on Glen McClure and his spell binding photography — including images from Ireland, Italy, and Virginia. The feature includes over a dozen photos — just click “next” under the first photo to sequence through the photos and the article about Glen.

As for myself, the most meaningful of the set is the image of “Carl Alston-2100 Colonial Avenue.” That’s because I helped at the shoot where the photo was taken. It was Glen’s first street shoot, a genre in which he has excelled. I was the person who asked Mr. Alston if Glen could take his picture — and thankfully, Mr. Alston said yes. He was carrying a braille newspaper.

Dave and I were also with Glen this past September when he captured “Vortex-Letterkeen Wood-County Mayo Ireland.”

I especially love “Liquid Sky Inch Strand-County Mayo Ireland.” In fact, I purchased a copy of this image for Dave for Christmas a couple of years ago. Today, it’s proudly displayed in our dining room.

There’s also “Achill Island Ireland-ST Pattys Day Parade” that I’ve shown you before. And some treats I haven’t shared before:

The Joy of Youth-Venice Italy” and

Silver Strand-County Mayo Ireland” and

Sheffrey Hills Light-County Mayo Ireland.”

Fresh Off the Plane

Dave met me at the gate when I arrived into Norfolk “International” Airport. We grabbed my bags and he whisked me off to a dinner party at the McClure’s.  He had made-from-scratch two beautiful lasagnas that were to be the centerpiece of our meal.

We arrived at Glen and Marshall’s home just in time to view the sunset off their back desk and take a quick peek into their lovely garden. Even mid-December, the flowers are abloom in their back yard. For Marshall this seemed like nothing special; this type of flower always blooms this time of year, she said. Hampton Roads (our region, comprised of seven different cities in close proximity) is awash in pink blooms right now.

But the sight of fresh winter blooms left me in awe….

I notice that the flowers looked a lot fresher than I did (sporting my glamorous just-off-the plane aura)!

As the sun dipped below the tree line, we headed in to the McClures’ cozy living room.  We sat around, petting the animals and chatting for a while.

Then, low and behold, Jamie and Mark Lewis showed up at the front door — with party balloons and Christmas gifts in tow.  Mark is a conservator who works at the Chrysler Museum of Art.  We initially met at an art gallery, where he told me he is job is to “clean dirty pictures with Q-tips and spit.”

What a catchy line pick up line!?!

It’s one that worked.  Mark, his wife Jamie, and I have been fast friends from that moment forward.

I’ve so many fond memories of dinners around the McClures’ dinner table(s).

Dinner time!

Dinner time!

As I mentioned, Dave had assembled two delicious lasagnas — one red and one white.  He made them completely from scratch, noodles and all!  The McClures rounded out the selection with a crisp salad and ice cream.

Everyone chipped in bottles of wine they’d socked aways for special occasions.  Dave brought one from Dolceaqua (a Ligurian town we visited this past summer). Marshall contributed some of the finest from her brother’s Virginia winery. And Jamie, knowing Marshall’s preference for pale wines, shared a delightful bottle of white.

I have to say:  this was the perfect way to spend my first evening back in the States.  Seeing people I love gave my heart such a lift!

All the Glory of God

sliver moon

sliver moon

A thin sliver of moon hung in the sky as dawn broke over Dublin this morning. I’d thrown the curtains open, eager to soak in the southern rays I hoped would arrive.

And arrive they did!  In the full glory of God, the universe, and all that is good in the world.

This, my friends, is what Glen McClure calls “God-light.”

And all is good in my corner of the world today.

grlorious rays of morning

grlorious rays of morning

More on the Photo Party

I wasn’t the only one blogging about Glen McClure’s photographic extravaganza last night.  David Adam Beloff posted an intriguing blog as well.


Art Party

Sketch from Ruben Fletcher's blog of and "Art Party" at "Glen McClure's downtown Norfolk studio." Uploaded December 9, 2007.

Sketch from Ruben Fletcher’s blog of and “Art Party” at “Glen McClure’s downtown Norfolk studio.” Uploaded December 9, 2007.

Glen McClure’s photo studio comes to life in downtown Norfolk, Virginia, this time of year.  I always enjoy attending Glen’s annual print sale, seeing the images I love laid out on the tables, and connecting with friends.

This is the first year in a long, long time that I’ve not been present for this festivity.

Fortunately, though, Dave keeps me posted by text.  It helps bring my memories to life.  Finding Reuben Fletcher’s sketch on line from the 2007 party also rekindled memories.

I have to admit that I got slightly teary eyed when the first of Dave’s photos rolled in!

Glen, Marshall, Dave, and our friends Jamie and Mark Lewis are all going to the Christmas Parade of Boats down the York River this weekend, and I’ll miss that, too.  Fond memories of people and places close to my heart….

Drummer Girl

I know the suspense was probably killing you… so here’s Glen’s photo of the drummer girl from Achill Island.  This is an amazing image, isn’t it?

Below it, a black and white Glen took before we arrived.  Enjoy!

Leader of the Band

One of Glen McClure’s beautiful images from last St. Patrick’s Day’s Achill Island parade.

Our mission today: to find someone who knew the drummer girl Glen had photographed in Achill Island last March.  There’s a large print of the girl hanging in the Portsmouth Art and Cultural Center (formerly the Courthouse Gallery) right now.

Despite the rain that rolled in just after breakfast and stayed all day, we headed to the island of the west coast in our little rental car.  Dave did a respectable job of remembering to drive to the left.  One must always be patient driving in Ireland, though, as sheep maintain the right-of-way.

Arriving on Achill, we stopped at the Western Light Art Gallery and asked Sean Cannon and his wife for advice.  They knew exactly who the girl was.  We left the photo of her there, for Mr. and Mrs. Cannon to give her.  The couple had provided directions to a pub the whole marching band (pictured above) frequents.  It is famous for being the western-most pub in Ireland.

We headed there, stopping along the way for a photo or two.  Upon arriving at Gielty’s Bar and Restaurant, a friendly fellow greeted us immediately.  And he was, of course, exactly the person we were looking to find… Michael Gielty.

Michael and his niece were happy to see the images.  They actually had a framed drawing on the wall, made in 1985, that depicted almost the very same scene that Glen captured in 2012.

We celebrated our find with two man-sized Smithwicks and a lady Guinness.

Coast to Coast in Under 3 Hours

A zippy three-hour drive from coast to coast landed us in Westport, Ireland, to met our photographer friend.  The many stoney building faces make Westport a beaux of a city.  The businesses here have a decidedly international flair.  Before meeting Glen, Dave and I lunched at a highly acclaimed restaurant downtown named “sol rio.”

Glen stays a few miles outside town, at the Seapoint House, when he’s in this area.  His work is hanging in rooms all over this B&B.  That (and the fact that he’s here) makes it feel like home to us.  Dave and I have one of Glen’s photos from this very county (County Mayo) hanging in our dining room in Portsmouth.

When we arrived today, Glen was out somewhere with his camera so we wandered a bit. It was overcast across Ireland most of the day, but the colors of the moss here are always so vibrant as you can see below.

Glen’s enthusiasm for this place is contagious.  For dinner, he took us out to one of his favorite pubs, Sheebeen.  In the photos below, you see how animated he and Dave were–until the food arrived!

At this pub, once again, I found delicious vegetarian choices on the menu.  Although I’m not vegetarian, I am trying to cut back on eating meat… we’ve had luck ordering one vegetarian and one fish or meat entree and splitting.  (Incidentally, Torinos Italian Restaurant in Westport also has delicious food and vegetarian options.)

See my half-sized “lady Guinness” in the foreground above?  It’s as much alcohol as I can handle (I’m actually quite the teetotaler).  In any case, I’ve no idea what to make of the sandwich board we saw while walking downtown before dinner… it must be a joke?

I’m really not sure what to make of this sign.