I had the privilege of spending time earlier this summer with a dear friend, Frank Asher. Frank owns Old City Farm & Guild, an urban farm and garden center, and Fairies’ Crossing, a landscape firm. I've created greeting cards and prints inspired by the Farm, and Frank and I recently worked together on a calendar project called “Homage to the Soul,” using the beautiful garden and homescapes Frank has created. I asked Frank to share his thoughts about inspiration, and about our collaboration.
(all photos, Beverly Jones)
Bev: What does the phrase “Homage to the Soul” mean to you, in light of our project?
Frank: It means honoring the soul. It means that I speak to my own soul – I get out of my head and become more present and aware. It means celebrating the beauty around us, putting lens and words to it.
B: Your home, and your garden center, continually inspire me. What inspires you to create beautiful spaces?
F: Even before I started my businesses, I would do plantings around tree boxes; it was my way to help beautify the urban spaces where I lived. And people would just walk past them, preoccupied with their commutes and daily routines. But once in a while a person would walk past a tree box, glance at it, and stop for a split second to look at a little bit of nature before continuing on with his or her busy day – and for me, that was a gift. It inspired me, and whenever I’m able to do this, I feel I’m fulfilling my own mission of showing people that there’s life all around them.
B: What result do you expect to see from this photo, poetry and prose collaboration?
F: My hope is that through this project, people will remember their own connections to life. We get so caught up in our “to-do’s” (myself included) that we forget to do this. I hope there is a sharing of mindfulness – to appreciate that tree, or flower.
Frank had a few questions for me, too.
F: Bev, I have known you for quite a while now, but tell our readers what inspires you. Share your bliss with us.
B: Nature - there is so much beauty all around us, in the city, the suburbs, and in the country. I am inspired in all of these outdoor spaces.
Travel - I haven't done as much as I'd like, but I love visiting different countries and experiencing different cultures.
Creative people - of course this includes people who work in the creative arts, but it's also about those who don't normally consider themselves artists, who know how to creatively solve problems.
F: With that, what does Homage to the Soul mean to you?
B: For me, it first means acknowledging the dreams most precious to you, the ones that you hold in the most secret places in your heart. Second, it means you honor their validity, and do the work that is necessary to make those dreams come true.
F: Once our project is completed, how do you see it living out in the world?
B: Our stated goals are to create calendars and encouragement cards; beyond that, there are all sorts of possibilities. Can we design an interactive way for people to visit Old City Farm and create their own Homage to the Soul walks? Affirmation card decks? I think you should write an Homage to the Soul book, Frank. Whatever we do, I hope it inspires others to be brave, honor what's in their hearts, and move forward to live their dreams.