Sunday, September 23, 2012

ROTA Basement Blast: Long Cat & Mouthbreather

Long Cat

Long Cat

Long Cat

Long Cat


ROTA Basement Blast: Derive

Derive, a band from Massachusetts visiting ROTA Gallery and Studios, 50 Margaret Street, Plattsburgh NY.  More info: .

Illumination was only provided by a string of Xmas lights.  Exposure: forever at f8.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Plattsburgh City: More Paranoid Morons Per Capita?

PLATTSBURGH CITY - Sept. 21, 2012

Almost every day I walk or bike to the post office and sometimes along the way I see something interesting to photograph.

Today I noticed a cloud pattern in the evening sky, a row of slanting white streaks pointing upward.  I take out my camera and start shooting, facing west, aimed up over the Press-Republican building across the street.

Suddenly someone shouts at me from behind.  I turn around and locate the speaker, a guy standing on a second-story porch challenging me, asking why I take photographs of the buildings every day around there.

First, I had my back to him.  I was shooting the sky, not a building.  Second, if I want to, I can legally photograph any building on Miller Street whether he likes it or not.  If it's in plain public view, I can shoot it.

This is the third time I've been confronted about taking photos on Miller Street.  A while ago one woman, an inbred troglodyte, told me I was taking too many pictures around her building -- even though I wasn't photographing her hovel.  Another time a pugnacious pudknocker redneck threatened me from across the street if I took his image.  Again I had my back to the person, didn't even know he was there.

You're not stopping me from taking photographs.  And with this latest incident, I wonder what that second-story porch critic was so worried about.  Paranoid?  Moronic?  Or trying to hide something?

I won't let ignorance reign over my intelligence.  Especially in Plattsburgh.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

An Afternoon For The Birds

Speaking to an audience and working with animals can be difficult on occasion as wildlife educator Jonas Borkholder knows from personal experience.  The flapping blur on his arm is a peregrine falcon that finally settled down after trying to ruffle Jonas's feathers like a difficult movie star. 

PLATTSBURGH CITY - Saturday, 9/15/12.

A crowd young and old packed the second floor auditorium at the Plattsburgh Public Library Saturday at 1 PM to see live raptors and learn about their habits.

Wildlife Rehabber and Educator Jonas Borkholder was accompanied by four rescued birds from Adirondack Wildlife and Rehabilitation Center in Wilmington, NY.  The audience of around 60 people learned about the abilities of hawks, saw-whet owls,  peregrine falcons, and barn owls.

The rehabilitation of injured animals involves criteria set by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  A bird with a broken wing might not recover full use of that wing; releasing it to the wild would endanger it.  The birds the Jonas brought along met the criteria to live in captivity as part of educational outreach.

The tiny saw-whet owl, ensconced in its hollowed-out log cage, had suffered an eye injury.  Even though it looked like a baby owl, in fact the saw-whet was a full grown adult, four years old.

During the presentation Jonas held a peregrine falcon on his gloved arm, explaining that the one of the birds had been clocked at 242 miles per hour during a dive.

Someone asked him why the falcon was keeping its mouth open.  Like a dog that has trouble releasing heat through its fur, birds also pant because of the insulation provided by their feathers.  Jonas directed a wet mist from a spray bottle at the falcon to help it cool down.

Jonas wrapped up his talk by presenting a barn owl.  He explained the bird's disc-shaped eyes helped it to detect its prey such as mice.  This owl could manipulate its feathers to control its sound detection and also had two opposing ears that helped to pick up noises, one aimed down, the other up.  By moving its head the barn owl could narrow its hearing to a specific area.

The program was hosted by the PPL Friends of the Library which is celebrating 25 years of service.  More info about PPL events can be found at online or at its Facebook page.

You can learn more about the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and Rehab at  The site is loaded with information about its educational "critters."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ronnie -- Is That You?

Well, Ronnie, despite rumors to the contrary, you seem to be still alive, at least around downtown Plattsburgh in various shapes and forms.  I wish I could speak with you.  I have just one question.

Where in hell is my share from your trickle-down economics?  Something has trickled down on me but it sure ain't money or even rain.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Blazing Guitarist Meets Visually Enhanced Soundscapist

Framed by a ceramic sculpture, guitarist Steve Nolan plays Sunday evening at ROTA in downtown Plattsburgh.

PLATTSBURGH CITY - Sept. 9, 2012

"OK, kill the lights."

Words not favored by a photographer using available light.  Across the ceiling the bright array of fluorescent lights snapped off; darkness prevailed except for a digital slide show illuminating a portable screen.

But it's the performer, not the photographer, who calls the shots during a gig.  Understandably so when darkness is needed to set the scene.

At least the first performer this Sunday evening, local musician Steve Nolan, played with all the lights on, making it relatively easy to image his presentation.  ROTA Gallery And Studios billed Steve's show as "blazing guitar work over retro midi backgrounds."  With the help of a laptop computer he rendered some impressive instrumental compositions, including his own riff on a theme by Vangelis from the movie soundtrack of "The Bounty."

Steve Nolan performs one of his compositions at ROTA.

Then the visiting musician, Kevin "OK, kill the lights" Greenspon took to the ROTA stage.  His show was billed as "beautiful soundscapes and visual projections," his instrumentals involving some guitar work mixed in with tape collages.  The visual part of the show enhanced his presentation, a stream of abstract images floating in the blackness.

But how could I image his performance?  Forget flash.  Too rude and distracting.  Flash would've wrecked the ambience, blinded the musician-composer, and washed out the slide show.  And maybe my ass would get kicked.

Fortunately I was sitting in a stable folding chair.  Not as stable as using a tripod but bracing my arms and holding my breath while carefully pressing the shutter might work.  So I snapped away, seeing on my camera's preview screen I was getting some interesting images of Kevin silhouetted against the background visuals, the outline of his eyeglasses.  Mission accomplished.

Kevin Greenspon, lights out.

Hanging around the merch table after the show -- Kevin has produced a variety of EP vinyl, cassette tapes, and CDs -- I was able to speak with the musician/composer who hails from Los Angeles and has been touring across the county by car.  He said he had racked up 7000 miles on his vehicle so far and estimated by the time he was done the total mileage would be around 13,000.  His ROTA performance marked day 40 of 81.

Kevin described his works as improvising upon "micro-parts," as if barely hearing music in the distance and taking what he could discern as inspiration for his own compositions.  He also described his creative process as getting the gist of an interlude in a song and then building upon that.

In case you're wondering what he really looks like, here's Kevin Greenspon, lights on, prepping before his show. 

For more info on Kevin Greenspon and his works:
 and .

As for Steve Nolan, he plans this winter to record his compositions in his home studio.  Details to be announced when his project is completed.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Itsy Bitsy Flatsy Spider

Why do some people just slam the door on poor little spiders?

Obviously this guy should've stuck with the water spout, not the door.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

GOP Glop?

ATTN: Congressman Bill Owens (D)

A mysterious substance is hanging around outside your re-election campaign headquarters in downtown Plattsburgh.  It can be seen just below the sign for Westelcom Suites.

What does this substance represent?  A snotty trick by some of your political opponents?  A smear campaign?

Better yet, maybe it's an outer space blob, a malevolent mucus waiting to absorb your valiant volunteers.  Notice how it sinisterly glows at nighttime in the image below.

Of course, one could just surmise it's time for the landlord to fix the building's facade after this goo has been melting out all summer from the heat.

Whatever it may be, you can bet your asbestos I ain't getting too near it.

Night Rainbow

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Elephants Against A Red Sky: African Heritage Inspires Visiting Artist

Detail: "Savannah Elephants" by Maungo Judy Seabenyane.

PLATTSBURGH CITY - Sept. 1, 2012

How did artist Maungo Seabenyane -- you can call her Judy -- who hails from Botswana end up here in Plattsburgh?

The Peace Corps.

It worked out this way: Adam Defayette, an attorney at Prisoner Legal Services in Plattsburgh, was visiting his father in Botswana.  Adam's father had decided to spend his retirement years as a Peace Corps volunteer.  During his visit Adam met Judy and suggested to her that she could have an art show back in his hometown.

Thus the latest ROTA exhibit, "The World Comes To Plattsburgh," which also features the works of Gharan Burton, a local artist originally from Dominica.

Judy's creations include paintings, beaded accessories (such as earrings and bags) and painted T-shirts.

Her work draws upon her Botswana-African heritage.  "Savannah Elephants" depicts three elephants -- apparently father, mother and child -- silhouetted against a bright red-tinted sky.  "Sun Burned Queen" provides a fascinating contrast between the stern expression of the subject with her intense blue head wrap and the vibrant rainbow colors drifting by in the background.

Artist Judy Seabenyane (right) discusses one of her paintings with a ROTA patron during the opening reception for the exhibit, "The World Comes To Plattsburgh."

Usually one expects an artist to have a creative interest since childhood but Judy ended up as one in a roundabout way.  She started to make her own clothing after finding what was available didn't quite match her needs.  Painting on cloth lead her to paint on canvas.  When it came to artistic expression, she was a late bloomer.

Judy learned about art on her own, no formal training.  She holds a BA degree in Archaeology/English from the University of Botswana.  (Of course, being self-taught, she has a DIY in Art.)  After college she was hoping to get a museum job but was placed on a waiting list.  So she became a teacher, working with children 7 to 8 years old.  She taught various subjects ranging from math to English to cultural studies to environmental science.

But now art has taken priority in her life.  When she returns to Botswana she plans to open a consignment shop for her work, becoming a full time artist.  Judy also plans to continue with her education here in the US, focusing on a graduate degree in art history.

Young art critic Lucy Conroy (left) points out to her mother Danielle why she likes the painting, "Village Huts," by Maungo Judy Seabenyane.

For more info about ROTA Gallery And Studios, email: rotagallery (at) gmail (dot) com.  ROTA, located at 50 Margaret Street, is usually open daily 12 Noon to 5 PM depending on the availability of volunteer staff.