Random Recreation


For the last 6 months I’ve been doing a weekly random number project on my Flickr page using a randomly decided number and then filtering my archives for the top five photos. It’s a project to entertain myself and dig out old photos that I haven’t seen in awhile.  Sometimes I find some nice surprises I’ve forgotten about that inspire to bring them out and look at them in a whole new way.

After randomly deciding to take the month of January off to rethink the project I decided to bring it a little closer to home than a Flickr group that is occupied solely by me. It made no sense to be a group without members.  Hopefully this will give me a better opportunity to practice writing small pieces about each photo, try to establish an overall theme to the weekly randomness (if there is one to be found), and keep all my little projects in one yard, so to speak.

I still plan on doing audience participation for random numbers! If you have a suggestion of any number up to 4 digits please feel welcome to send it along in a comment or email.  Otherwise I plan to keep the number picking truly random and will use this cool number generator I found through Random.org. (Of course!)

Photos will be presented from oldest to newest.

So here she goes folks! Let’s spin the wheel!!!


[Click on an image to enlarge.]

1. A Turkish Belly Dancer at the Goombay African-American Heritage Street Festival 2010, Asheville, N.C. on Eagle and Market Street. This festival is sponsored by the YMI Cultural Center goes on for 3 days every summer and showcases Asheville’s African-American community with music and arts performances.


2.  The wheel spins strangely sometimes. In a funny quirk here’s a shot with the same frame number, from the same festival, in about the same place on the same street, one year later. This little boy had just gotten a bubble gun from one of the street vendors at the Goombay Festival 2011.  He was very eager to show it off and he made it look so fun my youngest wanted one. I think it may still be laying in a yard toy box somewhere.


3.  My beautiful friend Anneliesse McKee modeling a dress made by Brooke Priddy of Ship to Shore in her studio in 2013. This was part of a photo shoot I did for Ashvegas, there’s a gallery attached to the article that I had not looked at in 3 years.  I remember I had a bit of a tricky time hiding in the shot from all of those mirrors!


4. A backlit rice wrap looks like the full moon at Blind Pig’s Chiến Thắng dinner at the Hub in East-West Asheville in July 2014. The dinner was a Vietnamese theme with two incredible Asheville chefs, Chef Brian Cannipelli of Cucina 24 and Chef Jacob Sessoms of Table.


5. The Mountain State Fair, September 2014, as seen from the sky lift. I just love seeing all of those dangling feet in the air in this shot! I’ve been volunteering with the Mountain State Fair for the past three years now. I help with the art intake before the fair opens and hang the art for judging. It’s fun to be backstage at the fair, but by far the best perk of the job is riding the sky lift.  That and the ferris wheel are my two favorite rides! Why? Because they change your perspective and offer you a bird’s eye view!

Scooby Farewell


I find myself in one of those horrible adult moments where I have to say goodbye to my old dog,  For some folks it’s a sudden surprise and a teary goodbye at the vet but I’ve been looking around this corner for a long minute. He has been declining for months. Last Christmas I knew it was coming, I told myself, this will be our last year together, observing the lasts in my mind as the time has counted down. Last trip to the river, last ride in the car, last, last, last. I’ve marked them all. I’ve watched him change and turn away slowly from all of the things that made him happy till there was nothing left but supper and me. I’ve watched him drift around the house following me from room to room and when it was too much to get up he would follow me with his eyes from the bed blankets that I’ve put out for him to lie down on around the house.

Today I called the doctor who will come tomorrow and open the gate from his tired hurting body so his spirit can run down the trail that I can’t follow on. Today I am suddenly a wreck. After weeks of monitoring his QoL and changing his bedding daily and mopping the floors when the accidents began to multiply to the point where it was obvious he couldn’t keep up with the demands of his body.  We have come to the end of the trail and I am spent beyond measure with sadness. Tomorrow will be our last date and he won’t hurt anymore and that is all I want for him now.

Of course, all this raw emotion sends me burrowing into my photo archive so it can do what I built it to do; comfort me, stop time, take me back to the beginning for a little while so I can feel it all again like I did when it was new.

Scooby on our first date, the moment we met.So this is the beginning. December 5, 2004 at a Home 4 the Holidays adoption event in Reston,VA. As the event photographer I had said no thank you 300 times that day to all of the beautiful animals that I was photographing. Wouldn’t you know it would be 301 that got to me? This photo is pretty much our first moment of eye contact through the crowd. We got him from a rescue group called Homeward Trails that does great work rescuing animals from kill shelters in the Maryland, Virginia and DC area. He had been found as a puppy under a porch in West Virginia by their group, and adopted as a baby by a young girl but the adoption didn’t take when her life had a change and he was back with them. ‘Look how handsome he is!’  was  all I could think when I first saw him through the lens at the adoption event. Right after I took this photo I walked over and introduced myself to his foster Mom. He sat on my lap licked, my face and that was it, he was home within a week.

Already almost two years old and with his own ideas about who was in charge, his name was Cooper then and we kept it that way for a few years until Cooper the boy, my nephew, was born. Then the kids renamed him Scooby. I always thought it suited him better.  I’d never heard of a Plott hound before (he’s a Blevins Plott), now I could tell you all about them. How they are so stubborn and crazy and brave and stupid and smart and strong all at the same time. I guess I saw a lot of myself in a dog like that. It’s easy to forget how difficult he was at first now that we’re on the other side of this life together but he had no manners, terrorized our old beagle till the day she left the planet and was generally a disaster on four legs at every turn for the first few years. People would scoop up their little dogs in our suburban Northern Virginia neighborhood and run the other way shouting things like ‘Why would you have a dog like that?’

When we moved to Western North Carolina I would be lying if I didn’t admit that part of the motivation for me was to bring him home to a place that he was built to live in. And the conversation with strangers and neighbors changed completely.  I would have him in the back of the truck at the gas station. He would be going off at top notch so much that the truck was swaying and the barking was a total din. An old timer would walk by and peer in the truck and say ‘I bet that’s a good dog.’

Yes sir, he is.

The wheel turns. Soon we will begin listing firsts with new animals. The kids have never been able to have anything but fish because Scooby would hunt anything furry and smaller than him so we gave him the room to do so. He was the terror of every squirrel, rabbit and groundhog in our neighborhood. There will probably be a complete menagerie in my yard before too long. It might take a menagerie to fill up the hole I feel in my heart today. Sweet dreams good boy, I’m gonna miss you. Meet you on the other side.

This morning we got up early to watch the sun come up on the porch. Tonight we’ll leave the gates open.

Rhetorical Factory Show July 2015!

All new show scheduled, opening July 10, 2015 at Rhetorical Factory!

So excited for summer!

And here’s why…. 2 months ago I had a sit down, that’s amazing, brainstorm-y idea to collaborate with one of my favorite local artists. Today I ordered 9 yards of fabric from Spoonflower for what will become the centerpieces of my July show “Getting Off the Wall” at Rhetorical Factory in West Asheville.

This locally powered shop focuses on upcycling clothes and innovative design. Bethany Adams, the designer and captain of the ship at the shop,  had an inspiring boots on the ground meeting with me yesterday. She and I have had wonderful success in the past collaborating on projects (if you’ve ever seen me in a CLicKs shirt) and I can’t wait to see what she creates with my images! The show will also include 20 original glass art tiles which I’ve been working on for most of this year.

Come see what we’ve been dreaming up. . . second Saturday, July 10, 2015.

Tangleheart Carousel – Glass Art Tile 6″x6″ with wood stand available at upcoming show July 2015 at Rhetorical Factory in West Asheville.

In Vision – New Work by C.L. Kunst

Mom had it right.

When I was born my mother named me Cynthia Lea, which is an elegant and regal sounding set of names that I am only just now beginning to embrace. Now Lea is easy. Lea means shelter. Lea is an integral part of my Grandmother’s and my oldest daughter’s first name. But that uppity sounding first bit always seemed so far out of my reach.  Originally a reference to a Greek baby name, it literally means of Cynthus, and refers to the location of the birth of the Greek Goddess Artemis and the personification of the first phase of the moon. But modern definitions are more liberal and include ideas that relate to the moon’s more ethereal qualities such as its role as a mirror and reflectors and light in dark places.

When I was growing up I remember feeling intimidated by the big ideas that went with this name. Was this really me? Did this have anything to do with who I was meant to be? I didn’t feel particularly shiny or reflective, much less somehow related to any phase of some classical Greek goddess.  Turns out the answer is yes!!! I get so excited by light! Shining it, flashing it, catching it, teaching it how to dance funny, little flickers in dark places, whatever, just bring on the light! And I don’t think this is an accident either. My birthday comes right in front of the Spring Equinox and the sweet annual return of milder temperatures and longer days. I definitely experience my own personal quickening around this time of year.

March is when the phone starts ringing for portrait sessions again and the art shows, festivals and events for the summer start getting lined up.  So far this year has already been a major hustle-bustle with a pop-up show at a Blind Pig dinner in early February and this week  where I get ready for my latest show at The Circle Asheville that opens Saturday from 3-6.  I’ll be offering a bunch of new work as well as a few old favorites in a new way. Glass!! I’ve gotten together with a local printmaker who helping me create some gorgeous glass art tiles to go along with my other prints and photo art this year. Of course Pop was invaluable and helped me out by making some really cool stands for each tile so you can plunk it in the nearest window and let the sun (or the moon) do all the work backlighting it! They also make really pretty votive shades with a tea candle put on the stand behind the tile for your bookshelf or dining table.

This new body of work represents a jumping off point for me. After making what I call Radiants  for over 10 years I realized that what I’ve really been doing was picking up little pieces of flotsam and jetsam with my camera; bits of visual ephemera that might not mean much now but someday I felt I might find the puzzle this fits into. This year is the year I realized the scope of the puzzle and began to reassemble the pieces into a picture that made sense to me. After looking outward for a very long time I’m beginning to find the worth in looking in. So that’s In Vision, new looks at old works and a re-”in vision”-ing of their purpose in my bigger image. Come see.

In Vision

Show poster at The Circle March 14 – April 10


January 11th

Here I am again,

January 11th.

Back where I began,

But not.

New year, new world

New ideas from old suggestions.

What have you got?


I’ve been collecting,

Curating all the lost little pieces.

The tiny moment glimpses.

Now the puzzle

Reveals another level.

And all the pieces line up

Waiting for their new beginning.

This is the year it all comes together.

This is the year I put myself in charge.

This is the year I choose the celebrations.

January 11th.

The day to begin again.


Seniors Delighted to work with a pair of Seniors from North Henderson High last week and make some beautiful portraits for them to commemorate their last year!! Justin brought along his friend Kayla and we had a blast going through a variety of backgrounds and costume changes. As usual my favorites always end up being the “environmental” portraits but I think we made some great formal portraits as well.  I loved that the kids brought along their own props, it’s the best way to show what makes them who they are and make the portraits truly personal. Thanks for a fantastic day you two! To see more of my portrait work check out my Family Photography page.


Spider Palace

Spider Palace

Hello October! Asheville never fails to blow me away with how “right on time” it is with the seasons. Leaves are beginning to turn and this week we’ll begin to really see the change of seasons. Case in point, I opened the front door this morning to discover this enterprising funnel spider’s web work in the grass. All the surrounding webs are flat but this one obviously has higher aspirations.

The Mountain State Fair Opens Today!

The Mountain State Fair – 9/5-9/14/14

September is always a busy time for us. Still finding our way through new schools, a pair of birthdays, and one of my favorite fall activities, The NC Mountain State Fair.  This year I didn’t submit anything, (I’ve got my 1st 2nd & 3rd, I’m good.) But I did help hang art  with Hillary Frye and can’t wait to see all the Fair has to offer from the tractors to the quilts and everything in between. Come on out between now and Spet. 14th, maybe I’ll see you there!

State Fair

The Last LAAFF?!?

2014 – Is this the Last LAAFF for Lex Fest?

Hopefully not! Although is has been declared over and done and this year will be the “Last LAAFF” there will be metamorphosis to the project with a larger group of directors and organizations including the businesses along Lexington Avenue, the very source of the fest itself.  I believe LAAFF proved in the shadow of its final bow, that it is a festival Asheville wants. Even though I didn’t get to stay as long as I wanted to it was as much fun as ever! Particular favorites for me were The Water Temple, Bike Races with a Dunk Tank finish, Asian Teacher Factory and of course all of the great artists, performers and just folks that dress up and come out to LAAFF. The people watching is always par excellence and this year was no exception! Here are a few choice looks from the day. You can find more photos from LAAFF on my facebook page here.

[*And a note to the future organizers, please don't scrap a good thing because of one bad year. There's no such thing as a last LAAFF.]



Saturday Afternoon – Asheville

I’ve been doing some traveling for work this week.  I’m always glad for the change of perspective, but so completely happy to be back in the mountains. It was a gorgeous late afternoon to be back with the family. Looking around on a typical Saturday afternoon in Asheville it’s not hard to see why I love it here!


Saturday Afternoon in Asheville

Thoughts on “Finding Vivian Maier”

My two cents about Vivian Maier.

I saw the documentary of Vivian Maier’s life a few months ago and it rattled me, deeply, so much so it’s taken me this long to assimilate it. Watching this movie, I distinctly identified with her need to capture precious real moments, glimpsed in an instant, composed between seconds. She devoted herself to her craft in private, never sharing her images with others but ubiquitously known to have the camera with her at all times. I am certain if she knew all of the scrutiny she was receiving now she would be mortified. And yet, I was intrigued to discover, she left a clear trail of clues for and of herself. A dizzyingly cluttered trail, of 1000s of photo prints and negatives, newspapers and receipts, boxes and boxes of undeveloped film, all patiently  just waiting for the world to discover her. Bold enough to photograph fearlessly, yet so timid about possible rejection that she would craft letters of submission and then save them, unsent, among her collections. It screams, “Find me!”

What would become of any of us in such circumstances? An intensely private single woman, with a passion for art and a true eye for photography, a beloved skill learned from her mother. Living in a time when women of her “station” were primarily hired for domestic opportunities and jobs for “odd” unattached older women as she aged, rarer still. Living among the lives and children of her well off employers, always to be locking them out of her privacy, yet always the voyeur of theirs.  Ultimately, for most of these people, she was little more than a convenience, like your dish washer or an iron and they pay her just about as much attention. Meanwhile Vivian displays a penchant to pursue, capture and portray stories of the marvelous mundane as well as the macabre in the every day. Taking the rich people’s children to the rough parts of town to see & photograph real every day life playing out in the streets and alley’s of Chicago.

As she ages and the commodity of her passion’s aggregate begins to make her upper floor bedroom sag noticeably into the ceiling below, realizing that time and space are limited, she must have been panicked about what would happen to her precious collections. Her sanity and ability to control her circumstances slowly ebbing away until she dies alone and unknown, taken away to the hospital after a fall, never to return.  Within months of her passing she is discovered by John Maloof, a complete stranger who bought a box of her things at a warehouse auction and who is now the steward of her “photographic estate”. In the end, of all the people they interviewed who knew her, some friends, some employers, some children she had cared for now grown, all tried to  explain from their perspective who she was; but I don’t think any of them really did.

Just wow. What a story! It truly spoke to me about the importance of putting your passions out there fearlessly. Would really love to see her work in person someday. . .

I made this a few years ago as a reminder to myself to keep making and pushing myself to be better. As I walked out of the theater it kept floating back to me again.

Summer’s Mask

Feeling especially artsy fartsy tonight after weeks of semi doldrums. A thing here, a thing there, chasing flickers in the dark. (I figured out they were lightning bugs. Yay summer!) Tonight though I pulled my head out of its box and set it out in the sunshine for the last few rays before the sun goes under the mountain. A summer’s mask of  ripe colors filtered though a distorted head. Magic time!

Wednesday Night Blues with the 12 Bar All-Stars

My husband Cass and I have a long history of enjoying live music together, especially the blues. Before we had kids and responsibilities we were regulars at the Beale Street Blues Fest in Memphis and of course the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.  We’ve seen The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Buddy Guy at Red Rocks, Dr. John, Ray Charles (god rest his soul) and attended all sorts of little blues festivals up and down the Eastern seaboard, yeah, you could say we got around.

Asheville’s got plenty of blue skies, blue ridges, and even bluegrass but not a lot of blues. Happily, through a few strange twists of fate, Cass recently found himself with a chance to create a blues night at the Asheville Music Hall every Wednesday in May, so he’s running with it!! Come out to the Asheville Music Hall for the 12 Bar All-Stars, featuring Aaron “Woody” Wood, J.C. Lang, Marcel Anton, Chris Kew and Zach Alberto!! These guys had a lot of fun last week (check out their face book page for pics) and are fixing for more tonight! $5 cover after 9 so get there early!

Blues 12 Bar All Stars

Shower Head

A little fun time at home today, continuing to play with my head, this time in the shower!Shower Head


Daytrip to Marshall & Hot Springs

All of Asheville was abuzz with Moogfest this weekend and I hope you all had fun! I did an about face and took some friends (one who hasn’t been here long and one visiting her from England) out for  a day trip up the old Marshall Highway for a day of small town exploring in Marshall and then on up to Hot Springs for an explore and a soak. We did have some fun!

Marshall almost looks like it was cut out of a small town story book, located right on the French Broad River and along the train tracks it’s Main Street is a quick but charming tour with several charming shops, a sweet little restaurant, the Pork & Pie, Zuma coffee shop, Flow Gallery and  a real, honest to goodness old time department store, Penland & Sons. In a town the size of Marshall you really only need one of everything.  They’ll be having the Mama Mia Celebration honoring Mother’s Day Saturday, May 10 with family activities, music and food all over downtown.

Hot Springs, just another 15 minutes up the road, was also a hit, and we spent another good chunk of the afternoon wandering from shop to shop all along their Main Street before stopping for lunch.  Then it was off to the tubs for a nice hour long soak at the “World Famous Hot Springs“. A word to the wise as we come into season, make a reservation ahead of time if you plan on renting an outdoor tub on the weekend as they were completely booked for the day by 1 pm and even if you go during the week it never hurts to call ahead and reserve a time. More fun upcoming next weekend in Hot Springs as well with the French Broad River Festival for two fantastic days of music and camping.


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