People. Watching. People. by Kenneth Dixon

Img.jpg

Jan. 24th ‘19 9:35pm

Is it more egoistical to push your art throughout the world with sheer desire for more opportunities to rise? Or is it as equally self centered to not put your work out for the mere belief that your art is undervalued and misunderstood by your peers?

Many of my friends all share at least one thing in common. Their affinity for museums. Where them and I differ is simple. They appreciate the art, while I on the other hand am impressed by the structure and detail surrounding the pieces most of the time. You know! The lights and the way they illuminate sculptures, photos, or paintings. The distance and how art is strategically placed in positions that can evoke emotion, thought and wonder. Of course the art is significant. Whatever an artist's expression is soon becomes the focal point of why consumers, art purveyors, and students alike come to museums. I walk into spaces with the mindset of viewing whatever exhibition is up but somehow end up mesmerized by its architecture or climate space. 

My first time visiting the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan was the only occasion I went to a museum strictly for the mind who designed it, Frank Lloyd Wright.  I had become a fan over the years and after hearing about it twice from two friends of mine I knew I needed to see it for myself. Initially, I wasn’t very familiar with the exhibition surrounding Swedish artist, Hilma af Klint’s life works being on display there. The gallery began with highlighting her earlier work, going in chronological order showcasing her portfolio throughout her life’s career. I had never seen someone express their spiritual growth and cognitions by way of painting/sketching. Klint’s work not only displayed her development in an emotional sense but as a creator and expressionist as well. It was extensively documented throughout her life that she was not of her time. She’d been outcasted because of her ideas, leading her to veer off on a stray path that would conceal her creations from the world until years after her death.

Amid perusing through earlier works, I began to see my own imagery right before me. There were so many people in one space visiting this New York art hub. Despite the anxiety I get around big crowds, I began to watch people watching  art. I searched for moments. I opened my ears for dialogue from couples who were viewing art.  Friends, families, and loners became my sense of inspiration as I caught fleeting moments through my lens. After documenting my walk-through of the spiraling, multi-leveled art venue, I couldn’t help but ponder my idea of success in correlation with my art. Would people watch my art in real “time”, here and now? Or would my life’s creations go unnoticed until I became an after thought in existence?

“People Never Get The Flowers While They Could Still Smell Em” - Ye  

Creative Chaos by Kenneth Dixon

Attachment-1-10.jpeg

Usually, when I obtain media passes to events, I'm conscious of the fact that depending on the assignment, there may be a slew of other photographers and videographers trying to get that perfect shot or interview question that'll get their YouTube channel percolating on the views side. 

The last time I recall being in a media frenzy with bloodthirsty photographers/videographers was All-Star weekend. Two or three events I remember perfectly are, interviewing legendary Nike and Jordan designer, Tinker Hatfield, and Houston Rocket guard, James Harden. Hatfield's interview portion was shotgun style; this is where he'd walk down a line of 3 or 4 groups of interviewers answering their questions. This was one of the more organized settings I was in. James Harden wasn't too far behind as far as organization goes. Things only became a bit hostile when a couple of media outlets that kept taking other people's opportunities to ask questions, by intervening with their own. 

Covering my first notable music festival a few weeks ago, I naively expected to be pampered and cut off from the rest of the massive crowd of fans that stood in awe, as their favorite performers took the stage at Chicago's annual Pitchfork extravaganza. I was sadly mistaken. As I lined up in the media section, I wasn't anticipating a semi-calm moshpit of media outlets squeezed in tightly. We all stood shoulder-to-shoulder trying to fire our cameras off. Luckily for me, I know what had to be done to get the footage I came for. 

Below are some of my favorite images of artists and random fans in the crowd. FYI, I took some time away from writing to focus on other creative avenues but it feels good to be back. Feel free to drop a comment with your thoughts or any suggestions for pieces you'd like me to write about. 

Kicking It Alone by Kenneth Dixon

FLW edits-37.jpg

“You spent your birthday alone?!”

“You seem like such a personable human being.” 

I’m actually quite the opposite. As social as photographers are proclaimed to be, I often find solace and peace just shooting alone. The space between my eye, the lens and the subject are along a very fine line. Their distance is crucial, not only in regards to the mechanics of photography but in an atmospherical sense too. The energy between two beings, shared in one space to create, is the essence of what portrait photography is —But when a subject is an object or even space, the dynamic of the photograph changes, immensely.  

Here are a series of photographs I captured of two famous structures designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright - The Rookery and Robie House. The last few images are pictures of the Harper Center, located directly across the street from the Robie House. Its exterior is a nod to Wright's architectural prowess and inspiration. 

Nomad Chronicles by Kenneth Dixon

Photo Feb 17, 10 00 22 AM.jpg

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there”

- Theodore Roosevelt

Wait a minute, I’ve been here before! The temperature was below zero with snow lightly coating the ground. I remember fighting an insatiable eagerness to grapple with my fears, as I set off to cover my second NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto only a few years prior. The current day is quite different from the aforementioned work-caetion. Sitting on board my flight to LA, I take a moment and think to myself - "I’m covering the NBA All-Star weekend as an entrepreneur, passionate visual artist, creator, lover of sports, fashion and sneakers, with nothing to weigh me down". I remember going to Canada a few years ago for the first time. It was technically my first time out of the country, outside of a cruise I went on once that didn’t require a passport. Unlike reporting on my first NBA All-Star weekend in New York, Toronto seemed to have much more in store. I’d be covering so much at once in so little time. I’d booked interviews with Draymond Green, Nike designers, and had to capture event coverage for multiple brands. It all seemed overwhelming at the time, yet I was still more than prepared to embark on the journey. There was one catch though, my conflicting boss, who’d put so much pressure on me to shoot a ton of footage without any assistance, etched it in my brain that I needed to capture footage that would only get us millions of website visits, or YouTube views. On top of that, I’d have to navigate the city solo with no international phone service. While I didn’t get a ton of big-name interviews with the celebs he wanted, I came back with a load of contacts from networking, potential interviewees, and footage from every event I attended, minus this private Jordan Brand party that was held in a castle at this remote location. In hindsight, all of that pressure taught me how I needed to seize every opportunity. I was able to conceptualize new equipment that I needed to get certain jobs done, but my biggest lesson was that I needed to create art for myself and others who shared like-minded visions. I was being taken advantage of and not receiving the credit I needed for the hard work I was putting in. So this year, when I arrived in Los Angelas to cover the 2018 All-Star Weekend, I was creating liberally and collaborating with brands and people whom I’d built amicable relationships with. I’d even get a chance to share spaces with some of my favorite artists, Pharrell, Kanye West, Tinker Hatfield, 21 Savage, and Asap Rocky. Networking had played a major role in my success as an artist, particularly being a freelance creative. So being gifted with gab in addition to perfect timing played a major part in my recent triumphs. My affinity for fashion, sneakers, and art transcends casual fandom, so when opportunities arise to collaborate with brands like Nike, adidas, Asics and Jordan Brand, I’m appreciative and impelled to create something that moves not only myself but genuine fans of the culture.   

 

My Sit Down with a Creative in Portland by Kenneth Dixon

Inspiration can come from near or far, but for some creatives, it takes patience, divine timing, and an arduous curriculum. This can come from a mentor or teacher to help with creating consistency and precision. For Australian designer Vince Lebon, it took all of those things. However, one can argue the most valuable prerequisite is experience and a solid body of work to show from it.

After packing up his home & family in Melbourne, he decided to further his career in sneaker design in the U.S. There, Lebon accepted a spot in Pensole’s Footwear Design Academy Master Class of 2016. Additionally, a partnership with global sneaker retailer Foot Locker (“Fueling the Future of Footwear”) accompanied one of these programs.  As part of the program, Lebon and American shoe designer, Brady Corum, partnered up with Asics to launch their very own Asics Gel 180 colorway.

Since designing his sneaker collaboration with Footlocker and Asics, Lebon has been working on his own brand and inspiring big-name designers such as adidas VP Marc Dolce. He also landed a role as a full-time creative consultant and designer for the Three Stripes Brand.

I was able to sit down with Lebon during a creative boot camp at Pensole Academy. While there, we were able to get some insight on Lebon’s creative process, and what life’s been like since completing his education at the academy. Check out the full interview above to hear more from footwear designer and creative Vince Lebon.

Breaking Chains Afterthought by Kenneth Dixon

Sept. 2016

It's funny how life works...in this moment I'm feeling an immense amount of pain, in an emotional sense. It feels like my life's work has been erased from me. My uninsured camera that was just purchased months ago, new mac book and 2 hard drives were stolen from me, right from underneath my nose. I could blame myself for leaving my things in the car somewhat exposed but if they hadn't been showing i may have lost something else in another form. Ironically enough i was just mentioning how diverse and extensive my portfolio was and now it's been taken away from me. My world had literally crumbled when i saw my bag was no longer where i left. I asked myself a why was this happening to me? What had i done to deserve this? In the same breath i had remained calm and thought to myself, this is the start to a new awakening, and growth in my life. Those items were taken away from me to open up the door for other necessities. I won't stay down nor beat myself up about what is now in the past. It's now time to be more creative.  I have nothing to lose at this point. My material items were stolen but not my ideas, creativity, and will to continue to pursue my passions. 


Oct. 8th '17, 2017

A year ago today I curated and featured my art in my debut solo exhibition Breaking Chains. Twelve months prior to today, I was breaking the omnipresent chains of fear, insecurity, and doubt, that were in my life at the time. Though some of those same demons haunt me from time to time, I've had time to deprogram and develop new meditation habits that rid me of those inhibitions. I sit back reflecting on the year and I'm forever grateful for all that I've accomplished and overcome. Since losing my equipment and hosting my exhibition a year ago, I've learned to shoot with new video equipment, began teaching myself how to edit video, studied and learned intricate photoshop editing techniques, shot parts of a documentary in Jamaica, covered the 2017 NCAA Final Four tournament, created my own blog, and long list of other things I'm proud of and want to show gratitude for. 

I remember writing this list of affirmations some days before my show to help ease all of the anxiety I was overwhelmed with. Assessing the list now and reflecting on the show I realize how I forgot to do one of the most important tasks on the list, "Always remember to have fun." The experience was awesome. I can recall learning so much from curating my show, like how to get the proper measurements of the room and hanging every piece to have equal amount spacing between each piece, and different supplies needed to preserve my prints to name a few. What I don't have any recollection of is truly enjoying the occasion, basking in it and sharing that beautiful moment with everyone who came to support me. I remember being more concerned with working my own event, making sure everyone was sharp on the tasks I had delegated to them, and overseeing everything so that my guests were having a good time. If I could take any one thing from that night, it's that I should have put more of myself first and had fun. In any project that you've created, that's your baby, you should reap the benefits of your labor. When your job becomes work, you've then removed all of the love and liberation from your art.

My exhibition did inspire at least one person. The prints for the show were stunning. I was happy with the way my notes were displayed around the gallery space and how it showcased my transitioning throughout my adventure in Europe. I gave a speech at the end of the evening that I totally wasn't prepared for. I was a wreck honestly and nervous but I was proud that I overcame that fear of public speaking in that moment. Mishaps did occur, but I wasn't surprised by them and I handled them with an open and optimistic mind. Discerning life's happenstances are still how I create and are a big part of my inspiration.

Happy one year anniversary Breaking Chains! Huge thanks to everyone who was involved. 


Exhibition Affirmations 

"Your exhibition is going to inspire at least one person in an exorbitant amount

Your prints are going to come out wonderfully 

Your words will be illustrated in a way that you'll be proud of

Your comfort zone will be breached but you shall grow from it

Remain optimistic but be ready for mishaps 

Always remember to have fun 

Listen to life...express from it"

The collection of images and video clip displayed above were shot in different parts of Europe on my iphone. 

Change of Heart by Kenneth Dixon

July 28th '17, 11:41 am

Exhausted from taking thousands of steps walking around the museum of science and industry as an elementary student, I never would imagine how fascinated I'd become over a decade later with the structural compositions and art within various museums. As a kid, field trips to the museum were always mundane activities that I had a discontentment for. Lacking enthusiasm, I'd trudge through these ginormous edifices wondering why I couldn't touch one artifact or walk around without a chaperone watching my every move in hopes that I wouldn't break the "Do Not Touch" rule. At that age, I could only recall trips to the Shed Aquarium being exciting. Despite not being able to touch most of the marine life there, I could at least accept that these exhibits were alive, and not fossils or old artifacts. 

Those earlier sentiments I possessed as a young child, I no longer favor. Every chance I get to travel to a new state or country for more than a day, visiting a museum or art gallery becomes a must. These explorations are typically essential in order for me to feel some sort of satisfaction while traveling, but I admit they're not always what they're cracked up to be. Where the art may lack in some of these locations, the installation and structural design behind them pick up the slack. Isolated displays, dramatically highlighted by overhead light fixtures, high ceilings, linear patterns of walls and frames, exaggerated shadows, and art composition all catch my eye from a photographic standpoint when the art isn't as stimulating.    

Amid my recent travels to Washington D.C., I was able to carve out some time to explore the immediate area around my hotel. While wandering the DC area a bit I passed by the National Building Museum then walked a few blocks to the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Three hours and thousands of steps later, I had successfully experienced one of the Smithsonian Museums for the first time. By far it was one of the largest I had been to, featuring over 3,000 pieces spread across 3 different floors. The contemporary American Art exhibits were so diverse, showcasing the art of different cultures and races in an array of mediums. I found the John F. Kennedy, Kerry James Marshall and American Presidents displays to be some of the most intriguing. The aforementioned presidential display provoked my thoughts on slavery in the past. I hadn't known what every president looked like or what all of their contributions to the United States were, but I couldn't help but ponder which ones were racists and fascists.  Every president had a painted portrait except for one, President Barrack Obama. His segment only featured a portrait that was taken during his presidency and a statement saying how Obama's painting is still in the works and should be up by next year. Despite the presidential gallery being fairly new to the Smithsonian, I couldn't help but feel adverse opinions about his portrait not being complete; After all, his portrait was the one I was most excited to view. I wondered who the artist would be to paint Obama's portrait, and how she or he would capture the essence of his character on canvas. 

Marlene Dietrich's Dressed For The Image gallery can also be added to the list of impressive expositions. While it wasn't too privy to the history of Dietrich, and how she was classified as one of the biggest Hollywood stars during the early and mid-1900's, I was impressed by her display in the National Portrait Gallery. The most distinguishing features about her gallery was her portraits. She photographed well, and some of the candid shots of her during her youth were amazing. They evoked so much emotion, from both the viewer and subject. I'll include some images of her below. 

If you're an avid museum goer I'd highly recommend checking out all of the Smithsonian Museums if you have enough time. The American Art Smithsonian is one of the largest in the US so mapping out your day so you can get enough time to experience the entire museum is necessary. Next up on the list is the African American Art Museum, MOSAÏCANADA 150/Gatineau 2017 and the Storm King Art Center. 

Underrated and Often Neglected by Kenneth Dixon

July 10th, '17 9:59 am

The chip on my shoulder is heavy but I can't blame others for not seeing what I know I possess. But wait! Of course I can, and I will. Your inability to grasp and acknowledge someone's talent shouldn't be a burden I have to bear, or any other great artist out there seeking recognition.

Wanting validation to solidify your greatness is the quickest way to a huge plate of inferiority, self-doubt, self-pity, and disgust for others. The truth is, you're already great. Ultimately, you're as good or bad as YOU think you are. Waiting on a stamp of approval from your peers or anyone else will drive you mad. I've been told on numerous occasions that I was underrated or slept on as a visual artist. It comes off as a compliment and is simultaneously disheartening. I give many thanks for the praise, contrarily knowing I shouldn't be slept on or feeling unnoticed in the first place. As humans, we often question our existence and being an artist in a field that's competitive and somewhat superficial at times, it's onerous dealing with the inconsistencies and constant hustle to prove that not all artists have to "Starve," or receive recognition after they've passed on to another life. 

To add more defeat, the melanin in my skin puts more weight on my shoulders. This rests not solely on me, but shoulders of similar expressionists, dealing with the burdens their families and the hundreds of generations before them all passed down to each of us. I just think everyone's coping mechanism is different. It's hard to refute living in a system built on lies and enslaving our minds for the succession of a "superior race" hasn't stricken me at all. The Fact is not all opportunities are equal, and certain people work laboriously out of necessity. 

Meditation and the power of my subconscious mind have aided in superseding of all these "obstacles." When the heart and spirit are at the root of your intentions, the main person who should be satisfied with your output and work is YOU. We must remain steadfast in breaking chains and deprogramming those very things that oppress us. 

Afterword

I've always been impressed by Logic; I've felt similar sentiments of being an underdog and battling identity issues in a society that tries to place you in one category, chastising you for not fitting the mold. Like me, Logic's favorite artist is J. Cole. On Logic's last track titled "AfricAryan," J. Cole contains a hidden feature, where he raps a message that he sent to Logic explaining to him the importance of self-love, forgiveness, acquiring peace, and following your dreams. His words spoke to my spirit. Maybe they'll touch you or help sparks fly within your aspirations. 

One, two, three, four
One, two, three, four, listen
Look into my eyes
Tell me you could see beyond the smile that I'm puttin' on
This front that I'm puttin' up for you
I spill my soul into a microphone
With poems written in blood
In hopes that it's enough for you
Do you love me yet?
Do you love me yet?
No? Okay

I'll go harder for you
In fact, I rap till I collapse
All I wanted was acceptance, my latest lesson
I'll never feel your approval till I accept my own
Come from a messed up home, destitute and less informed
About the ways to raise a child up
To not become a product
Of his environment, I need to cry and vent
But I done built this wall up
Actin' like everything's all good
But in reality I'm lookin' for something
Through bumpin' my favorite rappers I came up after
Nas, Cole, and Hov
Eyes closed, I zone till five or so in the morn'
I'm used to being alone
Shit, you know how long I've been out on my own?
Chasing dreams, fantasies of a throne
One day I wake up and see that it didn't exist all along
Till then I will pen verses that fans consider brilliant
Boosting my ego with every million that spills in
And still then
I won't find solace, so where's the logic in that?
Worrying 'bout if they think Logic could rap
When it all goes back to a childhood, need to be loved
By parents that was in too deep with the drugs
Nigga, my advice, fuck the black and white shit
Be who you are, identify as a star
No one tells you you're that
It's something that you just know
The world be stealing your glow
Your mama did what she could
Her life was miles from good
Your father fell in the trap
They set for you when you black
They met when they was low
And therefore you a product of that
And so your trauma is deep
Don't bury it you should weep
And clean it out of your system, then truly forgive 'em
Just my opinion, only then can you find peace

Just start to notice happiness don't come from album release
I've been through it before
Can only share with you what I know
To be true, but at the same time, I'll never be you
And you'll never be me, no matter how hard that you try
This is for youngins out there wondering how far you can fly
The truth is that you could go further than the stars and the sky
But if you want to then you ought to know why
Are you running from something
With hopes of becoming someone
That's finally worthy of love
Let me tell you now, you're worthy enough
Fuck approval from strangers, that shit is dangerous as hell
Find God, learn to accept yourself
And I'm gone, accept Him

-Cole World

Welcome to the Free World by Kenneth Dixon

Cranbrook blog edits-14.jpg

June 27th, '17 0:00  

Detroit's witty and cunning rapper B-Rabbit, played by Doctor Dre's protege Eminem, dropped one of the most prolific freestyles I had ever heard in a movie back in 2002 when 8-Mile broke the box office. After recently spending some time exploring Detroit, I found myself repeating some of the lyrics from Em's famous freestyle battle against his rival rap crew Free World. 

Now everybody from the 313
Put your motherfucking hands up and follow me
Everybody from the 313
Put your motherfucking hands up, Look Look

But now that I've grasped your attention, and sparked that sudden urge to watch the film for the hundredth time, I wanted to share a surprising fact (at least to those not native to Michigan or not privy to Michigan’s private schooling system) that I stumbled upon about the school that B-Rabbit mentioned in his freestyle battle against Papa Doc. The lines go as follows:

But i know something about you
You went to Cranbrook, that's a private school
What's the matter dawg? You embarrassed?
This guy's a gangster, his real name's Clarence

And Clarence lives at home with both parents
And Clarence's parents have a real good marriage
This guy don't wanna battle, He's shook
'Cause there no such thing as half-way crooks
He's scared to death
He's scared to look in his fuckin yearbook, fuck Cranbrook

Now when I first saw the movie I just assumed that Cranbrook was some fictitious private school made up primarily for a line in the movie, or at best, was some small uppity school where snobbish families sent their overly privileged children to get the best education money can buy. I soon learned that all of that was inaccurate. 

Cranbrook Schools, in reality, is one of the most beautiful campuses I've ever stepped foot on. It's classified as a PK-12 college prep boarding school, recognized for their natural history museum, contemporary art museum, House of Gardens, and Graduate Art Academy, all of which are present on the school's 319-acre grounds. Frankly, my eyes weren't prepared to witness this seemingly foreign place that my Detroit homie casually took me to with the assumption that I'd be visually inspired by it. I can admit I was skeptical at first driving along the outskirts of the Bloomfield Hills school, but he was right, I was impressed. The gigantic sculptures, art, architecture, gardens, landscapes, fountains, ponds, and more, were all beyond belief. It must have been an ideal time to visit because there were no students, and visitors were scarce. The campus was peaceful, quiet, and filled with life. Words, of course, do Cranbrook no justice, so I've included some images of locations around the school. The children of Cranbrook have all-access privileges to catch these amazing views regularly and now you have access too.

I guess Papa Doc did truly have luxuries the streets never knew about. 

Day 20 by Kenneth Dixon

Day 20 (7/26/16)

I’m one week away from heading back to O’hare Airport. I suppose it’s bittersweet at this point. Before the journey even started I knew sooner than later I’d be saying, "Man! This trip is flying by." And that day officially came today. Yesterday may have been one of my favorite days backpacking so far. Climbing what I expected to be all of Mount Vesuvius and walking ancient ruins of Pompeii turned out to give me more than I could have ever imagined. Prior to yesterday’s excursions, I had managed to make my way up two mountains, one in Germany’s Black Forest, and the other on an island in Spain. After trashing my shoes and reviving them twice, I figured that would be done for at least for the remainder of this trip. Once I arrived in Naples, my 4 new Australian amigos, had invited me to hike one of the only active Volcanoes left in the world. Minus the tourists and not being able to hike the volcano from bottom to top (bus ticket didn’t explain we’d be driven halfway up the mountain before we could actually walk up the volcano) yesterday may have literally been the perfect day. Despite the Mt. Vesuvius’ semi-attractive appearance, the vibes and people made the hike uphill that much sweeter. Who would have thought Australians were so fun to be around and similar to Americans? I can’t exactly accredit Australia for making the day so great as one of the other guys in our group was from California. Everybody seemed to mesh well and could add their own humor to what seemed to be literally any and every situation. What stunned me the most was the post hike adventure. After hours on the volcano, we hopped on the train to check out the Ruins of Pompeii. Now classified as a museum, the city of Pompeii hadn't survived its last volcanic eruption over 100+ years ago which turned into a historic tragedy leaving the city’s inhabitants killed and left into molten rock. I was able to photograph a few of the bodies that remained left in glass cases or behind jail bar displays. I walked the ruins and saw the remnants of century-old homes, pottery, paintings, and colosseums. What surprisingly enhanced the entire museum were the newly added sculptures of art placed throughout parts of the city. You could see a gigantic 110-year-old pillar made of marble and see a beautiful body sculpture or a Roman head that was incorporated just less than 10 years ago. It was strikingly amazing and beautiful. I had literally never seen or felt anything like it in my 26-years living on earth.    

Quotables from lofty conversations

"Is it life or is it slavery, not race, money?" 

"When you have people, you have power."

After some writing and alone time, I met with my new Aussie homeboys who had already begun their drinking for the night. It must have been a wave of similar energies and wavelengths we were vibrating on because after I finished writing up my thoughts on Black activists and movements, my inebriated friends somehow got on the topic of social, economic, racial and political movements. Maybe it had been because one of them had dropped them N-bomb casually during one of our huddle conversations. Either way, the initial discomfort of the word being said amongst mixed race friends no longer lingered and we were having separate group conversations about life, society and all of their complications. One of the guys who I was now interacting with for the first time, had sparked an interesting conversation with me that seemed to last over an hour, as we all shared stories over kebabs and American sodas. It was transparent to me that he’d had more than just a couple drinks because of his hesitation, emotion, and long-winded responses, not to mention everyone’s earlier agreement to repeat the prior night’s festivities, which left what seemed to be everyone in the hostel hungover the next day. After one of them had said the N-word, I remember walking to get food, and the lofty thoughts began to take place. What stood out to me the most were a series of quotes or ideas that were mentioned and expounded upon by either myself or my homeboy. Amid discussions of the current state of the corrupt governments worldwide, questioning everything, education, and being modern slaves, we began to asses if life as we knew it was something we actually felt freedom in or modern day slavery. We agreed on the latter. 

Day 14 (Seizing every moment) by Kenneth Dixon

Day 14 (7/19/16) 

Friend: Scale of 1-10 how do you feel? 10 being the highest.

Me: 8

Friend: Find 3 ways to get to 10.

After my best friend posed that question I wasn't really sure at the moment. I was thrown off guard and uncertain how to gauge the question I was asked. My reply was I was on a high of 8, 10 being the highest. Was that really where I was? Since I've arrived in Croatia there hasn't been much excitement. I was exhausted upon my arrival late last night and today errands needed to be done like washing and going to the store, which meant I couldn't adventure much. But reflecting now that those tasks are done and tomorrow is hours away with an empty slate, what shall I do? How can I make the most of my time and heighten my spirits? Usually, I want to sleep because I'm so tired but starting my days off late usually results in my feeling regret after I wake up. I think about what I could have been doing or what I possibly missed out on by not seizing the day. To a certain degree what I miss is essentially not for me but what I choose to partake in and not do is solely dependent upon me. One thing for certain to help me ascend to 10 is trying to properly plan ahead of time. Several times we've missed out on certain things because it was over booked or past the time. Planning well can help me execute pretty much anything. Waking up early every day that I have a free day. Whatever planning isn't done at night can be handled in the morning or by waking up early. I can meditate on the things I desire or just contemplate. To add to that, not being hard on myself and accepting the current situation for what it is. Things won't always go your way but that's fine. In knowing myself I’ve realized how life just happens and at times I don’t make time to appreciate the moment and take it in. On this trip, I need to do that with every thrilling adventure, every activity, every thought provoking or emotional conversation, every casual stroll, by taking a moment to capture the essence of everything. This should liven my spirt right? Right! 

 

Day 16 by Kenneth Dixon

Day 16 (7/22/16)

Plitvice Lakes National Park (Croatia)

The highlight of my day without a doubt. Who would have thought years ago while scrolling on my StumbleUpon account I'd see a list of some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world and wind up viewing them with my own eyes while backpacking in Europe? 

Never had I laid eyes upon water so blue. The streams so transparent, the floor bed could be gazed into like the most beautiful of souls. Looking passed the countless times I had to give up on what I thought were amazing photos because of tourists, the sights were breathtaking. After witnessing another dream come to fruition, it's time I use my power seriously. The power of thought may be the strongest energy source in the universe. Put it to use. Thinking exactly about the outcomes and circumstances you want to take place in life. I'm living proof that it works. Why haven't I taken daily steps to incorporate such practices into my life? I suppose no time is better than the present. 

 

Day 1 by Kenneth Dixon

If you didn't catch my previous blog earlier this week, I mentioned featuring some of my meditations during my travels in Europe. Below are some thoughts I wrote on my iPhone during a layover in Toronto right before my flight to the Netherlands. Proceeding this post I'll be throwing random days on here so they won't be numerical order. 

Day 1 (7/4/16)

It’s Monday, July 4th as I sit in a well air conditioned Starbucks in a food court located somewhere in downtown Toronto. I probably got like 1 hour of sleep over the past 24 hours and though I'm tired I can’t help but feel anxious and excited at the same time. Just some months ago I was here in Canada for the first time meeting stars, shooting video and covering event after event like a mad man for a company that I felt completely enslaved by. Feelings of hunger and exhaustion keep pawing at me, but I remain steadfast. I figured I’d better write before I found myself dozing off somewhere at some random restaurant or stoop. My main journey to my final destination won’t take place for about 6 more hours, so I’m stalling time until my flight to Amsterdam takes off. I guess dreams do come true, and the saying that if you think about something hard enough, and work laboriously in your field of choice, you can acquire whatever you desire. My life has truly been a testament of that, and I’m extremely humbled and grateful to be in the position that I’m in. Everything seems so minuscule to me now - everyday life in Chicago, riding through the streets, eating fried chicken from Harolds with mild sauce, salt, and pepper, or even Giordano's deep dish pizza that’s like the most beautiful food created by man. It won’t be long before I’ll be in the country where pizza actually originated, or the joyous reality that I’ll have the ability to capture stills of places people dream of or never even knew existed. As pro-Black as I claim to be, Europe has always intrigued me. Though my journey to Africa and Asia are absolutely mandatory, I’m more than elated to be backpacking through Europe, spending days in Italy, Greece, and any other country that will allow me to step foot on without a visa. In most cases, the majority of people would have itineraries for expeditions like the one I’m embarking on, but I don’t. At times I'm like I need to have a list of things to do, places to see, and thoroughly planned departure and arrival times for every place I visit, yet such a list doesn’t even exist. I’m okay with that. Being spontaneous to the third power and living every day.

Embrace what life is all about, don’t second guess yourself, roll with the hunches, don’t stay down too long, smile more, your attitude is everything. August will be here before I know it and I’ll be on a flight back to the States. I plan to enjoy every day and to create as much as I can, video, photo, literature, and any other realm i get inspired to participate in.

One Year Later.. by Kenneth Dixon

Croatia 3.jpg

Sept 8th, 16' 8:13pm

Breaking Chains Script

Overview- The Breaking Chains experience focuses on the road to enlightenment and liberation of routine and methodical approaches of living, thinking and feeling. Society has built a fortress from the ground up in our minds that break down our lives and how we should live within a limited frame of mind. Passions are no longer pursued because of a lack of enthusiasm, support, creativity or funding. Through removing myself from an oppressive 9-5, I was able to capture images all across Europe, traveling through Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and more doing the things that inspire me the most. This exhibition will encompass photographs and notes highlighting portions of my journey to breaking those chains that limit expression and pursuit of fulfillment in work and everyday life. 

May 29th, 17' 11:55am

It's been about a year since I quit my job at SneakerWatch and Vlad Tv to pursue something outside of my everyday life in New York City. I dug so much about the city and still do but the work environment wasn't conducive to a healthy atmosphere where one could develop and it took me a couple years to outgrow it and seek creativity elsewhere. My first step in doing that was backpacking across Europe. Prior to the journey, I knew I'd have to showcase my work across a bigger platform and host some of it in a gallery, but I didn't want my adventure to only be the inspiration for a show; that was secondary, possibly even higher on the list of reasons to backpack through Europe. The truth was I in search for more of myself. Looking for something that I couldn't find in the space I was occupying at the time. I craved changed, and to a certain degree, I was running away from something. Traveling the world was never about proving myself or showcasing my talent when I got back to the states. My adventure's inspiration became a spark of light in a time when I was meeting new people and embracing the things they could teach me. 

From those relationships, I learned more about myself, discovering pieces of me I knew were there but didn't take heed to or wasn't ready embrace at the time. A year later after perusing through notes in my iPhone, I wanted to take myself back into that space where I first considered doing freelance work full-time and was prepping for my show. I stumbled across a draft of a script I was sending to a business partner of mine detailing what the main theme of my show was and how it came about. In that moment it took some time to word it exactly in a way that felt comfortable to me. For a long time, I wouldn't even share my certain pieces of my writing because I thought they were too personal, intimate and insightful of the person I was and I didn't want people that close to me. I know that things take time and should happen organically in my mind, so now a year later after quitting my job, I'm a full-time freelance artist traveling for work and leisure from time to time, living more in my purpose and sharing my gifts as they were meant to be. Isn't that what life's all about?

(side note) I'll probably be sharing some of my meditations from my time over in Europe throughout the next couple of days, some of which were in my Breaking Chains visual experience, and others that didn't make the cut. I'm super grateful for my friends who showed me how significant it is to travel and embrace different cultures outside of my own. The world is so much more vast than our backyards, states, and even our own country. 

LA Eyes by Kenneth Dixon

May 17th, '17 6:54am

I'm stroking my mustache and fingering through the rigid hairs of my beard staring out of a plane window headed to LA. I'd rather be sleeping but I've already tried sleeping and we're 30mins into the ride. So I guess I'll be intentional. I'll only be in California for 2 nights, and 3 days. Day one in LA, day two in Santa Barbara, and day three...well I'm not quite sure but I'm grateful to have a late flight out so I’ll have time to be out and about on my last day. First times are usually a good thing so I'm elated to see what Santa Barbara has to offer since I’ve already been to LA once before.

May 20th, '17 7:47pm

Once again I'm ironically writing to you from a plane. This time I'm headed to Chicago. There's so much to tell and I'm not quite sure where to start. I suppose to not completely jump off ship, I'll briefly touch on Santa Barbara and LA. 

Much of what I did feels like a blur in hindsight, but amid my going and coming while out there, I tried to remain present in each moment. The city is small, compact and intimate. By intimate i mean everyone seems to know everyone or is connected in some sort of way. It kind of reminds me of my high school. Your business never really seemed to be your own because if one person knew something, it was likely that information was known by others. But it didn't seem to offer me too much in a day. I figured I'd need more time to get acquainted with the city. What I will compliment and speak highly on is my time wine tasting at Deep Sea Winery on the boardwalk and eating fresh ice cream at Mission Street. Since my first wine tasting last year, in Florence Italy, I had been adamant about trying different wines and finding something other than sweet red dessert wines as a favorite. People for whatever reason now assume I'm a big wino and I'm versed in different grapes but I'm really not. I'm not hip to all of the names and how the grapes are fermented or anything, I just really enjoy wine as a social activity, and sometimes alone in the comfort of my home. If you are big into logistics of wine making and how bitter or sweet they are, I'll name drop but this is only for you. Deep Sea's wine tasting set off in the back corner of the boardwalk and offered a bunch of their own hand-crafted wines. I tried three white wines and two reds: Chardonnay, the Nautilus, Pinot Noir, Rolo's Red Central Cuvée, and the Octopus Merlot, all of which were somewhat bitter and carried a slight hint of fruit or vanilla taste to it. I'd literally recommend trying them all. What topped sipping wine overlooking the beaches and ocean was the salted caramel banana ice cream I devoured at Mission Street Ice Cream. I had only ordered one scoop and now I'm regretting my modest serving. It would have been nice to also share a visual of that like I did for the wine but it was gone before I'd even think of taking a photo it. 

The day before, I had experienced the Huntington Library, art collection and Botanical Gardens for the first time. (Yes they were all inclusive). The Huntington is a pretty popular place in LA and has been the set location of many shows and movies including some of the scenes in Memoirs of a Geisha. After perusing through multiple gardens that were created to depict natural habitats across the world, I realized plants are cool and unique in their own way but I guess looking at various gardens and floral displays outside of their indigenous location sort of diluted the entire ordeal. What did catch my attention more than the beautiful Japanese Garden, Bonsai trees and Koi fish swimming in a pond, was a small exhibition on Octavia Butler. She was an award-winning African American author who is known especially for her science fiction novels. Throughout her display were notes she had hand written herself, catch phrases, and writing techniques spread across the room. “No Entertainment On Earth Can Match A Good Story Compellingly Told.” “Tell stories Filled with Facts. Make People Touch and Taste and KNOW. Make People FEEL! FEEL! FEEL!” Her words were so inspiring. I felt ashamed that I was in a room dedicated to her and I hadn’t even heard of her. I’d later do some research on Butler and buy one of her books, one of which I’m currently reading called "Blood Child.”

After skimming through several of them in hopes of finding one that would catch my eye, I recalled seeing these words in one of the sentences, “negroes weren’t supposed to write.” That had hit home, and I felt something trigger in my soul. She was a fiction writer and realist shedding light on controversial topics like race, gender, and class. That alone was genius in my mind. Nonetheless, she was right. To some people, we weren’t supposed to write, or read, or even live. I was blessed to even have a platform and a gift where I could express myself and share stories to entertain and inspire my peers, and you if you’re reading this. 

I’m a few days behind on posting so I’m trying to catch up now that I’m finally home. Some days I rather just be present than document everything. There just needs to be a sense of balance, an equilibrium between living and creating. 

Writer's Block by Kenneth Dixon

May 13th, ’17 10:52 pm

I CAN’T MAKE IT IN MY OWN CITY!!!! At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself for the past couple of years. I’m preparing to come home to spend time with my family and follow up with a few people about some business that’s been in the planning. For whatever reason, I keep replaying this same story in my mind that I’ll arrive at the crib and be overtly excited — not shortly after, the adrenaline boost of being home will dwindle down and I’ll be ready for the next adventure. This narrative I’ve created and have been living has been a thing since I graduated from college. It took me two years to actually find a well-paying job in my career field, and that didn’t happen until I got an interview with a company in New York. 

But way before I was interviewing celebrities and taking trips across the country, I had interned for a music web platform based in Chicago, where I blogged about mainstream hip-hop, up-and-coming rappers, the underground, and of course my favorites artists. (Yeah I was sometimes biased when I had the luxury of picking my own topics). After that gig was short lived due to the lack of compensation, I began working as an environmental specialist and as a part-time photographer for one of those franchise photography companies in a shopping mall. I was barely making ends meat and I was miserable because of the work I was doing. So for two years I saved what money I could and plotted on a way to get out of these, what I considered to be, dumps at the time. During those moments of job hunting and soul searching, I picked up a book called "One Day It Will All Make Sense” by Common. (Ironically I would later meet him and get that book signed). I had always loved Common’s music and had grown to really appreciate his artistry as I got older. In reading his book, I had discovered how he also didn’t catch his big break in Chicago even though he was born and had lived there most of his life. I'd learned he too had spent some time in New York City and eventually connected with the right people making music. That’s how he ended up making a name for himself in the music industry.  

He and I were alike in a sense. At least in my mind. It seemed as though I hadn’t reached true happiness and success until I moved from out of the Chicago city limits. To be transparent, this wasn’t because I hated living there, or was caught up in senseless distractions or violence for that matter — I suppose as an up-and-coming writer I had always dreamed that I’d make it big-time as an author living in New York, plus I was obsessed with fashion and the culture out there. When I experienced NY for the first time the summer before my senior year at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, I had become determined to move there. Eventually, my dream became a reality. 

That ship has since sailed and I'm currently living in Dallas, while simultaneously traveling all over the place when work calls or I just feel the impulse to. Though my excitement about Chicago is present, I’m thinking about this trip back home and my previous impression remains the same. My hustle is different when I’m away, and I find myself more inspired than ever by a bunch of other places. But this time around I have optimistic feelings about the level of productivity that will take place, the vibes I’m in search for, and the paths that I need to cross. Wishful thinking…. 

 

What Have You Been Up To? by Kenneth Dixon

May 9th, ’17 12:45 pm

I’ve been captioning random posts less. For whatever reason, either I’m on the fly and don’t have time to muster up something witty to say, or I’m just waiting for the perfect time to show you all what’s happening. My preference is to stay low-key and keep to myself, though as you’ve seen over the past few weeks reading these, I have plenty of stuff to say. Nonetheless, I’m gradually sharing more than I usually do, even when I’m not always up for it or just uncertain of myself. For those who’ve seen my random posts of shoulder rigs with wires coming out of a camera you may or may not be able to identify, and an encased canon lens that’s bigger than my foot, I’ll give you some insight as to what I was using all of that equipment for.

I’ve been collaborating with a partner of mine in Dallas on his personal project called the Home Bless Life since late last year. The concept, in short, aims to assist the homeless people in a small part of south Downtown Dallas. So far my friend has helped one man named Alvin replace his old run-down tent that he sleeps outside in, and treated 30 homeless women to complete makeovers and a date for Valentine’s Day. Yesterday was the 4th installment of the HomeBless series where we filmed an elderly homeless man named pops getting a complimentary facial, massage and haircut at a salon. We interviewed him briefly getting some insight into his daily routine and how it is living an untraditional life. Since the episode hasn’t been edited yet, I can’t disclose too many details but the work has been fulfilling. Shooting 8 and 12 hour days can be arduous but documenting these people’s experiences has been eye-opening and humbling. I can recall not feeling these same sentiments just a year ago.

Living in NYC for two years I had encountered an incalculable number of homeless people. I gained adverse opinions of them once I had saw a man get off at the same stop as me riding the A-Train uptown towards Dyckman one evening. This guy was probably in his 60s or 70s and I’d seen him asking for money on the train plenty of times before. He'd walk up-and-down train carts shoeless, with either a white dingy tank top on depending on the season or a torn up shirt or hoody pleading for change. So the one day we got off on the same stop, 168th to be exact, I decided to follow him and see where he’d go after his day long train riding routine.

He walked up the steps to exit the platform as I followed about 15 feet or so behind him trying to remain inconspicuous. I had remembered giving him 10 bucks before, and after seeing him on numerous occasions I admittedly became interested in learning more about this guy’s story and if he was a fraud or not. After reaching the top of the stairs and exiting out the entry gate, I noticed he began searching for something behind one of the DIY metro card stations. I lurked behind watching him stick his slender arms behind the machine and pull out a bag. After grabbing the bag from behind the machine, he pulled out a pair of dirty tennis shoes and some other items, put them on, and walked out onto the street. Walking behind him for just a few moments, I began to think how often people were lying about their situation or just begging for money to come up off gracious pedestrians. From that point on, I vowed to never give a homeless person money. I would only give them food, or help them with a swipe to get on the subway. They couldn’t be trusted in my eyes, and I could never be certain of their intentions.

Working on this current project helped suppress and relinquish some of those emotions of distrust I have for homeless people. Regardless of their situation, I do believe in giving back in some type of way and helping the less fortunate. I’ve been able to shed light on a major issue in Dallas and help bring happiness to the lives of others through assisting and shooting this series. By now I've probably already said too much, but the photo up top includes Pops in a suit after his makeover, a Dallas news crew member, myself, and my partner/director Latarras. I’ve included some of the previous episodes of the HomeBless Life in this post. 

Maundering by Kenneth Dixon

IMG_0906.JPG

April 18th '17 7:03pm

The NBA playoffs are on so that's been most of the excitement of my day. Kendrick Lamar just dropped his DNA video earlier today so that was pretty enjoyable to watch. It doesn't surprise me when I see music and visual art from him be presented in a such a creative way. It's very inspiring and I imagine a vast amount of time was spent cultivating those concepts. But I can't forget about J Cole's recent documentary that aired on HBO last weekend. Though not all the shots were as clean and concise, what overshadowed those nuances was what Cole is known most for, story telling. The audio was clear and easy to discern. Where camera work and resolution quality lacked, the editing mended the job. That being said, I respect both Cole and Kendrick's artistry on so many levels. Lately, I can't seem to get my sense of purpose, or lack thereof, off of my mind. It hasn't been that long since I've had a shoot, seeing as though I had a blast in Austin capturing different scenes in new territory, but I haven't acquired a paid shoot. A couple inquiries here and there but they're all at home or outside of Texas. I'm itching to shoot, I think when I'm not creating, that's when my sense of creativity and self-esteem dwindle down. And once I'm on to the next adventure, the high returns leaving me on cloud 9. But I want to stay on 9! I need to stay on 9. My soul is dying to stay on 9. Just for a little while. A bit. Enough for me to establish something and feel comfortable. But maybe that's not what I'm supposed to be feeling. Maybe I'm supposed to be growing in ways that I cannot yet see. Either way, it's nerve wrecking, despite my knowing things will work out in my favor. I'm chasing my life's work, thinking of my next big "project", but I don't know where to start. Where I'd like to begin is abroad. Asia to be exact or Africa. Speaking of I need to get in tune with Solomon. He's creating dope art pieces and helping share the struggles in Africa. Teaming up with him would be great. Give his page some new visuals and different perspectives. If not, the Motherland is still a place I desire to step foot on. New Mexico and Nola are on the horizon as far as the states go. I just need to stack a little bit more bread and cop a few new pieces of equipment. And even if I don't, I'll make the most of it with what I have, or what I can rent and borrow. It's 2 am now. Had to step away from the beginning of this meditation to get a quick workout in at the gym. My eyes are getting heavy. I miss you G. 

"Brothers make the best friends" by Kenneth Dixon

May 3rd, '17 5:33pm

I'm guilty! Guilty of not showing enough compassion, guilty of not reading the news on your murder soon enough, guilty of not recognizing all of the other Black girls, boys, women and men that suffered the same fate as you, guilty of not writing this sooner, guilty of being caught up in my own life, guilty of not being conscious of the fact that my future daughter or son could too run into a privileged officer who is ready to fire his pistol without legitimate reasoning, guilty of not speaking up, guilty of not using my energy to spotlight the dire issues people with brown skin have suffered from for centuries and continue to be ostracized decades after slavery was abolished and officially got "equal rights" as U.S. citizens, guilty that I too urged my folks to let me party with my friends at the age of 15 and that despite what cruel happenings occurred in the world around us, I pleaded with them that I'd be okay, guilty that I wasn't always responsible when I was your age and yet you suffered the worst outcome while trying to have fun, guilty that your brothers and family lost their best friend to a system that doesn't care for our success, guilty that I can't hug and kiss my brothers and sister as I write this, guilty that change hasn't come and we've been hoping for a better day for far too long, guilty that I have failed you, Jordan Edwards.

Please forgive me....

After Reality Set In.... by Kenneth Dixon

April 27, '17 2:45am

This is my first time reflecting since I've been in Jamaica. Words can't really describe how I'm feeling in this very moment…... I'm consumed with love, humbleness, peace, and eagerness. My days have been filled with shadowing and capturing the life of one the biggest body builders in the world in his home country, Jamaica. So far I captured some of the best shots I believe I've ever created, and feel myself progressing into a better story teller, videographer, and photographer. I noticed how different the excitement is traveling for work in comparison to traveling for pleasure. The time I have to myself has been little to none since my primary reason for being here is for work. I’ve had to simultaneously juggle a camera and tons of other equipment while also looking for inspiration personally and for the main job I was doing. That's been my only drawback. But what i often face in certain circumstances where I'm traveling and or working is having to pick and choose whether to embrace a moment or capture a moment. In capturing the moment those few seconds or minutes can nullify a beautiful experience that you could potentially never get back. Sure photographs are a way to keep special memories "forever" but the essence of what you're feeling and seeing can't always be displayed in an image. Great photographs do have the power to showcase beauty and serenity or evoke emotion but there's a thin line between that and living in the present. I try to keep in my mind that as long as im alive and in good health there will always be more moments to photograph or record on camera. Having a balance between creating the art and living essentially coincide. If you're not adoring and absorbing your surroundings what will inspire the art? The living part is key. So that's exactly what I did. Some parts of the trip I captured perfectly, like driving right outside of Kingston through Saint Thomas, Trinity Ville, and other rural areas. The opposite occurred during the latter half of my trip. We remained stationed at an all-inclusive resort in Montego Bay for 3 days or so. Free alcohol and food sound like a steal right? Especially when it's all paid for....but there was still a part of me itching to get out and see more of the city. I was in unchartered territory so by nature my only real desire was to see people, culture, landscapes and wander places i had never visited before. Instead of exploring i was left eating hotel resort grilled Jerk chicken and festival, lounge chair hopping at the pool, late night strolling along the coast, and capturing more footage of Shawn and his beautiful family bonding. My main goals were to obtain a balance between self exploration, creating and completing my main job, which was to finish capturing the remaining missing pieces for a documentary we're doing on Shawn. The last task I completed without hesitation, since after all, I was getting paid for it. The remaining objectives I got bits and pieces of. Nonetheless, I was able to shoot some amazing images that I've shared above. I highly recommend visiting all parts of Jamaica should you go, including the not so safe parts. We were blessed to have escorts who where natives from there, drive us to different parts of the island where the roads aren't the easiest to travel on, particularly if you're from America because the cars in Jamaica feature steering wheels on the right side. It's a bit intimidating at first but it's nothing you can't handle.

BTW: If you're ever out of the country and you're not sure if some places are safe or not to visit, be weary that some people will tell you not to go to areas you may be interested in. Don't let that discourage you! If you feel compelled to see certain places, GO!!! Don't let anyone's opinions hold you back from doing something you desire. In the same breath, try to get someone to show you around that knows the ropes, and if you can't, proceed with caution. No one ever grew by staying in their comfort zone.

...One more thing, if you're on your mobile device there's a short promo video we shot of Shawn Rhoden below.