Matthew Bieri

He has been identified as many things throughout his life. Some, fit to print, others not. His road to here started in the high school darkroom. He thought that this class would be an excellent way to waste an hour. Eventually, he found himself in the situation of being almost halfway through the course, and he had yet to turn in any work.

In a moment of desperation (and after being lectured to by his instructor about failing the course), he frantically went about the process of taking some pictures. He grabbed his trusty Nikon FG-20 and tried to salvage his grade. Not having paid much attention during the course made his work in the darkroom quite tricky, but through the help of his classmates, he was able to figure out just how this whole ‘making pictures’ thing went. He handed in his pictures. To his surprise, and to the instructors, the work did not completely suck. In fact, the instructor saw something in his work and helped create an environment in which Matthew was able to find his talent.

This positive environment eventually led his work from the ‘wow – I’m surprised this doesn’t suck’ phase, to the ‘holy crap – this kid just won best of show…who would have thought it?’ phase. As stories go, this one does not segue happily from here to the college years, and then to now. Instead, there was a detour.

After high school, Matthew tried to hold on to the dream of being a photographer, but since he opted out of higher learning, his opportunities dried up – as did the cash. Bieri found himself in a bind and was forced to pawn all of his camera gear. Having realized that his photographic career was a pipe dream, he set off on a good trade of honest work; food service.

Bieri started off his new career as a dishwasher, or as he likes to call it, a ‘dirty-dish-dog’ at the Sholom Home in St. Paul Minnesota. Eventually, he made his way to prep cook, and then line cook (not at the Sholom Home, though – he was fired – twice – from that job). He moved from nursing homes to hospitals, delicatessens to bar & grilles. Eventually, he worked an excellent job at an excellent casino. Things looked good, for old Bieri but something was missing.

The life of Bieri, or as he was known to his bar friends – Otis (named after a character on the Andy Griffith Show), was devoid of something. He just couldn’t put his finger on it, as he was far too busy enjoying the nite life (it may not be the right life, but it’s my life!) to spend all that much time dwelling on it. He would feel it mostly during those early morning hours after the din of the city night had passed, there was no direction for ol’ Otis.

It had been almost ten years since Matthew had pawned his camera gear, and after having a life-changing experience in a hotel room in Bismarck, he straightened himself up, asked himself how it was that he wound up in North Dakota, and said “I need something to keep me occupied…as idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” It was at this moment that he bought himself a new camera. Again, he frantically went about taking many pictures, as he was being graded on his life, and he had to pull his GPA up.

He took roll after roll. He enrolled in college. He still frantically snapped picture after picture. He, again, won awards for his work. His life may have taken an incredible detour, but he soon found himself at that place he always wanted to be. Matthew has given up trying to figure out the why’s and the how’s of life, and instead just keeps moving down the path. Sometimes, but not often, he will look back and think of the people that believed in him, and he wants to let them all know that it worked out…they were right. He may not yet entirely be there, but he’s on his way. Miraculously.

If Matthew drops dead, feel free to copy and paste this into his obituary. Just be sure to change it from present to past tense, and put something in there about how he loved daschunds.