Glyphs of Time :: a blog by jarvis grant

October 30, 2010

Coming Home and PhotoPlus Expo

New York City and the Harlem River

Leaving Penn Satation on my way to the New Rochelle station.

I came back to New York to take care of some family business and to attend PhotoPlus Expo 2010 on Monday. The train ride from DC was a bit more crowed than normal for a Monday afternoon. I was oblivious to most of it as I slipped in and out of cat naps, while two Swedish ladies sitting next to me had non-stop conversation. I didn’t realize how tired I was from a week finishing up projects and prepping for family meetings  with my Mom, daughter, and my Mom’s lawyer. Being back in Westchester to see my family is good, and I’m fortunate that everyone is OK. Looking after your aging parents and adult children, seems to be a missing part from the manual of adulthood people never  remember to tell you about. Yet, as a creative professional I seem to be figuring it out well enough.

On a lighter side of my NY trip, there was my annual trip to PhotoPlus Expo, which I think of as Toy-R-Us for photographers. There were no toys on my list this year, but I was looking forward in checking out new technologies with inkjet papers and Print on Demand books. I also attended a couple of seminars, Publish Your Photo Book, with Darius D. Himes and Mary Virginia Swanson, and  Affordably Simple Marketing: Best Practices for Marketing Your Creative Business, with  Juliette Wolf Robin of FoundFolio. I always like checking out the conference seminars, there’s always something to learn. I was also thinking of checking out John Paul Caponigro’s Book Publishing: From Concept to Bound Book. I ran into Ken Hipkins on the expo floor Friday. He informed me that he wanted to check that one out too, but it had sold out. I was thinking about it, but felt I know as much about design as JP, and I’d save myself $80.00! (No offense JP!).  Also ran into Welton Dolby and Lorenzo Wilkins musing over carbon fiber tripods on the expo floor.

At this writing, I’m still in NY, or I should say, Mt. Vernon, NY. Catching up with a couple of my buds, and hanging out with them in the Village. We’ll see what happens with Halloween Eve on Saturday night. Should be pretty interesting. Even though we’re a bit older when we would go to the Fillmore East oh those many years ago. But as Bernstein said, or really Comden and Green, “It’s a Wonderful Town”!

Friday morning on Metro-North

Friday morning on Metro-North, heading to PhotoPlus Expo. Just leaving the 125th Street Station going to Grand Central Station.


October 10, 2010

John Harrod and Friendship House

John-Harrod1 copy This weekend I attended a Life Celebration for one of Washington, DC’s strongest arts and community advocates/activists, John Harrod. I first met, John Harrod when I was a very young photographer, still attending Howard University around 1972.  While I’d been a “working” photographer for about a year and a half, I was for the most part, cloistered in the world of University. My photography professor told me about a possible job teaching kids photography in SE Washington, DC. I was excited about the opportunity  to do anything related to photography that was off campus, so I went over to Friendship House to meet John Harrod, not knowing what to expect.

As I remember it, Friendship House was a large, grey, three story Victorian house. Inside was a children’s community center, an after-school and weekend place for kids in the neighborhood to get off the streets and “hangout”. Little did those kids realize that they were being tutored and educated on how to be productive and pro-active members of their local, national, and global communities. That was John Harrod’s style. Well I got the job. Little did I know at the time that I was now being tutored on being an arts educator. I really loved the job, and the kids were great. There was, however, a “senior photographer” there, and being a young and quite naive photographer, I was ready to learn  all I could from him. Man this guy raked me over the coal at every opportunity! Plus. he love to do this in front of kids.

OK, I figured I could handle this treatment, but I really couldn’t. One day after a pretty grueling day at work in the University Medical Center photography lab (Then Freemans Hospital), I went over to the “House”. There was no Metro back then, so the bus ride from NW to SE Washington during rush hour was long. Oh yeah, and to was summer! When I finally arrived the kids were there ready to go, and so was the elder photographer. Man, he jumped all over me for being late. Well, my head was hot, and my fuse was short, I let them have it, and I stormed out of there vowing never to return. That night I got a call from Mr. Harrod. He told me to please come in the next day so he could talk with me. That was his style too. Always face to face with matters he felt were of importance.

OK, so I go to see him, and I get my first lesson in real world diplomacy. Mr. Harrod tells me that he “needs” me for his photo program to grow with new and fresh ideas. He then gives me the history of the other photographer and why he needs him and why the other guy needs the program. The other photographer, who for me at twenty something see him as a elder, help to build the program from the ground up. It is his way of giving back to his community. Remember this is a time not even ten years from the formal end to segregation nationally, and DC was still a city very much segregated. This was his domain. OK, I got it. I see the big picture, that all this really has nothing to do with me. It really doesn’t have anything to do with photography! It all about community building and neighborhood preservation. So, from that moment on, I didn’t need to check my ego at the door because I left it back at my apartment.

Things went very smoothly after that talk. I apologize for my behavior to the photographer in front of the kids, with John Harrod standing in the wings. Man, that was hard to do, but in the end it was well worth it. It wasn’t until some years later when I was giving that very same talk John Harrod gave me, to a young student photographer of mine, that I realized something. Mr. Harrod had also given that talk to the other photographer too! Man he was good. What a diplomat.

John Harrod was in his thirty’s when I first met him. He was still an older adult to me, and I was brought up to call people “Mister”. He wanted me to call him John, which took a little getting use to. Today I think of him as an elder statesman who was working on the front lines. He showed me why education was so very important, and if I could teach, I should teach. During his Life Celebration I thought, “Man, every student I ever had owes a lot to my first education mentor, John Harrod and my experiences at Friendship House.