Charlie and Diane Bowers, our good friends and gracious hosts
We had an uneventful drive to Washington DC, except for getting on a couple of toll roads (Rt. 200 in MD) where you had to have EZ Pass, No Cash. We never encountered a toll booth but friends in the DC area said we would be hearing from them, “If they can catch up with you.” We’ll have to see how that plays out.
We parked in the yard at Garden Gate Landscaping in Silver Spring, a great spot and close to the DC area. I used to work there when we lived in DC and Charlie Bowers, my boss, friend and mentor set us up with a quiet and shady spot for the bus. We laid low the first day we were there and it was nice to have a do nothing day. My cold was in full swing by that time so probably a good idea not to infect the general public. Just our friends! HA!
Since we lived in DC for four years, we didn’t do any of the tourist stuff; we had seen plenty at our leisure while we lived there. We stuck to Silver Spring, Ellicott City and Kensington.
The landscape design around the Garden Gate office and yard is completely different than when I worked there and it was a delight to explore.
On Tuesday Charlie and Diane picked us up at the bus and we went to lunch at a Cuban restaurant Charlie had scoped out with a purpose in mind. Charlie is an exceptional guy. Not only is he an accomplished landscape designer with many award winning landscapes under his belt, he is an adventurer and photographer extraordinaire. When I worked with him at Garden Gate, I was just getting into computers and imaging and having the exposure and his expertise at hand during that time made a big difference in my development. I did the landscape imaging; taking a picture of a house and adding plantings and hardscapes so that the client could imagine what the finished result would look like. Now they have whole propgrams designed to do this, but back in 1991 we built up a plant library of images and Photoshopped everything. Great experience for me since I was just falling in love with Photoshop.
When Jim got transferred by SAS to Kansas City, it was very difficult to break the news to Charlie; he had invested heavily in my training and I felt bad for leaving; I really loved working there. He hired me to come back a couple of times to produce some portfolio books in “The Cave” at his house where I developed serious and ongoing printer envy.
I designed this logo after we moved to KC; it was cool to see it on the trucks still.
After we moved to Kansas City, Charlie came out and drew us up a landscape plan for our pond, patio and garden. The landscape and pond were the very best things about our house and the hardest to leave. We certainly enjoyed ourselves thoroughly while we lived there though. My friend Shirley always said we had the most beautiful back yard. She was right.
Anyway, he has an upcoming show at a gallery in Frederick, Maryland called Faces of Cuba. There are so many remarkable images in the group; it will be a very difficult task to narrow them down to the 20 or so he is going to hang. He had the idea of going around to the local Cuban restaurants and seeing if they would offer a coupon for attendees of the show. We had a delicious lunch at Cuba de Ayer and enjoyed catching up with them. It had been about 15 years since my last week-long trip to DC to produce portfolio books. We fell back into easy conversation, the hallmark of good and lasting friends.
After the lunch, he approached the owner and she told him that she was at that very minute looking online for art to buy for the restaurant! Can you say Good Timing? His show opens October 31 and if you are anywhere near the DC area you should plan to attend. The images are killer. See more of his exceptional art/photography/digital painting here.
Then we headed to his house in Ellicot City to see the revamping of his home landscape. It too was completely different than when I saw it last. Plus they have three beautiful Maine Coon kitties. Every landscape is better with a kitty in it. Lots of rock involved too.
What a great visit with Diane and Charlie. Charlie and I could have talked art for many hours; he is getting into digital painting and all manner of apps and adjustments. And the printers and paper, the whole printmaking process I love. His stuff is really exceptional and he is prolific. The prints come alive on the paper. He has several whole exhibitions in just the finished work we saw. Such a privilege and a true delight to take in so much good work. A treat for the eyes and the soul! Go see his show.
We are very fortunate and we know it. Our humble thanks to the universe for our blessing of friends.
More photos on Flickr.