Guardians Institute for Tulane City Center

Last summer I had the pleasure of photographing the building that Tulane City Center constructed for New Orleans’ Guardians Institute. Guardians is a nonprofit dedicated to the development of youth through literacy, physical fitness and New Orleans’ indigenous cultural arts.

The building consists of two main spaces: an exterior stage for performances, especially by Mardi Gras Indians, and the interior workroom. That door you see is large enough for fully dressed Indians to walk through.

guardians institute, tulane city center, architectural photography

guardians institute, tulane city center, architectural photography

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guardians institute, tulane city center, architectural photographyandreamabry_for_tulane-city-center_guardians_062513-7063-e

guardians institute, tulane city center, architectural photography

guardians institute, tulane city center, architectural photography

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Circle Food Retrospective

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I can’t quite put into words what it feels like to photograph a historic building, a community cornerstone, through its renovation. To stand in any old spot and try to remember what the space looked like a month, six months, a year ago. Like anything in life, once you’ve got it good, it becomes difficult to realize just how hard the bad times were. Perfectly stuccoed walls now sit where once gaping holes let in the wind and rain. Cement floors have replaced piles of mud, and produce bins proclaim “4/$1 bell peppers” where construction machinery used to lift workers to weld ceiling beams. I only remember the full extent of the decay when looking at the photographs I’ve taken of the store during the last year.

The Circle Food Store of New Orleans had its “grand re-opening” on January 17. Eight and a half years ago, Hurricane Katrina flooded the store and surrounding neighborhood. The store has been closed ever since. Two Fridays ago, Seventh-Ward neighbors, a fleet of journalists, and the man himself, owner Dwayne Boudreaux, reclaimed the corner as the crowd chanted “We want to shop! We want to shop!”

A series of diptychs follows, a collection of before and afters, during and afters, and someplace in between. Each pair of images depicts the same space at different points in the rebuilding process.

 

circle food store, new orleans, grocery, store, icon, This first pair depicts the view down St. Bernard Avenue. I took the first image soon after construction began. The second, taken by Bryant Hawkins, shows the same view during the Grand Re-Opening festivities. (Taken on March 28, 2013, and Jan. 17, 2014.)

 


 

circle food store, new orleans, grocery, store, icon, These overviews were taken from opposite ends of the building, but both show the main shopping area of the store. December 6 was the first time I’d visited the Circle, and I felt like I was in a cave. The main room dripped with rainwater: a cavernous, dark, damp space. Stepping into the smaller rooms with only a flashlight to guide the way seemed adventurous, even other-worldly.  The first image here was taken from the mezzanine, which was demolished due to coding issues. The second was shot from the opposite end of the room atop the “prescriptions” sign that’s shown in some of the photographs that follow. (Taken on Jan. 11, 2013, and Dec. 6, 2013.)

 


 

circle food store, new orleans, grocery, store, icon, The archway pictured used to lead upstairs to the dentist’s office. The upstairs portion above this area had to be completely rebuilt. See the sky up there? (Taken on Jan. 11, 2013, and May 10, 2013.)

 


 

circle food store, new orleans, grocery, store, icon, The painted sign was original to the building, and was preserved for the re-opening. To give you an idea of how dark the store was before construction began, all the images taken on Jan. 11, 2013, like the top one here, were thirty-second exposures. Be sure to take a moment to explore the dark spaces in the top photo. (Taken on Jan. 11, 2013, and Dec. 6, 2013.)

 


 

circle food store, new orleans, grocery, store, icon, During the last days of construction, and after the contractor’s fence was removed from the build site, the front doors of the store were covered with paper to hide the interior from curious eyes. Here, Randy and Melvin prop the front doors open for the first time on the morning of the re-opening. (Taken on Sept. 13, 2013, and Jan. 17, 2014.)

 


 

circle food store, new orleans, grocery, store, icon, Those gaping holes full of mud lead to what is now the deli and hot food bar, on the other side of the frozen food section. (Taken on May 10, 2013, and Jan. 17, 2014.)

 


 

circle food store, new orleans, grocery, store, icon, The deli and hot food bar. (Taken on May 10, 2013, and January 17, 2014.)

 


 

circle food store, new orleans, grocery, store, icon, A couple more views of the fishing tackle sign. The sign was repainted for the re-opening. (Taken on June 5, 2013, and Jan. 17, 2014.)

 


 

circle food store, new orleans, grocery, store, icon, Views of what is now the store’s produce section. People know the Circle for its bell peppers–I’ve been told that on certain holidays, the staff couldn’t even get bins of the peppers to the front of the store before they’d be empty. They were ready for the first day’s crowds, as you can see. Find out what these bins looked like at the end of opening day on my Instagram here. (Taken on June 12, 2013, and Jan. 17, 2014.)

 


 

circle food store, new orleans, grocery, store, icon, Although they were taken from opposing angles, these photographs show the same wall of the main room. (Taken on June 12, 2013, and Jan. 17, 2014.)

 


 

circle food store, new orleans, grocery, store, icon, Local artist Nat Williams painted the piece that hangs in the back of the store. At left, the painting waits in Nat’s barber shop to be hung. (Taken on Dec. 14, 2013, and Jan. 17, 2014.)

 


 

circle food store, new orleans, grocery, store, icon, Overviews of the store. The second, taken on opening day, was taken from under the Prescriptions sign in the first image. (Taken on May 10, 2013, and Jan. 17. 2014.)

 

 

The transformation the Circle Food Store has undergone in the last year astounds me. Not just because of the physical changes in the building, but also because now I can go grocery shopping in what used to be that cavernous, empty space. The 7th Ward has their grocery store back, and the neighborhood’s excitement is palpable. I’ve been conducting interviews with residents, so there’s much more to come from the time I’ve spent documenting the re-opening of the Circle Food Store.

Here’s one last picture: the first was taken on Jan. 11, 2013, of Andy Stephens and I on the first day that Andy brought me to the Circle. The second was taken on Jan. 27, 2014.

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Courtnie and Daniel, sittin’… under… a tree ♫ ♪ ♫

To celebrate their first wedding anniversary, Courtnie, Daniel, and I  trekked out to the University of Alabama Arboretum for a session. This all happened before the polar vortex spun in, but it sure was cold that day. We braved the chilly temps and were rewarded with these lovely shots.

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anniversary photos, photography, portrait, arboretum, tuscaloosa, alabama, lifestyle photography
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A Pig With a Purpose

The second installment of images from Clawhammer Farm will detail the process of slaughtering and butchering a pig. Here’s fair warning: if you don’t wish to see graphic images, please move on to this post about the farm, or this post, or maybe this post.

So, just how does a farmer slaughter a pig? I’m an avid (and conscientious) meat eater, and I. love. pork. Ribs, fried pork chops, Boston butt, barbecue, tenderloin, pork and greens…. you name it, it’s likely that I love it. (With the exception of chitlins. Been there, done that, don’t need to go there again.) I’d often asked myself the question, and this summer I had my first chance to see the process. Slaughtering on site is saved for occasions when farmers and their friends will be eating the pig, since meat that’s sold has to be slaughtered, butchered, and packaged at a USDA-inspected facility. So witnessing a slaughter on the farm was an odd sort of treat.

clawhammer farm lisle ny pig slaughter

(I just couldn’t resist…)

Nick and Becky, the farmers at Clawhammer, put a lot of thought into how they slaughter their animals, and do their best to make sure the animal becomes meat in a humane way. In the case of pigs, first the chosen one is shot in the head with a small-gauge rifle, then the farmer quickly slits its throat. The pig will lie still for just a few seconds before it begins thrashing around, so the aim is to slit the pig’s throat and allow it to begin bleeding out before the convulsions start.  Continue reading

Clawhammer Farm

My lengthiest stay this summer was at Clawhammer Farm, a lovely piece of land that runs longways from the top of a hill into a swampy valley. The farm raises pigs, sheep, chickens, rabbits, a milk cow, and a few goats.  All the animals are antibiotic and hormone-free.

clawhammer farm field pasture  lisle new york barn The barn at right, and the house up the hill.

 

Upon my arrival I was greeted by a curious scene–not at all what I envisioned would be my “life on the farm” for the next couple weeks. Nick, one of the farmer duo, cooked Pad Thai in the kitchen while watching TV on a giant screen. Becky, the other half of the duo, and the farmhands drank beers and laughed at one thing or another: the farm dog Dart, or whatever silly show was on TV, or Nick’s hilarious outbursts from the kitchen. Clawhammer was clearly a departure from the farms I typically visit, which are owned and worked mostly by middle- and old-aged men in Alabama.

clawhammer farm field pasture  lisle new york pig piglet Tiny baby piglets get some rest under a heat lamp in the barn.

The next day, I was given a tour of the farm by my friend from New Orleans, Eric the woodworker. He introduced me to the nursing piglets and their giant mothers, the bunnies, the chickens, the ”grower” pigs (them’s for eating), the flock of sheep… and Beulah. Beulah’s the milk cow, and I’ll admit that I am a little obsessed with her now.

clawhammer farm field pasture  lisle new york cow milk beulah Beulah, the overly affectionate cow, just before galloping over and sticking her head straight into my stomach to nuzzle me. (Which, since she’s a cow, meant holding tight so I wouldn’t fall over. Cow nuzzles are no joke.)

 

For a few years I ran the Homegrown Alabama Farmers Market in Tuscaloosa, so over the years I’ve visited quite a few farms. I’ve never worked on one though, and had never been to a farm that mainly produces meat. Animal farming seems to consist of much less time in the field than vegetable farming does. There is, however, plenty of work to be done. After finishing work some days, I’d take my camera out and hang out with the farm animals. Consider the photos that follow as your personal tour of the farm, as we travel from the swampy bottom to the hilltop:

On any given day, you’ll find beulah and the sheep grazing somewhere in here…

clawhammer farm field pasture  lisle new york

clawhammer farm field pasture  lisle new york sheep hair wool

clawhammer farm field pasture  lisle new york milk cow beulah

clawhammer farm field pasture lisle new york pig piglet Piglets experiencing their first day outside the barn and without their mamma. Right now they’re trying to hide… they’re thinking… if we can’t see you, you won’t be able to see us! Duh! Though they’re cute now, these “growers” will eventually be slaughtered for meat. When there’s a pig roast at the farm, as there was during my stay, that process begins in the pasture.

clawhammer farm field pasture lisle new york knife blood gun

andreamabry_for_clawhammer-8588 Big pigs.

 

clawhammer farm field pasture  lisle new york chicken Chickens hanging out in their chicken tractor. clawhammer farm field pasture lisle new york cow dog sheep Beulah and sheep wonder what the heck this little furball is doing in their pasture.

clawhammer farm field pasture  lisle new york farmer

clawhammer farm field pasture  lisle new york sheep

clawhammer farm field pasture  lisle new york sheep barn BAAAAAAH! clawhammer farm field pasture lisle new york people farmer pig roast dog Farmer Nick talks with Dart while the pig roasts. As we prepare to eat pig, inside the barn there are piglets eating.

clawhammer farm field lisle new york pig piglet suckling

clawhammer farm field pasture lisle new york dog german shorthaired pointer dart Another picture of Dart, for good measure.

clawhammer farm field pasture lisle new york pig piglet suckling

clawhammer farm field pasture lisle new york refrigerator truck graffiti If you ever see this refrigerator truck in NYC, Clawhammer Farm’s making deliveries! clawhammer farm field pasture lisle new york road The farm is divided by a road, which turns out to be quite handy. Looking this direction, the barn is to the right and the house sits on the left. clawhammer farm field pasture  lisle new york farm house dog Dart rests inside the house during the heat of the day. clawhammer farm field pasture  lisle new york garden This sizable garden provides many of the herbs and vegetables that feed hungry farmhands. clawhammer farm field pasture  lisle new york garden cat cabbage Colors the cat takes a moment to rest in the cabbage patch.

clawhammer farm field pasture  lisle new york garden cabbage

My next post will show the process of slaughtering and butchering (and eating) a pig. It's not for the faint of heart, but seeing the slaughter gave me new perspective on being a meat eater. My next post shows the process of slaughtering and butchering (and eating!) a pig. It’s not for the faint of heart, but seeing the slaughter gave me new perspective on being a meat eater. Check it out here.

I hope you enjoyed the tour!

 

Clawhammer Farm delivers a meat CSA to Brooklyn, and supplies various restaurants in NYC with fresh, happy pork. You can also slaughter your own pig on the farm! www.clawhammerfarm.com

Summers are for travelin’

andrea mabry instagram road trip 2013

This summer I fled New Orleans’ humidity and congestion in hopes of replenishing my soul with some country living and lots of driving. I needed a good old fashioned road trip–something I try to do every year but hadn’t gotten around to since December of 2011.

All in all, I put about 6,000 miles on my car, spent 7 weeks on the road, ate at least 20 packs of peanut butter crackers, was accompanied by 3 passengers for various amounts of time, spent most of my time wearing an Alabama Farmers Market trucker hat, visited 11 states (I think), and stayed in about 17-odd friends and family’s homes.

I spent my time between a pig farm in upstate New York, on the beach, at the Battle of Gettysburg 150th Anniversary Reenactment, sleeping on couches, eating (yes, there was a lot of pork involved), collecting shells, appreciating tiny New England towns, and CONSTANTLY thinking about how cold it must be in [wherever I was] during the winter. You know what? It was totally awesome.

I’ll be posting a few blog entries with photos from the trip, but if you’re feeling antsy and would like to check out some photos that I Instagrammed along the way, you’ll find me at http://instagram.com/akmabry.

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As you can see, I got out of the South as fast as possible, then sort of meandered around the Northeast. I think I even missed a couple stops on this map…Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 2.54.34 PM

 

And now a few of those Instagram pictures I mentioned…

andrea mabry instagram road trip 2013 andrea mabry instagram road trip 2013 andrea mabry instagram road trip 2013 andrea mabry instagram road trip 2013 andrea mabry instagram road trip 2013

The Sparkles’ Big Day: a shiny day for all!

Emily and Justin began calling themselves the Sparkles a year or two after they met and fell in love at Bonnaroo, where Emily insisted on calling Justin Mr. Sparkles. We can only guess why, but I’d say it had something to do with all the glittery paint:

gulf shores, alabama, beach wedding, bonnaroo

 

Emily and Justin are my good friends and two of the most fantastic people I know. They created an event that felt very intimate and exuded their personalities. The wedding day’s events were comfortable yet energetic, laid back but also a little wild. This couple is energetic, thoughtful, and definitely sparkly… and every detail of their wedding day showed that. From the hippie-inspired love beads they exchanged at the altar, to a tuxedoed dip in the ocean after the sparkler exit, guests and couple alike agreed that the event was totally Sparkles.

Everyone in attendance agreed that the Sparkles’ wedding weekend was quite magical. For me, the charm began when I awoke momentarily at 5am the morning before the wedding. When I dusted the sleep out of my eyes I saw this picture framed by my sliding glass door:

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gulf shores, alabama, beach wedding,

gulf shores, alabama, beach wedding,

gulf shores, alabama, beach wedding,

gulf shores, alabama, beach wedding,

gulf shores, alabama, beach wedding,

gulf shores, alabama, beach wedding,

gulf shores, alabama, beach wedding,

gulf shores, alabama, beach wedding,

gulf shores, alabama, beach wedding,

gulf shores, alabama, beach wedding,

andrea mabry, gulf shores, beach wedding, alabama, southern wedding, sign

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andrea mabry, gulf shores, beach wedding, alabama, southern wedding, margarita

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For their sparkler exit on the beach, Justin and Emily ran through once,

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then again,

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… then Justin called it quits but Emily hadn’t had enough. So she kept on running.

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As I suggested at the beginning of this post, it’s true, the bride and groom plunged into the Gulf of Mexico in their fancy attire. Many of the wedding party followed them in, with the rest of the crowd watching as we howled with laughter.

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Venue: The Beach Club / Cake: Sugarbug Catering & Co.
Florist: All Island Flowers / Second Shooter: Eddie Marroquin

Super Sunday 2013

While the rest of the country (and much of New Orleans) celebrated St. Patrick’s Day last Sunday, a different kind of party went down in NOLA’s Central City. If you don’t know much about the Mardi Gras Indians and the reason they spend all year creating incredibly intricate, elaborate costumes, this article is a good place to read about it.

I didn’t realize just how many Indians were going to show up to the Super Sunday festivities. They seemed to trickle in from side streets along the parade route to join the main artery, La Salle Street, where the majority of Indians and audience in the area stationed themselves.

 

super sunday new orleans mardi gras indians

 

super sunday new orleans mardi gras indians

 

super sunday new orleans mardi gras indians

 

super sunday new orleans mardi gras indians

 

super sunday new orleans mardi gras indians

 

 

super sunday new orleans mardi gras indians

 


 

super sunday new orleans mardi gras indians

 

super sunday new orleans mardi gras indians

 

super sunday new orleans mardi gras indians