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?


Think about the box

electrical box artwork in fort collinsI don’t really want you to think about this box. I do want you to think about what it is.

Fort Collins, Colorado is a college town that consistently ranks as one of the USA’s top twenty cities. One of the reasons why it’s such a cool place to live is the city government. They are open to paintings on electrical switch boxes that would otherwise be a boring dull green.

This is a win‐win situation. Artists get more visibility for their work. Everyone enjoys seeing color and creativity in unexpected places.

The application of this for you — what are some ways you can bring creativity to what would otherwise be boring? If you can think of a way, share it as a comment so others can be inspired.


Better than new, sort of

Jeunet vintage bicycleIt was gorgeous. A 1974 Jeunet Franche‐Comte bicycle. There’s something about seeing a perfect vintage object that almost can take my breath away.

I stopped to take a photo. The young owner came up while I was still admiring the art. He said a man printed up replica decals for restoration projects. The details weren’t perfect… It was a fixie instead of a 10‐speed. The rims were of the modern tall style. The brakes were a replica of the German Weinmann brand, instead of the original French Mafacs. The handlebars were flat. But it was beautiful.

Even though newer bikes can run circles around this baby, it has a style that cannot be matched.


p.s. My Gitane is from the same era. I have made too many modifications for it to be close to the showroom‐floor state.


It’s free, in your back yard

masks art exhibit in fort collins colorado

We all enjoy a little change of pace. We enjoy it even more, when we don’t have to pay anything!

If you live in a town with a university, chances are they have art and music departments. If so, there are student music performances and art shows throughout the school year. Most of them are free. Just explore the school’s website, or better yet, spend a little time roaming around campus.

I took these photos of masks at a free exhibit in Fort Collins, Colorado, where my oldest son is attending university.


Bring your phone

manhole coverI took this photo during an evening walk with my iPhone. I used no filters. I did nothing to it in Photoshop.

The weird colors were just part of the manhole cover. I’m not sure who painted the edges green or how rust seeped through the white paint to give a pinkish tinge.

My point is to always bring your camera with you. If you have a smartphone has a decent camera, all the better — you’ll have it with you to get that shot you would otherwise miss.


Up close

Soda can close-upSometimes it’s worth looking closer. I love detail. This photo is a close‐up from a soda can that had been run over a thousand times. Though this can had been destroyed, I kind of see it as a work of art. The pressure this can endured resulted in an almost paper‐thin bit of aluminum. Drivers had no idea they would bring me pleasure just by driving to work. Even the person who threw it out their window ended up bringing me a small bit of joy.

I hope that today brings you joy through what may have been destroyed. There’s an upside to almost everything.


Save the best parts

keys from a powerbookA friend recently gave me an Apple Powerbook to dispose of properly. When it was new in 2001, it was the very finest laptop money could buy. The starting price was $1,999. The case was made of titanium, a costly lightweight metal. (Today Apple uses cheaper aluminum.)

As I was about to take that broken beauty to Best Buy for free recycling, I opened it up one last time and thought of keeping the keys that meant something. I saved out B‐E‐N (one of my two sons’ names) and P‐A‐U‐L. Sadly, I could not keep enough keys to make up my remaining family members’ names.

So before you throw that thing away, what small part can you save that will let you remember its beauty?

Related posts: Not going to buy it and Go digital.


Amazing cameras

The cell phone has replaced the point‐and‐shoot camera.

If you have an older phone, its camera is probably not very good, but if you’ve bought a recent smart phone, you now know how good a cell phone’s camera can be.

I’ve always been a proponent of small digital cameras. (My second, in about 2002, was a tiny Sony that was incredibly simple to use. I still love Sony cameras — my current non‐cell‐phone camera is a Sony.) The easier a camera is to use, the more often you’ll take photos. And if it’s small and light enough, you will carry it in your pocket, thus increasing your chances of not missing a shot.

Software is the biggest reason why smartphone cameras rule photography today. I took the photos below with my iPhone 4S and used the Dynamic Light app to add effects. B is way over the top, but the filters make the picture a lot more interesting. I applied filters with a little more care to create D. You might argue that C (the original) is better, but I like the more dramatic result of D.

And then there is the ability to share your photos. With a regular camera, it takes a lot of work to share a photo with your friends. With a smartphone app, it’s just a few clicks away. Creating art is great, but sharing art is even better.

In‐phone photo apps are extremely easy to use. A professional using Photoshop would spend ten times the effort to gain a similar result. And yes, a “real” camera will give an amateur photographer better results, at least for the original. But again, the hassle of lugging around a huge camera will cause many lost shots — and memories of life events.

Another photo app I enjoy is Camera Awesome, if only because of the fun messages is provides while the image is processing. “Carmelizing kraken tenacles.”

Go forth and have fun with a smart phone, if you are able.

iPhone photos comparison using filters