Monday, November 30, 2009

Poverty, A Poem by Fred Taban

. . . you don't have a heart but you are cruel. . . . 
~ Fred Taban

Fred Taban, a theology professor at Episcopal Church Sudan Seminary, in south Sudan, and a refugee for most of his life, narrates his poem "Poverty".

His words require no further elaboration.

Poverty, poem by Fred Taban from Stephen Alvarez on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thought for the Day

On this first Sunday of Advent, the season of waiting, I offer this first stanza from Ted Loder's "We Watch and Wait for You":

Hidden God,
    wherever you are
      in your own kind of space,
        we watch and wait for you
          to startle us to wakeful newness
             in this Advent season. . . .

"We Watch and Wait for You", from My Heart in My Mouth: Prayers for Our Lives, Copyright © 2000 Ted Loder.

You might also find inspirational the reflections and art at Jan Richardson's The Advent Door and this thoughtful essay by Christine at Abbey of the Arts.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Food + Art + Charity

Thanksgiving's feast has passed. For many, however, the full table never was. You can change that and help set the table for the hungry in the coming months by participating in Zenith Community Arts Foundation's Food Glorious Food V: Dramatic Dining.

Founded nine years ago by Margery E. Goldberg, ZCAF is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(3) organization that seeks to foster alliances between artists, businesses, nonprofits, and public-sector organizations by using art as a societal tool to benefit community. Food Glorious Food, along with The Freedom Place Collection and eARThly.concerns, are three of ZCAF's most successful programs. Food Glorious Food has raised more than $100,000 for the food bank in four years.

Now in its fifth year, Food Glorious Food will hold its 2010 Calendar Launch Celebration on Thursday evening, December 3, 6:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m., at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (641 D St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20004). Woolly is  ZCAF's new alliance partner and is well-known for its own commitment to promoting community values and the arts.

With emcee Andrea Roane, news anchor at WUSA 9, the evening celebration will include a silent auction of food-themed art in all media, with proceeds to benefit the Capital Area Food Bank, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2010. The CAFB is the largest public nonprofit and nutrition-education resource in the metropolitan Washington area, distributing 20 million pounds of food a year, including 6 million pounds of fresh produce to more than 700 partner agencies.

In addition, there will be Dramatic Dining tastings of food prepared from recipes donated by the Washington area's top restaurant chefs; a cooking demonstration using a recipe from Central Michel Richard; and complimentary 2010 Food Glorious Food calendars for guests.

Tickets for the December 3 benefit are $75 and may be purchased by telephoning the ZCAF at 202-783-8005 or e-mailing

The artworks will be featured in a month-long exhibition (December 3, 2009 - January 3, 2010) at Woolly, daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and weekends, 12:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.  Participating artists are Bert Beirne, Leslie Exton, Cassandra Gillens, Brenda Gordon, Philip Hazard, Robert C. Jackson, Life Pieces to Masterpieces, Chris Malone, Joey Manlapaz, Donna McCullough, Bill Mead, Davis Morton, Stephen Hansen, Michela Mansuino, Ron Scwerin, Bradley Stevens, and James Tormey. To view images of the art and learn more about the artists, click here.

Calendars may be purchased for $20 at the launch party, the Capital Area Food Bank, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, and other yet-to-be-announced venues.

Donations are accepted online here.

Woolly Mammoth can be reached on Metro's Red Line (Gallery Place/Chinatown Station) or Green Line (Archives/Navy Memorial Station).

Friday, November 27, 2009

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

'New Mythology' at the Athenaeum

Local oil painter Tracey Clarke has a lovely show of 19 paintings at the Athenaeum in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, a number of which had already sold by the time I arrived at the opening reception on the 22nd. All of the paintings — oil on panel, some just 5" x 7" and the largest, 40" x 30"; all priced to be affordable — take as their subjects animals, which for Clarke are a transfixing narrative source. "With animals as my subjects," Clarke says, "I discover great freedom in employing my imagination as a catalyst to create a new mythology. . . . " It was obvious from talking with Clarke that animals hold a deep fascination.

A skilled painter who has exhibited in Virginia, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, and Colorado, Clarke manages to evoke in some of the exhibited works an otherworldly and, in the case of "Ovis Nectarus: The Sheep of Wisdom", an even surreal, quality; yet, at the same time, she grounds the animals in reality, their expressions, as in the sweet but not cloying "The Chosen", true to life. She gets the scale of the paintings just right for the subjects, which include birds, an insect, unikoi, a delightful mouse, a llama, and a magnificent bull.

The exhibition runs through January 3, 2010. The Athenaeum is at 201 Prince St., Alexandria 22314; telephone 703-548-0035. Hours are Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m., and Saturday, 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Clarke's work is also in a show at the Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts, located in the historic Silversmith House in Old Town Fredericksburg, Virginia (813 Sophia St. 22401). That show closes tomorrow.

Artistic Meditation

My friend the photographer Diane Walker has started a new blog, The Gospel of Thomas. At this site, Diane is posting words from the Gospel and her responses, which are beautiful photographic meditations. Take a look, read the words, and return often.

Diane's other blogs are here and here.

The Status of Artists During the Recession

On Tuesday, the New York Times published the results of a survey of artists' economic well-being. Already a low-earning group, often with no or inadequate health insurance, artists have found it tough-going. Some 18 percent of the 5,300 respondents said their income had declined by 50 percent or more in the last year. Read the complete article, "A Survey Shows Pain of Recession for Artists",  here.

Chuck Close Offers Advice to Artists

In this brief video, the internationally known painter Chuck Close gives artists some advice on how to get through our current economic crisis.

About That Artist's Statement. . .

I'm sure that all of you non-artists who have ever visited an art show, flipped through an art magazine, or attended a museum opening have had occasion to pick up and read an artist's statement. (I collect and hold on to some of the better ones.) And after reading said statement, you've probably also walked away scratching your head and rubbing your eyes. (I've done this a lot.)

Ever wonder who writes such a thing?

Having done a bit of sleuthing, I've struck gold. It's online and it's easy to mine. It's "Market-o-Matic".

All you have to do to churn out the perfectly indecipherable artist's statement is click here, check a few boxes, and leave the rest to the wizard behind the virtual curtain. Whatever you do, don't forget to press that magic button, which explains it all!

Now, for you professional artists who are reading, stop laughing and click here for some tips about writing an artist's statement that matters. (Oh, go on. You know you need one.)

Artists and 8 Visions of Hope

At 8 Visions of Hope, artists are coming together to help realize by 2015 the eight United Nations Millenium Development Goals, which include reducing poverty and child mortality, promoting gender equality, eradicating diseases such as AIDS, ensuring environmental sustainability, and establishing global partnerships through development. The organization is founded on two pillars: international networking and artistic and creative education, awareness, and advocacy. Consider how you as an artist might play a role in making our world a better place. For more about 8 Visions, click here.

Collections Resource

The Oxford Journal of the History of Collections is devoted to the subject of collecting — the contents of collections, collectors' motivations, circumstances giving rise to collecting — and includes original papers and reviews, as well as lists of relevant forthcoming events, conferences, and exhibitions. Currently online is the special issue, "The Art Collector — Between Philanthropy and Self-Glorification", which comprises a series of articles on such famous collectors as Isabella Stewart Gardner, Richard Wallace, and Henry Clay Frick. To browse and read from the current issue, click here.

He Said It!

Pope Benedict XVI describes artists as "ingenious creators of beauty". He also asks, "The Church needs art, but can it also be said that art needs the Church?" Read more here about the Pope's reception of some 250 artists as part of last Saturday's worldwide Arts Renewal Celebration, which launched New Renaissance Rising.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

In Thanksgiving

We are thankful to you
  for gifts of taken-for-granted commonness:
    the song of a bird, the strum of wind, a hundred shades of green,
      a parent's praying patience, a friend's voice, a changed way,
        work worth doing, children's questions, a new thought;
    our bodies, enough food, wine slowly shared, a quiet walk,
      the touch of hands, catch of eyes, hark of dreams,
        the wash of rain, snuggle of darkness, stardust on the roof,
    the assuring, disquieting sense of your presence in it all,
      the goad to repentance, the nudge to gratitude
        in the utterly everywhere of small miracles.

~ Ted Loder, from "Thankful Beyond Understanding", My Heart in My Mouth (Augsburg Fortress, 2000, Copyright © 2000 Ted Loder)

May you each enjoy the blessings of this Day of Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fiction in a Moleskin

Some people swear by their moleskins. Do you?

What, you've never heard of them? Why, they're legendary! The indispensable tool of very fine artists, even finer writers (Ernest Hemingway, Bruce Chatwin, et al.), and all assortment of intellectual wanna-bees.

An, ahem, official definition, as provided here, is "a simple black rectangle with squared or lined pages, endleaves held by an elastic band, an inside pocket for loose sheets, a binding in 'moleskine' which gives it its name[.] [T]his trusty, pocket-size traveling companion guarded notes, stories, thoughts and impressions before they turned into the pages of beloved books." And a moleskin can do the same for you — maybe. At the least, it'll get you into the Art House Coop's Fiction Project, sister to the organization's Sketchbook Project. 

For Art House Coop's Fiction Project, you don't have to know much about moleskins, really. Certainly not how many styles they come in, nor in what colors and sizes. And not where to go to get them. You just have to sign up by February 15, 2010.

Sign up, send in $18 to enter ($21, if the moleskin has to be shipped overseas), and Art House Coop will send you a 5.5 x 8.5-inch Moleskin Cahier notebook AND, as bonus, a randomly selected theme. 

So, there's the rub: a theme. (Did you think you could write about just anything for this project? After getting a moleskin free?) No problem! Art House Coop says the theme "is just a guideline to give you a gentle push in a direction. You are by no means absolutely bound. . . You can even be as loose as using words from the theme in your story." There are at least 30 different themes. 

Okay. But still, don't sign up unless you're sufficiently imaginative to create a "narrative book that fuses writing with art." (See next paragraph.) That means you have to use words and images, all connected to that theme that will be chosen randomly for you. 

Any other rules? Just these: At least 51 percent of the content in your book must be writing; the book Art House Coop sends you ought to be, nay, must be, used in some way; and the moleskin must not expand or decrease in size when it's closed.

There's a payoff, though, when you follow the rules. When you send back the moleskin — it must be filled up and postmarked by April 14, 2010 — it will become part of the permanent collection of Brooklyn Art Library in Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York. And everyone willing to trek to Red Hook will get to see it. Art House Coop plans an exhibition on May 14, 2010, at the Library.

You thought Art House Coop was in Atlanta? Well, it is, except that sometime in February 2010, it's moving to a new location in Red Hook. No, not Manhattan, the publishing capital; Red Hook. The scene's pretty lively there. Not to mention cheaper (a little).

Fine and good. Oh, you have another question? You want to know if you can collaborate? Not so surprisingly, yes. Art House Coop says the organization is "all about collaboration, and this [project] is no exception. Find someone to illustrate while you do the writing or vice-versa. Or work on all the areas together. . . Nothing is off-limits." Except changing the size of the book when it's closed or not meeting the 51 percent writing content requirement.

One more thing: Don't expect to get your book back. That word "permanent" I used above, as in "permanent collection of the Brooklyn Art Library", means that what you create will always have to "be available to people to pick up and look through." Those people couldn't do that if Art House Coop sent the book back to you.

For complete submission guidelines, mailing instructions, and other stuff you need to know, such as information about images, lost or stolen goods, and copyrights, click here.

For information on current, upcoming, and past Art House Coop projects, click here.

Now, because you've read this far, enjoy this unique approach to using moleskins:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanks Given (Poem)

Thanks Given

We were nine.
We were eight.
We are seven.

We were together.
We are apart.

We were mother and father,
five daughters,
two sons:

Together. One.


In Virginia and Florida,
New York and Tennessee,
in Georgia

We were a family.

We are a family
come together
with spirit,
with ghost

Eyes looking down,
looking up,
looking out

To a hillside in Arlington,
to a headstone in Venice:

Two to make
seven into nine.

Lips pressing thank yous
on shadows of air
breathed in breathed out

To save
for blessings
round tables


As one.

Copyright © 2009 Maureen E. Doallas. All Rights Reserved.

thanksgiving celebration

An Invitation to Lee Mingwei's Pantheon Project

Do you enjoy community-based work? Can you take some time in January to come to Baltimore, Maryland? If you can say yes to both questions and would like to be part of an art project, too, please read on.

Lee Mingwei, born in Taiwan and now living in New York City and Berkeley, California, is a conceptual artist whose medium is people. He creates installations that frequently depend on shared experiences and engagement with the public. His latest collaboration is the Pantheon Project, which is inspired by traditional devotional practices, and early next year he's bringing the project to Baltimore's Contemporary Museum.

Using generic wooden boxes transformed into secular shrines, the project will invite Mingwei's collaborators to represent themselves to one another through a structured public ritual orchestrated by the artist. It also will encourage visitors to the museum to enter into a "dialogue" with participants by leaving their own devotional materials at the shrines' site for the run of the exhibition. Mingwei's intention is for the project to "paint a telling portrait of community values".

Mingwei will select just 20 collaborators to create a shrine to honor a person or institution of deep personal importance. If you submit an idea for a shrine and are chosen, you will be contacted in mid-December and asked to come to the Contemporary Museum the weekend of January 9-10, at which time you will attend a group workshop culminating in the installation of your and others' shrines.

If you are interested in participating in the Pantheon Project, please send by December 4 a letter describing in detail your proposed shrine. Don't forget to include your phone number, e-mail address, and other contact information. You may use snail mail or e-mail to submit a proposal.

Mail your proposal to:

Lee Minwei
c/o Contemporary Museum
100 W. Centre St.
Baltimore, MD 21210

E-mail your proposal to Include in the subject line the words Pantheon Project.

The Pantheon Project is open to all ages. No artistic experience is required.

Good luck! I'll look forward to seeing your work at the Contemporary Museum in the New Year.


For information on Mingwei's various projects around the world, see the sidebar on this page.

Monday, November 23, 2009

his birth (Poem)

Christine at Abbey of the Arts is throwing a poetry party this week, her 41st. All are invited. The theme is "expanding the heart in gratitude" and the instructions are to write a haiku (or a longer poem) about "a heart-expanding moment for you, in the course of everyday life". Alternatively, participants may contribute a gratitude list of at least "five things you are grateful for".

I offer this:

his birth

pushing pushing pushed   then done
together     breathing apart
child drawing circle to close

On November 29, Christine will draw at random the name of one lucky contributor who will receive a copy of her newest zine, Crossing the Threshold: New Year, New Beginnings.

To offer your own poem or gratitude list and to read others' contributions, click here.

Another Look at Divining Nature

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lucian Perkins filmed and recently posted to his Website his video of the installation "Divining Nature", the homage to the periodic table created by my friend, artist Rebecca Kamen. Perkins's video captures beautifully the uniqueness — and magical qualities — of the sculptural mylar forms, each of which represents one of 83 naturally occurring elements, as well as responses from viewers, including children who incorporated the piece into their science studies. Tina Devine, a graphic artist, poet, and professional storyteller who also is on the staff of the Won Institute, Glenside, Pennsylvania, is shown in the video leading a family workshop titled "Divining Nature: The Blooming Universe".

Please take a look:

Additional videos on the artwork, including choreography inspired by the installation, are posted here.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thought for the Day

There is no less holiness at this time—as you are reading this—than there was the day the Red Sea parted. . . . In any instant the sacred may wipe you with its finger. In any instant the bush may flare, your feet may rise, or you may see a bunch of souls in a tree. In any instant you may avail yourself of the power to love your enemies; to accept failure, slander, or the grief of loss; or to endure torture. Purity's time is always now.
~ Annie Dillard

Annie Dillard is one of America's finest novelists and essayists; she also is a poet. Born in 1945, she won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, her acclaimed nonfiction narrative.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Today's Arts Renewal Celebration

. . . [our] world needs the vision of art that can help us sense the presence of grace.
~ Gregory Wolfe, Publisher and Editor, Image Journal

Today marks the launch of the New Renaissance Rising Arts Renewal Celebration, which I described in my "All Art Friday" edition of November 13.

J. Scott McElroy, NRR's founder and author of Finding Divine Inspiration: Working with the Holy Spirit in Your Creativity, narrates this new video for today's event in which local artists, congregations, and organizations all over the world gather in churches and public venues to "proclaim God's movement" to reestablish and reintegrate the arts in faith and church.

He Breaks Stones with a Passion

He Breaks Stones with a Passion
and Is in Love with the Woods

Landscape architect and stonemason Jon Piasecki, who is also a contributor to Orion Magazine, is the fascinating subject of a wonderful new film shot, directed, and edited by Hal Clifford and Jason Houston and produced by Orion: "Stone River: The Passion of Jon Piasecki".

"Stone River" is the story of a project Piasecki undertook to build, entirely by himself, a stone "river" that wends its way deeply in and through forested land owned by the project's patrons. The film gives us a glimpse of how Piesecki spends his days in back-breaking labor to "make a path through the woods."

Piasecki doesn't just break and move huge stone; he thinks about it. And in thinking about stone, Piasecki reveals that the stone river he's making is no ordinary swath of nature, no naturally demarcated expression of nature's power. Rather, it represents and literally requires the physical engagement Piasecki says he needs, that we all need, to get back in touch with nature.

Watching this film does exactly what the 42-year-old Piasecki intends: it slows your breathing down, it gets inside you. It makes you think.

Piasecki is, by his own admission, "in love with the woods" and "in love with this project." He speaks passionately about the woods, calling them "a magical world". He describes the Stone River project as a way "to show how unbelievably gorgeous that magical world is." With each step in the project — from the unearthing and breaking of stone, to the placing and fitting of stone, to the sweeping of stone once in place — Piasecki aims to "tie in to whatever is around" him, to reclaim his relationship with nature, nature that, he says, "is being forgotten." He'd "go bonkers", he adds, if he did not have the woods and the stone to work.

The "magical world" in which Piasecki labors every day, the place where he "shapes shadow lines between stones", is not, he maintains, at risk, environmentalists' claims to the contrary. "People," he suggests, "make the assumption that they're in control of nature. That's a big, big mistake." The forests, he observes, will go on long after we've disappeared. What is at risk, he says, is our cultural humanity, our ability to make something worthwhile and valuable enough, important enough, "to touch other people's hearts."

Someone who is able to set stone "really, really well", Piasecki aims through the project "to be phenomenally world-changing".

Take a look. Could you break stone, set stone, speak about stone with the passion of Jon Piasecki?

Note: You can access the film using any of the following links:, or

Piasecki's architectural landscape firm is Golden Bough, in Housatonic, Massachusetts. Visit the firm's Website here and be sure to take a look at the images of the indoor and outdoor work—it is the creative impulse of an artist.

Friday, November 20, 2009

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

Poetic Abstraction

Laurel Lukaszewski, a founding member of Flux Studios, Mt. Rainier, Maryland, has a solo show at Project 4 Gallery (1353 U St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009; 202-323-4340) through December 18. If you are not familiar with the poetic, elegant, and imaginative work of this local ceramics artist, please visit the show. Conceived, according to the gallery's press release, as a response to the artist's interest in the Japanese phrase "ichi-go ichi-e", roughly meaning "one moment, one time", the works in Lukaszewski's solo exhibition are all made of porcelain. The sculptures, both wall and floor pieces, go by such evocative names as "Ghost", "Morning After", "Pause", and "Sakura". I especially like "Sakura", which reminds me of the delicate flowers of the Japanese cherry trees that bloom every spring along the Potomac. There is also something wistful about the twisting, piled up, intersecting or singularly distinct forms Lukaszewski creates; one wonders what stories of loss or sadness or longing they hold.

I first visited Lukaszewski's studio two years ago during a Mt. Rainier open-studios event. She's a thoughtful, accessible artist who will take time to talk about the materials she uses and her sources of inspiration.

Discoveries in Mosaics

Mosaics, as I wrote in a post in September, have become a new interest, and I have been enjoying my discovery of exceptionally talented mosaic artists as I browse the Web or follow the links at Mosaic Art Now, which features the finest contemporary work from around the world.

Recently, I learned about Stephen Miotto, of Miotto Mosaic Art Studios in upstate New York. Miotto has ties to my area, specifically to Washington, D.C.; his firm installed the fabrication of the Redemption Dome mosaic in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the largest Roman Catholic church in the United States. The Basilica is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Embellishment and ornamentation of the Shrine in Romanesque-Byzantine style has been ongoing since the late 1950s.

Unveiled in 2006, the gold Redemption Dome mosaic (others are the Incarnation Dome and the Trinity Dome) depicts 12-foot figures and four scenes of redemption:  the Crucifixion, which can be seen on walking into the Shrine; the Resurrection, visible on exiting the shrine; Christ's temptation in the desert; and the descent into hell. To ensure the mosaic glass tiles, called tesserae, would fit precisely, the dome space was measured by laser and the laser appraisal — that is, the calculations — used to create a computerized image from which Italian mosaicists made drawings (these were exact copies) of the dome.

When the tiles for the Redemption Dome were packaged for shipment from Italy to Washington, D.C., they were layered on sticky paper in scores of numbered boxes. Using a kind of mosaic-by-number approach, Miotto and his team of artisans completed one section of the dome at a time, putting in place some 2.4 million tiles to create a mosaic almost 3,800 square feet. Later, at the culmination of the project involving the Incarnation Dome, they installed more than 2.4 million tesserae in more than 1,000 colors.

Interesting facts you might not know:

* Mosaic art dates to 2,000 B.C.
* Tesserae typically are backed with gold leaf.
* Tile arrangements are not grouted, and they may be set at angles to reflect and refract light.
* The mosaic interior of the Basilica of the National Shrine is 75,545 square feet.
* The Basilica's Christ in Majesty mosaic, one of the largest such images in the world, is fashioned in more than 4,000 shades and colors. [Source: Website of the National Shrine]

When you visit Washington, be sure to go to the Shrine, which is open daily, year round. The domes are astonishing artistic achievements.

Miotto's firm also has installed mosaic fabrications throughout New York City's subway system. One example, Andrea Dezso's "Community Garden" at the Bedford Park Boulevard-Lehman College station, can be seen here.

For some other examples of stunning liturgical mosaics, click here. These epitomize the statement of Father Marko Rupnik, director of Rome's Centro Aletti,  that "[a]rt is the best way to communicate faith."

Linda Nochlin Webcast

I was privileged to attend Wednesday night a talk by esteemed art scholar Linda Nochlin. In the last of the 2009 Clarice Smith Distinguished Lectures at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Ms. Nochlin focused her discussion on the differences to be found in women's artistic approaches to domestic subject matter, using images of works by Mary Cassatt, Sally Mann, Dorothea Tanning, Judy Chicago, and other women artists (some of whose names I did not recognize), as well as quotations from informative critical appraisals or the artists' own words. SAAM's Webcast of the lecture, titled "Consider the Difference: American Women Artists from Cassatt to Contemporary", is here. The lecture was approximately an hour long and was followed by questions from the audience. Referencing Ms. Nochlin's seminal essay "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?", one man asked why has there been such discrimination against women who are artists. We all laughed as Ms. Nochlin impishly suggested that the question required a whole other lecture just to begin giving the answer.

An ArtNews interview with Ms. Nochlin is here. An extract from her essay, which first shook the art world some 38 years ago, is here.

Let's Give Her a Hand!

I'm clapping as loud as I can, because my friend, the enormously talented writer L.L. Barket, has a book of poetry, Inside Out, forthcoming from International Arts Movement. L.L. made her announcement on her blog last week, by asking her readers to vote on a choice of covers for the book. I agree with our mutual friend Glynn: L.L. deserves a shout-out. So, L.L., CONGRATULATIONS! And lots of good champagne and chocolates on the book tour.

Welcome a New Gallery

It's a pleasure to welcome Winter Studio Contemporary Realism, a new gallery owned and operated by artists Natasha Mokina and Victor Pakhomkin. The gallery's opening reception for "Black Kitchen Magic, Etc.", featuring Mokina's and Pakhomkin's art, is tonight, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Winter Studio is located at 1054 31st St., N.W., Washington, D.C., Canal Square @Galleries 1054.  We wish the gallery a long and successful stay.

Even If You Miss It You Can Get It

The Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, Maryland, offers a wide-ranging array of music. If you've missed a performance or don't live in the area, don't despair. Just turn on your computer and experience the music virtually via Strathmore Podcast.  Some events now available include performances by Gaelic Storm and banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck and The Original Flecktones. The podcasts are free.

Do You Know About This Artist?

Some time ago, I found the Website of CFM Gallery in New York City. The gallery offers work by an extraordinary group of artists, including one of my favorites, Leonor Fini. If you are looking for the finest examples of work from Art Deco, Art Nouveau, and other movements, CFM is one of the best places to visit. The art available through the gallery ranges from paintings, drawings, and original graphics, to jewelry, antiques, and rare art catalogues and books. I've purchased from CFM, run by Neil Zukerman, several beautifully designed books featuring the art of Anne Bachelier.

Currently, the gallery is presenting, through December 6, "Out of the Nowhere... Into the Here", with work by the sculptor Ailene Fields. Fields considers herself a story-teller; her "idol", according to an online artist profile, is Hans Christian Andersen, and she writes that she is drawn to myths and legends and folk stories from all over the world because of "their essential wisdom, so concise and profound — that life is what you make it, which is, of course, a function of how you see it." She adds, "What I want, more than anything else, is  to make a difference in the way people see the world, so they can make a difference in how it is. . . . "

Fields casts bronze sculptures, carves stone such as alabaster, designs jewelry using gold and silver and raw rubies and other gems, and works with burl and other beautiful woods. Her commissions include a St. Francis sculpture given as a gift by parishioners of a local (Bethesda, Maryland) church. She delights with her whimsical sculptures of imaginary animals — dragons in bronze (one she titled, humorously, "Do you mind if I smoke?"), the Cheshire Cat, the Frog Prince — and gives expression to the mysterious "softness [in] apparent hardness" (see, for example, her "Sacred Spaces" pieces on the CFM site), peeling away, uncovering, transforming what lies within the natural materials that her hands work.

If you're in New York before the show closes, stop by the gallery in Soho (112 Greene St.) and allow yourself the pleasure of seeing the world through alchemist Fields's eyes.

CFM will be moving next month to Chelsea (236 W. 27th St., Ste. 4F West). For hours or other information, telephone 212-966-3864 or e-mail

Holiday-Related Art Events

At this time of year, museum shops and other arts venues all over the Washington, D.C., area feature unusual, often elegant, sometimes delicious, and just-plain-fun gifts for holiday shoppers. Below are a few of the many art-related holiday bazaars and other holiday arts events coming up locally.

* Tonight, 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m., Alexandria, Virginia  ~ Holiday House Party benefiting Empowered Women International, at the home of Ann Stone, EWI Chair Emeritus. The in-home bazaar offers jewelry, scarves, clothes, pottery, sculpture, paintings, cards, and accessories for home and office—all made by hand by EWI artists. To RSVP and obtain directions, please e-mail Ann at

* November 28 ~ Black Friday Specials at Ayr Hill Gallery (141 Church St., N.W., Vienna, Virginia 22180; 703-938-3880). The gallery is offering a 20 percent discount on its merchandise, which includes handcrafted jewelry by Israeli artists in the Negev region, glass pumpkins by artist Doug Brown, and cards designed by local artist Bill Harrah, which are perfect for signing and sending to our troops abroad. The gallery will send through Operation Pinecone any cards and gifts donated for service members in Afghanistan and Iraq. Updates on what's available are here.

* December 3, 4:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. ~ 2nd Annual Holiday Bazaar at Sewall-Belmont House & Museum (144 Constitution Ave., N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002). More than 20 vendors, including local and international artisans, present an array of eco-friendly products, jewelry, paper crafts, art, textiles, and fine tea and chocolates. Free gift-wrapping services, seasonal refreshments, music, and a wine tasting promise to make shopping here a little extra special.

* December 4 -6 ~ 7th Annual Artful Weekend Art Show and Sale at Ft. C.F.  Smith's Hendry House (2411 24th St., Arlington, Virginia 22207). Opening reception with participating artist-members of the Arlington Artists Alliance is Friday, December 4, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. The Art Show and Sale opens Saturday, December 5, 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., and runs through Sunday, December 6, 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Paintings and other unique art-related items will be available.

* December 12 ~ Giftmania, Holiday Gift-Making Workshops for children return for the third year to Arlington Arts Center (3550 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Virginia). The sessions are: Printmaking, for grades K-2, 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.; 2-D Collage, for grades 3-5, 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.; 3-D Collage, for grades K-2, 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.; and Fabric Arts, for grades 3-5, 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Registration is open now; space is limited. $40 per workshop. Telephone AAC at 703-248-6800.

* Until December 12 ~ Workhouse Gift Bag Raffle at the Workhouse Arts Center (9601 Ox Rd., Lorton, Virginia 22079; 703-495-0001). During this special holiday event, visitors to artists' studios will have the opportunity to purchase tickets for the Workhouse Gift Raffle. The raffle offers 7 Gift Bags, valued at $350 or more, that will be created especially by the Workhouse and artists resident in the center's buildings, each of which is devoted to a particular art form (glass, painting, ceramics, etc.). Items from the Workhouse Gift Shop and Art Supply Store will be donated for each Gift Bag, and every Gift Bag will be personalized to reflect each building's artists. For example, one might contain an artwork, another a coupon for a private art lesson, and yet another an invitation to have tea at the Workhouse. The cost: just $5 for three tickets.

The Workhouse is sponsoring on November 28, 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 a.m., its 2nd Annual Glaze Your Own Ornament Fundraiser. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Lorton Arts Foundation and the Workhouse Ceramics Program. Each pre-bisqued ornaments is $22.00. Participants will have the option of a raku-firing or an electric-kiln-firing.

Shameless Promo for Transformational Threads

My company, Transformational Threads, offers custom, limited-edition hand-embroidered art inspired by art. Based on licensed images of original fine art, the "thread paintings" are created exclusively for Transformational Threads by highly skilled Vietnamese artisans still practicing a centuries-old craft in-country. Currently available are the gorgeous Peacock, the lovely Waikiki Gold, the charming Koi, and the stunning Nerium Oleander. E-mail me directly ( or via my Website if you're in the area and want to see the work up close. Purchasing details for Peacock are available here; buyers' information about the other editions is here.

Art of a Little Something Different

How's this for a ceiling? Its source may surprise you.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Love Uses Spices and Herbs (Twoem)

I participated on November 10 in another hour-long poetry jam on Twitter, hosted by @tspoetry. Our prompts, which changed frequently throughout the hour, all had to do with fruits, spices, and herbs. The "raw" tweets are here. The "twoem" (Twitter poem) crafted from my and other participating poets' tweets is here; it's called "The Walled Garden of Spices and Herbs". Its editor was Glynn Young of FaithFictionFriends, one of the founders of TweetSpeakPoetry.

Earlier, L.L. Barkat, another of the TweetSpeak founders and the force behind Random Acts of Poetry and many other creative online ventures, issued a call to blog readers to "cook us up a poem" around the theme we used November 10: fruits, herbs, and spices or, alternatively, information from a favorite recipe book or books. The contributions to RAP are posted here.

I decided to pull my tweets from the poetry jam and try to rework them into a new twoem or series of twoems. I took a few liberties, primarily breaking up some phrases or lines that originally appeared together so that I could use them with other phrases or lines, repeating some lines for effect, and adding punctuation. What follows is:

Love Uses Spices and Herbs
But It Sure Is Different

How does one tell
the differences,
one herb from another?

'Tis not like love:
Run hot or cold,
it makes no sense.

     * * *

If Chanterelle, the very name,
or truffle be the prize,
delicate as air but spongy,
thyme goes slowly.

When used to mimic time's passage,
it is as spice, scent rising
like a song on lips,
filling the room with nature's odes
to what's most natural:

Cheek left bright scarlet,
color of love.

     * * *

A single layer
of tea leaves
spread out upon my table
where I read your signs:

He shall not wait
what we tend so carefully.

He shall not wait
for hibiscus tea,
knowing not the labor
I take to pick its delicate leaves.

He shall not wait,
perchance that lap
that bids him near
holds greater flavor.

He shall not wait
to court.

Unable to tend
the garden of my love,
he shall not wait.

He shall not wait
to wreck
that piercing clove,
to bring an end to it
till life be spent,

Shame and regret
be left.

Set out on golden pillow
there on soil,
I read your signs:

Love leaves him ever.

     * * *

When love be done,
thyme hath no pride:

Night falls fast,
heart in walled garden
beats with sharpest pain.

Hot and bittersweet
be the blood,
color of nasturtium,
color of sin.

We have nothing left
about which to sing.

     * * *

Leavings of laurel
fallen along the pathway,
their taste hangs on my tongue
as do the seeds of your crime
to which you shrug.

     * * *

Who tends those hearts not
to oblivion send.

Those who make of love
a funeral
be rushed to gather up
what's left
to make a meal,
to bring an end to it.

     * * *

What say you
of prize won,
or wanting?

Where you led astray
what once was unopened,
your heart did gather unto itself.

You speak a tongue red with lies,
fiery, red, unforgiving,
as one in sun too long left
grown foul,
a bitter root,

Each clove piercing deeper,
leaving nothing more
than traces of love
evergreen no more,
shame and regret,
nothing left about which to sing.

     * * *

So try again
with abandoned crowns of laurel
to say thus:

Snow peas,
their gentle pod
a sweet curved pod,
a cradle for love remembered.

Each one a sweet reminder
of love whose favor
was ever quintessential,
flavored by spice.

Ambrosia of love
in all its wondrous varieties:

A pinch of nutmeg, touch of black pepper,
cloves to cut the too-sweet taste,
chilies whose colors betray not
the peppery tang of deceit.

Crowned with bay
when shade might
like a gentle canopy
restore soft salmon cheeks,

the cherry rose of lips,
the deep mahogany of hair.

Almonds like the shape
of your eyes
equally as well, cinnamon,
the color of your eyes
that bewitch:

Elixir of cinnamon and almonds
to make the heart
golden again.

     * * *

their taste hangs on my tongue
each one a sweet reminder of love.

     * * *

A hunt of love
she calls for.

Sparkling with abandoned crowns
of laurel, perhaps parsley,
grinding down
to just-right measure
for a most delecticious poem:

Sight and smell and taste
left satisfied
giving lift to love.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

She Got to Build the Universe

I visited the extraordinary installation "Divining Nature" on the last day of its exhibition at the Greater Reston Arts Center, in Reston, Virginia. I was not expecting to find there the artist, Rebecca Kamen, who is a cherished friend, so having the chance to talk with Rebecca about her sculpture, which honors the periodic table, was a treat.

Here is a short video in which Rebecca describes how she got to build the universe that her installation represents:

Jane Franklin of Jane Franklin Dance choreographed a modern dance piece that was performed around and within the artwork on October 21 before a delighted audience. Here are excerpts from the dance:

Now that the exhibition has come down, Rebecca has placed "Divining Nature" in storage. The installation deserves to be seen. It deserves a caretaker.

Two places where "Divining Nature" would be at home are The Institute for the Study of Health and Illness at Commonweal, in Bolinas, California; and the Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts, which maintains a beautiful residential retreat in the Maryland countryside. In either location, the installation could be used in the treatment of and support for cancer patients and their families as a healing tool at once profoundly contemplative and restorative.

Another possible location, if space is available, might be the new building housing the Media Lab at MIT. The Media Lab is engaged in novel research and innovations that bring artistic, technological, and scientific insights to bear in medicine and other fields.

If you have ideas for a permanent home for "Divining Nature", please leave a note in the Comments section of this post. I'll be sure Rebecca gets it.

Also, please note: Rebecca will duplicate individual elements on commission in limited editions of three. Depending on its size, an element can be designed to hang on a wall. Prices range from $100 to $1,800 per element.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Community-Building Through Art

Listen to your heart, respond, take action. . . starting right now!
~ Lily Yeh

Last week, Sunrise Sister at Mind Sieve wrote in her Veteran's Day post of "not know[ing] how to reconcile my feelings of sorrow, shame, and helplessness of not doing more for peace. . . ." She asked her readers whether they ever have the same feelings. A number of us responded. One reader asked her own question in turn: "Is one moment or one person enough to change anything?"

My answer is a resounding yes. It comes in the person of Lily Yeh.

Community-building is slow and messy and chaotic
[. . . and through it] we can change our environment and the world.

Lily Yeh is the founder of Barefoot Artists, a nonprofit organization based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that uses art to transform impoverished communities. Before establishing Barefoot Artists in 2003, Yeh led for 18 years The Village of Arts and Humanities. Under Yeh's remarkable leadership, The Village, which she founded with two African American men in recovery for substance abuse, was transformed from a summer park-building project for which Yeh also served as lead artist into a community-building organization that sponsors after-school and weekend programs, "greening" land transformation, and housing renovation, theatre, and economic development initiatives. It is a leading model of community revitalizations in the United States.

Yeh's Barefoot Artists and The Village before it embody the essence of social justice. They exemplify for me the enormous social good that can come from one person kindling hope, providing direction, embracing what Yeh calls the "broken pieces" to find the light hidden in the cracks and the dark.

Yeh: one person inspired. One inspired person inspiring others. Others inspiring many more. A circle unbroken.

Yeh's was a vision. It was transformative. It continues to build communities all over the world.

In what were and remain often extremely difficult circumstances, Yeh shows the communities she serves how to paint their own dreams into their own reality. And in the painting, those communities re-connect, re-root, and re-center themselves.

Lily Yeh was honored at the October, 2009, conference of Bioneers, a nonprofit, solutions-oriented group of social and scientific innovators who "peer deep into the heart of living systems to understand how nature operates, and to mimic "nature's operating instructions" to serve human ends without harming the web of life." In her presentation, which is just under 25 minutes long and was recorded live, Yeh spoke to the Bioneers with great passion about her work and with enormous sensitivity to the needs of those we too often ignore, such as the people of Rwanda, a country whose name has become synonymous with the word "genocide".  Find a half-hour to listen to Yeh's talk; watch for the joy on the faces of the children and adults her organization serves — people who had nothing and regained life through art. Notice what can be done when one person with an idea and a vision doesn't stop until she creates a future where before no future existed.

Yeh says she calls her work "Peace Compassion and Living Social Sculpture". The work is, she explains, "for the people, with the people, by the people and, at the end, belongs to the people."

One woman with an idea. An idea that comes to be called Barefoot Artists. Barefoot Artists who create communities of barefoot artists all over the world. Communities that make a huge difference in the lives of the people served. Lives once wrecked by lack of education, grinding poverty, and horrific war that can now see that where "beauty brings hope", hope for life — life itself — stands a chance.

We all have that innate light within us
 and my role is to ignite that pilot light
so that we shine together and light up the horizon.


Notes: I thank Mosaic Art Now for bringing the art and work of Lily Yeh to its readers' attention.

For those interested in the principles that guide Lily Yeh's work and her innovative methodology of using art as a transformational tool to build community, see Bill Moskin's and Jill Jackson's article,  "Warrior Angel: The Work of Lily Yeh" (October 21, 2004).

Here's a clip from a documentary about Yeh:

Here's a video on Yeh's Rwanda Healing Project:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Uncommon Community

Uncommon Community

The community to which I belong no one wants to join. Once in, no one ever can quite leave.

This community can be found on no map. It has no geographical boundaries, no common demographic characteristics, save one. It doesn't exist as a legal entity and has no formal governance structure. It pays no allegiance to any political party, Democratic or Republican. Nor is it exactly what I'd call Independent. Its members need, count on, and are there for one another much too much to tag ourselves with that or any other label.

Few members of the community have ever met or talked face-to-face, by telephone or by e-mail; yet, we know each other's names, the names of loved ones and family members, often some of the most intimate aspects of each other's lives: background that never seems to show up in the pictures we exchange.

We share a language that rises from the gut, spills from the mind, overflows from the heart, erupts from places deep inside where words have to rearrange themselves in metaphors and similes to describe what we experience.

What we experience often wants for clear-cut explanation. The science is complicated, the medicine more trial than error. We win, and lose.

We tend a garden in our community that needs no special soil for oaks or elms to grow alongside roses and orchids and other exotica, no particular measurement of yearly rainfall, no potting sheds or rakes or lawn mowers, no fertilizers save ourselves. Our garden bears the name of one who lives in the memory of every member of the community he founded, in the words he left behind when life left him. Years of words that he gave up daily, and for every season that passed that he lived, that we read, commented on, recited, memorized, remember still, because those words always come down to mean the one same thing: that above all else, life is worth living.

We list and recommend and play lots of music in our community. Classical. Rock. Country. Blues. Blues soft, Rock loud. Our tastes in tempos, rhythms, styles, and lyrics cannot be said to be catholic.

We check in each day with our Daily Muse, who does well what muses do best. Sometimes she leaves poems that break up the heart. She's partial to quotes that inspire, call us out to ourselves, ask us to be present even as loss urges us away.

We compose notes of gratitude nearly as often, to remind ourselves that Thanksgiving does not exist only on a November day, in a church on Sunday mornings, among those who memorialize us after we're gone.

We leave prayers for people whose religions are unknown to us. We light candles whose flames no one sees but He who has eyes for all things everywhere.

We outpour concern when members take time off, fail to show up, try to move on. We know how uneasy is the leaving, especially when no note is left behind.

We recommend the written Word, books of others', books sometimes only our own. More words for what we can't explain. We never lack for words even as we never get enough of them.

We allow rants, ravings, anger, and tears, frequently all at once. We talk back to each other. We talk to ourselves. We talk with one another without mouthing aloud the syllables and consonants and vowels we can only mirror when a day is done.

We break down together, bend down together, and hold out our hands to pull each other up again.

We lift. We lift as One; we lift as Community, never feeling the weight in the air of loss that hangs like a shroud in a place that makes place for us all.

We need time. We want for time.

We say too many goodbyes. We grieve on the Street of Grief even when the loss is not our own, because it is our own, because it is we in Him in whose image we are born.

We laugh. We share the greatest joys, the worst defeats. The last breaths in the last hours of the last day of life.

We talk in the tongue of science and the art of healing.

We struggle to hold on to faith when faith doesn't answer our questions. We have too many questions and not enough answers.

Mostly, we traffic in hope.

We are virtual. We are flesh and blood. We are bones and ash. We are ghost and spirit.

We are Our Cancer.


I composed this essay for this week's Blog Carnival, which requires only that participants consider the one-word prompt "community". Beginning tomorrow, others' contributions to the Community Carnival, which is sponsored by Peter Pollock, who blogs at Rediscovering the Church, and Bridget Chumbley, who blogs at Hoping to Make a Difference . . . One Word at a Time, will be available here. Thank you for hosting, Bridget.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thought for the Day

It is only the imagination, I suggest, that can bring us . . . to the full encounter with religious reality, because it is only the symbolic language of imagination that can resist the human drive for simple clarity and determinateness. The divine, the numinous, the transcendent, can never be encompassed by the clarity of what Coleridge calls 'consequent Reasoning.' Mind, without imagination, is not enough. Transcendent reality can only be intimated, guessed at, caught out of the corner of the eye, and for this only the splendid ambiguity of symbolic utterance and experience will serve. Since God cannot be seen, we must work with analogues of God: stories, images, rituals and gestures. And it seems to me inevitable that anyone who wishes to discover as fully as possible the human experience of the divine will turn to the artist's attempts to capture—in paint, in clay and stone, in words and the sounds of music—her and his own experience, whether within one's own heart or in the beautiful and terrible world around us, of the God who continues to reach out and touch us.

     ~ J. Robert Barth, S.J., from "Mortal Beauty: Ignatius Loyola, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and the Role of Imagination in Religious Experience" in Christianity & Literature, Autumn 2000, pp. 69 et seq.

Father Barth's article, to which I was introduced by Peggy Rosenthal's post, "How Imagination Grows", at Good Letters: The Image Blog, is archived here.

For Father Barth's essay "Mortal Beauty: Jesuit Tradition and the Arts", click here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Artist's Creed

My friend Joyce, whose blog Peaceful Legacies I discovered while reading the blog of another friend, recently brought to attention the work of visionary thought leader Jan Phillips, who is known worldwide for her dynamic speaking talents and is the author of numerous books, including The Art of Original Thinking — The Making of a Thought Leader (9th Element Press, 2006), God Is at Eye Level — Photography as a Healing Art (Quest Books, 2000), and Marry Your Muse — Making a Lasting Commitment to Your Creativity (Quest Books, 1997). Joyce shared with her readers Phillips's "The Artist's Creed". The creed is one of the most affirming statements I have read about the urge and need to create and the discovery and affirmation that await the self through art-making. 

I wrote to Phillips and received her permission to publish "The Artist's Creed" here on my blog. May it guide your muse.

The Artist's Creed

I believe I am worth the time it takes to create whatever I feel called to create.

I believe that my work is worthy of its own space, which is worthy of the name Sacred.

I believe that, when I enter this space, I have the right to work in silence, uninterrupted, for as long as I choose.

I believe that the moment I open myself to the gifts of the Muse, I open myself to the Source of All Creation and become One with the Mother of Life Itself.

I believe that my work is joyful, useful, and constantly changing, flowing through me like a river with no beginning and no end.

I believe that what it is I am called to do will make itself known when I have made myself ready.

I believe that the time I spend creating my art is as precious as the time I spend giving to others.

I believe that what truly matters in the making of art is not what the final piece looks like or sounds like, not what it is worth or not worth, but what newness gets added to the universe in the process of the piece itself becoming.

I believe that I am not alone in my attempts to create, and that once I begin the work, settle into the strangeness, the words will take shape, the form find life, and the spirit take flight.

I believe that as the Muse gives to me, so does she deserve from me: faith, mindfulness and enduring commitment.

    ~ Jan Phillips, "The Artist's Creed" from Marry Your Muse. Reprinted with permission. Copyright © Jan Phillips. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, November 13, 2009

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

The New Renaissance Rising

On Saturday, November 21, artists and churches all over the world will mark "The New Renaissance Rising: Arts Renewal Celebration"—a movement to bring ". . . new hope to the world through the reintegration of inspired art (music, painting, dance, drama, sculpture, design, film, media, and more) into the church and an infusion of spiritually powerful art into the culture."

Founded by artist J. Scott McElroy, who also is the author of Finding Divine Inspiration (Destiny Image), The New Renaissance Rising envisions churches and artists starting or intensifying their own faith/art groups, initiatives, projects, and relationships.

Among those participating on November 21 is the Vatican, which has announced that Pope Benedict XVI will convene in the Sistine Chapel an "Arts Summit" involving 500 world-renowned artists, including U2's Bono (why am I not surprised he'll be there?). The purpose, according to information available from the NRR, is to "rekindle the special historical relationship between faith and art."

To gain access to a variety of resources related to the event, including the NRR vision statement, articles about the role of the arts in religion and faith, participants' press releases, and ideas and links to resources for your own celebration, click here. For updates via The Renaissance Rising blog, click here.

You're Never Too Old to Rock

The world-famous Young@Heart Chorus — remember the rock-star seniors from the documentary of the same name? — performs a benefit concert Saturday, December 3, at 4:00 p.m., at Washington's Warner Theatre (1299 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20004). Proceeds from sales for the show, "Alive and Well", go to support Iona Senior Services' counseling, care management, wellness, daycare, and other services for families with aging members. Iona educates and advocates on behalf of the aging and provides community-based programs to facilitate aging and living well.

Tickets are $30 - $100. The most expensive tickets include a premium: a pass to a private reception to toast the cast after its performance. To purchase tickets online, click here.

Note: Please do not telephone the Warner for tickets. The theatre is not handling any requests for tickets to this benefit event. To reach Iona directly, telephone 202-895-9416.

The Contemplative Photographer

This is a shout-out for my blog buddy Diane Walker. Mind you, she doesn't just keep a blog, Contemplative Photography; she's also a wonderful photographer, an insightful writer, a poet whose words I have to read every day, and the exhibitions director for the Episcopal Church & Visual Arts (ECVA). She lives on Bainbridge Island, off the coast of Seattle. I introduced myself to Diane a while ago by leaving lots of comments on her blogposts and exchanging e-mails, the first when I asked to share with Our Cancer members a lovely poem. "The Garden of Hope", Diane had written for a friend and also posted on the ECVA site.

Diane sometimes worries — aloud, on her blog — that listing awards or accolades in a sidebar is maybe going too far. Well, Diane, this is All Art Friday. You're an artist. Hence, I'm writing about you today because I think what you're doing deserves to be noticed.

Currently, Diane's beautiful photographic work is part of the "Women Behind the Lens" exhibition at BAC Gallery on Bainbridge Island. Diane is one of five "shooters" featured in the show that runs through November. Diane describes her work at the gallery as "a more focused concentration on the beauty and possibility I find when I am just fully present in the moment." Take a look. Diane has quite a practiced eye (it's an eye that also can catch the humor all around us) and a deep feel for "meditative landscape".

In Colorado, The Center for Fine Art Photography selected Diane for its 3rd Annual Portfolio Showcase. Online now, Diane's work and the photographs of 14 other artists chosen by Pulitzer Prize-winning photo editor Stella Kramer are reproduced in Portfolio Showcase, Vol. 3, available through CFAP. If you are not so familiar with Diane's wide-ranging photographic interests, you may be delightfully surprised by her series of images, titled "Brains, Floss, and Sexy"; no landscapes here.

On the ECVA site, take time for the online exhibit Diane curated, "Art as Public Narrative: ECVA Imaging Ubuntu", which honors the Episcopal Church General Convention's theme for 2009. Diane's and other jurors' selections are thoughtful, inspirational, and hope-filled visual representations of what it means to "see all of creation as One Body".

Diane's "A Contemplative Photographer's Alphabet" will be at Seattle's St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral during Lent, 2010. Her book by the same name may be ordered here.

These are just a few highlights from Diane's artistic life. If you want to keep up with her, do as I do: follow her blog.

Gates Are Back

Two years ago, Washington, D.C.'s Renwick Gallery loaned its gorgeous Albert Paley Portal Gates for an exhibition, "Albert Paley: Portals & Gates", organized by University Museums at Iowa State University. Commissioned in 1974, Paley's 1,200-pound Gates — rightfully hailed as a masterpiece of ironsmithing — have been re-installed at the entrance to the Renwick Gallery's shop. You can't miss them when you visit. So go welcome them back!

She Grew an Elemental Garden

My friend, artist Rebecca Kamen, whose installation at the Greater Reston Arts Center comes down tomorrow, was profiled recently in Chemical & Engineering News (October 5, 2009, Vol. 87, No. 40). "Rebecca Kamen: A Sculptor Nurtures an Elemental Garden" is a wonderful article on Rebecca's homage to the periodic table that is the subject of her work at GRACE, "Divining Nature: An Elemental Garden". Read my October notice about "Divining Nature" here; read the C&E article here. The latter includes a video in which Rebecca talks about her approach to art and science and what was required to create her installation.

Do You Babble On?

I recently learned how to use ArtBabble. No, it's not a strange new language at all. It's a place where anyone who wants or needs a visual and aural high can get a quick fix via videos on art-related subjects and, as ArtBabble explains, "join in an open, ongoing discussion — no art degree required."

Conceived by the Indianapolis Museum of Art and underwritten by a grant from Ball Brothers Foundation, ArtBabble, according to its description "was conceived, initiated, designed, built, sculpted, programmed, shot, edited, painted and launched by a cross-departmental collection of individuals at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA). It is intended to showcase video art content in high quality format from a variety of sources and perspectives. ArtBabble was created so others will join in spreading the world of art through video."

ArtBabble partners creatively with numerous museums — Art Institute of Chicago, Rubin Museum of Art, Van Gogh Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Arts and Design, and Smithsonian American Art Museum, among others — to provide interactive, high-definition art-related videos linked to associated discussions on the Web. Thanks to the BBF grant, the content is free. Take a minute to join, login, and Babble On. . . and on. . . and on. It's your turn, and time.

Experience Museum Stores Virtually

If you're an art-hound like I am, you know about the treasures you can sniff out in museum shops. Here in Washington, D.C., museums' store-houses of unique art-related books, objects, and wearables abound. Such shops also are part of the many wonderful museums in New York City and other major and not-so-minor cities throughout the United States.

Now you don't have to get on a plane or a train or in your car to find museum shops. You only need to turn on your computer and click on Museum Stores, a collaboration of the Denver, Colorado-based Museum Store Association, the U.S. Cultural & Heritage Tourism Marketing Council, and the Shop America Alliance.

Museum Stores offers a full-color guidebook, The Cultural Traveler, that features art institutions and family-oriented cultural destinations, as well as a "green gift" guide of museum store offerings. Be sure to visit the Website of the same name: The Cultural Traveler.

Museum Stores' mini buyers' guide to some particularly unusual products, such as biodegradable Eco-Pens, can be viewed here. Museum Stores plans to upload a 2010 edition by the end of this year.

Do You Know This Artist?

If you don't already know about Northern Virginia sculptor Novie Trump, you should. Trump's show at the McLean Project for the Arts, in McLean, Virginia, which closed November 7, featured some of the best ceramic art to be found anywhere. But don't take my word for it. Artist, galleriest, and blogger Lenny Campello offers his own insightful appraisal of the show and a video clip. (Scroll down to "Novie Trump at MPA.) Trump blogs, too.; click here to read her posts.

They Said It!

Light was the great cinematographer Sven Nykvist's muse.  When talking about it, he did not lack for description. "Light," he said, "can be gentle, dangerous, dreamlike, bare, living, dead, misty, clear, hot, dark, violet, springlike, falling, straight, sensual, limited, poisonous, calm, and soft." Nykvist also confessed that for him, "Feeling wrapped in light gives me a sense of spiritual atmosphere."

Asked to describe the influence that his study of Tibetan Buddhism has had on his work, California-based abstractionist Ed Moses replied, "I don't visualize and execute. Every breath is brand new. Don't think of the future, don't think of the past, the only factor is now."

An Ed Moses exhibition is on view through December 5 at Sylvia White Gallery in Ventura, California. A monograph with 120 four-color illustrations and an essay by Barbara Haskell has been released in conjunction with the show. Click here for an album from the gallery.