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I realized in quite an unfortunate way early on in life that things are just things. I vividly recall going to the house of loved ones lost to an accident and realizing that, without them, this place I loved had lost its soul. Now, had one of the kids moved in and raised their own family there, that soul and energy would have been reignited, but that moment gave me valuable insight.

That is part of why I decided to expand our Brand Philanthropy program – originally intended for nonprofit organizations – to include artists and musicians. Walk into any business, bar, store or other venue after hours, and you realize that, without the people, without the music playing, without art on the walls, or the buzz of conversation, the place is just a shell. It is the people that give places life, even in a place with the coolest architecture. You need the people to make it come alive, and for me at least, you need the artists. Whether it’s that talented band trying to make it, (or just continuing to do something they enjoy) pumping out notes that change your mood and lighten up your soul, or that local artist’s latest watercolors that make you recall what a beautiful place you live in, art is part of who we are.

Creative work and Creatives themselves, more and more in our society, have been slighted and undervalued in our digital world. With companies pocketing millions for voluminous downloads, the artist may only see pennies, or worse, have their material pirated and get nothing in return. Often, only their passion for the music or their artistry keeps them going, while they work at other jobs to get by. If not for that passion, we’d all be passing through mind numbingly quiet and visually barren moments, places, and times. We must value those who create.

As lovers of music, art, and literature, we want to do our part in trying to make a small dent by lending assistance to these artists. We had our first application under our newly expanded Brand Philanthropy program and began work at lending a hand. Duane Geisness is an artist with a shop in the picturesque town of Boulder Junction in Northern Wisconsin where, for many years, he painted some amazing portraits of wildlife. Several years ago, he became inspired to paint sea life after a trip to Maui. I stumbled into his shop in Boulder a few years back and was blown away and shocked to find mammoth paintings of sea creatures like humpback whales.  He uses a unique combination of metal substrate combined with his own paint recipes and additional materials to not only bring his subjects alive, but bring the water alive. I literally felt as though I were under water with these creatures, with nearly as much wonder and awe as I’ve had when actually diving, only with much less work!

We are honored to have found a way to showcase these, often massive, paintings on a new website for Duane. I will say there is nothing like seeing these for yourself to grasp the realism and wonder they inspire. We did the best we could, given the challenges of both the size and the limitations of viewing works of art through digital screens versus the dimensionality and textures you experience in person.

See Duane’s work here: https://jewelsofthesea.com/gallery/

If you know of a great aspiring band or artist that could use some branding or marketing help, please direct them to apply to our Brand Philanthropy program here: https://idworks.com/brand-philanthropy/

My music selection this month is from Justin Vernon’s Bon Iver, namely because I know he does much to support music, the arts, and creatives in general. I also happen to be a raving fan of his music. His music has animated many a place and uplifted many a soul along the way. Here’s to the artists among us! Keep it going, please. The world needs you.