Encouraging Art, More Thoughts

So yesterday I wrote about encouraging kids (and everyone around you, really) to wrap themselves in some sort of art. It’s good for your brain, good for your soul… and maybe could even be good for your pocketbook, if your talents are able to take you that route.

There are two more great examples of artists at work that I need to highlight today.

The other night I was playing darts and having a couple of beers with friends. Obviously, the goal is to hit the bull’s-eye. In life, I would say that talent is hitting the bull’s-eye every single time. Genius is hitting something that wasn’t even on the board.

Pete The Popcorn would just be a fun little story (with a great lesson) on a sheet of paper right now if it weren’t for a little bit of genius. And that’s our illustrator.

Kathleen Smith Waters came to us by chance. Joe Kelley, Pete’s co-author, was talking on the phone with one of his old friends about this story we had written. And she mentioned that her cousin was an illustrator. And that’s how it happens in life, as you may have figured out.

Anyway, I have a massive respect for Kathleen, who was able to read a story and make it come to life in pictures on paper. Pete has such an amazing personality that was born through our words and magnified through Kathleen’s art. And I just can’t wait for everyone to see the great work she has done. Please go check out Kathleen’s website, where you will find her portfolio, link to Twitter and her very own blog, which features a couple of sneak peeks of Pete that you haven’t seen from me yet!

Folks, don’t forget to visit www.PeteThePopcorn.com and JOIN TEAM PETE. This is the most important thing you can do to give us a hand to shoot this book up Amazon’s Top 100 on February 29th. Team Pete is allowing us to keep in touch with Pete’s core supporters and also gauge how we are performing on getting the word out.

Now, back to encouraging art. Perhaps my favorite form of art is seeing people perform on stage. And you like it, too!

I’ve been to so many big-name concerts like James Taylor, Prince, Madonna, Simon and Garfunkel, Sting, Annie Lennox, The Eagles, Dixie Chicks, Shania Twain, Reba McEntire, Green Day (again and again and again), Celine Dion, Jimmy Buffett (again and again and again) and the list could go on for pages.

I’ve also been to countless Broadway shows… including Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, Mamma Mia, Rent, Beauty and the Beast, Avenue Q… again the list could go on for pages.

But my favorite– my absolute favorite– way of enjoying an artist on stage… is when I least expect it.

That awesome karaoke singer that gets up to sing when I can never do so, unless I’ve been heavily drinking.

That dancer on a cruise ship that smiles during the entire 45-minute show, sweat pouring down her face and legs throbbing. Yet she does it because she sees the audience glowing back at her.

That group of local kids that formed a band. They go out every weekend and perform in dirty bars with bad sound. They peddle their CDs and hope that eventually they’ll have a crack at the big-time. Those are the artists I’m in love with.

And this past summer I was treated to a very unexpected surprise. I was doing photography and video for a friend’s wedding on a very hot Saturday at the end of July. Wedding receptions are typically the same to someone like me that’s been to a hundred of them with a video camera on my shoulder and a camera around my neck.

Yet this one blew me away… all because of the artists providing the entertainment.

ABBA Girlz had flown in from New York to provide entertainment for the wedding. And entertain, they did. Singing all sorts of music, new and old. And then hitting the ball out of the park with a set of ABBA songs, complete with costumes.

The pure energy they exuded during the evening ricocheted throughout the dated Knights of Columbus hall. People that I would have bet money wouldn’t, were dancing their asses off. And when I was allowed to put the camera down at a certain point in time, I joined them.

Not only were they great singers, the smiles on their face showed us that they were having AN AWESOME TIME sharing their art with this crowd.

ABBA Girlz travel all over the country… and they are coming to Chicago in February. And I think I’m putting together a little road trip with friends to go see them. Please go check out their Facebook Page. Or their website.

To quote an ABBA song, you’ll be thanking them for the music by the time the night is over.

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