Photo Essay: Underground Art in Charleston, SC

 Lady in Red [OBEY]
If you asked me to name one thing that I absolutely love about venturing to new places, I would say that it would simply be seeing the unexpected. To me, that's what is so great about being able to photograph the places and things that I happen upon when discovering a never-before-seen locale. The spontaneous things that I come across are the ones that, oftentimes, have the most impact, not the suggestions and must-dos I read about in guides beforehand. 

For instance, when Cody and I were in Charleston, SC a couple of weeks ago traversing the city, we stumbled upon some out-of-place embellishments that beckoned our immediate attention. Upon finding the first one, and inspecting it with a great deal of fascination, we snapped a few photos and continued on our merry way without burdening ourselves with trying to find an explanation as to why it exists.

It wasn't until we found a second sticker that they really began to stimulate our curiosity. After that, it was like a treasure hunt and the snippets of street art became a collection of booty that we couldn't resist documenting. Nearly each one of the OBEY stickers revealed were different designs. And I'm fairly certain that we only came across one design more than once.

[OBEY] Peace

I just loved that we found them in the most random places, on street signs and newspaper stands, sitting there secretly waiting to be observed, but offering absolutely no explanation as to why there are there to begin with. We knew, though, due to the familiarity with this particular designers' work, but I didn't know they were going to be tucked in peculiar places around the city for us to encounter and interact with. It was a really neat surprise to say the least.

Another surprise was finding out that the designer, Shepard Fairey, was actually born and raised in Charleston, SC. As I said before, I was familiar with his work, although I couldn't have told you his name much less where he was from. Even though he doesn't live there today, I was happy to see pieces of him lingering around the city rebelliously whispering “I'm still here!”.

Star [OBEY]

Shepard Fairey is the fellow who pioneered the Andre the Giant OBEY campaign, which began in the late 80's and grew in popularity from there. A skater kid that started out screen printing t-shirts moved on to create some of the most recognizable propaganda seen by people across the nation. You've definitely seen his work, although you might not realize it. He's the one who designed the famous Obama Hope presidential campaign poster along with other graphics that became icons during the election. Yeah, that guy.

Andre [OBEY]

So what's the big deal? Maybe it's because I think that the typical passerby won't notice such a seemingly small gesture, while others, like myself and Cody, will relish at the opportunity to discover something so menial. One time when we were hovered over the back of a street sign with our arms up in the air attempting to take another sticker picture, a couple walked by. The lady of the combo couldn't have cared less about what we were dawdling over while the dude craned his neck to catch a glimpse of what we were so captivated by. I shouted to him that we were taking pictures of a neat sticker (or something to that effect) and he quickly lost interest. It was kind of funny. 

[OBEY] Duo

The 'street art' isn't only for the people who do appreciate it, it's also for those who deem it meaningless or destructive, and I'll tell you why. Whatever response is elicited from any (and all) onlookers is exactly the emotion the creator was looking to capture. He doesn't care whether or not everyone likes it. He just wants people to be affected in some way, shape or form. The how or what matters not in this instance. The stickers themselves don't necessarily have a meaning because that's left for the viewer to decide.

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Summer Vignette - Folly Beach, SC

By the sea...

This time last week we found our fill of sun and sand. While the beach was an absolute blast, it's not something I can do back-to-back. We spent one glorious day alongside the ocean and that was all we needed. After taking pictures and playing in the waves we were ready to go back and explore the downtown area. 
 Lately, I've noticed an urgent buzz to soak up every last bit of summer possible. I'm very fortunate that a quick trip to Charleston was something that we could do before finding our way to the next temperature bracket. It might not be in your neck of the woods, but fall is fast approaching in the High Country. This is not me complaining, by the way, because I love fall!

This year, an attempt to camp as often as we were motivated added up to at least once a month (if not slightly more). However, there are still some things aside from camping that I must do before summer comes to a close. Well, not just one, but two things. The first is to take a lazy float along the river in an inner tube, and the other would be to go blueberry picking. 

I hope to remedy both of these "dilemmas" before the week is out. The idea of having those "I wish I woulda" summer moments isn't something I want to be revisiting later on in the season. As long as lightning isn't a part of the equation, I can see myself doing both in the rain if need be. I am that determined to make it happen! haha 

So, let me ask....Did you end summer with a bang? Or, is there still something left to do?

Going Coastal in Charleston, SC (The Raw Footage)

This video is fresh from our recent mini-vacay to Charleston, SC. The magic of my flipshare software created this compilation from approximately 130 short clips I took throughout our visit. It's raw, real raw. 

But I'm not judging it, I just want to share snippets from my trip sooner than I usually do and I thought this would be a fun way of  bringing it to you. Instead of solely sharing static images I liked the idea of capturing dynamic "photos" that added a sense of sound to the mix. 

Along the way, we discovered that Charleston, SC is a multifaceted city that took us through endless adventures. This video gives you a sample of all that we encountered. More to come!

Beautiful Secret...

I love this video, it's like a love note in cinematic form. I've been keeping a lot of beautiful secrets to myself lately. This week, though, I've done a good job of sticking with the daily blogging commitment. And even though I didn't post the 2nd half of the 24hr Adventure in Asheville, I know it's okay. There's no reason why it can't wait until Monday. Besides, I'm lucky that I stuck out the entire week by posting everyday when I've been MIA for 2 months! It feels good to be actively participating again. 

I hope you find a snippet of joy somewhere in this thoughtful video, it is definitely worth a moment of your time. Have a great weekend!

24hr Adventure in Asheville

 Asheville Header

Nestled between the Blue Ridge mountains and the Great Smokies, the city of Asheville is centrally located amidst an array of activities that draws visitors from all over the country. From major historic attractions such as the Biltmore House to more outdoorsy explorations bordering the city, there is something for everyone in this high-traffic town.

Asheville is a melting pot featuring an eclectic mix of natives, transplants and travelers (most of which who were converted to residents long ago). It's not hard to see why anyone finds it impossible to leave once this town has cast its wondrous spell.

Due to the hurried nature of this recent trip, we weren't able to get much planning done before leaving. Truth be told, I actually enjoyed not having to worry about the extra details beforehand. Given all that there is to do in this mini-metropolis, making it up as you go along is the fun part! It's then that you sometimes stumble upon the unexpectedly interesting stuff like we did.

What would normally take days to unearth, our time in Asheville was limited to a 24 hour period. I'll tell you what, though, a single day is not nearly enough time to see all the surprises this sprawling city has to offer. Despite the numerous hours we spent on-foot happily exploring the downtown district, we barely scratched the surface of this artsy community. We made the most of what little time we had and strictly stuck to the downtown area. Along the way, we managed to happen upon a few notable stops that helped to round out our fleeting retreat.

One thing that drove the direction in which we traveled across the streets were our desires to gratify an intense thirst or to rest our weary feet. It wasn't 10 minutes after landing downtown and parking our cars, that we found ourselves in need of something refreshing, which lead us straight to WOOLWORTH'S.
Beat the Heat @ Woolworth's

This landmark oozes history when you walk through the doors, and the old fashioned Soda Fountain is the first thing to draw your attention. After a prolonged wait in line, we settled on a couple Nehi sodas in those nostalgic glass bottles and a vanilla malt because we couldn't resist. Still full from breakfast, we skipped ordering any food, although the Carolina Reuben looked tasty.

Securing seats to pop a squat might be quite difficult since this place is pretty packed at lunch time. Luckily, Cody was able to grab some for us at the counter where we could sit down to enjoy our refreshments.

While our first stop at the Soda Fountain was a big hit, it was the mid-day because-we-have-tired-tootsies rest stop that we weren't too thrilled about. They may boast one of the biggest and best beer selections in Asheville with over 200 different options to choose from, but the BEIR GARDEN disappoints in other areas, particularly the food.

The Beir Garden

Our group was extremely satisfied upon receiving the drinks ordered, but when the Tuna Salad Satay Wrap arrived things began to go downhill. The flavors were completely off when compared to the menu description; we were expecting a peanut satay sauce with pineapple salsa and instead got some yellow radioactive looking curry flavored mishmash that was barely edible.

The waiter quickly dismissed our inquiry about the wonky wrap, and we left virtually the entire thing on the plate with only a few bites missing (the sweet potato fries were ok, though). I can't say that we'll be planning to return the next time we are in town, but maybe they have better edibles on the menu for anyone else looking to give them a try.

There was a point during our tour of the town, somewhere between “I'm ready to go take a nap” and “Let's check out the nightlife” that we needed to put a little pep in our step. Almost as soon as Cody said “I need an espresso...”, a hole-in-the-wall cafe appeared in the distance.

seemed like the type of place that mostly caters to locals, it was quiet, quick and had free wi-fi based on the amount of laptops I spotted.
Izzy's Coffee Den

Gazing above head at the extensive menu wasn't really necessary, since shots of espresso were the required wake up. We didn't stay for very long, although this would be an ideal place to enjoy some peace and quite if needed.

Early in the evening, we decided to head back to our homebase so that we could relax before experiencing the nightlife. Once our bellies began grumbling loud enough (which wasn't very long) and the ladies got ready (guess which took longer), a place to eat was selected from an Asheville map with local advertisements.

I don't usually make such hasty selections, but I had eaten there on a visit to Asheville years ago; I just didn't know it was still open until I saw it on the map. When I did, though, that was it. I wanted to eat there!

The walk to the restaurant looked as though it might be quite a distance away, however, we were surprised to get there after a mere 2 blocks. After shuffling through the happenings taking place along the sidewalks and immersing ourselves in the electric atmosphere intermingling through the streets, we would have gladly walked further, though.

The Noodle Shop

The familiar red lanterns brightly hanging above the open-air dining area signaled our arrival at THE NOODLE SHOP which is tucked in a small, but busy corner pocket across from Pack Square. There was so much going on around the noisy intersection, it was difficult to take it all in, but we tried.

We didn't have to wait long for a table and were promptly seated away from the crowd. Once settled, a quick scan over the menu set our sights on a familiar dish we repeatedly order from other establishments. As usual, the pad thai looked too good to pass up, so much so it's what our table of three all ended up eating.

My friend and I decided to share an order, because after looking around at the portions sitting in front of other diners, I didn't think that I could finish an entire meal alone. This ended up being a wise decision as we didn't even finish our entire plates, although we were tempted to stuff ourselves. I definitely remember a comment about it being the best pad thai they have ever tasted.

Not only was the food delicious, but the nearby street performers serenading us with soulful tunes and drum beats was an unexpected treat during our dinner, as were the extremely accommodating servers. Although somewhat small, this restaurant has a lot in its favor with the intimate ambiance, tastiness of the pan asian cuisine and price. Overall, we had a great experience and will be hard pressed to not eat there the next time we visit!

Don't ask me how we found the time to make so many stops in such a short period of time. All I know is that my feet hurt. Is your head spinning yet? Can you believe that this is just half of what I have to share from our day in downtown Asheville?! I don't want to make this post too long, though, so I'll save the 2nd half for Friday. Do come back for the next installment where I plan to share where we stayed in the heart of downtown, as well as some of the shops and boutiques we perused while walking around. Stay tuned!



F O C U S 

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.  
~Henry Ford

Welcome the Unexpected...

Welcome the Unexpected...

Every thought is a seed...

Every thought is a seed...

To kick start my lack of blogging, I have decided to take part in Susannah's August Break 'challenge'.
Funny that it's called a break since that's exactly what I've been taking for over two months now. 
This is just what I need, though, to put less stress on blogging so I can get back into the swing of things.