Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mentors Inspire Me

Thank you all for your support with my campaign. To date I have raised $1200.00 towards my $3,000 goal to support Pyramid Atlantic programs that serve artists, youth and bring the community together through the arts.

Every week for 16 weeks I will send out an email to inspire you (and me) to reach my goal!

So, week 5: what inspires me: mentors

We mentor many people at Pyramid Atlantic. Artists mentor other artists, & staff mentor interns. Mentoring is a part of who we are. I know mentoring is popular, but I remember mentoring before mentoring was cool. I was in the 6th grade. It was 1982. I was a kid who's parents would fight. I didn't want to be home because their was nothing there for me. My dad was not around, he was working. When he was around, my parents would argue. So I spent alot of time away from home.

That year, I met my first mentor. A man named Jose Gonzalez. He was Ivette Gonzalez's dad. I had a crush on her like you would not believe. Me and every other boy in the 8th grade. I used to ride my ten-speed 2 miles to her house to give her 2 dozen carnations. Yep, big time crush. Jose was her dad. He worked for Sears, he drove a truck and wore a uniform with his name stitched on the pocket. He fixed air conditioners. I think he knew I had a crush on his daughter. How could he not, I had brought over 2 dozen carnations. He asked me my name and gave me a firm handshake. I remember we joked about us both having the same name. I remember seeing him kiss his wife and joke around with his two daughters. I remember him helping them with their homework. He would come to school and help with the science fair or work on the carnival. He always made a point of saying hello and patting me on the back.

Jose invited me and my brother Rob to go and see the Baltimore Orioles play a game in Miami one Spring. I had never been to a baseball game before and neither had my brother. I didn't know who the Orioles were, but Jose did. He pointed the players out to me and told me who Cal Ripken Jr. was. It was cold and rainy and I remember feeling really sick, but I didn't want to go home. I did not want the night to end. I got older and graduated the 8th grade and went to a different high school and lost touch with Jose, but I have never forgotten him. He took time out of his life, when my life was not what I had wished it was, and comforted me. He always had a kind word. He shared stories with me about his family, his love of baseball. He showed me that a man can be strong and compassionate. He showed me another way, when there was no one else around to do that for me.

That is what mentors do. They encourage you, they don't stop believing in you. They let you know that its going to be alright. I have had many mentors: Cornelia Dozier, Carol Cadby, Ruth Newton, Dale Moffit, Paul Walsh, Charlie Helfert, Eve Roberts, David Barrera, Denise Laffer, John Gibson, Deb Hecht, Michael Bernard, Alec Simpson, Tony Gittens, Regina Romero, Jackie Ogg, Richard Kamenitzer. They have all played important roles in my life and each one, showed me another way and gently nudged me in that direction. I am the man I am today because of all of them.

So, today I took my two boys to Opening Day at Nationals Park. First opening today for me and for them. I attached a photo we took. I pointed out the starting pitcher, Livan Hernandez, and the starting catcher, Ivan Rodriguez, to my boys. We cheered as the lineup was introduced We had hot dogs, pretzels & crackers jacks. Its a day I will never forget and I hope they don't either.

I hope I inspired you.

Help me reach my goal by clicking here to donate, any amounts makes a difference to Pyramid Atlantic and the community we serve.

Thanks & feel free to forward to your friends.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Come Support Your Pyramid Artists!

Anne Albagli, Lindsay McCulloch, and Gretchen Schermerhorn are three of 8 female artists invited to show their work in DC WOMEN ARTISTS NOW, an exhibition currently on view at the Linda K. Jordan Gallery at Gallaudet University.

Check out some images below for a small sneak peak - but you definitely don't want to miss the show, which is currently on view until April 15, with the opening reception April 5th from 12:30-2:00 (see the postcard above for more info!)

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Work by Gretchen Schermerhorn

Work by Lindsay McCulloch

Work by Annie Albagli

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Birthday Card Fundraiser Update

And many more birthday cards keep rolling in!

In case you didn't know, 18 letterpress volunteers are designing, printing and selling sets of birthday cards to benefit Pyramid. They'll be unveiled at Pyramid's 30th Birthday Party on April 9!

Check out the latest finished cards over at the Pyramid Letterpress blog!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Visiting Artist, Markus Koch

above: Markus working on film preparation

For three days last week, I had the pleasure working with visiting artist Markus Koch, in the creation of an 8 color screenprint edition. Those of you who are familiar with screenprinting, will probably agree with me when I say that an 8 color print edition was a pretty ambitious endeavor for a three day residency.
Although we were under the gun to get the print finished, Markus was at ease and open to experimentation. He jumped right in without any hesitation (did I mention this was his first printmaking experience, ever?), encouraged improvisation, and told some great stories while we worked. We did manage to get the print edition finished, just minutes before the BWI Super shuttle arrived.

Big take away: It is really is about the journey.
Thanks Markus.Also, thanks to the NFL Players Association, for sponsoring Markus' residency

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My inspiration: My friends

My friends, it's week 4 and I am at $1,157. Thank you, thank you all! Woo hoo! It is a steady climb to $3,000 to support Pyramid Atlantic’s awesome arts, education & community programs.

It’s a challenge, but one that I am inspired to accomplish and I want to inspire you too.

Week 4 inspiration:

Pyramid isn’t just where I work, but its where I have alot of friends. My friends sell insurance, tend bar, work for doctors, non-profits, county government, NIH, teach at Montgomery College, teach in after school programs, at universities, in public schools, are property managers, self-employed, lawyers, artists, graphic designers, physical therapists, teachers, moms, dads, & retirees.

They come from all over. They are all different, but they are all compassionate, creative, curious and crazy. They all encourage me when I am afraid and help keep my feet on the ground when I am overwhelmed and feel like I am about to drift away.

I didn’t always know what friends were. When I was a kid, my mother used to say, “You have no friends, just acquaintances.” She didn’t know what friend were. She didn’t trust many people. She left Cuba, came to the US and married and divorced in a span of 3 years. In 1966, being a single mom with a young daughter AND Hispanic in the United States could not have been easy. Her family was not very proud and let her know. She learned not to trust people and I did too. Then I met Lisa.

Lisa & I met in 1992 on the 4th of July in DC. I was introduced to her through a friend I went to college with. I didn’t know when we met we would marry 4 years later, but I do know that I thought she was beautiful and kind. Kindest person I had ever met. She would come up to NYC and visit me and we would have fun walking to Central Park, in Rockefeller Plaza, (that is me & Lisa below at Rockefeller Plaza in December of 1992) through the Upper East Side. We tell each other stories. We would encourage each other’s dreams and aspirations. I remember feeling like the luckiest person in the world when she would visit. I felt special.

We have been friends for 19 years and married for 14 of those years. I have learned everything about being a friend from our relationship. I have learned friends are patient & kind. Friends love you even when you can’t love yourself. Friends tell you the truth, even when it hurts. Friends are happiest when you are happy, even if it means they are not. Friends are in it for the long haul.

My favorite movie is, It’s A Wonderful Life. At the end of the movie, the angel tells George, “A man is never poor if he is rich in friends.” I am a billionaire.

I hope I inspired you.

Help me reach my goal by clicking here to donate, any amounts makes a difference and gets me that much closer.

Thanks & feel free to forward to your friends.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Birthday Card Fundraiser

At Pyramid's Birthday Celebration on April 9, we'll be unveiling sets of birthday cards for sale! The cards will be designed and printed by various members of the Pyramid letterpress community and the proceeds will go directly to help fund Pyramid's facilities and programs!

Here's a shot taken by Marty of the cards that have been printed so far:

For more photos, check out the previews posted over on the Pyramid Letterpress blog:

Birthday Card Fundraiser Preview #1

Birthday Card Fundraiser Preview #2

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Handprinted Wedding Invitations

Christopher Daly and Bettina Smith show off their his and hers screenprinted wedding invites.

Bettina puts down the type for the invitations.

Bride-to-be Bettina Smith and assistant Caryn Lazzuri screenprinted the periwinkle blue invitation heartshaped backgrounds at Screenprint Society. Bettina and her fiancé returned on the weekend to finish up the printing.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pyramid Artists at Community Bridges

This past weekend, teaching artist-in-residence Trisha Gupta, along with studio intern/Pyramid groupie Anna Spelman facilitated a class at Community Bridges 4th Annual "Step Up Summit"-Speak Your Soul!
Community Bridges is a non profit organization providing leadership and empowerment programs to young girls and women in the Silver Spring area. Pyramid has partnered with them in the past, and this proved to be yet another successful event. Trisha and Anna taught basic bookbinding to elementary school girls (and one brave young man!). They were among a group of talented other facilitators in the arts, including a human beatbox/rap artist, a puppeteer, and a songwriter.

This is Trisha with our youngest participant, Maria, who is six, and made a beautiful book.

And here are Jeremy and Nidira, two other participants in the class, with their books:

Trisha and Anna found they learned some new bookbinding structures while teaching, because each participant had a different idea and different thoughts about how they wanted to bind their book.

You can watch a video about the summit here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What gets me out of bed every morning?

Alan Akman. Not Alan Akman personally because that would make it very crowded in the morning with both Alan and my wife. I get up because I want to come to Pyramid and see Alan screenprint. Or to watch Jill Parisi etching, or Anne Albagli printing, Amelia Hankin drawing, Laura Kinneberg making paper, Amdy painting, Patty Lee making books, Lindsay & Jody making boxes.

These are a few of the artists who create art at Pyramid. I see them everyday. They come in with a mission and a purpose. They could not be anywhere else. They take out their inks, their paper, their tools. They get set up and get right to work. There is never a peep or small talk. It’s work. It’s sacred work. It humbles me.

I am not a visual artist. But I get it. I understand work. I understand it because its where I come from. My dad (in the pictures above) came to this country in 1959 from Havana, Cuba. He didn’t plan to come here. There were things he wanted to get done, but one day he is in Cuba, wondering what to do tomorrow, where to go. “Am I going to have dinner at home or go dancing with friends,” he might have thought. The next day, everything changed. Fidel Castro. He was making plans to come to the US with a wife whose 8 months pregnant (my brother, Humphrey). He didn’t plan to be here long. Just until everything in Cuba settled down and then he‘d be back at work at his Dad‘s shoe store. But it never settled down and here he was in a new country with a family, broken English and a thick accent. So he went to work.

He arrived in Miami, and then went with his young family to New Jersey to work in a box factory. He made boxes. Once that job was done he came back to Miami and drove a beer truck. Then he sold chips and candy bars, then watches and calculators, then luggage, then souvenirs, then wine and finally scotch. Always working. I loved getting up early when I was a kid, like 5 in the morning to go to work with my dad. It was chilly, quiet and dark in the morning. It was just him and me. I loved spending that time with him in the morning, riding in his truck, headed to the warehouse to load up for the deliveries that day. It was a sacred time.

My dad past away 8 years ago. When I wake up early today, and its chilly and quiet and dark, I think about my dad and it makes me smile. I am going to work. It’s why I get up today and everyday and come to Pyramid and watch Alan. It’s what I know, it’s what I believe in, its what is sacred to me and what inspires me.

I hope I inspired you. Help me reach my goal by donating here, any amount makes a difference and gets me that much closer.



Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pyramid turns 30!

 Illustration by Elizabeth Graeber.

Pyramid is celebrating 30 years!  Come and celebrate our 30th Birthday Party with us.  Enjoy artist demonstrations, studio tours, our annual members exhibition, live music, hands on arts activities, door prizes, art raffles, cake & ice cream and so much more!
It's going to be a special day and we want you there.  So mark your calendars  and bring a friend. We will save you the corner piece!

Date: Saturday, April 9 
Time: 2 pm to 5 pm
Place: 8230 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring MD 20910
Free & Open To The Public

Generous support for the Pyramid Atlantic Open House & 30th Birthday Party is being provided by Plaza Artist Materials.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What Inspires Me?

Folks, this is week 2 of my fundraising journey a.k.a “16 weeks of Inspiration." I hope that over the next 16 weeks I inspire you & you join me on my journey.

What Inspires Me? I grew up in Miami an awkward kid. I did not have many friends. I was not very good at sports, interested in school and my parents were always fighting. I didn’t really like school either, I got C’s & D’s.

When I was in the 6th grade, Mrs. Hernandez was casting the Thanksgiving play , “The Turkey & The Pumpkin.“ She was looking for volunteers. I looked around and saw that nobody was raising their hand. “I’ll do it,” I said. Another boy, Michael Jauregui, volunteered to be the Turkey. We rehearsed and performed at the Thanksgiving Assembly in the school cafeteria two weeks later.

I remember standing on the stage in my cardboard pumpkin costume, looking from the stage at all of the kids in the cafeteria. They were looking at ME. Wow, I was making them laugh. I felt like someone special that day. I had never felt that way before.

I wrote a play the following year in the 7th grade and performed it with Sylvia Lopez, the prettiest girl in the 7th grade. I auditioned for a performing arts high school in the 9th grade and got in. No one else from my junior high did. My senior year, I auditioned for a number of colleges, was accepted at Southern Methodist University and received a full tuition scholarship for 4 years. I was going to be the first person in my family to graduate from college.

That play changed my life. The arts changed my life. It gave me purpose. It helped me grow from an awkward kid with few friends to a confident man with an ever-growing community of friends and family. Many people go their whole lives wondering where it is they belong and never sure. I was lucky.

That is why I am at Pyramid. That is what inspires me everyday. I want to make sure that everyone, regardless of age or ability, has the same opportunity that I had as a boy. The opportunity to connect to your truest self. Because that is what the arts do. They connect you to who you really are, and when you do, it feels good. AND when you truly connect with yourself, you have the power to bring joy to not only yourself, but so many other people.

I have raised $491.93 towards my goal of $3,000 for Pyramid's program to date. Amazing! Thank you all who have contributed to date. Let’s keep the journey going.

Click to here to donate

7th grade

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cuteness Invasion at Screenprint Society

Leila, Sonya and Zoe

Katherine Rodriguez regular inks up her handgun design for a tee shirt

Mary Ott printing her grasses while the girls watch