Love to Touhy

Love to Touhy

In my early childhood I spent quite a bit of time in the small Nebraska town of Touhy. My grandmother owned the tavern, the sole business in the tiny town of, at that time, 21 people. I recently made a trip there with my mom and husband…most likely my last visit. Almost all of the people my mom and I knew there are gone. It’s hard to see so many changes, but it’s good to see new life there.

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Thanks to my husband, Derek, for this photo of my mom and I in front of the tavern my grandmother once owned. The sign and siding is different, but the name has stayed the same.

After my grandmother passed away, my mom ran the tavern until it could be sold. I stayed much of the time with her there, spending my days playing with My Little Ponies at one of the tables, conning the regulars for quarters to play in the juke box (usually the Happy Birthday song, much to their horror), and learning to play pool while standing on a chair since I was too short to reach.

The kids living there were so welcoming and had me over to their houses a lot, making me feel at home. I’m sad I lost touch with them over the years. I wonder what they’re up to now.

touhyA relic of a business that was in its heyday during my time there. The Rezac family was very kind to my little five-year-old self.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This is the one-room schoolhouse I attended. I have such fond memories of it and really value the education provided there. Today it sits empty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The town’s church can be seen on the left, the cemetery on the right. The rolling hills are quite breathtaking. As a child, I took them for granted.

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A Catholic church sits on one end of the town with the cemetery a ways behind it. An almost life-sized angel greets you inside the opening of the church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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While many things have aged over the years, the church has been maintained impeccably and is exactly as ornate and beautiful as I remembered. It is obviously much-loved.

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The inside of the confessional was very plain; in stark contrast with the rest of the church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My grandmother was so liked in the town that the Catholic Church allowed her funeral there, despite not being a member. She is buried in the cemetery on the hill, along with most of the tavern regulars I knew there. Only a few are left from that era. My uncle recently told me she loved the rolling hills there. Now she has one of the best views.

Sometimes, do it for free.

Sometimes, do it for free.

I like to read a lot of articles, blog posts, and the like online to keep current on design. I’ve read over and over to never do design for free. Don’t give design away for free because then people will expect it. Granted, that’s true, and I’ve run into that on more than one occasion.

However, there are times where giving design away for free is super fulfilling, giving back, and just a nice thing to do. Giving back is just good karma. I don’t care if you believe in karma or not. It’s pure and simple: you get what you give.

I was recently asked to create a logo for a benefit for a friend of mine. She’s been a long-time sufferer of lyme disease and has only just recently been diagnosed. Her medical bills have been atrocious and not covered by insurance. Here’s her story.

LoriLogoThe requirements of the logo were that it be a round seal, be lime green, and include some sort of plant imagery. From those parameters it instantly popped into my head, so it went together pretty quickly. Lori and Brianne (the awesome chick putting on the event—also one of my high school buddies) loved it right away with no corrections. Brianne wanted me to send an invoice, but I just couldn’t do it.

Even if I had no prior history with the ladies involved, when working with an independent event trying to raise money for something like this, it just feels like bad form. I wanted to do right by them (and me) and not charge for the work I did. I’m sure some people would say, “IDIOT! Take the money and run!,” but I just don’t have that in me. Granted, that could be why I’m not pursuing much freelance these days (I’ll write about that soon), but the decision just felt right to me.

LoriShirtPrinted

This past Saturday was the big event, and it was great to get to see Lori and Brianne in person again. There was a huge turnout. They did so much work and it showed. I haven’t heard any dollar totals yet, but I’ve got my fingers crossed they made their goal and then some.

I was awash in a sea of people wearing the shirts they printed using my logo. It was overwhelming. In addition to thanks from the ladies, random people came up to me, thanking for the work done. I’ve never experienced anything remotely like that. Such amazing people in that room…all with such powerful love for Lori. I was so glad to have been there.

And now back to my original message: Sometimes, do it for free. All the hugs, thank you’s, and stories I heard about how much it meant to them meant so much more than any invoice. I know it won’t pay the bills, but take one for the team and help out a fellow human being now and then. It’ll make them (and yes, you) feel good.

Celeste & Jesse Forever?

Celeste & Jesse Forever?

First off, I’ll be blunt. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this movie. I don’t tend to like things that force me feel the feels and get all emotional about the characters and plot. Ugh. I just don’t need it. However, Celeste & Jesse Forever, co-written by Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation) and Will McCormack (In Plain Sight) and directed by Lee Toland Krieger (The Vicious Kind), was skillfully written and directed, so I’ll forgive it.

The story follows two best friends, Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg), who have been married, are currently separated (but not emotionally) and going through a divorce. They’ve been through so much together and have so many inside jokes that it really seems at first that they’re still together. Jesse makes one more attempt at reconciliation, which fails due to Celeste’s cavalier attitude that he will always be there. He finally makes the decision to move on.

I’ve always enjoyed Jones in her performances on Parks and Recreation and The Office, and figured she had a bit more depth than she was really able to portray on either program, but the real standout was Samberg. I was stunned by his performance. He’s usually in so many goofy roles that I really couldn’t see him in a character like this. It was beautifully acted, and I largely underestimated him. I hope he takes on more roles in the future that force him to stretch more like this one.

Another bright spot was Elijiah Wood as Celeste’s friend/business partner, Scott. His part seemed to be a commentary on the role of the stereotype of the “sassy gay best friend” in romantic comedies. I liked that Wood’s portrayal of Scott (and Jones’ and McCormack’s writing of Scott) were much more realistic. Scott was her good friend who just happened to be gay. It wasn’t really a huge part of his character until he’d have an awkward line here and there where he’d try to be the “sassy gay best friend,” and Celeste would make fun of him for not being true to his character.

For all the reasons I loved this movie (see above), please see it. It’s beautifully written, acted and directed. Subtle in all the right places, and gut-wrenchingly emotional in all the others. This film is an anti-romantic comedy, which automatically gets a thumbs up.

However, I don’t know that I can watch this one again. It was much too relatable. I think it’s due to the age of the characters, their stages in life, etc. Breakups are a terrible part of life, whether it be of a romantic relationship or even a close friendship. It doesn’t matter. They both sting, and we’ve all been through them, making this movie hard to watch at times.

So to recap: you’ll laugh, you’ll cry. Watch it. It will make you stronger. And who doesn’t want to be stronger?

Rated R for language, sexual content and drug use


Originally published on The Trailer Home Podcast.

Distractions

Distractions

It’s been a busy couple of days. Yesterday I finalized a new version of my résumé and cover letter, and today I’m getting things ready for an updated print portfolio. While going through some old files, I found some images from the last art show I did in Mason City. Derek and I participated in an art crawl and did a two-person show at Kush, an awesome salon and spa. We mostly displayed photography, but here are three new pieces I created for the event. The series was called Distractions and represented how life distracts people while on the job…and in some instances, while working on very important tasks.

Distractions | Beakers

Distractions | Beakers

 

Distractions | Board

Distractions | Board

 

Distractions | Bomb

Distractions | Bomb

Nearby Inspiration: Pappajohn Sculpture Park

Nearby Inspiration: Pappajohn Sculpture Park

Living in Downtown Des Moines, I’m lucky at the great amounts of inspiration around me, all within walking distance. In the first part in this series, I’d like to highlight the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park, which is located in the Western Gateway area of Downtown.

According to the visitor guide (available on stands at either end of the park), “The 4.4 acre park, located within a major crossroads of the urban grid, creates a pedestrian friendly entranceway to downtown Des Moines. This accessible setting, coupled with the skilled landscape design and caliber of the art, makes it unlike any other sculpture park in the United States.” In my opinion, it truly is something that needs to be experienced in person. Here are a few of my favorites in the collection.

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Louise Bourgeois
(American, born France, 1911–2010)
Spider, 1997
Bronze
90x88x86 inches

“With Spider, viewers are confronted by an oversize version of a creature most would view with terror at its normal, tiny size.”

I find myself drawn to the pieces that are either stark black or white, and Spider fits this mental mold. It has a little bit of a dark, creepy feeling to it, and I love it for that. It seems so delicate, like it could blow over in a strong breeze, but there is strength in those thin, awkwardly-posed legs.

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Barry Flanagan
(British, 1941–2009)
Thinker on a Rock, 1997
Bronze
156x103x79 inches

“Barry Flanagan is best known for his dynamic, often monumental, bronze hares performing all variety of human feats from thinking to playing music to using technology.”

Of course I’m going to love the one with a rabbit on it. That’s kind of obvious. He reminds me a little of the rabbit from Donnie Darko. Again, there’s a darkness to this guy, just like Spider, which is why they work so well next to each other.

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Gary Hume
(British, born 1962)
Back of a Snowman (White), 2002
Back of a Snowman (Black), 2002
Enamel on bronze
120x88x88 inches

“Gary Hume’s art is distinguished by bright, expressive colors, luscious surfaces, and simplified forms.”

I always refer to these as the salt and pepper shakers. I really like how simplistic the forms are and the stark contrast between the black and white. Is this a play on good and evil?

Yoshitomo NaraSculpturePark4
(Japanese, born 1959)
White Ghost, 2010
Painted stainless steel and fiberglass
144x102x96 inches

“Influenced by both Japanese anime and manga and Western animation and comics, Nara’s art seems to portray a playful world of vulnerable cartoon characters.”

This is my favorite of all the pieces. She doesn’t have eyes, but I feel like she’s staring at me and I can’t look away. I’m not sure what it is, but something about her speaks to me. I’d love to see more of his work.

SculpturePark5Jaume Plensa
(Spanish, born 1955)
Nomade, 2007
Painted stainless steel
324x204x216 inches

“Jaume Plensa uses letters as the basic components of much of his art, which explores communication issues whether between individuals or cultures.”

The typography nerd in me is in love with this one. I don’t even care that it’s been over-photographed and has become a bit of a Des Moines cliché. I still think it’s lovely, one heck of a fantastic landmark, and the way it has been presented with the large grassy hill behind it makes the white letters stand out so beautifully.

The sculpture park is open from sunrise to midnight daily and is definitely worth a visit.

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