Solo Art Show Je T'aime

I created this show to make the most positive and fun space possible on the night of my thirty-fourth birthday. Everyone was invited to celebrate all of the good-and-positive people and things in their lives - along with me and mine! It was a lot of fun, and totally worth it.


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Dad

My Dad is the greatest teacher in passion I’ve ever had - and beneath his multiple layers, there is a very highly-evolved being pulling the strings.

The thing that impresses me about him the most, is that, he will never-ever stop seeking justice, peace and respect for every human on the planet. In his tremendously-hard-working life, as a public servant, blues musician, journalist, politician, and father, he draws a line - which he makes visible in his presence, and it might as well be a mountain range. 

Asking him to accept a world where injustice is ok, or hope is lost, would be pointless. He literally 100% would not understand what your words mean. He will never-ever, ever give up. He’s not capable of it, and thank God.

Isn’t it nice to know that there has been a person out there for decades now, defending our individual integrity with every electron in his body, no matter who we are? 

He loves us-all no-matter-who-we-are...

...and Dad, I love you.


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Ben Kissel

Ben is my best friend on most levels. He is a 6’7” tower of force (mostly charisma.) When I was in my early 20’s we hung out every-day. When I go to NY he’s always somewhere waiting for me. Then we go bounce off the walls somewhere and laugh like maniacs. For me, there are no secrets to take to-my-grave, because Ben knows everything about me. He truly wants to know. He’s a deeply caring person.

I made him to star in a horror movie in college, because it was clear to me that he was going to be famous. I told him all-the-time back-then, that he would have fans one day so I wanted to be his first director. There was never any doubt. I could just see it.

The last several years have been sometimes bitter-sweet since I now share him with the World. That prophecy has come true - but I never doubted it so - I was prepared for the transition. Plus he still calls about twice-a-week. I’ve never had a moment where I was truly alone since meeting him. He’s been there during even the hardest moments. When I need a re-enforcement or just a laugh, having a comedian as a best-friend is sublime.

Ben, I love you.


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Drew Matters

We always say, “Who Matters?...Drew Matters.” Why do we say it? Because it’s this perfect phonic and spiritual truth. Drew is legendary among my friends. If I could strip away that legend, I would, but I can’t. There is almost nothing he hasn’t examined deeply. He is so rare, fun, and generous I’m sometimes ashamed of my own pompousness around him.

Drew was a roommate of mine in I think 3-different eras of my life. I can promise that his patience is unmatched. His grace is undoubted, his joy is un-shakable and his strength is a bottomless trench of understanding of what it means to be alive. You’ve heard the term old-soul, Drew is an ancient-soul or an original-soul.

He is sometimes my brother in risk-taking and I’d trust him with my life, and I have. He absolutely crushes the normal expectation of a friend. I’ve said many times that I could have the same conversation with Drew that I could have with any therapist. Why? After I quit riding motorcycles, I watched Drew ride 200 miles in the rain to LaCrosse from the safety of my car. The times I thought he was in trouble, he truly wasn’t. He knows where we become free, and the point is, that truth is all that’s left.

Drew, I love you.


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John Francis Mullen III

I’ve loved John from the moment I met him (which was 3-days into college?) He was living in a lounge with a bunch of other total-duders waiting for the school to issue him a room. 

I think most people agree: To know John, is to love John. He has always been so confident and I’m guilty of forgetting he’s human. It’s so easy to forget! He makes just being a solid guy, seem effortless. He’s so funny and so emotionally intelligent. He’s sort of a beautiful force of nature that can usually laser-in on conceit, sniff out what is utter-bullshit vs. what has value, audit and deliver a better angle. It’s a natural talent that he uses to support and build up other people. I don’t totally know, if he knows he does this.

He’s the ally I always wanted as a youth, he’s the friend I always wished I had in the 90’s - and I’m so, so happy he’s my friend today. I’ve spent 15 years looking up to, and trying to live up to his spirit.

Johnny, I know it’s not easy.

Johnny, I love you.


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Mom

None of this exists without her. We’re not even here right now without her. Everyone loves her. She is the high note on my life. She makes things ok that are way-not ok. She is the heart that beats in me. She is the person I have to live up to ultimately. She’s the love of-a-few-lives. She’s an Ice-Skating champion of suburban-Illinois. She puts her fiercest honesty into careful words. Her career was in helping people find work. Her life’s work is helping people. Her commitment to creation is not even judge-able. Her mind is probably sharper than most of us. She is the most vast person I know. She’s been there, believe me, and still won’t give up on you and us. She won’t go dark - she’ll follow, but snap you back before you know it - and that’s not negotiable. I’ve tried. She believes in LOVE above all. Not even in a cute-way, in a radical-way. She is the bravest, but doesn’t know she is. She is the wisest person I’ve ever met. She will convert you to her peace. I don’t know where she came from. I wish she had everything she wanted. I feel guilty she doesn’t. The best part about her is she’s light-years ahead of us all - and deep understanding is where we start with her.

Mom, I love you so much.


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Kami (My Sister) and Me

Oh my sister. Kamela is the friend-of-my-life. Since I was born, I’ve had this complicated, wonderful, boundary-pushing-other. The gifts she has given me, are things that I’ve been able to turn around like a megaphone and amplify everywhere I’ve gone in life.

She has expanded my sight a thousand-fold. As a teenager, she harbored me from angst and storms that, by sharing-genes we both could only understand. We’ve been good at giving each other clues about existential things and she’s so much better than me about the details. She’s tolerated carelessness from me that would in any-other-case be friendship-ending, but by-her-grace, responded with firm mercy. She’s the dearest ally I have and I already know that I will spend my life, trying for her. She is responsible for my taste in art, music and is so integral to who I am. She’s showed me it’s ok to be rare-and-beautiful in your thinking and I grew up in a time and place where the most powerful thing I’ve ever seen, was her fighting with the complexity of the world.

I know that anytime my sister is involved, I will be taken care of - even when I can’t return what she deserves. She’s my greatest motivator and creditor.

Kami, I love you so much.


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Dylan

Dylan is the brother I never had growing up. He shortly transcended the boundaries of friendship and became my family. There are many days I can think of, where Dyl was the closest family member I had. I can say this with confidence because the only time I’ve ever felt the way I feel when I talk to Dyl - is with my family. He’s aware of my flaws and never asks me to be anyone but me, but helps me improve all-the-time.

He has a unique ability to sense which complex face I’m showing on any given day and immediately adapt. We have shared so much hardship and joy. We can be an odd-couple too. I love that. Though I’m not specifically religious, sometimes I image a creator plotting our journeys and I could see why Dyl and I were put together.

He is able to compartmentalize like no one I’ve ever met. He is unwavering in creativity and so, so caring.

He accepts me completely. I know I’ve not always been a fun friend (but sometimes super fun!) to him but I hope I’ve been a great brother.

Dyl, I friggin love you.


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Bitsy

Bitsy is possibly the most prodigious, cherished, tenacious, mighty, flexible, early, resilient, durable, seeing, observant, caring, nurturing, altruistic human being I know and still always developing and expanding. She’s always early. She was even early to cancer (breast).

In many other ways, I often am early too, but not as much as her, so it has been a pleasure to know she’s there to show me around in almost every place I go, physically or mentally. I cannot even count the amount times I needed her, to see for me.

She has re-invented herself, been tested by enormous complexity, wrapped in duty, and allows herself the space to process it all, no matter how challenging.

In moments when I’ve been deeply disadvantaged or wandering or even straight-up wrong, she’s always been there to sympathize, strategize, and implement a new perspective. She is indispensable to many people I know, but I am a particularly lucky soul to be able to take the journey through life with her extraordinary-influence.

Bitsy, I love you.


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Cale Kirby (Len McLen)

Cale is one of the most complex-and-rare people I’ve ever met, and that’s saying a lot. His spectrum is massive. I’ve known a light Cale, a dark Cale, a stoic Cale, a deeply-sensitive Cale - and the Cale that has always been available-to-me, is the one I need. He’s my oldest-natural-friend and the hardest working person I’ve ever met. I’m an extremely hard-worker, and Cale can do at-least 2X what I can. This image is the day I re-connected with him in 2010 after nearly a decade apart. We’d hung a-few times since high school, but truly reunioned when he gave me a job in North Carolina. I managed Cleavland’s AAA Baseball Team’s Away Clubhouse. I worked 20 hrs-a-day trying to keep up. I did ok, but not Cale-good. He’s such a professional. He’s now the Equipment Manager for the Kansas City Chiefs. I honestly don’t believe anyone better exists.

Despite his amazing work, once the batting coach, who was a salty-old-baseball-dog, laced into Cale about not having good coffee...those that know me really-well, know I have a horizon, and it’s hard-to-reach, but if we do - we’re going downtown. Attacking someone I love is quickest way to see that side. So I dressed him down so powerfully in defense of Cale, he wilted in front of me.

Cale, you know I love you.


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Mrs. Medcraft

I don’t even know where to begin? By far, most of what I have, is what she gave me.

...Crafty would have been happy if I was just happy.

I always wished I could have just gone out and claimed that like it was there for me. When I went out into the world there was a different landscape. I think I sensed that when I was in her care (confusingly) and this modern world requires so much resilience. 

Still, I’ve protected the good intention she instilled in me, and by proxy, protected the people who I’m trying to design or make products for. They’re always innocent and worthy of respect in my eyes, because that was true in Crafty’s-eyes.

I can say that 30,000 kids have used my colored pencils, and a few million people have access to custom healthcare info now...but I know she doesn’t measure that as much as if I’m happy. Crafty - I’m happy and it took way longer than I thought. You let me know it was viable and possible to live as a creative. That is still all I am, you were right, and I’m sorry I was so angsty.

Mr.s Medcraft, that’s why, I love you.


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Mac

I grew up in a little town by a river with a beautiful but forceful waterfall. As risk-taker, I used to play in the river and bullfight with the current. It’s how I am.

I met Mac when I was 10 years old and time-and-time-again he went out of his way to show me that I mattered. He threw Dinosaur Week for me in 4th grade (as my teacher) and hired me for my first design jobs years later (as my principal.) He is the strongest combination of physical, mental, and emotional force and wellness I’ve ever encountered in another person.

If you know what I’m saying, this one day when I was 17, I swam too close to the ‘waterfall’ and the current beat me. I have never been more scared. When I reached the cusp, even the terror of the situation had passed, and all that was left to do, was go-over, guess who showed up?

How lucky was I, that on the one-day when I was powerless and hopeless, the strongest person I’ve ever met, and the only person I know who can stop a waterfall completely, happened to be right there? How. Lucky. Was. I? Every day since that day has been a gift from Mac. I turn 34 tonight.

Mac, I love you.


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The last stop for viewers was the Swan Room. It was so fun to watch people from 1 to 70 take a break on a swan and just play in a perfect place for reflecting in the blue neon or just feeling whatever they felt like.

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Copyright © 2014 Dave Koehler