The Last Gasp of Winter

March in Maryland is a funny month - neither winter, nor spring. It's not uncommon to experience four  seasons In one week. 

Stark. Beautiful. Chilly. 

Stark. Beautiful. Chilly. 

I wasn't thrilled to wake up to snow, but the morning walk to school was absolutely beautiful.

I'm ready for new colors and the visual pop of spring. But I'm really glad for this final walk in winter. The subtleties of the neutral tones, and the quiet snow on branches. The architectural elegance of the woods was breathtaking.


It's the perfect curtain call. Goodbye winter! The applause is well deserved.   

Welcome to Sparks & Muses! A joint exploration of everyday creativity

Sometimes inspiration comes from the oddest places, straight out of left field when you weren’t even playing baseball in the first place. The seed of an idea or the wisp of an image comes to mind in the shower or on a commute, takes hold and won’t go away. I tend to fixate on the wisp, follow a creative trail of thoughts and extrapolations, and then get mired in the Pit of Perfectionism. That’s where I think it to death. At some point the idea flies away in the midst of life, job and family busy-ness.

 But this idea – Sparks & Muses – has taken hold and grown. And we're pretty excited about it.

Here’s the story:

 A couple of years ago, Dan and I moved back to Maryland after nearly two decades living in other places. In 1996, I bought a one-way ticket to San Francisco and didn’t think I’d ever move back east. Dan had spent 10 years in Rochester, NY before moving out to Oakland to join me. We moved “home” to Maryland in 2013 to be near family – aging parents, siblings, cousins, roots – and found that relocation is not necessarily a straightforward process once you’re an “adult”. Our social and professional networks are in the Bay Area, and switching coasts brought up a host of internal questions about who we are and what we really want to do with our lives. (We haven’t figured that out yet. Stay tuned. Should be a fun ride.)

The idea for Sparks & Muses came to us this past fall when Artomatic 2016 came to New Carrollton, Maryland, the city I happen to work for. Artomatic is an unjuried pop-up community arts festival that takes over giant vacant office buildings and builds community through art and performances. This year’s event showed the work of 1,000+ visual and performing artists for free over a six-week period. It’s the first event of its kind to come to the area, and event organizers expected tens of thousands of visitors over the six-week run. My job was to connect this very cool event to the city through promotions and marketing, and to get New Carrollton on people’s radars. I had about a month’s notice and a budget of about$0 to make it happen. It was fun, fast paced and a little stressful at times. 

Artomatic 2016 and the vacant office building that was given artistic life from October 30 to December 12. Free Art to Build Community! What's not to love? More, please!

Artomatic 2016 and the vacant office building that was given artistic life from October 30 to December 12. Free Art to Build Community! What's not to love? More, please!

After I attended the first planning meeting and met Artomatic’s founder, I knew that this was a great opportunity for Dan to show his photography. Given that we have just moved back to the DC area, we don’t know any artists and have zero connections to what’s going in the local arts scene. Dan has a BFA in photography and years of experience in the graphic and web design fields. However, during all of his time building a design career, he has never once shown his own art. He jumped in and joined the chaos that is Preparing For Artomatic (artists only have a couple of weeks' notice before opening day). 

Dan hanging his work and getting ready for the opening.

Dan hanging his work and getting ready for the opening.

Getting everything printed, matted, framed and ready to sell took a lot of effort on short notice, and I’m not going to lie – October was a really, really hectic month for both of us. But we found ourselves immersed in a joint creative effort that was, despite the stress and deadlines, a ton of fun! It kicked us out of our respective creative comfort zones. It forced us out of our heads and to connect with the community beyond our door. And it sparked amazing conversations about our lives, our family and how we want to incorporate creativity into our everyday lives.

And so Sparks & Muses was born. A joint creative effort to document the source and expression of creativity in our everyday lives – as artists, makers, partners and parents. Sparks & Muses is a blog and podcast about everyday creativity and our own explorations about how to bring that to a central place in our existence.

Thanks for joining us on the ride!