After my post about the Founder Mental Health Pledge, I received a note from Kari Palazzari, the Executive Director of Studio Arts Boulder, a local nonprofit that manages a community pottery studio. She lamented that very few members of the Boulder startup community seem to take advantage of their programs.
She said, “Studio Arts Boulder would love to help support the Founder Mental Health Pledge.”
A couple of my local colleagues have taken classes at the pottery studio, and they speak avidly about the impact of working with clay. It helped them be less stressed and more focused, which makes a big difference when tackling a startup’s unique problems. Kari said, “People come out of the studio less twitchy, for sure.”
There’s a lot of data about the impact of the arts. Making art, in particular, helps combat anxiety and depression. It improves cognitive function by making our brains more resilient and flexible, which means we become more creative problem-solvers all around.
We can tackle the mental health challenges within our industry in many ways, and I encourage more of us to try art. Start small with a date night – offered by Studio Arts Boulder every Saturday. Or better yet, schedule a private program for your team at your office or in the pottery studio.
And if clay isn’t your jam, early next year, Studio Arts Boulder is opening a new facility that will include woodworking, blacksmithing, printmaking, and glass art studios. How cool is that?
Amy and I have been collecting art since we first got together in 1990. My mom, Cecelia Feld, is an artist, and I have been around contemporary art my entire life. We prefer non-representational art from living artists. While we have paintings, sculptures, and photographs from artists who live all over the world, many of the artists are from the Western United States.
We first met Julie Maren through a gallery in Boulder on the Pearl Street Mall called MacLaren Markowitz Gallery. When the Internet and telecom bubble collapsed, the gallery ran into trouble, so Amy and I invested in it to help support it and keep it open. We met many artists in the ensuing years and expanded the Colorado artists we were collecting. MacLaren Markowitz ultimately closed, but many friendships remain.
We’ve been slowly putting new art in our Aspen house. We didn’t want to fill it quickly, but rather savor the space and get comfortable with contemporary artists from the area, along with ones from the Western United States that we already collected. We have several beautiful pieces hanging from Mark Cesark (Carbondale) and Christopher Martin (Aspen). And, when you are on a Zoom call with me, you are looking at a piece by Clay Johnson (Laramie, WY).
Julie installed her piece on Leap Day 2020, just before Covid hit. We were planning to be here for the summer but stayed in Boulder instead. We saw the installation in person for the first time a week ago, and it blew our minds. I’ve been spending a few minutes with it each morning.
Given all the stress in the world right now, I’m looking for moments of beauty every day. Art has always been a source of it for me. While I don’t have any talent as an artist, I have enormous appreciation for it and for what it takes to create art. So, I thought I’d share a moment of beauty with you today before the holiday weekend in the US.
Thanks, Mom and Dad, for dragging Daniel and me to endless museums when we were kids. And thanks, Amy, for loving art as much, or maybe even more, than I do.
If you are looking for something powerful, creative, provocative, and beautifully done, go look at True Blue by Eliot Peper and team.
In 2017, I wrote a post titled A Clever Short Story About Discrimination about the short story that Eliot had written. It was an idea that David Cohen had. He shared it with Eliot, who then wrote the short story. David then funded a project for Eliot to turn it into an “internet public art project.”
Eliot describes how they made True Blue. It’s a fabulous integration of story, illustration, and design on the web.
Independent of the beauty of the project, the story is a critically important one for today’s society. While a cynic will say “same as it ever was“, consider if eye color (instead of skin color, or gender, or ethnicity, or sexual orientation, or …) was a key “categorizer” in our society.
I love my mom’s art. If you aren’t familiar with it, following is a piece that will be at her exhibit starting next week at CU.
The opening reception is going to be at 6pm on 8/27 at Andrew J. Macky Gallery in the foyer of Macky Auditorium Concert Hall, University of Colorado Boulder (285 University Avenue, Boulder).
I’ll be there along with my mom, dad, Amy, and a bunch of other friends. Come join us. For a taste of what else will be there, here’s another piece from the exhibit.
Foundry Group has now been around for over seven years and I’ve been working with my partners for 14 years. We’ve started to develop some traditions.
One of my favorites is exit gifts. When a company has an exit that generates a return for us, we give a gift to the partner who served on the board. These gifts are generally tuned to what the partner loves such as musical stuff for Ryan and Jason, bike stuff for Seth, and art for me. They are modest, but very thoughtful and something the partner wouldn’t have just gone out and done for himself. They are often self referential, such as the Makerbot sculpture of me created by an artist and printed on a Makerbot after Stratasys acquired MakerBot.
A few weeks ago Seth, Jason, and Ryan corralled me in our small conference room. Whenever they do this, I’m never sure if it’s going to be a happy thing or an intervention. Ryan was holding the following 2′ x 3′ framed print.
To get a better sense of this masterpiece, let’s zoom in on the G and the N.
This is a list of every tweet I made at @bfeld from the day of our investment in Gnip to the day that Twitter acquired Gnip. This first one is from 2/29/08.
The last batch is from 4/14.
Ryan told me that Gnip was used to generate the tweet list for the poster. And Postertext was used to print it. Thanks guys – this one made me smile a huge smile. I love this tradition.
We’ve all got to start somewhere.
Over the weekend my mom gave me a CD with the recording of my first known live interview. I’ve tossed it up on SoundCloud for your listening pleasure.
This recording was done by KERA, our Dallas-based public radio and TV station when I was four. It was for a video segment on a painting I had done that showed on Channel 13 (our public TV station.) My mom hasn’t been able to find the video so the audio will have to do.
While Amy and I listened to it, we made a bunch of observations over the 15 minute segment.
Thanks mom for digging this up. And for being a great mom.
My mom (Cecelia Feld) is having an opening in Denver on Friday 11/1 at Artwork Network Gallery from 5pm – 9pm. I’m heading down to Denver at the end of the day on Friday and will be there from 5pm – 7pm before I head out for dinner (a good son has to eat, right?)
I love my mom’s art and if you’ve ever been in my office you’ve seen some of it around. If you aren’t familiar with it, a piece from the show is below or go check out her website at Studio 7310.
Artwork Network Gallery is located at 878 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, CO 80204 (303-388-7420). I hope to see you Friday night!
I recently decided to back three graduates on Upstart. In this new model of crowd-funding, accredited investors back entrepreneurs and have the option of signing on as mentors. In exchange, the “upstart” gives up a percentage of their future income over the next 10 years. FYI – I’m not an investor in Upstart, but I am a big fan.
The common thread with the upstarts I’ve backed is their passion to cross art with technology. Chris Mathews, Bennett Lin and Shefali Kumar Friesen are all highly-focused on their interdisciplinary efforts, applying art and music to technology to solve today’s problems.
Shefali asked me if I knew anyone interested in art and technology who might want to help her reach her funding goal. I asked her to make the case, and she came back to me with the following video (posted on her Upstart profile).
[vimeo 57611714 w=400 h=300]
I think Shefali is awesome and I’m proud to be backing her. Join me if you can!
As investors, are we the modern-day patrons of the arts?
A few months ago Suzy Kendrick of CanvasPop reached out to me after I wrote a blog post titled What’s Your Product Cadence. She had some comments relevant to her business and offered to put together a Twitter word cloud print for @FoundryGroup.
It came out great and is now hanging in our office. The CanvasPop team was super to deal with – they offered us the first print for free. It was nice but after staring at it we wanted to tweak it a little. I offered to pay for this one (they didn’t ask – but it was the right thing for us to do) and they did an excellent job of making the changes we wanted.
Even though Amy and I are huge art collectors, this is the first time I’ve ever done a piece of personalized corporate art. CanvasPop totally nailed it for us and gave us something that we could finally use as our entry way sign.
If you are interested in something like this, drop an email to Chris – the Corporate Art Guru at CanvasPop. Suzy – thanks for reaching out!