Thursday, December 31, 2009

Letting Go and Forming Connections

As 2009 is coming to a close this wet gray day I am reminded of my intention in yoga this morning- to Let Go. Let go of anything that no longer serves me - or others. And with that I would like to add Connecting - Forming Connections. Making art is often a solitary act and as I reflect on this past year in our new home I see I have created new work ( In my Inherently Found series I started using tea bags. Tea bags to stain paper, tea bags with encaustic hanging from my utensils and also drawings; a drawing a day to be precise. My morning ritual consists of making a cup of tea for my husband Scott. This connects us and reminds me of the Japanese Tea Ceremony I participated in back in Hawaii in the 80's on the beach of Haleiwa Beach Park. This ritual steeped in tradition and meditation brings us to the moment of awareness and gratitude- something I intend to cultivate in my life.

My days (like everyone else's!) are constant to do lists; filled with taking care of my family, our pets and our home, teaching, volunteering in the community, work around our book Butterfly Kisses and Wishes on Wings, yoga, meditation, journaling and other forms of exercise- and making ART. The pie sliced is so many pieces. Often at the end of the day I would feel frustrated or angry that so little if any time was spent in my studio. I decided to make a regular practice to drawing every day- something simple and present - like a tea bag. Some days I spend up to an hour drawing the tea bag or bags, and others they are quick sketches. I decided I would commit to this practice and see what happens. I spoke to Jay my web guru today and he is going to set it up on my site so I can share them on the web with you. For now here is one from yesterday as well as a sculpture I did over the summer titled 8 Cups of Tea (also referencing the book 3 Cups of Tea that I found so powerful and compelling.)

Happy and Healthy New Year to one and all!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Building Bridges, Opening Doors

Wednesday is Art Club day at Germantown H.S. in Philly. Alisha Hagelin is dedicated artist and art teacher extraordinaire and works with a great group of kids after school. In October we began meeting for our Mural Project on Peaceful Conflict Resolution. Aileen Lynch-McCulloch of Young Audiences of Eastern PA found the money to make this happen in these challenging economic times. Last week we brainstormed on ideas and images and are using Building Bridges and Open Doors as metaphors to illustrate the values of Forgiveness, Self-Esteem, Boundaries, Perseverence, Compassion and Love. Here is a group photo of Alisha and her kids as well as Asia, a language arts teacher in the school who heard about our project and wanted to be a part of it. She has become our official note taker and fellow brainstormer. Also posted is a photo of a student Desiree and her fabulous clay creatures! Creativity abounds!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

In Pursuit of an IDEA

The other night I
It was a two part segment;
the first was on Cindy Sherman, the second on Paul McCarthy.
I enjoy hearing artists speak about their work, see their studios
and really see where they come from. For example, Cindy made
a book as an adolescent called "The Me, book" where she made a photo album filled with family snapshots and she circled herself in all the pictures. I really appreciated seeing how her work and her process evolved from this interest in self and identity. But, it was the segment about Paul McCarthy that resonated most for me. To begin with, I have come across his work on a couple of occasions in Manhattan, but never really "got it" or cared to make an effort to. What struck me after watching the interview with him is that 1) the more you learn or know about something(someone) your pre-judgements are cast aside and you can really appreciate what is not always easy or accessible. This could be said about anything- or any one. And 2) Paul talked about his interest in the pursuit of an idea. He was not so interested in his audiences response to his work, rather his commitment was to an idea and to see how far he can take it. As an artist, our commitment is to the work, the pursuit of an idea; give it weight and value and then push it to the limits- without regard to how it will be received. By thinking of the end- how will it be received seems to stifle the very flow of the idea.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Peace: Pass it On

I finally acted on a bulletin board I have seen driving down Rte. 41 in Avondale, right near my son's Middle School. It shows Desmond Tutu smiling larger than life (and isn't he?) The slogan with his shining face says "His Moral Compass Points to Equality"
"PEACE... pass it on" I finally went to the website and then sent an email to the Foundation to learn more about them.

Here are a couple of Q & A from their website:

Q: What is The Foundation for a Better Life?

A: The Foundation is a non-profit 501©(3) organization, started in 2000. We are privately funded and non-commercial. Our sole objective is to promote positive values, using print and broadcast media.

Q: Why are you doing this?

A: We want the stories we share about the actions of others to inspire someone to do one thing a little better, and then pass on that inspiration. While a few individuals living values-based lives seems small, collectively they will make the world a better place.

I appreciate the positive, inspiring messages I have come across and I am going to use their site today as I begin my new residency with Germantown High School in Philly. I am working with art teacher Alisha Hagelin and her after school art club. The theme of the mural is to be Peaceful Conflict resolution and I have also reached out to my good friend Lorenn Walker who works a lot with kids and their families in restorative justice. Lorenn has always inspired me by her passion, energy and commitment to helping others resolve their conflicts peacefully. Another person I reached out to was Jeff Clapp of Where Peace Lives. They have done incredible mural projects with kids all over the world.

These different site and resources are giving me much to bring to the first meeting today with Germantown HS Art Club Students when we begin our dialogue of what comes to mind when we think of Peaceful Conflict Resolution.

So here is a shot of Alisha and me from our preliminary planning meeting two weeks ago...
will keep you posted.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Kids + Art = Empowerment

Since we moved here just over a year ago, two non profit organizations that empower children through the arts have come to my attention.

This past Friday I spent the afternoon with my new friend Kathy Hrenko, an art therapist by profession, a compassionate and tireless community worker and now the Executive Director of After the Bell - which is a supervised after school program for Kennett Middle School students that offer a wide variety of free after school activities that include art and recreational activities. On Friday, Kathy first took me to meet Barbara DesJardins this incredible visionary of what is possible for children. Barbara, an educator started Peaceworks in 1985. This is taken from their website- a colorful powerhouse of what they do:

PeaceWork provides abused, neglected, and homeless children with the tools to create art within a safe and nurturing environment. Their artistic creations are then beautifully framed and displayed in public venues.

Meeting Barbara was inspiring to begin with, but later Kathy took me an exhibition of work created from one of their workshops. The Spirit Dolls were on display at The Three Little Pigs, a cafe in West Chester, PA. The dolls and info about PeaceWork were beautifully hung throughout the restaurant. Barbara truly lives the Ghandian (?!) quote, "Be the Change You want to see in the World."

Monday, August 31, 2009

Parting Shots of Summer...

Back to school, a cool late summer night and transition from the days of summer to fall, school and getting back into a routine.

In addition to my intensive and powerful week at Pura Vida in Costa Rica, I had an opportunity to study with a gifted and powerful sculptor, blacksmith, and teacher, Pamela Wallace at the Women's Studio Workshop in Rosendale, NY. Here are shots from my week with 5 other artists from NY, NJ, MA, and VT. It was a week of lots of great information from Pamela about soldering, and welding, with Chris Petrone, Studio Manager of WSW working with us in the papermaking aspect of the week.Now to put what I have learned into place back in my studio.
I was out clipping the wire from our Invisible Fence flags to use in some sculptures. (always the Hunter and Gatherer!) Which brings me to the new addition to our family... Dini (as in Houdini) da Wahine Dight! Dini is our Black Lab Mix that was rescued from a local shelter then fostered by Tree Tops Rescue in Landenberg, PA. Check them out - to find a wonderful pet of your own! We are all in love!

Oh... and another new addition to our home is my birthday gift from my dear friend and renowned artist- Pegge Hopper. I was surrounded by Pegge's beautiful paintings during my years in Hawaii when I managed her art gallery in Honolulu. Now one of her paintings graces our home and I continue to be amazed by her sense of color, design and draftsmanship... Pegge has truly been a mentor and friend for many years and I continue to "hear her voice" in my head as I work in my studio in PA (which is WAY TOO FAR from Hawaii for this wahine!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Book Talk Tonight at LBIF in Loveladies, NJ

Off today to the Long Beach Island on the Jersey Shore. Summertime. and LBI is beast (as my 9 year old would say!) I spent my summer there between freshman and sophmore years at Pratt, waitressing, partying and decompressing from the rigors of Foundation year at Pratt and dealing with a then, very ungentrified Brooklyn.

Now I will be back to the island for just one night to do a book talk and signing for our book-
Butterfly Kisses and Wishes on Wings: when someone you love has cancer... a hopeful, helpful book for kids. at The Long Beach Island Foundation for Arts & Sciences in Loveladies. The Foundation is a gem in South Jersey! Great workshops and classes, studios and visiting artist programs- check it out!

Last time I was on the island I saw a seal on the beach enjoying the winter morning sun!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Best Made Plans... artist moms and summer!

School officially ended for my boys over a week ago, but last week they were busy with friends visiting for the week, and all four going to Lacrosse camp. The week was filled with camp, Disc Gold (totally cool and a whole sub culture I had NO IDEA about- we went to a fun course at Anson Nixon Park in Kennett Square), fishing, swimming, and lots of soccer. Yesterday was their first weekend that was NOT planned. At least for them.

I got up early, meditated and did my yoga by the pond. Then sat down at my trusty Powerbook and went to work on my calendar planning my day, blocking out studio time, appointments and other commitments. Wouldn't you know it- as we are making crepes for breakfast (ooh la la, Nate has a kids cooking book and they both were into it) One of our smoke detectors go off which of course means they ALL go off- and we can't get them to stop! Needless to say this went on for an hour, drove us all crazy and finally an officer from New Garden came out- we need new ones, thank you very much (rather find out this way, don't ya think!?) Now of course, it is WAY past my 9 am goal of getting to work in my studio... Which by the way.... I inherited a solid door and horses from neighbors moving out this weekend and decided to move my painting upstairs. The light is better and open. I will still work downstairs for printmaking and papermaking but I like being UP. I can also move the easel and big canvas I am working on OUTside to the deck to work from life and for better light. and yes we even had some sun yesterday!

Anyway, I would love to hear from other artists (of all kinds!) that also have young children and how they make their time to work....what do you do?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Which Wolf are you Feeding?

I have a new favorite parable that I got from Bonnie St. John's book- Live Your Joy. It's a story about an Cherokee Grandfather (and forgive me if I get the details wrong, it's the lesson that counts!) Anyway, a grandfather is teaching his grandson that there are two wolves that are at battle within each of us. The Evil wolf is anger, hatred, intolerance, evil, judgement (a.k.a. - yucky stuff) The Good wolf is love, kindness, compassion, humility, joy... After a moment the grandson asks"which wolf wins." Which ever one you feed, replies the grandfather. SO that is the question I ask myself on a daily basis- Which Wolf are You Feeding- whether it is about someone else (don't say it if it is not kind, true or helpful) or myself- and that is MY challenge. Especially in my studio the other day I was working on some new koi pond images and working with reflective light and getting frustrated.

The first quote from DaVinci came to mind (again a little paraphrasing) The supreme misfortune is when theory outstrips performance...or when the idea is better that than ability to convey it.
ug. sigh. bad wolf...

But then Van Gogh's quote came to me (yes, good wolf) When that voice inside me says- you are no artist, I quiet the voice by painting. So work, and that will feed the good wolf and put the evil wolf in its place. where ever that is. NOT IN MY HOUSE!

Last night participated in a art exhibition/ book signing at Kimmel Cancer Center in Philly-
as always met warm, wonderful, courageous people. It is heart warming to share our book
Butterfly Kisses and Wishes and Wings: When someone you love has cancer... a hopeful, helpful book for kids. There were two sisters- one, an oncology nurse and her sister, who told me how they wished that they had had our book when they lost their father to cancer.

That is our intention, to get the book to those who need it. Our Gift- it- Forward program encourages people to buy our book and donate it to a local library, hospital, place of worship or school- Wherever there may be a child or family who would benefit from the message of our book.

NOW tonight is 9th Annual Riddle Memorial Hospital Cancer Survivors Day. I am presenting at the ever. doing my speach/art talk/ slide presentation. I will try and post that once I put it in a format that I can use here. They are all on my website-

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Breathe deep- Spring is here, within and without

I really do thrive on the sunshine, the greenery and the re-birth and new birth that comes with spring. I am also working on my power point slide show for Riddle Hospital in Media, PA The Cancer Experience through an Artist's Eye on Thursday June 4. Going through images over the past 7 years and revisiting my journey from the cancer diagnosis to the work that came forth has been interesting. Much of that work lives on my walls here at the Okie Gallery but putting into chronological order and giving thought to the linear and non linear way the work evolved helps give insight and perspective on the experience.

I am also fully engaged in my Koi series which comes from a different experience which may be an obvious statement but again, not really. Working intuitively the koi in the water are about color, movement and what lies below the surface. Maybe not so different than the cancer work. My body was the vehicle to explore what lies below the surface as well.

Friday, May 1, 2009

It Takes a Village

Last Sunday was the Komen North Jersey Race for the Cure. I ventured up to NJ from my PA hideaway with our new 3rd Edition (!) books in tow. Set up was on Saturday - beautiful sunny day, the park a buzz with anticipation for their 2nd Annual Race. That evening, I stayed with my dear friend Nadira Husain- poet, photographer and fabulous cook. Dinner that evening was actually prepared by her mom- be still my heart- all my favorite Pakistani flavors lovingly prepared. Following dinner, the whole Husain-Ali Kan clan went to work cutting out butterflies for the following day.

The event itself was a huge success. Not only did thousands participate for the Race- the weather was perfect, stories exchanged, inspiration abounded and money was raised. Nadira and I could not help but muse on this incredible foundation that grew from the relationship between two sisters- Nancy Brinker and Susan G. Komen. Nadira and I got to spend quality time together, Gloria Gaynor performed her signature "I will Survive," Mr. Ray performed in the kids tent, I reunited with a high school friend, Stacy Weisman, met new friends and celebrated all that is good.

Bonnie St. John was at the event signing her new book Live Your Joy.
We exchanged copies of our books with each other. Her book is worth the read- inspiring, noteworthy and memorable.

Below are shots from the event and the night before- thanks to Nadira!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dazzled and Inspired!

YANJ did put on a great party... Kevin Spacey was inspiring. He spoke on the value and role of the arts in his life growing up in New Jersey- how he met and was mentored by Jack Lemmon who encouraged him (and now us) to "Send the Elevator Down" help others get a leg up - teach, inspire and expose students, children, and adults who are in a different place than you are, lend a helping hand... or like the title of one of my favorite movies, that Kevin happened to star in with Helen Hunt- PAY IT FORWARD. His speech and photos from the evening are on the YANJ website below.

Ball in the House ROCKED THE HOUSE- Those GUYS are amazing- all vocal 5 -Mouth band.. it took me a while the first time I saw them that I realized that their voices were all making all the background bass and instrumental sounds.

And of course there is Susan Boyle, the woman who left us all speechless and teary eyed...

Two other things to note... I was gifted a ticket to see Hair on Broadway with my friend Janice Marsili. Not only was it as wonderful as she promised- flashbacks to my fifth grade dance routine to "Aquarius" -midriff gauge top and bell bottoms and all... Janice and I sang on Broadway!!! When the lights come up the cast invites everyone to dance - in the aisles, on stage...Janice promised her husband David that she would dance and dance we did front and center stage with the cast, belting out "Let the Sun Shine In...."

and... Stephen Fredericks of The Growing Stage a theatre company in NJ is doing a fabulous residency with the students of Red Bank Charter School. I spent an afternoon with him and the school last week as well. Watching 3rd, 4th, & 5th graders perform Shakespeare- many of them ESL was fun and fabulous for all.

Oh, one more went down to VA and DC to visit family and had a fabulous 8 course Morroccan meal at Marakesh.... belly dancing and all.

Friday, April 3, 2009

DAZZLE! Party with Young Audiences of NJ

I am beginning to truly see signs of spring... and since this is our first spring in our new house I am excited to see what perennials are coming up in our gardens. I am also on the look out for a compost bin for the vegetable herb garden I am planning for this spring and summer.

I am also really excited about attending Young Audience of New Jersey's big gala event tomorrow evening. They are calling it "2009 A Night at Sea" and are going to have 3 exciting nightclubs with music and dance (of course!) and a fabulous art auction (natch!) My mixed media print, The Om that Got Away" is one of the items offered. You can check it out online... even if you can't make the event.

I am ready for a great party after a cold grey winter!

This is a shot of the painting I did for Scott last year of the Navesink River. I found a new photographer down here- Dain Simons- good guy and did a great job. More images to come.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Create Your Own Stimulus Package: Support the Arts in Your Community

Talk of the Economic Stimulus Package is everywhere you turn.

It occurred to my this morning as I was looking through our local Hockessin Community Newspaper- that there are SO many opportunities to see an art exhibit, hear a concert or poetry reading, attend a theatre or dance production, locally - where ever you are, without having to go to a major city.

The venues are diverse, are all reasonably priced, some are even free... and by doing so you are not only supporting the arts and artists in your community, you are doing your part to stimulate the local economy. And the REAL PERK is that you are creating your own ticket to an enjoyable, rewarding and often inspiring experience in this time of doom and gloom posted in the media.

So get out- see a school concert or play or production, (even if your own kid is not in it!) or a
professional event and see how the arts have the power to transform us into the best that we can be.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Been Meaning to Write...

I have been having SO MUCH FUN since Ellen and I signed up as distributors with SendOutCards.
Many people have told us that they would love to have our images on greetings cards to send to people. There is this fabulous company online called SendOutCards. You can use their images, use other artists images in their Card Catalogue, and the most fun part for me is uploading my own artwork and photos, then adding captions, dialogue bubbles, festive borders- the possibilities go on and on. AND, I am using them to say Thank you, Congratulations, I am thinking of you, etc.

Oh and the best part is that is that you create them online (you can even have your own handwriting on file!) they print them, stamp them and send them!!!!! and it is so affordable- and the quality of the card is professional. No more going to the store, to the post office.

It is such a wonderful way to let others know that you appreciate and care about them. I sent one yesterday to someone at my health insurance company because she helped me appeal a claim that had been frustrating the heck out of me!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Life Mirrors Art

4 years ago when my cousin, Ellen McVicker and I were collaborating on the words and images for our book Butterfly Kisses and Wishes on Wings, I "staged" an image for her words "And getting dressed all by myself won't be so hard... so what if my clothes don't match!" Back then, my older son Griffin was 7 and always insisted on dressing himself. I did, however, try and help him keep him room somewhat orderly. Now at age 11, and in Middle School, Griffin is still fiercely independent, has his own room and I try to pick my "battles."

I can't help but notice, not only the constant state of disarray his room is in, but how the image I once drew has come to life! Remember the book- I Will Love You Forever?!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My friend Jack

I just got an email from my friend Eileen telling me the sad news that Jack Abraham, a photographer and mutual friend of ours passed away suddenly on Thursday. I don't know the details but know that he was on medication for his heart.

Jack photographed my work (and so many others) over the years. He was wonderful to work with- kind, generous and quirky in a enduring way.

Here is his flicker site of some of his own work - well worth checking out. Great images of Jersey...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Beyond Healing: The Redemptive Power of Music & Art

Just got back from taking Nanny (my M.I.L.) to the airport, and was listening to one of my favorite shows on NPR; Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane.

Today's second segment was a repeat of an earlier broadcast of her interview with Steve Lopez, “The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music.” “The Soloist” is the featured title of One Book, One Philadelphia. You can go to NPR to hear the interview yourself, but the last thing that I caught before I turned my car off was Steve Lopez commented that the first thing people ask him about Mr. Ayers is "is he taking his meds now?" It is much more complicated than that, for Mr. Ayers the treatments he was given took away his creativity and medication=control. Mr. Lopez said is that "Music is his Medication," ( for Mr. Ayers,who has been battling mental illness for years.)

I know first hand the redemptive power of art, not only from my cancer and the work that has come from the experience, but early on as well. Art is how I process my experiences, it gives me a filter in which to view my life, and then create. My passion for art fuels my passion for Art in the Schools. I know first hand out it redeems students from all walks of life, with all kinds of abilities, and with all kinds of life situations. The March/April 2009 issue of Delaware Beach Life features a great article on the value of learning through the arts as demonstrated by schools on Delaware's coast. The arts empower students, they are excited to learn, that are engaged and self confident. Kudos for President Obama for including funding for the arts in his new stimulus plan.

I have very recently connected with Aileen McCulloch, Executive Direction of Young Audience of Eastern Pennsylvania and am excited to work with the schools around here. Above is some student work from a great residency I had at David K. Brearley H.S. in Kenilworth, NJ last year working with the fabulous art teacher, Janice Marsili. This project went on to win a Best Practices Award in Jersey. But what I really loved was the connections I made with the kids. I could go on and on but need to get some photos to Aileen of YAEP.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Adding the Love: who gets it and giving it...

February is over with its paper valentines and chocolate candies, but LOVE is never out of season or out of place. February is also the month of my husband Scott's birthday (who F.Y.I. is the Ambassador of love, move over Barry White) and my Dad who comes from LOVE to his family, the waitress, the shoe salesman- you name it- and they love it!) and of course numerous other family and friends are also aquarians and pisces touched by the arrow of cupid.

We saw President and Mrs. Obama kissing and hugging everyone in line and around them as they worked their way through the crowds last week for the President's address to Congress.

Saw this doodle from my son Griffin on the counter this morning...he has earned a dog and we have found one on who we met yesterday. Her name is Lily and I think it was love at first sight between a boy and his dog. She is working through kennel cough meds and we will make our final decision based on her prognosis. keep you posted. but the message for him is animals=love

I caught some of Sponge Bob the other afternoon. Mr. Crabs wants to know what is taking Sponge Bob so long to get the crabby patty order out. "I'm adding the Love, Mr. Crabs," is his response. Got to love that yellow guy!

And last week, I got to see Barb and Marian in Philly; the city of Brotherly Love! how fitting, just need to change it to the City of Sisterly Love!

Monday, February 2, 2009

New Day, New Month....

I am a morning person. I love the light in the morning, the feeling of having a full day before me, and I love the time to myself. I am keeping with my practice that I go into my studio at least an hour every day... sometimes that's just barely enough to get past the frustration level but I am not paying it much attention. Maybe that will go away. who cares. I am showing up. What I need to work on now is not making plans in the morning. there are exceptions, artist dates, jaunts to the city, yoga. so for now I am showing up here at my blog. even if its short and simple, a quick shower, a cup of coffee, and to the studio. did I mention that I share my studio with Thunder?
here is Thunder, she is a good studio mate, quiet, soft and furry, and can be entertaining when I need a distraction, and as for the shedding...oh well.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Food for Thought

Had a great evening last Thursday at the Long Beach Island Foundation of Arts & Sciences in Loveladies, NJ
I was invited to speak at the first of a series of Artist Potluck Dinners. Not quite knowing what to expect, I loaded up my car with some new works in progress, and some works that I thought would help put these new pieces in a context.

Drove the 2 hours on a beautiful sunny day, the trip was a breeze! Snacks in the car, no traffic, and two hours door to door. Boy, I love my GPS!

The room was set up with tables for dinner and conversation. And, as a show had recently come down, the walls were mine. I quickly went to work hanging and installing the pieces.

People began arriving with their dishes, grabbing name tags and mingling. We did an hour or so of eating and chatting. Some people knew each other, but clearly there were a lot of new faces to the Foundation. Chris Seiz, the Executive Director of the Foundation, welcomed everyone, told us a little about himself and the idea behind these Artist Potlucks. He asked us to introduce ourselves and offer input on what they would like to see these venues offer. After we went around the room and found out a little about each other I began to talk about my work and my process. We talked quite a bit about walking the tightrope of being an artist- working in solitude and the value of a community of artists, as well as the balance of trusting where you are when you may be uncertain where it is that you are going.

The feedback and conversation was wonderful- and insightful. It is always to good to check in and I met some new people and reconnected with Karen Smith, an artist who I met years ago when I first returned from Hawaii.

The LBI Foundation is a wonderful resource for artists and the community at large. Nice exhibition spaces, great classes, workshops, and work spaces. They also have many opportunities for artists so check our their web page and see what they are up.

The staff there couldn't be more supportive, the beach is beautiful any time of the year. I saw a seal on the beach the next morning during a long walk!