Birmingham Shines

A show about the makers, creators, and innovators of the Magic City: Birmingham, Alabama.
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Now displaying: Category: creative arts
Nov 20, 2015

This week’s guest is Susan Shoemaker, a Birmingham mixed media artist. You can find her work around Birmingham and online. Just search for pencilpress.

Susan markets her work as pencilpress, which explains originated with her college art studies in printmaking and her love of drawing. And she also presses hard with her pencil. Hence, pencilpress.

Susan is known for her animal-focused art and she explains how she conceives and creates animal drawings, paintings and other pieces of art.

In our conversation, we touch on the creative process, art in schools and what it’s like to pursue art while working a full-time day job.

Susan explains how she gave up art for some years after college, while she worked full time, and then returned when she found that art was something that she could not let go.

Susan also talks about a few of the challenges that artists are facing—and they might surprise you. One is the challenge of dealing with bad weather during an outdoor art show. Another stems from the frequent requests that artists receive to donate their work for fundraising events. These are two things the artist community, overall, is facing and working to address, collectively.

We also talk about the challenges of pricing and value and perceptions of price, time, value and quality in the context of art AND food.

Susan's website is (not .com)

Thanks to Chris and Ana Newsome for letting me commandeer a corner table at Ollie Irene at 4 p.m. one recent Friday afternoon to record the interview and thanks to the house staff for being so accommodating with the request to turn down the background music a bit while we were recording our conversation.

Oct 1, 2015

This week’s guest on Birmingham Shines is writer T.K. Thorne, author of the award-winning novel Noah’s Wife.

Noah’s Wife received ForeWard Magazine’s Book of the Year Award in Historical Fiction and T. K. has received a number of accolades and much critical acclaim for her fiction and non-fiction works, including Angels at the Gate, another novel in the genre of historical fiction, and Last Chance for Justice, a investigative non-fiction work about the Birmingham Church bombers.

I recently finished reading Noah’s Wife and I can say from first-hand experience that this is a compelling, page-turning work of historical fiction. I literally did not want to stop reading each night when it was time for me to turn off the light.

I hope you enjoy this conversation, we start with a look at her early years and then focus on her journey to becoming a published writer and how the characters in her stories come to life.

You'll probably only get an episode every other week during the month of October. That's something I'm contemplating. If you want to keep up to date to know for sure, please visit and sign up for the email newsletter. You can find the sign-up form just below the player on any episode page.

Sep 17, 2015

Lawrence Sheffield knew from a young age that he wanted to work with his hands, his heart and his mind and that college was not in his plans. His love of woodworking inspired a vision to start a training program to help young men learn both job and life skills through woodworking. That vision led to the creation of Magic City Woodworks, a 501c3 nonprofit in Birmingham, Alabama.

Lawrence is my guest on this week's episode of Birmingham Shines, along with Jacob Pierce who serves as the volunteer coordinator for Magic City Woodworks.

In this conversation, we talk about the importance of doing meaningful work and the life lessons that can be learned through woodworking and other trades.

One of the most important books I've read in the past 5-6 years is Shop Craft as Soulcraft by Matthew Crawford. 

When I discovered Magic City Woodworks through Instagram I knew I had to reach out to these guys and learn more about what they are doing. I'm so glad I did. I think you'll love this conversation.

You can find more at

If you like this podcast, I hope you'll considering purchasing my ebook (a PDF), 7 Days of Real Food. The price is $5 through Friday, September 19, 8 p.m. CDT. You can purchase online through the link at I'll be adding a purchase page to Birmingham Shines this weekend. 

Aug 27, 2015

The word "Kuumba"  means create.

Deidre Clark is bringing innovative programs to Ensley to inspire and train kids in the creative arts.

The latest program will provide training and mentoring in the field of graphic design and offer high school students the chance to gain valuable job skills and a portfolio to supplement college applications and/or pursue employment or freelance opportunities.

In this episode, we walk through the history of Kuumba Community Art and into this new direction.

Deidre also provides tips on how you can choose yourself to do that thing that you've been dreaming of doing. Find out more at