We Can Be Heroes. Forever and Ever.

Look up here, I’m in heaven I’ve got scars that can’t be seen. I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen. Everybody knows me now.
— Bowie-Lazarus

by Chris Ricci (@ChrisDigsMusic)

When I was born, I was almost named David after David Bowie. For my parents, Bowie was the one thing they could both really agree on when it came to music, and the foundation of my love for music started as such. Growing up, I can recall thumbing through my parent’s record collection and seeing the vibrantly strange covers of his albums and feeling a sense of familiarity. Even though at the time I couldn’t place the sound to the cover, I knew who the strange man on the cover was, and to me that’s what mattered most. Hell, even my childhood cat got the Bowie treatment by bearing the name Ziggy.

After years of singing along to his tunes in car-rides to school and trips around the state, my parents decided that it was time to for me to see a concert. I was thirteen years old, and my first concert was a David Bowie concert. He came out on stage with prowess and thunder that I use to critique concerts to this day. His set list was eclectic, his voice was booming, and his band was tight. It was more than a concert experience: it was a major turning point in my own life. Until then, I took his sound for granted, and almost passed him off as less of an artist and more of a story my parents would always talk about. Seeing him on stage commanding the audience and his back-catalogue in an effortless manner made me change my tune and made me realize that the legends were true: Bowie was an icon.

It is very hard to deny the impact that David Bowie had on the world of music. Taking glam rock from the cult-music scene to the mainstream forever left an impact in the world of music, and his space-aged nuanced lyrics serve as the backbone to any and all singers and songwriters trying to figure out how to say what they mean. If you look carefully at the shifts and changes that mainstream music have made over the past forty years, you can clearly see that music isn’t really what shifted. It was Bowie that shifted, and music just so happened to follow in his wake.

David started off as a sum of his own influences: ranging from the glam rock talents of Marc Bolan, to the deep and powerful vocal stylings of Scott Walker. But, as time progressed, Bowie’s music became it’s own Ouroboros. His influence reached out for so long with such a wide grasp that he somehow became influenced by artists influenced by his own work. During his career revival in the late 90s, the sounds of Nine Inch Nails and Pixies became his outlet, but in the end the music he produced was still entirely unique.

It seems only fitting that the man who started his career when he was in grade school chose to work until his very last day on Earth. Three days before he passed away, Bowie released “Blackstar” which, upon listening to the first time, made me think that he was trying to wrap up his career. The album served as a beautiful alpha and omega on the day of its release, and now it serves as a perfect conclusion to the career of a man we never thought would vanish. Staying true to form, the man who created the weird world of music we love today also crafted his own personal and professional eulogy.

No visual representation stands better than the music video for the song “Lazarus” released a week before he passed away. In it, there are two different versions of David: The first version lies on a hospital bed with his eyes covered with a tourniquet that have little buttons as eyes, and the second wears a costume Bowie first wore forty years ago. While the first Bowie lies on the bed, he softly says “Look up here, I'm in heaven I've got scars that can't be seen. I've got drama, can't be stolen. Everybody knows me now.” Meanwhile, the second Bowie smiles and dances while feverishly writing in a notebook. As the video concludes, the first Bowie throws his arms in the air chanting “oh I’ll be free like that bluebird” while the second Bowie slowly backs into a closet while staring directly at the camera.  The video, though eerie at first, stands profoundly as a deeply emotional and heartfelt goodbye: though one of the Bowie’s in the video lies in a hospital bed, the second hides in an armoire adorned in familiar clothes waiting until it’s okay to return again.

In the end, it’s difficult to say that David Bowie has indeed died, because if you listen carefully to the sound of music as we know it, you can hear his influence in the sounds and styles of anything you consider to be music. His impact is as important as the instruments musicians play and the structures they follow.  The man may be gone, but as long as there’s a pair of speakers and a tune to listen to, he will never truly vanish. As he says in the closing words of “Lazarus”: “Oh I'll be free, ain't that just like me?”

Creative Economy 101: 5 Marketing Tips for Creative Introverts

By Joey Phoenix

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” Mahatma Ghandi

Photo by  Social Palates  

Photo by Social Palates 

Quite frequently I speak to rising creative professionals who seem to struggle with one thing: how to market themselves. They have difficulty sending cold e-mails, approaching people at networking events, and promoting themselves in general. In fact, they admit, even thinking about doing any of these things brings an onset of anxiety that’s difficult to manage.

Unfortunately, as a creative professional, not putting yourself out there isn’t an option. You have to meet people, and actually (shock!) talk to them, if you want to see your business grow.

As an introvert who has dealt with similar struggles for my entire life, this difficulty doesn’t come as a surprise to me. I’d rather walk barefoot on ice than address a room full of people, especially if I have to talk about myself. Self-promotion has never come easy, and many times I have to psych myself up quite a bit before I can do anything significant.

Growing up, I dealt with a frustrating speech impediment. I have TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder) which causes my cheeks and jaw to lock up, making many words difficult to pronounce. Ultimately, some days are much worse than others. Since this wasn’t diagnosed until my late teens, talking when I was growing up was something I struggled with. My parents and family members, who were just trying to help me out, would tell me to enunciate (drawing out every syllable “E-Nun-Ci-Ate” as they said it). They also took a trial by fire approach, enrolling me in high school level speech classes when I was 11, and signing me up for young entrepreneurial courses and leadership conferences, where I would have to give short talks that were nothing if not humiliating.

As Susan Cain points out in her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, as a culture we have been programmed to accept that the ones who do most of the talking are the most worthwhile leaders. We tend to think that success will come only if we can give charismatic and stirring speeches, acquire thousands of friends, and attract business leads without much effort. Extroversion has been praised, introversion has been ridiculed.

Society’s tendency to attempt to mold introverts in to extroverts is as futile and wrong as trying to train a left handed child to write with their right hand. Instead of enhancing these kid’s natural strengths, these “molders” try to make the child a replica of something else, and often cripple their development in the process.

Fortunately, thanks to the modern world, you don’t have to give into these outdated standards. You can embrace your introversion and use it to its full potential. Some of the world’s most successful creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs were quiet, and yet, the things they were able to accomplish are inspirational. If they did it, so can you.

So what do you have to do as a creative professional that will play to your strengths as an introvert? Here are some tested strategies which will help bring you closer to your goals.


1. Recognize the Strength of Listening

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” ― Ernest Hemingway

In a world full of people always talking, it’s the listeners who are needed most. By listening you are able to pick up on what people are really saying, and what they say is telling you what they need. When you listen, you can get all the facts, and then come up with innovative solutions to meet those needs.

When you listen to someone, they begin to feel like you value what it is they have to say. Dale Carnegie, a master influencer, said it best: “If you want to be a good conversationalist, be a good listener. To be interesting, be interested.” So when you meet someone for the first time, or make a new business contact, don’t be tricked into thinking that you have to immediately start talking about yourself. Instead, ask them questions, let them do the talking, and start the conversation on that footing. They will feel valued, and that will give them cause to remember you, and make them want to work with you – which is the whole point of marketing.

2. Use Social Media to Your Advantage

“Social media will help you build up loyalty of your current customers to the point that they will willingly, and for free, tell others about you.” - Bonnie Sainsbury

Although it may seem counterintuitive to hide behind your computer screen when you’re getting your creative business off the ground, it can honestly be one of your biggest marketing tools. In today’s world, people spend countless hours in front of screens. It’s how many people connect, get their news, and learn about new ideas. Also, it gives you the chance to promote what you do without having to do the scary thing of meeting people face to face.

However, because social media is so ubiquitous, you’ll have to think up creative ways to stick out in people’s minds. Pay attention to what your target audience is searching for, and stay up to date on current trends. The trick is finding the balance between your own uniqueness and popular demand.

3. Focus on One on One Relationship Building

"To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others."– Tony Robbins

If you’re anything like me, being in large groups of people isn’t conducive to you sharing your ideas. I tend to be a wallflower at company meet-and-greets and networking events. Yet, when it comes to one-on-one relationships, I shine. Talking to someone one on one creates a safe place to build a business relationship. You don’t feel the pressure of all eyes on you, and you can more easily tease out what the other person is feeling and expressing.

Additionally, seeking out people individually makes the experience much more personal. So not only does this strategy feed directly into an introvert’s comfort zone, it’s also proven to be more effective in the development of long-term relationships.


4. Have a Showstopping Website

“The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” -Bill Gates

If you are introvert, your website needs to become one of your most effective marketing tools. A well-thought out, professionally designed website often does more for your credibility than having great conversational skills or making perfect first impressions. Also, unless you’re taking huge risks to overcome your introversion, it will probably be the first thing people see of you and your work. So unless it’s engaging, you’re missing a chance to really impress potential clients.

With that website too comes the chance to connect with your clients on a regular basis through blog posts, newsletters, and video marketing – all of which you can construct and deliver from the comfort of your couch.

5. Do the Thing that Scares You

"What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?"  - Vincent van Gogh

Although you should embrace your introversion and ignore anyone who tries to convert you, don’t take it as a get out of jail free card when it comes to taking risks. There will be times in your journey as a Creative Professional where you will have to do the uncomfortable thing. You’ll have to approach someone you don’t know in a crowd of people and strike up a conversation, because you need that connection to move forward. You’ll have to send cold e-mails to people, telling them about what you do and why it’s worthwhile. You may even have to stand in front of a group of people and attempt to say something significant.

When these situation arise, the tendency is always to procrastinate. Don’t. Instead, do the thing that scares you. You don’t have to do it often. You don’t have to put yourself through undue stress by continually ending up in difficult situations. But when the chance comes your way, and you know that it will open doors that will otherwise stay firmly shut, follow through. Then, once you’ve done the difficult thing, reward yourself with a night in (or several) with a glass of wine and an excellent book, because you deserve it.

Looking for a little more support from fellow creative professionals or want to get in early on some exciting things coming in the near future.. Shoot us a message and introduce yourself. 


Joey Phoenix is a lead contributing writer for Creative Salem and the owner of Joey Phoenix Photography and Salem Pet Photo. Her articles and tutorials have been published on PhotographyTricks.com and Poundwishes.com. She currently lives in Salem, MA with her muse and seven guinea pigs.

Artrageous! 29th Artist Showcase and Auction

Artrageous 2015_2181.jpg

by Joey Phoenix 

Photos by Social Palates

On March 28, the vastly celebrated annual event Artrageous! successfully returned to the North Shore and continued this now record-breaking artistic tradition. Hosted by Montserrat College of Art, the prestigious art gathering enjoyed a sold out house and brought in nearly a thousand participants and local art-lovers to enjoy some of the region’s best creative work and support the future of the college.

Artrageous offers the living, breathing performance of art. It is basically a theme park for creativity, complete with a musical soundtrack, great food, drinks, and visual stimulation everywhere you look.
— Ken Harris, Participating Artist

More than 250 pieces of art lined the maze of walls, and the wide range of style and medium was a thing to behold. Ranging from paintings, prints and photographs to mixed media and sculpture, the pieces were donated not only by Montserrat faculty, but also alumni and well-known and rising artists from the North Shore area and around the country. These outstanding visual art pieces were auctioned off to support future and existing students attending Montserrat. To put matters into perspective, every $10,000 raised during the event enables another student to have a world-class education from a college who genuinely cares about the development and continued success of its students. Last year’s event, which was also a sold out show, raised more than $400,000.

Now in it’s 29th year, Artrageous has come to be known as the “must-attend” spring event in the region. Since its founding in 1970, Montserrat has dedicated itself to not only molding future artists, but also working diligently ensure that the artists who pass through their halls will become ultimately successful in their careers as creative professionals, and Artrageous is the perfect extension of that vision. The small college of art and design strives to provide both the education which will equip artists for success in their chosen field and the opportunities to gain recognition for their achievements.

Yet, Artrageous is much more than your standard fundraising event, it’s also an interactive celebration of art, and an opportunity for rising artists. Some of the main features of the night included an ongoing silent auction, interactive art displays, live painting and performance, live music by Salem band Machine 475, and food by Capers Catering. The Honorary Chair of the event was Beverly native Jack Barnes, President and CEO of People’s United Bank, the lead sponsor of the event. Additional sponsors included Windover Construction, Inc., Brookwood Financial Partners, LLC, John Drislane and Chuck Thibeault, Footprint Power, Hal and Jodi Hess, and Pinck & Co.

“Events like this are great for the art community because they give artists a chance to show their work to hundreds of people at one time. It was an amazing feeling for me to watch people discuss my piece, get close to it and really examine it, and eventually put a bid on it. Seeing my name in the Artrageous program along with my website was great too because I couldn't help but think how many people saw that.” Explains Alison White, a three-time participating artist, Montserrat alumna, and locally recognized photographer and fiber artist.

Artrageous is a beautiful event which brings together the students of Montserrat, its faculty, and its many supporters in the same room, to celebrate art!
— Deanna Jacome, Montserrat Student ‘15

“The hundreds of attendees get to immerse themselves in a creative environment in a way that they most likely would miss otherwise. It reminds us all of how stimulating and diverse the art world can be, particularly when it is birthing new work before your very eyes.” Says Ken Harris, the Creative Director and Senior Designer for Great Island Design and participating artist in the show.

“The event was so humbling and rewarding.” Montserrat Senior and participating artist Deanna Jacome confided. “The support of our little community will always have a special place in my heart.  As a senior, it is nice to see all of the support towards alumni which I can't wait to be apart of.”

Although the merits of the interactive event and silent auction know few bounds, the most celebrated aspect of the night is the much-anticipated Live Auction, which included 24 juried artists and the traditional “Direct Bid” segment. The featured artist for this year’s live portion was North Shore native and internationally renowned Bill Thompson, whose work has been showcased in Budapest, Sydney, Zürich, Barcelona, Munich, Madrid, Seoul, and Brussels among others.

“In my opinion Montserrat College of Art's Artrageous Auction is the best art event on The North Shore. Every year it becomes more interactive and exciting.” says Live Auction Participant, Montserrat alumna, and regionally celebrated artist Kathleen-Gerdon Archer. “I am always impressed by how well the faculty of Montserrat develops the incredible talent of their undergraduates so that students pieces are often chosen by the jurors for inclusion in the live auction. I get goosebumps watching their faces as the bidding increases and the huge crowd roars in support. Montserrat enjoys enormous community support but it is never more apparent than on the night of the Artrageous Auction.”

Artrageous is an event that stands alone regionally as the apex of art celebration. Its unique presentation coupled with Montserrat’s powerful vision are the combination which proves its continued success year after year.

Montserrat’s powerful vision for student success and artistic celebration is clearly prominent in the continuing series of yearly Artrageous events. The only thing more successful than the fundraiser itself is the awareness it is bringing to the North Shore area by highlighting brilliant pieces by local creative minds. Because of this, even one attendant with an open mind is an overwhelming Artrageous success.

#artrageous29 Community Submitted Hashtags

A Footprint all but Erased: Recognizing the Post-Industrial Legacy of Salem Harbor Station

“I think, that if I touched the earth,

It would crumble;

It is so sad and beautiful,

So tremulously like a dream.”
— Dylan Thomas

The soot-soaked stacks have begun to fall one by one along the Salem Harbor, and demolition crews are working overtime to bring this once great giant to its knees. The bigger they are, they harder these spires fall, and clouds of dust rise alarmingly from the places where they land. Towers which stood untouched for decades are now crumbling to the sad and beautiful earth. 

Nestled between Salem’s historic streets and the town harbor lies a specter which has dominated the skyline for the past 65 years. Raised by the New England Electric Company (NEEC) in 1948 and decommissioned in June of 2014, that specter is Salem Harbor Station. 

Footprint Power acquired the station in 2012 with the goal of transforming the plant into a greener, more efficient space. Although this will dramatically reduce Salem’s emissions footprint, resulting in better air for the community, it marks the end of an era, and the feelings are bittersweet at best. 

On December 17, 2014, 38 Creative Professionals including photographers, filmmakers, designers, poets, fiber artists, and more took a stroll through the site and ventured inside the soot-soaked halls of the historic space. The day was dark and cold, and water from recent rains stood high around the exterior of the plant. Everyone gathered around the guardhouse in hard-hats and reflective vests, admiring the empty space where one of the towers had been just a few days before. Cameras and notepads were out, glistening with the midday mist, while anticipation moved through the group like a wave. 

Deb Greel, appointed this June as Salem’s first public art planner, was the organizer behind this grand event. She’s planned trips to the plant before, but this time was much different. “Previous trips to the plant have been about the structure itself,” she explains, “but this time it was more about the people.” 

Photos by Joey Phoenix Photography

Among the most significant impacts of the plant closing were the workers who had spent decades here, workers who expected to finish their careers there. One of the guides who walked the group through the site explained “I’ve been here for 35 years, and this week I cleaned out my locker. 35 years of stuff in one locker. That put it all in perspective.” Over the last few months the plant workers have been attempting to transition to new lives, trying to learn skills they never thought they would need, attempting to create new lives they never thought they would have. 

No one will argue that the shift to greener power is an essential step forward to the Salem community, but change is rarely simple. When the plant opened in the late 1940s, the needs of the community were vastly different, and so were public understanding of solutions to those needs. They were doing the best they could with what they had been given. 

Ward 5 Councilor Josh Turiel, who was among the group that day, said of the plant’s unique history that “it provided over a gigawatt of power to the region that was sorely needed, jobs to over a hundred people, and a significant portion of Salem's tax revenue. When it was designed and built, people had a different understanding of climate and impacts than they do in modern times. A plant like that wouldn't be built in the United States anymore. But that's what we had then, and it did a job for us that we needed for decades.”

Another visitor to the plant during the December 17th tour, John “J.D.” Scrimgeour, a prominent local poet and Coordinator of Creative Writing for Salem State University, came away from the experience with similar feelings. 

“This time, despite all the astonishing imagery, I kept thinking about community, how those who worked there often lived in Salem. I know them; they helped raise money for our schools and volunteered at our children’s events.” 

Photos by Social Palates Photography

Impressions such as these prove that the story of the plant has come to mean more than the structure itself and, instead, it’s become about the community members who spent so much time within its halls.  

“Whatever the power plant was doing to our lungs, it seems important to recognize that people in our community are experiencing dislocation, and to try, in whatever ways we can, to understand that and help them process that and adjust to it. In its own way, the invitation to artists is an effort to do just that.” 

After waiting for some time for the rest of the group to arrive, Beth Tobin, stockroom manager at the plant for 28 years, began giving out instructions to everyone there. 

“Thank you all for coming. It’s extremely dark and cold inside the plant, so watch your steps and make sure you hold on to the hand rails whenever you climb the stairs.” She smiled at the group’s temporary alarm and held up her large industrial flashlight. “Follow me.” 

The group slowly shuffled inside, gingerly stepping around sizable puddles on the cold concrete, trying to take in the rapturous sight around them. An enervated Kevin Cornacchio, who’s spent the last 36 years working at the plant and who will stay on to manage the power plant dock, moved expertly through the crowd. He interjected: “If you have any questions about anything, don’t hesitate to ask me. I could tell you so many stories.” 

Photos by Karen Hosking Photography

Salem residents have come to accept the plant as part of their city, and although it will be anything but recognizable in its new capacity, the image of the stacks are permanently implanted in the collective memory. Even decommissioned and crumbling, the plant is a striking example of a time long ago. The industrial age as it has come to be known is over, but its footprint is all but erased. 

Nor should it be, and this is where Creative Professionals can step in to preserve the fading remnants of the past. The process began in early 2014 when Montserrat students came across the bridge to meet with Salem Harbor Station workers in the hopes of artistic collaboration. The intent was to document the lives of the plant’s employees, and display the finished work in a way that would honor those who spent so much time there. The project was exhibited in June and July of 2014, and included works produced by Montserrat students and an evening of poetry among the turbines, organized by the director of the Improbable Places Poetry Tour. 

Photo by Ellen Hardy (Photo from a  previous trip to the plant, we were not allowed on the stacks this time around)

The pieces from that exhibition now sit in storage, but Deb Greel imagines a time when these, and many others inspired by the site, including those from the 17th, will be out on display. “This is just another piece of Salem’s immensely rich history,” she begins. “We’ve come to be known as the Witch City, but that is just a small part of what we are. Through public art development and projects similar to Across the Bridge, we are building a prominent arts community, and creating new layers of artistic opportunity that will draw people to Salem. Now is an exciting time to be here.” 

Salem Harbor Station currently sits on 65 acres, but with the new plan that space will be condensed into 24, which opens up a number of possibilities. Deb Greel agrees: “That space could be anything, a place for sculptors to show their work, a green park with an art exhibitions, or just accessible space for Salem visitors to that part of the coast. 

This was my vision for having all the Creative Professionals come to see it. It’s not just the structure, or the stories of the workers, but also the site itself has immense cultural value for the future of Salem. I can’t create art, but I can be the facilitator for it to happen.” The first step is for Creatives to see and understand the possibilities. 

Her vision wasn’t lost on anyone who attended. Josh Turiel, who has been multiple times, has always seen the plant as more than just a plant. To him, it’s a masterpiece. “I’m obsessed with it. I’ve been obsessed with it since I moved here. It’s a big, beautiful industrial era piece of art.”

Another visitor that day, John Andrews, the owner of Social Palates and founder of Creative Salem, has been inside the structure several times. He remarked on the difference the last few months have made. 

“On the first trip I took to the plant there was a palpable anticipation of the closing and you could truly feel that. The next time I went, it had recently been shut down but you could really hear and feel the echoes of the past, they were there for anyone to reach out and see and experience. This past time, however, was a bit different. It felt like a portion of the soul of the property had moved on, like it didn’t have the time or the desire to hold on to the wasteland it had become. If anything, it felt empty.”

As the group of Creative Professionals wandered the empty halls, casting light into the shadows and searching for fragments of any stories that remained, it seemed as if a clock was ticking somewhere, counting down the minutes until the end. This is the final chapter in a 65 year story, and the photos taken and the words hastily written down will act as the solemn dirge which will ring out through time. 

John continues, “This chapter in the story that is this power plant needed documentation and who better to do that than invested local creatives who have been inspired by the past and look forward to the future. A future that literally will change the coastline of our community and hopefully house some of the same artists and work that participated in the documentation.”

It’s yet uncertain what the future will hold for this historic landmark in Salem, but the stories recorded and the images captured will last long after the last tower falls to the Earth.