Art Conspiracy

Every now and then my husband surprises me by finding a really interesting event and buying tickets. He knows I love art and artists so this weekend’s surprise was one of the best. We went to Art Con, a fundraising event put on each year by Art Conspiracy, an organization that conspires to bring artists and musicians together, raise funds, and activate awareness for regional creative programs and causes. Art Con is “street level philanthropy with equal parts community art event and fundraiser.”

Participating artists were given an 18″ by 18″ board on which to create a piece of art to be auctioned off during the event, which included alternating auctions and live music at a warehouse in The Cedars neighborhood of Dallas. More than 150 artists and four musicians (The Cush, Cliffs of Insanity, DJ Christy Ray and The Misfit DJ Set) got great exposure during the event and funds were raised to support MAP – Make Art With Purpose. The art was diverse and creative, as you can see below.

This is a photo of 18 by 18 inch art creations by Dallas artists participating in ArtCon11.

Some of the pieces auctioned off at ArtCon11

My husband and I enjoyed a delicious Cuban sandwich and yucca fries from The Guava Tree food truck and then we took our drinks inside the warehouse to peruse the paintings, finding several that we wanted to bid on. The people-watching was pretty fabulous; it was quite the eclectic, artsy younger crowd combined with middle-aged people in workout gear, older folks in motorized chairs and families with children running around playing tag. During the auctions, whenever the bidding passed another $100 milestone, the crowd went crazy. Bidding started at $20 and paintings sold for anywhere from $20 to over $800 before we left. While we didn’t end up coming home with any paintings, we did enjoy the evening and learned of some artists that we will keep an eye on, including those that create designs for Cykochik custom handbags. If you’re looking for a unique gift for a creative person in your life, check them out.

This is a photo of a crowd of people looking at paintings.

The ArtCon11 crowd deciding which paintings to bid on.


Change It Up By Going Outside

Get Out of The Gym And Into Nature

After a while workouts in a gym get a little stale. There are only so many lunges, pull-ups and elliptical sessions you can do before you’re bored. One day recently, people were hogging a lot of the free weights and medicine balls so when my friend Jody arrived for our morning workout at the not-so-great gym I wrote about last week, I suggested an outdoor run. Jody wisely pointed out that the gym is basically bordered by highways so a run might be difficult. But we decided to see what we could find. We ran by a lot of businesses, a CVS, a few banks and some restaurants. Not so beautiful.

But then we found a park nearby with a small lake.  Incredibly, in the middle of the urban sprawl, there was actual wildlife! I was so thrilled that I had to stop and take a picture of each new creature we came upon.

This is a picture of a swan taking flight.

I love how majestic this egret looks taking off.

There were egrets and an otter and birds I don’t know the name of—and a kitten. Until you come across those beautiful creatures, you forget how incredible it is to be in their presence. I’m so used to be cooped up in my temperature-controlled house, gym or office, glued to the TV, computer or smartphone, that just being outside was like a big adventure. I think endorphins must be increased when you workout outside as opposed to the gym—as long as you get away from the highway.

This is a photo of an otter eating.

This guy swam across the lake to find his breakfast. I think it’s an otter.

Because between the animals and the sunrise, the fresh air and the feel of uneven ground under my feet, I felt uplifted and inspired the rest of the day.

This is a photo of a black kitten.

This friendly kitten stopped for a visit.

Even the kitten who appeared in the middle of the jogging path around the lake made me happy. And then there was the pièce de résistance—the sunrise.


Getting outside proved to be just what I needed. It just goes to show you that even in the middle of the city you can find beauty in the outdoors.


The Weekend Fun Folder

My new friend Jody, who I met at work, has a Fun Folder (a Google Doc), which she fills with ideas for destinations, activities and things to do in each new place she lives. After every weekend, she talks about the interesting thing’s she’s done, as if she’s gone on a mini-vacation, even it if was only biking in a new area or kayaking down a river several hours away that I didn’t even know existed.

That’s how she views each weekend, like it’s a mini-vacation. It’s kind of brilliant. While I’m planning all the tedious chores I’m going to accomplish over my weekend, she’s concocting a mini-trip to some place I’ve never heard of even though I’ve lived here 18 years longer than she has. Of course, she’s a lot younger than me, so perhaps her youthful energy has something to do with her extreme fun planning.

A few weekends ago I wanted to join in the fun, so we met up to go kayaking at White Rock Lake in Dallas. The lake is not swimmable and sometimes bodies are found there, but that hasn’t deterred White Rock Paddle from setting up a rental shop on the shore. Of course Jody doesn’t need to rent; she has her own kayak that she attaches to the rack on her car. She’s the kind of person who just exudes adventure. Plus, as an added bonus, she’s always ready for a flood.

This is a photo of Jody and her dog Navi kayaking.

Jody and Navi kayaking on White Rock Lake.

Oh, and did I mention her dog, Navi? Navi likes to go kayaking with her. Many of the Fun Folder ideas include dog-friendly places. After our kayaking outing, for example, Jody found a place that allowed dogs on the porch and probably added it to the fun folder.

Last Saturday, I spent the day cleaning the house. Meanwhile, Jody invited me to go kayaking again with her and Navi in Fort Worth, sending me this photo of the enjoyable time they were having:

This is a photo of a dog in a kayak.

What Navi was doing last Saturday.

Meanwhile, back at my house, my dog was squaring off against the vacuum, which she vehemently distrusts. This is her keeping an eye on the vacuum while I took a break:

This is a photo of a dog staring at a vacuum cleaner.

“Stay right there, or else…”

So what’s wrong with this situation? Obviously, my fun folder was woefully under-consulted that day. However, I did vacuum up what seemed like a whole dog’s worth of fur. So at least there was a feeling of accomplishment. Not fun, but accomplishment.

Next weekend, however, I’m opening the fun folder. Accomplishment is overrated.