few days after the start of the Pennsylvania trout season on March 30th,
Naiyfuz Smith shows off the rainbow trout he caught in the Wissahickon Creek
with his grandfather Whitney, who, when he’s not out fishing, comes to the park
three days a week to run. “I use this place like crazy. I love this place. It’s
like you don’t even know you’re in the city when you’re out here.” Watch video interview here.
While taking a leisurely, easy bike ride along the relatively flat Forbidden Drive, my daughter and I were amazed to see a young man atop a unicycle on the opposite shore of the Wissahickon Creek, tooling up and down a hilly, narrow trail. High-schooler Peter Hildebrandt took up mountain unicycling after a knee injury ended his running career. With his high end, fat-tired, disc-brake equipped mountain unicycle, he meets regularly in the Wissahickon with other unicyle friends and enthusiasts and is preparing to compete in the 2013 North American Unicycling Convention and Championship to be held in Butler, Pennsylvania this coming July. Watch video here.
More than a couple months after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the Jersey shore in late October, a teenage girl from Toms River was making a repeat visit with friends to take another look at Seaside Park, the shore town that she would come to every day in the summer to enjoy the beach and boardwalk arcades. It was still hard for her to process all the destruction wrought by the unexpected fierce storm. Her group milled around along with a lot of other curious visitors who were taking photos from the rail of a still standing boardwalk entrance ramp of the expanse of sand where the boardwalk once stood. A lone Coca Cola arch and some battered stores and the now becalmed ocean in the distance completed the vista. The girl and her friends are hopeful that it all will be rebuilt by Memorial Day. Watch video here.
A couple guys in wetsuits were out in the surf kitesurfing on a late afternoon off the Seaside Park beach. The surf was rough and just the day before two swimmers had drowned in the vicinity. I spoke with one as he was packing up his kite for the day.
15 knots of wind or more make for good surfing he said, so it was nice out there. They will go out in winds up to 40 knots. When the winds are stronger they use smaller sized kites. The key to staying afloat is keeping the kite powered up all the time in the power zone, an area of the sky, usually downwind, that has a lot of well, power in it. You have to be able to maneuver the kite in two directions because you need to bring yourself back in. The kite gets inflated with air so if it lands in the water, it doesn’t sink. They use surfboards, sometimes, but today were using “twin tips” which can go in either direction. That way you can go right back out after coming in without having to make a turn.
The sportsmen showed great skill tacking back and forth and jumping waves. Sometimes they’d approach a wave at an angle that would launch them in the air for several seconds, sailing aloft at what appeared to be 10 to 20 feet above the surface before coming back down. Seaside Park, Island Beach, New Jersey. Watch video and interview here
The "Toydozer" was invented by a Wyndmoor, Pa mom who modeled it after a shoebox she was using to scoop up her six-year old's Legos. It looks like a large, plastic dustpan and comes with a scoopy thing that looks like the curved blade of a bulldozer. The idea is if it's a toy, moms will get relief because kids will use it clean up their toys themselves. In this video, Molly Ellis, co-owner of Threadwell, an embroidery shop in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, which retails the 'dozer for $18.99 in a choice of bright colors, demonstrates how it works.
So I’ll have her hitting uppercuts over here. I’ll have her do a little bit on here. This is for slipping. Hand and eye coordination. Slip, slip, roll, counterpunch, OK? I’ll have her on the speed bag. [Hits the speed bag] I’ll have her hit the heavy bag. That was the uppercut bag. That’s where uppercuts and hooks go. Of course you start off with your jab. A jab is your range finder. On here is your straight punches. You can jab right handed, left hook and you don’t really throw uppercuts here but you can throw body shots. Sit on your punches as you go. And the focus mitts. She’ll have a pair of gloves on and I’ll be here. After I’ve already worked with her and showed her how to punch correctly. How to shift her weight. She has proper balance and weight distribution. And then I would just hold the punch mitts and she would punch I’d counter with some wild hooks and she’ll just roll, come back and counterpunch me. Joey DeMalavez, Owner/Trainer, Manayunk, Philadelphia.
Scott Blunk and his wife, Tyler Art School assistant professor Lisa Kay, redesigned a pair of Adirondack chairs depicting the remains of a fictional vacationing couple who became so relaxed sitting in the chairs that they melted into them leaving only their clothes behind. The chairs, now outside the couple’s East Highland Avenue home in Chestnut Hill will likely move to the Morris Arboretum this summer where they will be displayed on the grounds with other artistic entries in “Adirondack Chairs, Revisited” an outdoor exhibition co-sponsored with the Woodmere Art Museum.
Michael Gieschen, who lost his vision due to retinitis pigmentosa, sports a tee-shirt emblazoned with a group of walkers under the words “Blinds to Go” the name of his team (blind art students from Allens Lane Art Center and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The team walked in the Foundation Fighting Blindness Vision Walk to raise funds to research and combat retinal diseases. Shown here in the Allens Lane Vision through Art class, is Gischen with the parrot fish he sculpted, poised above coral. The family has become enamored of the parrot through vacations in the Caribbean. Shown with him is daughter Kara who is helping out with the final stage of his work, applying brilliant colors, which Gischen is very particular about, naturally, as he worked as a graphic designer before losing his sight. Watch video here.
Carol Konopinski teaches the Vision Through Art class at the Allens Lane Art Center in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia. The class which is open only to those who are legally blind has been going on for 25 years and the artists work mainly in clay but are branching out into mixed media. ---------------
This is the best day of the whole week. I live for Wednesday mornings … Hi, welcome to Vision Through Art. We’re a sculpture class for the blind and visually impaired. We have artists here who have a range of vision to no vision. And You have to be legally blind to be in here. Even though the teacher and the assistants are not, that’s OK. Someone’s got to have vision- stupid sighted people! We have a great time. It’s a super family. We’ve been going for almost twenty-five years now. We have a great group of artists and they do anything from small to large pieces. We work mainly in clay but we’re moving out into mixed-media pieces. So we’re doing a lot of really fantastic work here- working on the wheel, sculpture , papier-mâché, you name it we do it they’re game for anything…It looks like we’re going to have another day of mass chaos as usual but hey, you go with the flow and enjoy it. Chaos is good! It’s all about the creativity and the chaos… Frank’s going to be working on wedging and getting back on the wheel… Betsy’s got a piece to finish up, a little girl and a dog and then Plato is working on a piece that he’s going to make a mold of but he’s still finessing and getting the shape right so he’s being the master sculptor right now. Carol Kopinski, Teacher, Allens Lane Art Center Vision Through Art class. Watch video interview here.
Betsy Clayton sculpts very realistic human and also imaginary creatures despite being legally blind for many years at the Vision Through Art program at the Allens Lane Art Center in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia.
Wait a minute, maybe I can turn the table over and maybe it’s white on the other side. YES, IT HAS YOUR NAME ON IT. This is my piece that I think of as an undersea creature. I don’t know what I’m going to call it. I was thinking “Riders Under the Sea” or “Undersea Riders”… I used gold, red and green. At first I painted it all green and then I dabbed on colors to make it look fantastical. WHAT CAN YOU SEE OF IT? It’s a blur to me. I mean I can see that there’s color on here but I don’t know what the colors actually are or where they are. When I painted them I knew where I wanted certain colors. THEY’RE PRETTY BRILLIANT DO YOU SEE ANY OF THE COLORS? Are they brilliant? Not to me, they’re just dull. DO THEY HAVE A SHADE, THE COLORS? Green I can see. But everything looks green to me. . . The back of him is supposed to be like an octopus thing, tentacles. WHAT ABOUT THE PEOPLE? They have no arms you see. Because they’re really not people. They’re things that live under the sea. Creatures. I don’t know what they do under the sea. But, they like to ride the monster or whoever he is… I see leaves on the trees all winter. I do. If I look at a tree, it has leaves. HOW IS THAT, WHY? I don’t know. EVEN IF THEY’RE NOT THERE? It’s not in full leaf like it would be in summer but I see green all around the trees because I see green. That’s probably why. Betsy Clayton, Vision through Art, Allens Lane Art Center, Philadelphia.
November 28, 2012
In this video, Cara Gieschen demonstrates to a class of blind sculpture students applications on the iPad that may be useful to the vision impaired. One app speaks aloud the color the iPad's camera is focused upon. The app identifies solid colors well but hilariously identified the hair color of some grayheads in the class as greenish and purplish. Gieschen demonstrated another app, VisionSim which, upon clicking on one of several eye disease in a list, simulates what a person with that disease actually sees.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE HAVING DANCERS PERFORM WITH YOU? Wonderful. We always love to do this for the kids. I’m not doing this to get rich. I enjoy playing at libraries and schools and things like that for young people to perpetuate music. And the energy I get from the kids is wonderful. They interact with the band. Their response is very pure, very honest. It’s a joy to behold to see them dancing like that so I love it. Walter Bell, jazz flutist of the Latin Jazs Unit, Northeast Regional Library, Free Library of Philadelphia. Watch video here.