The Artful Mind magazine February 2024

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In Print & Online Free Since 1994


ANASTASIA TRAINA Photography by Bobby Miller


Stillness Studio appointments, please call 413-528-6945 Keith and Mary original artwork for sale Studio/gallery, South Egremont, MA

THE ARTFUL MIND FEBRUARY 2024 Free spirits and beings



ELIZABETH CASSIDY Artist / Ilustrator / Writer / Peace Lover INTERVIEW BY H. CANDEE...26


Publisher Harryet Candee Copy Editor

Marguerite Bride

Third Eye Jeff Bynack Distribution Ruby Aver Carolyn Kinsolving


Contributing Writers Richard Britell Deanna Musgrave Contributing Photographers Edward Acker Tasja Keetman Bobby Miller

ADVERTISING RATES 413 - 645 - 4114 | Instagram FB: ARTFUL MIND GALLERY for Artful Minds 23 The Artful Mind PO Box 985 Great Barrington, MA 01230

FYI: : ©Copyright laws in effect throughout The Artful Mind for logo & all graphics including text material. Copyright laws for photographers and writers throughout The Artful Mind. Permission to reprint is required in all instances. In any case the issue does not appear on the stands as planned due to unforeseeable circumstances beyond our control, advertisers will be compensated on a one to one basis. All commentaries by writers are not necessarily the opinion of the publisher and take no responsibility for their facts and opinions. All photographs submitted for advertisers are the responsibility for advertiser to grant release permission before running image or photograph.



MARK MELLINGER Paintings - Collage - Constructions

CLOCK TOWER ARTISTS 3rd Floor 75 South Church St Pittsfield MA 914. 260. 7413 Damocles. Acrylic, cardboard and iron on birch, 48 x 32”


"This painting is a reflection of life. We are all on a journey that can sometimes be very challenging and at other times, it can be very smooth. This painting is about those challenging times we all have. We can get through those times with calmness and relaxation in spite of the chaos." - Don Longo Facebook: Don Longo Instagram: don_longo Email:

THE JOURNEY, CALMNESS IN THE CHAOS 40” x 30” In Gallery, Wrapped Canvas, Acrylics



DR. PREPPER Steel, bronze, aluminum, plastic, acrylic paint 2023 78” x 28” x 28”

RICHARD CRIDDLE | mobile (413) 652-5952 | Instagram criddle_richard THE ARTFUL MIND FEBRUARY 2024

THE ARTFUL MIND - presents -

ON THE CANVAS A BIG GROUP ART SHOW “The transience of life and the importance of cherishing every moment”

April 13 —May 11, 2024 Reception: Saturday, April 13 • 5pm - 7:30pm

TIME & SPACE LIMITED / TSL 434 Columbia Street, Hudson, NY • Open daily


SCHOOL’S OUT, 21” X 29”




KEITH DAVIDSON A native of the Berkshires, Keith has been painting for the last 20 years, motivated by the natural beauty of his surrounding environment. Keith shares a studio with his wife Mary, at their home in South Egremont. Keith’s dazzling collection of colorful, creative, “fish” paintings are inspired by his love of fishing and boating. He also has a tree collection, flowers and vibrant experimental paintings by combining objects in nature with geometric forms. Keith has had many paintings juried into the Housatonic Valley Art League summer shows, receiving six “Best in Show,’ eleven “Awards of Excellence,” and seven “Honorable Mentions.” Keith is an artist who has had regional influence, and many of his paintings hang in private collections throughout the tristate area. Keith considers himself to be a self-taught artist, although he has participated in classes at BCC and IS 183. His medium of choice is acrylic paints, used in a very watery base like watercolor. Paintings are framed under acrylic glass and double matted. Keith Davidson 413-717-2152

As a child, my favorite part of Daniel DeFoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe was when Crusoe builds a raft to ferry himself between shipwreck and island, gathering supplies and scouring for resources. I did this myself in 1996 when I came to the US with my wife and two young children. I arrived at the yet-to-become MASS MoCA in North Adams Massachusetts with very few tools and no materials. I immediately took inventory, mining derelict factory buildings for useful stuff, and set myself up in a make-do studio. Like Crusoe, I was a hunter-gatherer and immigrant, far from home, making the best of it. Physical distance provided me with a safe place to look back over time. Robinson Crusoe gathered provisions to sustain his physical body. I gather the provisions I need to feed my creativity. Gathering allows me to observe and investigate without getting stuck in early decision-making. On any given day, I might be mocking up several different sculptures, clamping things together, or photographing and sketching them, allowing myself time to assess, to see whether a visual fusion will happen. These early stages - hunting, gathering and stocktaking, allow me time for deep and intuitive experimentation. The solid graft of building sculpture. —RICHARD CRIDDLE, OCTOBER 2023 Richard Criddle413-652-5952 Instagram criddle_richard


TW MCCLELLAND & DAUGHTERS CREATIVE FINE JEWELRY Tim McClelland is a fine jeweler in Great Barrington, MA known for his 20+ years as the creative hands and mind behind McTeigue & McClelland Jewelers. He has been practicing the art of jewelry making for more than 50 years. Engagement rings from his Wildflower Collection are worn by editors of Vogue, Vanity Fair, W, Town & Country, Martha Stewart Weddings, and acclaimed by many more. TWM original pieces have graced the red carpets of the Oscars and Cannes. Tim uses ancient and traditional jewelry making techniques to bring to life timeless, inspired jewelry. His work is known the world over by jewelry connoisseurs and those who seek out originality, beauty and quality. In his designs Tim is inspired by nature, humor, light, balance, and the materials themselves. He uses his his work to create a joyful expression in a tiny space. Most importantly Tim hopes to be of service to his community and customers. Beginning this Autumn the TWM atelier doors will open to the public, Thurs., Fri, Sat, 11 - 5pm! Please join our mailing list via for an invite to the opening. Contact us directly about all things jewelry at or 413-654-3399. Follow along on Instagram and Pinterest at @twmcclelland



X 96”



To be an artist, you have to know who you are. If you are an artist, you know it without doubt. The same is true for magicians. I lived in Manhattan for 35 years, painting and showing my work; bohemian and privileged; raising my children. Then the world changed, and not just for those who lived in the City. As my friend Deanne Stillman brilliantly wrote “On the day the Towers fell, furies flew out of the hole in the ground…” in her article 9/11 And the Damage Done for Rolling Stone and Truthdig. Spirits, ghosts… That night my great-grandmother, a Creek Indian, visited me in a dream and said “What are you doing on an island? There’s no good hunting on an island. Follow the river North so your children can follow you. Find yourself a good wood lot, a fresh-flowing brook, a good roof and chimney, and you’ll be OK”. I sold my apartment and SoHo studio and moved to a forest in Massachusetts. I had grown up in a very rural part of Westchester County, North of NYC, in the woods surrounded by farms and lakes. I have always been entranced by my natural surroundings, painting magical altars, and of course the trees, fields, animals, flowers, weather, and light. Whatever is around me and inspires. Pamela Berkeley


LONNY JARRETT BERKSHIRE SCENIC PHOTOGRAPHY My initial memory of awakening to the creative impulse was hearing the first chord of the Beatles, Hard Day’s Night, when I was six years old. I knew something big was happening at that moment, and I had to get on board! I began studying at the Guitar Workshop, the first guitar school in America. I’ve performed music most of my life and play jazz fusion with my band Redshift. My interest in photography blossomed as an electron-microscopist publishing neuro- and molecular-biological research out of UMASS/Amherst and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx in my early 20s. As a lifelong meditator, martial artist, musician, and photographer, everything I engage with comes from the same unified intention toward engendering the true, the good, and the beautiful. I endeavor to capture the light that seeps through everything in landscape and nature photography. Lonny Jarrett Community: Books: Art: Teaching:


Twenty artists were selected for the juried Guild of Berkshire Artists exhibit “Musings on Nature” to be held at the Berkshire Botanical Gardens Leonhardt Galleries from February 9 - 25 The response was tremendous with 64 artists submitting work. The quality and quantity of the submissions far exceeded expectations which made it a challenging but rewarding process for the Directors of the Botanical Gardens. They strived to select work that reflects the theme, represents a variety of media, and highlights the skill of the member artists. The following artists were selected— Carolyn M Abrams, Donna Bernstein, Chelsea Bradway, Julie Edmonds, Nancy Fagelman, Gail Gelburd, Jill Gustavis, Nancy Harrod, Pat Hogan, Lynne Horvath, Cindy Mathias, Russell Miller, Sarah Morrison, Jaye Alison Moscariello, Amy Pressman, Paula Shalan, Bruce Shickmanter Margaret Skaggs and Natalie Tyler. Join us in celebrating these artists at the reception on Friday, February 9 from 5 - 7 at the Botanical Gardens. Guild of Berkshire Artists For more information visit their website at

“Simplicity involves unburdening your life, and living more lightly with fewer distractions that interfere with a high quality life, as defined uniquely by each individual.” — Linda Breen Pierce


Erika Larskaya

Untitled #14 Mixed media on paper 10”x10”

"As an abstract artist, I search for ways to represent the invisible, subtle, and unexpressed. I am driven to lay out fleeting and intangible experiences on physical surfaces". —Erika Larskaya

Erika Larskaya Studio at 79 Main St. Torrington, CT THE ARTFUL MIND FEBRUARY 2024 • 7






I am an abstract artist whose two- and threedimensional works in mixed media reveal a fascination with geometry, color and juxtapositions. For me it is all about the work which provides surprising results, both playful and thought provoking. From BCC to UMASS and later to Vermont College to earn my MFA Degree. I have taken many workshops through Art New England, at Bennington College, Hamilton College and an experimental workshop on cyanotypes recently at MCLA. Two international workshops in France and Italy also. I am pleased to have a studio space with an exciting group of artists at the Clocktower Building in Pittsfield. Bruce LairdClock Tower Business Center, Studio #307 75 South Church Street, Pittsfield, MA

Deborah H. Carter is a multi-media artist from Lenox, MA, who creates upcycled sustainable wearable art. Her couture pieces are constructed from post-consumer waste such as food packaging, wine corks, cardboard, books, wire, plastic, and other discarded items and thrifted wares. She manipulates the color, shape, and texture of her materials to compel us to question our assumptions of beauty and worth and ultimately reconsider our habits and attitudes about waste and consumerism. A sewing enthusiast since the age of 8, Deborah first learned her craft by creating clothing with her mother and grandmothers. Her passion took hold as she began to design and sew apparel and accessories. After graduating with a degree in fashion design from Parsons School of Design in New York City, she worked as a women’s sportswear designer on Seventh Avenue. Deborah’s art has been exhibited in galleries and art spaces around the US. She was one of 30 designers selected to showcase her work at the FS2020 Fashion Show annually at the University of Saint Andrews, Scotland. She has featured in the Spring 2023 What Women Create magazine. Deborah Carter 413-441-3220, Clock Tower Artists, 75 S. Church St., Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Studio 315, 3rd floor. Instagram: @deborah_h_carter




Born and raised just north of Boston, Matt Bernson is a dynamic and provocative figurative artist known for his bold and playful take on the human form. A graduate of Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt), Bernson boasts a BFA in Animation & Painting, a duality that is evident in the fluidity and vibrancy of his work. After a decade of honing his craft, Bernson made a significant move to the Berkshires in 2020. This transition marked a new chapter in his artistic journey, offering fresh inspirations and opportunities. Matt’s passion for community and collaborative creativity led him to join the Future Labs Gallery Co-op in 2023, a platform that has hosted his art since 2022. Bernson’s artistry reached new heights in September 2023, when he shared the spotlight in a two-person show at Future Labs Gallery. Known for his wit and irreverence, his artist bio for the show was a cheeky one-liner: “Wanna see some butts?” This encapsulates Bernson’s ethos perfectly, a fearless artist who invites his audience to share in his delight and fascination with the human form. Bernson’s work is far from conventional, and it’s this daring and distinctive approach that sets him apart. With every piece he creates, Bernson continues to push boundaries, challenge perceptions, and infuse a sense of fun and freedom into the world of figurative art. Additionally, in October 2023, he started a figure drawing group at Future Labs Gallery, fostering a supportive community for artists. Matt has worked as both a caricature artist and as a tattoo artist. And completed an artist residency in May 2023 where he completed two 20”x24” paintings within a week and showed them at Dacia Gallery in New York City. Matthew Instagram @MattBernson.Art


Jazz Duet 60” x 54” Oil | Jazz/Horse Series The Jazz/Horse series spontaneously sprang onto my canvas after a model, posing for my very consciously controlled representational Archetype/Icon painting series, switched my classical station to a jazz station. This inspired these freeflowing and expressive works, and the acknowledged series name “Jazz”: These are Muse driven from the primal life force within each of us, and despite the perceived erotic overtones, this merging shows us a glimpse of life outside the temporal perception of time and the isolation of Self… The use of the equine form represents the physical, powerful and beautiful carnal life force and opens a door to a more spirited and spiritual life; a celebration of passion and surrender of ones’ self to the Other - a total merging with the creative pulse of being... They are not precomposed and I let the curves of the human body and horse shapes intermingle with one shape calling for the next in the dance between them.

—Candace Eaton

Jazz/Horse pieces can be purchased as giclee prints on canvas. Contact Artist. Studio: Sheffield, MA

Jazz Duet Series and Others will be on view at Fly On The Canvas Art Exhibit April 13 - May 11, 2024. Time & Space Ltd, 434 Columbia St, Hudson, NY

(631) 413-5057 THE ARTFUL MIND FEBRUARY 2024 • 9

Matt Bernson

The Tree is Mi, Ink & watercolor on paper, 12"x18"

portrait painter • caricaturist • Instagram @MattBernson.Art 10 • FEBRUARY 2024 THE ARTFUL MIND

MARY ANN YARMOSKY We long for a way to be heard from the moment we are born. For some, words suffice; for others, there needs to be a deeper form of expression. That is how artists are born. Where one might send their message through an instrument in the form of music, another might write poetry or prose. Still, others speak in something more tangible through painting, photography, pottery, or sculpting. Words only bring us so far…art is the language of longing…a longing never fulfilled. I have always found expression through art. At age five, I began speaking through the piano that sat waiting expectantly in our den, an instrument that brought me peace throughout the years. Later I took to creating through fashion design, dreaming up and constructing costumes for the Boston Opera Company and outfits for the fashionable elite of Newport, Rhode Island. From there, my path took many twists and turns as I lived as a wife, mother, caretaker, and professional career. When my youngest son passed away unexpectedly several years ago, my longing to be heard returned with a vengeance. Words did not suffice. There are no words to express grief and hope for what is lost. On that journey of anguish, I met other women who had or were experiencing their style of pain. I marveled at their resilience and ability to go on despite different types of loss or simply dealing with the uphill complexities of life’s challenges. I began to recover my voice through paint and a bit of canvas, but it was not just my voice. The women I create in paint are a composite of the many amazing women I have met and continue to meet. I paint their humor, joy, hidden heartbreak, and longing. These women do not exist except on canvas, and their stories are yours to imagine. Hear them. Mary Ann


“Each gesture is its own psychological statement...” The unfolding of the life force within me as it comes in contact with the given world about me motivates me creatively. The heart of the human experience, when it enters the numinous is beyond any style or “brand” of art and does not belong to any movement. American Archetype and Icon Series - I am dedicated to presenting the complexities and dualities inherent in our human nature. Because my paintings function on multiple levels – social, psychological and spiritual, I have reduced the image to its most sparse. I consciously work in a fairly traditional technique, which allows me to manipulate the figure with any subtle augmentations needed to enhance a gesture. I delete all but the essential props, so the gesture dominates the often poster- like format: This frees me to delve into our human condition both psychological and spiritual, even when I use a particular current or social issue to highlight this. These Archetypes and Icons stimulate an awareness that arises when the multiple layers of reality are allowed to exist in one frozen moment, in one human being. Jazz Horse Series - my Jazz/Horse series spring onto the canvas, where I basically control only the composition. They are muse-driven from the primal life force within each of us that can be sterilized out of us. Eros has its opposite in Thanatos. Despite the perceived erotic overtones of many of these Jazz/Horse paintings, this very merging with the other brings us out of the illusion of isolation and time and gives us a glimpse of the eternal pulse of life outside of our temporal perception of time. They are a door to a more spirited and spiritual life; a celebration of the joining of duality and joy of being totally present when the “I” and “Thou” merge with the creative pulse of being. Candace Eaton631-413-5057


Creative Sorceress Mollie Kellogg conjures a magickal world through canvas, film, music and dance. Her award-winning Incognito Witch Project celebrated hidden magick. Prior to the Witch Project, which launched in 2009, Mollie’s work focused on motherhood themes, and figurative magical realism. Mollie is currently working from Dalton, MA in her in-home studio on fine art commissions, commercial ad design, and interdisciplinary passion projects. Non-essential musing: I sense that creativity is somehow channeled from the universe and everyone has the ability to tap into it — and I believe if you ignore it, or crimp off your “creative flow” for whatever reasons (personal, work, fear, family, abuse, insecurity, time…), then you may suffer over time in some unexpected way. I hope the artistics and non-creatives alike come to recognize that they can bring creativity into their everyday activities in baby steps — such as spending a little more time coordinating an outfit, putting on makeup or styling one’s hair; humming or singing a song, or tinkering on an instrument; doodling, writing poetry, jotting down dreams, or journaling; arranging the furniture, flowers, or the knick knacks on the shelf; playing, laughing, pretending, visualizing — taking pleasure in these rituals as time permits. It doesn’t need to be a big production to get a little more creative juice flowing in your life. Mollie Kellogg 413-242-4108

. You want to know how I think art should be taught to children? Take them to a museum and say, "This is art, and you can't do it." – Steve Martin THE ARTFUL MIND FEBRUARY 2024 • 11


Garden Steps Oil on canvas, 36” x 36”

My Garden February 1 - 25, 2024 Opening Reception: Saturday Feb 10, 2 - 6pm

Oriental Poppy in October Oil on canvas, 30” x 40”

510 Warren Street Gallery 510 Warren Street, Hudson NY Friday, Saturday, 12 - 6, Sunday, 12 - 5 FRONTSTSTUDIO@AOL.COM or call 413 274 6607

Ghetta Hirsch Ghetta’s Art will be on view April 13 - May 11, 2024 Opening Reception: Saturday April 13 • 5pm - 7:30pm — “FLY ON THE CANVAS” TSL Warehouse Time & Space Limited 434 Columbia St Downtown Hudson NY

413. 597. 1716

Little River, Stowe Vermont, Oil on canvas, 18” x 24”, 2020


Pamela Berkeley

The Black Ribbon, Oil on Canvas, 20” x 30 1/2”. 2020

Current/Upcoming Shows Rockland Arts Festival, 77 Bardonia Road, Bardonia, NY 10954 USA 2024 Virtual Festival – 1/26/24 to 2/9/24, In-person event Sunday, 2/2/24 at Palisades Center, West Nyack, NY Video Interview: Rhode Island Watercolor Society, 831 Armistice Blvd, Pawtucket, RI 02861 Zooming In (Virtual) – 1/20/24 to 2/16/24, Zoom Opening 1/25/24 at 6:00pm Entry won Honorable Mention Bristol Art Museum, 10 Wardwell Street, Bristol, RI 02809 Art for All Season – 1/22/24 to 2/23/24 MVA Gallery, 35 E. Elizabeth Avenue, Suite 313, Bethlehem, PA 18018 A Tribute to Small Art – 1/28/24 to 2/25/24 Washington Art Association, 4 Bryan Memorial Plaza, Washington Depot, CT 06794 2024 Members Show – 3/9/24 to 4/7/24, Opening Reception on 3/9/24, 4-6pm The Artful Mind at Time & Space, Ltd, 434 Columbia St, Hudson, NY 12534 Fly On The Canvas – 4/14/24 to 5/11/24, Opening Reception on 4/13/24, 5-7:30pm

PAMELA BERKELEY (413) 717-8264 (Artist videos of exhibitions are attached) Gallery:




Confinement and Breakaway examine the mental state of struggle to make sense of our environment, both physical and psychological. I incorporate childlike drawing to represent nonconformity; the unadulterated state before we get confined by rules, commitment, insecurities, and other “add-ons.” “I distress and repair parts of the painting, as we do within ourselves. The drawings of floor plans and elevations, which I use as a starting point, create a sense of enclosure, which I expand by continuing the lines outward, breaking the structural pattern. This alters the sense of confinement, breaking away from the [rigid, static] norm”. Erika Larskaya



I have been sketching and making art on and off since my undergraduate education as an architect in the late 1950s. What interests me at present about creating art, besides the shear visceral pleasure of making things, of putting pencil or pen or brush or all of them to paper, of manipulating images on the computer, and of making models, is the aesthetic tension generated in the borderlands between the abstract and the representational, between uniqueness and reproduction, and between analog and digital processes. I am also interested in art that engages the social, the political and the visual. Since my wife, artist Anna Oliver, and I made our home in the Berkshires six years ago, I have been entranced by its beauty. My work is, in part, a visual rhapsody to the area. Stephan Marc Klein,


JANE GENNARO That’s a bat. Nosediving into an emu egg sitting on top of an elegant metal thing that used to be —a lamp? Until the Wallkill River flooded our friend’s house! Electronics, cushions, CDs Floating…drowned… washed up. “Do you want to keep this?” “You can have it." That’s an emu egg. Emus are from Australia, This emu egg was given to me in Buenos Aires, by a woman named Dudu, who I almost called Dodo. I promised to be careful. I cushioned my emu egg inside two pairs of underpants snuggled into a sweater sleeve tucked in my luggage “I have a present for you!” My husband has brought me as many dead bugs, birds, and mice as the cat’s dragged in. Now a bat! Meticulously extricated from the front fender of our red Jeep.

Abstract Milkweed




Bat Egg Flood survivor. Disparate journeys, Same fate Born to be art Living under a glass bell. Perfect landing. Jane Gennaro

Nina Lipkowitz

"Inner World” Stoneware Collage with rattle 12.5 X 12.5 Glaze and Polychrome

OTHER WORLDS Multi Medium, Stoneware, Collages and Paintings Friday, March 1 — Sunday, March 31 Artist Opening: Saturday, March 2, 2-6 510 WARREN STREET GALLERY 510 Warren Street Hudson, NY • Gallery hours: Friday and Saturday 12-6, Sunday 12-5 THE ARTFUL MIND FEBRUARY 2024 • 15


“As I was mesmerized by the magic within, she whispered, "Never lose your ability to see the extraordinary in the ordinary." This lesson has stayed with me, influencing my artistic and curious perspective and encouraging me to find magic in the everyday world.” —A.T Interview by Harryet Candee

Harryet Candee: Let's start by explaining how you examine and explore the smallest elements in nature and the ways you study them before an art project. Anastasia Traina: My approach to examining and exploring the smallest elements in nature before starting an art project… Well, usually, I wait for something in nature to "speak" to me, whether it's a scar on a petal, a blister on a mushroom, bruise, or bump on a leaf; I allow the natural world to guide my creative process. I am particularly drawn to the specimens that have experienced life, misfits, or those who have had some trauma. If I am lucky, I can take the time to study them in their natural environment and observe the specimen throughout the rest of its life span, photographing its journey and documenting its changes. I love their life process, their changing 16 • FEBRUARY 2024 THE ARTFUL MIND

Photography of the Artist by Bobby Miller and Courtesy of the Artist

and fading colors, the wrinkles … details that may go unnoticed by others… capturing moments that might otherwise be fleeting. Then, I love delving into each specimen's folklore, history, and medicinal purpose. This enriches my understanding of the subject and allows me to create art beyond the visual realm. The idea of creating floral portraits based on this research will enable me to convey not only the visual aspects of the specimen but also its unique story and the significance of its time here on Earth. In your art making, you have included Elves, fairies, and folklore; imaginative creatures alive in their habitat; straightforward studies of botanical renderings in pencils that include flowers, fungi, and fauna; Underwater photography; children's books and glass sculpture.

I'm interested in learning about their common thread and the overall vision behind your work. AT: I believe the common thread in my work revolves around the unseen, the unheard, and the forgotten aspects of life—the things we often take for granted. Whether it's the magical realms of Elves and fairies, imaginative creatures in their natural habitats, botanical studies of flowers, fungi, fauna, underwater photography, the world depicted in children's books or glass sculpture, my art seeks to capture and convey the essence of what is invisible to the human eye. It's about appreciating the subtle and profound elements of existence, like a single breath or a mother's hug, that can be felt within a heartbeat. This overarching vision guides my exploration across diverse subjects and mediums.

(Left) The Solo Ginko Leaf, Ginkgo (Middle) Praying Mantis (Right) The Blossomkeeper

The colored pencil drawings of the natural world that you capture are parallel with what is possibly part of the cycle and process the entire Universe goes through. That's my observation, what do you think? AT: I am very flattered by your observation, and I believe there is some truth to it. I share the perspective that life, whether in the form of an insect, a flower, or a sentient being, is a precious gift. I am drawn to the Underwater series (WordPress, A Funny Bunny Picture). I am curious to know more about "Sleeping Beauty" and "The Blossomkeeper," and also "Merman Oannes." Where were they taken? AT: Sleeping Beauty and Merman Oannes were both captured underwater. Sleeping Beauty was photographed in the Green River, while Merman

Oannes was taken in the Butte-aux-Cailles Swimming Pool in the 13th arrondissement in Paris. For me, Sleeping Beauty is portrayed as if in a glass coffin made out of water, and I'm intrigued by exploring what happens in that singular breath or a kiss that awakens her. Merman Oannes, also known as Adapa and Uanna, was a Babylonian god from the 4th century BCE. According to legend, he emerged from the ocean daily as a fish-human creature to share his wisdom with the people along the Persian Gulf. He imparted knowledge of written language, the arts, and sciences during daylight hours before returning to the sea at night. This mythological figure is part of my artist underwater series and an homage to my magical professor Higgins and my ex-husband, Sammy George. An incredible photographer and artist.

As for "The Blossomkeeper," although it was not taken underwater, it carries a similar atmospheric feel. I enjoy your drawing of the praying mantis sitting on a branch. Please tell us about this drawing. AT: The drawing of the praying mantis on a branch holds a special significance for me. At the beginning of the summer, I purchased two Praying Mantis Egg Cases with the excitement of a child buying mythical Sea Monkeys filled with hopes and dreams. I placed the egg cases on my climbing Clematis in the garden, and I felt they were well hidden and safe. As the weeks passed and the summer business unfolded, I kind of forgot about them. It wasn't until Continued on next page... THE ARTFUL MIND FEBRUARY 2024 • 17

Merman Oannes

Sleeping Beauty Under Water



The Lullaby

The Sky is Full of Promise

one fall day, pondering if the egg cases had hatched, that I experienced a magical moment. A curious praying mantis appeared on my windshield as I sat in my car enjoying a salad after grocery shopping. The thrill of encountering this creature, seemingly conjured by my morning thoughts, was as enchanting as my first meeting with a praying mantis at my Aunt Nancy's house when I was seven. The drawing captures the essence of that magical thinking, the joy of unexpected encounters, and the enchantment of connecting with nature. It's a tribute to the mesmerizing charm of praying mantises and the memories they evoke. Seeing your drawings have given me a new appreciation and has encouraged me to look closer at the tiny world of insects and a refreshed closer look at plant life. Were you this curious and imaginative as a child? AT: Yes, I was always curious and imaginative, even as a small child. When I was a little girl, I used to sit on the concrete by my grandmother's feet in front of her bric-a-brac shop on 79th Street and Columbus Ave. in New York City. In that tiny square of dirt on the sidewalk that she called her

garden, I would draw everything I could see—the blue-green grass around the linden tree's roots, the marching black and red ants, and the James and the Giant Peach-like tomato in an old espresso can. This became my first illustrated playground for what my grandma called my "little people." I remember a particular day when I finished a sketch of one of my garden beings adorned in a cloak of lilacs. My grandmother laughed and clapped enthusiastically. In a spontaneous and unusual gesture, she closed her shop for the day and took me straight up the block to one of my favorite places, the Museum of Natural History. There, she bought me a piece of glass with magical powers. Holding it up to the sunlight revealed a miraculous rainbow of colors. As I was mesmerized by the magic within, she whispered, "Never lose your ability to see the extraordinary in the ordinary." This lesson has stayed with me, influencing my artistic and curious perspective and encouraging me to find magic in the everyday world. What is the message behind the glass sculpture, The Lullaby? AT: “The Lullaby” is deeply rooted in the concept

that wherever there is a mother's love, that is home. I use the idea of a mother's love in a broad sense, acknowledging that it takes many forms. It's a universal theme that transcends species and captures the essence of comfort, care, and belonging. Can you describe the process of Kiln-casting that you use for creating 3-dimensional art using glass as the medium? AT: Yes, of course. The process of Kiln-casting that I use for creating 3-dimensional art with glass as the medium involves several steps. It all begins with inspiration, followed by creating several drawings before I start sculpting in victory wax. Once the wax sculpture is complete, I make a silicone mold, allowing me to reproduce multiple versions if necessary. Next, I pour hot wax into the silicone mold to create a replica and cast it in a potter's plaster grog. This results in a lost wax mold. After steaming out the wax, I am left with a hollow mold of my sculpture. This hollow impression is then filled with carefully measured bits of colored glass. Before placing the mold into the kiln, I Continued on next page... THE ARTFUL MIND FEBRUARY 2024 • 19

Ms. Poppy Farmer

The Waspkeeper

write the firing schedule, specifying the temperature and duration. The kiln-casting process transforms the glass into a 3-dimensional art piece, capturing the essence of the original wax sculpture with added depth and color. You mentioned your latest creative explorations revolve around art and the environment and using Scanning Electron Microscopic (SEM) imagery for glass sculptures. What is this all about? AT: For me, it is a deeper investigation into the beauty of nature that is not visible to the eye… Yes! I aspire to create glass sculptures or large storybook pages incorporating SEM imagery of single pollen grains. This intense magnification will allow us to witness the invisible world of a single grain… which is truly mind-blowing. I aim to draw the pollen's incredible landscape as my imaginative botanical creatures witness them floating in the air. Through exploring different flower pollen, I seek to bridge the gap between the seen and unseen, inviting viewers to appreciate the intricate, awe-inspiring beauty beyond our usual perception of the natural world. Have you traveled much in your life, taken off 20 • FEBRUARY 2024 THE ARTFUL MIND

to far-off exotic and exciting places that helped give you creative and insightful ideas in artmaking? AT: Yes, I have been fortunate enough to live in Paris and travel extensively, gaining creative and insightful ideas for my art. For eight years, I traveled to many exotic places while working with some of the most creative and talented people in the fashion industry. This experience allowed me to learn every aspect of the fashion business. Among the places I visited, Japan stands out as my favorite. I developed a deep appreciation for their meticulous attention to the smallest details. As witnessed in events like their tea ceremonies, the cultural richness and aesthetic sensibility set the imagination ablaze. The experiences from my travels, especially in Japan, have played a crucial role in shaping my artistic perspective and infusing my work with diverse influences. Now, you are living in East Chatham, New York. You left the city and moved to the country and I can only imagine what the change must have been like for you and your family. What was a significant change for you? AT: The most significant change for me as an artist when I moved from the city to East Chatham,

NY, was the profound sense of belonging and connection to the environment. From the start, I knew I had found the perfect place where I truly fit. However, it took my family some time to fully grasp and appreciate what I felt deep in my bones. Living in East Chatham allowed me to embrace a lifestyle that nurtured my artistic spirit. I could have a garden and raise bees, chickens, and two rabbits. My dogs had the freedom to roam freely on our property. I understand you are a beekeeper! I am curious to know how this took place for you. I can imagine how the bees' swift movements inspired you to capture them in a watercolor. AT: Keeping bees is an amazing experience: enlightening, humbling, educational, and rewarding. Beekeeping supports community pollination and food supplies and fosters bee populations outside the commercial beekeeping industry. Besides all that, I guess I was inspired by Sue Monk Kidd's wondrous novel, The Secret Life of Bees. I particularly love this quote: "Place a beehive on my grave And let the honey soak through. When I'm dead and gone,


Watercolor of Bumble Bee

That's what I want from you. The streets of heaven are gold and sunny, But I'll stick with my plot and a pot of honey. Place a beehive on my grave And let the honey soak through."

So when I saw that the Berkshire Botanical Garden was giving a workshop on Beekeeping, I immediately signed up and was hooked. I soon purchased a hive and all that goes with it, and for one year, I went to sit in front of my hive to watch their comings and goings. I was mesmerized by their incredible, mostly female society. The bees' swift movements indeed inspired me, and capturing their essence in a watercolor became a natural extension of my fascination with these remarkable creatures. What is your glass project called, “The Queen's Emergence" about? AT: I dream of constructing a large glass installation for the Berkshire Botanical Garden (BBG) in Stockbridge, MA, in their newly installed wildflower garden. In more detail, the installation will be a 4' tall by 18" wide honey-colored glass sculpture, a kiln formed in multiple stages, featuring a half-human and half-wild queen bee chimera. She

will be captured, emerging from her hive as the sole survivor after winter's end, rebuilding her hive for the spring. The glass component will be mounted on a pedestal constructed from the trunk of a locally sourced eastern white pine tree to emphasize the Bee's wild nature. The piece is designed to illustrate the mutual dependence of humankind and nature. It symbolizes the importance of the Bee and the impact its pollination has on the health of our local ecosystems. However, unfortunately, not enough people are aware that bees are slowly becoming endangered across the globe, and their disappearance, if left unabated, is expected to have cataclysmic environmental consequences. To bolster the eco-engagement aspect of this project, I would imagine the BBG, and I will create educational events revolving around the wildflower garden, my planned installation, and the ecological importance of wild bees; these will include outdoor talks near the installation, guided walking tours through the wildflower garden which hosts its natural population of wild bees, and viewings of the installation which I hope will inspire wonder and a desire for conservation. This past May of 2023, you had an an art exhi-

bition at the Berkshire Botanical Garden (BBG) in Stockbridge, MA. "Alchemy and Innocents: Works by Anastasia Traina.” Were you satisfied with the outcome of this show? AT: Beyond, beyond, beyond, happy. It was a dream to have a solo show at the beautiful Leonhardt Gallery, from working with the incredibly talented Matt Larkin as curator to all the wondrous staff at BBG; well, let's say it was better than the full joys of spring. How did you go about deciding what went into the exhibit? There is so much work in planning a show of this nature, it must have taken you months of planning, and fun. AT: I was inspired by a passage I read in Les Miserables where Victor Hugo tells us that Monseigneur Bienvenu required only two things, "… a little garden to walk in, and immensity to reflect on. At his feet, something to cultivate and gather; above his head, something to study and meditate on; a few flowers on Earth and all the stars in heaven." One day, while visiting BBG, these words struck a great chord of truth as I found myself face-to-face with a discerning cricket peering out from its lofty perch inside a tubular flower. It Continued on next page... THE ARTFUL MIND FEBRUARY 2024 • 21


Cho Yosin

immediately occurred to me that here in the botanical world, the flowers had a language of their own, and the dazzling escapades of hidden and not-so-hidden creatures communicated a perfect reflection of much of what makes us human. This profound realization became the seed that catapulted a five-year journey toward my solo exhibit, Alchemy and Innocents, at the BBG. What did you enjoy most about this show and being at BBG? AT: I most enjoyed watching people go into the gallery, not knowing what to expect, and come out with a little lighter step in their gait and huge joyous smiles. The opportunity to share my artwork at BBG allowed me to witness its positive impact on visitors, bringing joy and a sense of wonder to their experience. It was incredibly rewarding to see the transformative effect of art on individuals, and it added an extra layer of fulfillment to the entire exhibition. Please explain the meaning of the bell jars in the exhibit containing dried plants, seed pods, bird nests, and small animals like bats. Also, do they tell a story and have symbolic meaning? AT: In the 17th century, some gardeners began using a bell jar or cloche tool. Resembling a small 22 • FEBRUARY 2024


bell, glass cloches functioned as a miniature greenhouse. To me, glass is a strange material. We can see through it but can't touch what's on the other side. The bell jars in the exhibit carry symbolic significance. They tell a story of preservation, encapsulating the beauty of nature in a moment of time. The glass jars protect and reveal, creating a space where fragility and resilience coexist. Each jar becomes a vessel of contemplation, inviting viewers to reflect on the delicate balance between human intervention and the natural world's inherent mysteries. The children's book you are now writing, The Curious Tales of Thymble Tarn", is about a little girl living with her grandmother. How close is the story to your life? AT: Very close. My grandmother was my North, my South, my Everything. How important is world history to you? How have you incorporated aspects of Victorian culture and other cultures into your work? AT: My artistic endeavors are paramount in history, culture, science, and folklore. I am particularly drawn to the Victorian era due to its revolutionary breakthroughs in the arts and

sciences, shaping the world as we know it today. In hopes of articulating a floral specimen's singular and very brief yet epic tale that I happen upon, I take inspiration from the moment, the color, and the position of the flower. I study the ecosystem that surrounds it and research its folklore and medicinal properties, and it's there that I begin to paint or sculpt a floral portrait. My work strives to translate the biota's essence into a NouveauVictorian floriography or a hanakotoba, a language meant to convey emotion and communicate directly to each viewer without using words. During my time in Tokyo in the early '80s, the happiness exuded by the children there left a lasting impression. I often reminisce about their joyful faces and the peace sign gestures during my walks back to my apartment in Azabu Court. In honor of those wondrous spirits, I created Cho Yōsei, the Butterfly Spirit, and her Chīsai dragon, the little dragon. The creation of Onna-Bug-eisha Poppi Moto and her Leaf-Cutting factory was heavily influenced by Tomoe Gozen, a renowned OnnaBugeisha from the Genpei War (1180-1185). She served as the principal commander in several battles. A fierce fighter, Gozen led 300 female samurai into battle against 2,000 enemies and was one of only five warriors to survive. Paying homage to her strength, Poppi Moto embodies the spirit of


The Argumentive G-Girls

survival and power in women. These characters weave together Victorian aesthetics and diverse cultural influences, creating a tapestry that reflects the interconnectedness of history and human experience. The roses adorning Oona Bug-eisha's imagery were sketched at BBG last fall. I believe they are Wollerton Old Hall Roses. Their fragrance was delightful! I came across “Hildie Von Glowenworm's Recipe” on your blog page. I wonder what of those ingredients are your favorite, and who is Hilde Von Glowenworm? AT: Hmm… I have to say that is a very hard choice indeed…. But if I am honest, I would have to say, "Mind Gliding" from a cozy, comfy chair. I practice this very fine art every day, maybe thrice a day. Yes, It really is a wondrous way of traveling and very light on the pockets. Hildie Von Glowenworm's Recipe: Peppering Your Day with Delight… 1 – Greet pigeons with benevolence. They just might do the wibbly-wobbly dance for you. 2 – Learn a silly word daily, like Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia – Fear of the number 666. 3 – Now, banish that word from your mind! There really isn't any sense for such a silly word.

4 – Step in wet and soggy puddles as often as you can. Ideally, without the aid of goulashes! 5 – Take long bike rides, preferably uphill. This gives one a great sense of accomplishment. 6 – Learn a fine art, like MOOING or HOOTING! This is very good to woo the woe-be-me's away, especially on drizzly days. 7 – Join the very Secret and Hushhush Society of Foliaphiles! 8 – Acknowledge your Shadow more…meaning don't just talk to him on Sunny days. 9 – Practice your technique of Mind Gliding from a cozy, comfy chair every day, or even twice a day, if you are so inclined. It really is a wonderous way of traveling. 10 – Finally, you must practice your leaping and bounding atop your bed before wishing all the stars in the sky a very bonne nuit!

hind masks who love to argue for argument's sake. One's truth seems unimportant; rather, the focus is on winning. This is disheartening because truth should always be paramount in any discussion or debate. The image reflects the prevalence of eristic tendencies and the importance of valuing truth over winning. It also reminds us that what is considered truth to one person may not be true for another, highlighting the subjective nature of perspectives and the need for open-minded and respectful discourse.


Who is Hilda? Well, I would like to say she is me… but I will say I strive to be like her in every way I can. Tell us about The Argumentative G-Girls. What do you see in this photograph, and what can we learn from it? AT: In the photograph of The Argumentative GGirls from 2012, I see two little girls hiding be-





ELIZABETH CASSIDY ARTIST | ILLUSTRATOR | WRITER | PEACE LOVER “I am a lover of colors and movement, but I so appreciate the crispness of black & white and stillness. Whether I paint in watercolors or acrylics or draw in ink and colored pencils, my personal success comes from drawing people into my art and my world.” —E.C. Interview by Harryet Candee Harryet Candee: As you settle into your new life in Berkshire County, art studio n' all, have you had a chance to reflect on the incredible journey that brought you here? From your years in bustling New York City to the peaceful beauty of your current surroundings, you've experienced a world of contrasts. Can you tell us some differences and similarities you have observed and experienced? Elizabeth Cassidy: I think I will always be a New York City girl at heart, but I also love taking chances and trying something new. Honestly, I knew next to nothing about the Berkshires until one day, my husband, Walter, asked if I wanted to go live there. I felt stale where we were, and I think my art was also suffering. So, without giving it a second thought, I said, "Yes." Is it a big change? Absolutely. The scenery seems to be untouched in a lot of places. Where we were living, it was all about building up and cutting down trees. I don't recognize the town I grew up in, and 26 •FEBRUARY 2024 THE ARTFUL MIND

Photographs Courtesy of the Artist

it saddens me that they ended up displacing birds and animals who needed the forests. Life seems to be a little more laid back here, not that I feel it. I am one of these people who always has to be going and creating and discovering. I miss our beaches, but I am growing to appreciate the lakes around here. And everyone has a dog here! We're working on rescuing one. I know we made the right decision moving to the Berkshires. What do you think about when you reflect back on your time in the city? EC: I think living in the city was a great schoolroom for me. It might be a visual overload to many, but I loved exploring the city for all it had to offer. Each neighborhood has its own style and seeing the colors and designs and even the outfits that were adorned by the chic and hip people who lived there were great in helping me develop my artistic side because in Manhattan everything went with everything.

I think living in Manhattan taught me to: Be more fearless. The only one who has my artistic vision is me so whether it was the written word or an illustration, I learned to express myself and turn off the noise. Never let anybody make you feel small. I had to relearn how to paint and draw and when I look back at what I did back then, I saw me trying out my new voice. And over the years that voice got bigger, and more beautiful. Keep Learning. I will never say that I do not need to learn anything more about my art or artmaking. One teacher can change everything for you and your art. I have been so lucky to have such talented teachers share their knowledge on zoom calls and the majority of my teachers are from the west coast. So, if you want to learn something new, you can find it. Just ask Alexa nicely. The “Odd Sisters” series is exciting to me. Their distinct personalities and intricately de-

At Night He Could Hear Her Lost Voice Through the Walls

tailed backgrounds are genuinely inspiring. Tell us about this series, please. EC: Thanks. Glad you like the sisters. I was taking online art courses with Carla Sonheim, a gifted and talented teacher from Seattle, Washington. She has a guest artist, Lynne Whipple, who gives a class on faces. I am an abstract artist, so doing portraits is not my thing, but the course offered us the freedom to create, and what showed up on my papers were these very detailed illustrations of women. A blues singer, Me Too women, a grieving sister, a girl and her bunny, a woman dealing with humidity and her hair and a woman who turned into a tree. When I looked at them, I titled them The Odd Sisters with the tagline,"Even if you are a little odd, you'll always be a sister." I want them to represent all kinds of women and girls who are empowered or learning to discover their strengths. If I may brag for a second, two of the Odd Sisters, "The Lady No Longer Sings the Blues" and "What Humidity?"

were in a show at the BJ Spoke Gallery in Huntington, New York. What made me nearly faint was that the assistant curator from MOMA selected them for the exhibit. With your background in advertising, what of those skills might always be with you? Some things stay with us no matter what. EC: I think the most important skill I learned in my 30 years in the field was how to treat people. I was exposed to some of the best people I have ever met, and some became mentors. The one thing they all had in common was their respect for the people with whom they worked. And I am talking about very powerful people in the industry. I am also very organized (when I want to be) because of our workload. I became a list freak, and I still keep a list nearby. Continued on next page...

Three of The Odd Sisters THE ARTFUL MIND FEBRUARY 2024 • 27

Four of the Museum Cards

Your writing and artwork, whether commercial or personal, demonstrate your sensitivity and care in many directions. You have been attentive and consider yourself an activist, which has led you to create an "artist's statement" as a response. I am curious about some of your art reflecting the issues you felt were wrong and how you expressed your opinion. EC: Thanks again. It is nice when someone "gets me." I have always been a fighter for human rights. I do believe Maya Angelou said it perfectly, "The truth is, no one of us can be free until everybody is free." My parents taught us to accept and love the differences in the people we meet. I firmly believe, "You have to be taught to hate." I was not; that was the best gift my parents gave me and my siblings. That has always stayed with me. My logo for my Little Love letters: A Peaceful Revolution is an illustration I created of a heart with a peace sign inside it. In 2023, I had a fundraiser to raise money to help the people in Ukraine. I created small art collages that I sold online. I was thrilled that we raised nearly $1000.00 in a few days. I look at all the art I have created, and I know that 28 •FEBRUARY 2024 THE ARTFUL MIND

there is a thread running through most of it and that it was created by an activist who is now an artist and an artist who is still an activist. At one point in the '90s, you moved back to Long Island, and things changed for you. For some reason, you thought it was time to return to art. What was this in reaction to? And what steps did you take to get back into art for pure art's sake? EC: It turned out it wasn't a good move at first. The plans fell through, and it was the Universe looking out for me. My last two jobs in the advertising field showed me that I needed to get out. I was talking about good and decent bosses before. Well, I couldn't find them here. I did a lot of blogging for several women's sites and started interviewing writers and artists. I liked interviewing the artists, but I felt I should be the one creating art. I started playing with pastels and watercolors. I had no idea what I was doing. I went to FIT for fashion and advertising design. What did this have to do with fine art? So, I proclaimed myself to be a self-taught artist and carried on. I was trying anything and everything. A

Can You Please Turn It Up Two more of The Odd Sisters

more seasoned artist told me to pick a medium and stick with it. I just looked at him and said, "Watch me now." I started submitting my art to shows, joined an artist group, and had a few onewoman shows. I played with different mediums but was not in love with what I was creating. I was still looking for my artistic calling. How extensive and in what developmental stages did fine art unfold for you regarding Collage, Abstract painting, and illustrations? EC: When I started to work in all three of these mediums, I knew I was on the correct path. My fashion illustration degree helped me rediscover how much I loved the flow of the pen and really detailed work. I took painting classes in college, and at the start of the pandemic, I enrolled in online abstract painting courses. These courses were a lifesaver in more ways than one. They helped me develop my artistic voice. I learned more about painting and composition. I learned I did not like rules but worked with and around them. I played with collage years ago, but once I got more into them and the more magazines and books that came to my house, the more excited I

got with cutting, ripping, and gluing papers down and creating a whole new piece of art. During high school, I had a part-time marketing research job across the street from Bloomingdales on Madison, and I always found myself wandering through the store in amazement. I was only used to going to Alexander's in the Bronx with my mom. Much different. Eventually, my curiosity in this eye candy Bloomingdale's department store, so elegant, led me toward the inner workings, like what it would be like to get a real job in the advertising department. You were fortunate to work there and wonder what it was like. EC: Bloomingdale's was the place to shop, and other stores loathed us. People would actually get excited when I told them where I worked. It certainly seemed to be the right place at the right time. I was part of a great team, and strong friendships were made. We were young, and everything seemed to be almost perfect. And then we heard about this gay men's cancer. Everything changed when it became known as AIDS. The fear of our friends getting sick and the fear of people who

hated gays became even uglier. We still had to go to work, and we had to create catalogs that would cause people to overspend, and we had to worry about our colleagues. We marched. We wrote letters. We raised our voices for those who were losing theirs. We became caretakers, and we buried our friends. I remember at a memorial for my dear friend, Robert, who was also my hair stylist. One of his friends got up to speak. He looked around the room and said, "You can tell who Robert's close friends are. They are the ones with roots." We needed to find some humor in a time when there was too much death and hate. So, I would love to say that it was a fabulous time, but it made me more aware of becoming involved in the problems that evolved around hating people because of who they are. Or, in this case - who they were. The activist was born. Being an artist means that we need to be brave about getting our art out there and seen. Can you share a moment when you just went for it to get your art out there? EC: In 2018, I had a couple of greeting card lines: Continued on next page... THE ARTFUL MIND FEBRUARY 2024 • 29


Three of the One Liners of Faces

Two of the Museum Cards


Little Love Letters Front and back of card

The Queen is Not Amused

A Peaceful Revolution and The Odd Sisters. Nas sau County Museum of Art is a local art museum with a museum store. I decided to place a cold call to the museum's general manager. I told him that I was a greeting card designer. He invited me in, and the museum was having an exhibit called "True Colors." He thought my cards would work for the show, and I ended up designing cards for them from 2018 till we moved to Massachusetts in 2023. It was the best because he trusted me to create cards around the exhibits. I can never thank him enough for that trust. I became even more confident in my art. Going to an art school in the city is much to be appreciated. I went to SVA, and you went to FIT. We both learned that we had excellent formal art training and never took it for granted. What did you learn in FIT that shaped your future and, personally, will never forget? Favorite teacher? EC: Jerry McDaniel was my favorite advertising design teacher at FIT. He was very cool and wore

turtlenecks a lot. But, he reached into our young brains and left us with much knowledge to take out into the world. I had another design teacher whose name escapes me. We were to create an advertising campaign for soft goods like wedding gowns. So when everyone announced their ideas, I said I wanted to do my campaign on Planned Parenthood. That poor, sweet man nearly passed out. Some faculty tried to talk me out of it, but I stood firm. They came around, and I have to say that it was a terrific campaign. It is good to stand up for yourself. I would love to hear about your adventures when not in school. What did you do for fun? EC: I actually went back to school, but not your typical school. Learning new things is fun for me. I took a comedy writing class through the Learning Annex in Manhattan. My friend David took the course with me, and I discovered that I loved writing jokes. I thought I would be a comedy writer. Our teacher had other plans. Our last class was to perform in front of a live audience in a

comedy club. I did NOT buy it until our teacher explained that only we knew how we wanted our jokes to sound. So I somehow got up my nerve and performed for the first time in front of a room of strangers. And I liked it. Sort of. I performed between 3 and 4 years and wrote for two WNBC radio shows. One of my prized possessions is a signed rejection letter from SNL, letting me down gently. I blame Tian Fey for that snub. 🙂 I also reinvented myself a few more times. I am a Reiki practitioner, a certified creativity coach, a national blogger, and a workshop facilitator. No wonder I am exhausted Regarding early education, weren't we all diagnosed with not paying attention, not doing homework, and not listening to the teacher? I was that kinda' kid. I only wanted to do art. How did it go for you? EC: I think we had similar childhoods. I can honestly say that I got into a lot of trouble. Somebody had to, and I raised my hand. When we were Continued on next page... THE ARTFUL MIND FEBRUARY 2024 • 31


Five samples of Little Love Letter cards One Liners of Faces

learning to write, I decided I wouldn't say I liked letters. I had no interest in learning to write. Whenever it was time to write a composition, I handed in a drawing. The teacher and the nervous principal were not amused. They made a deal with me. I could hand in a drawing if I wrote a story about it. It was not an immense success. I kept drawing. Fifteen years ago, I was diagnosed with ADHD. There was no surprise there, and finding out what I knew was liberating. I look at ADHD as another ability and not a disability. I could concentrate on my art for hours, and that's not a bad thing. I did finally begin to like letters except for the lowercase Growing up, I was surrounded by families focused on getting their kids to get good grades, get a regular job, get married, and have lots of' kids, never mind culture and the arts. My parents, like yours, did have an interest in the arts. Did this bolster give you the confidence to step closer to your hidden talents as a future artist? EC: I had a lovely mother who said she always wanted a daughter to become a nun and would look in my direction. Years later, she said that she was kidding. It was too late. I lost about six years of sleep over that. I would have loved to see my father become a writer, but life got in the way. Seven kids will do that, but we saw Broadway plays and traveled to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The city was the most beautiful place to me, and it still holds a lot of memories of my life there, from St. Mark's Place to the Upper East Side. When we were old enough, a friend and I would take the train to the museums, and we both became art majors. The exposure really helped inspire us, and I thank my parents for making me fall in love with the city. 32 • FEBRUARY 2024 THE ARTFUL MIND

Were you then, somehow getting art materials on things you weren't supposed to, like on the walls, but even that was okay with your parents? EC: I think my parents were okay with me using the walls as my canvases. I know it all got washed over or painted over. I wonder if Picasso's mother did that to him. Ya' gotta have a sense of humor to get through life. And you naturally can make people feel good with your sense of humor. What instance have you needed to work your humor that made things better? EC: I think your first sentence sums it up perfectly. I had a father who had a brilliant sense of humor. So, my exposure was early on in life. As I got older, I used humor to keep a barrier between me and people I perceived as school bullies. I think people think if you are funny, then life is easy. One of the reasons I stopped doing stand-up was because of the drug and alcohol abuse and the pettiness and anger of some of my fellow comics. I think I do better on my own with one person or a small group. I am naturally shy, and I love the term: extroverted introverts. Back to the Berkshires, how do you spend your leisurely evenings? EC: Leisurely? I am looking forward to that. We moved into our house at the end of June and got right to work on the house, and we haven't stopped. We love the house and even had a holiday party with our new neighbors. I am lucky enough to have an art studio, a writing room, and two cats who have finally stopped fighting each other. We do go for walks and visit the ponds and museums.

Please leave us with some wise and intuitive one-liners and assertive statements you have come up with that goes with the cards you hand out. EC: Thanks for asking me about the one thing I am most proud of in my artistic life. It started as a way to honor the 49 people killed at the Pulse nightclub in 2016. I knew I had to do something and do something to help heal myself and the people around me. Little Love Letters: A Peaceful Revolution was my answer. I took my art and wrote affirmations/positive thoughts printed on small cards. I asked people to leave them in public places where a complete stranger could find them and know that they matter. I was amazed and so grateful at the number of people who wanted to spread love in a time of rising hate in this world. We were doing great until the world shut down due to the pandemic. My Little Love Letters: A Peaceful Revolution cards are getting a chance at a second life here, and I look forward to my cards being part of the landscape in the Berkshires. Here are a few of my favorite lines: "Being perfect is overrated. Just be yourself. You can thank me later." "Never give up on yourself, and I will never give up on you. Promise." “Put on your dancing shoes and show the world a thing or two. Be Magnificent in all you do." Thank you, Elizabeth.


In The Cool


Clock Tower Artists Business Center • Studio #307

75 South Church Street, Pittsfield, MA 34 • FEBRUARY 2024 THE ARTFUL MIND





The beauty of fresh fallen snow brings with it a postcard setting but also the winter season. I have always loved the natural beauty of it all. As a young man, after a fresh snowfall, I would put on my boots and winter clothes and take a walk in the woods at the end of my street. I was always alone with nature. I often took my camera to remember those days. Fresh snow didn't last long in the woods due to animal and human footprints, fallen branches and the heat of the sun melting the snow so I tried to go there as soon as I could so I could remember these special times. Donald Longo Facebook – Don Longo, Instagram – don longo Email -



My two careers, art and psychoanalysis, concern what can be said and what remains mute. In painting, collage and constructions of wood and iron I’m interested in the eloquence of the materials. Avoiding a recognizable style in favor of experimentation, I explore the possibilities of the media. Our world and culture are dissolving. Art can create precious islands of meaning and joy. Mark will be showing his work at Hotel on North, February 2 - March 31, 2024, 297 North St., Pittsfield, MA 01201 Mark V. Mellinger, Ph.D.914-260-7413, 75 S Church St, Pittsfield MA,

Pastels, oils, acrylics, and watercolors…abstract and representational…..landscapes, still lifes and portraits….a unique variety of painting techniques and styles….you will be transported to another world and see things in a way you never have before…. join us and experience something different. Painting classes continue on Monday and Wednesday mornings 10-1:30 pm at the studio and Thursday mornings out in the field. These classes are open to all...come to one or come again if it works for you. All levels and materials are welcome. Personal critiques are available. Kate will be showing “My Garden” series of paintings at 510 Hudson Gallery, 510 Warren St, Hudson, NY. Feb 1- through the 25th. Reception is Saturday, February 10, 2 - 6pm. Front Street Gallery, Housatonic, MA. Gallery open by appointment or chance, anytime. 413528-9546 at home or 413-429-7141 (cell)

Ruby Aver

Orchestra Seat for Degas, Acrylic on canvas, 25” x 30” Instagram: rdaver2. Housatonic Studio open by appointment: 413-854-7007





“Musings on Nature” In the Anna and Frank Henry Leonhardt Galleries at the Berkshire Botanical Garden

February 9 - February 25, 2024 Opening Reception: February 9, 5-7pm Gallery hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 11-4pm 5 West Stockbridge Road Stockbridge, Massachusetts 01262 Member artists were challenged to interpret their concept of what nature means to them. Is it colors, textures, the amazing beauty of life in nature? Is it the complexity as well as the simple beauty of spring tulips, fall leaves and sunsets? The artists will tell us what moves them in nature!

Art on Main Gallery 38 Main Street, West Stockbridge, MA 01266 For more information about the exhibit and current Art on Main Gallery Shows and hours go to our website

Born and raised in the captivating Berkshires, Sally Tiska Rice possesses artistic prowess that breathes life into her canvases. As a versatile multi-media artist, Sally seamlessly employs a tapestry of techniques, working in acrylics, watercolors, oil paints, pastels, collages containing botanicals and mixed media elements. Her creative spirit draws inspiration from the idyllic surroundings of her rural hometown, where she resides with her husband Mark and cherished pets. Sally's artistic process is a dance of spontaneity and intention. With each stroke of her brush, she composes artwork that reflects her unique perspective. Beyond her personal creations, Sally also welcomes commissioned projects, turning heartfelt visions into tangible realities. Whether it's capturing the essence of individuals, beloved pets, cherished homes, or sacred churches, she pours her soul into each personalized masterpiece. Sally's talent has garnered recognition both nationally and internationally. Her career includes a remarkable 25-year tenure at Crane Co., where she lent her hand-painted finesse to crafting exquisite stationery. Sally is a member of the Clock Tower Artists of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the Guild of Berkshire Artists, the Berkshire Art Association, and the Becket Arts Center. Follow on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. Sally’s work is on the gallery walls of the Clock Tower, Open Monday-Friday 9:00-5:00 pm for self-guided tours. Sally Tiska Rice - Berkshire Rolling Hills Art, 75 South Church St, , 3rd Floor, Studio 302, Pittsfield, MA. 1-413-446-8469.;, Fine Art Prints (Pixels) - Sally Tiska Rice, Twitter - Sally Tiska Rice, LinkedIn- Sally Tiska Rice, Instagram - Sally Tiska Rice, YouTube - Sally Tiska Rice TikTok - Sally Tiska Rice.

ARTFULMIND@YAHOO.COM What are you waiting for! Time to show your art! ...413. 645. 4114







Growing up on the Southside of Chicago in the 60s was a history rich and troubled time. As a youth, playing in the streets demanded grit. Teaching Tai chi for the last 30 years requires a Zen state of mind. My paintings come from this quiet place that exhibit the rich grit of my youth . Movement, shape and color dominate, spontaneously combining raw as well as delicate impulses. Ruby Aver Housatonic Studio open by appointment: 413-854-7007,, Instagram: rdaver2


“It is with the reading of books the same as with looking at pictures; one must, without doubt, without hesitations, with assurance, admire what is beautiful.” —Vincent Van Gogh 38 •FEBRUARY 2024 THE ARTFUL MIND

For the past few years my professional painting career has led me to more commission work. While I still paint and love doing house portraits, other scenes have also become part of my portfolio…. retirement paintings including special buildings and people, scenes where a proposal happened (and he said YES), gorgeous sunsets on Bailey Island, landscape views from windows, lots of wedding venues, college paintings for new graduates, business paintings…the list goes on. Each painting is special, personal, and meaningful. The process is easy. If you are local to the Berkshires, I will visit the home/site, take many photos and do a few sketches on site. If not, I will work from your photos. Drawing is the next phase and where your input is valuable…what to include, what to leave out or move, season, time of day, pets in or out? So many fun things to consider when creating and personalizing your treasure and future heirloom. Once the drawing is approved, I paint. The painting process will take about a week…. most of the time is spent in the preparation phase before the painting begins. Is this a surprise gift for someone? I love surprises and do it all the time! I can be very stealth at taking photos. Or are you nervous that the scene might not be exactly what the recipient wants? A gift certificate is perfect, then I will work directly with the recipient. Be in touch and I will answer all your questions. And check out the “House Portrait” pages of my website…. lots of information and details. Marguerite Bride – Home Studio in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Call 413-841-1659;;; Facebook: Marguerite Bride Watercolors.


THE FIRE REMEMBERS Zack Lobdell's exhibition “The Fire Remembers”, will open on Friday, March 1. This will be the first show on view at Rooted in Salem, a new arts destination situated in Southern Washington County, New York. Upon entering the gallery, visitors will be embraced by the warm glow of fire imagery, casting enchanting shadows that dance across the canvas. The canvases on display radiate with the essence of a bonfire scene, where spirits and souls come together in perfect harmony. Silhouettes of figures, both seen and unseen, gather around the flickering flames, creating an ethereal ambiance that captivates the senses. This exhibition is a moment frozen in time, where the mystical and the mundane intertwine, inviting visitors to the gallery to immerse themselves in the enchanting world of Lobdell’s art. Each piece tells a unique story, inviting you to explore the depths of your imagination and connect with the hidden magic that lies within. Zack Lobdell’s prolific work reaches back over 20 years. Never settling into a single style or medium, he believes the keys to creativity and inspiration are exploration, experimentation, and consistent evolution. Zack’s work has been collected, exhibited, and represented internationally, including Singapore, London, Miami, New York City and throughout the United States. He can be found in his home and studio in Washington County, New York. The exhibit will open at Rooted in Salem gallery, located at 196 North Main Street in Salem, NY on Friday, March 1, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Rooted in Salem is a contemporary art gallery that offers a dynamic platform that aims to amplify the voices of talented and inspired artists. Located among the enchanting landscapes of upstate New York, the gallery is nestled in the town of Salem, a destination for art and culture. Rooted in Salem 196 North Main Street, Salem, NY. Instagram: @rooted_in_salem. Follow Zack Lobdell: Instagram: @zacklobdell


For the Love of Art Acrylic on canvas

Lady Sings the Blues Acrylic on canvas, 12” x 16”

Rhapsody in Blue Acrylic on canvas, 16” x 20”

“Each person I meet intrigues me with their different stories and life experiences. My paintings are a dance of spontaneity and intention based on observation. With each stroke of my brush, I try to create a feeling, a story, a challenge to the imagination of the viewer.” My Funny Valentine Acrylic on canvas, 18” x 24”

— Mary Ann Yarmosky | THE ARTFUL MIND FEBRUARY 2024 • 39


Landscape, Pastel

Please visit— To see more of the Artist’s Landscapes, Still-life, Portraiture and more.

Carolyn M. Abrams

"Seeing Red" oils/cold wax medium

Atmospheric and Inspirational Art MEMBER GUILD OF BERKSHIRE ARTISTS

Look for me at various venues in the Berkshires this winter! Come take a class with me at Berkshire South and Lenox Community Centers




Sally Tiska Rice

Red Hearts, Acrylic, 16” x 20 ” BERKSHIRE ROLLING HILLS ART CLOCK TOWER ARTISTS Studio 302, 3rd floor 75 South Church St, Pittsfield, MA (413)-446-8469


Time Flies • Get Pictures




ASTROLOGY FOR CREATORS when it exacts at 1:37am ET. This is where the sexual passion of Mars meets with the love of Venus. If you are courting someone at this time, the tension might build until the 22nd. For creators, watch for what this combination in Aquarius is making popular during this time. The last part of the month might help soothe things like a cold shower as Pisces season will begin on the 18th followed by a Full Moon in Virgo on the 24th at 7:31 am ET. This feels like the collective focus will shift after all that passionate or conflictual energy to, focusing on practical matters, health, and healing.

Astrology for Creators February 2024

Fireworks (Western Tropical Astrology. Time Zone EST/EDT) D.M. MUSGRAVE Overview: While January 20th, 2024, introduced Pluto back into Aquarius as a celestial motion that will impact society for 20 years, February will be the month that we start familiarizing ourselves with it. What is important for us as creators is to pay attention to how different planets that interact with Pluto this month give us hints as to the trends that will take place. We should also look out for how the Aquarius area of our natal charts will transform our relationship to power and transformation through these transits. So far, we are seeing technological advancements that will impact the art world such as A.I. Art and more power shifting to humanitarians. I anticipate that the institutional structure of the arts may also shift. The first week of February may bring you clarity of thought or a message about what Pluto in Aquarius will mean as Mercury will become conjunct with Pluto on February 5th in the morning. We will have a New Moon in Aquarius at 5:58pm ET which might highlight more awareness. This moon is a great time to set positive intentions for how Pluto in Aquarius will manifest in your life. Valentine's Day will be significant as Mars and Pluto will become conjunct in Aquarius early in the morning on the 14th (although it may be felt as soon as Mars enters Aquarius on the 13th). This combination has the potential to be explosive but, also passionate. For the romantics, this combination can ignite sexual desire however it is a volatile energy to be cautious of. This is an energy that could transform love with passion or destroy it with harsh actions. I am also deeply concerned about the ignition of conflict or war-like tactics around this time. For creators, pay attention to what passions are brought up within the collective around this conjunction, it could give a hint as to where to focus your creative practice. A few days later in the very early morning of the 17th Venus will then become conjunct with that same Pluto. This feels like a story playing out where something either passionate or harsh happens around Valentine’s Day to be followed up by love and compassion a few days later. This combination of Pluto with Venus also has the potential to express a gothic or forbidden type of love which might be exciting but, be cautious it doesn’t become toxic for you. As an artist, I will be paying attention to how Venus will be giving me hints about aesthetics and my art practice around this time. It is also a unique energy to express onto a canvas. After that, Venus will be in an almost conjunction with Mars (within 1-2 degrees) until February 22nd

Rising Sign Analysis for November: Aries Be aware that this month a lot of intense energy will be happening around friends and networks. There is a potential here for sexual passion to be ignited with a friend. If this energy doesn’t manifest this way, it could be focused on transforming your dreams. Use the positive manifestation of the conjunctions of this month (especially the 22nd) to ignite a fire toward achieving your goals. Taurus The focus this month will be on transforming your public image, legacy and or career. You will likely have a passion reignited in this area of life. The best use of this energy is to create a transformation towards what you love and are passionate about. Be cognizant that this energy can be volatile and there may be some conflict in this area of life as well. Nothing worth pursuing is without some obstacles. Gemini Something might rock your worldview this month changing your perspectives or life philosophy. Another way this energy could manifest is through transformational experiences involving higher education and/or something foreign, like long-distance travel. If you have been feeling stuck in these areas of life something may get highlighted for you around the 22nd that will bring the passionate fire back or help to direct you. Cancer The transits of this month may bring some intense experiences around it. There is a possibility of intense intimacy or sexual encounters. There could be something transformational involving shared resources like money. Death and or an intense spiritual experience could make itself known in some way. Leo Pay attention to your long-term relationships and partnerships this month. There is energy here to bring passion but, it could easily shift into something painful. It’s like playing with fire! A transformation in a relationship is likely. If you are in a long-term commitment, use the conjunctions (especially the 22nd) to bring the fire back to re-ignite the relationship. Virgo Some possibilities for this month’s transits are transformation in health, care for others, work, daily routine, or pets. You may get insight into a new job potential for you that involves caring for others or is health-related. Use the dates outlined in the Overview to get clues as to how to transform these areas of your life. Libra You have the potential this month for a passionate ro-

mance or something intense with children like playful fun and/or explosive creativity. This is an energy you will want to be careful with as it can tip over and be “too much fun” very quickly. On the other hand, this could have the energy of a whirlwind romance or a blast doing what you enjoy. If your children (or creations) are trying your patience, know that things will become calmer at the end of the month. Scorpio Pay attention to your home this month. You may feel passionate about transforming it in a new aesthetic way. Another manifestation of February’s energy may be around your mother or family. This could look like intense arguments and compassionate forgiveness with a nurturing parent or other family members. These transits are also happening in your deep emotions. A good cry might be just what you need! Sagittarius If you have siblings, this month might ignite both expressions of anger and love. If you don’t have siblings, this energy may play out within your neighbours. Be aware that you have transformative power with your communications to express the full range of emotions this month. Your words have power right now so, use them wisely to assist others. Capricorn Pay attention to any way you are transforming your relationship with money this month. These transits highlight ways to shift your relationship with it. Your self-worth is likely going to be a focus as well. If things get tough, seek a blessing through siblings, neighbours, your children, or kind words from others. You also may find it easier to think/speak kind words to yourself. Aquarius You may have a lot going on with your body this month, so plan some extra time for care and rest. This energy might also enlighten who you are at a core level. Aquarius is a sign that has a bit more potential for a whirlwind romance this month, just be careful to protect your heart. Pisces The transits of this month are highlighting your mental health and spirituality. This may be a great time to get away to a retreat or spend time in solitude. Pay attention to any messages you receive that assist you in transforming your inner being. If things get tough this month, know that potential blessings could come from siblings, neighbours, or kind words. I would love to hear how these predictions manifested for you or what you noticed in the world that aligned with the planet’s transits. Please share them on the Facebook group “Astrology for Creators” (URL: It helps me to know what you would like to receive in my column. Do you prefer it when I focus on world predictions, horoscopes for the rising sign, or both? If you would like to offer feedback, please email me at: Please join the discussion at: D.M. Musgrave is an artist, energy worker and hypnotherapist. You can contact her through her email and websites at:





JANE GENNARO Jane Gennaro lives in Claverack and New York. Solo exhibitions include the Fashion Institute of Technology, Klapper Center for Fine Arts at Adelphi University, and the World Monuments Fund Gallery. Locally, she’s exhibited at Time & Space Ltd. in Hudson. Gennaro’s solo plays have been produced by the American Place Theatre, the Culture Project’s Impact Festival, and the Toyota Comedy Festival. Her work has been reviewed in the New York Times and featured in New York Magazine. She has voiced audiobooks, video games, documentaries and hundreds of commercials. Gennaro’s satirical commentaries aired on NPR’s All Things Considered. Locally, she’s exhibited at TSL and The Claverack Library. Jane Gennaro


Nina Lipkowitz, an artist who is known for experimenting with different mediums is unveiling a few new surprises in her latest exhibition. She will be showing her new kinetic, abstract, clay collages; some rattle when moved. This new body of work will be shown along with multi-medium work on paper and canvas. Lipkowitz has circled back to her earthy and earthly beginnings. She began her career carving stone, exploring form and surface before moving onto clay; both hand built and wheel thrown. Later she discovered her passion for line, color, paint creating wild iPad prints. Her most recent body of work combines it all; form, surface, line and color. Her hand built Clay Worlds are heavily textured, glazed and polychromed, some in vivid, some in subtle color reminiscent of her multi-medium work on paper and canvas. Her forms seem to take on a metaphysical significance. Each piece is both a meditation and a work of improvisation. This new work is once again inspired by and mined from Lipkowitz’ rich, unconscious, creative world. OTHER WORLDS — Friday, March 1-Sunday, March 31 510 Warren St., Gallery Hudson New York Artist opening, reception, Saturday, March 2, 2-6 Closing reception Saturday, March 30, 2-6 Gallery hours: Fridays and Saturdays 12 to 6, Sundays 12 to 5 /

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CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH MUSIC CELTIC BAROQUE BAND MAKARIS On Sunday, March 17, at 4 PM at Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in, Great Barrington, CEWM will present “Celtic Baroque Band Makaris – A Bach Family Concert with an Irish Twist”. In his dance suites, J.S. Bach ventures into Spanish sarabandes, French bourrées, and British gigues. He and family members delighted in arranging Celtic and Scottish folk music. They will be joined by Beethoven and Haydn who also forayed into Irish folk music with their own arrangements. Makaris formed in 2018 to explore the broad musical heritage of Scotland and the following year released its disc Wisps in the Dell, to critical international acclaim (“Absolutely wonderful… one of the very best releases of 2019 – MusicWeb International.) A makar (pl. makaris) was a royal court troubadour of medieval Scotland and the program provides a lush sampling from the ensemble’s collection. “You can’t help but feel like you’ve suddenly traveled back in time and are enjoying a tankard of old Scottish ale inside a seedy establishment.” – Classical Music Sentinel As of this season, CEWM has resumed its hors d’oeuvres and wine receptions. Audience members are invited to meet the artists and enjoy beverages and bites by Authentic Eats by Oleg on stage at the Afterglow receptions. Join us! In addition to offering live in-person concerts, curated online performances will be available to accommodate geographically remote listeners and newly expanded virtual followers. “CEWM patrons have learned that sooner or later they’ll be blindsided by a performance so sublime it will defy explanation.” - The Berkshire Edge Tickets, $52 for Orchestra and Mezzanine and $25 for Balcony seats, can be purchased at or by calling 800-843-0778. Prorated Season subscriptions for the remainder of 2024 ($185 Regular, $160 Senior), are available until February 11 at We also offer a virtual option—tickets are $28 for individual programs, delivered to your email address.

Berkshire Scenes


Perfect gifts to show friendship and love. Find charms that delight and fascinate. Hand-made beaded jewelry, plus there’s so much more to see on Laura’s online site! — Custom pieces welcome! —

Loopey LaLa’s Please visit:


Escape into Chocolate


The Prodigal Dog PART 5

The Elephant There is nothing inherently dangerous about caring for an elephant, if you know what you are doing. And even if you don’t know what you are doing, everything having to do with the care and maintenance of elephants can be carried out with nearly casual indifference. But even the elephants' obvious deep wisdom, and their basic decency and consideration of others, especially their humans, is no protection against the physics of their weight and bulk. I have heard that a battleship, moving at the rate of one hundredth of a mile an hour, can utterly demolish any casual structure it might inadvertently come in contact with, whereas a ping pong ball traveling a hundred miles an hour will not do much damage, even to a squirrel it might happen to hit. So it is an important axiom that one should never place oneself, even for a moment, in any small space between an elephant, and an object, like a brick wall, or even a wooden wall for that matter. Elephants like to move slowly, as if they had to make mathematical calculations and measurements before taking a step to the left or right, and if there happens to be three feet or more between yourself, and the elephant, you have nothing to fear, but if you are wedged between the wall of the elephant side, and a wall of any kind, then your are one deep elephant inhale away from death. This dangerous situation of being wedged between an elephant and a wall hardly ever happens, except in the environment of an itinerant circus, and it nearly happened to Valeria one summer day. Even though it never actually happened, but only nearly happened, it became one of those passing and fleeting possibilities in life, of the sort that give rise to symbolic and significant dreams. About lunch time Valeria was riding her bicycle. It was a new bicycle, new for her that is, but actually quite old. It was one of a collection of bicycles and even a few motorbikes and motorcycles that were collected by the carnival employees in the early morning just before they all departed for a new location. These various assorted means of personal conveyance were often left behind by their owners when, after the visit to the carnival ended, they forgot how they had come, and talking and laughing with friends, walked home. Late in the evening it might happen that, as they snuggled down in bed late at night, the image of their bike resting contentedly against the red and white stripes of a tent,

would rise up in their mind. With a shock they would rise up in bed for a moment, and think “I left my bicycle at the circus, and I didn’t bother to lock it up. I better go and get it. But it is past midnight, and surely it will still be there in the morning.” In the morning, walking back down the road that was so crowded the day before, they encounter a vast empty field, with not a single structure of the day before. Here and there papers and trash blow about in the breeze. The ground is completely trampled, and one sees those deep holes in the ground, like wounds in the earth, where the tent spikes had been. And as for any bicycle, nothing of the sort could be seen. It was one of these accidentally abandoned, and repurposed bicycles Valeria was riding that morning, on the day when she was almost killed by the one old elephant belonging to the carnival. It was a three speed, but the shifter did not work and neither did the brakes. Without any brakes, she had to anticipate all her stops, and she used her foot on the ground to slow down and stop. Her shoes, which were hand-me-down sneakers, hardly lasted even a few weeks, because of being used for brakes. Except for her mother’s complaints about the destruction of her foot wear, absolutely nobody paid any attention to what Valeria might be doing from morning till night, or what dangerous situations she might get herself into, except, for some unknown reason, old Mr. Master’s who owned the circus, and was the boss of everyone, and everything. The dirt path she was riding on was a very big circle running outside the circumference of the tents and wagons, and as she passed the elephant she heard the raspy croaking sound of Edmund, the carnival barker; he was waving and calling to her. Edmund’s voice had been destroyed from years of shouting encouragement to the crowd. He was having a severe attack of rheumatism, and he began beseeching Valeria to stop her biking and help him with his numerous tasks, because, on top of his duties as a barker, he had thousands of odd jobs to do every day from morning till night. Edmund was secretly jealous of Valeria, because, being only 12, she was free to ride her bike all day long, and nobody ever asked her for anything. Valeria stopped her bike with her left foot, and laid it down in the grass, because it had no kickstand. “Please fill up this bucket with water, and wash down Bruno’s back side won’t you dear, my own backside simply will not bend this morning.” As he said this, he made an effort to move slightly, and contorted his dried up wrinkled prune-like face in theatrical agony. Valeria, who was happy and anxious to do anything she was asked, even noxious projects like the washing down of Bruno’s backside, began to fill up a bucket with water from a nearby pump, but she was interrupted by the owner of the carnival, who we have mentioned earlier. He was way off in the distance, but could be easily recognized because he was round, dressed only in a white hat, suit and shoes, set off with a red scarf and red socks. Although he was far away in the distance he was shouting and waving to the barker, and saying, “Leave her alone Edmund, don’t be bothering her.” Valeria shouted to the man in white, “It’s ok Mr. Masters, I want to be…of use.” By way of an answer the man in white said nothing, put his hands on his hips, turned and walked away, thus indicating that, in this one instance, Valeria could do the bidding of the Barker. Valeria washed down the elephant, front, back,

and sides, and talked to him affectionately the entire time. She was saying, “Do you prefer being washed down like this with soap and hot water, or would you prefer to be fed apples?” Bruno did not answer the question. He was thinking it was a meaningless question, and was simply banter, so he remained silent in his mind. Later, thinking over what Valeria had said, he thought ‘Asking me if I prefer apples to carrots would be a meaningful question but to choose between….’ and at this point Valeria suddenly said, “Which do you prefer, apples or carrots, Bruno?” She said this because she could hear clearly in her mind, the words Bruno was thinking in his head. Neither Bruno, or for that matter Valeria thought there was anything odd about such a conversation, because, to them, it was just the usual order of things. Valeria simply assumed that everyone could hear what Bruno was thinking and she only found it odd that sometimes people seemed to be hard of hearing, or not paying attention to things going on around them. There is nothing really odd about Valeria’s assumptions about hearing Bruno’s voice in her head. After all, doesn’t everyone automatically assume that what they see is what everyone else sees, what one hears is the same as what everyone also hears, and more to the point, doesn’t everyone assume that what they feel in their innermost being, is what everyone else feels in their innermost being as well? No matter how many times one is forced, yet again to realize that nothing could be further from the truth, yet we persist with the assumption, because how else is one to understand the world. And so Valeria knew, without Edmund instructing her, that the next thing she was supposed to do was to lead Bruno by his tether, to his abode, which was a huge shipping container with numerous holes poked in it, and a wood ramp leading up to its entrance. Valeria had never done this before and so simply walked into the entrance with Bruno following along behind, but he stopped short suddenly when she heard the frantic shouts of the man in the white suit and red socks, who for some reason had remained in the vicinity. “Stop Valeria, not head first, never head first with the… with Bruno.” That was the rule of elephant housing, the elephant must always be backed in, with the trainer always on the outside, never on the inside, for to go in head first created a situation too dreadful to imagine, especially with one such as Bruno, whose walllike sides practically touched the walls of his home. Mr. Masters came running up and, trying not to alarm or frighten Valeria, whom you must remember was only 12, he explained the physics and geometry of the elephant house. Then he went over to have a little chat with Edmund, the carnival barker, and though his voice was subdued, and he said very little, the suppressed rage in his voice led one to really wonder if there was not some other issue agitating his heart. This encounter with Edmund and the elephant was the thing that sparked Valeria’s dream, a dream to be forever remembered, the kind of dream that becomes a marker and a guide post in life. What the dream was we shall see next month. —-RICHARD BRITELL, JANUARY 2024


BRUCE MURPHY | Represented by Carrie Haddad Gallery Prices and sizes upon request | BruceMurphy/Art on instagram | Bruce Murphy on Facebook



Bobby Miller 28 Greenwood Circle, Egremont, MA 01230 508 - 237 - 9585 By Appointment Only

Deborah H Carter Not Enough Time for Love Upcycled Wearable Art @deborah_h_carter Model/Hair/Make Up: Tristeny Morgan Clock Tower Artists Pittsfield MA Represented by the WIT Gallery

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