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I spent some time north of the city in the middle of the desert watching the sun say today's goodbye.
It is sobering to be here. I couldn't make myself smile in a photo, as much as I tried. There is a somber mood. Tourists move slow and are quiet as they try to get the prototypical "Vegas" sign photo. There are therapy dogs and a prayer tent at the end of a long line of 58 white crosses. One can barely even see each cross as they are covered in flowers, candles, written prayers, flags, and other trinkets left behind in memoriam.
I still don't think it has really fully hit me yet. In the quiet moments of my days my mind continues to reverberate with the visualizations from that night. My sister asked me to go down to the convention center on Sunday so I could talk to somebody. I was greeted by a man named Gary Price from Lawrence, Kansas. He had a Red Cross identification badge on a lanyard around his neck and he was my interpretation of how I'd imagine Santa Claus to be, minus the beard, suit, and reindeer. I filled out the necessary paperwork and sat with him to explain what's happening in my mind. When he spoke, it felt like a hug; very comforting. He recommended that I talk with a counselor that specialized in PTSD, so we went to a table and got the necessary information.
I left work today and sat with a counselor at a place offering visits for free to the community. I didn't realize how much has been bouncing around in my mind until I heard myself say it all out loud. After leaving, I spoke with a friend who was there and compared perspectives on the situation from that night. I was just driving and felt myself pulled here. To this sign. To the makeshift memorial stitched together by flowers and prayers and tears and love and therapy puppies. By good-hearted people from all over the world who are coming alongside my city to stand tall in the face of fear, in the face of pain, and in the face of sorrow.
I'm leaned up against a palm tree right now as I'm typing this and watching people walk in slow motion through the line of crosses. It hit me; the world isn't just standing tall with my city, but me as well. With my sister and her friends, with my cousin and hers, and everyone else that experienced the disorder and chaos. We are not alone. #vegasstrong
Las Vegas is the perfect illustration of paradox.
A city metropolis in the middle of nowhere; an expansive desert. A place that so illuminates the black night that it can be easily seen from space. A neon mirage that has survived the nation's worst recession. A small big city; most everyone seems to be interconnected somehow.
Last week the paradox showed itself more tragically. In the midst of a joy-filled concert, awful and unspeakable pain struck, wounding our paradox of a city. Death showed itself in the form of a coward perched 32 levels in the sky, hiding from the world. And death brought tears, pain, and fear along with it.
And it is true...death stings. But in its typical fashion, the paradox that is my hometown showed itself again. Shrouded by grief yet not paralyzed, my hometown unified. The common criticism of neighbors who live in concrete fortresses and don't know their neighbors was destroyed and those strangers bonded while standing for hours in lines at blood banks until eventually being turned away because the United Blood Services couldn't keep up. A GoFundMe page created for victims surpassed ten million dollars in donations and is still climbing. We linked arms together and prayed earnestly through the stinging tears for God to comfort and heal. Unknown humans united together in solidarity to stand in the face of death and scream back that it won't win.
It is true that my hometown is a paradox...a resilient paradox knit together by big hearts and courageous heroes and I'm so thankful. #vegasstrong #fromthesketchbook
Excited about this month's wall down at the Art House LV gallery in the arts district! Proud to be able to showcase one of my favorite pieces ever as we celebrate the strength and unity of our Las Vegas community. Also, I've got prints for sale...exciting! Feel free to visit and see some of my stuff and the other work of artists here! 1229 S. Casino Center Blvd.
I'm sitting at my parents' house right now surrounded by more than ten people after last night's events. Suzy and I had spent a great day together adventuring in Arizona and had a really late dinner in Laughlin. On the drive home in the middle of talking through my upcoming Monday at work, my mom called me and told me of a shooting at the concert venue where my sister, cousin, and their friends were at. Immediately, I took off the 215 highway, through the tunnel under the airport, and to the UNLV campus about a mile from the shooting area. I promised my sister I'd be there in ten minutes. From there, I readily waited for some sort of sign. Suzy said "If we're going to go, this is the best time to do it." With that I drove up Tropicana as people were moving the opposite direction. My sister was on the phone telling me she and two of her friends were underneath a booth table in a restaurant. I got as close as I could get to the area and parked. Suzy waited in the car as I ran up Tropicana the quarter mile of the way more to get to my sister. I told myself repeatedly that my nephew wasn't growing up without his mama. I passed many people in need yet needed to keep on track toward my sister. There was nothing but pandemonium as cars weren't following any traffic systems whatsoever. I dodged through vehicles on the road and finally got to the restaurant. They weren't letting anyone in, yet I insisted "my sister is in there and I'm not leaving here without her." Two employees unlocked the door and let me in and the room was filled with terrified people scattered across the floor as I walked the aisles calling out for my sister. From the back of the room I saw one of her friends look up. I rushed to the back of the restaurant to find my sister crammed into the back corner of the booth on the floor. "I'm here and I've got a car down the road. I'm getting you guys out of here." We rushed out the restaurant, dodged more traffic as cars drove at us, got to the car and got as far away as possible. We drove to a mall in the suburbs and that's where my sister's husband was waiting for her. When tragedy hits, you do anything for those you love #family #prayforlasvegas #route91
"No power of Hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from His hand..." #inchristalone
We went wandering downtown last night to check out the new murals and some of the art installations for this weekend's Life Is Beautiful festival. I am thinking I'd like to push myself to learn how to create murals sometime soon. And also, life is beautiful with this one for sure.
I've accumulated many photos over the past few years. There have been many people that have complimented me since I picked up a camera and started trying this thing. Many of those compliments came with some variation of the same message: "You should try selling some!" My sister, friends on Facebook, and even yesterday at the grocery when I saw an old friend for the first time in a while. Today sweet @suzaluzalyn and I spent some time matting and bagging some prints to be sold! It's a weird feeling for me to try to price photos that I take, but here I am, selling stuff that has been sitting on hard drives for some years. If you're interested in a print of a photo, shoot me an email at the.uptonator@gmail.com. Thanks for your encouragement and support, friends.
Hanging out with my wobble-walking, egg-eating buddy JP this morning.
"...and when we believe,...we're immersed in glory."
At 4:30pm she asked what my plans were for the night. I'd told her that all I really wanted was to take a nice picture at some point. I was thinking something along the lines of the sunset or the clouds; the typical stuff I'm drawn to. Instead, I drove over to her place and we went to the grocery together. I took a couple photos of the sky as the sun was setting, but they were mediocre and less than inspiring for me. It wasn't until we'd finished shopping and gotten into the car when the lightning started. She was mesmerized and pulled to the side of the road for a few minutes as we tried to get a decent photo with our phones. We soon ended up back at home and unloaded the groceries. Before starting to make dinner, she slipped out the back door and into the backyard. After a few minutes, I go outside and she's sitting on top of the wall, still photographing the lightning. "There's too much light pollution here. We need to go somewhere darker to get some good ones," I said. She worried about starting dinner at a reasonable time, but I could read that she was longing to get a good photo of the lightning. "Don't worry about dinner, lets go." We got into the car and she drove us to the perfect spot down the road from her place. For the next hour we stood behind the silhouette of a pyramid-shaped mountain and admired the show as bolt after bolt illuminated the sky, evoking awe and gasps from us both. Dinner ended up being great, despite its lateness. In the end, it didn't matter though because I got a nice photo, saw a great lightning show, and created a beautiful moment with this sweet girl. I am so very thankful for this photo-loving, lightning chasing girl that I went hiking with on a Sunday a few months ago...she's a great one.
Sunday night date night with this sweet girl, floating 550 feet above our city. Thankful for this life together.
An anchor's best work is done in the unseen. Similarly, God often moves in the quiet details of life. Stay anchored.
As long as your heart still pumps and your lungs still expand, hope is alive.
My legs are sore from our Castle Rock hike and I've got some itchy bug bites on my arms but our Big Bear adventure was so great. #thankful
Just leaving the Art House LV after spending a couple hours changing up my gallery wall for this month. I'm bummed to be out of town tomorrow night for First Friday, but excited nonetheless to hang up some new ideas to show the world. If you've got time tomorrow night, go check it out at 1229 S. Casino Center Blvd in Las Vegas!
I got to FaceTime my buddy JP on Saturday afternoon! He showed me his room and his toys, he told me some of the new words he's learning, and we laughed so hard at his lion noise. 🦁 He's such a little comedian and I love it! So thankful for this nephew of mine.
Light makes the darkness scatter and hide.