Internet Cat Video Festival

Whether you know me personally or you're just a follower of my blog, you have probably gathered that I'm pretty enthusiatic about being a cat lady. I have two of my own, which I obsess over and photograph daily, and one of my favorite internet trends of the past few years is the insurgence of silly cats videos. So you can imagine my excitement when the news broke of an Internet Cat Video Festival, which was held at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis on August 30 — more than 10K showed up to take part in the feline-lovin' festivities. Here's more from their website: "While normally viewed alone on a computer screen, our unofficial cat-lady-in-residence invites you to come gather together on the field and LOL in the presence of others as your favorite silly cat videos are projected larger-than-life one after the other. Experience the joy of a surprised kitten or keyboard cat together. Participate in this experiment that tests the social boundaries of the online community with a live, off-line event as we attempt to gather in physical space and real time to enjoy one of the internet’s most popular phenomena."

This is like my dream date night — outside under the stars, with a bottle of wine and my sweetie, watching CAT VIDEOS! I'm in love with the big winner of the festival, Henri 2, Paw de Deux, which won the Golden Kitty Award (below).

Here's a quick recap of the event — most notably, a quote from Minneapolis mayor, R. T. Rybak: "Cool cats are skipping Romney speech to see International Cat Film Festival @walkerartcenter #catvidfest"…YES!

Free Smiles

Today I realized that I never shared some big news. I sometimes forget that I have a wider audience here than just my personal friends and family. SO - a few months ago, my fiancé Matt got nominated for an Emmy® Award for his first documentary short film, Pickin' & Trimmin'. It's been airing on dozens of PBS stations across the nation for the past year, so this is such exciting news! In order to get this inspiring story out to a broader audience, the film is now available to view in its entirety online. I've talked about the film so many times on my blog in the past that I won't get into the subject matter - but if you enjoy bluegrass music, documentary film, small-town culture...or have a soul, take 20 minutes out of your day and watch it if you haven't already! 

Matt recently made a case that short films should be truly free to the public - you can read the article on IndieWire here. After the success of posting Pickin' & Trimmin', he decided to release his most recent film, Mr. Happy Man on Valentine's Day. It's currently at 158K views and has been picked up by NPR, Oprah.com, The Daily What, Laughing Squid, Devour, Time.com, etc...I guarantee this film will make you smile, no matter how shitty your day has been! Johnny Barnes is a true role model.

For more info about Matt's films or to purchase a DVD (with extended scenes and extra footage), check out his website here.

Mason Jar Music Project

Thanks to this NPR article, I've spent the past hour immersed in the most heavenly music while learning about a Brooklyn-based audio/visual production company and creative collective called Mason Jar Music (MJM). I'm not entirely sure how I'm just now finding out about this considering my love of all things conceptual and creatively progressive, but I am currently overwhelmed (in a good way) by the brilliance of this project. MJM has created a video concert series that pairs talented artists with original orchestral arrangements and resonant New York City locations called Mason Jar Music Presents. These artists include The Wood Brothers, Josh Garrels, and Abigail Washburn, to name a few. If you know me, you know my love of folk, bluegrass and jazz music so this is right up my alley. Some of the MJM Presents videos take place in abandoned buildings...maybe it's partially about finding the beauty in destruction and decrepitation, but I've always had a thing for photographing and wandering around abandoned buildings. Watching and listening to these amazing musicians perform in these unlikely and utterly breathtaking spaces around New York was so inspiring that I actually just picked up my (terribly out of tune) mandolin that hadn't been played in several weeks. 

A distinct passion rings true in every video produced for MJM Presents; in the musicians, the conductor, the filmmakers, even the person editing the pieces. You can watch them all at their Vimeo page here. To help fund the expansion and continuation of this incredible project, visit their Kickstarter page here - I just pledged my support. Art, of all forms, is worth investing in.