Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Grooving + Inspiring

Tonight, I've been sifting through old photos, perusing my blog daily reads, drinking wine and listening to music. Inspiration central. I think that finding beauty in the un-glamorous has been on my mind lately, because I've been observing with fresh eyes the things that surround me out here in good ole Eastern North Carolina.

Two summers ago, I spent six weeks in the Mississippi Delta learning how to teach children to read. I was fascinated/wonderstruck by being IN the landscape that developed the blues and so much other wonderful art and culture, so when I heard a group of teachers talking about Poor Monkey Lounge, a historic juke joint on the Mississippi Blues Trail, I had to go. Even though I was exhausted, had been up since 4:30 a.m., ridden an hour each way to and from school on an un-air-conditioned bus, taught children all day long, and had to repeat the whole thing in about 6 hours... I had to go.

There had been tons of rain, and of course Poor Monkey's was in the middle of nowhere and I drive a VW Bug. We crept along for what felt like at least 10 minutes down this little teeny dirt road with absolutely no lights except for the stars and the moon. Suddenly, the road seemed like it was shimmering ahead of us, and it was almost like when you can see out over the ocean at night, and the moon is making that shimmery trail of light on the water, only that experience is beautiful and calming and NOT in rural Mississippi. Is my car supposed to go over that? I thought.

Yes, my car did go over that (it was standing water, maybe 2 inches deep, submerging the road), and we paid our cover charge and awkwardly walked into Poor Monkey's Lounge. It was smoky, sweaty, gross, loud, claustrophobic, full of semi-creepy stuffed animals hanging from the ceiling, and completely divine.

I love looking at gorgeous shots of fashion models, exquisitely curated homes, carefully styled coffee tables, and mouth-watering food; at home, I love lighting my candles and filling vases with fresh flowers, and experiencing beauty in all these normal, predictable ways. However, there's something that draws me even more strongly to places like Poor Monkey's; to photos with subjects that are battered, worn, incomplete, damaged, shaky, and subtle; to the beautiful imagery of our every day, commonplace landscape. It seems like this is where beauty and authenticity merge to create an experience that parallels real-life human experience, refocusing and fine-tuning the eye and the mind to be open to constant inspiration.

What unlikely sources give you inspiration? I'd love to hear -- please do share the wealth! :)

PS - for more inspiring jams and photography: herehere, and here.

[All photos and content by Ann Howell Brown, 2013]

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