_C1_3125It’s been a weekend full of art.

I came across a bagpipes rehearsal near my office after the solar eclipse this week, maybe for someone’s homecoming parade. Some family visited this weekend and went with me to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art up in Bentonville yesterday. Today, we went to Eureka Springs, a small town to the northeast that’s home to hundreds of artists and shops.




_C1_3102And tonight, I went to see “The Book of Life,” a beautifully animated romance and adventure story based around the Mexican holiday called el Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. The observance, which is coming up this weekend, is a celebration of loved ones who have died, a way to remember them while enjoying food and color and light and taking away the sting and dread of death.

In the movie, the dead inhabit two realms: Those who have living descendants to remember them dwell in the boisterously colorful and fun Land of the Remembered, while those who have no such legacy wither away in the cold, gray Land of the Forgotten.





_C1_3146It’s a family film, but like the holiday it celebrates, it dives into some of my deepest, most fearful questions: What happens when I die, and will I be remembered? I don’t think I’m alone with these thoughts.

Art, I think, is at least partly an attempt to answer those questions: to make something to remember, and to reach past the boundaries of a lifetime.






_C1_3132We have sculptures and buildings and paintings and books, but a lot of humanity’s art is temporary, like a group’s playing of the bagpipes for a crowd or an interaction on a sidewalk. Other art doesn’t come from us at all, like a sunset or solar eclipse. I like to think of photography as a way to record this art, to say, yes, you existed, and you did or made or were something worth seeing._C1_3119




_C1_3195I hope my photography also qualifies as art, because I’m trying to make something to remember, too. We all want to keep the party going in the Land of the Remembered.








_C1_3285So when I say thanks for looking, I mean it. I hope you have a good week.


If You Love A Dog, You Will Lose A Dog

Dec-17-2007-015In fall 2010, I was hanging out with a friend down the hall when my dad called and told me to watch an NBC News video, part of their look back at Hurricane Katrina five years later. Watch it, he said — I think I just saw our dog.

The video (at 3:00 here) shows a reporter tentatively approaching a small, black dog on an empty highway overpass, one of thousands upon thousands lost in the storm. The man tries to leave a cup of water near the dog and the camera zooms in. For my dad and me, there was no mistaking that tuft of white fur on the chest, the curly fur on the ears or that snout. We’ll never know for sure, but we believe that was our dog.

See, shortly after Katrina, my dad found a quiet, mixed-breed dog at a Humane Society in Nebraska called Shadz (like shades). She scooted up to her cage’s door to let my dad pet her, a sharp contrast to the shelter’s more energetic occupants. We adopted her and renamed her Shady, which always reminded me of the name Sadie.

She was gentle and sweet — perfect for two quiet guys — but for the first year or so, she was also afraid when left alone. She would howl mournfully and dig through the trash, always apparently searching for semi-edible cardboard. She hid under the bed during storms. In the picture above, she was waiting for my dad to get back even though I was still there. Through the years with us, she feared abandonment less and less.

Shady died yesterday after weeks of declining health. I’ll miss her wet snout poking at my face, and lying down with her at the end of the day, and going on walks, and her habit of collapsing onto her side at our feet. I’ll miss her funny sighs and hums when she stretched, and her full-body tail-wagging, and her insistence on being in the middle of everything, and her watchful, gentle love. I’ll miss her.

spring-junior-year-017(One of my first photos of her, with my first digital camera, so yeah, totally out of focus.)




The math is unforgiving; if you love a dog, you will lose a dog, and you will suffer the pain and biting lessons that death brings — probably several times over.

Bob Sullivan

This is my obituary, and a shout-out to dog-lovers: Keep loving those dogs.

Thanks for looking,