All Posts Tagged With: "art"

Thankful Thursday: the Legacy of John Gutierrez

photo courtesy Gutierrez family

A man who works with his hands is a laborer.
A man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman.
But a man who works with his hands, his brain, and his heart is an artist.

Last week, Baltimore lost a beloved artist, business colleague, mentor, and friend to many. John was the founder, chief visionary and soul of Gutierrez Studios. I first met John 20 years ago, when he was just starting out, but I got to know him better when I moved my office to the Clipper Mill complex, where his studio is located. John did a lot of the great metalwork and other custom architectural details around Clipper Mill. It was fun just to drop by his studio, see what they were up to, and be treated to one of his famous cups of espresso.

Many who knew him much better than I spoke at the celebration of his too-short life (he died at 45). It was held, fittingly, in the workshop, a 19th-century cathedral of industry, complete with a brightly-painted gantry crane. So many inspiring stories and memories were shared, and I want to capture a few that moved me the most.

John was a generous, loving, outgoing, bigger-than-life man who, better than anyone I know (except my own father), lived by the Toltec Four Agreements. Those are: be impeccable with your word; don’t take anything personally; never make assumptions; and always do your best. I’ve studied, memorized, and recited these daily for many months, but John is the one person I know who so beautifully lived those truths. He effortlessly embodied those Four Agreements, just going through his day, every day.

John always lovingly challenged people to be their best, not at all in a judgmental way. But he had a special vision; he could tell when someone was holding back, being unclear, waffling, or not living up to their potential. He held people in their power, and you could feel that in his presence.

Several of his friends and co-workers quoted their favorite “Guti-isms,” phrases that John always used, and usually with gusto. Spike Gjerde, owner of Woodbery Kitchen, itself a model of sustainability (he started the local food movement here in Baltimore), gave us this phrase. John said to him, “I’m a fabricator. But I’m also a fabric-lover.” That gives just a sense of his wonderful humor, and his tremendous self-knowledge.

Another gem: We’re the best. We’re expensive. But, we’re slow.

John also said, I’ve got the greenest business in the world. Our stuff is so beautiful, no one in their right mind would ever throw it away. And, if they did, someone else would just come and pull it out of the dumpster.

The last person to speak was one of his brothers, Glen. He left us with this lovely thought: There are two ways to shine. You can be light or you can reflect light. John was generous with all of us. He allowed us to reflect his light.

Thankful Thursday: Creative Colleagues

photo by: Doug Retzler

Today, I am feeling very grateful to be blessed with so many inspiring friends and colleagues. Artists have a unique, passionate way of seeing the world around them. They bring us unexpected and surprising creations that help us to wake up to the beauty and wonder that’s all around us. In honor of the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday, this is my valentine to all of you.

My artist friend, Doug Retzler, is a force in the Baltimore arts scene. I always see him at street fairs and events, like the Baltimore Eco-Festival, doing amazing things that delight kids and adults alike. Whether it’s a community-constructed bamboo shelter or an Art Car for the American Visionary Arts Museum, Doug brings delight, vision, and a sense of fun to his work. In a recent email to me, he noted, “Luckily, I never let reality get in my way.”

Chris Armstrong is a client and a great photographer. She recently send me this image. Isn’t it stunning?
photo by: Chris Armstrong

I loved working with Chris and her husband and partner, Jess, because they were so fearless and tireless in their quest to realize their dream. Renovating an old barn into a photography studio is one of the most romantic architectural briefs I can imagine. We used to give out projects like this in architecture school. They walked the talk in all ways possible — from salvaged materials, to solar-heating (and cooling- really!), to working with local Amish craftsmen, their studio truly is of its place. Treat yourself by spending some time with their portfolio. The engaging images of Amish country and of their many animals (including the Alpacas) are my personal favorites.

In the spirit of these artists’ passion and vision, here’s a Valentine’s Day thought for you, from “You(squared)” by Price Pritchett:

“Quantum leaps won’t happen if you’re living life with a lukewarm heart. Passion is a very important part of the process. It fires the soul and fills the spirit. . . .Passion also keeps you going when you’re hit with problems and uncertainty. But passion itself must be fueled, and you feed that flame with visions of a dream that is dramatic. The emotional intensity inside must burn hot enough to protect you against the chilling effects of doubt, uncertainty, criticism, and failure. Only deep desire can generate such heat.”

Here’s to a white-hot Valentine’s Day and to the power of your dreams.

Art for the World’s Sake

3 5 0 S K Y from Daniel Dancer on Vimeo .

Produced this month in the Netherlands, this video beautifully illustrates the pivotal role of artists in global eco-awakening. We’ve posted before about the wonderful organization, . Their worldwide campaign for people to form 350s and photograph them inspired aerial artist Daniel Dancer to produce this very moving, ambitious video. On Dancer’s website is this tagline: "Art Changes People – People Change the World."

In 350’s blog entry , they note, "Daniel just completed his most recent aerial art project with 5,000 school kids in Uden, the Netherlands – the biggest showing we’ve had anywhere in the world for 350.  Inspired by the age-old windmills that have been Holland’s trademark, the students created an artistic masterpiece with their bodies showing both the simplicity and the beauty of clean, renewable energy.  And it is beautiful, because it combines so many things that make the 350 movement – bringing people together, showing direction for a better future, involving future generations of citizens, and, of course, the number 350."

They also quote the artists involved: "From Daniel, ‘Seeing so many children laying down looking up at the sky, being paintdrops, in a style reminiscent of Vincent Van Gogh, who lived not far from here, I am certain that each will remember this project the rest of their lives and am hopeful that they all become activists for a healthy atmosphere.’  And Dorry, the project coordinator – ‘This project combined love for the arts and love for the environment into one big, breathtaking experience!!!’"

We will have more to report about what artists are up to, as they help us all become more aware of environmental challenges and solutions.

GO: Where Change Agents Come for Inspiration

photo by Kristina McDanolds

On New Year’s Day, we received an email from our good friend, Michael Furbish, who owns the Furbish Company , a green builder whose work we have profiled recently . They are clear about their mission on their website: "Furbish Company designs, sells, installs, and maintains plant-based building systems. We view plants as living machines. Set up properly, they enhance building performance while providing aesthetic beauty." In other words, they are change agents.

In our first post for the New Year, I wanted to welcome our new visitors, and remind our regulars about our purpose here. Since Michael says it so well, I’ll just use his words:

"Your site is absolutely wonderful. Every time I visit, it is deeper and richer. My one regret is that I spend too little time enjoying this space. As you articulate so well, appreciating the empty space . In many ways, your site is just that. It is the space that invites thinking about what can be."

I love that – we not only create space to think about what can be, we highlight what is, already. There are so many businesses and organizations that are doing wonderful, thoughtful, meaningful work around here. We intend to continue presenting their great work. We are the go-to resource for change agents to learn about each other and to refuel on inspiration when they are feeling drained by the challenges of being on the cutting edge of change.

We will also post more often about general, universal themes. Julie’s work as a green design and sustainability consultant, as well as her involvement in the community, provides much material. Alyssa will write more about her urban gardening and DIY projects. As an artist, her hands-on creative urges are boundless!

So, sit back and enjoy. Subscribe to our RSS. Tell your friends, especially your change-agent friends. Find us on Facebook , Twitter , Flickr , and Virb .

Wake Up, Freak Out, Get a Grip

Wake Up, Freak Out – then Get a Grip from Leo Murray on Vimeo .

Two friends told me about this last Friday, so I had to check it out. It’s an excellent tour of the "tipping point" effects of climate destabilization — something even the IPCC predictions don’t account for. Leo Murray’s animation and narration makes the very complex science of climate feedback easy to understand and visualize in stark terms. While it does give a glimpse into probable scenarios of species extinction, climate refugees, and other human misery, Murray also tells us it’s not inevitable. This is not the time to panic, he says — this is the time to ACT!

On a related note, David Orr came to Baltimore on October 1 to give a talk about climate change policy. He and a group of experts have been briefing the two presidential campaigns as part of the Presidential Climate Action Project . On their website, you can view and download policy papers on what the next Transition Team has to do in order to hit the ground running in the first 100 days in office. Look through their "Climate Action Briefs" on topics such as the role of small business in addressing climate change, national security in a changing environment, the moral case for energy efficiency, and the great potentials of a new "green" economy.

While it’s very good news that the best minds in the U.S. are coming together on this, Leo Murray’s video is a timely reminder that we have spent the last 20 years waiting for government and industry to fix this problem. The message is loud and clear: it is up to US to act, and we must act NOW.

Presto Bingo

courtesy of: Presto Bingo / arr. by: gordon

Presto Bingo , the children’s art division of Spur Design, creates and sells original prints of creative artwork that communicate messages of all kinds. Geared toward babies and big kids alike, they provide what they call "modern art for modern kids." Their current line features a wide assortment of animal, alien, and robot-themed prints.

Art on Purpose

arranged by: Gordon

Viewing artists’ expressions and community interests as equally important, Art on Purpose seeks to present the two collaboratively in a professional manner. They provide workshops, exhibitions, and programs that deal with issues on education, social justice, and community service, among others. They help the concerns of groups and individuals be heard and understood through a high level of artistic presentation. Their website features current projects, workshops, consulting opportunities, upcoming events, and a gallery of selected work.