Head to Toes

listening to the scratch band

Sittin' in the sun -- 2010

People can be interesting from all angles. I was listening to a scratch band playing at a benefit in the forest when the man in front of me removed his hat. The graphic image created by his orange shirt and glistening scalp totally distracted me from my intended goal of getting some images of the musicians.

A similar thing happened with the dancing woman in the image below, whose billowing skirt and shuffling feet as she danced near the curb distracted me from my intended subject. These images illustrate how “distractions” can turn out to be serendipitous — and why it is important sometimes to disable one’s left-brain focus in order to allow the right-brain to take over.

dancing feet in Frederiksted

Dancing Feet -- 2010


festival performer

Dancer - 2010

These two images are from a street festival. The man was a dancer and performer. He stood out with his serious clear-eyed gaze and spear held so close. The woman was a spectator… of sorts. She was so excited and having a good time just dancing on her own up and down the street! And best of all, her curved pink sunglasses almost perfectly echoed the shape of her wide-open smile. If only we could all find such joy so easily.

Woman from St. Croix

Havin' a good time -- 2010

Everybody loves a parade

dancer in Christmas festival parade

Parade dancer -- 2010

These images are part of a larger series from this year’s festival parade in Frederiksted. Fortunately, we arrived in Frederiksted about two hours after the parade was scheduled to begin, and only had to wait an additional hour. When we left some time later, people were still arriving with their chairs and coolers. I understand the festivities went well into the night. You would think I would eventually learn the rhythm of the place. By the time I do, I’ll probably no longer have the stamina to participate!

The first image is from a dance troupe celebrating their African heritage. While the costumes may not have been as large or colorful as some of the more traditional carnival-like troupes to come later, I thought the group’s costumes and dance were especially interesting and heartfelt. The bottom image is of one of the several groups of young majorettes on the island. The blue velveteen uniforms glowing in the sun formed a striking band of blue as the young women lined up to march further down the street.

Blue majorettes in Frederiksted

Blue Majorettes -- 2010

Trojan Ships

Trojan Ship - 2009

The cruise ships have returned to St. Croix. They arrive in the morning and disgorge their living cargo for a few hours ashore. Priorities are rearranged. New businesses spring up in an attempt to pry a few dollars from wallets. The ships are welcomed as a needed lift for the island economy, even though some activities threaten to destroy the local culture and natural beauty that many come to see.

Before sundown, the living cargo streams back to the ship’s hold in time for the evening feast, and the leviathon slips quiety into the evening almost as if it were never here. Almost.

Were they really here? - 2009




The two old Danish forts on St. Croix — one in Christiansted and the other in Frederiksted — were defended by cannons aimed seaward. The irony is that the real threat to the planter’s culture of that era came from the land in the form of the changing economics of the sugar trade, the end of slavery, and rebellions by workers against the oppressive conditions they endured.

I’m not sure if the cannons were ever fired, but many of them have now found their way to emplacements around the island where they are mounted barrel down on street corners and elsewhere to act as guardrails or barriers. This one, however, was placed into the rock at the ocean’s edge where the salt water and air is taking its toll on the old iron. It’s purpose is a mystery.

Just a few feet away from this relic of the past is a much larger relic of the future, the new clock tower built in the renovated plaza that greets cruise ship passengers as they disembark. On the rocks below the plaza were a pair of jeans and shirt with no owner visible in the water or elsewhere nearby. Perhaps he simply melted away, or even scampered away nude.

Where'd he go?

Where'd he go?

The ubiquitous mobile device

Making Contact - 2009

Making Contact - 2009

Mobile devices (what we used to call cell phones) seem to be everywhere and sometimes may isolate us as much as bring us together. The image above from San Juan, Puerto Rico, will be part of an exhibition at the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts titled “Daily Strife” (opening on October 16). The exhibit commemorates Virgin Islands – Puerto Rico Friendship Day, and its theme is our common experiences and responses to the chaos and rapid change of modern life.

While mulling over the theme of the exhibition, I saw the woman below — a cruise ship tourist — studying her mobile device while walking through the grounds of the historic fort in Frederiksted. She hurried out to where the cannons were placed so she could have her picture taken with the ship in the background. I wondered if she even saw the fort.

Doppelganger - 2009

Doppelganger - 2009

Per Ankh Performance

Per Ankh Performer - 2009

Per Ankh Performer - 2009

A local group called the Per Ankh Institute puts on cultural heritage drumming and dancing performances. This woman is one of the performers. Her regal posture and smile, and her instrument covered with hundreds of cowrie shells all spoke of pride in her heritage.

The occasion was the arrival of a cruise ship, and the image below shows some of the watchers. The tall woman in white with the camera is one of the Per Ankh troupe. The young girl sitting next to her is a local resident. The others are a few of the cruise ship passengers taking a short break in the shade of the palms to be entertained.

The Watchers - 2009

The Watchers - 2009

Stories to tell

Stories to tell  -  2009

Stories to tell - 2009

Vacant and for sale, this old building in the heart of Frederiksted looked like it had many stories to tell. The stone and brick lower level, arched arcade, wood upper floor and tin hip roof epitomize the style of an earlier era that makes Frederiksted so charming. The entire town is a gem in the rough, just waiting for the restorer’s touch to make it sparkle again.

Along King Street in Frederiksted

Along King Street - 2009

Along King Street - 2009

A young woman was relaxing in the shade of an arched arcade along the main thoroughfare of Frederiksted on the west end of St. Croix. The colors of her clothes and the building, her white headscarf, and the classic arch of the building’s arcade made for an iconic image of this old and economically depressed town.

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