Today I visited Los Poblanos, a wonderful and magical place near Albuquerque, New Mexico. Gorgeous and exceptionally scenic, this historic inn and organic farm was a treat to experience. Even the Peacocks that reside at Los Poblanos show off their best side.
I’ve been busy, busy, busy over the past few months. Setting up a foundation: www.ThisisAmericaFoundation.org, working in California: www.ThisisCalifornia.us and preparing to Hit the Road!
On my journey across America last year, I drove through tiny towns that offered an up-close glimpse of Americana. When I ride through any community, I always keep my eyes peeled for an unconventional scene, such as this life-size statue of a white-aproned short-order cook alongside his hamburger creation, at Fat Smitty’s in Port Townsend, Washington.
Americana at its best! The flag, the cook in his baseball cap, and the mile-high hamburger overflowing with tomatoes, onions, American cheese, lettuce and loads of condiments, all squished among three buns!! What a meal! I almost don’t need to explain anything, as this image signifies creative small-town America. I love to photograph these art statements, because they say so much about us as an imaginative country.
Art exist in the most unusual places. This pig has a snout that doubles as a cover for the air conditioner on the side of this small catering establishment in Oregon! It is hard to believe barbecue was not invented in America,, because it is served everywhere (some think it was invented in China). What is it? Usually smoked pork or beef slow-cooked in a barbecue pit. It differs from Texas to North Carolina, but up here it is pulled pork. It is delicious, let me tell you.
This colorful scene, taken late in the day, was helped along by the blue, blue sky and red and yellow sign.
Carol M. Highsmith is a professional photographer who has been traveling America for the past 30 years. She is donating her entire collection of images to the Library of Congress, copyright-free.
Some capitols are classic, such the gleaming-white, iconic U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. And some have a more contemporary design, like this one in North Dakota.
I had just the right light on this majestic capitol in Bismarck, with a background of puffs and blue sky. This 19-story structure replaced the original capitol that burned down in the 1930s. The vast, green-grass vista that surrounds the capitol building, helps its silhouette stand out.
I love North and South Dakota. Both states have interesting and unusual tourist attractions. Everyone knows about Mount Rushmore located in South Dakota, and what could be a more shining example of Americana than showing off the sculpted profiles of four of our presidents. But there is another stunning mountain, not far from Rushmore, that is moulded into the form of Sioux Indian warrior Crazy Horse. It will not be completed in my lifetime, but when it is finished, it will be four times the size of Rushmore.
You can begin to see the face of the famous Indian. The horses head in front will be blasted out in future years. The carving of the mountain was created by sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski beginning June 3, 1948. The memorial’s mission is to honor the culture, tradition and living heritage of all North American Indians. Classic images like these are easy to create in the Dakotas, where art is found in many unusual places.
Carol M. Highsmith is a professional photographer who has been traveling America for the past 30 years. She is donating her entire collection of images to the Library of Congress, copyright-free.
Maybe it’s just me, but there is nothing more calming and therapeutic than driving on the backroads of America. On my trip across the United States in 2010, I thought about all the trips I had taken across the same roads in the past 30 years. Why is it I never grow tired of the miles and miles and miles of pastoral America? It is mesmerizing. On days filled with puffy clouds, all I want to do is take photographs. Bales of hay and blue skies filled with cotton are my palette.
The clouds, are always in different configurations and add depth to this image. That is why it is called “Big Sky Country.” Montana is a vast state, so I stopped to capture scenic views time after time.
Sometimes the bales of hay look like dots across the land, because it is such a vast scene. Only up close can you see the design of the roll. Speaking of clouds, look at these! The light reflecting on the top and the dark, storm-like pattern underneath make it look surreal.
Carol M. Highsmith is a professional photographer who has been traveling America for the past 30 years. She plans to donate her entire collection of images to the Library of Congress copyright-free.
I love to ride along the backroads of my country. Way out there in rural America, where, if you close your eyes, you might not have any clue what farm state you were in. Many of my images are of old wooden barns and row upon row of lush harvests. Last year during my trip across the U.S., I had just the right light on this field of crops in Wisconsin. I am delighted when I snap a photograph like this, because America is still 83% rural, and this is the scene out my window during much of my journey. It would be a shame if it was recorded only in my mind.
Along with the millions of acres of farmland, I also enjoy quirky American outdoor art. I visit the smallest parks and I am constantly searching on the Internet for anything unusual that I might pass along the way. I have gone miles and miles out of the way just to see a statue of a pig, a boll weevil, or even this art, known as largest buffalo statue in America! I’m sorry, I miswrote, it is the largest buffalo in the entire world!!!
And of course he stands guard over the town of Jamestown, North Dakota. He is 26 feet tall and was built in 1959. In 2010, this grand bison was named Dakota Thunder in a contest that drew more than 3,500 entries.
Carol M. Highsmith is a professional photographer who has been recording the American scene for the 30 years. She is donating her life’s work of images to the Library of Congress, copyright-free.
On my photographic journey across America, we drove from Detroit to the Windy City of Chicago. I have always had a fondness for this remarkable city, especially its art scene. I visited Millennium Park and placed my camera right in the water as kids splashed around artist Jaume Plensa’s 50-foot glass block towers of flowing water that project video images of 1,000 different Chicagoans faces. It is really not that easy to capture an image of this ever-changing art because the faces move and contort. The most fun is when the face puckers his lips and spews a mouthful of water towards the crowd. With children running and splashing and slipping and sliding, I was lucky to get this shot:
There is art everywhere you look in the park, even a Frank Gehry pavilion!
Just a few blocks away is a new piece of larger-than-life art. It is a giant eyeball sculpture by artist Tony Tasset. Somehow, in between all the people viewing it, I was able to snap this image. Note how realistic it is. Of course, I went into Photoshop and worked on the blue color to make it pop.
In my travels across America, I planned to visit Detroit, the largest city in Michigan. With all the tough times and bad press it has faced in recent years, I was bracing for the worst. Detroit has been known as Motor City, signifying the importance it played in American automobile manufacturing, and it is famous for the Motown sound, but those iconic labels are both from yesteryear. These days it is struggling to keep its fleeing population and crumbling buildings from casting a dark shadow. But there are some beautiful sides to Detroit, as there are in any town. Sometimes, even the smallest detail can show how elegant a place might have been years ago. I photographed this detail in a crevice of a building downtown.
I continued to tour Detroit and found that there was still so much of the elegant, classical Gilded Age architecture and art in place that it was easy to see why Detroit was once thought of as the Paris of the West. There is an underbelly of this city that has fallen on hard times, but it has kept much of its historic architecture, art museums and prominent neighborhoods restored and magnificent. This famous painting entitled “Man’s Mobility,” by John S. Coppin, is displayed in the Detroit Public Library, which was designed by noted architect, Cass Gilbert.
There are many sides to Detroit. A city worth a visit with an open mind and some time to spare.
At least once a year, I drive across the United States with my husband, Ted, so that I can continue to document the American scene. In August of last year, I completed my Washington, D.C., neighborhood study, and I was ready to go out on the road and capture wooden barns, fields of crops and teeny, tiny towns. We headed up to the Finger Lakes in Upper State New York. It was beautiful, serene and incredibly photogenic scene. The Finger Lakes are a series of narrow and long lakes that are among the deepest in America.
I’ve become a sort of shirtsleeve expert on America, and I have traveled throughout the vast majority of its ribbon of highways. But somehow the Finger Lakes had eluded me. Now I can include it in my trove of images that I have been gathering of America over the past 30 years.
I always love to visit small diners and taste real down-to-earth American cuisine as I travel our country. I was mightily tempted to have one of the “Beef on Wecks” at the Pok-A-Dot Diner in Genesee, New York, but I controlled myself because I knew I had thousands of miles to go, and if I let down my guard early in the trip, I would be the size of my house by the time I returned to it.
There is no doubt that a diner is about as American as you can get. They open at the crack of dawn and close way after my bedtime. And the food is classic American fare. Diners are served oversized plates full of over-the-top fattening food, often smothered in gravy. It took a lot of self-control to curb myself in this unique diner. By the way, if you’re curious, “Beef on Weck” is an Upstate New York speciality. It’s a soft roll, coated in sea salt and caraway seeds, filled with the freshest of rare roast beef. Ah, only in America!!!
There is something elegant and modern about the look of Art Deco. This entrance detail of the Kennedy-Warren Apartment Building on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C., is classic Deco. Known as the “Old Lady,” this apartment was home to both Harry S. Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson before they occupied the White House. Built in the early ’30s, it is considered the largest and best example of an Art Deco apartment building in Washington.
Art Deco is an eclectic artistic style that was initiated in Paris in the 1920s. This distinctive style flourished throughout the world during the 1930s.
To go from highbrow Art Deco to Pulp Purple and Cork White on 14th Street N.W., is quite a transition. These buildings are the new look of the 14th Street corridor. Pulp is a stationery store and Cork is a wine bar. It is stores like these that have transformed this area from seedy and intimidating to thriving.
So you see there is more to Washington, D.C., than just tourist attractions. It is a city of neighborhoods, row houses and charming people. It is flourishing and attracting young professionals. I loved spending past summer working in my hometown and getting reacquainted with it and all it has to offer.
I have been captivated by all that the Library of Congress represents since I moved to Washington in 1976. Not only is it the greatest body of knowledge in the world and the largest library, it was established with a donation of Thomas Jefferson’s personal book collection in 1815. That is why, when Congress decided to erect a building to represent the Library’s growing collection in 1890, it was designated the Thomas Jefferson Building in his honor. Inside this classical Beaux-Arts structure is a vast showcase of art. More than fifty American painters and sculptors produced commissioned works of art. Even the capitals on top of the columns have unique designs. Over the past five years, I have had the honor of documenting this amazing place. You can see these images by following this link: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/search/?q=thomas%20jefferson%20building&co=highsm&sg=true
I go back in occasionally and continue to capture the nuances of the vast interior. These images were taken over the past few months.
Then there is the Library of Congress Main Reading Room. It is quite a moving experience to sit at one of the desk and actually read one of the books in this room.
I trust you can see why I am “taken” with this place. The interior is surrounded by statues of great scholars. When I stand inside the Thomas Jefferson Building, I am proud that it sits on American soil and I am proud to be an American.
I love outdoor murals. I have photographed them for years all over the U.S.A. They often depict the cities or neighborhoods where I am working though the eyes of those who know their community well. One time I was in Detroit and there was a colorful mural of Muhammed Ali. There were children playing around the mural, and one boy had on boxing gloves. I posed him next to the mural of the famous boxer and had myself a fascinating shot. I probably have 5,000 various murals in every configuration. While I was working on Washington, D.C., neighborhoods, I came across this fun mural. It was in a parking lot, and when I happened upon it there was a car in front of it. Finally the car moved. Sometimes, if I think the mural is worth it, I come back several times during the day so I can photograph it without cars in front. This one was worth it!
I always feel that even though some talented artist painted a mural, it became my art when I added the context of the surrounding area in the photograph.
Many tourists visit the U.S. Capitol, which is fantastic, but they don’t know how interesting the old National Capitol Corinthian columns look way out in the Washington Arboretum off in an obscure corner of the city. These columns, which were part of the original Capitol in 1828, did not remain at the Capitol very long because of the configuration of the great building. They were stored away and did not move out to the Arboretum until 1984. They are the most photographed attraction at the Arboretum.
I could spend months photographing Washington, D.C., and never finish my work. It has many amazing and historic looks. When I think about my city, I visualize not only the white gleaming monuments, but also Ben’s Chili Bowl, the Potomac River, Georgetown, all the statues, streets that have circles and not many tall buildings. It is a magical place that shines as a hometown and a showplace for tourists and international guests too.
After spending four months in Alabama working on my 21st Century America Project at the beginning of 2010, I came home to work with two smart-as-a-whip interns who helped me document the neighborhoods of Washington, D.C. for my Library of Congress collection. George F. Landegger, the same generous man who funded my stint in Alabama, decided to give me another grant to work in my hometown. It was like I had arrived in heaven. Slept in my own bed, traveled around in my favorite city, spend quality time with my husband, Ted, and finally spent time showing off those beautiful row houses, like this one in the Adams-Morgan area of Washington.
Washington, D.C., is like a small town. Not only does it have rows and rows of row houses in different styles, but it also has a small town feel to it. I can easily drive from the Capitol to Georgetown in just a few minutes and see all of the city’s beautiful monuments on the way. I have actually worked for the National Mall and Memorial Parks for years, capturing those iconic memorials. I still feel a thrill when I visit those gleaming, white structures. I have even been able to take photographs from one of the helicopters that escort the President! My task this time, however, was to show off a part of Washington, D.C., most visitors rarely see. For years I have passed the McMillian Reservoir, longing to get inside to see it up close and also to see the catacombs underneath. I finally had my chance. I brought all of my cameras, even my black-and-white infrared.
I spent hours roaming around this immense plot of land right on the edge of town. It was all I hoped it would be. Thanks again for joining me on my journey around America. There are many more places to visit and even some places in our vast country that you might not have ever heard of. See you next time. Carol
Sometimes in life it is important to stop what you are doing and take some time to put things back in place. During the year 2010, I had been traveling for months, first in Alabama starting on my 21st Century America Project, then driving across the entire United States – New York State to Washington State, then I came back to work in Washington, D.C., neighborhoods, then drove back down to Alabama for the iconic football games. It was all wonderful and exciting, but when I finally arrived back to my home in October I was in not one of the American states, but the state of disarray. There were boxes of papers, camera equipment everywhere, piles of mail and disorganization at its very peak. I decided to take the next several months to put my life back together and rearrange everything that had fallen out of place. This was not just one year of disorganization, it took years. Stopping to straighten out my life was the best move I have done in years. Now my office is back together, I can think straight, I can concentrate on what I love to do most, which of course is photography.
This is how my Victorian office used to look before my thousands of miles of travel and months away from home. Now I have it back in shape, and I am getting ready to travel again. Before I go on the road, however, I would like to show you where I have been over the past few months and tell you all about my plans for the future.
Spring has just begun to pop around Washington, D.C., so before I take you on my trip around the country I’d like to show you the beauty of my home. I have worked for days capturing Washington’s cherry trees and tulips in previous years, but this is the only image I was able to catch in between meetings at the Library of Congress this year.
I am posting this short blog to let you know I plan to bring you loads of updates over the next few weeks. Thanks for joining me again as I travel across our country to document America for future generations to see. Carol
I have been out of Alabama since June and I still think about it. Just a few more images to show, then I’ll move on to my current happenings.
Alabama is beautiful. Not only in color, but black and white infrared looks spectacular too:
Then there are those blazing RED barns:
And those Theaters….located in just about every town – see this one in Tuscaloosa:
And the events! I was scared to death at the Rattlesnake Rodeo in Opp, Alabama:
You stop all blogging and go out shooting!!!! I have not had one moment of time since my last blog because it has been so beautiful down here in the state of Alabama.
I have now donated over 3,000 images to the George F. Landegger Alabama Library of Congress Collection. I am working on my final 1,000 images, then will head home on June 11th. I have been here over 100 days. Every day I get up at 5:30AM can’t wait to get out on the road. I will travel 20,000 miles in Alabama by the time I am done.
Visit my new “Alabama” Web site: 21stCenturyAlabama.com
I have seen some of the most beautiful and interesting sites.
The shrimp boats in Bayou La Batre
A Civil War reenactment in Bridgeport
Springtime in Auburn
Feeding goats at Burritt on the Mountain in Huntsville
Even a visit to an old motel along the road – Way out there
I’ve also received some great press – see links:
I will be sad to leave Alabama. I so look forward to seeing all of it and I’m sure there are some small towns that I have not visited. I will be back in the fall for the Alabama and Auburn games and I will try to get to all I have not finished.
Mr. Landegger has been very generous to send me to Alabama. Now he is donating a summer of photography in historic Washington, D.C. – it will also be donated copyright-free to the Library of Congress.
In my entire career, I have never enjoyed anything so much as this venture. I really can’t put my finger on why? Maybe it was just the right time for me to go out and truly document 21st Century America. Also, maybe my 30 year career, which has been fascinating, has reached the top of the mountain. Then again it could be I am connecting with my childhood that I spent on my grandparents farm in North Carolina during the summers.
I now have my work set out for me. I want to photograph all of the states for the next 16 years and give all of the images to the American people so that 100 years from now we can see what we looked like at the turn of this century.
I know the sun is still shinning, but I will be blogging more often once I get home and can catch up with myself. Can’t wait to see my husband and my kitties.
Oh my, what a couple of nights I have had. I just had to share it right away. I want music, lots of music and art and all that wonderful stuff that make images come alive and there is lots of it down here. So last night I went to the opera. It was a performance of “The Flying Dutchman” by the Mobile Opera. It was wonderful, colorful, beautiful and fabulous.
So I left Mobile but will be back because I need to see flowers and green grass. Nothing has popped yet! I was excited to travel back to Montgomery where I have spent quite a bit of time. This visit, however, was for a very special event – The Alabama Country Hall of Fame Inductees. Was I in for a treat! Guitar players twanged and lights flashed and finally the entire audience danced in the halls. It was really rockin!
Then the Blind Alabama Boys came out…the audience went wild!!!! I did too!!!!
I had no idea what was still in store for me! Pure Alabama Country and Soul!
Eddie Levert…That’s right, Mr. Soul Train Himself. By the time he was done taking us all on the train, I was worn out. But it was not over. The very best was the very last. Thank goodness!!!
Percy Sledge……WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN…….!!!!!!! Oh, my; Oh, my, my, my.
The original version no less. But then he got down on his hands and knees. I wept!!!!!
There he was singing my very favorite song right in front of me on his hands and knees. I screamed and screamed and the floor shook with the audience going wild. It was exhausting! Oh, Alabama, you have so very much to offer. These talented artist are all Alabama born and raised. I am just plain “lovin it” down here. Now all I need is some warm days and I might even start to talk “southern.” Talk some “Dixie” talk.
Stay tuned for rattlesnakes and gun fights…and some caves too.
It’s been night and day down here in the the Heart of Dixie. I’m running around with my camera on automatic and then staying up all night writing the database that must accompany every photo…but, I love it. What a state! What a state! Alabama, home of the Crimson Tides, The Confederacy, Black History everywhere, Shrimp boats on the Bay, Rodeos, Rattlesnakes and Wild, Wild Artists. I’m just about done with Montgomery, Alabama where I spent my first couple of weeks. My final night was spent at the Rodeo
The American Flag waved and the horse trotted and we all ate popcorn and corn dogs and yelled and screamed! (No, I lied – I’m not allowing myself any Southern fried food!)
Then the cowboy came out riding two tons of oxen! Wow! I thought cowboys only did this in Texas. I left Montgomery thinking I had just been in Austin…. it was fun and a night of entertainment.
I raced down to Mobile to see if anything was blooming yet. No such luck. Dead trees, dead grass and clouds. So I just strolled the town and ventured down to the beach.
I am very interested in art in Alabama because most of it is colorful and different. There is no exception to this with the most famous artist in Alabama, the South and maybe even America. His name is Nall and he and his art are unique. He dressed up for me and we went to town taking all sorts of images. This is nothing new for him. When I got home, I looked through the book he gave me and saw his first self portrait was all curled up on a grave…with no clothes on in a fetal position. Glad I didn’t ask him to do any of that. His art is fabulous and he is a character. He lives 1/2 of the year in France so I was glad to catch him.
After a pleasant day in Fairhope, Alabama, I returned to Mobile and headed over to the Bienville Square to feed the squirrels. That’s when I heard the sax man playing some of my favorite tunes. I put down a $5 and ask for a photo session. He complied and I shot away while he continued to play. Heaven. Two characters in one day and loads of images to pick from.
Now that I had my “artists” taken care of, I took advantage of the cloud cover and raced over to Magnolia Cemetery. The angels were waiting for me. I finished the day doing my wash across the street from the Whataburger – it even looked good with clouds.
I am really enjoying my experiences in Alabama because every day is different and unique. All the people are nice and it is so easy to get around. I have laid out my plan for the next two months. There may be some spots that require that I call the Alabama Extension Services…they are way out there. But today was good and tomorrow is the beach again - Shrimp boats and Forts and the ferry across the Bay.
I left Montgomery and continued to follow the Black History trail in Alabama. I plan to do much more than Black History in Alabama, but I feel it is important to cover it throughly before I move on to all the vast aspects of this state. Still emotional from my experience in Montgomery photographing Martin Luther King’s parsonage and church…I could not get out of my mind how simple and peaceful his life seemed in his small home. With the sunlight pouring in the windows, it just seems so innocent.
Peaceful and innocent was really not the case at all during the time that Martin Luther King lived in this house. My eyes were opened in Birmingham (previously called Bombingham because so many African American households were “bombed.” One neighborhood was even called Dynamite Hill. My first stop was the 16th Street Baptist Church.
These are water guns. No, not squirt guns…real water guns that could really hurt you. Note it is teenagers that they are pointed at…Children were targets too…no matter what age. Then there were the dogs.
Fierce and mean dogs. The kind that are taught to kill.
Now there is also a place where the entire story can be told. The story of the movement, the story of the girls, the story of the “Times, they are a-changin.” It is the Civil Rights Institute and it is across the street from the church and the park.
The exhibits in the Institute are brutally honest. Colored and White. Black and White. White and Tan…just like the color of the cooler. The Civil Rights Institute tells it like it was. The hate, the discrimination and the struggle.
The Ku Klux Klan. White Robes and burned crosses. Who was underneath. Could it be your local banker? barber? school teacher? No one really knew for sure. But they left their mark…and now they are gone. But the Black History lesson continues. From Birmingham, I drove to Selma to experience first hand what it was like to sing “We Shall Overcome” and march across the Edmund Pettus bridge.
I was there today to hear the speeches, listen to the songs and to walk across the bridge and feel the emotions.
They lined up like they did 45 years ago. Hand in hand walking across the bridge. It did not stop there. Many of them plan to walk the 50 miles to Montgomery to remember the event to the fullest. Even Jesse Jackson showed up.
How can anyone forget that he was there when Martin Luther King was shot. He was there during all of these events….45 years ago.
I drove on to Montgomery following the exact route that was taken for the original march. It was 50 miles. 50 Miles of thoughts about my teenage years, the black and white TVs showing these “far away” events and realizing how far we have all come. Or have we?
On to Tuskegee tomorrow.
It’s been a whirlwind experience so far in the state of Alabama. Landing in the heart of Mobile to catch beads and Moon Pies at the festivities of Mardi Gras was tons of fun and drop-dead exhausting. After days of celebrations, I left Mobile and headed North to Montgomery, Alabama.
Montgomery is a beautiful city. It has stunning white government buildings and Capitol. I was there to not only feature this Capitol City, but also to begin to follow the trail of Black History in Alabama. Mobile does have some Black history, but I did not have time between the excitement of Mardi Gras to understand it. I will be back in Mobile and I will visit Black churches and memorials then.
Montgomery, however, is steeped in history of Martin Luther King and those who worked with this famous man as they fought for equal rights and Civil Rights. So my first stop was his church. The Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church. Dr. King became pastor, the twentieth pastor, in 1954. It would be his first and only full-time pastorate. All that is in the church is the same. Maybe a couple of panes of glass from the windows have been changed, but other than that, it is exactly as he saw it.
I drove from the church just a few blocks away to the parsonage where Martin Luther KIng lived and where he spent time with his wife Coretta, and his new baby girl, Yolanda. I was emotional inside the church, but was even more touched by this small home. Much of the furniture is original and the house seemed so peaceful.
Hard to believe that a bomb hit the window of this living room while Martin Luther King was away from the house. Coretta and baby Yolanda were home, but luckily not near the window.
It was, however, in this kitchen that Dr. King had a revelation that, even though he felt fear, he should continue his important work.
It was only a few blocks away from the church and the parsonage that violence was getting bloody – really bloody. The Freedom Riders (a group of Black activists) were getting on buses and Greyhound was being forced by Attorney General Robert Kennedy to let them ride. The KKK was not too far behind and they were beaten with bats and iron pipes. No ambulance came to the rescue, nor were the police anywhere to be seen. A very dark day in the movement.
It was Rosa Parks that brought it all to a head. This scene is from the Rosa Parks museum in Montgomery.
They are all gone now. Martin Luther, Rosa Parks, the Freedom Riders and many of the courageous men and women who fought the fight and won. All that is left are the monuments like this one to the Civil Rights Movement and all it stood for, only a block from the Dexter Avenue church. It shows all the important dates of the movement and the water running off its black edifice never ceases to flow. Even though Black History month ends tonight, I will continue to do another blog or two to this important subject. As I drive to Birmingham, Selma, Tuskegee and Gees Bend over the next few days, there will be images to show and tales to tell.
By now I should have had two new blogs up to tell you all about my new home away from home….the exciting and beautiful state of Alabama. There is always a reason for not getting done what you say you are going to do, but this time it really is the truth. We had snow over our heads at my house near Washington, D.C.
Yes, that is the blizzard of 2010. A historic moment in time when all you could do it shovel around the clock and look out the window in disbelief. It lasted for days, then cleared up for a minute or two, then lasted for more days. This photo is of my husband, Ted, out trying to keep up with it. He is 6 feet tall. The snow was drifting up to 10 feet in the back yard. The Federal Government was closed and so was everything else. I am originally from Minneapolis and I had never seen anything like it.
Now I am down in the Heart of Dixie thinking that the weather will be warmer and there will be no snow….well, we have had a little snow and it has been as cold as 20 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Thank goodness I am staying for months and in a couple of weeks I will be viewing azaleas blooming or I would think we might be going into the ice age.
I know the weather is changing down here because I actually heard the boom of a thunder storm last night. Oh, yes, let Spring come!
So back to my first few days in Mobile, Alabama. What an alluring and charming city. I was there to experience Mardi Gras, the oldest Mardi Gras in America. What an escapade!
My first introduction to the Mardi Gras experience was to meet with Wayne Dean who was dressed up as Joe Cain. Joseph Stillwell Cain, Jr. (Joe Cain) was credited with the birth or rebirth of Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama. In 1887, following the Civil War, Joe Cain paraded thorough the streets of Mobile, dressed in a costume depicting a fictional Chickasaw chief named Slacabamorinico. Because of his antics, every year the Sunday before Fat Tuesday, they celebrate Joe Cain Day in Mobile.
I went from the “Chief” to the OOMs. Who are they? They are the Order of the Myths. It is pronounced “double-oh-ems.” They are Mobile’s first and oldest Mardi Gras society and they also remain one of the most secretive. It was a BIG deal for me to go to their party. Thank you Nick Holmes!
Then the Mardi Gras man came and played a tune!
The day ended with wild and amazing Mardi Gras floats and now I am TRULY beginning my journey through my NEW Sweet Home Alabama.
A very exciting event happened to me right before the holidays! I have been working on securing funding for a project I have labeled 21st Century America. My idea was to follow in the footsteps of Dorotha Lange and other WPA photographers and record America – state by state – on high resolution digital cameras during the early 21st Century and donate the images to the Library of Congress. The project has been funded for the state of Alabama and will begin at the Mobile, Alabama Mardi Gras (the very first Mardi Gras in America!) celebration in early February 2010! I am extremely excited. Once I am down in Alabama, I will be uploading weekly blogs and You Tube videos because I will have so much to show off. I owe a big Thank You to Sharon Tyson, the Executive Director of the 21st Century America Foundation, Inc. located in Alabama. Her efforts in fund raising have paid off and now we can show the rest of the world how diverse and incredible the state of Alabama is.
Bienville Park 1906 – Mobile
Many of these images were taken by famous photographers. Walker Evans took this one of a Coca-cola shack somewhere in Alabama:
So I am getting organized, cleaning my cameras and preparing for my Alabama journey that will begin
in February 2010. I will work every day for three or four months, then come back again in the fall.
All the Convention and Visitors Bureaus and the Chambers of Commerce are going to give me lists miles long to I can capture all that Alabama has to give. I can’t wait to tell you all about it and I trust you
will join me for this wild and interesting ride through “The Heart of Dixie”.
I am Carol M. Highsmith and this is my very first blog post. Wow! I’ve wanted to write this for a very long time and now I am actually going to put myself out there. I am going to write a blog every month and tell you what I am up to and why. Thanks for coming to my web site, www.CarolHighsmithAmerica.com. I look forward to communicating with you and hearing your comments about my photography and travels.
first visit was the Wigwam Motel in Rialto. Look at this beauty.