Meet Murph! Murph is a local artist who has thrown himself wholly into creating a space for Woodstock artists to know one another, to learn together, and to build one another up to better pursue their artistic mission. The result of Murph’s hard work, inspired by his own story of transitioning from isolated living to community living, is the Artist Guild! This group meets regularly and has been helping artists across the board to make connections and find encouragement. Besides being devoted to helping other artists, Murph has produced his own proficient body of work with his unique and wonderful style! Murph is an impressively multi-faceted individual as well as incredibly easy to connect with, and as a result, our conversation was far from brief as we explored a breadth of topics and passions!
All our gratitude to you, Murph, for all that you put into this interview, as well as for your work in our community! It was wonderful to speak with you! Thank you!
Question: What inspired you or led you to your current career?
Answer: It’s something that I’ve always done. We all do crafts as a child with whatever we have on hand, and that never went away for me. When I got out of high school, I was in survival mode and was trying to figure my life out very quickly- you know, get a good job and support myself. I wasn’t doing anything artistic then, because when you’re in survival mode, you don’t have that kind of disposable income. So it was something that I circled back around to- I was in the corporate world for a couple of years when I was around 19 and 20, and I just sort of gave up on that because there was really no way to have an impact there. Then I went broke immediately and had to scramble back to it a little bit. I’ve been working in insurance now for about 16-17 years and that’s how I handle my responsibilities! I firmly believe that you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do so you can do what you want to do! Being a “starving artist” is a choice, and I don’t really subscribe to it.
Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Woodstock, and what do you love there?
A: I don’t really go out to eat very often, but Maxwell’s Cigar Bar is one of my favorite gathering places. We also have our artist guild meetings at Reformation Brewery, which is a great community center, though we’re also searching for a place that’s a little more conducive to meeting with 20 or more people so that we can meet a little more effectively.
Q: How long have you lived or worked in Woodstock?
A: I ended up in the Bells Ferry area around 1997, and it was all new to me, especially emerging from military school.
Q: Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in Woodstock? Who would you like to see nominated as a Face of Woodstock?
A: Madison Beaulieu- she’s a leader, an event coordinator, and a designer on a team with her husband. Madison’s having a big impact on Woodstock whether people notice and know that or not. She heads up the Makers Mash, the artist pop-up shop at Reformation Brewery.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be? And why?
A: If money were no object, I’d love to go to the caves in Spain and Portugal to see where our oldest documented human markings are. That’s such a strong region for art, as the birthplace of it.
Q: What is your favorite movie OR what is the first movie you remember seeing in a theatre?
A: ‘Beetlejuice’ is probably my favorite movie, cause it’s fun and weird and has a lot of creativity. There’s a lot of visual stimulation, and that’s often what interests me most in movies.
Q: What advice would you give a crowd of people?
A: That none of us are as smart as all of us. The more vulnerable we’re willing to let our minds be, the stronger we’ll be together with those shared ideas on the table.
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: I think that I create daily bucket lists so that at the end of the day, I can feel like I did something, either to help people better connect or to complete their mission in art, etc. Tomorrow might not show up, so what can I do TODAY?
Q: What is your favorite music/3 bands you would like to see (dead or alive)?
A: I lean on music a lot. I grew up on classic rock, but when I got older and out of military school, I just naturally gravitated towards hip hop. I feel like it’s kind of a guilty pleasure. But I really love music, and there are fa ew genres I don’t handle well.
Q: What current/former local business makes you the most nostalgic about Woodstock?
A: What happened to Hot Dog Heaven?! Let’s bring that back! More seriously, sometimes I feel like it’s hard to connect with Woodstock personally, but I try not to hang my hopes on that. Things that take me back are people like Debbie– she’s got experience, she’s deeply connected with Georgia and Atlanta, she’s got so many stories, and she’s so sincere. So truly “the things that take me back” in Woodstock are the people, not specific places.
Q: Choosing anyone dead or alive: with whom would you love to have lunch? Why? Where in Woodstock would you have lunch?
A: I would probably have lunch with my grandfather at the Colonnade because that is hard to beat.
Q: What is your favorite thing or something unique about Woodstock?
A: Something unique is how Woodstock never stops wanting to be better. Having worked in the service industry in Woodstock, people love to express their thoughts or complaints and aren’t shy about it, but Woodstock always wants to be better. You can’t make everybody happy, but people are still coming and we’re still the place to be because it wants to be better.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
A: I’m going to keep making my daily buckets lists and see what I can do in that amount of time because we’re all a sum total of all our experiences moment by moment. I’d really like to see the art center be able to support art in the way that it wants to, whether it’s budget, capacity, manpower—just to see it able to do the things that it really wants to do.
Q: (Even for friends or family), what is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
A: When I look at a piece of art, I’m guilty of sometimes assessing in reverse. When I can’t instantly figure out the technique or the medium, that’s all I want to know. Once I do know, I think about how I can possibly incorporate it into my own work, which can be viewed as sort of a primitive styling but, I tend to break things down and try to figure out how I can do or make it myself.
Q: What 3 words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word HOME?
A: Recharge, family, and safety.
Q: If you were cast into a major motion picture and had your choice of anyone to be your co-star, who would you choose?
A: My co-star would be my son!
Q: If you had a full-time staff member that was fully paid for, who would you choose?
Chef, Housekeeper, Driver, Coach, Physical Fitness Trainer, or Nanny?
A: I would have an investor, to help push my mission forward.
Follow Murph and check out more of his epic art here!!
Photos of Murph featured in this article are credited to Clay Goswick