Andrea Jenkins, aka Hula Seventy
, is all the things. She’s married to a man with a beard that won’t quit. She’s mom to Ava and Ezra. She’s a dancer, a teacher, a photographer, a collector, a list maker, and a lovely friend to so many. Her photographs are filled with magic and her words – 10 years worth over on her blog – are endlessly inspiring. Read along to learn all about this creative lady…
You and your family made an envy-inducing cross-country road trip last summer to move from Portland to Atlanta. How long were you in Portland? What spurred your move back to Atlanta?
We lived out in Portland, Oregon for seven glorious years — a stellar job opportunity (as animation director) sort of fell into my husband’s lap and it was just too good a thing to pass up. So, we made the leap, made the big cross country move from Atlanta back in 2007. And man, we fell head over heels in love with Portland. Loved pretty much every minute of our time there but the truth is that it just got to be too hard to be so far from family.
After my mom died in 2012, things kind of snapped into focus for me and I just knew we couldn’t keep living on the opposite end of the country from the people we loved.. Much as we loved Portland (and our amazing community of West Coast friends), we just couldn’t keep choosing a city over family. With my daughter Ava poised to start high school and my son Ezra, starting fifth grade, I knew we were at a crucial point. We either needed to put down roots in Portland once and for all or move back home to Atlanta. We chose Atlanta.
We miss Portland (and the Pacific Northwest and pretty much the whole West Coast and all our friends) every single day but have absolutely no regrets. This doesn’t mean there haven’t been challenges or hard times but it’s all been worth it. We now live two houses down from my brother (with whom I’m super tight) and his family and we’re just minutes away from Ward’s parents. Also, Atlanta is pretty awesome.
Tell us about your road trip. Your route? Most memorable stretch of road? Favorite memory? Most kitschy stop? Best roadside food? The song that got played just a little too much?
Oh my goodness, the road trip! By far, one of my favorite things ever, ever! That I’ve ever done in life. And definitely our most ambitious road trip yet! True, we traveled cross country by car back in 2007 when we moved out to Portland but because of impending work, we had just six days to get from Georgia to Oregon. And the kids were much younger, ages six and two, so the trip was much different, much more practical. Don’t get me wrong, it was an amazing experience but nothing compared to this past summer’s adventure. Truth be told, the planning of this trip is what got me through a monumentally stressful time in life.
By day, I toiled to get us moved and by night, I planned the cross country trip back home. It was my reward at the end of many long, hard, emotionally draining days. We started off with plans for just 7-8 days on the road but the more I researched, the more treasures I found– places I knew we just shouldn’t miss. Before I knew it, we had enough stops planned for two weeks on the road! And who knew when and/or if we’d ever get the chance to do this again. So we did what we had to do to make it work financially — shifted work around, planned to live on picnic breakfasts/lunches/dinners along the way and stay in cheap motels. And it was worth it — every last soggy breakfast bagel and bruised banana, every last cramped motel room.
As for our route– we traveled down 101 South to San Francisco (stopping to see the Redwoods along the way) and then continued on to Palm Springs. From there, we skipped up and over a bit to old Route 66 and traveled east til we hit the Grand Canyon. From there, we hopped off track to drive up through Arizona to Utah’s Monument Valley, then jumped back down on I-40 east (and parts of old Route 66) to travel through New Mexico and Texas til we hit Memphis, Tennessee, which is when we hit the highway that took us all the way home to Atlanta, Georgia.
Most memorable stretch of road? Ah, so hard to narrow! So many! But if I had to choose, it’d probably be a tie between the stretch of 111 South along the Salton Sea in southern California (on our way to Salvation Mountain, a place I’d been dreaming of visiting for over a decade) and the drive through Arizona and Utah through Monument Valley, most of which is Navajo nation. Both had a distinctively otherworldly feel to them, both looked and felt like nowhere we’d ever been before.
A favorite memory? Wow, that’s hard to choose too. Still processing them all, actually (both figuratively and literally, speaking as I still have several rolls of 120 film to be developed). Though I did write about a favorite memory on the blog
recently — an unexpected trip to the windmills just outside Palm Springs. Nothing we planned ahead of time but a little unexpected adventure out on the edge of town at sunset. Something about the whole experience was just sort of magic.
Our most kitschy stop? A town, rather– Holbrook, Arizona, where we stayed at the old Wigwam Motel and shopped for souvenirs and fossils at the most charming (kitschy) old rock shop. Best roadside food? Navajo fry bread with honey at the Four Corners monument in Utah, for sure. Song that got played just a little too much? Well, while I was busy planning the trip, my husband was busy putting together the ultimate road trip playlist. I am serious when I tell you he had so much music for us to listen to, I’m not sure we ever listened to the same song twice!
Judging from your photos, Atlanta is as colorful and inspiring as Portland. What are some new-found (or rekindled) loves in Atlanta?
Well, Atlanta is experiencing a bit of a renaissance right now, so it’s a really exciting time to be back in the city. So many new public art projects and collaborations, really, really make me happy. New-found loves would be Living Walls (a non-profit organization devoted to community-oriented street art), the Atlanta Beltline (a 22-mile historic old rail line that’s a combination of trail, greenspace and art and brilliantly connects 45 in-town neighborhoods) and #WeloveATL (a project devoted to Atlanta photographers and their love for our city).
I first heard about Living Walls five years ago when I was home visiting Atlanta and have kept a keen eye on them ever since. I was absolutely delighted to find the organization and its work thriving when we returned home last summer — a drive around the city, down our favorite streets and avenues (many of them neglected for so many years) revealed more color, more murals than I could even count.
I wrote the director of Living Walls and long story short, was invited to shoot for their Instagram account during their big two-week conference back in August… More fun than I could ever even tell you!
As for #WeloveATL, they’re an organization after my own Atlanta-loving, photography-loving heart. Anyone can post a photo they’ve taken of our fine city and tag it #WeLoveATL on Instagram. Project organizers choose from this rapidly growing pool and work is regularly exhibited in a variety of places around the city — the big downtown Five Points MARTA train station, a giant cubic screen at the CNN center and perhaps most notably, the #WeLoveATL mobile photography truck! A photography gallery on wheels? How did I not think of that?
Anyway, it’s a brilliant, beautiful project connecting photographers who want to tell the real stories, show the real beauty of our city, and any money from prints sold at shows goes directly to the Atlanta Food Bank, which I love. I’m honored to say I’ve had work exhibited in a few of their shows since I landed here and I so hope to be a part of it more!
As for rekindled loves, pretty much all my old Atlanta favorites are here, which has been comforting. Though I’m perhaps most excited about teaching for my old dance company, Moving In The Spirit
again. One of the hardest things about leaving Atlanta eight years ago was leaving this company. I’d essentially devoted fifteen years of my life to them and was sure our move out west was the end of my time with them. But thankfully, when they heard I was moving back, they were quick to offer me a place to teach again!
Moving In The Spirit is a nationally-recognized arts program that uses the art of dance and education in under-served neighborhoods of the city and I’ve worked with them since I was 19– as a volunteer, teacher, choreographer and program director, and I cannot tell you how good it feels to be back. I’m teaching again (and doing a lot of photography for them too) and it’s just so good to be back.
What are some of the things you miss about Portland? What are some similarities and differences between the two towns?
Ah, where in the world do I begin? The longer I’m away, the more I miss! There’s a longer, much more specific list of the things I miss over on my blog but generally speaking, I miss the tight knit communities and the quirkiness of the city, the bridges, the food carts culture, and restored old indie theaters, the thriving downtown and holy crap, I miss Powell’s Books. I am lost without Powell’s Books. We all are.
I also miss being so close to the ocean, to the Oregon Coast. Dare I say I miss the rain? Ha, probably not. Okay, maybe a little. In terms of cities, Atlanta and Portland are apples and oranges, opposites in many, many ways. For example, Atlanta is large and sprawling whereas Portland is smaller and more compact (with something called an urban growth boundary that intentionally prevents the sprawl that currently plagues Atlanta). Portland is situated along the Willamette River, with bridges galore, while Atlanta is landlocked. But Atlanta is much more racially diverse than Portland, which I love.
Portland is a little more progressive, a little more forward-thinking but there’s an unmistakable charm to the South that’s hard to shake. Both have strong artist communities, both are heavily influenced by the regions in which they’re located. But really, they couldn’t be more different and for this, I’m thankful. Because it’s been really cool to live in two completely different parts of the country, in cities so completely different from each other.
I’ve never known someone with such an affinity for list-making, and you’ve inspired so many, including me. Could you share one of your favorite lists with us?
Yes, guilty as charged, ardent list maker here! Always have been, I guess. I’ve found lists (hilarious lists) dating all the way back to third grade, back when the most important thing to me was a new pair of roller skates and awesome bubble-style cursive writing. So honored to have inspired you! I’ve written (and posted) many lists over the years but I guess one of my favorites (and probably most popular) is Things I’d Tell my 17 Year-Old Self
. Once I started making that list, it all just sort of poured out of me, things I’d been thinking about for years. Never imagined it’d strike such a chord with so many people!
You’ve taught photography classes at creative gatherings like Squam Art Workshops
, Create Explore Discover
, Big Picture Classes
, and you had the privilege of traveling to Kosovo at the end of 2011 to work with high school art students. How did you begin teaching? What do you find most inspiring and rewarding about it? Do you have any classes or workshops on the horizon?
Well, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve been teaching for years. My degree is in dance education and it’s just always something I’ve loved doing, something I knew I’d always do. I’m the daughter of a teacher as well– my dad’s been coaching and teaching for over 45 years and had such a passion and love for it, I guess it sort rubbed off on me. Or maybe it’s just in my blood.
I’ve worked with a variety of ages over the years, taught mainly modern, so when the opportunity to teach photography workshops presented itself, it just made sense. Dance and photography are, of course, two completely different mediums and there are obvious differences in approach but my style remains the same. I thoroughly enjoy both the differences and similarities between the two, the individual challenges each presents. If you’d told me twenty years ago that I’d also be teaching photography workshops and classes, I probably would have laughed but it’s been the most natural progression in the world. As for upcoming photography workshops, there are several in the works but nothing official as of yet! I can say there will probably be instant photography (instant magic) workshops in both Atlanta and Portland this year but the details are still being hammered out. And there are a few others I can’t quite talk about yet!
You’ve said you’re living “in a house filled with too many collections.” Did all of these make the move across the country with you? Can you tell us about your most-treasured and perhaps wackiest collections? How did they come to be?
I come from a family of collectors so there was no hope for me, and then I married a pack rat so my fate was sealed. It’d probably be easier to tell you what we don’t collect. Vintage snapshots and photobooth frames, old letters and numbers (specifically the number seven), world globes and pull-down school maps, cigar boxes and juice glasses, old souvenir pennants and plates, and the list goes on and on and on. Our budget was pretty tight for the big move — we didn’t have much room on the truck so we really had some tough decisions to make. We edited a lot of our collections, pared waaaaay down but still have all our favorite things. Initially, it was really, really hard but it’s always a good exercise to edit, to pare down, to let go of things.
You’re an instant film wiz. When did you start shooting Polaroid? What’s your favorite Polaroid camera? Do you have any original stock left?
Ah, thanks! I grew up with Polaroid cameras, shot with the 600 all through my teens and twenties. But in 2007, I started shooting with the folding Polaroid SX-70 and that was that. I was hooked. And I think I’ve made some of my best work with this camera, I really do. I don’t have much original stock left and what I do have is extremely expired so I’m pretty much tapped out. Oh, how I miss Polaroid film… oh, how I miss it!
Have we filled your brains with enough color and creativity? No? Good. Head on over to Andrea’s blog, Hula Seventy, and be sure to give her a follow on Instagram @hulaseventy.