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First Friday in Northville — Photography Night at State of MInd Gallery

The first Friday of every month, downtown Northville galleries and restaurants host the monthly Art Walk. This month, the resident photographers at the State of MInd gallery in Northville, MI will be at the gallery to share stories with you. The Art Walk is a great opportunity to get inside the heads of local artists, and this month’s event is no exception.

Watching the Sun Go Down

"Watching the Sun Go Down" -- Rock figure at sunset, Lake Superior

I’ll be there, as will fellow photogs Kim Kozlowski and Sooney Kadouh of MetroDevious. If you are interested in local color or southwestern themes, we’ve got you covered. Consider yourself personally invited to join us at State of MInd, 120 E. Main St in Northville, this Friday night, January 7, from 7-9PM. We’ll have some tasty stories as well as some tasty snacks to share. You’ll be able to see my Michigan work, as well as some of my classic doors and windows from the Southwest.

And that’s not all. Each of the photographers will be offering a 20% discount on anything purchased during the event. No coupon necessary — just come on by and join the throngs!

Michigan photos, southwest images now available at Yellow Door

Yellow Door Art Market is now open in Berkley. Yes, it’s true! April and Steve McCrumb, owners of the fab gift outlet Catching Fireflies, have opened a 60+ artisan market two doors down from their flagship store. It’s on Twelve Mile in Berkley — you can’t miss it. April’s been blogging steadily for two months, and created a huge buzz, so I’d be surprised if you locals haven’t already heard the news. She’s amazingly organized, and the store shows it. I jumped on board as soon as I heard about it. There’s a full store walkthrough video on YouTube…

James Parker photographs at Yellow Door

Photographs at Yellow Door

I’ve got a full core space on the lefthand corridor — the entry is in the back of the store and there’s plenty of free parking. On display are many of my classic Michigan photographs, as well as a few new ones. Stop by and take a look.

The official grand opening is Saturday, November 13 from 10-6. There’ll be food and drink, live music and some give-aways.

But, here’s the secret grand opening (shhh)! You are welcome to come on Thursday, November 11, from 5-8pm, for the friends and family open house. I’ll likely be in attendance, and there will be food and drink served at this event as well.

Yellow Door - James Parker Photographs

Bin prints also available at Yellow Door

The store is at 3141 W. Twelve Mile, Berkley MI. Hours are 10-6 M-Sat, Thursdays 10-8, Sunday 12-5. If you need to call, the phone number is 248-336-2038. Tell ’em I sent you!

Arts, Beats & Eats: Moving on Up (or Down)

This Labor Day weekend, the new and improved Arts, Beats & Eats extravaganza moves to Royal Oak from its 10-year home in Pontiac, Michigan. The new venue still features big name music acts, 55 food vendors, and a small, select group of national artists tucked away at the end of Washington Avenue, near Lincoln. This is one of the best shows in Michigan. The music is top-notch, the food is delicious (for street food), and the art is absolutely spectacular.

I’ll be there, showing my quiet Western landscapes. Find me in Booth 56, on Washington, near Lincoln Ave. Here’s a taste of what I’m showing. These images are from my springtime shoots in southern Arizona and New Mexico.

The Assay Manager's Office, Vulture City AZ

Picturesque ruins of the assay manager's office at Vulture City, AZ

Doorway, Vulture Mine

Mess Hall doorway with view to boarding house, Vulture Mine

Chloride, New Mexico

"Doodle Dum", Cassie Hobbs' Workshop

Drop by if you have a chance. The weather’s gonna be fantastic, and the show runs four days. Friday from 4-9PM, Saturday and Sunday from 11AM-9PM, and Labor Day from 11AM-5PM. Hope to see you there!

Watering Hole, Las Cruces & the Organ Mountains

Watering Hole near the Organ Mountains, NM

Another feather in the cap – merit award at Barrington Art Fest

Another award for outstanding work

Frank Truong and Jim Parker

Yet another nod to my work came in the form of a merit award at this past weekend’s Barrington Art Fest in Barrington, Illinois. — this photograph courtesy of “brother” Frank Truong, who drove up from Chicago to visit. We also had a nice chat with old friends Richard Pahl and his partner Dennie, who stopped by from Elgin.

The show, a new addition to Amdur Productions Chicagoland festivals, was a pleasant two-day affair on the downtown streets of suburban Barrington, a sleepy upscale community northwest of Chicago. Many familiar faces were in attendance, including Steve and Anita Baldauf, Marc and Wendy Zoschke, Antoni Kozlowski, Bob and Patti Stern and other artists on the northern circuit.

Anita, Karyn and Wendy show off VetroCaldo jewelry

Anita Baldauf, Karyn Kozo and Wendy Baxter-Zoschke

The weather was unseasonably warm, which may have kept attendance down on this lovely Memorial Day weekend. Buying seemed light, although several artists reported good sales. The native American art by our neighbor Dennis was well-received, and Jon Walton, another nature photography seemed to be doing well with his macro images of flowers and vegetables. Western photographer Rudolph DeRam also seemed to working his cowboy images well.

Barrington Fine Art Fest

Street scene from Barrington Fine Art Fest

All in all, we had a good time, made a little money, and managed to get home in time for thunderstorms and picnicking this evening. Thanks to everyone who stopped by, admired the work, and took some original art home!

A Tale of Two Peaks

View towards Payson

View towards Payson, Pass Mountain peak

While in Arizona for a couple of shows, I had a few days to nose around in the mountains. Monday was cloudy in the morning, and I spent most of the day just driving. First it was to Sky Harbor to drop Karyn off for her flight back to Detroit. Then I got turned around on the exit ramps and headed east on the 202, so I just drove northeast towards Payson. I grabbed a shot of a windmill I’d spotted the previous week, but photographically, the day was pretty much a bust. Coming back through Globe and Superior, I did see a peak that was picturesque and climbable. Picketpost Mountain is right off Highway 60, and there is a trail that goes to the top. I added that to the “someday list”, along with Picacho Peak, between Tucson and Phoenix.

Vulture Peak

The start of the Vulture Peak hike

Vulture Peak

Tuesday I headed out towards Wickenburg. I got up early (4:15) in hopes of catching the sunrise, but it was not meant to be. The day dawned cloudy with barely a milky sun. The moon was just setting in the west as I pulled into Wickenburg and gassed up. On a whim, I headed out to the Vulture Mine, which I’d heard of via Art Skopec, a local Phoenix photographer and friend. But it was too early to tour the mine (they open at 9 in the winter months). So I killed some time by walking up Vulture Peak. There is a rough campground at the base of Vulture Peak, with a mess of RV’s seemingly parked permanently there. I was put off at first, as it looks like a prime ATV spot, with many tracks running down washes. I parked Blutan the Truck and loaded up my bag with camera, food and water, and set off across the desert. The trail is well worn, and there was a maintenance crew camped at the trailhead. No problems finding or following the trail. It starts out as a pleasant ramble through saguaro, barrel cactus, ocotillo, teddy bear cholla and the usual Sonoran suspects. The grade is easy, and I took a few shots as I walked.

Vulture Peak

The top of Vulture Peak

After about a quarter mile, the trail crosses a big wash which is 4WD accessible. There is a trailhead closer to the peak that you can drive to, but that seems to miss the whole point of the desert experience. The 4WD road follows this wash for a bit and eventually meets up with the trail at the base of the peak roughly a mile in. The last half mile is pretty much uphill all the way, switchbacking gently up the slope to a saddle, where the maintained trail ends. I met the maintenance crew up on the side of the hill, busily cracking stones and clearing drainage ditches. The trail showed obvious improvements where they had been. Spent a few minutes exchanging pleasantries with them before struggling up the last few feet to the saddle. It was windy up there, and I was glad I had a jacket to stop the breeze. To get to the peak proper, an obvious use trail heads up a gully to the left. Some scrambling is in order, but it’s pretty easy stuff, with no exposure. After a couple hundred feet of mucking about, I was on top, with 360 degree views. Some jerk had spray-painted her name on a boulder at the top, and I spotted two USGS survey markers. Also a used condom. Come on people, clean up after yourselves! I made a few photographs and added my name to the battered summit register, in an old ammo box set in a concrete anchor.

Assay Office, Vulture City

The assay office, constructed of stone from the Vulture Mine

After reaching the bottom, I wandered over to the Vulture Mine. That will get its own post, as it is a wonderfully preserved (not restored) and cared for gold mine. Marty and Roma Hagen run a small souvenir shop and let tourists wander the workings and ruins on their own. I really enjoyed the mine, and recommend it highly if you are in the Wickenburg/Phoenix area. They are closed in the summer months though, due to the high desert heat. Phone ahead.

Wind Cave Trail

Yesterday, I went over to Mesa to Usery Mountain Regional Park, to hike the Wind Cave Trail. My doctor, Mark Florek, had mentioned that this hike had been a favorite of his father’s in years past, so I had wanted to check it out. The Usery Mountains are right next door to the Superstition Mountains, just northeast of Mesa. Access is easy, and the park is open most days for nature walks and camping. It’s $6/day per vehicle to get in.

Pass Mountain

Pass Mountain, Usery Mountain Park (lefthand arm of saguaro points to caves)

The Wind Cave trail is very popular, being close to a major population center, so don’t expect solitude. I met a lot of people walking, trail running and many of them were older, fat , out of shape, or all three. I felt right at home. Lots of dogs, too. The trail ascends gently through typical Sonoran desert scenery. Lovely views towards Phoenix, with saguaro, ocotillo, cholla, prickly pear, palo verde and beautiful barrel cactus. The approaches to these quick peak bags are often the best part of the hike, and the easiest, especially later in the afternoon, when the light gets low.

Wind Cave Trail

Wind Cave Trail, with barrel cactus and ocotillo

The trail gradually gets steeper, and switchbacks steadily up to the headwall of Pass Mountain, where it traverses the base of the rocks. After about 1.5 miles, you reach Wind Cave, a large undercut recess in the limestone. It’s not really a cave, but it is cool and shady. And yes, windy, too. The breeze felt good in the afternoon heat. This hike faces west, so I imagine it’s a great spot to come for the sunset. Plan about an hour to get to the cave. The trails do close at sunset, so you would want a headlamp to come down after dark. (I don’t think they’ll kick you out if you’re already on the trails.) Watch your step!

Wind Cave Panoramic View

Panoramic view from Wind Cave, Usery Mountain Park

At the cave, a sign warns that hiking beyond the trail is dangerous. Indeed, the footing is loose, and there are dropoffs. I walked across the cave to the north and ascended an obvious gully, where three tall saguaros seemed to mark a path. There is no trail here, so experience and prudence should dictate your own passage, should you choose to pass this way. After ten or fifteen minutes of scrambling, I reached the ridgeline. Traversing the ridge towards the summit, I found a well-worn use trail, complete with white blazes. It sort of took the fun out of my bushwhack, but it was going where I was going, so what the hey.

Pass Mountain Peak

The Superstion Mts, from Pass Mountain

I followed it to the top, and was rewarded with fine views of the Superstition Mountains to the East; Four Peaks to the North, and Phoenix, Mesa and Apache Junctions spread out on the other side. Well worth the extra effort to get to the top. And I was the only one up there. Most tourists stop at the cave, warned off by the threatening sign. I stayed on top long enough to take a few pictures, then followed the use trail back to the cave. At one spot, the trail forked, and seemed to head off in the wrong direction, so I headed right. A small headwall required down-climbing, but mostly it was easy going to reach the bottom of the headwall. Rounding a corner, I was once again back at the “Danger, Will Robinson!” sign. Hmmm…. didn’t seem all that dangerous to me. Again, your mileage may vary.

Sonoran Desert

View towards Phoenix with desert flora

When hiking in the desert, always take a map, water, some emergency eats, a compass, a flashlight, clothing for extra warmth should you get caught out at night. Let someone know where you are and when you expect to be back. I found that texting my wife with my whereabouts works extremely well, in areas with cell coverage. Since I don’t always know where I’m going to end up when I leave my accomodations, this works better than leaving a note. I don’t advise leaving a note on your windshield when you park your car, as it can alert thieves to the length of time you plan to be away from the vehicle. And remember: when your water is half-gone, your hike is half-done. Turn around and head down! I learned this the hard way, on the Flat Iron. But that’s another story.

Both of these hikes are described with great accuracy on Todd Martin’s wonderful hiking page. His beta was very useful to have, and as a consequence, I had a trouble-free, very enjoyable experience. His web site has a plethora (don’t you just love that word?) of information on southwest and desert hiking. One of the best I’ve found.

Today, I’m too tired to get up and go hiking, so I’m writing about it instead. This afternoon, I’ll be setting up for the Carefree Fine Art and Wine Festival, and I’m hoping the weather holds up as nicely as it has this week. Till next time: Happy Trails!