Life As An Itinerant Artist

Stories and anecdotes from fifteen years on the art show circuit. 

25 Random Things…

On Facebook, the current viral thing is to make a list of things that is randomly interesting and then post it as a note. I thought I’d do it here on the blog, which will get picked up on Facebook in my notes section. So enjoy reading!

  1. I grew up in the Black Hills of South Dakota. My father and my grandfather ran a dude ranch called Palmer Gulch Lodge. It was great growing up with horses, rocks and lots of other kids to play with. In the summertime. The winters were killer. There are some good stories about “The Happy Valley” going back 80 years, on
  2. I like climbing rocks. Especially the beautiful granite in the Black Hills. But I didn’t start using ropes and climbing technically until I was 50. Thanks to Susan Scheirbeck and my cousin HJ Schmidt, who showed me the ropes and dragged us up a few easy climbs.
  3. My favorite vegetable is the Brussels sprout. Carrots ain’t bad, either. But I hate lima beans.
  4. My mother taught me to cook when I was in Cub Scouts. The first dish I ever made was meatloaf and mashed potatoes. 
  5. The best part of art shows is meeting other artists and talking with people who are genuinely interested in what you do and how you do it. The next best part is making the work that I take to the shows.
  6. I like Starbucks — the stronger the better. But I water it down with cream and sugar.
  7. No kids, no pets. My wife says I’m enough trouble.
  8. I play the guitar, and noodle around with keyboards. I have a small home studio that doesn’t get enough use anymore. Music has been with me since I was in sixth grade, when my mom gave me the choice between the piano and the trombone. I chose trombone. Played in high school band and orchestra, and pit for three years of musicals. Fun.
  9. I love Chicago. It’s my favorite American city. The people are urban without being snooty and the architecture is phenomenal. Plus you can’t beat the lake for visual impact. Chicago has the largest number of movable bridges of any city in the world — 35 in the downtown area alone. One of my projects is to document them all. If it had mountains to the west of it, it would be nirvana.
  10. I love to read. Currently I’m reading Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “The Mists of Avalon”. I thought I had read this in college, but don’t remember it. My girlfriend at the time and I loved fantasy and science fiction. Ursula K. LeGuin, Roger Zelazny, Anne McCaffrey. The best fantasy books of all time are Roger Zelazny’s Amber Chronicles. Read that again on my southwest expedition in 2007.
  11. My wife Karyn and I have been married for 22 years. We met at Ross Roy, an advertising agency where we both worked, in 1984. We’ve owned our house in Rochester Hills almost that long, but I lived in Chicago for five years, while she continued working in Ann Arbor and lived in RH. We commuted back and forth on weekends. It got old.
  12. I’ve owned over 15 Macintosh computers since they came out in 1984. I started using Macs in 1985, as part of a seed program that Apple started to try to get machines into ad agencies. My creative director hated them and said that computers would never amount to much in the creative world. He was wrong about many other things, too.
  13. I own one PC. I’m bi-putal.
  14. We can’t park our cars in the garage anymore. We have a big 2 1/2 car garage, but it’s been turned into a “temporary” wood shop. I built two large pieces for the house: a china cabinet and an oak bookcase, and while we’re renovating, it’s been very useful to have a dedicated space. I build all the rolling stock for art shows here, too. Bins, display stands, etc. Karyn says I’m good with my hands.
  15. I have an active interest in the history and cultures of the Southwest. Much of my work now centers around two themes — water resources and ranching. If you haven’t read it, now is the time to read “Cadillac Desert“. “Beyond the 100th Meridian” by Wallace Stegner is also fascinating and got me started on the subject.
  16. My totem animal is the alligator. 
  17. The first car that I bought was a beat-up old Pontiac, for $200, from my girlfriend’s brother, who we called Peckerhead. Need I say more?
  18. One of my goals is to visit every state in the US. So far I don’t think I’ve even seen half of them.
  19. My favorite place is still the Black Hills. I know the trails and drainage patterns around Harney Peak pretty well, and there are rocks to be climbed. But any place with mountains will do.
  20. I’ve owned a lot of cameras over the years. My first camera was a Brownie Hawkeye, and I’ve used 35mm film, 2 1/4 and Polaroids, but now I’m 100% digital. I did buy a 20mm lens off eBay for an older Minolta X-700, which is a great manual 35mm camera, still available, though discontinued in 1999. 
  21. I climbed Elkhorn Mountain when I was younger, and got lost. I had to use my pants and my belt as a rope to lower myself off the rocks. Lucky for me, I was able to retrieve my pants. HJ, Karyn and I went back a couple of summers ago and climbed the route again. It was way scarier than I remembered it. We used a rope.
  22. I once worked with Sutton Foster, the Broadway star who won a Tony for “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and her brother, Hunter. She was 15, and was the co-star of my short film “Mr. Terbillion’s Ambition”. The film was about a man who wanted to be a walrus. Sutton was, and is, an extremely nice and talented person.
  23. My favorite part of Christmas is wrapping all of the little stocking gifts and then opening them again. My brother and I used to do this two or three times a year — relive Christmas around Easter time.
  24. Pie. Lots of it, and alamode, too. Rhubarb is the best. Or Michigan Four Berry from Achatz Pie Company.
  25. I like to write. English was my best subject in high school. Can you tell?

February 1, 2009

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Addendum to St. Barbara’s Church

Addendum to St. Barbara’s Church

During the course of redesigning the blog and the website, I found an email from Brian Walzel, who visited St. Barbara’s when it was still standing.


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