On Meeting Steve Quiller, the artist, man and friend of my grandfather

May 29, 2010 by

I’d never met the famed watercolor artist Steve Quiller before yesterday, but over the past 15 or more years, I’ve heard the name often from my late grandfather, Andy Sheptak.

Grandpa would always talk about “his friend Steve.”  Knowing grandpa, we’d all kind of “yeah right” and listen to his stories.  Grandpa was always telling stories so some times it was hard to know which ones were, well, in lack of a better term, believable.  That’s not to say he exaggerated.  That’s not what I’m saying at all.  It just seemed like there was so much adventure it hardly seemed possible that he could have done all that he did.  But that’s what made Grandpa’s life so rich and ultimately what has had some of the most profound impacts on me.

Each year, Grandpa would spend a portion of the year here in Creede, CO.  It was an annual art pilgrimage.  In October 2008, Grandpa died.

When Grandpa died, I called Steve’s Gallery and we talked.  He couldn’t make the funeral.  But that’s okay.

So here I am today.  The 20th Annual Taste of Creede is about to begin.  They’ve closed off Main Street and are setting up tents as I sit inside The Old Firehouse Restaurant.

Yesterday, I walked across the street to the Quiller Gallery and was greeted by Steve’s wife, Marta.  What a sweet lady.  And as I walked into the gallery of familiar forms of art, sitting on one of two brown leather sofas, with smooth tunes playing to add to the ambiance, was my Grandpa’s friend Steve.

With a firm hand shake and the comfort of and how elbow embrace, Steve and I now were friends.

We sat down on the sofas and began to talk about Grandpa.  Steve misses him.  It’s no secret that I have these past two/three years.

We talked about his travels as a painter.  Grandpa used to stay in an apartment at the back of the Quiller Gallery when he came to visit.  I didn’t go back there.  Didn’t ask and didn’t really think to do so.  Some times it’s just better to leave things in the past untouched.

We talked about Yosemite.  As you know, I’ve not made my annual pilgrimage there yet in 2010.  Steve goes every other year and holds a workshop there in the Valley.  He says there are usually about 150 people who sign up for a Yosemite workshop.

It was a nice conversation.  Toward the end we began to talk about social media.  Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc.  As you know, unlike Steve, when I put my photos up, I just load them up.  Like a true business man he was immediately asking how I make money off my photos if I just give them away.   That’s a good question, and likely one that needs changing.

As we ended the conversation, he invited me to an event at the Mermaid Cafe where he and another of Grandpa’s friends, Larry Basky were presenting on printing, prior to the opening of the 10th Annual National Small Print Show, also held here in Creede.  In the photo, that’s Steve on the left and Larry on the right. 

From their presentation and then walking through the show twice last night, I learned there’s a lot more to printing than I could ever have imagined.  I’m not sure I still understand the difference between a monotype and a monoprint, but I at least have an idea.

But I’m here in Creede, CO with my mom.  She’s surprising one of her brothers who doesn’t know we’re here.  And so Grandpa’s legacy goes on.  Today, almost three years after his passing, there are three of us here to talk about who he was, how he was, and his influence upon us all.  And I have a new friend, Steve.

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Day One of Travel with Mom from Dallas to Trinidad, CO

May 28, 2010 by

What a beautiful day it was Thursday.

Mom and I left Dallas about 10 a.m. and headed northwest.

This is our first trip ever alone together.  So far, I’m not seeing why that’s the case, but we still have four days to go!

Mom talked a lot during the trip.  I learned things about her mom and dad’s mom that I didn’t know.  I learned things about how she’s thinking these days.  Mostly, I listened, giving affirmative comments when needed and storing it away in my mental analysis.

I drove around downtown Trinidad, CO last night. What a rustic looking mountain town.  Main Street is pretty, but you can see how hard the local economy has had it.  Most of the traditional restaurants that would have made walking down Main Street more fun are closed and look like they have been for a while.  There were some cool looking shops, however, and the buildings are something you’d find in a Disney movie.  So many stories could be told about what has and hasn’t ever happened in those shops.

At sunset, looking west into the mountains, the hues of nightfall were just delightful with the light reflecting through the clouds and cascading off of some of the snow-capped mountains. 

Today we make the final trek up into the mountains to Creede, CO, population 422.  There’s no McDonald’s.  Very little of anything but mountains and fresh air.

I’m looking forward to that.  And maybe today I finally meet grandpa’s old pal, Steve Quiller and his wife.  Gramps would come out here annually and stay with the Quillers.

Okay, time to finish packing.  Adventure is just around the corner.

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New Adventure–The Taste of Creede festival in Creede, CO

May 27, 2010 by

Today, Mom and I are striking out toward Creede, CO for the 20th Annual Taste of Creede on Saturday and Sunday.

I don’t know how much Internet access we’ll have there.  The town doesn’t even have a McDonald’s!

This is the first trip Mom and I have taken alone together.  I’m really praying there isn’t a reason for that.

Why are we going?

My late Grandpa Andy Sheptak was a big fan of the water color artist Steve QuillerGramps would go out to Creede at least once a year and stay with Steve and his wife, Marta.  This is going to be something of a family homecoming.  You know how many times I’ve written about Gramps before.  Oh, and Marta has a surprise for me.  I know what it is, but you’ll have to wait….

Okay, time to get packing.  It’s supposed to be 94 here in Dallas today.  It’s 47 degrees F there right now.   The high is like mid-60s at 8,000 feet in the air.

Stay tuned.

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13 and standing on top of the world–A Modern Media Man?

May 23, 2010 by

Hats off to 13-year-old Jordan Romero, now the youngest person ever to scale Mount Everest.  What a tremendous feat. What an incredible adventure.

The Big Bear, CA resident now has scaled the tallest peaks on six continents.  His next adventure in December:  the Vinson Massif in Antarctica.

The young man reached the top of the world yesterday with his dad at his side.  He’s in eighth grade and took along two months worth of homework with him.  My guess is he’s learned a lot more spending five weeks climbing up Mount Everest than he will in his remaining years of school, but that’s another topic.

They had to take a different route than most in their adventure to get to the top of Everest.  In Napal, there’s an age limit for those who can scale the mountain.  On the Chinese side, there is no age limit.

An argument can be made that letting a kid so young do such a thing isn’t good for the kid.  I’ve gone round and round personally over the same issue and have been told I’m not considering what’s best for my kids.  Personally, I’d like to take my three girls, pull them out of school for a year and spend that time with all three of them traveling around the world.  Would they learn more about what they need to know about themselves and living and life in school, or going around the globe with their dad?

But as a dad, looking to the other side of the world at this fantastic feat, I have to say this to me is nothing but inspiring.  Who could imagine a  greater adventure in life than to scale to the top of the highest peaks on the globe and look down upon the surroundings right there with one’s dad at your side.

Personally, one of my greatest desires in life has been to go to a baseball game with my dad at Wrigley Field in Chicago.  We almost got to do that in 2004, but that year the Cubs were doing well and tickets were hard to come by.  With all three girls and dad in the car, we drove around looking for ticket sellers, but none were to be found.  I still hold out hope.  I was able to take his dad and his mom to a game.  But my dad always has remained elusive to this dream.  I don’t know why, but it’s not ever worked out.

THE SEARCH FOR ADVENTURE

But more importantly for Jordan Romero is that even at a young age, he and his dad are refusing to be confined to the norms and are in search of adventure.  I’m sure Jordan’s dad, Paul Romero, has been told numerous times how “Foolish, starry-eyed and out of his mind” he is for “exploiting” his child and putting him in such harm’s way.  It’s just this type of stereotyping that has put so many of today’s Mod Men in the unfriendly to the soul confined boxes in which many of us are stuck.

Today’s Modern Media Man I feel in many ways has lost his sense of adventure.  In many ways, from seeing Ex2’s boys sit tirelessly for hours at a computer screen playing RPGs, the generations of today are still escaping to adventures.  But I think one day they’re going to find they’ve missed so much about the world.

I’d imagine Jordan Romero isn’t one for sitting hours upon hours in front of a video game.  He’s out walking in the real one.  He’s healthier for it.  He’s more experienced for it.  And he’s living a much richer life.

My point isn’t that we all should pack up our hiking gear and head to China or Napal to climb Everest.  It’s more that today’s Modern Media Man needs to re-evaluate what purpose he wants to serve in this world and begin seeking it out.

IDENTIFYING ROADBLOCKS, STUMBLING BLOCKS, MENTAL BLOCKS

In order to do so, my Faith Coach, Ron Rose told me last week that he wanted me to focus on the road blocks that are now in my way from seeking out God’s purpose in my life and the pursuit of those adventures that will make me more into who I desire to be.  As I’ve pointed out before, Tim Ferriss in The Four Hour Work Week stresses the same point–Find the 20 percent of things in your life that are causing 80 percent of your problems and eliminate them.

Once the roadblocks are out of the way, it’s time to identify and anticipate the stumbling blocks that might trip me up along in my adventures.

And then, maybe as important to the other two points, what mental blocks are out there that are keeping me from seeking out my life’s adventures?

This is what I feel to be one of the biggest problems for Modern Media Men.  The fear of the unknown. The dare to take risks.  The criticism that will come from daring to express or even pursue a dream.  Maybe this comes in the form of a nagging wife.  Maybe it’s a feeling that things are going to turn around this coming week if ….  Maybe it’s just that we as Modern Media Men have been beaten down so by the mores of our culture that we dare not be non-conformists.

Whatever it might be I’m encouraging you to have strength, to identify those immediate challenges, and search your soul for ways in which to over come them.  Maybe it’s the folly of youth that has Jordan Romero not worrying about the dangers of climbing the highest peaks on seven continents.  It doesn’t matter.  He’s out there living life.  He’s living an adventure.  He’s living out dreams some of us have yet to imagine from the confines of our living rooms or laying flat on our bed staring up at the texture of the ceiling as kids play on video games, the wife does what she’s doing, and the sun passes from the east to the west on another day of the same.

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Rule #1 on Brand Blog Forums: Keep it simple

May 22, 2010 by

My hat is off to Gillette, P&G and PR firm Porter Novelli for how they ran their first blog forum in New York’s Yankee’s Stadium this past Thursday.  The best thing they did?  They kept it simple.

They were there to help us all become infatuated with the upcoming Gillette, Fusion, ProGlide.  But we didn’t hear about that until we were almost done with the presentations.

I was talking later with one of the Porter Novelli people.  After having received feedback from one of the Godfathers of social media, Gary Vaynerchuk, their mission was this:

  • Bring in a solid mix of bloggers from across the states
  • Get them together for a reasonable period of time to talk about social media/blogging/trends etc.
  • Do a limited portion of the value add of your product, and then
  • Go do something totally unrelated that’s fun for guys to do.  The corollary to that is probably, and if while you’re watching a baseball game in a luxury suite with the guys and they still want to talk about your brand, that’s great.  But don’t keep pushing your brand.

That’s it. They did what they needed to do.

Oh, and did I mention that they brought in Derek Jeter for about a minute to say hi to everyone?

That’s how Thursday afternoon and evening went.  Added bonus and bigger corollary:  Make sure all the arrangements you said were going to be covered are covered.  From car service, hotel reservations, to airline travel.

And to the credit of Gillette, P&G and Porter Novelli, all of those things happened.  On cue, with precision, and because of such, with no complaints.

In the space of the two hours we talked about social marketing, I learned a lot from younger men who are tomorrow’s future daddy bloggers.  Most of them don’t realize that yet, or sure as heck aren’t thinking about it, but they are and with respect, I say they’re going to have a lot more things figured out about blogging and social media than most of us dads now who virtually are the true dad pioneers of social media.

The Science of Shaving

But Gillette had a research specialist there to talk to us about their new shaver coming out, the new Gillette, Fusion, ProGlide.  He showed us research videos that showed the geeky side of shaving.  We saw what happens to a facial hair when it gets cut by a razor.  Did you know that for a micro of a second a razor actually extends the hair out of the follicle?  With a one-bladed shaver, that means the hair only gets cut once.  But if there are two, three, four and now five blades to do that same action, each immediately one-behind the other, the hair keeps getting extended and the next blade comes a long and cuts it that much shorter, and then extends it a little more for the next blade. 

They showed us this process in video form.  They also showed us how the new architecture of their blades reinforces the strength of the blades themselves so their is consistency in the shave.  They’ve thought about how many strokes a man uses to shave.  Did you know there are 80 men in England who go into an R&D facility every day of the year to shave in front of a two-way mirror and are studied constantly as they shave?

There’s a science to how and why a guy holds a razor.  On average, he holds it six different ways in the process.

There’s a science as to how many strokes a guy takes with his razor during a shave.  On average, that’s 150, but can be as few as 25 and as many as 750.

After that presentation, we were done.  Everyone packed up quickly, got our tickets to the suite upstairs, and off we went for an evening of fun ballpark food, beverages and the sights, sounds and smells of one of the newest, famous and fanciest baseball parks built.

Honestly, now that I know more about the process, I want to try the Gillette, Fusion, ProGlide.  Not because of the packaging, which is svelt.  Not because it now has five blades instead of four, but because I now understand how I can get a much better shave out of having the product and why.

And that, my friendly other brands, is how you conduct a blog forum.  A-plus to Gillette, P&G and Porter Novelli.

K-I-S-S.

And that’s really something we need to keep in mind as we prepare for the Modern Media Man Summit in Atlanta Sept. 9-11, 2010. You guys are coming, right?

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For all man crushes and women crushes on the Yankee’s Derek Jeter

May 21, 2010 by

Here are my photos of Derek Jeter from Yankee Stadium, Thursday, May 20, 2010. I don’t mind you using these photos, but please, if you repost online, please provide Donald J. Claxton or @daddyclaxton on Twitter a photo credit.

The rest of the files can be found in my Photostream on Flickr.

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