Friday, September 23, 2016

Indy's Holliday Park celebrates
restoration of iconic Ruins

It had been six years since I was last in Indy's Holliday Park to photograph (and as best as I can recall, it probably also was the last time I was there).

Then on Sept. 15, The Indianapolis Star published an article reporting that the park's iconic attraction -- the Ruins -- had been restored and reopened to the public. I decided to wait until after the official restoration ceremony (which was Sept. 17) before going there to check it out. I did so on Tuesday, and photographs you see here are from that shoot.

In 2010, I ventured into the garden area and adjacent woods along White River, but not Tuesday. Instead, after photographing the Ruins, I checked out the Nature Center before calling it a day and heading home.

The Ruins are remnants from a  "The Races of Man" sculpture by Karl T. Bitter on the facade of the St. Paul Building, one of New York City's first skyscrapers. When the St. Paul Building was targeted for replacement by building owner Western Electric Co. in the 1950s, Indianapolis successfully bid to accept the remnants and display them in the park, which was land donated in 1916 by John and Evaline Holliday, according to The Star article. The finished installation, including a reflecting pool, wasn't dedicated until 1979, according to The Star.

By the mid-1990s, the Ruins were in obvious disrepair. Neighbors resisted an initial plan to remove the installation, so a fence eventually was erected around it until refurbishment funds and labor could be arranged and engaged. When I was there in 2010, the fencing forced photographers to use a decent zoom lens if they hoped to get closeups of the figures on the three posts.

I don't know if there was a fountain as part of the original development, but there are two there now. The restored version features a shimmer fountain and children's water table and wooden lounge chairs on the main/front side, as depicted in the photo leading off the post. A traditional fountain can be found on the back side of the structure, the one visitors see walking in from the parking lot (a shot of that appears below). On warm days, the former is a popular attraction to youngsters, who wade in the very thin layer of water that fills much of the bricked area.

For a full gallery of my images from Holliday Park, visit my site at As always, click on any images to view a larger, sharper version, which is particularly important when the blog is accessed on a mobile device.

Photo geek info: For the entire shoot, I used a Canon 6D equipped with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L lens and a polarizing filter. I bracketed the exposures for each scene that I combined in post-processing using Photomatix high-dynamic range (HDR) software. For most shots, I set the ISO at ISO 100 and used an aperture of f/8 or f/9, letting the shutter be my exposure variable.

Above: An inviting landscaped promenade leads from the parking lot to the Ruins.  

A closeup (above) of the figures constituting "The Three Races" and a closeup (below) of the figure on the far right above.  

Above and next two below: Some detail shots from sections of the structure.

Above and below: A photographer can challenge him/herself with trying to find an interesting way to capture the semicircular row of stone pillars on the backside of the Ruins. 

Further into the park, across an open green space from the Ruins, one comes across these three monuments (above), which the park calls its dedicatory stones. A closeup of the stone on the right appears below. 

 Above: A tree stands out along the edge of the meadow leading to the gardens.

A pergola and art installation (above) greet visitors to the nature center (below).  

The art installation, framed by a tree and garden foliage (above), as seen from the pergola. Below is the pergola ceiling. 

Above: Pavers etched with fundraising memorials line the floor of the pergola.

Above: A mailbox outside the former Holliday family house. The pergola appears in the background.

A solitary tree (above) and a circle of trees (below, left) in an area north of the Ruins, which can be seen in the right background in the photo below.  

Above: Lounge chairs adjacent to the children's water table near the Ruins.

For many years, statues of eight Greek goddesses stood on the facade of the old Marion County Courthouse in Indianapolis. After the courthouse was razed in 1963 (it was replaced by today's City-County Building), Holliday Park obtained four of those statues and positioned them alongside the Ruins. The number of statues dwindled to two by 2007, and today only the one above remains (that I could find, anyway). A closeup of her feet appears below.    

Above: A good amount of landscaping and/or grass seeding remains to be done, as evidenced in the photo above.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Just checking in ... for Garry Petersen

A couple of times since I launched Photo Potpourri, I've devoted a post to the passing of someone who's had a profound influence on my life. That's what today's post is about. I apologize in advance for the fact that the image therein -- one -- is not even close to the volume I normally include when I add a post to a blog that's supposed to be about photography, but I decided to proceed anyway.

Professionally, Gary Petersen was a self-described "simple economist," but in reality, besides being a heck of a good guy, he was a hard-working leader and driver of a team of economists and public policy consultants who toiled under the corporate umbrella known as William-Lynn-James Inc., a firm whose de facto headquarters was an office in Garry's home in Central Indiana.

I was employed by The Indianapolis Star when I met Garry in 1986, a very short time before WLJ was formed. Back then, he was one of the principals of Petersen and Leatherman Inc., an Indianapolis consulting firm. I was doing research and reporting for what would be my last significant story in a reporting role (after which I would begin a series of editing assignments at the newspaper). Petersen and Leatherman had conducted a feasibility study for the use of a sizable chunk of the abandoned Monon Railroad corridor in Central Indiana, so I contacted the firm to discuss the study's recommendations.

The report had recommended that communities along the corridor, including Indianapolis, Carmel and Westfield, develop the linear strip of land for recreational purposes -- specifically, paved walking, running and biking trails. Perhaps that might seem obvious today, but this was 30 years ago when recreational trails were a novelty in urban settings. Fast-forward to the present, and that's exactly what happened to the corridor: The Monon Trail currently extends from downtown Indy all the way to Westfield.

Garry and I had a few conversations while I developed the story in 1986, and for whatever reason, he was impressed with my work ethic, my diligence for accuracy ... and, most of all, the published story that evolved from my reporting.

After I moved to my editing assignments in June 1986, we stayed in touch frequently. For at least 15 years thereafter, he would hire me to do freelance editing work for WLJ (which would acquire Petersen and Leathermen a month after my story published) and for his non-profit side project, the Tax Research Analysis Center (TRAC), which availed itself to government entities to consult on all things related to tax policy and implementation.

In late summer of 1997, Garry was responsible for me acquiring the first computer I ever owned. He was upgrading the electronics in his office at the time, and I'm sure he was tiring of us having to exchange documents by fax. He wanted me to get into cyberspace, so he gave me -- free of charge -- one of the desktops being replaced, a low-RAM dial-up. Next to the PC I use now, that first computer would be considered a clunker, but I was ecstatic to get it back then. I'm sure my introduction to cyberspace would have been delayed a few years if it hadn't been for that.

Garry's work with TRAC and in government public policy for WLJ would often find him behind the scenes on scores of municipal issues and state projects. From our many conversations through the years, I deduced that the elected official he felt closest to and whom he most revered was former longtime Indianapolis Mayor William H. Hudnut. One moment in the Hudnut administration's realm in which I know Garry reveled was when Indy persuaded the NFL's Baltimore Colts to move to Indianapolis in 1984. Garry had spent many of his early years on the East Coast, and based on the collection of pre-Indy Colts memorabilia I saw in his home in Greenwood, I sensed he was a Colts fan before they ever moved to Indy.

On several occasions, Garry talked to me about a picture that was published in one of the Indianapolis daily newspapers showing Hudnut and several of the mayor's staffers joining Colts owner Robert Irsay on the field of the then-new Hoosier Dome shortly after the team arrived in Indy. Garry told me he was in the background of that photo but lamented that he never got a copy of the image. Because I worked at The Star, he asked me about 10 years ago or so if I could ask our librarians to see if they could find the image. I did ask our librarians for help, and they looked but to no avail. Because the 1984 photo was taken well before the era of digital photography in newspapers, the photo in The Star's archives would have been in print form, and in 2006 or thereabouts, finding old prints (assuming it was still in our archives) was never a certainty.

In a way, it was interesting that Garry would chase after a photo of himself at all. Although the walls in his office at the Franklin home were crammed with framed honors, awards and photos (a few that included him), he had no photos of himself anywhere among his photographs on Facebook, and none on a personal Internet page he created for himself and family. One page in particular at that Internet site was devoted to an extensive 33-day vacation he and his family took to Europe in 2008, and although the trip photo gallery is loaded with pictures of his wife and son, Terri and Erik, in the various countries, there are none of him. The photo you see of Garry and Terri leading off this post was taken in their Franklin home shortly after the new millennium, and it wasn't until 10 years later or thereabouts that it occurred to me how fortunate I was to have gotten them to pose for it at all.

Garry has held Colts season tickets from the team's first year in Indy. Periodically he would buy additional season seats to better accommodate clients and friends. Because of this, my two sons (both rabid Colts fans) have had season tickets (which they pay for) for the past nine seasons. I've attended a few Colts games through the years -- a few with Garry, and a couple with my sons -- but I've never purchased season tickets. Having grown up in Wisconsin, my primary pro football loyalty is to the Green Bay Packers. Two of the games Garry got me in to see were the last two times the Packers visited Indianapolis, and both times the Packers lost. (The Colts and Packers are in different NFL conferences, so they don't play each other during the regular season very often.)

Garry's "behind the scenes" role through the years went beyond confidential consultations with government officials. While I was still employed at The Star, Garry would occasionally call me at work to suggest what he thought would be a good news story. I would assess the tip and, depending on the import, either pass it to the appropriate beat reporter or give a reporter or editor's name and contact info to Garry to deal with directly. He rarely chose the latter; he said he'd come upon too many journalists who he felt lacked the chops to thoroughly report stories.

When I asked Garry many years ago about the William-Lynn-James company name, he explained that the names represented key people in his life. Today, many years after that conversation, I remember the source of two of the three names -- Lynn is the middle name of Terri, and James is the middle name of his father, Robert. I don't recall the source of "William." Perhaps it was the middle name of a great ancestor. I suppose, too, it could have been a nod to Hudnut. I really don't remember.

In the 1980s while living in Irvington, a neighborhood on the Eastside of Indianapolis, Garry founded and organized the annual Pleasant Run Run 5-mile run and 3-mile walk, an event still held the last Saturday in October in tandem with the Historic Irvington Halloween Festival. In the years that Garry organized the runs, the PRR was known for its colorful and collectible annual event posters, the work of artists at the Indy firm Serigraphics. Jeff Pate, one of those artists, handled a few of those posters. Garry continued operating the run for several years after moving from Irvington to Franklin in 1986, after which it was taken over by Tuxedo Brothers Event Managers. The race now goes by the name "Pleasant Run Vampire Run." 

What struck me most about Garry's involvement with the PRR was that he donated all proceeds to the Marion County Children's Guardian Home in Irvington. The home, founded in Irvington in 1898, sheltered and cared for homeless, abused and neglected children for more than a century before closing in 2010.

While in Irvington, Garry founded the Irvington Forestry Foundation, which is devoted to developing and promoting urban forestry. He was the foundation's only president. Through the years, he and the foundation received numerous citations for their accomplishments and efforts promoting urban forestry. In 1996, Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh named him a Sagamore of the Wabash, which for a long time was the highest honor a governor could bestow on a citizen for his or her service in Indiana.

Shortly after leaving Irvington for Franklin, Garry and Terri and their new next-door neighbors, Lilo and Vicco VonStralendorff, went to the city of Franklin to ask permission to develop the city's first arboretum on land adjacent to Province Park. The city granted the request on one important condition: the Petersens and VonStralendorffs would have to help maintain the arboretum for 25 years. The two couples agreed -- and kept their word. On April 9, 2011, 25 years after the arboretum was developed, the last trees were planted there.

In both Irvington and Franklin, Garry and Terri bought and restored historic residences, and in the three years they have lived in Greenwood, they invested a lot of time and money to upgrade and improve that property as well. One of the many projects was landscaping and gardening, and it was while he was in his backyard admiring one of the gardens he had developed that Garry drew his last breath in the late afternoon of Sept. 1.

A quick sidebar: I didn't learn about the death of Garry's father, a longtime FBI agent, in August 1996, until well after it happened. But at some point in the years after Robert Petersen died, Garry told me that he had written his father's obituary and described how difficult it was to do that while also dealing with grief. He said he thought his father's FBI career and on-the-job anecdotes would make good material for a book, and he asked me if I would be interested in helping him write it. I told him I would, but we never really got into specifics on how to develop it, or even what we would include. And I never got to hear any of the anecdotes.

In the past decade or so, Garry grappled with several medical issues (the most serious involving his heart). During every third conversation (or so it seemed, anyway) that we had in that period he would intimate his concern that his days were numbered. He recalled the experience with his father and said he didn't want to burden his family with the task of having to write his obituary while grieving. He let me know he would like me to write his obituary. I think he wanted me to get started right away, too. After one such conversation, in 2009, he sent me a copy of his professional resume so I would at least have the basic framework of his life's story at my fingertips. I didn't refer to that resume at all when I put together this post; to me, Garry's story is about much more than the projects he consulted on in the business world.

He must have mentioned our conversations about his obituary at least once to his family, because on the night of Sept. 1, when I got the call from Erik to tell me his father had died, Erik asked if I would help write Garry's obituary. I pulled out the 2009 resume and spent the next six hours or so constructing what I felt was a very credible framework for an obituary. I somehow managed to compartmentalize my own grief ... and got the job done. It was of epic length, but Garry had accomplished a lot, and I felt he was worth it. I was concerned, however, about critical stuff I did not know about in his career that occurred from 2009 to the present. When I sent Terri and Erik my draft, I suggested they consult Garry's WLJ colleagues for more current information and projects. I also encouraged them to add or subtract anything they wanted. I acknowledged that they may want to whack the heck out of it because I knew a newspaper would charge a lot of money to publish an obit of any length.

The Petersens did, indeed, whittle my draft down to a few paragraphs, and they also moved some stuff around. I certainly understood, and I didn't mind. It didn't occur to me until yesterday that I could use this space to give Garry the lengthy sendoff I felt he deserved -- without worrying about a newspaper wanting to charge me an arm and leg for it.

And so, dear readers who have stuck with me all this way, that is why you are you seeing me go on and on about Garry here. I didn't even get to say anything about those government projects he had a major hand in over the years, so I'll mention some of them briefly now -- the Hoosier Heartland Highway; the I-69 Intercontinental Highway connecting Canada, the United States and Mexico; the Blue Water Bridge spanning the St. Clair River between Canada and the United States; and the West Baden (Ind.) Spring Resort feasibility analysis.

People who spoke often to Garry through the years will certainly remember his greeting when he called you on the phone and/or left a voice mail message: "Hey (your name), it's Garry Petersen ... just checking in." Equally memorable was his two-word email sign-off: "Travel Safe."

If any of you are moved by Garry's story and would be interested in keeping alive his passion for urban forestry, you can mail donations to:

Irvington Forestry Foundation
c/o Terri Petersen
110 W. Main St., Apt. 268
Carmel, IN 46032

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Organic, farm-to-curb products used
at Greenfield drive-in with tasty results

For the past two years, to the extent possible, I've made a concerted effort to change my daily diet to eat only organic foods and meats produced from grass-fed animals without the use of antibiotics and hormones. It's why I was excited this spring when I learned that a farmers market would launch in the neighborhood park near where I live, because all of the consumable meat and produce sold farmers market vendors are grown or produce organically.

It's virtually impossible to abide that lifestyle full time, however, especially when you dine out or visit someone who doesn't embrace the same diet philosophy. It's true that you pay more for organic products and meats from animals raised humanely. But the reward is knowing that you are saving your body from having to process residual chemicals from pesticides, antibiotics and hormones or genetically produced organisms.

On the plus side, the number of eateries promoting organically and freshly produced food is increasing, albeit slowly. In Indianapolis, Pure Eatery (in Fountain Square and Fishers) is a prime example. Among others are: Cafe Patachou and Milktooth. And the number of groceries that sell large volumes of such products (Fresh Thyme, Earth Fare, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Goose the Market/Smoking Goose, Wildwood Market) is growing even faster.

When I learned very recently about The Mug in Greenfield, a non-traditional drive-in on Apple Street across from Riley Park, I decided to make the drive out there and check it out. It's the closest
thing you'll find to a place offering common American fare (sandwiches, burgers and fries) that uses fresh, organic farm-to-curb food. It's on the site of the former Frosty Mug, a long-standing establishment in Greenfield that closed in 2013.

I long ago stopped ordering burgers at eateries because the vast majority were served with inordinate amount of grease visible on the buns, the meat and the plates. When I heard about The Mug, I decided to give it a try. Lee Ann and I drove out there Monday and were delighted with our meals -- I ordered the bacon cheeseburger (below), because it was one of three burgers on the menu that came with Mug sauce.

Lee Ann ordered The Cuban (shredded pork, ham and bacon on traditional Cuban bread baked in-house. See photo leading off the post). We both also had the fresh-cut fries (below).

I'm thrilled to report my burger was delicious -- and grease-free, which no doubt helped the fact that the bun stayed firm and in one piece throughout the meal. The fries were tasty and wonderful, and Lee Ann got a sample of the coleslaw.

I tasted the slaw (below), and I loved its freshness, although I disliked the bits of onion in it (I'm not a raw onion fan, and I ordered my burger without the inclusive red onion). Most slaws are made without onion, but an occasional recipe -- such as this -- will include it, so I'm wary of ordering a slaw unless I know its onion "status."

We each also ordered the fresh-brewed root beer (also delicious), but our server told us root beer refills are not free, which confused me because when I pulled up the menu online after our trip, the menu says the first root beer refill is free and that a fee is charged only on any refills after that. (There are no fees for refills on other soft drinks).

Because The Mug is a drive-in, you have a few dining options: 1) order and dine at your parking spot (a server will deliver your meal), 2) order your meal inside and dine at an outdoor table (there are lots of tables there, as evidence by the first picture below), or 3) order inside and sit at the inside bar (space is limited). We decided to dine outside, and immediately regretted it because of the hornets and flies that pestered us pretty much throughout the meal. The hornets not surprisingly focused on our root beer drinks.

A drive-in station (above) along a parking space behind The Mug, and a copy of the menu (below).

When we had learned about The Mug before taking the trip out there, we saw that the drive-in gets all of its ingredients from Tyner Pond Farm in Hancock County, created by software entrepreneur Chris Baggot and farmer Mark Farrell. After visiting the farm's website, we saw that it had a store on its premises. (Tyner Pond Farm also runs a meat service that delivers free Mondays through Fridays within a wide range around Indianapolis. Also, the owners built a large, modern farmhouse with a state-of-the-art kitchen on the grounds to rent to people interested in spending two or more days at a time to experience life on the farm. You can learn more about that at the website). Since we were already in Hancock County, we decided to visit the farm and check out the store.

Tyner Pond Farm is a nice spread about five miles southeast of Greenfield (a full compliment of photos from the farm appear below the text). The store operates on a self-serve basis; proprietors trust you to pay for what you buy and they leave instructions on how to do so with cash, check or credit card. Perishable products (primarily meats) are kept in a series of freezers marked with signs on the outside, and non-perishables (honey, barbecue and marinara sauces, bee pollen, popcorn, etc.) are on shelves. Just in case you think you can bolt from the unattended store with a ton of free food undetected, the store has a sign warning visitors that security cameras monitor the store's interior around the clock.

To give Tyner Pond Farm a try, we bought almost $70 worth of meat (mostly pork, some chicken) and a few non-perishables (we're trying the bee pollen, barbecue and marinara sauce), stuff we would have sought out elsewhere at some point. We figured if the meals we enjoyed at The Mug were so tasty and enjoyable, we can't go wrong with the take-home products. We'll see. We paid for our purchase using a credit card and had no difficulty using the provided iPad option.

As always, click on any image to bring up a larger, sharper version. This is especially important if you access the post on a mobile device.

Above and below: A few of the main buildings on the grounds of Tyner Pond Farm.  

Above: A nice row of trees line East Hancock County Road 200 South in front of the farm.

Above: The modern farmhouse available for rent by visitors. The structure sits just inside the east gravel access drive and within very easy walking distance from the store.

Above: A few of the cattle who graze very near to the store (below), which also is near the east access. 

Instructions on how to pay for products purchased in the self-serve store (above) and a look at some of the non-perishables (next four below), including a Tyner Pond Farm cap.

Above: Signs on one of the freezers stocked with meat.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

GPAC exhibit hails theater company's designers, costumers, scenery planners

Among the many behind-the-scenes tasks that must be performed before a theatrical performance can be pulled off are the design, development and creation of the costumes, stage and props. It's a thankless task that an audience appreciates only from their view of the final product on show nights.

I've come to better appreciate these in the couple dozen community theater productions I've photographed the past six years. And now the Garfield Park Arts Center in Indianapolis is giving people a chance to better appreciate such work, too, with an exhibit that opened Sept. 3 in its main gallery,

"From the Stage to the Park: Costumes, Props & More" is a look at the art of theatrical design from the Indiana Repertory Theatre, which provided costumes, early design sketches and photographs from 11 of its productions since 2011 for the exhibit.

Photos you see in this post are from a display for one of the shows, "Fallen Angels." Leading off the post is a production photo taken during the show, which had its IRT run in spring 2012. Below, you see the full display for this play. Components of the "Fallen Angels" display are the photo above, the costume worn by Cristina Panfilio in the role of Julia, a closeup of the dress Panfilio wore during the dhow, a dress sketch and a diagram used in the play's development.

Each display for the 11 shows also includes a list of production credits (left) of people responsible for key elements in the GPAC exhibit. In the case of "Fallen Angels," Bill Brown was the play's director; Kevin Depinet, scenic designer; Rachel Healey, costume designer; Jesse Klug, lighting designer; and Andrew Hanson, sound designer. In the background of the photo is actor Steve Haggard in the role of  Fred.

Other plays represented in similar displays are "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (2013), "On Golden Pond" (2013), "April 4, 1968: Before We Forgot How to Dream" (2015), "The God of Carnage" (2012), "Mousetrap" (2016), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (2012), "I Love to Eat" (2011), "The Game's Afoot" (2014), "A Little Night Music" (2013) and "The Crucible" (2013).

The exhibit runs through Sept. 24, and there is no admission charge to view it. GPAC's hours are different almost every day (it is closed on Sundays and Mondays), so call the center beforehand (317 370-7135) to make sure it's open before you go.  GPAC is at 2432 Conservatory Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46203.