STRINGS & THINGS

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I love guitars! Banjos, mandolins, violins, viola de gambas! Not only do I get to photograph the musicians that make music on these amazing stringed creations, but I also get to work with the especially talented, thoughtful and gifted folks that design and build the instruments that allow musicians to make the noise that we call MUSIC! I recently had the opportunity to document a few of the latest guitars from Pennsylvania luthier Matt Artinger and some stunning banjos from Beltsville, Maryland based Kevin Enoch! Not only are these amazingly beautiful bits of musical eye candy, but they all sound as good as they look. photo Artinger Guitar  photo copyright Michael G. Stewart37.jpg photo Artinger Feb. 2014 copyright photo Michael G Stewart087.jpg photo a blogEnoch Banjos photo copyright Michael G. Stewart110.jpg photo a blogEnoch Banjos photo copyright Michael G. Stewart009.jpg photo a blogEnoch Banjos photo copyright Michael G. Stewart008.jpg photo Artinger Feb. 2014 copyright photo Michael G Stewart105.jpg photo a blogEnoch Banjos photo copyright Michael G. Stewart012.jpg photo a blogEnoch Banjos photo copyright Michael G. Stewart020.jpg photo Artinger Guitar  photo copyright Michael G. Stewart88.jpg
My personal favorite- “The Tokyo Rosie” but, then again, it would be! I got to lend a small hand in the design of this one- Billy Gibbons, eat your heart out! ( now I just need some folks to play with- )

BOMBAY BEACH, CALIFORNIA

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The Salton Sea is a shallow, saline, endorheic rift lake located directly on the San Andreas Fault, predominantly in California’s Imperial and Coachella valleys.
The modern sea was accidentally created by the engineers of the California Development Company in 1905. In an effort to increase water flow into the area for farming, irrigation canals were dug from the Colorado River into the valley. Due to fears of silt buildup, a cut was made in the bank of the Colorado River to further increase the water flow. The resulting outflow overwhelmed the engineered canal, and the river flowed into the Salton Basin for two years, filling the historic dry lake bed and creating the modern sea, before repairs were completed.
Bombay Beach is a small community located along the east shore of the Salton sea. Although still inhabited by a hearty group of residents, it has fallen on hard times and many of its vintage mobile homes and travel trailers are now unoccupied and facing the ravages of time, salty air and vandals. photo a blog bombay5.jpg photo a blog bombay6.jpg photo a blog bombay8.jpg photo a blog bombay7.jpg photo a blog bombay3.jpg photo a blog bombay10.jpg photo a blog bombay4.jpg
A Volkswagen station wagon! photo a blog bombay2.jpg photo a blog bombay 1.jpg
Tens of thousands of bleached fish skeletons litter the beach
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SIGNS OF THE TIMES

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From ancient petroglyphs to modern jumbotrons, man has felt compelled to leave a sign of his passing upon the landscape. While I usually focus heavily on neon, I also love ghost signs, graffiti and just about any other artistic mark that humans leave upon their environment, especially where it concerns commerce.
Here are a few more from our trip through Arizona and New Mexico. photo a sign blog1.jpg
Try as I might, I just can’t get away from those damn banjos!! photo a blog sign3.jpg
It is actually “Barn” Again, (In a barn) next to the Burger Boy photo a blog sigtn2.jpg
Just great vintage neon photo a blog sign6.jpg
I don’t think this development ever really got off the ground- (alongside an abandoned stretch of old Route 66) photo a blog sign5.jpg
**** note the strange little box in the right hand corner*** photo a blog sign 8.jpg
Left over from an old windmill- wish I could have brought it home photo a blog sign10.jpg
Let’s get Fluffy right over!! photo a blog sign 4.jpg
This is some great graffiti on an abandoned water tank photo a blog sign 9.jpg
I think this about says it all

SAN DIEGO DREAMING

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We recently took a trip to beautiful San Diego. While my significant other toiled away in the bowels of the city’s splendid convention center, I was left to my own devices to while away the daylight hours. The sky was blue, the temperature a soothing and constant 70 degrees, and the quality of light was a visualist’s dream. I averaged about 4-6 walking miles a day, and there was literally too much to possibly fit into this abbreviated blog, but here’s a small sampling, divided into a few brief sections.  photo a blog san diego faces.jpg
Faces were everywhere- and not just the ones on the people I met photo a blog Balboa .jpg
It had been over 30 years since I was last in Balboa Park, and it remains an oasis of beauty
and vibrant activity photo a blog sandiego retro.jpg
San Diego is in a huge boom of new building and renovation, but the remnants of an older existence are still to be found if you keep your eyes open photo a blog san diego 2.jpg
New and old architecture, side by side photo a blog sandiego water.jpg
….and of course, San Diego is a city whose livelihood and identity are linked closely to its historic status as a seaport city.

CD COVERS of 2014

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One of the artistic endeavors that both pays my bills and enriches my soul, is working with the many talented musicians that come to me to help create vibrant packaging for their CD and album covers, as well as promotional portraits and images for their websites and press kits. 2014 was a constructive and varied year for these projects, and 2015 looks to be one of many creative collaborations as well. From jazz, to bluegrass and country, from Irish to early classical, a musician’s visual presentation should always tell the story of his or her musical soul. Here are a few of the projects that I both photographed and designed last year. I’m looking forward to reaching out to some different areas of the musical spectrum this year & creating some truly memorable covers- Maybe for YOU!
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Springfield Exit on the Patuxent Music label photo blog WDON Design Michael G. Stewart fb.jpg
Frank Wakefield & Red Allen photo blog Tis Design Michael G. Stewart fb.jpg photo blog Rira Design Michael G. Stewart fb.jpg photo blog Palmer Design Michael G. Stewart fb.jpg photo blog Matthews Carrara design Michael G. Stewart fb.jpg photo blog Hurt Design Michael G. Stewart fb.jpg photo Banjo Design Michael G. Stewart blog.jpg photo blog BRENNEN Design Michael G. Stewart fb .jpg photo blog Jan Design Michael G. Stewart fb.jpg photo Bluestone Design Michael G. Stewart blogfb.jpg

NEON of the AMERICAN SOUTHWEST

 photo a blog west header_1.jpgHowdy Friends! Long time no see, you might say! Yes, I have been on a bit of a hiatus for the past year,as my life has experienced many changes, but I am happy to say, all for the best. So I hope to get back in the groove and continue to post images that strike my fancy, or elicit an emotional response, or make a statement, or just plain look beautiful or interesting. As the title of this blog states, this is about that vanishing bit of Americana that I love so well, the neon landscape of this wacky and grand country of ours. So for my return to blogging, I present this bit of dreamscape from a recent trip to Arizona and New Mexico, a brief roadtrip down the “Mother road”, Route 66, and a bit of the vanishing commercial artistry of the local neon signage. photo a blog west12.jpg
We stayed here at the Monterey, clean, friendly, and a bit of time travel back to 1976! photo a blog west9.jpg photo a blog west8.jpg photo a blog west 11.jpg
The late, lamented Aztec Motel- now gone, with only this iconic neon remaining photo a blog west7.jpg
I’m getting a message from Sputnik here! photo a blog west6.jpg
The Dog House, in Albuquerque, New Mexico- great place for a hot dog & milk shake! Look for the sign of the happy, wagging tail!  photo a blog west5.jpg photo a blog west 4.jpg photo a blog west3.jpg photo a blog west2.jpg
The El Don- some of the best neon we saw, but the motel has been sadly neglected photo a blog westv10.jpg
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“AIR CONDITIONED by REFRIGERATION!” What could be better?