Support your local artist

drawing of hipster balloon man

This great drawing was on the wall of an indie coffee house in San Antonio, Texas. (For those of you down in that neck of the woods, it was Local Coffee.)

I could have served you up a photo of the balloon man — but that wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting. (Photos can be fascinating — I’m not knocking photography!)

Sadly, I didn’t get the name of the artist. None of the artwork on that bulletin board was for sale (and the drawings were fairly small).

You can get art for your walls for way less money than you think. Here are some ideas for creatively obtaining real art to add more life to your living space:

  1. Visit your local high school. There’s bound to be artwork in the display cases and on the walls. If you like the work of a particular artist, ask the art teacher if you can commission a special piece of art by that young artist.
  2. Tour your town’s arts district. If your city is too small to have any galleries, be prepared the next time you visit the big city. Do research to find the area with the highest concentration of galleries.
  3. Avoid expensive big name artist galleries in posh touristy towns. (Yes, Aspen, I’m thinking of you.) Large metropolitan areas often have an arts district where you can visit a wide array of galleries.
  4. Find out when and where community artists have their annual or semi-annual shows.
  5. Make friends with an artist. They may sell you some of their “out-takes” art for less than their top-shelf works.
  6. If you know someone with latent artistic skill, encourage them to get back into their craft — and share some with you!

Go forth and get good art.


Take time to visit a museum

spider-like antique chair

This amazing spider-like chair currently appears in the Denver Art Museum. It totally reminded me of a Tim Burton movie.

Even if you live in a very small town, at least in Europe, North America and parts of Asia, there might be a museum you don’t even know about. Do a little research to see if there is one down that other street.

I guarantee you’ll learn something new if you spend at least an hour and read some of the exhibit plaques.



Great app — Prisma

This little app has given me more fun than the last three photo apps combined — Prisma.

Here’s the original photo:

Jay, pre-Prisma app

And here are some of the results (tap the right side of the image to get to the next one):

So if I convinced you to try this app, here’s where you can find it: Prisma. Currently, it’s just available for the iPhone, but if you have an Android, you can sign up to get news about the beta version.

Special thanks to my son Jay, the model.


But is it good?

weird signage for littleton village, coloradoArt is very subjective. One person’s favorite is another’s hated reject.

But when art meets commerce — what used to be called, “commercial art,” there is another standard. It must communicate.

The artists behind the signage of the new Littleton Village, a residential and commercial development near my home, crossed the edge a little too far:

1. At each edge of the main corner’s signage area, there are two obelisks that look like something from a science fiction movie.

2. During the day, shadows hinder readability of the development’s name.

signage for littleton village, colorado

3. What’s with those white vertical stripes? Before the development name went up, I thought they were giant adhesive strips to adhere the development’s name. No. They are not lighted, either. And then there are a bunch of holes that look like ventilation for an underground chamber.



Really shiny

shiny things at michaelsI am embarrassed at my comments about the chain of stores called Michael’s that I made to Heather just after we got married. I said something about how it was for ladies who were bored and had crafty tendencies — but I probably used more negative and judgmental words.

We went there recently and I just loved the shiny aisle. (Don’t worry — just seeing it for a few seconds and then three minutes later insisting that my daughter Rachel* see it was enough for me.) But how awesome that such a shiny aisle could exist in any store.

* (Shown.)


Creativity has its price

creative-bootsI saw these boots in a shop window in Santa Fe, New Mexico. They were not, shall we say, my style. But they sparked an idea.

It would be fun to get some old cowboy boots from the Goodwill for next-to-nothing and paint them with an interesting design, to create some display-able artwork.

I have a bunch of interesting (to me) items displayed in my office. I would enjoy doing this boot project, at some point, to add to my office collection of fun stuff.

The price is simply time — and energy. At the moment, time is in short supply.


Creativity vs. Practicality

cabin-camperFort Collins is full of creative people. I’d bet that your town is too.

My son Jay took this photo on one of the residential side streets of Fort Collins. I’m guessing that the owner of this Toyota uses his (or her) cabin-camper as daily transportation. Obviously, it’s not as practical as a boring sedan for daily use. But it has a huge amount of character. The artist who made this dwelling/vehicle chose to favor creativity instead of practicality.

That’s what art is all about. The beautiful painting that graces your wall is not practical. But it is, in a way — beauty feeds the soul. A healthy soul makes for a better functioning life. And that’s practical.


It takes a special person

spiky shoesHow fun that there are completely impractical shoes! My wife would not wear them. I might buy them for her, if she would.

It’s just great that things like this exist.

(I took the photo in Los Angeles. Denver is home to fewer such stores.)


The Death Star

The Greenwood Village Death StarEvery day I pass the Death Star. At least that’s what I call it. It’s an outdoor sculpture along one of the office-lined roads of Greenwood Village — part of The Tech Center, a section of suburban Denver with a ton of corporate offices. Specifically, it is in front of an expensive private fitness center.

There is no prominent plaque describing the sculpture or naming the artist. So I am sticking with, “The Death Star.”

Public art is one of those things that often defies logic. In this instance, I’m not sure how a large disc that is disintegrating — or partially destroyed — relates to corporate office parks. But apparently a decision-making committee did.


Matatu names

names of matatus in KenyaMatatus are the minivans that transport people all over Kenya (and Tanzania). They have some very creative artwork — and names! The first time we lived in Kenya was from 1991–1994. I kept track of some of the names in a little notebook, which you can see in the photo. (Double-click the photo to see a larger version of the notebook pages.) There are some great ones, such as: Beauty Options, Bush Poucher, Texas City, and Bison Jnr.

The artwork on the sides of matatus is uniquely African — and often very creative. (Do a Google image search for “matatu art.”) Matatu owners invest in creative artwork to give a competitive advantage. Wouldn’t you rather go in a cool matatu than in one with no artwork?