Monday, January 25, 2010

Journey Back to NZ - 'In Transit' Exhibition

'I believe in the imagination. What I cannot see is infinitely more important than what I can see.'

- Duane Michals, Photographer

'In Transit' Exhibition Photos
I had a 10 hour layover in L.A. via Vancouver to New Zealand, which gave me the opportunity to meet up with Mark Hanauer, a wicked awesome commercial photographer in Santa Monica. He had been a fantastic mentor to me while creating my photo book and putting my exhibition together. Mark, his girlfriend, Tracey Shiffman, a book designer, and his dog, Shaq hung out with me on the Santa Monica promenade. This made my layover fly by and I definitely feel like I have some new friends there:)

I boarded my flight that night to learn that they had put me in an aisle seat. Not cool for an umpteen hour over nighter. So I went and laid claim to the last row in the plane hoping no one would get the same idea and I could stretch out eventually. To my chagrin, a male passenger came along just as we were about to take off and sat at the end of the row, dashing my hopes! Right after dinner, while I was in the bathroom, he took it upon himself to stretch right out across all 3 seats. Um. First of all, I was there first Buck-o. Second of all, how RUDE!! He could of at least asked if it was OK to put his smelly feet beside me!! I was running on little sleep from waking up to Sigurd (my cat) puking on my bed at 3 AM that morning when I had to get up at 4 AM to catch my flight. To add to this, I couldn't eat my delicious 'looking' vegetarian meal because they couldn't tell me if there was any alcohol in the sauce (if this is your first time reading this blog, even a drop of alcohol can make me sick for up to 10 days). So I ate the bun with all the butter that came in the packet to sustain myself for the duration of the flight.

12 hours later, we were landing in the southern hemisphere, 5 AM New Zealand time. I had to kill 3 hours before the rental car place was to open so I freshened up, got tea and wrote on my laptop. I went outside and waited a half an hour before calling. They said that the shuttle should be circling any minute. So I waited another half hour before calling again. This time, I asked if I was perhaps in the wrong place. I was.

So I went to the right place. I waited there for another half hour. When I finally got to the rental place, I waited another 2 hours before the car was finally ready. After a whole lot of waiting and hullabuloo, I finally drove away at NOON. 7 hours after landing! For some reason, I was too tired for this to upset me and went on my merry way surprisingly unfazed.

I arrived at Cait's old digs a short time later. I had stayed with her in Auckland while looking for work there last year. She had since returned to her home in NY but her awesome set of roomies offered up a bed for me to sleep in while I was there for the exhibition. This was such a blessing considering how broke I was and didn't have to add the expense of accommodations to my ever growing debt.

Some Kiwi-isms that I had forgotten but came back to me after being back for a few days:

'Flash' - When something is a bit pricey or really nice.
'It's all right' - You're welcome.
'Sweet as' - Cool (that's right, there is no noun after 'as' – another example would be if it was chilly outside, 'It's cold as!').
'Yep' - Yes
'Aye' - Don't you think? (similar to the Canadian 'eh')
'Lolli' - Candy
'Mmm' - Used when on the listening end of a conversation...with an inquisitive tone.
'Fine' - used to describe the weather, meaning 'it's not raining'.

I went off to get my prints framed the next morning and pick up fliers at The Depot (the gallery I was exhibiting at) to promote 'In Transit - A Meeting Point: 3 Women, 3 Strangers, 3 Journeys' to potential consumers of travel photography. 

This was the content for the promo:  

In Transit is an exhibition by three women who, though strangers to each other, share a passion for exploration; each capturing the fleeting moment of her journey as 'tourist' and photographer.  The artists - Samantha Bech, Tracey Tomtene and Karen Williamson, converse with the viewer through still image, inviting access to a culture, place or event outside their own turf.

It was a glorious day to do it; the sun was shining and I had always loved downtown Auckland on foot. I headed south to the Bay of Plenty for a blissful 4 hour drive amid grazing sheep, rolling green hills and winding roads. I had made 2 CDs to groove to and that I did! I hadn't taken a good solo road trip in months and it was so good to get behind the wheel again with just me, my music and the countryside (and espresso, of course!).

I got to Tash's in Whakatane and we had hot homemade soup and warm bread with Jono while catching up by the fireplace. It was such a cozy, warm feeling being there – like coming home. When I snuggled into the bed I used to sleep in that night, the familiar texture of the soft billowy pillows, duvet..and Chloe the cat, all came joyfully rushing back! I had missed the comfort of going to bed knowing there were other sleeping homo sapiens nearby, especially good friends like Tash and Jono that feel more like family.

The next morning, everything changed. I started to feel a bit groggy but ignored it and didn't give it a lot of thought because there was no reason for me to think I could be sick. I was so careful not to eat anything that might have alcohol or extracts. I was to meet Feliciano that day, a fellow traveller who was living in New Zealand, from Patagonia, that I had met on By the time I was on my way to see him after lunch, I knew that I was not well. Despite that, I had a lovely visit with Feli. An aspiring photographer and world traveller, Feli was on his way to tour India and Asia for 3 months. We chatted the afternoon away over hot tea but I just felt cloudier and sicker as minutes passed.

I drove back to Whakatane while having a big pity party for myself knowing that I was not going to feel well for at least 4 more days. Most of the next day was spent in a housecoat on the couch while Tash and I caught up on the last 6 months. It was so nice to have someone around that I don't have to pretend to feel normal with, when I'm feeling like hot garbage. 

I drove back up to Auckland the next day to hang the exhibition and meet with the 2 other photographers I would be exhibiting with, Samantha Bech and Karen Williamson. We had been planning the whole exhibition remotely with Hahna, the Exhibition Co-ordinator, so it was great to finally see everyone in person. 

The opening (June 6th) went swimmingly! Unfortunately, Sam couldn't make it at the last minute as she was shooting a wedding that day and her bride needed her to meet with her earlier than scheduled. She is originally from Canada but has been in NZ for several years with her husband. It is funny how you feel such an affinity with people from your homeland when you are in a foreign country.

The show went on, with just Karen and I doing the Q and A with Lizzy, another Gallery Co-ordinator, in front of a live audience of gallery patrons. I had rehearsed how I would answer each question and had my answers in front of me on a piece of paper. In the end, everything was pulled out of my ass and I barely remember a thing that I said! Before I knew it, we were cleaning up empty wine bottles and dishes and the place had vacated. It was over. Five months of hard work and anticipation and finit! With that, brought a sense of relief, accomplishment and anticipation for more. The show would not have meant as much to me if Tash and Jono did not attend. It meant so much to me to have friends there, especially ones that have been a big part of this crazy, life altering journey I've been taking.

As an exhibiting artist, one is required to volunteer at the gallery for a day. I loved it! And it was bustling due to a Sunday market going on next door. Tash and Jono came and met me for lunch before departing back to Whakatane. It is a sad goodbye when you don't know how long it will be before meeting again, but Tash and I have known one another since we were 20. No matter where we are in the world, we still manage to stay close.

I turned in early that night, still feeling like a bag of poo. I had to get up at 2:30 AM, that's right AM, to drop off my rental car and take a shuttle to the airport for my 6 AM flight to Australia, en route to Bali, the Land of the Gods...and SURFING! 

'The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.'

- Julia Margaret Cameron, Photographer (1815-1879) 


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