Sunday, January 14, 2018

We Almost Lost Two Twin Ports Artists This Past Year

Despite efforts to be good defensive drivers, sometimes there's almost nothing one can do because it's so out of the blue and there is so little time to react. Here are brief accounts of two local artists who became victims this past year, plus information about a fund raiser for the latter.

Scott Murphy
Broken Threads...
Last summer, I had scheduled a visit to popular painter and muralist Scott Murphy's studio to do a story in anticipation of his upcoming fall show at Lizzard's here in Duluth. We had spoken the day before and all was arranged, but when I arrived there were no cars in the driveway. No one was home. I did not immediately assume the worst, but after visiting two more times that week with the same reception I began to wonder what had happened. Perhaps he'd been called out of town on an emergency?

After three weeks of periodically stopping or driving by his home, I saw a car in the driveway. I stopped, knocked and was invited in... by his daughter, Claire, whereupon I learned that on that very day when Scott and his wife Colleen were heading home for our meeting, a reckless driver had careened into the Murphy's lane on Highway 2. All the bones in Scott's legs were broken and his wife had serious but less life threatening injuries. It was a crazy thing to happen, but Scott has been a battler and a survivor. His show with UMD Professor Robin Murphy (no relation) was postponed.

Trissa Wilson  (a.k.a. Eris Vafias)
Last spring a car going 60 mph ran a red light and slammed into Trissa's car. In the accident she experience a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that resulted in short-term memory loss, sensitivity to light, visual impairment, as well as cognitive deficits in the areas of processing speed, memory retrieval, attention and concentration. Like many with these kinds of accidents she has PTSD with heightened anxiety and depression. Trissa has gone through speech therapy and occupational therapy. She continues to be in physical therapy and to see other assorted medical providers. It has been 9 months since the incident and she's still waiting for the okay from doctors so she can to go back to work.

A single mother of two growing daughters, she is best known for the Artist Kamikaze events that she has produced over the years as well as other arts related events including the Limbo Gallery that she curates and directs.

Fund Raiser for Trissa / Eris
According to Lydia Walker, whom I was partnered with in my first Artist Kamikaze event, Trissa’s medical bills are piling up and so are the bills for her to just meet the basic needs of her and her girls. She is fighting to not lose their home and despite everything, she has increased her volunteer work in our community, while asking for little from others. She has continued to host free events for local artists to share their work with the community through events like the Artist Kamikaze. The proceeds from these events go all back into the artists’ community and future free events. Trissa sees no profit and she doesn’t care. Trissa just wants to give back to her community and promote the growth of the local arts.

Saturday January 20th 5pm-10pm at the Elks Lodge
1503 Belknap St, Superior, WI 54880
Tickets: $10 each available at the door

Interested in donating:
cash -
food/beverage, Musical talent, items for auction - contact
For more information follow the event page on Facebook

Update on Scott Murphy
Yesterday I reached out to Scott and gained a new appreciation for the meaning of the word resilience. If I'd not known all he'd been through I'd never have believed, based on his cheerfulness, that he'd been through anything serious at all. As he shared the details, however, we're fortunate he is with us at all.

"It's amazing how much energy it takes to paint," Scott said, lamenting because of how much energy is expended by rehab.

Then we talked about the accident.

"The guy was going between 72 and 90 when he hit us," he said. It happened so fast, and had Scott not veered both he and Colleen would undoubtedly have been killed. The speeding car hit the corner of the Murphy's car  and spun it. Scott was trapped in the car, but Colleen despite a cracked sternum, broken wrist and other injuries, climbed over the seat and managed to escape through the back door. She went out, picked up Scott's glasses off the highway and began directing traffic.

An Emergency Medical Technician just happened to be near and immediately attended to Scott, keeping him conscious and hopeful while waiting for the "jaws of death" to extract the car from around his broken body.  "I was lucky my back wasn't broken or my head damaged, lucky not to have had permanent paralysis," he said. While trapped in the car he had no idea, though, how smashed up he was. He's had four surgeries and a lot of rehab since the accident last summer.

On the positive side of the ledger,  "I had some great hallucinations," Scott said. "I went to Russia, went to the mountains. When you can fly you can go anywhere you want. The hallucinations were a gift."

He also shared how special it was for his daughter to be able to return home and be there for he and his wife. "Claire was such a big help. Colleen and I couldn't do basic functions, like mowing etc. The fact that she took three months off her life to help was wonderful. By her nature she's a healing influence."

For now, the Murphy and Murphy show at Lizzard's is slated for this coming fall. 

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