Leise Dich Abrahamsen

04/30/13

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I have become recently captivated by the work of Leise Dich Abrahamsen, who I discovered last September when I was visiting Stilleben, the most perfect shop in all of Copenhagen. Abrahamsen is a Danish artist who also appears to have a shop in Copenhagen (which I appear to have missed on my trip! Note to self: must go back!).

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On her blog fraleise, she posts nearly everyday images of her work, her life, her inspirations and her travels about. About the blog, written in English, she says it “is about everything in life that amazes, excites and inspires me. welcome inside.” It is, indeed, a feast for the eyes.

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{All images courtesy Leise Dich Abrahamsen}

Happy, happy Tuesday.

CATEGORIES: Inspiration
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Chicago :: Flashback 2006

04/26/13

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{A photo I took at an El stop on my trip in 2006}

I leave this morning for Chicago. I’m speaking at Moxie, a conference for creative professionals that happens tomorrow. I started thinking a lot in the last few days about the last time I visited Chicago. That was in 2006, and I went to compete in the Gay Games. The Gay Games (formerly known as the “Gay Olympics”) is a sporting and cultural event that happens every four years (just like the Olympics). In the early 1980s, gay and lesbian athletes were a hidden and marginalized community (inside an even larger hidden and marginalized population of people). That began to change when the Games were founded in 1982. Now the Gay Games is one of the largest sporting events in the world! In 2006 the Games were held in Chicago, and I was lucky enough to go and compete in swimming. I had been swimming competatively almost my whole life, minus college. I am a strong swimmer for sure, but not college athletics strong. That kind of dedication was not something I could fathom as an 18 year old.

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{Standing in the registration hall for the Gay Games VII}

I came back to swimming when I was 27 years old. I joined a Masters team in San Francisco that is mostly gay, but open to all swimmers. The event in Chicago was my probably my 30th masters competition, but my second Gay Games — I’d also competed in the Games in 1998 in Amsterdam. The 2006 swimming events were held at the University of Chicago Aquatics Center, and every day my teammates and I caught a bus from the The Magnificent Mile get to the pool. The University’s aquatics center is vast and beautiful. I was also a team coach, so I went nearly every day to the pool whether I was competing or not. I happen to love being around swimming pools; the smell of chlorinated water makes me giddy.

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On the eve of the start of the Games, there was an enormous opening ceremonies celebration at Wrigley Field. As my teammates and I walked toward the stadium, along with thousands of athletes from all over the world, there were anti-gay protesters all around us. It was the first time in my life I’d ever encountered anything like this in person.

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{My teammate Dave standing next to the protesters so I could snap a photograph}

Of course, we all laughed (probably out of nervousness) and tried to make light of it. The weirdness of it all was eclipsed by the enthusiasm of the crowd as we entered the stadium. Thousands of people came to watch the opening ceremonies and cheer on the athletes. I still get chills just thinking about it, even this many years later.

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Over the next several days, I competed in seven swimming events, both individual and relays. Freestyle was my stroke — I swam everything from the 50 meters to the 1500, and most things in between. That week, I won six gold medals and one silver medal in my age group. It was, needless to say, one of the most exciting weeks of my life. My team did really well overall at the Games too, and we were all pretty excited.

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All of this happened seven years ago, and my life was so different then. I was still working a full time job. I hadn’t yet adopted Wilfredo or met Clay. My art career had barely started. Swimming, next to my career in education, was the most significant part of my life. The following year, I left my team and gave up swimming competitively when I decided to dedicate more of my time and energy toward my artwork. I was also burned out after 11 years of practicing several times a week with my team, coaching and traveling to compete. I still swim several times a week now, but not on a team and far less seriously. Looking back at these photographs makes me remember what an amazing and huge part of my life competitive swimming was: how much I loved my teammates (many of whom are still good friends today) and what a rich experience it was to be part of a swim team founded by & for gay and lesbian athletes.

When I look back at stuff like this, I realize I never could have imagined that my life would have changed in the ways that it has, for better or for worse (I was actually pretty happy back then; my life was just different). It makes me realize that while we can influence a great deal of our future by our choices and intentions, so much of it is just chance. Who knows where we will all be in another seven years.

Have a great weekend, friends.

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My Nordic Adventure: Journal Entries, Part One

04/25/13

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{Journal Entries from Day 12 of my adventure in Scandinavia}

When I was traveling in Scandinavia last year, I kept a travel journal for the entire adventure. Every evening after a long day of exploring, I took my thoughts, my water color paints, my pens and any ephemera I’d collected and document my day. I used one of these gorgeous Large Moleskine Watercolor Books to record everything. I have never been an art journal keeper, except when I travel. The joy I experience when I keep a journal like this makes me wonder why I don’t engage in this kind of activity in my regular life. While traveling, I find it really grounding to re-assemble my day (and all of the visual inspiration I found) in pictures and a few words.

As part of My Nordic Adventure series, I’ll share with you some of the pages from that journal. First up: two different days from my time in Copenhagen. The entry above was from Day 12 and the entry below was from Day 13 of my trip. Copenhagen is a really colorful, lively city and I cannot wait to go back and visit there again.

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{From Day 13 of my Adventure}

Happy Thursday.

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Jon Rendell 25′ Radius

04/24/13

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{Day 5: a wheel of brie}

You all know I love a good 365 day personal challenge and that I particularly love challenges that have interesting constraints. Photographer Jon Rendell began a project on January 1 of this year in which he photographs something every day within the constraints of the 25′ radius of his apartment. It is simply called 25′ Radius. Further constraining Jon are the fact that he shoots only in black and white and uses only natural light. Jon is interested in pushing himself “to find inspiration in unexplored compositions and natural light.” Each day Jon posts one photograph taken that day on his blog.

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{Day  108: a dead daffodil}

Jon happens to be a friend of mine. We met back in 1999 where we worked together at the same non-profit organization for the next 8 years. Jon has always been exceptionally creative —  the kind of person who sees beauty or complexity in things that the average person would not.

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{Day 95: Jon’s legs against the shadow of the his balcony}

Jon’s passion for photography has been lifelong. In the mid 60s Jon’s father gave him the family Box Brownie (Kodak). He was 8. In the 70s, 80s and 90s he progressed through a series of 35mm film cameras along with the associated traditional darkroom techniques. The year we met in 1999 he got his first digital camera. Since then I’ve watched his passion and skill flourish. Jon also has a great sense of humor.  I love this project Jon did a few years back called On the Level in which he photographed San Francisco homes built on steep hills, and then adjusted them in Photoshop so that they appear as though they are tilted.

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{Day 72: “guacamole”}

I am always anxious to see what Jon posts each day as part of his project. What will he find that he has not shot before? What new angle will he take? Will it be literal or abstract? Will he see a new quality of light as the seasons change?

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{Day 54: wet chair on the balcony}

Jon reminds us through this project  that if we look at the same thing for long enough and with an open enough mind, we can actually see one thousand other things — that even seemingly inanimate objects change and fade over time, sit in light differently, shine differently on different days. In some ways, Jon’s project is an exercise in contemplation.

You can visit Jon’s project here, and view his website portfolio here.  Follow him on Facebook daily updates.

Happy Wednesday!

CATEGORIES: Inspiration
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My Wallpaper in Gorgeous Spaces

04/23/13

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{The kitchen of Daniel Kanter of Manhattan Nest}

You may recall that last fall wallpaper company Hygge and West launched my new line of wallpaper. It includes the Triangle pattern (above), Ferns and Bohemian. Designing wallpaper might be one of the most exciting jobs I’ve ever had. Just last week Hygge and West launched removable wallpaper tiles, which are easy to remove without leaving any residue – ideal for temporary installations. They are also perfect for renters and high traffic areas and projects that would be difficult with traditional wallpaper. Daniel of Manhattan Nest, who rents an apartment in New York, recently used the yellow and black Triangle tiles to wallpaper his kitchen, and wrote about the experience here on his blog, including “in process” photos!

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{More from Daniel’s kitchen on Manhattan Nest}

The removable tiles come in the black and yellow pattern, grey and pink, and black and white. Thank you Daniel!! It looks amazing.

In other news, Makeshift Society, my favorite co-working space in San Francisco, used rolls of my charcoal and gold Triangle pattern on one of their walls (pictured below). I can’t wait to head over there and take a look at it in person!

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{photo by via Hygge and West}

If you love either the removable tiles OR the rolls of my wallpaper, you can purchase all of it here. Rumor has it Daniel is hosting a giveaway for the removable tiles on his blog very soon! Not sure about color or scale? Ask Hygge and West to send you samples (just use the drop down menu).

Have a great Tuesday, friends.

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