Saturday, May 5, 2018

Happy Mother's Day

Mom I miss you, That’s for sure.
I wish you could see what I see, so sweet and so pure.
And maybe you do - It’s just so profound.
Mothers make the world go round.

My wife talks to her mom every single day.
It’s the little things, I always say.
Standing through thick and thin, the mother of our two;
For richer, for poorer, we smile, we do.

She's mom to a girl and a boy...
They bring us so much happiness and joy.
Astounding as it is, our baby girl is a mom now;
She knows exactly what to do, and how.

And he married a girl, a beautiful bride for our son.
As a mom, she is nearly a perfect one.
Incidental as I am.
I am a very happy man.

Mother and Child by Pablo Picasso, 1921
Art Institute of Chicago

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Fantastic Wedding Memory

Karen Raidy is poised on the terrace of an historic venue adjacent to Washington University with brush in hand. She has carved a niche for herself as a portrait artist who captures moments. The work in progress is shaping up as a fantastic image that surely the couple will cherish. Norma and Carlos celebrate their wedding dinner on April 21, 2018 while the artist ponders the poetic license of a composition that will most certainly be a treasure.

Visit her website to learn more at  

UMSL PANEL – The Future of Marketing 2018

Marketing Club president Amber Daniels did an artful job, as moderator, including each of the eight panelists: Alison Boland (Purina), Elizbeth Ledbetter (Creative Group), Angela Marino (United Way), Nick Sylvia (Anheuser Busch), Sarah Dalton (Nolan Investment), Steve Bauer (Fleishman-Hillard), Travis Estes (Saint Louis Symphony) and Wes Morgan (Morgan Studio/East).

Questions included probes of: a good academic breakdown of traditional vs digital content; learning digital/social media skills; staying current; mobile and the next disruptor; breaking down silos between creative, PR, customer relations, development, etc; marketing as service;       leveraging influencers; and how brands earn trust. The panel is rich in diverse backgrounds/experience. They came prepared to share insights and have been well briefed by UMSL organizers from the marketing club.

The Summit Lounge in the J.C. Penney conference center was converted into a lively venue with about 100 people in the room on a Wednesday afternoon from 5:00 to 7:00 pm. (April 17, 2018). A streaming of the panel is posted for students and others to view and review. This event is part of what Professor Perry Drake defines as a mission in the College of Business to help students build personal brands, shape careers, futures, and provide access through networking opportunities, with speakers and companies.  

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Farid Rasulov at Laumeier

Coffee, Conversation, 1001 Skewers and Bird #1

Azerbaijani artist Farid Rasulov and Curator Dana Turkovic sat comfortably at one end of the Aronson Fine Arts Center to discuss Farid’s 1,001 Skewers (in the gallery space) and the artist’s Bird #1 abstract installation (outdoors in the Northern Grove) at Laumeier Sculpture Park. Dana has an easy interview style that allows the artist many opportunities to embellish his motivation for creating the composition of 1,001 skewers. Farid draws attention to 75 skewers arranged on one wall and the invitation to add a sort of social media conversation. He notes another wall and a gallery space installation that is reminiscent of a DNA strain. He has taken advantage of the height of the wall to the west to create a tree composed entirely of skewers. The remaining wall, as one guest suggests, may have a calculated mathematical significance.
Farid is soft spoken and not at all boastful or arrogant in spite of a long list of artistic accomplishments. He represented Azerbaijan at the 53rd Venice Biennale. His work includes large scale paintings, installations, 3D graphics, animation and sculpture. Dana invited the artist to comment on his training in medicine. His response in a measured tone is a statement that an artist does not need to go to school to learn art. He adds, matter of factly, that an artist can learn a great deal from the study of medicine as he has. (This notion gets a polite laugh from patrons seated in the gallery.) A local artist employed by Kiku Obata & Company Design Consultancy defends the formal artist training. (This is a comment from an man originally from Baku, Azerbaijan himself).

Farid’s Bird #1 sculpture was inspired by a graphic representation of an abstract and angular bird design he wondered about in a carpet from his native country perhaps while working in Baku. Now he is part of this exhibition and the outdoor installation in Saint Louis which is the continuation of an exploration series of works from emerging national economies around the globe. 

Azerbaijan, the nation and former Soviet republic, is bounded by the Caspian Sea and Caucasus Mountains, which span Asia and Europe. Its capital, Baku, is famed for its medieval walled Inner City. Within the Inner City lies the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, a royal retreat dating to the 15th century, and the centuries-old stone Maiden Tower, which dominates the city skyline.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Morgan Visits Macondo

Macondo is a fictional town described in the Gabriel García Márquez novelOne Hundred Years of Solitude. It is the home town of the Buendía family. I finally made some time to read this book (with the help of 14 hours of discs from Blackstone Audio borrowed from my local library). Here’s a sampling from midway through the story of seven generations of a family spanning one hundred years.  

It was as if God had decided to put to the test every capacity for surprise and was keeping the inhabitants of Macondo in a permanent alternation between excitement and disappointment, doubt and revelation, to such an extreme that no one knew for certain where the limits of reality lay. It was an intricate stew of truths and mirages that convulsed the ghost of José Arcadio Buendía under the chestnut tree with impatience and made him wander all through the house even in broad daylight. Ever since the railroad had been officially inaugurated and had begun to arrive with regularity on Wednesdays at eleven o’clock and the primitive wooden station with a desk, a telephone, and a ticket window had been built, on the streets of Macondo men and women were seen who had adopted everyday and normal customs and manners but who really looked like people out of a circus. In a town that had chafed under the tricks of the gypsies there was no future for those ambulatory acrobats of commerce who with equal effrontery offered a whistling kettle and a daily regime that would assure the salvation of the soul on the seventh day; but from those who let themselves be convinced out of fatigue and the ones who were always unwary, they reaped stupendous benefits.

Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014) grew up listening to family tales, eventually becoming a journalist. His fiction work introduced readers to magical realism, which combines more conventional storytelling with vivid fantasy. His novels Cien años de soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude) and El amor en los tiempos del cólera (Love in the Time of Cholera) have drawn worldwide audiences, and he won a Nobel Prize in 1982. 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

My Black History Month 2018

Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 nearly fifty years ago. The site of that tragic event at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, is now, the location of the National Civil Rights Museum. We took a road trip from Saint Louis to Memphis that allowed us to spend a good part of Saturday afternoon over President’s Day weekend perusing that remarkable place.

The Saint Louis Art Museum marked Black History Month with a variety of programming, including two film screenings The Black Power Mixtape, 1967-1975 on Saturday, February 24th and “I Am Not Your Negro” on Sunday, February 25th. The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 looks at the people, society, culture, and style that fueled an era of convulsive change with contemporary audio interviews from leading African American artists, activists, musicians and scholars. Utilizing an innovative format that riffs on the popular 1970s mixtape format, the film is a cinematic and musical journey into the black communities of America. I Am Not Your Negro envisions the book James Baldwin never finished, a radical narration about race in America, using the writer’s original words, as read by actor Samuel L. Jackson. Alongside a flood of rich archival material, the film draws upon Baldwin’s notes on the lives and assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. to explore and bring a fresh perspective to the racial narrative in America.

Meanwhile, the Missouri History Museum’s exhibition #1 in Civil Rights: The African American Freedom Struggle in St. Louis examines the local civil rights movement and the city’s leading role in advancing the cause of racial justice from ground-level activism to groundbreaking supreme court rulings.

This year, perhaps my sensibility has been heightened with Special School District’s engagement with the Cambio Group. SSD is demonstrating this year an effort, among other things, to improve cultural competence. I am a white man in America and cannot help but feel reflective when history, notably the events of the last fifty years, marks the struggle.  

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Toulouse-Lautrec - Graphic Designer

Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) was an aristocrat, dwarf, and party animal who invented a cocktail called the Earthquake (half absinthe, half cognac). He is the artist who designed the Moulin Rouge posters as well as paintings and drawings that capture highs and lows of urban life in nineteenth century Paris (in Belle Epoque). I especially admire Toulouse-Lautrec because he elevated advertising to the status of a fine art. In fact, Jane Avril, one of his closest friends and one of Montmartre's most beloved cabaret dancers, wrote: "It is more than certain that I owe him the fame that I enjoyed dating from his first poster of me." At a time when the only acceptable designation for persons with disabilities was freak, Toulouse-Lautrec used his unique appearance to his advantage. It allowed him to disappear into a crowd or corners of a room, seeing others without being seen. His remarkable observations of society almost certainly stem from his status as an outsider.

Toulouse-Lautrec was born into an aristocratic family in the South of France and raised in an atmosphere of privilege. By age 8, it was clear that he suffered from a congenital illness that weakened his bones. After two serious riding accidents his legs stopped growing. At his full height, Toulouse-Lautrec was 5 feet tall, with the upper body of a man and the legs of a child. He walked with a cane and in considerable pain for the rest of his life but was highly productive artist. Sadly he passed way too young at the age of 36. (On September 9, 1901 he died from complications due to alcoholism and syphilis).