Mallon Tree Service, Evansville, WI

Arborists are folks who take care of trees. And trees need some care if you want them to be healthy, good looking and not fall on your house or kids. When I was a kid, dad always did the tree hacking around the yard, so I grew up thinking it was normal for homeowners to climb, trim and take down their own trees. Then I grew up and realized Dad just does everything on his own, no matter how dangerous or if he knows anything about the thing. He's real DYI.

Photographing arborists is one of the few spheres of work where my camera and climbing skills overlap. I have climbed trees with ropes a number of times, but this was the first time I had the opportunity to ride a lift truck up. It's easier! But I gotta say, it was much less flexible. I got up there, established an anchor, and then I couldn't move much. But the guys could move themselves and the truck around me, so it worked out.

Mallon Tree Service is based just outside Cooksville, WI, one of my favorite little towns south of Madison. Whenever we paddle Badfish Creek, we stop at the general store there for ice cream. I don't know how or why Cooksville got so cute, but they have a great collection of little brick houses, plus a couple great old churches. I would live there.

I don't know much about tree work, but I can say Emma & Kyle are fantastic to work with. Kyle learned his trade with the City of Milwaukee; some time after, he and Emma moved out to the country, where some family land became available. Turns out Emma's grandfather is John Wilde, whose work I've seen at MOMA; her dad is Jonathan Wilde, whose work I often admire at Artisan Gallery in Paoli. So the Mallons are carrying the family heritage forward, taking care of the earth and making it beautiful too. Really fun to help with their project.

Garage Haircut

Maya cuts hair in the garage, just inside the huge rolling door. There's something so compelling about the relationship between the cutter and the sitter. Fast fingers, smooth combing, gleaming tandem shears flicking in the sunlight. The feeling of soft and sharp feelings hands and tools on my head is so luxurious. 

When I call Maya and hairdresser, she demurs. She has worked professionally in three states, but life got in the way of her every making a strong, consistent career run. She cuts every so often now, for friends and family. She stopped cutting my hair last year sometime, when I foolishly objected to doing it in the bathtub. But I got some "free haircut" coupons from her recently as a present, so maybe I can be back in the chair soon.  

Environmental Artist Portraits with Briony Morrow-Cribbs

I first noticed Briony's work at last fall's semi-annual Gallery Night, a MMoCa-sponsored event where many Madison artists and galleries open their doors extra-late and host special shows to stoke the city's art scene. A print of hers, Buzz #5, was included in a faculty show at the Humanities building, and stood out from the other talent there. Maybe a month later, I noticed more work in the Artisan Gallery, my favorite Madison-area destination for an art fix... and then I saw her stuff at the Overture Center... and then at the new Madison Central Library. Who was this great new local talent? It seemed she had suddenly been discovered and exhibit venues were snapping up the opportunity to feature her.

I sent Briony an email to compliment her work, and we ended up discussing websites. Soon we started a new project to update her online presence, which wasn't wasn't reflecting the quality of her work the way it should. As part of the website development process, we did a studio shoot  to capture some of the gestalt of her working environment and process. The above images are a few of my favorites.

If you like etching, or printmaking in general, check out Briony's portfolio; it's a treasure trove of nature-inspired pieces, rendered in a great old-school style. The watercolor she applies to the prints reminds me a lot of hand-tinted photographs, but somehow the effect comes off way better here. It's worth pointing out that the online-images don't hold a candle to the real thing; just like photographic prints, seeing them in-person makes a world of difference.

Morrow-Cribbs soon leaves for Vermont, but if you act fast you can still catch her show at the Central Library. Or check out her website for future shows/events.