Social Media


A cow and a queen came to an art museum. Much to the dismay of royalty-lovers everywhere, the venue displayed portraits of the Mum and the moo in equally beautiful ways. And that decision—and other choices made by artist Andy Warhol—either transformed or destroyed art, depending on whom you ask.

Andy Warhol: Portraits” opens this Wednesday, March 4, at the Phoenix Art Museum, and the show’s vibrant, warm embrace confirms that the PAM curators are firmly in the “transform” camp. Warhol’s work and his influence are stunningly explored. And though Warhol had a gaze and an aesthetic that was famously straightforward and that kept viewers at a remove, the Phoenix show manages to humanize him in multiple ways.

(Before I get started: If you’re wishing this post had some legal-ish content, simply recall that Warhol’s work and legacy have been marked by litigiousness. The lawsuits have ranged among the authenticity of his prints; to whether a Farrah Fawcett print over a bed belonged to her ex-lover Ryan O’Neal, who slept in that same bed (or belonged to the University of Texas, which never slept with her but was bequeathed her possessions); to the slippery topic of trademark ownership in the iconic banana design on the 1967 album cover of the band The Velvet Underground and Nico. Enjoy your tangential reading, if you must. But the rest of you? Let’s get back to the terrific show at the Phoenix Art Museum.)

Almost all the works on display come from The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh (one beautiful exception on display from the Phoenix Art Museum’s own collection is a series of 100 multicolored silkscreens in cube form, all gathered in a box). At a February 27 media tour, Amada Cruz, the recently arrived Sybil Harrington Director at Phoenix Art Museum, describes the artist’s significance. A widely talented individual, Warhol used painting, photography, filmmaking, magazine publishing, music producing, and even the artistic “event” as moments of cultural inspiration. He also was the first modern artist “to embrace commerce and meld the high and the low effortlessly.” Hence, the queen and the cow.

Andy Warhol, Portraits of the Artists from the Portfolio Ten From Leo Castelli, 1967.

Andy Warhol, Portraits of the Artists from the Portfolio Ten From Leo Castelli, 1967.

“It’s a portraiture show,” Cruz reminds us, “but not in the mold that you traditionally think.”

The museum’s Dr. Jerry Smith, curator of American and European art to 1950 and art of the American West (could museum titles get longer, please?), describes the path Warhol took, as well as his early-onset nervous system disorder that kept him inside and drawn to a lifelong love of movies. Later in life, the commercial illustrator became highly attuned to what customers wanted. Where other artists might disdain a focus on “brand,” he welcomed it. Intrigued by celebrity, he forged an identity marked as much by his circle of “superstars” as by his own wry involvement in that very circle.

Curator Dr. Jerry Smith in front of a self-portrait of Andy Warhol.

Curator Dr. Jerry Smith in front of a self-portrait of Andy Warhol.

To see more images of works that appear in the show, go to the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page here.

Warhol’s charming persona is everywhere in this show. It’s visible in an early letter the young Andy Warhola (his original family name) received from Shirley Temple in response to his request for an autograph. It’s present in the affection he clearly felt for those who were his subjects, whether Marilyn Monroe, Joan Crawford, or more minor figures lost to the sands of time. And his own personality is with us when we read the image captions, wisely leavened with quotations from Warhol’s own daily journal.

A display of photos of Andy Warhol as a boy and young man.

A display of photos of Andy Warhol as a boy and young man.

The artist’s own life is also present in a display of photos of him as a boy and young man. Gathered together in a glass-covered table in the exhibit’s heart, they are worth seeking out.

Andy Warhol, Jackie, 1964.

Andy Warhol, Jackie, 1964.

As Dr. Smith speaks, the mind drifts, Warhol-like, to recent Web events (the newest frontier). What would the bewigged artist have thought of a battle over a dress color, or a nation transfixed by video of escaping llamas?

Smith beams and muses that Warhol would have loved the week’s llama news.

“He would have eaten it up,” Smith says. “There is so much in today’s culture that speaks to who Andy Warhol was.”

(Unsure? Head over to this Slate story that Warhol himself would have appreciated: No, culture-warriors, two llamas and a dress don’t indicate a media #fail. Quite the opposite.)

Smith even offers that Warhol “would have invented Perez Hilton,” if he could have.

That playful attitude clearly informed the gallery’s design, which includes large and eye-catching color-blocks. The placement of artworks on the wall, says Smith, is meant to communicate with the artist. Just as Warhol was unconcerned about perfect color registration in the development of his photographs, museum staff did not seek to align pieces exactly along the color-blocks’ edges. The result is a comfortable irregularity, which leads viewers to pause and reassess as colors mix and separate.

One piece that benefits from darkness rather than color is Warhol’s 15-foot-long Last Supper image. It is set off via blacklight in its own light-emptied space. Stroll in and let your eyes adjust to see what Warhol intended.

Andy Warhol, The Last Supper, 1986

Andy Warhol, The Last Supper, 1986

A room with three Warhol videos will attract most viewers for a few moments. (True-believers will linger longer.)

Another room demands viewer interaction. “Silver Clouds” offers inflated Mylar rectangles that attendees are free to send soaring (but be assured that “spiking” the clouds will get you a museum-guard reprimand). That installation is bound to become an exhibit favorite.

Andy Warhol, Silver Clouds installation, 1994 (Museum staffer Chelsea Ellsworth demonstrates)

Andy Warhol, Silver Clouds installation, 1994 (Museum staffer Chelsea Ellsworth demonstrates)

In the same way, a few elements toward the end of the exhibit prod us toward participation.

A “screen test” area provides a camera and a backdrop for your own four-minute silent movie. You can opt to have a link of your work emailed to you, which you can share with all of your circles (including, perhaps, Perez Hilton).

Next to the screen test is a test of your willingness to engage the macabre. A wall-mounted monitor streams the 24-hour webcam trained on Warhol’s Pittsburgh grave. Not much may occur there, but I’ve been told that his birth and death days may offer must-see TV (picture soup-can stacks, etc.). I leave you to research that. (You can see the grave-cam here; it looks cold.)

Keep an eye on Warhol's grave 24/7.

Keep an eye on Warhol’s grave 24/7.

Near the screen test area, a wallpaper-adorned selfie station offers the one place in the exhibit that such a thing is permitted. Of course, selfies are matched perfectly with the self-referential artist. As Smith said with a smile, if Warhol were alive today, they’d probably be called “Andys.”

I must admit that a selfie hadn’t occurred to me, but the written prohibition that the media received (and that applies to the public) made me chuckle. To its credit, the Phoenix Art Museum did not devise this rule; it was crafted by the Warhol Museum itself. I watched the cemetery monitor closely to see if the artist was turning over in his grave at such a non-Warhol requirement. (Perhaps we can be hopeful that the Warhol Museum folks are not tone-deaf but are simply punking us. In either case, Warhol is laughing somewhere.)

No selfies in much of the Warhol exhibit (even if you look fabulous!).

No selfies in much of the Warhol exhibit (even if you look fabulous!).

A final element of the show requires mention. Although most all museum shows these days have a requisite joined-at-the-hip gift shop with related and unmemorable items, the Warhol shop is brilliantly and artistically perfect in its placement and item selection (“curation,” could we say?).

I have seen and strolled the museum’s Warhol gift shop. My uneducated opinion? They’re gonna make bank.

Warhol, of course, loved to explore the intersection of art and commerce. So the museum’s having the show flow into the store surprises and pleases rather than disturbs the viewer. And the bald greeting—“SHOP”—makes the Warhol-lover smile.

Dr. Smith told me that the museum sought to purchase the rights to an image of the artist actually shopping. Unable to secure those rights, they opted instead for the mannequin-cum-wig and the simple word.

As a public service (in this entirely noncommercial story), I share with you the great artist strolling an aisle, a superstar in a supermarket.

Yes, Andy Warhol shopped too (even for soon-to-be-iconic Brillo pads).

Yes, Andy Warhol shopped too (even for soon-to-be-iconic Brillo pads).

The show opens Wednesday, March 4, and runs through June 21, 2015. You will want to spend far longer than the Warhol-famous 15 minutes to commune with his pieces.

If you have a few more seconds, my Vines from the media tour are here, here and here.

Exhibits related to the Warhol show include films and installations, some with Arizona ties (and some are Rated X). Read about them here.

To see more images of works that appear in the show, go to the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page here.

Poster for Any Warhol: Portraits

Facebook knows its members may die or become incapacitated ... and is now offering solutions.

Facebook knows its members may die or become incapacitated … and is now offering solutions.

The other day I was informed by Linkedin of a friend’s “work anniversary.” That was jarring, as I know she died last spring.

Even more unfortunate, that kind of social media interaction happens quite a bit—and there’s rarely a systemic change that would reduce its occurrence.

For example, for a few years around 2010, Facebook would invite me to “connect with someone you might know.” Fair enough. The selection of options was good, including a lawyer friend whom I had known for years, and even written about in Arizona Attorney Magazine. Sadly, though, she had died the previous year. I tried to alert people whom I thought were closer friends, but they had no leads on who might have access to her social media accounts.

Those were simply more opportunities for social media to remind me of sad times—and to highlight the need for post-death decisions about social media accounts.

That’s why I was glad to see a story that attorney Michael Tucker shared. The article by Geoffrey Fowler is titled “Facebook Heir? Time to Choose Who Manages Your Account When You Die,” and it is a welcome read. It opens:

“You can finally decide what happens to your Facebook account when you die. In a change of heart, the world’s most popular social network will begin allowing its members to designate someone—what they call a ‘legacy contact’—to manage parts of their accounts posthumously. Members can also choose to have their presence deleted entirely.”

Is making this change to your Facebook account something you’ll consider?

I'm sorry to ask about social media on a Monday. Too soon? gecko facepalm

I’m sorry to ask about social media on a Monday. Too soon?

Does social media do anything for you and your law practice?

Ok, I don’t typically start a Monday with such a potentially depressing question. So let me rephrase it: For those of you attorneys who find some value (however little) in social media to your practice, could you let me know what it is?

What led me to ask was an online post last week that examined the question “Does social media really work as a marketing tool?” You can read the (law firm marketer) responses here.

Besides being perturbed by the unnecessary use of “really” in the question, I also braced myself for the answers. That’s because lawyers (and many other legal organizations) often proclaim that “social media has never gotten me a new client.”

Well, if that was your goal for social media, and it didn’t achieve that, I’m sorry.

But of course (1) there are many goals for social media besides landing a client, and (2) how do you know your blogging etc. did not play a role in changing how a potential client viewed you as a potential counselor—or speaker, or mentor?

And remember, social media are channels, nothing more. When I encounter a resistant attorney, I sometimes ask whether their fax machine alone has ever “gotten you a client.” Or if your telephone “got you a client.” Of course not; you got the client, by displaying your expertise and/or experience and/or competitive pricing and/or geographic flexibility and/or 100 other things that may set you apart and make you appealing to clients.

Social media is just another way (and not the last way) to show those qualities.

It is also a great way to develop leads, learn about the community you want to practice in, and more.

In any case, please read the responses (by marketing experts) and let me know if you agree. I’ll be standing by (and bracing myself for the opposite of social media love); contact me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

blogging annual report 2014-page0001

The drone-y little stats monkeys at WordPress have done it again, providing a wealth of detail about this blog’s performance in the past year. You can read the complete report here.

Here’s a little of their overly kind blogbabble:

“Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 66,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Madison Square Garden, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it. There were 623 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 183 MB. That’s about 2 pictures per day.”

Nice, right? But as I am committed to transparency, I must admit: The numbers disappoint me. And that is because blog readership is down.

I can hear your jaw hitting the floor, your disbelief is so palpable: “A nichey law blog, in Arizona, not garnering readers? Get out!”

(You can click to see the annual reports from 2013, 2012, and 2011 to see for yourself.)

Setting aside your hurtful snark (yes, I can detect it), there are a few reasons for the decline (from a high of 130,000 views in 2012 to last year’s 66,000):

  1. Not enough puppies and kittens
  2. Low-quality posts (or maybe too much law-ishness)
  3. Busier, less curious readers
  4. Facebook sucks

I am wagering my money on options 2 or 4. As a writer, I always have to be willing to look to myself first for reader disengagement. But then there’s Facebook …

Facebook’s own little algorithmic bots constantly vary the processes by which they prioritize and make visible people’s posts. I have heard from many mere mortals such as myself who have seen their readership plummet: Posts that formerly would garner 300 views now result in 17, or 11, or 4. And because Facebook is one of the places I post my blog every day, the impact has been severe.

The “solution” offered by Facebook’s dark lords is pay for play: Facebook paid ads will get us all back where we were, they claim.

Well, for those of us with little budgets and even less inclination to participate in the FB scam, I’m back to my other solutions: Ever improving my writing and composition, and, of course, more puppies. Here you go, and Happy New Year.

Legally speaking, these Corgis are not law-related at all. You're welcome, Facebook.

Legally speaking, these Corgis are not law-related at all. You’re welcome, Facebook.

November 2013 coverToday, I share some good news about the State Bar—and Arizona Attorney Magazine. It involves the Bar’s recognition with the prestigious Award of Excellence in Education from the Arizona Society of Association Executives.

Back in November 2013, you may recall we published the results of an attorney survey that examined Arizona lawyers’ experience with violence in the profession. You can read the story by attorney Stephen Kelson here.

That story was being developed and drafted soon after the horrific murder of attorney Mark Hummels and his client at the hands of an angry man. I wrote about it here.

Following the crimes, the Bar launched a webcast on violence in the legal profession that garnered a national audience.

The Bar’s CEO/Executive Director John Phelps also wrote an op-ed on the topic in the Arizona Republic.

Below you can read the press release about the recent award recognizing all the Bar’s efforts. Please let me know how we should continue to advance the dialogue in the magazine.

Mark Hummels

Mark Hummels

“The State Bar of Arizona won the Award of Excellence in Education from the Arizona Society of Association Executives (AzSAE) and will be recognized at the organization’s 50th anniversary gala in December. Each year AzSAE recognizes outstanding programs and projects implemented by associations in Arizona.”

“The State Bar of Arizona was recognized for its “Violence Against Lawyers Education Project,” which transformed the unfortunate shooting death of an attorney into an evaluation and education initiative. The initiative, which surveyed members and ignited dialogue, resulted in two educational components: a 75-minute live webcast with more than 1,000 viewers nationwide and an in-depth article Arizona Attorney magazine regarding violence against attorneys.”

“According to the AzSAE, winning entries are showcased at the AzSAE Annual Awards Celebration and serve as inspiration to other associations.”

John Phelps headshot

John Phelps

“Commenting on the award, State Bar CEO John Phelps said, ‘This award is the result of teamwork and a commitment to excellence by State Bar staff and volunteers. It reflects what we do, day in and day out, in our service to the public and our members.’”

“The AzSAE Annual Awards were held on Dec. 3, 2014, at the Embassy Suites Phoenix-Scottsdale.”

On Nov. 21, 2014, volunteer attorneys answered almost 400 calls from Arizona consumers regarding immigration and the November 20 presidential executive order on the topic.

On Nov. 21, 2014, volunteer attorneys answered almost 400 calls from Arizona consumers regarding immigration and the November 20 presidential executive order on the topic.

Talk about timely: One day after historic action was taken by President Barack Obama on the topic of immigration, the State Bar of Arizona fielded a call-in program to address the inevitable questions that would arise.

As Alberto Rodriguez reports:

The State Bar of Arizona and Univision 33 hosted a special edition of Abogados a Su Lado (attorneys on your side) public service program on Friday, November 21. In response to the executive order issued by President Obama on Thursday, November 20, both the Bar and Univision organized a phone bank that would help clarify consumers’ questions regarding immigration law, as well as inform them of the initial details regarding the President’s executive order. The following is a recap of the program.

Nine attorneys volunteered their time and knowledge from 5:00 pm until 10:30 pm:

  • Emilia Banuelos, Banuelos Law Office
  • Tony Colon, Colon & Associates
  • Seth B. Draper, Salvatierra Law Group
  • Mark Egan, Gunderson Denton & Peterson
  • Magaly Fontes, Law Office of Magaly Fontes
  • Bruno Gitnacht, Law Office of Bruno Gitnacht
  • Ray Ybarra Maldonado, Law Office of Ray Ybarra Maldonado
  • Christina Ortecho, Ortecho Law
  • Matthew Thomas, Thomas Law Firm

The attorneys answered an astounding 385 calls regarding the President’s executive order and immigration law. This special edition phone bank was extended and offered during a five-and-a-half-hour time period.

Sample consumer questions:

  • When will the details be released? When and how do I apply for deferred action?
  • What are the specific details regarding the tax returns?
  • Does this cancel removal/voluntary departure procedures?
  • I got a DUI in the past, does this count as criminal activity?
  • How do I prepare? What documents do I need to provide?
  • I am already in the process of applying for citizenship, does this affect me?

All volunteers were satisfied with the quality of the questions overall and were excited to have participated in this special edition of Abogados a Su Lado public service program.

We thank Univision 33 for their continued partnership in providing this valuable “Access to Justice” program for the Spanish-speaking community.

Thanksgiving turkeys pardoned

Turkeys, stuffed or pardoned, are an American favorite.

I’ll be the first to admit that I appear to be easily impressed by turkey stories. In past years, I’ve pointed you to turkey pardons, here and here, and even just Turkey generally (see what I did there?)

But though we often are subjected to the annual ritual of public figures “pardoning” a select fortunate turkey (while its cousins end up on America’s dinner tables), we sometimes wonder if that is all for show. Does the gobbling poultry live out a happy life gobbling, or are they dispatched soon after the press conference?

One news story confronted that question head on and discovered that, at least in regard to last year, the turkey was living a life of ease. (And if you ever wondered why the White House always pardons white turkeys, well, there’s a news story that explains that too.)

turkey Thanksgiving I regret nothing gif

The message, I suppose: Enjoy life while you’ve got it.

But today is Thanksgiving Wednesday, which, in the world of my blog, means it must stand in for a lighter Change of Venue Friday. And to get you chuckling (before the gobbling), I take you to Seattle, Wash., where the Mayor has granted a pardon to … a tofurky.

Seattle Mayor grants pardon to Tofurky, to the acclaim of hipsters. (Source: NOT The Onion)

Seattle Mayor grants pardon to Tofurky, to the acclaim of hipsters. (Source: NOT The Onion)

Thank you to journalist and former Phoenician Jon Talton for pointing out this hilarious act of municipal largesse. I suppose if there is anything that will mock turkey pardons into history, it is the pardon of processed tofu in the shape of a turkey.

Whatever you plan to enjoy at your table, I wish you and yours the best.

turkey and girl

A girl and her turkey (meal)

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