I suppose I’ve reached a certain age when my talented friends start hosting retrospectives of their work. The trade-off is good when it’s youthful uncertainty for art-show openings with beer gardens, though, and here we are.
I’m really proud of my friend Chris Marion, as I tell him frequently on Instagram. There was a time when I knew him as an IT Guy with a good eye, toiling along with the rest of us in Western Massachusetts. Now, after mapping out a dream and honing in on a specific set of skills while doing so, he’s a full-time photographer with client names like NBA, WNBA, UConn, and MGM.
With a portfolio like that, no one would begrudge him a gallery show limited to celebrities, sports stars, and once-in-a-lifetime events. But Chris never forgets where he comes from, literally or figuratively, and his recent show From the 413 to the NBA was proof.
Held in the Benzine Gallery at Gasoline Alley in a once-industrial section of Springfield, Mass., Chris whittled his collection down to 100 bright spots — some captured locally, others from the sidelines of national championships or rock-legend concerts — and joined forces with more than 16 local small businesses who served as partners or vendors.
“It still feels like a dream that I grew up in the birthplace of basketball and now I get to help document the game at such a high level,” he says.
Back in the day, Chris and I shared the same friend and mentor: street photog, reporter, and one of the original members of the American paparazzi (back when velvet ropes meant something) Keith Sikes. He founded the Valley Photographic Center and helped me, Chris, and countless others navigate the business of art and the art of business when we were still young enough to want to set the world on fire.
Keith, who was always young enough to set the world on fire, passed away last year and I miss him very much. Chris’ exhibit opened with a photo and thank you to Keith, and that alone would’ve been enough to warrant the trip — my first overnight foray since a pandemic/medical crisis combo took me out of the game for a year and a half. But it was followed by capture-after-capture of some other very-important-humans… Current Olympian Flag-bearer and WNBA star Sue Bird. The Dropkick Murphys. LeBron James. Victoria, a little girl from Springfield, who’s portrait was hung at her eye-level in the show.
And for me, it was also a trip back to a city I called home for a decade; one that is overflowing with culture, diversity, talent, and strong connections… a combination I sometimes miss where I live now.
People say you can’t go home again … that may be true, but we can always go back and look at the pictures.
Read, watch, or listen to more about 413 to the NBA from some Western Mass. Media Greats:
I’ve never thought of myself as a “DisneyFan” per se, but many (if not most) of us grew up Wishing Upon A Star at least some of the time, including me.
In my child- and teen-hood, showing your Disney pride meant plastering walls with Mickey posters, cloaking the windows in Minnie curtains, and brushing our teeth with electric Pluto. It was all very obvious.
Now, however, the savvy product-designers of the world have introduced a new Disney aesthetic: one that’s much less in-your-face and more likely to blend into an existing design scheme, though not without its measure of kitsch.
Below are a few of my favorite finds; leave yours in the comments!
Haus of Maus…
In the makeup world, Disney villains are having a moment. The new ‘Disney Noir’ flick Cruella has already inspired a MAC collaboration, and Colourpop’s Misunderstood palette pays homage to a greater swath of baddies, including Ursula, The Evil Queen, and Hades.
Adjacently, Enchanted Disney Fine Jewelry also has a range of villainous original designs, including rutilated quartz* rings inspired by Maleficent — and the ring that inspired this post.
…Mouse in the House
Perhaps the most covert way to incorporate the Diz into daily life, though, is through home decor. Ruggable, for instance, has a line of washable rugs with hidden Mickeys and Minnies, with delightful names like “Mickey Ombré” and “Minnie Trellis.” Shown below: Mickey Persian Burgundy.
This Mickey Mouse Trivet from the Disney Homestead Collection is just subtle enough to quirk up any kitchen…
And, following the discontinuation of the original product, Myperfectcolor.com began offering the most clandestine celebration of all: the Match of Disney Paint color-recreation service, which sounds cool enough on its own to warrant a swatch test.
Plus, the color names spark joy, and can either be conversation pieces (“What is this, ecru in the living room? Nuh-no, this is Once Upon A Time here, and A Whole New World on the wainscoting!”) or a big secret: I won’t tell anyone if you choose Buzz Beta Sector Beige for your man-cave if you don’t, nor if you’re looking to paint your office accent wall the color of Mickey’s pants.
* — Bonus Vocab!
Rutilated quartz is a variety of quartz that contains needle-like inclusions of rutile, a highly-refractive mineral, which can appear gold, silver, copper red, or black. While inclusions often reduce the value of a crystal, rutilated quartz is valued for them.