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Vint Blackburn M.D.

the abridged edition


Born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Vint bought his first camera at age 12, a Pentax K1000 (everyones first camera back then), moved up to a LX (their pro camera) and finally scrimped and saved, while working at Camera & Darkroom in Santa Fe to buy a Canon F1, before leaving for the renowned School of Journalism at the University of Missouri, Columbia. Two years later, he decided that he was more interested in creative photography, transferred and graduated from the University of Arizona (where the negatives of Ansel Adams live). While in Tucson, he bought his first Mac SE (two floppy disk drives, no hard drive) and started a small graphics company. He was soon producing all of the posters for the music promotors in town and hanging out in the backrooms of clubs with small unknown bands such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers. 


After graduation, he moved to Barcelona, Spain to work as a photojournalist. He also taught English as a Second language during the three years he lived there to cover the lean times (and there were many of those). He was lucky enough to cover the first U.S. Dream Team at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, as well as photographing the World-Expo in Sevilla that same year. He also published several photo expositions covering Europe, Asia and Morocco. 

In 1993, feeling somewhat homesick, he moved to Honolulu, Hawaii where he worked as an award-winning journalist for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. This gave him an opportunity to fine-tune his journalism skills. Since he had been an avid Mac enthusiast, he moved into the Art department where he worked as an infographic artist and helped usher the Bulletin into the digital age by developing their first web site. In 1997 they were one of the first papers to go on-line. As a result of this, he was hired as Creative Director for the new web startup side of Integrated Microsystems in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Too bad it was February, when they made him the offer that he couldn't refuse.

It was at this point that he got his pilot's license and bought a 1946 Cessna 140 tail dragger. He began doing arial photography for local businesses and real estate companies, along with his web development job. It was also at this time that he started to pursue his musical career in earnest. He had started studying guitar in Spain and had been writing songs for years, playing at cafes here and there, but when he met Mathilda, a classically trained violinist, they formed the duo, Vint & Mathilda. He quit his job as a premier web developer and they moved back to his hometown of Santa Fe where he opened a recording studio, parlaying his understanding of digital arts into the small, but successful High Desert Studios. They also completed three commercial albums and toured throughout the South West (and one tour to Spain). 

In 2001 he was made another offer he couldn't refuse, Assistant Vice President of Web Development for the Latin American branch of Citicorp, located in New York City. Vint and Mathilda shuttered the studio and moved to The Big Apple where Vint had always wanted to live (and Mathilda thought "why not?") While there, in order to satisfy their creative urges, they auditioned at Grand Central Station and were accepted into Music Under New York, granting them the right to play, amplified throughout the metros of the metropolis. It is a good thing that Vint was working for Citicorp because music in NYC was not going to support an apartment in Manhattan, even if it was the East Village. 

Standing on the corner of 1st and Houston Street on the clear fall day of September 11th, watching the 1st World Trade Tower fall somewhat soured both Mathilda and Vint on life in the city and two months later they headed back for High Desert Studios. Back in Santa Fe, he and Mathilda bought an old, dilapidated adobe in the Barrio and completely renovated it from top to bottom, doing almost all of the work themselves. Vint had sold his beloved Cessna when they originally moved back to New Mexico, but to satisfy his craving for flying he volunteered several hundred hours as a Mission Pilot for the SF branch of the Civil Air Patrol. He took and passed his written exam for Commercial and Instrument ratings, but the fickle spring New Mexico weather (40 kts gusting 60) made doing the check ride impossible for 2 months. By then, Vint did not think he could do a chandelle to save his soul, so he stuck to VFR for the CAP. 


During this time he was made another offer that he seemingly could not refuse. After running into his old Head of Middle School (and favorite teacher) from Santa Fe Prep School, she told him that she was working for Desert Academy, two blocks from where they were renovating their house. They were looking for a science teacher and he thought "why not?"  So, while renovating his home, flying missions for CAP he started teaching middle school and high school science. Along with his most precocious student, Senior Zach Wiley (now a lawyer) they turned an empty room in the school into a spaceship classroom which garnered him quite a bit of local notoriety. He also pursued his Masters in Education with a Space Emphasis though a collaboration of Regis University and The Space Foundation based out of Colorado Springs. 

For several years Vint had been threatening to go to medical school and become a neurologist a la Sacks, Damasio or V.S. Ramachandran. In his last year teaching at Desert Academy, partly at the suggestion of Mr Wiley, Vint got his EMT and then his EMT Intermediate license. The following year he quit teaching, sold his house in Santa Fe, bought a small fixer upper in Albuquerque and started working as a Nurse Tech at Presbyterian Hospital while redoing all of his science classes (needed to apply for medical school) at the University of New Mexico. After a few months at the University, he was offered a job as a lab assistant to Professor Charles Cunningham (now at the NSF) working on schistosome research. Once again, his knowledge of photography and digital art came in handy.

After a year and a half, Vint applied to the University of New Mexico Medical School and was accepted. After graduating, he moved to Pittsburgh, where he did his residency in Psychiatry and subsequent fellowship in Child Psychiatry at the research powerhouse, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. After residency he became the Assistant Medical Director at the Resolve Crisis Center and started his successful private practice. He also continues to teach psychiatry as an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Photography, music, video and aviation remain great passions.

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