The Aftermath

Their uncle called them “losers”.

What can make a difference in the life of a youth whose behaviors are at once destructive to humanity and self-destructive?

We hope and wait for answers to the “why” of the Marathon tragedy; those answers may never materialize. Why was there such a disconnect to the rest of humankind? Why would creating bombs and firing guns be an answer?

Last year, Adrien worked to photograph a wonderful organization working with Lowell area youth. The group, UTEC, (United Teen Equality Center) has the mission to “ignite and nurture the ambition of Lowell’s most disconnected young people to trade violence and poverty for social and economic success”.  

Listen to the stories these young people tell of how they were once disenfranchised and the difference UTEC has made in their lives. The following short video and the story of the project are the results of Adrien’s association with UTEC last summer.

At this time when we are wondering what triggered the Tsarneav brothers to disconnect from humanity, it makes me pause and wonder if there was a moment that might have changed their course as well.  This is, of course, a mammoth leap of speculation.

We may never know that answer to why the Tsarneav brothers did what they did, why their uncle called them “losers”. But we can be thankful for the UTECs of the world who help the disenfranchised become successful members of the world in which they live.

Taking chances

Last night, WCVB TV in Boston, featured three artists’ communities in Massachusetts. The one that I am most familiar with is Western Avenue Studios where my husband Adrien has studio space.  Western Avenue Studios is a unique and wonderfully diverse collection of over 250 artists who work in almost any medium you can imagine.  So much talent! And even more impressive, so much collegiality. It is truly a unique community.

The video, features several of the talented artisans, including Adrien, and it was broadcast last night, April 14th on the locally produced show, Chronicle. Here is the video segment featuring Western Avenue from that broadcast.

As Adrien and I watched the video for the first time last night so many things ran through my mind. First of all, when Adrien first started to talk seriously about working as a photographer, I wondered about his sanity in quitting his software job — partially two years ago and completely last August.  When he purchased his first pro equipment, I actually thought he was in the middle of a mid-life crisis — how wrong I was! Over the next months, with determination and purpose, he updated his skills as a photographer, invested in the time to explore what kinds of subjects he found fascinating, and worked at refining a portfolio of work that today blows my mind. As he says in his interview, he tries to capture the subject through the eyes — and oftentimes it is as if he has looked deep into a person’s soul and captured the person’s very essence.

Taking a chance on leaving a sure money-maker that allowed us to live quite comfortably over 25 years was a giant leap of faith. Building a service business is not easy and doing so in the wake of one of the worst economic crises in our recent history is even more difficult.

But I don’t think either of us would have traded one minute of uncertainty for the reward of following your heart into an art that you not only enjoy but you love. Last night’s Chronicle segment completed and affirmed this transformation.

To do what you love and to do it well is awesome. The eloquence of the talented artists at Western Avenue and on this broadcast simply takes one’s breath away.

Art Appreciation

My husband, Adrien, is a photographer. He actually has been a photographer for most of his life, having started out in high school, but was sidetracked by a career in music and in software.  A couple of years ago, he started renting studio space in a revitalized textile mill building in Lowell, MA, Western Avenue Studios, and has been building his photography business ever since.

If you’ve never had a career in the arts, it is quite different from the 9 to 5 corporate world. First of all, as I am always fond of pointing out, unlike my career, you can use the bathroom whenever you want 🙂 Just kidding, Adrien!

What really takes some perseverance is staying focused throughout the cyclical nature of getting commissions and jobs. For example, from the week before Christmas through some time in  late January, not many corporations are interested in scheduling corporate head shot appointments. This creates some down time, which allows Adrien to think about self assignments: photography projects that he works on to develop as a photographer and as an artist.

In addition to working on a portfolio for an upcoming show at the Loading Dock Gallery in Lowell next November, Adrien has been working with a friend of his, Melissa, to create a video of what happens during a professional photo shoot. Here is a link to the stop-action video he created called 396 Square Feet. I think you’ll find it amazing.

32 and Counting….

This month marks Adrien’s and my 32nd anniversary.  We met in college when he asked if I would be his piano accompanist for a student trumpet recital… I would not. “Juniors do not play for freshman” — I hear about that with reliable frequency every time my ego gets in front of common sense.

I am writing this post on the eve of  December 7 — the date printed on our wedding invites — even though we were actually married on December 17th.  Back in the dark ages of 1977, wedding invitations were sent to one printer who presumably could not possibly be reached by telephone to make corrections (perhaps the phone wasn’t yet invented) — the date was only one of many on that printing job (just how many “e’s” are there in ceremony?) And printing screw ups were just one in a series of now-comical faux pas marking our wedding day; none of which seem to have affected the actual marriage.

Thirty-two seems an incredible number to me. One that is marked with many ups and downs.  The highs have been exhilarating — we’ve celebrated new jobs, new careers, new homes, incredible travel, and a lifetime of landmarks around our son, Matt. But the test of time has been in the lowpoints — job losses, family deaths, serious illness. It is the fabric of our life together, and Adrien has been the rock, the friend, who has been there to celebrate and to worry through any and all of it. How lucky I am that my best friend is my partner through it all.

No one can anticipate what the future holds, but I feel confident that no matter what life throws at us, we’ll be just fine as long as we are there for each other. To paraphrase Lou Gehrig, “I’m the luckiest (wo)man on the face of the earth.”   Happy Anniversary my friend!