Make ART!


I returned to South Dakota in May. Found a dreamy apartment nestled above a used book store in a corner of the city. For a few months now, until my lease runs out, I can still hop in the car and visit with my siblings out in the country.

I’ve already been on a photography binge, taking in the beauty of the summer landscape. I secured a small writing gig, and today I got word that I am going to receive a small grant I applied for a few weeks ago.

The grant is the big news in this post. I was uneasy about applying for it because of course there is that monster within telling me I’m not good enough, clever enough, talented enough to consider myself an artist.

Fuck that monster.

I applied and I got the grant.

A government agency has recognized me as an artist.

Therefore I am.


Yes Virginia, There is a Universe

paintingIt was the strangest thing.

I was walking downtown in Orlando to present to a local Meetup of Data Scientists about Big Mountain Data. I had just arrived in Florida two months before from Texas.

It was early evening, and I was running late. As I briskly walked past an art gallery, I glanced to my left and there she was: “The Girl.”

I literally felt the image pull me toward her.

I “saw” her.

It stopped me in my tracks. I thought to myself, “This is the woman I’m working for.”

That night I even mentioned it on Facebook. The experienced stayed with me.

I was thinking about this piece of art this week, as Big Mountain Data is turning a corner in 2017.  The past two years have been rewarding, and I’m more hopeful than ever that we are on the brink of creating something truly meaningful.  My mind drifted to this piece of art.  When I saw it in the gallery, she had a hefty price tag, but I was thinking I might be able to afford this in 2017 somehow.

So, yesterday, I started doing some image searches from the photo I had posted  on Facebook.  I found the artist, and discovered she was a local.  She had a Facebook page, so I inquired if the piece was still available.  An assistant replied within minutes, and said she’d check.  The artist, Pamela Loudon, responded to me herself with an affirmative and asked me to contact her about it.

I thought about it and decided to tell her the odd story about how the piece “spoke” to me that night in downtown Orlando.  I told her what I do, and that I felt a strong connection to this work:

“I saw your piece walking past an Orlando gallery downtown. It was the evening of April 23, 2015. I was on my way to present to the Orlando Data Science Meet-up (a group of nerdy developers and data scientists). The artwork stuck with me.  It is something about the way the woman is fractured, kind of has a black eye, yet is surrounded with vivid color.  I felt a connection to the piece in a way I had never had a connection to a piece of art.”

Pam called me within moments of reading my email.  She had just returned from being out of the country for many months.

She said, “This is very strange.” She told me the history about this particular piece. That she was walking up a hill in Marseille, France and “The Girl” was pasted in burlap to a wall and a group of men were tearing her down.  She was moved by the work and told the men to STOP.  She pieced her together in her studio and started applying color.  She told me she felt this woman represented all women who are “torn off the wall by men.”

Long story short, as a traveling photographer and digital artist, Pam has visited places and witnessed events (including Nicole Simpson’s house in Brentwood) where women were abused horribly.  She told me that this piece was her first experience of how “spirited stuff” can find its way into art.

I always tell people that bizarre events happen all the time for me since I’ve been working on Big Mountain Data.  Coincidences and things that cannot be rationally explained.  Pam said, “You have to be open to the universe.”

I told her, I am.  I am.

The good news is she agreed to sell me the artwork at a price and payment plan I can afford.  She is happy “The Girl” is going to someone who truly appreciates her and will use her eery power in a way that will empower women everywhere.

Thank you Pam, and you out there in the cosmos working for us.

Mood Management

omoaMy daughter had been looking for a full-time job in New York City.  She recently said to me, “I have mild unemployment depression.”  I told her it was a Quote-of-the-Day. (Happily, she has since accepted a job offer.)

I’ve been going through a bit of negotiating my moods lately too. I’m still carrying guilt and frustration over the demise of Big Mountain Data, while simultaneously facing financial insecurity as I attempt to pivot once again professionally.  I can feel myself slipping into a similar mild depression too.

When I sense I’m starting to get overwhelmed, I take precautions to pro-actively “change my mood.”

Yesterday, I took the afternoon off from client work and job-searching and visited the Orlando Museum of Art.  I’d been wanting to do this since I moved here last year.  The museum was lovely.  Architecturally, it’s more impressive than I expected with a contrastcotton2013 of vaulted, well-lit ceilings  and soft, low-lights for interior exhibits.  There were two featured exhibitions that I particularly loved. The first is this sweet display of sugary goodness: “The Influx Series: Will Cotton.” It instantly elevated my mood by the honestly displayed in how much we all love frivolous confections.  This portrait in particular, “Icing,” was spectacular.

The second exhibit I took a long time with was “Women of Vision: National Geographic Photographers on Assignment.” In a word, wow.  Many of these photos captured a palpable sense of the struggle these photojournalists wanted to reveal.  Most were depressing, yet had uplifting messages embedded within.  The series (11 photographers in all) presented a stark contrast to the silliness of my self-pity and sulking that brought me to the museum. There was something about the fact that these photos were taken by women that touched me.  It was deeply moving.  This exhibit is traveling around the U.S. If you happen to be in line to receive it at your local art museum, I highly recommend it.

After immersing myself in art for the afternoon, I stopped to eat in a funky downtown cafe.  I had my laptop with me, and the cafe was playing an 80s channel on Sirius.  I was inspired to write for a few hours, and spent the rest of the afternoon in a world of make-believe that I was creating in my mind.  Before I knew it, it was almost 6pm.  It was a great day, and I accomplished my goal.  I not only changed my mood, I put my troubles in perspective, and came away with a newfound confidence about my potential to make a contribution to the world.