Champions 4 Her 2009 in T-minus 10 days

For months, eleven artists have been creating beautiful street paintings designs with clients and staff from the nonprofit partners of the Norton Women’s Pavilion Champions 4 Her Festival.   These designs will be translated onto the sidewalk of Witherspoon at Water Front Park the morning of Saturday, June 20th, which coincides with a 5k walk/run.

Last year’s event and street paintings were a huge success.   The goal was to raise $100,000 for the participating nonprofit partners, but instead over $170,000 was allocated to the organizations.

Join us this year to see the street paintings unfold at your feet, participate as a walker/runner, and check out all of the educational/health booths.   You can register here for the 5k.

And thank you to the artists for all of their hard work and service:

the ‘Ville gets green(er)

Louisville city skyline
2′ x 4′ oil on canvas
See all artwork available for sale.

By guest writer, Mark Appleberry, of Sustain (a business dedicated to providing the resources necessary for families and individuals to live more sustainably).

“Green living can mean so many different things. It can start with buying the first re-usable shopping bag, switching to toxic free cleaning, buying from local farmers, or even giving second life to an object instead of buying new.   It starts with small decisions that can have significant impacts on the future.   Everyone we meet that is making steps towards sustainability is an inspiration.   We would like to acknowledge a few our friends, right here in Louisville, who are making great strides forward and inspiring hope along the way.

Ben and Julie Evans – The aspiring filmmaking team, along with another friend, Mark Dixon, are the creative genius behind “Your Environmental Road Trip [YERT],”   These three took a year to visit all 50 states, putting themselves through extreme eco-challenges, interviewing over 800 environmental leaders, experts, and regular citizens from all walks of life, and documenting sustainability across America – as they like to say, “the good, the bad…and the weird.”   The documentary is pregnant with hope, laughter, and over 500 hours of “green” footage.   It is slated for release in full at the end of this year.   For now, satiate your curiosity with over 50 short fun films on their webpage.   For anyone interested in helping with the feature film, contact Ben at

Paul Schellenberger – An 18 year veteran of vermicomposting (worm farming), Paul is a passionate environmentalist excited about educating people about worm farming and composting in general.   Paul consulted from the outset with Breaking New Grounds, a local Louisville vermiculture operation.   You can find BNG’s compost at local Heine Brother’s Coffee shops.

John W. Moody – John is enabling sustainable living by connecting people with local farmers.   His involvement with the Whole Life Co-op., as well as his educational seminars, convey the message of “simple living”.   John regularly speaks on composting and encouraging people to think before carelessly buying, consuming, and discarding.   He and his wife also speak to young parents about raising happy, healthy children.   You can learn more about what John is doing by exploring

Green Convene – The Green Convene is non-partisan coalition to promote sustainable policies in local government.   Led by an informal steering committee of local volunteers, the Green Convene is working to coordinate and bring together the many local Louisville movements addressing a variety of sustainability issues in the Louisville Metro area.   They are always in the market for volunteers and participants and you can join here.

These are just a few of the great people and organizations in and around Louisville dedicated to helping Louisville become a greener, environmentally friendly community and we’re proud of their efforts!”

Thank you Mark!   I’ll add to that list the Green Building, Ohio Valley Creative Energy, and BrightSide (supported in part by Gallopalooza), all of which are highly worthy of your clicks.

Painting their way through cancer


Thanks to a grant from the Kentucky Arts Council, I had the honor of facilitating a community art project in September with a small group of women who are members of Gilda’s Club Louisville. The primary objective was to help the women create a large painting of their own design that illustrated their experience with cancer.



One of the first steps in the process was to visit several local galleries on a First Friday Trolley Hop. I especially wanted them to see the work of Joyce Garner (who is also a cancer survivor) at Garner Furnish Studio. Although her studio was packed with guests, Joyce was gracious enough to talk to us about her work and gave the women ideas for their own painting.


Once the group had a finished sketch drawn to scale, I used tracing paper to put a grid over the sketch that corresponded to a larger grid penciled in on the canvas.



The grid helped us translate the drawing to its full size, and then we started painting. At this point, we were just a few sessions shy of a completed painting. But the project doesn’t end there.


In a member recruitment and community outreach effort to raise awareness about services offered at Gilda’s Club, the finished painting traveled to several Louisville community centers. Each exhibit opened with a public unveiling of the artwork that set the stage for the Gilda’s Club participants to share their experience with the project, services offered by the organization, and their personal cancer stories. At the end of the traveling exhibit, the painting was permanently installed at Gilda’s at 633 Baxter Avenue to continually enrich the club’s environment for every member.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to help these wonderful Gilda’s Club members used their passion, emotion, and personal experiences to inform this powerful painting that will inspire future conversations about facing cancer. This project is just one example of a myriad of services offered by Gilda’s Club Louisville to individuals coping with cancer and to the people in their support network. I highly recommend it to anyone in either situation.

‘Women of Mass Construction,’ Whitten Montgomery

11″ x 14″’ oil on masonite board.
A donation from sold painting will be made to the Women’s Second Chance Scholarship Fund.

Gallery caption:

Kids Acting Against Cancer (KAAC) raises money to help the fight against cancer primarily through ticket sales to youth musical performances.

Whitten, and her sister Jaclyn, founded KAAC out of their dream to help kids and their families suffering from cancer. Inspired by their mother, Sandy (an 11 year cancer survivor), their mission is to literally act to help find the cure. The girls, along with countless other children of all ages, have put on musical productions to raise money for the charity. In addition to entertaining, they have distributed backpacks and gift packs to sick children locally as well as made generous donations to several cancer charities.

Whitten’s quote in the painting:

I wanted to find a way to use acting to help my mom. It started as something to keep our minds of it. For the first performance 30 people came and paid $3 to see us perform ‘Annie’ in my basement. To date we’ve raised $250,000 (she’s 18 years old).

First ‘Champions 4 Her’ sets a high standard

I could hardly believe my eyes as I turned 360 degrees on Saturday to witness the behemoth project I had spent so many months coordinating unfold onto the pavement in vivid color.   This street painting festival was part of the first annual Champions 4 Her walk/run festival benefiting 10 Kentucky charities serving women and girls.

The goal was to raise $100,000.   1,680 runners, 75+ community street art participants, 9 local artists, and 1 international renowned street painter later we raised more than $150,000.   Not too shabby for a first go, eh?   To see more event photos, go to my flickr account.

Not even a week has past and I’m already hearing a buzz about being tasked with breaking a street painting Guinness World Record next year (hopefully donations raised are proportional).

Countdown to ‘Champions 4 Her’

I have spent at least the past six months coordinating the street art festival for an upcoming umbrella fundraiser for 10 Louisville nonprofits. One week from today (Saturday, June 21), ‘Champions 4 Her‘ walk/run will launch its first year at Waterfront Park.

Initially, I was asked to scout and hire an internationally renowned madonnaro (street painter) to set the festival apart from the plethora of other walk/runs in the city. I loved the idea, but immediately thought of the truly unique opportunity the concept of a street painting festival afforded clients of the 10 organizations we were raising money for. I agreed to find a feature artist for the event to draw in the media, but pitched the additional idea of having each of the beneficiary partner organizations create their own amateur street paintings depicting how their respective nonprofit assisted women and girls in our community.

The idea was not hard to sell, and soon I was also hiring a team of local artists to guide the novice nonprofit participants through the process of a creating a roughly 8′ x 12′ chalk pastel painting in one day.

I saw a lot of wide eyes as I sat in on the introductory meetings between the art teams and the artist they were paired with. This is the first time many of the participants have been to exposed to the visual arts on this level. Working with a full-time professional artist has really expanded their perception of the abilities of the arts to impact a community.

Within a few weeks I was getting concept sketches of each group’s final design. It has been such a treat to get photos in my email inbox and snail-mailbox of the art they’re designing.

You can support these wonderful organizations by registering yourself or a team to do the walk/run, or just come by and see the art in action.

I did of course hire a feature professional artist for the main street painting. Her name is Tracy Lee Stum and she will start on her piece the Wednesday before the event. Feel free to stop by Waterfront Park during the day to see her at work. She (and the other street paintings) will be in the parking lot in front of Joe’s Crab Shack.   See you June 21!

World Water Day 08

9″ x 12″ watercolor, SOLD.
See all artwork available for sale.

This Saturday, March 22nd, is World Water Day. The UN initiated international day of awareness has sparked activities around the globe such as “World Water Walks,” art competitions, and documentary film viewings. The latter is happening in Louisville this weekend at Baxter Avenue Theater. ‘FLOW (For Love of Water),’ co-produced by phenomenal local arts rock star, Gill Holland (of Gallery NuLu and sonaBLAST! Records), will be shown for a week at the theater beginning tomorrow.

Snag tickets early for Friday’s showing to make sure don’t miss the opportunity to meet the film’s director, Irena Salina, who was apparently tear-gassed in addition to receiving a death threat while making the film. I just bought my tickets online for the 7:30 showing on Friday. See you there?

Happiness is…

18″ x 24″ oil on canvas, SOLD.
See all artwork available for sale.

Are you happy? Would you say you’re a happier person than a citizen of a neighboring country? How do you measure happiness?

A 2006 study calculating happiness by nation has added a new unit of measurement to the typical equation of income and access to quality health care and education. Inserting the new variable seems to be based on the theory of “what goes around, comes around.” The Happy Planet Index reminds us that we live in the environment we help create by naming ecological sustainability as one of its 3 primary indicators. No one wants to call smog-filled community without clean water home. The study “shows the relative efficiency with which nations convert the planet’s natural resources into long and happy lives for their citizens.”

A more traditional study would likely name a Scandinavian country such as Denmark the world leader of pleasure and contentment. The Happy Planet Index bestows the title to the unlikely candidate of Vanuatu, a small freckling of islands in the South Pacific that only gained its dependence from Britain and France in the 1970’s.

Analyzing life satisfaction, life expectancy, and ecological footprint yields some very surprising results. Mexico and Columbia are 2 of very few countries on the index’s world map positively denoted in green. Give their survey a spin for yourself to gain a better understanding of information collected for the study. Hopefully you are happy and/because you’re ecological footprint is petite.

Years of dancing in front of the mirror worth something

30″ x 40″ oil on canvas
See all artwork available for sale.

Last year I finally made a list of “things to do before I die.” One line on that list read, “take Flamenco dance lessons.” Not long after creating my declarations of commitments to myself, I saw a Louisville Flamenco group perform at the Americana Center for International Women’s Day. The performance was inspiring to say the least, hence this painting.

Benefits and utility exist for such sinfully enjoyable activity like dance, which pleases folks on 2 diametric ends of a spectrum: those involved in dance for personal expression and those only interested in any activity insofar as it is “useful” (ie does is make money or is it trackable on a spreadsheet). Here are a few ways dance nourishes the creative spirit and yields tangible positive outcomes:

  • With one-third of children in the US overweight or at risk of becoming overweight, incorporation of dance into school programs is a fun and effective way to combat overdoses of PopTarts and under-activity and boost confidence. Here’s a great example for you research geeks.
  • The calorie-busting, coordination-building video game, Dance Dance Revolution, may lead to improved reading comprehension among kids with ADHD.
  • A 2003 study showed that cognitive activities such as dancing greatly decrease the risk of dementia. Dancing (3-4/wk) was the only activity that resulted in a 76% lower dementia rate among study participants.
  • If a monetary outcome is what you’re after, Dance-a-thons like this one are a great way to raise money for your cause.

So you see, all of your time spent dancing in front of the mirror, singing that horrible 80’s tune you wouldn’t be caught dead jamming to in front of friends, has simply been a preface to employing your talent for a fruitful purpose. Dance on twinkletoes!

World Hunger Relief Week

5″ x 7″ watercolor in a 12″ x 15″ frame
Click here to see picture of framed painting.
Painting sold to be auctioned here on eBay to raise money for WFP.

Watching Hotel Rwanda last night and anticipating this Saturday’s visit by exiled Rwandan, King Kigeli Ndahindurwa V, has reminded me, in a roundabout way, to mention that this is World Hunger Relief Week. Yum! Brands, one of the world’s largest commercial food manufactures, has joined efforts with the United Nations World Food Programme to address this global issue. Yum! Brand’s efforts are threefold: utilize their powerful marketing capabilities to raise awareness, fundraising (in stores and online, with an additional 7% of the donated amount matched by the Yum! Foundation), and recruiting Yum! employees to volunteer at food banks, to collect donations, and more.

By pulling from Yum! customers at 35,000 restaurants in 110+ countries, the company and WFP hope to raise enough money to feed half a million people. A modest contribution can go a very long way in areas in the most dire need of food. The World Hunger Relief Week website states:

  • Giving just US$1 can help five people avoid starvation.
  • $10 can feed a hungry person for a month
  • $34 can feed a child in school for the entire academic year
  • $100 can feed a class of 25 students for a month
  • $500 can build a school garden, supplying children with fresh, nutritious produce
  • $1000 can provide emergency rations to nearly 2,000 people

I can hardly eat on $10/day, much less $10/month.

With 1 in 7 people in the world going hungry everyday, I hope you’re compelled to give while you’re out to lunch this week. If, like me, you’re not a regular customer at Yum! Brand restaurants (Taco Bell, KFC and several others), you can make an online donation by visiting

Vincenzo’s dishes out cancer research

Yes, I realize October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but still I’m dropping my jaw at the myriad of places the pink paraphernalia is popping up (the 20′ tall pink ribbon sculpture recently erected in downtown Louisville is just one example). This is quite the popular fundraising phenomenon!

The pink ribbon campaign bug has found its way to one of Louisville’s premier, award-winning eateries, Vincenzo’s Italian Restaurant.   Indulge in their lasagna bolognese anytime during the month of October, and Vincenzo’s will donate a portion of the proceeds to Mom’s Lasagna.   The nonprofit funds cancer research in the name of the 2 co-founders’ mother, Patricia Keeling Schmidt, who was diagnosed with breast cancer during her second pregnancy and later died of the disease.   Her story is truly moving.

So dig in and wallow in your good deed while the ricotta and parmesan melts in your mouth.

A backyard garden, 10 tomatoes and a happy house guest

5″ x 5″ watercolor in a 12″ x 12″ frame.
Click here to see picture of painting framed.
See all artwork available for sale.

Last night I drove deep into rural southern Indiana to celebrate the holiday weekend with friends who recently bought a home with more than enough land to accommodate for a vegetable garden, chickens and goats. Our dinner spread was largely comprised of ingredients fresh from their yard. As anyone who has ever tried to eat locally and seasonally, my friends found themselves with a large over-abundance of a few vegetables, so much so that all guests were given parting gifts of tomatoes.

Eating local produce is an excellent way to support local farmers, revisit the notion that food comes from the ground (not a box), cut down on carbon emissions from carting produce from thousands of miles away, and feed your stomach something it will actually like and use. But committing to such a diet does require some culinary creativity. I love tomatoes, but what am I going to do with 6 of them in one week? Solution: here’s a very simple recipe for 10 Tomato Pasta from the kitchen of Nora Pouillon, owner of Restaurant Nora and Asia Nora in Washington DC (the first certified organic restaurant in the US). So go ahead and buy more tomatoes and pass on the can of SpaghettiO’s.

Taking nutrition disclosure to a new level

Here on Bainbridge Island (off the coast of Seattle where I’m staying for a few more days), it’s actually a challenge not to eat organic foods (much of which is also locally grown). One particular small store and cafe, Island Health Foods, makes a special effort to inform customers of how many miles their produce has traveled on handwritten note cards disclosing that distance beneath the price of each item. I’ve never seen this done before and thought it was very clever.

I continue to be wowed by Island Health Foods as I just went to their website to additionally discover:

“Our café is far along on the way to becoming a zero waste operation. All our to-go containers—yes, even the straws—are 100% recycled, bio-compostable from NatureWorks. We compost all our kitchen waste and to-go containers and are working on a local education program on composting and sustainable waste management.”

There is certainly more chatter these days about such topics, including the cost to the environment, in CO2 emissions, to transport our food from the farm to your local grocery store. Ironically, the day after I noticed Island Health Food’s signs, there was an article in the Seattle Post about 80 Seattle residents eating on the “100 mile diet” for the month of August.

Hang in there Al Gore; momentum is building!

Pilots flying to save lives

9″ x 12″ watercolor, $90 ($10 donated to LifeLine Pilots)
See all artwork available for sale.

My mother has worked as a patient case manager in hospitals for as long as I remember. There have been countless times she has worked with patients navigating tremendously traumatic circumstances bringing them swiftly to a hospital far from home. For many of her patients, time, circumstance and the distance between them and the people and places offering their best chance at wellness might as well be to the other side of the world.

The need for “air ambulances,” in stances such as these, is certainly being met commerically. But should you require such services, you will also certainly pay the price (even articles dating several years back state ballpark figures of $5-10k per airlift). Enter LifeLine Pilots, a nonprofit organization over 500 volunteer pilots strong getting people in medical emergencies from point A to B quickly without item number one on your hospital bill containing three zeros. They also transport patients for organ transplants, treatment/diagnosis, as well as taking family to offer support or for a last goodbye.

My social circle often seems to have a disproportionate number of pilots (who also read this blog), so for those of you who fit the description, consider utilizing your specialized skills as a way to give back, verses volunteering in a capacity nearly any of us are capable of. If you don’t fly, keep this, and similar organizations, in mind should the need arise. The LifeLine Pilots’ website fully outlines their criteria, services, and how to arrange for a flight.

Earth worms and garlic ice cream, mmm good!

8″ x 10″ oil on canvas
See all artwork available for sale.

I’ve always said I love garlic, in abundance, on anything. I may stand corrected, although I’ll have to get back to you on that after I harvest garlic tomorrow and make my own garlic ice cream at The Food Literacy Project‘s Family Farm Day. I may also bake bread in a solar oven (weather permitting) and pass the brush onto someone else to have my face painted. From 10-2 tomorrow (Saturday) you can partake in all of this and more at Oxmoor Farm. Proceeds from tickets sales and the silent auction will go towards The Food Literacy Project’s efforts to reconnect consumers (especially kids) with the processes and products of organic farming via hands on learning.

Personally, I believe we are easy targets for junk food manufacturers because it’s been decades since anyone of us understood from experience what food really consists of and how it makes it to our plates (or wrappers). So ignorance is bliss as we eat our cheesy puffs, and “made with real…” in front of any ingredient on a box is luxurious instead of expected. The Food Literacy Project is out to bridge this great divide by meeting urban Louisville residents on their turf since the farm is juxtaposed next to the city’s largest mall and I-64. School groups, adults, or whomever can taste foods from the farm, plant seeds, learn about composting and more (or they’ll come to your school).

Maybe I’ll see you out there tomorrow. You get to try my garlic ice cream first. Ha!

$20/family pre-registered
$6 at the door
children under 2 free
To pre-register: Call (502) 413-5989 or email