Dream Window 15: Washington Park Je t’Aime

True story.  After I graduated from college in 1985, my first apartment was a third-story walk-up studio place on South Lake Avenue.  The apartment was so small, you had to leave the building to change your mind.  I lived there for about four or five months, then moved to the Park South neighborhood.

At the time I was living on South Lake Avenue, I had a temp job working for a government facility on Holland Avenue, so every morning I would walk along the Washington Park pathway to New Scotland Avenue, and from New Scotland to Holland Avenue.  It was a good, decent bit of exercise for me.

I have great memories of Washington Park – its monuments, the Lakehouse, the bridge that spans the lake.

Which is why I used my memories of Washington Park to create this new Dream Window.

I bought the frame for this Dream Window several years ago at the Historic Albany Parts Warehouse.  It was much larger than I expected, much longer than I expected.  Heck, when I bought the dang window, I had trouble getting it into my car.

IMG_20150210_074616Here it is.  This is the longest window I’ve ever purchased, nearly five feet in length.  And for the past two and a half years, I haven’t done a thing with it except maybe move it from room to room in my apartment, in anticipation of using it or cleaning up after the dust it left behind.

For the longest time, I thought about putting some sort of panoramic shot or two in this window.  Something that would stand out, something that would sparkle and shine.  But I couldn’t come up with a suitable concept, so I just let the window grow dust.

But eventually I came up with an idea.  This would be a tribute to Albany’s green space – Washington Park.  Each panel would represent a peaceful, beautiful part of the park.

So… that big center panel…

What in the world am I going to do with that center panel?

Well, I think a nice long horizontal photo would work nicely in that location.

This one, per chance.

Washington Park Bridge, Albany NY
Washington Park Bridge in Winter, Albany, N.Y. Krasnogorsk FT-2 camera, Efke 100 35mm film. Photo and frozen toes by Chuck Miller.

Remember when I took this picture, back in February 2015?  Yeah, this was the shot I took I stood in the center of the frozen Washington Park Lake, aligned my tripod so that the bridge would be properly centered in frame, and took several shots with one of my remaining cartridges of efke high-contrast black-and-white film.

After carefully cropping the image to a reasonable size – oh, say, 9 1/2 by 45 1/2 in dimension… (yeah, I call that reasonable), I had the picture printed and foam-boarded.  Center panel finished.

Now I need to take care of the perimeter panels.

Interestingly, I contemplated a mixture of vintage Washington Park postcards and the like.  For the side panels, I found some vintage early 1960’s-era trade tokens; you could use them during TulipFest as 50 cents in trade.  Had to get a couple of the tokens, so that I could mount a token in each panel – one heads, one tails.  I combined the trade tokens with some vintage postcards.

1963 commemorative coinage token.
1963 commemorative coinage token.

I tried to find postcards that were used, which meant that there were mailed and handwritten messages alongside each linen-printed artwork.  Some of the messages were heartfelt and joyful; others were wistful and “wish you were here” contemplative.  Here’s one that I didn’t use – I had two Robert Burns postcards with messages, and by the time I got around to writing this blog post, I had already framed up the good one.  So here’s the “almost good” one for your perusal.

The side of the card reads: Delmar 5-22-07. Dear Zillah, I am coming home May 27. Many thanks for the kind things in the last letter. With love, Garrie.

As for the corners – I thought of several different ideas.  I thought of drying some tulip petals and placing them between glass.  No.  I thought of cutting some stained glass and wedging them into the corner panels.  No.

For the corner panels, I decided on using some photos of the faces and icons of Washington Park.

For example, the upper left corner features the bust of Henry Johnson on a cold crisp spring morning.

Henry Johnson monument.  Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens.  Photo by Chuck Miller.
Henry Johnson monument. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens. Photo by Chuck Miller.

This is a stirring and important piece of the Washington Park landscape.  To remember that Henry Johnson was one of the greatest war heroes in Capital District history, and that he’s still due for a few more medals from his service in the Great War, says something about the glacial progress of history.  This one’s going on the upper left corner of the window.

I then picked through the dozens and dozens of photos I took during TulipFests of years past.  Photos taken with cameras that are no longer in my possession.  Photos taken with film that can no longer be developed.  Photos taken with me laying on the ground, shooting face up to the bottoms of the petals.

I found two excellent tulip photos in the mix – one with vibrant colors of various tulips; one with a brilliant red-bell tulip bloom.

And just for a kick, the lower right corner of the picture features a bloom of wild black-eyed Susans.

I know you want to see this.  Here it is, my fifteenth Dream Window.  I’m not even waiting to hang it on the wall to show it to all of you.

Dream Window 15: Washington Park Je t'Aime.  Center panel Krasnogorsk FT-2 ultrawide camera with Efke 100 film; corner panels various cameras; including postcards (14) and scrip tokens (2).  Photo and collage by Chuck Miller.
Dream Window 15: Washington Park Je t’Aime. Center panel Krasnogorsk FT-2 ultrawide camera with Efke 100 film; corner panels various cameras; including postcards (14) and scrip tokens (2). Photo and collage by Chuck Miller.

Ain’t this something?  And it’s going to look even better when I get around to wiring it up and hanging it on a wall.

So where can you see this Dream Window?  Altamont?

No.  No Dream Windows for me at Altamont.

But yes, I will be entering this into a show later this year.

You know… the one where the funds raised are designed to help preserve historic buildings in Albany?

Yeah.  That one.

Wow.  Fifteen Dream Windows in the past nearly three years.  All of them chronicled on this little old blog post.

And you know what?

I’m already working on Dream Window number sixteen.

Trust me on this. 🙂