This Saturday Studio AM will be having its grand opening as a gallery space culminating almost a year of hard work for the Studio AM family. We are finally to the point where the concept and business model are ready to be unveiled and will be open to the public. It’s been quite the journey leading up to this point, but we are finally here.
And this is just the starting line.
The adventure is about to really begin.
What most people don’t understand about my art career is that it started the instant I got to Pittsburgh. I remember driving through the tunnels for the first time and seeing the city materialize instantly in front of my eyes, and in that moment I remember thinking to myself, “this is what opportunity looks like, I wonder what my legacy will be in this place.”
In that moment I fell in love with this city deeply, because for the first time in my life I was able to see what a blank canvas actually looked like.
It was a place that my name had not yet touched, but a city that was waiting for my arrival, and I remember that being the strangest feeling.
It gave me an enormous sense of gratitude, as well as a lofty responsibility to earn my name in a place where those of lofty stature are adorned forever.
I was chosen by an organization that epitomizes what it means to be great, and I took that very seriously. I remember feeling honored at the time that I was seen as someone with those attributes. And now that I understand what Pittsburgh is as a city, I clearly see why my destiny has been here waiting all along.
I believe destiny occurs in brief flashes of changing circumstance when a person is forced to make a tough decision that will change who they are, because when that happens we are given the freedom to choose our fates by our own decisions in which we are bound to that in time, create our reality around us.
The hardest, but most powerful lesson I have ever learned is that I am always what I choose to be. I am always the cumulative response of the attitude I take with me each day, because by my attitude I make my decisions positive or negative. And by the positive or negative we are forced to confront ourselves.
I believe destiny knocks when circumstance calls someone to make a leap of faith, but I believe destiny is found when that leap of faith is done with purposeful reason.
My destiny knocked in Latrobe PA during a humid day at training camp when the reality I was living was abruptly confronted with the reality that had been prepared, and within my decisions that day of how I chose I would move forward, my inheritance was earned.
I see inheritance as the unlocked potential of a child’s dreams, or at least that is what mine is.
I believe that in every new and difficult circumstance there is a treasury beyond measure that is to be earned, because within unfortunate circumstance we are given the fortunate choice to become stronger than we have ever been required previously, forcing either positive or negative transformation.
Within every difficult situation transformation occurs.
My positive transformation came from a one negative at the time. I’ve learned that most people see positive things as the easy things, and the negative things as the hard. In this way most people progress their realities backwards, because that is not the truth of how it is.
The negatives strengthen the positive, and the positive responsibly create. One of my greatest negatives has become my greatest positive.
On the last play, of the last practice, before my first preseason game I tore my ACL, my foot awkwardly got caught in the turf and I remember feeling my knee dislocate, and I knew instantly that my path had changed, and within that flash of an uncontrollable moment my history changed, but so did a city’s.
I began to paint during my rehab process for my ACL. Art is what allowed me to keep my sanity through that process. It was what gave me peace at a time, and also allowed me to compete in a way that I had never known to be possible.
The first thing that I ever wanted to be as a child was a famous artist; the second thing I wanted to be was a football player. When I voiced those dreams, I was told to pick something realistic, but to me that was unrealistic. In this way I have always been disobedient to the norm because I have accomplished both. Within my disobedience to what was deemed realistic, I was born to be an artist, and in that the second thing that I wanted to become is what has brought me to my first.
My business partner John and I started this company almost a year ago, and there is no way I could have done it without him. We were teammates when we played football and nothing has changed except we now make our own rules and we both are coaches to everyone else involved as they are for us.
Prior to having the actual studio space in Homestead, we both worked from my house in the Southside of Pittsburgh that served as both of our workspaces at the time. During this time both of us worked around the clock simply for the sake of working. We worked for ourselves, therefore we worked for free.
John built things, while I painted. We critiqued and admired each other’s work, all the while progressing.
John is now known as The Builder. To most people that know him that title means that he builds furniture and other awesome things, but to me it means so much more.
He followed me blindly in the beginning when all I was following was a vision. He has helped build that vision that we now have made real, and each day we are required to challenge ourselves more to become better in order to grow the individuals around us.
At the time when we started we simply knew that we were developing skills that both of us were passionate about, and now neither of us can truly comprehend the magnitude of what we have built will eventually become. A year ago I was painting in my attic and no one really knew me, and John was building in my garage.
Now John is designing entire businesses and has his own workshop, and he is becoming the premier craftsman in this region. It has been an honor to get to watch. Each day we give everything we have to grow the dream that we have built, as well as the people around us, and in that way, each day we still work for free.
As for me, now I am The Artist.
I am an art teacher, and I am an art student. I am the documentation of this time period. I am a time capsule that is here now, created from what came before me, and a window for those who will come after I am gone to view this place I love.
I am an arbitrator of the culture, and I am what your children will study and I am what I always wanted to be, and that is disobediently unrealistic.
Studio A.M. is an ideology rooted in creativity, with a business structured around it.
For me it is the manifested idea that we can live a life of freedom through the quality of the things that we choose to create, and that everyone should be given the opportunity to earn that same right.
The first things that were ever brought into the studio space were three paintings of three eagles, and I named them Heart, Mind, and Soul, and around those three eagles the rest of the space was designed. The days that were hard and stressful they watched me, and reminded me of why I chose to chase this crazy dream. They reminded me of what freedom means to me, while I work to gain my own.
I create art that mirrors my ambition, and because of that, my art inspires me. It is simply my challenge to myself, and that is why it inspires you.
I believe that the life of an artist is to be shared. It is the responsibility of the artist to share their perspective with the world, about the world in which they exist. I am honored to be in Pittsburgh during this time of renaissance and revival.
I have spent time in other cities, and in the end there is no place like Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh my dearest,
I see you as the crown jewel of America. From my perspective you have allowed me the opportunity to become all of the things that I have ever dreamed, and because of that I stay up late and wake up early, not only to maintain my dream that is now my reality, but also to allow others to experience the same thing.
Because all of you have allowed me to become the best me that I have ever been, I want to do my best to make sure you all become the best in you.
I have a tremendous amount of respect for Pittsburgh because it is old, and it has survived. And now, together we are rising and it is our turn to thrive amongst the stars.
You will not find another city in America where every area that was once run down by the circumstance of history, now is beginning to bloom.
It is our responsibility to the generations that came before that endured those hard times, and the generations who have yet to come, to capitalize on the best Pittsburgh that has ever existed that is happening right this very moment.
We do not compare here.
We are not New York, we are not LA, and we are not Chicago.
That is not because we are inadequate; it is because we are exceptional in a way that cannot be matched.
I am not afraid to voice the way I see my city, because the way I see this city is the way I see myself.
Pittsburgh has made me who I am.
And no place hustles like Pittsburgh.
It is a place that is not only filled with story, but the fabric of history itself. Right here in this city, the world was changed by the visionaries of the past, and right now within every industry in the city the visionaries of the future are leading it.
It has been a pleasure to work with you all.
I see this as a place of endless possibility because at the base of its foundation are principles and ideals that are universal truths, like hard work always pays off, and it pays to be a good neighbor. These are things that have been engrained in the culture of the people here.
It is rare in the fact that it is a city that supports itself internally, and collaboration is the lifeline of the creative community here and that is rare to find.
At its core, this is a place that is built on the principals of success, but simply experienced a colossal failure of an entire industry. But those days have been done.
Now is new.
We are the new ages.
We are tomorrow’s overnight delivery and we are happening right now. Take pride in that.
Over the past year I have had the honor and the privilege to work with just about everyone in the community in some way shape or form, and I have never seen so many hard working and honest people striving towards the same goal.
I have never known a place that has let me show who I really am, and the more I look around I notice that this city is full of people just like me, people who simply are doing what they love and being who they were created to be.
And any place like that is glory.
We are exceptional in the fact that the leaders of all the various communities all have the goal of seeing this city blossom, and I assure you that by supporting the leaders in Pittsburgh now, we will build a kingdom together for generations to come.
Pittsburgh is changing.
To the leaders and visionaries of today, to my friends, and fellow business owners, I want to challenge all of you as I challenge myself, and those I work with.
Make no mistake, we are setting precedent here.
We are teaching those who will come, what it means to be a part of this community. Be kind to each other and continue to work hard and collaborate. We are not competing with each other; we are competing with ourselves as we help each other.
We are all Pittsburgh; we are all mighty, beautiful and free.
We are all made in PGH.
Recently I sold my house and moved to the studio fulltime because my soul needed to create more for its own well being.
In a large way I have had to put my own art career/ life on hold as I focused on being a community builder here in Homestead, and a better business leader for the Pittsburgh community, and by doing that all of you have embraced me as The Artist.
The Studio AM team has worked so hard over this past year, and I couldn’t be more proud to rep this team that I am on. I am honored to work beside all of you each day, and I can’t express my gratitude in words, but I will show you by how hard I will always work for you, like I know you all do for me.
Thank you for being patient with me when you saw how heavy things have been at times, and thank you for helping me carry this dream. This is what all of us have built, and this is the first time in my life I have ever felt at home.
Over the past year both John and I have been slowly getting new art ready to finally be able to open the doors to the public as the gallery/ café concept that he and I envisioned. We have been working hard to make sure that there is something available for all ranges of art buyer and collectors.
I would say that I wish we could have done it sooner, but things have happened, as they should.
So with that being said, Pittsburgh my dearest I’m home now. My doors are open, and you are all welcome here.
This is a place where ideas are invited, and where all ideas are challenged.
This is where art is not dead, and where conversation lives.
I am honored to be part of this community.
Now come and buy some art.