It was 1990 in Naples Florida during an adult education writing class that Brian Walsh caught his future wife’s attention, but it wasn’t his way with words that piqued her interest. “I liked his shoes” Christine remembered smiling softly. “I had shoes similar, so it was the shoes that caught my eye.”
Born Christine Atchely, in Rochester, Indiana, she had moved to Florida with her family in the late 1980’s, and had always had an inclination towards and appreciation of the arts. But she found that the somewhat sleepy Southwest Florida town was not a hotbed of artistic and fashion-minded people, so, she created a personal style that suited her, and kept her hopes up for meeting like-minded souls.
And then Brian walked into her life. (For what it was worth, she also liked his artistic side and his creative nature that shone through in his writing style). Not long after that initial meeting, the pair began dating, and the creative writer and eccentric fell in love. Encouraged by Christine, Brian began applying his writing talent more productively as an independent journalist for local newspapers, which led to one of the their first collaborations when he wrote a featured news piece about a Disney Studio animator, and she took the photo that was displayed with the front-page article.
Emboldened by modest success, the couple uprooted and moved from Florida to New York City in 1993. Despite the culture shock of urban living, they adapted to their new, fast-paced life. Brian worked predominantly in retail, but was able to maintain a creative outlet via journalism by writing for several Manhattan neighborhood newspapers, and any additional writing he could get assigned to. Christine worked as a legal secretary in a law firm that dealt with a number of Broadway people, and with intellectual property rights, so the world of creative personalities was integrated enough to make the work a little less grueling.
Always in search of creative outlets for herself, Christine’s love of photography grew into a full-blown talent, as she created a niche for herself doing portrait and wedding photography. As counterpoint of the deliberately posed nature of those pursuits, she found herself inspired by the never-ending source of subjects that surrounded her, leading to a love of ‘street photography’, and a style that influences the way she seeks and captures her subjects to this day.
2018 was the beginning of a new chapter of the Walshes’ lives after they agreed to follow Christine’s longtime dream of moving back to her hometown. Despite the dramatic change of pace, they have both adapted to the halcyon rhythms of small-town life in the Midwest, a transition likely made easier by the drastically reduced cost of living, and the plentiful presence of one of urban living’s most precious commodities- space.
Since arriving in Rochester, the couple could not help but want to offer their unique perspectives and creative abilities to find ways to contribute to the community. Both are active with The Times Theater Inc, a not-for-profit revitalization project that seeks to restore Main Street’s vintage movie-house for community use. Christine sits on the theater board, and is a part of the organizations arts planning committee, while Brian contributes regularly to the project’s online presence via social media posts.
In addition, the duo tries to remain active in assisting/promoting local events, especially ones that focus on the downtown area where the theater is located. They have regularly visited other Indiana towns and attended conferences in search of ideas to explore the potential to enhance the community through the arts, and look forward to seeing if some of their ideas can be adapted to Rochester.
When they are not actively advocating for public art projects, the couple do their best to maintain domestic bliss while pursuing their respective muses- both together and apart. While Christine continues to engage in photography when and where she can, Brian continues to write and submit content to various online outlets when the opportunity arises, and they both seem to agree that the secret to creative harmony is knowing how and when to give each other space.
“I stay out of her way, and she stays out of mine,” Brian jokes. Thirty years, three states, and many life-chapters later, their artistic paths continue to merge and diverge in ways that continue to surprise even them, but they never lose sight of where it all started: with love. Oh, and the shoes.