Holgie Loves the Cowboy

January 16th, 2010 by Julia Taylor

Art finds a place in life sometimes where you least expect it. We were in California last month, visiting the community of 29 Palms and met a local artist, a photo-realism painter, Chuck Caplinger. He lives in a dome in the desert and his wife, Holgie Forrester, is an actor. When you meet her you know you’ve seen her in commercials, television and film over the years. She started her career when she was 10 years old with Disney on Stage.

Holgie Forrester’s filmography.

Chuck is a well-know muralist and became famous 30 years ago on the Hollywood scene with his wall size paintings for Hollywood celebs particularly Marilyn Monroe. Visit Desert Art Studio here.

In his very early career as a musician he traveled the jazz world and worked with Sammy Davis Jr. Chuck was born in Texas, still sports the boots and accent and Holgie calls him Cowboy.

Fifteen years ago Chuck and Holgie moved from the LA scene to the desert and they both have worked hard to create an economy that will sustain artists with formation of a cultural center, funding for a series of murals around town and a school arts program. This is a small community outside of Joshua Tree which is now becoming a destination community with new restaurants and art galleries.

But what was most surprising was how Holgie uses her acting skills to help prepare marines on the local base to live and survive in Afghanistan and Iraqi villages. She works with the soldiers and American-Afghanistan Iraqi citizens to create real life scenarios for the soldiers so they can quickly acclimate to life in these villages. She saves lives with her acting and direction.

Art finds a way to change the way we live each day.

Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, once said “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.  Art is knowing which ones to keep.”

May we not be afraid to be creative and make some mistakes and may our best mistakes create art in the way we live!

For those who want to a little video recounting of the trip–here is an animoto version.

A few pictures on the road from Palm Springs, 29 Palms and LA at the end of 2009 with music by Benjamin Biolay

more about “Leaving LA“, posted with vodpod

So you want to start a business….NOW?

January 13th, 2010 by Julia Taylor

A New Year begins with sense of new things possible in our lives. So suppose you’ve been thinking about that business you’ve always been wanting to start. Economic times are tough. What advice would our community of CEOs give you?

Here’s the responses from some of our region’s top and innovative CEOs.

What advice would you give someone starting a company or a spin-off now? Opportunities?  Cautions?

Sheldon Lubar, Chairman, Lubar & Company:

“Do all of your homework before you start and be certain you have commitments for the necessary start up money.”

Paul Purcell, Chairman/President/CEO, Robert W. Baird & Company:

“This is a good time to start a business form an economic point of view but very challenging from a political point of view with regard to increased health care costs, taxes and increased regulation.”

Dan Steininger, President, Steininger & Associates & BizStarts Milwaukee:

“Since the launch of BizStarts Milwaukee we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of new potential high-growth companies getting started.  The deal flow to our Angel investment network, the Successful Entrepreneur Investors, has been up dramatically in 2009.  We see that trend line continuing even stronger in 2010.

This is important because the Wisconsin economy has lost so many jobs. The key to job growth is to start new companies. Major corporations will continue to be reluctant employers of new employees. The trend line of downsizing by major corporations is not simply result of this recent recession but it’s been going on for the last quarter of a century.”

Jill Morin, Executive Officer, Kahler Slater:

“My advice to anyone starting a business is to be clear about the kind of company you want to be and the kinds of experiences you want to provide to your clients, your employees — all of your stakeholders. Having a vision for your future success that authentically differentiates you in the marketplace is the key to success. Then, hold to that vision, even when the going gets rough, and make it manifest in everything you do.”

Austin Ramirez, CEO, INCOVA Technologies:

“If you can access sufficient capital, now is a great time to launch a new business due to high availability of talented employees and the many changes in government and private sectors that have been forced by the recession will generate new value creation opportunities.”

Tim Sullivan, President & CEO, Bucyrus International:

“This is a tough domestic business environment. If you’re going to do it, make sure it either is filling a void left by a departing business; creating a new niche where demand can be clearly defined; or has something to do with where the real growth is happening, i.e., the developing and emerging international economies.”

Steve Roell, CEO, Johnson Controls:

“Understand your markets and how susceptible they are to economic volatility. Make sure you are capitalized to withstand the unexpected and that you’ve considered various contingency plans.

In terms of opportunities, the long viability of a business is tied to innovation that truly provides a unique value to your customer. If you have that idea and a sound business plan, this isn’t a bad time to access capital at reasonable rates.

Finally, look for opportunities to partner with another firm that gives you better market access to distribution, a customer base, sales force etc.”

Mark Furlong, President/CEO, M&I Corporation:

“A level of investor interest that will offer an opportunity to obtain what seems at that moment like excess capital, a business plan that will attract some extent of financing, a portion which should be longer-term in nature, and the experience and wisdom to execute your plan as intended, calling upon the expertise of trusted advisors, when necessary.”

David Raysich, Partner, Plunkett Raysich Architects, LLP:

“Starting a business today is a distinct advantage over starting a business in an economic boom.  Every existing business is operating with a new normal. Your new business will be operating with the new normal but without all the easy spending baggage.”

The High Price of Bad Policy–Esau’s Porridge

September 28th, 2009 by Julia Taylor

Today I attended a TRE (Transforming Economic Regions) Roundtable organized by the Land Grant Universities.  Neil Noyes, President of the Virginia Tobacco Commission, riveted all of us with his incredible vision which is now a reality of transforming the textile mills, tobacco fields and coal mines of Virginia by investment of the State’s Tobacco Settlement Fund of $35 million in capital into 5 R&D facilities in energy opportunity fields–nuclear, carbon, composites and renewable energies. $100 million in grant match to incentivize research partnered with Virgina Commonwealth Institutions just rolled out a month ago and they are making their first $20 million investment. This is happening in the poor, rural communities of Virginia. They invested in infrastructure–the typical industrial parks, roads and water but also invested in two major fiber optics networks that span two large regional areas. There is no research university in either region which led to the formation of the 5 R&D facilities. Neil described this as based on inclusive networks that value collaboration, are responsive to private sector needs and are not passive but activist networks for change.

Remember what happened to Wisconsin’s Tobacco Settlement money? We took the Esau approach and sold our birthright for a quick budget fix bowl of porridge.

A New Way of Seeing

June 2nd, 2009 by Julia Taylor

cowsLike most human beings I tend to measure ideas out against my personal experience and some universal perspectives–generally gathered in my post college years. This pic goes right back to a childhood of cows, farm equipment and that rural mess of equipment (the junk heap lot). This is where my life view began.

When I was a wee one, my most poignant memories are of art classes–in the lines, out of the lines, construction paper and awkward scissors, oil paint., clay, and color circles. Then I got a camera early on and all was lost. I LOVED sketching and photography.  Two years into a college Arts Major degree, life intervened and I decided during one of those infamous down economic cycles to go to a more marketable major.  There was this implicit promise that one could provide for our family needs through commercial means and support our artistic desires on the sides. I did buy in and I still do. I love photography, fine arts and performing arts. I understand the talent, the discipline and the sacrifice that artists need and make to survive on the side today. I also understand the mix it takes in a community to create the economic engine that drives all the cultural economies. It it is a two way innovation economy. Fortunately, I enjoy all the dimensions of  regional economy . You need a very robust metro area to sustain artists economically on the strength of their art and there are probably three market areas in this country that can provide that type of catch-net. Given our strength as a second tier market, we have remarkable resiliency including the largest and oldest performing art fund in the country. It’s quite remarkable and we can say it because we have so many regional and global companies who passed 50, 75, 100 and even 150 years of accomplishments and have always supported the arts.

Its been a great business plan but now we need to fast forward to how we grow our market for innovation and creativity. We know that exposure to creativity can throw the switch for a innovative talent to grow. How do we keep our big tent of the arts open to all those children and young people to learn a new way of seeing, how to create and bring this talent to our everyday world of work and play.

Somebody else paid the entry ticket for us. They didn’t know us. They just paid forward.

It’s time for us to pay forward for each of those 400,00 children in our region that don’t even have the experience of of creativity outside of a TV set yet. They need the chance to learn a new way of seeing.

Keep the arts giving forward and thank someone who believed in each one of us without ever meeting any one of us. Invest in your future and region’s well-being.

Pay it forward.


Social Media 1.01 according to JHTaylor

May 10th, 2009 by Julia Taylor

A very quick discovery walk through of social media for everyone who looks at this phenomenon with amazement and blurry vision!

MySpace.com  This is the space of teens, music and hormones.  There are great sites with garage band music and playlists, photography and lots of little hourly and minutely connections. Sometime in the future, someone will figure out how to nuke myspace accounts upon request similar to yet to be developed less painful approaches to tattoo removal. It’s worthwhile joining just to know what your kids are up to.

Facebook.com The original college student only site is now owned by the Boomers. The largest group of new facebookers are 45 and over. Facebook created the verb of friending. Think about going to your local Cheers bar or coffee shop. You see people you know and catch up and they introduce you to their friends. You find people you knew in high school. Its is a virtual alumni party and calendar for birthdays, events and causes. It is a contained universe in some ways since you must agree to who is your friend. More arts groups, causes, non-profits, bars and other commercial sites are showing up and the lists of friends can be of great value in forwarding information and asking for support for events and efforts.

Twitter.com Tweeting is actually micro-blogging in 140 characters or less. It is the haiku of blogs. Twitter is going into a bar or coffee shop out of town full of friendly strangers. You find people you know, people you would like to know and others that pass by in a river of tweets. Twitter’s real power is the ability to connect people on issues, ideas and causes real-time. People use hashmarks to denote a trend, issue or idea like #GMCMKE or #Brewers and using a search function you can quickly find those who are also interested. Direct Messages or DMs keep messages private. Locally, twitter delivered people, calls and information on key issues like transit, water and public art. Authenticity counts so there needs to be personality behind the tweeter. Blasting out urls or headlines doesn’t work well.  Anyone can follow you and so everything you tweet out there is visible to friend and foe. 

Twitter is truly a river of conversation and I like to narrow the channel using apps like Tweetdeck where I can use columns to follow groups of key people, issues and topics. It sorts it all out. You can use apps that can connect all your sites–so one message on Facebook or twitter shows up on the other and tracks messages from both.


You can also stay up through phone apps. The iPhone particularly makes it easy to track all of the social media venues.

Friends ask me why people would be interested in daily events in someone’s life on twitter and I think it helps to open the door on who we are and our personality. People also want to know what is going on and what we think about issues and ideas so I think tweeting can say more about who we are and why we think and do what we do.

I may be tweeting about an issue like transit or water or the UN Global Cities Compact and the next tweet will be my daily grumble about getting on the treadmill.  People tweet back and Retweet –the ultimate help and compliment. This sends my message onto their followers. The multiplier effect of RT (retweeting) is the power and strength of Twitter–it is how the word is spread.

I’ve met an amazing group of people on twitter. Getting together is called a “tweet-up” and I’ve had a chance to tweetup over coffee with folks I’ve met on twitter. New friends and new energy for a better Milwaukee–what could be better.

Lake Michigan in April

April 8th, 2009 by Julia Taylor

Today it felt like spring. It was marvelous to drive down the lakefront and see the clouds skidding over the water sparkling under this spring sun. So I had to pull over by the yacht club and take this picture. The fishing boats were being winched into into the water and men in utility vans were watching the water with coffee cups on the dashboard.



Ghost Ranch HDR Photos from Santa Fe

April 7th, 2009 by Julia Taylor

Last October a group of friends visited Georgia O’Keefe’s inspiration ground at Ghost Ranch several miles from her home. The beauty of the cliffs and the sky were amazing. I finally got around to working with the images and I love the landscape all over again.

Gerald's Tree

Big Sky







#HDR Lake Michigan Below Zero

April 7th, 2009 by Julia Taylor

Lake Michigan Below Zero


Shot by the Pier at the Yacht Club in January 2009 with an iPhone and created an HDR shot with Photoshop and Photomatix

HDR Photos

April 3rd, 2009 by Julia Taylor

This is a bit different than the public art debate with the Common Council and Janet Zwieg’s commision–but then again art is an individual matter sometimes.

 Photography is my current passion artistically. I grew up drawing portraits at county fairs for $25 a portrait and sketches for display advertising for the daily and weekly papers. Two years of art classes at Ball State University was wonderful but I was lousy at design so decided to protect my GPA and scholarship and went for an English/Philosophy degree with an Art minor. Nevertheless, I paid my rent often with stained glass commissions from my own little second bedroom studio called “The Vitreous Works.”  

Creativity is what provides the perspective in difficult issues–otherwise life is black and white and confined to boxes that we can’t get out of easily. Enough philosophy–I’ve had a lot of fun recently with both iPhone photo apps and HDR (high dynamic range) photography with a Canon Rebel XTi digital camera. So here are a few shots and a little creative breather in the life of art and social controversy!


My backyard

My backyard


My Front Porch

My Front Porch


Side View

Side View


Sunday Fireplace

Sunday Fireplace

Fifty cents for the Mona Lisa

April 3rd, 2009 by Julia Taylor

Early this week, Jonathon Winkle, an artist and President of the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center, asked me a very thoughtful question. He noted that we talk a great deal about the importance of our cultural assets in corporate talent attraction but we never ask if we have created both the opportunities and public attitude to attract and retain artists. As a performing artist, he noted the reduction in concerts and other events which allow artists to support themselves financially. But what concerned Jonathon more was a general public attitude that we don’t even think about or actively discuss the environment here for artists.
His point was brought home again with the brewing flap over Janet Zweig’s proposed public art installation on Wisconsin Ave.  I  think public weigh in is important on public art but comments like “I wouldn’t give 50 cents for the Mona Lisa” by our elected leadership just creates the image again of an unsophisticated city that does not value art or artists. I don’t think represents Milwaukee or its art community fairly at all.
I’m a great optimist in the community’s ability to correct its course quickly when needed. It is time for some public input on both the decision to delay payment of the commission and effectively kill the project and send the funding to another community (sound familiar) and how to create more awareness and better process for public input. Let’s not send out the message that Milwaukee is down on art and artists.

You can help change the course of this debate by calling your alderperson–

Thanks to Dave Reid for the information.

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/twoaday

Urban Milwaukee http://urbanmilwaukee.com

UWM Downtown! http://www.uwmdowntown.org

The Public Works Committee would put a stop to an effort to improve Milwaukee’s pedestrian environment.  If you believe we should support public art in Milwaukee please contact our elected officials today.

C. C. President Willie L. Hines, Jr. – 15th District Alderman – whines@milwaukee.gov

Alderman Ashanti Hamilton – 1st District Alderman – ahamil@milwaukee.gov

Alderman Joe Davis – 2nd District Alderman – jldavis@milwaukee.gov

Alderman Nik Kovac – 3rd District Alderman – nkovac@milwaukee.gov

Alderman Robert J. Bauman – 4th District Alderman – rjbauma@milwaukee.gov

Alderman James A. Bohl, Jr. – 5th District Alderman – jbohl@milwaukee.gov

Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs – 6th District Alderman – mcoggs@milwaukee.gov

Alderman Willie C. Wade – 7th District Alderman – wwade@milwaukee.gov

Alderman Robert G. Donovan – 8th District Alderman – rdonov@milwaukee.gov

Alderman Robert W. Puente – 9th District Alderman – rpuent@milwaukee.gov

Alderman Michael J. Murphy – 10th District Alderman – mmurph@milwaukee.gov

Alderman Joe Dudzik -11th District Alderman – jdudzi@milwaukee.gov

Alderman James N. Witkowiak – 12th District Alderman – jwitko@milwaukee.gov

Alderman Terry L. Witkowski – 13th District Alderman – twitko@milwaukee.gov

Alderman Tony Zielinski -14th District Alderman – tzieli@milwaukee.gov