Monday, September 10, 2012

Artifacts of Matrimony exhibit

One of the first things my boss suggested when I signed on was an alumni wedding exhibit.  It's taken a bit, but we pulled it together in a joint show called the Artifacts of Matrimony.  

It started last year when I approached the College's art gallery director about hosting an exhibit of alumni wedding dresses and accessories... a kind of "fashion through the decades" kind of thing.  She countered with a question on the educational content (seeing as we don't have a fashion degree) and we settled on putting a call out for a national artist to "wrap" the alumni show with a fine art exhibit.  The call went out for artistic proposals and we started polling alums for dresses.  

First, it's easy to find dresses... everyone knows someone who has a dress.  But they're not alumni of MACC!  I heard great stories about borrowing a godmother's dress or the dress that was donated to Goodwill, only to be found again with great joy and then lost.  Or the vacation trip spoiled by a call from home regarding flooded storage rooms.  By the time we started setting up last week, we had 14 brides who contributed dresses and accessories from 1944 to 2010.

The artistic selection was no less exciting... while we received a number of entries, nothing really clicked.  On the last day of submissions, an entry from an art professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania appeared.  It was perfect.  Her work is a colorful, bold, neo-expressionistic depiction of family and matrimonial experiences.  She drove down on a Wednesday, dropped off a gallery full of paintings, used the bathroom and headed back on the road to be home for faculty workshop on Friday.

The result is, honestly, fantastic. The creams and whites of the dresses contrast perfectly with the strong colors of the artist.  We enlarged the brides' wedding pictures and hung them behind each dress.  Our gallery is intimate with a soaring ceiling that allowed us to dramatically fly two of the dresses from the center space.   On Friday, we hosted an opening reception with wedding cake, a chocolate fountain and punch... all the culinary accoutrements of a wedding!  It was well attended. For my first exhibit, I couldn't be more proud.

Read the press release for more detail and see more pictures.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

SUZI: Cooper’s Imagination

We are loving watching Cooper’s vocabulary and language skills blossom right before our eyes.  We love having full-blown conversations with him!  After so long of him not being able to tell us with words what he wants and needs (and wouldn’t that be the most frustrating thing!), it is so nice when he can use words and tell us what he’s thinking.  

It’s amazing to us what he sees and remembers and what he finds important or funny.  Right now, Cooper loves a certain Leap Frog DVD called Numbers Ahoy.  It helps kids learn their numbers and one of the main characters is a pirate called Captain Pythagoras (right, like the theorem).  Cooper can say it, so he runs around in a really deep voice saying, “Pirate Pythagoras…arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggg!”  He’s singing songs and quoting parts of memory verses.  It seems he wakes up in the morning or after a nap and he knows more words.  Along with his vocabulary, his imagination is coming out more and more.

A few nights ago, the weather was just perfect for playing outside, so Cooper and I went out after dinner.  We ran and ran and ran all over our yard and suddenly Cooper handed me a long stick and picked one up for himself.  He turned to me and said, “Get the dragons!”  So this time we ran and ran and ran with frequent breaks to stop and whack dragons all over the yard.  Let me tell you, we got a lot of them.  I don’t think there are any more dragons hanging out in the back yard.  After a lot of whacking of dragons, our sticks suddenly turned to fishing poles, and we were catching some doozies.  We were comparing our catches for the day, and Cooper, of course, had the biggest fish.

It’s just amazing to me.

We’re getting ready to have lots of fun around here!

(The picture above is Cooper standing on top of his blocks box next to the bathroom light switch... which gives him great pleasure to flick off & on when you're inside!)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Selling Higher Ed

I have a very cool position at Moberly Area Community College.  As the Director of Institutional Development and Alumni Services (that's a mouthful when answering the phone), I play dual roles of evangelist and money guy.  The nice thing is that I'm pushing a great product... As open enrollment institutions, Community Colleges are the gateway to education for a swath of folks who might not otherwise take the plunge into higher ed.  And for those who are top-drawer smarties, but also budget conscience, you can't beat the value over a typical 4-year school.

It just so happens that I'm pretty close with the Director of Marketing at the College (said without a hint of irony).  A lot of what I do is marketing related so I spend a lot of time with Jaime and Chase, our amazing graphic designer.  Over a year ago, Jaime and Chase started working on the next marketing campaign for the College.  It's focus is alumni story-telling... examining their motivation to choose MACC, their experiences on campus and thereafter.  Since it's all about alums, I got swept into the mix.

One of the key components is the introduction of video to our campaign.  The College hasn't employed video as a marketing tool to this degree... hence the other reason I got in on this project.  I suppose you could say I've done a bit of shooting/editing in the past (heavy irony here).

The campaign is called Release.  As in "Release a Trusted Physician" or "Release The Great Outdoors."  It's our job as educators to help students release the doctor or park ranger or engineer locked away inside.  After several months of photo shoots, on location filming and lots of editing, we kicked off the campaign at the Fall Faculty workshops just before the semester started.

As an MACC staffer & alum, I couldn't be more proud of what we produced, both in our work and in the students that have gone on to become successful in their fields.  The College is creating great stuff every semester and it shows!

I've linked one of the videos below... Hop over to our profile page to check out the other bios and clips of our first set... enjoy!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

It's over SIGG, I'm going Kleen...

Back in '04, Suzi & I were living in Prague.  I was window shopping at one of the ubiquitous outdoor sports stores in the city (Czechs love playing outside, camping, skiing, etc.) when I came across my next obsession: aluminum SIGG Bottles. The fact they were Swiss made them all the more desirable.  Over the years, I collected a variety of sizes & shapes, although usually always red or black.  And over the years, SIGG made changes.  They dealt, poorly, with the BPA issue and re-engineered the bottle's interior coating, going through a couple of iterations to get to the current version.  I stuck with SIGG through all of this. 

Suzi carried one of the original 10 oz, solid color bottles.  Then they quit making them for adults.  All you could get were Hello Kitty or Matchbox cars.   When her's starting tasting weird, we sent it back and received a new one... with a different coating... and then she went shopping for something new.

Enter Kleen Kanteen.   It had a wider mouth.  It was food grade stainless steel instead of aluminum, thus no coatings.  But it wasn't as sleek as the SIGG.  And it wasn't Swiss. I wasn't switching, I said... grumbling to myself every time Suz took it out of her purse.  Once I pick a brand, (cars, cameras, etc.) I stick with it.  And I want all products under my influence to match.

Then my latest (white) SIGG started shedding it's lining.  One day I washed Suzi's Kleen Kanteen and was shocked at how easy it was.  The wide mouth and stainless steel interior became very appealing.  The kicker was when I went looking for an insulated bottle this summer.  SIGG just didn't have one.

I looked at elegant bottles (like S'well, OMW... simply gorgeous bottles) but couldn't find anything with the wide mouth of the Kanteen.  Last week, after trying to scrub out my 64oz SIGG, I quit.  I ordered three Kanteens to start over.  Two insulated and one non-insulated... plus a sweet bamboo/stainless cap for Suz.

The first week, I'm loving it.  Kanteen's running a sale that gets you a cafe lid & loop lid together.  My black insulated bottle works like a charm... no condensation, still cold hours later, the whole nine yards.

So, that's consumerism for ya'... SIGG brought me into the reusable bottle camp and then didn't meet my needs.  So, I went shopping...

Fickle, perhaps, but I'm a happy boy again!

EDIT: As I was writing this, I googled insulated bottles and came up with Hydroflask.  They also have a wider mouth and then have food flasks to boot... very cool.