THE ARTFUL MIND THE SOURCE FOR PROMOTING the ARTS SINCE 1994
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JANE FELDMAN
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JANUARY 10 - 28, 2017 Atlantic Gallery
548 West 28th Street, New York, NY 10001
THE ARTFUL MIND ARTZINE 2017
JANUARY / FEBRUARY issue
TO THE FUTURE! much happiness, love and peace to all, and cheers to our wonderful community of artists JOEL HOTCHKISS UPLIFTING ART FORMS Interview...H. Candee
SUZI BANKS BAUM WRITER, MAKER, MOTHER Interview...H. Candee... 26 GINA COLEMAN & MISTY BLUES BAND Interview...Jane Feldman Photography by Jane Feldman...36
ADAM GUDEON ILLUSTRATOR AND WRITER Interview...H. Candee...42
EVE SCHATZ LAWYER
NELLIE RUSTIK OPERA SINGER Interview...H. Candee...48
BERKSHIRE HANDMADE Claudia D’Alessandro....56
PAINTIN’ THE TOWN Photography and Event coverage by Natalie Tyler
FICTION: THE MAN WHO CLIMBED STAIRS Richard Britell ...39 Grandma Becky’s Recipes Laura Pian ... 43
Contributing Writers and Monthly Columnists Claudia D’Alessandro Richard Britell, Laura Pian, Natalie Tyler Photographers Edward Acker, Lee Everett, Jane Feldman Sabine von Falken, Alison Wedd Publisher Harryet Candee
Editorial Proofreading Kris Galli Advertising and Graphic Design Harryet Candee
Quote Meister Bruce MacDonald
Mailing Address: Box 985, Great Barrington, MA 01230
firstname.lastname@example.org 413 854 4400 ALL MATERIAL due the 5th of the month prior to publication
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. Disclaimer rights available upon request. Serving the Art community with the intention of enhancing communication and sharing positive creativity in all aspects of our lives. We at The Artful Mind are not responsible for any copyrights of the artists, we only interview
2 • JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017 THE ARTFUL MIND
Time passes and changes must happen. Old must give way to new. And new directions must be pursued. After 16 years, we have decided to close The Music Store. While we would prefer to pass the reins to a more energetic, more visionary ownership who could take this business in a new direction (and inquiries are certainly welcome), but the Swan Song has begun and we are making plans to close. Liquidation begins on January 2, 2017, and will end in on February 1. Everything must go, and everything (except consignments!!) will be on sale. Some of the highlights of what will be available for one more month are: - Undermountain Ukuleles' lovely A/E Flame Maple Soprano, a big voice in a small, appealing package with the pro K&K Aloha Twin preamp to amplify the loveliness and now, also, - Undermoutain Guitars: steel and classical handmade deliciousness! - our own Dr. Easy's Drunk Bay Cigar Box guitars, simply the most amazing bang for a box ever heard and featuring ten brand new boxes so far for 2016, - The Rowe Stick Dulcimers - strum sticks par extraordinaire, provided for sale and for donation to outreach and Veteran's programs, - the lovely Stockbridge made Serenity Bamboo Flutes and Walking Stick/Cane flutes and - Whitmer Acoustic Guitars, lovingly made one at a time in Pittsfield from fine tone woods and - Don Waite's Gadjo Guitars - gorgeous and daring for a KILLER price! The Music Store has, for sixteen years,'enjoyed helping the community, near and far to make music. And this is a rewarding and satisfying enterprise for us. We look forward to continuing this mission into the second half of our second decade. And, as always, we offer wonderful musical instruments and accessories at competitive pricing. Come and join the fun . . . Going fast are . . . Guild Guitars - Light, powerful, affordable, beautiful SOLID woods, gorgeous tone! Beautiful Breedlove Guitars, including Koa, Zircote and Ebony Limited Editions, The Gypsy Kings' inspired GK Studio Ltd., and the Dealer's Choice Award Winner Oregon Concert! TERRIFIC UKULELES! 60+ DIFFERENT models: Soprano, Concert, Tenor and Baritone, acoustic and acoustic/electric, six string, resonator, the Maccaferrilike Makala Waterman Uke (made all of plastic for easy portability almost anywhere!) the remarkable U-Bass, and the Solid Body Uke Bass prototype by the Magic Fluke Co.! How about a Cordoba Cuatro? Or Guitarlele? Or Gypsy Kings' Ltd. Edition? Experience the haunting sound of High Spirits Native American Flutes! How about a West African Djembe? Try a 'Closeout Corner' instrument to suit almost any budget.
ALVAREZ GUITARS - great tone and great value. Breedlove - beautiful, American, sustainable. And so many more brands and types, including Luthier Handmade Instruments from $150-$5000 . . . . Ever heard of Dr. Easy’s Drunk Bay Cigar Boxes? Acoustic/electric cigar box guitars, exquisitely made, which bring the past into the present with a delightful punch, acoustically AND plugged in! You can even hear them in concert if you catch Dr. Easy's act in local venues! Harmonicas, in (almost) every key (try a Suzuki Hammond ‘Mouth Organ’). Picks (exotic, too!), strings (!!), sticks and reeds Violins, Mandolins, Dulcimers, Banjos, and Banjo Ukes! Handmade and international percussion instruments! Dreamy locally made bamboo and wooden flutes and walking stick flutes! And the new Berkshire County Rowe Stick Dulcimers, easy to play and adore, the sales of which benefit Veteran's homes and outreach programs. And there is more to delight the eyes, intrigue the ears and bring warm joy to the heart! We are your neighborhood music store, where advice and help are free and music is the universal language. Working with local luthiers and repairmen we offer stringed and band instrument repair for one last month. We just may have something you haven’t seen before (have you heard the Electric Cigar Box Guitars?). We have met (or BEATEN) many on-line prices for the merchandise that we sell, IN PERSON, and for the most part cheerfully (though we reserve the right to glower a little when asked if we can ‘do better’ on the price of a pick!) and will do even better as the liquidation progresses. We have been delighted to serve this community for so long. And to our loyal and lovely customers, whose cheerful and happy support we have been honored to enjoy, we bid a fond farewell. The Music Store, located at 87 Railroad Street in Great Barrington, is open Wednesdays through Sundays and by appointment (except when we have to be elsewhere!) until February 1. Call us at 413-528-2460, visit us on line at www.themusicstoreplus.com on Facebook as The Music Store Plus, or shop our online Reverb store at https://reverb.com/shop/The MusicStorePlus Happy MUSIC MAKING in 2017 and beyond!
SCOTT TAYLOR PAINTINGS
A Change of Season . acrylic on canvas
36” x 36”
Studio Stationery Factory 63 Flansberg Ave. Dalton Ma. Open by appointment or chance email@example.com
THE ARTFUL MIND JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017 • 3
ARTFUL CALENDAR JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017
NORMAN ROCKWELL MUSEUM 9 GLENDALE RD, STOCKBRIDGE, MA • 413-298-4100 Hanna-Barbera: The Architects of Saturday Morning: November 12May 29, 2017. Based on all of the wonderful animation that Hanna has done throughout her life. She was an amazing film animator at MGM studios.
510 WARREN STREET GALLERY 510 WARREN STREET, HUDSON, NY 518-822-0510 firstname.lastname@example.org / 510warrenstreetgallery.com George Spencer, Jan 6 - Jan 29, reception: Jan 7, 3-6pm. Guest Artist: Paintings by Will Clark (Friday & Saturday, 12 - 6, Sunday 12 - 5 or by app)
R&F HANDMADE PAINTS 84 TEN BROECK AVENUE, IN MID-TOWN, KINGSTON, NY • 845-331-3112 Encaustic paints and supplies, gallery
CLAIRE TEAGUE SENIOR CENTER 917 SOUTH MAIN ST., GT. BARRINGTON, MA • 413-528-l881 See the newly rehung permanent collection. Eunice Agar paintings. Regular Hours: Monday- Friday, 8:00 AM - 3:30pm
DEB KOFFMAN’S ARTSPACE 137 FRONT ST, HOUSATONIC, MA • 413-274-1201 Sat: 10:30-12:45 class meets. No experience in drawing necessary, just a willingness to look deeply and watch your mind. This class is conducted in silence. Adult class. $10, please & call to register.
NORMAN ROCKWELL FREEDOM FROM WANT, 1943. OIL ON CANVAS. COLLECTION OF NORMAN ROCKWELL MUSEUM
ANDY WARHOL. CAMPBELL’S SOUP CAN, 1969. COLOR SILKSCREEN ON PAPER. COLLECTION OF WILLIAMS COLLEGE MUSEUM OF ART; GIFT OF RICHARD F. HOLMES, CLASS OF 1946
PREVIEW! June 10, 2017 through October 29, 2017
SCHANTZ GALLERIES 3 ELM ST, STOCKBRIDGE, MA • 413-298-3044 schantzgalleries.com A destination for those seeking premier artists working in glass
SOHN FINE ART GALLERY, PRINTING, FRAMING & WORKSHOPS 69 CHURCH STREET, LENOX MA • 413-551-7353 Contemporary photography by local and international artists. We also offer photographic services, archival pigment printing and framing services. Beneath the Surface, group exhibition of photogrpahy thru Jan 22, 2017
Inventing America: Rockwell and Warhol is the first exhibition linking Norman Rockwell and Andy Warhol, two iconic visual communicators who embraced populism, shaped national identity, and opened new ways of seeing in twentieth century America. This immersive exploration, organized by Norman Rockwell Museum, will reveal the sweeping artistic and cultural influence of these celebrated image-makers and the continued influence of their indelible legacies. Original iconic artworks; process materials and studies; archival photography, manuscripts, and documents; film/video footage; and props, costumes, and personal artifacts will be on view.
DENISE B CHANDLER FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY & PHOTO ART • 413-637-2344 or 413-281-8461 (leave message) *Lenox home studio & gallery appointments available. *Exhibiting and represented by Sohn Fine Art, Lenox, MA. DIANA FELBER GALLERY 6 HARRIS ST., WEST STOCKBRIDGE, MA • 413-854-7002 dianafelbergallery.com Graffiti hits the walls by awesome young artists -- Jan 14-feb 27. Opening Jan 14, 6-9pm (Open 11-6pm, closed Tues.)
FRONT STREET GALLERY 129 FRONT ST, HOUSATONIC, MA • 413-274-6607 Kate Knapp oils and watercolors and classes open to all. GOOD PURPOSE GALLERY 40 MAIN STREET, LEE, MA • 413-394-5045 Good Tidings with Anne and Walt Pasko, into February! The show will run through Tuesday, February 21 JENNIFER PAZIENZA http://jenniferpazienza.com; email@example.com
JOHN DAVIS GALLERY 362 1/2 WARREN ST, HUDSON, NY • 518-828-5907 firstname.lastname@example.org Jared Buckhiester: Cessation of Violence Installation made in conversation with Catherine Lord. February 4th, 2017& on display through February 24th Reception for the artist on February 4th, 6-8pm
LAUREN CLARK FINE ART 25 RAILROAD ST. GT BARRINGTON, MA• 413-528-0432 Lauren@LaurenClarkFineArt.com www.LaurenClarkFineArt.com Moving to 325 Stockbridge Rd, Gt. Barrington MA!
4 • JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017 THE ARTFUL MIND
L’ATELIER BERKSHIRES 597 MAIN STREET, GREAT BARRINGTON, MASSACHUSETTS www.atelierberks.com. • 510-469-5468, email@example.com Exhibiting artwork and unique furniture from masterful contemporary artists. Call for winter hours
LISA VOLLMER PHOTOGRAPHY NEW STUDIO + GALLERY 325 STOCKBRIDGE ROAD, GT. BARRINGTON • 413-429-6511 / www.lisavollmer.com The Studio specializes in portrait, event, editorial and commercial photography : by appointment. The Gallery represents Sabine Vollmer von Falken, Thatcher Hullerman Cook, Carolina Palermo Schulze and Tom Zetterstrom. (Open daily from 11-4pm closed on Wednesdays)
MASS MoCA NORTH ADAMS, MA Steffani Jemison, opening March 18. Photography and drawings
MARGUERITE BRIDE HOME STUDIO AT 46 GLORY DRIVE, PITTSFIELD, MA • 413• 841-1659 or 413-442-7718 MARGEBRIDE-PAINTINGS.COM FB: MARGUERITE BRIDE WATERCOLORS Original watercolors, house portraits, commissions, fine art reproductions. Seasonal scenes always on exhibit at Crowne Plaza, Pittsfield; Studio visits by appt. MILLERTON MOVIE HOUSE 48 MAIN STREET MILLERTON NY • 518-789-0022 / WWW.THEMOVIEHOUSE.NET Shadows & Light: Donald Bracken: Thru January 25, 2017. Bracken's more recent work - acrylic paintings done over last few years that depict abstract worlds based on air, water, and earth, and the rhythms and motifs of the natural world.
ST. FRANCIS GALLERY RTE. 102, SOUTH LEE (just 2 miles east from the Red Lion Inn) See you in the Spring!
CLARK ART INSTITUTE 225 SOUTH STREET WILLIAMSTOWN MA • 413-458-2303 / WWW.CLARKART.EDU Photography and Discovery: Thru February 2, 2017. This exhibit explores how photographers considered these subjects during the medium’s first seventy-five years. The exhibition—the first presented in the Eugene V. Thaw Gallery for Works on Paper in the newly renovated Manton Research Center—is the first extensive presentation of the Clark’s growing collection of nineteenthand early twentieth-century photography. VAULT GALLERY 322 MAIN ST, GT. BARRINGTON, MA • 413-644-0221 Marilyn Kalish at work and process on view, beautiful gallery with a wonderful collection of paintings
WILLIAMS COLLEGE MUSEUM OF ART 15 LAWRENCE HALL DR #2, WILLIAMSTOWN, MA • 413-597-2429 Thru Jan 29, 2017: Getting a Read On Basquiat and Black Lives Matter.
MASS MoCA 87 MARSHALL STREET, NORTH ADAMS MA Free Admission All Day!
HEVREH 270 STATE RD., GREAT BARRINGTON, MA • 413-528-6378 Discussion Communities at Hevreh:The Winter Film Series Jan 9, Feb 6, Mar 6, Apr 3, 5-8pm. Discussion: 7 – 8 pm Optional Film Screening Prior: 5 – 7 pm Please feel free to bring your own dinner.
YIDDISH BOOK CENTER 1021 WEST STREET, AMHERST MA Feb 26, 2pm: Tangled Up in Bob. A documentary about writer and painter Natalie Goldberg’s visit to Hibbing, Minnesota, to examine the soil from which the legendary Bob Dylan sprang. Special introduction and discussion with Seth Rogovoy, author of “Bob Dylan: Prophet, Mystic, Poet,” the only full-length analysis of Bob Dylan’s life and work from the Jewish perspective. Book signing to follow. Tickets $4 – $8. 2pm – 3:30pm.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH MUSIC THE MAHAIWE 4 CASTLE STREET GREAT BARRINGTON MA • 518-392-6677 www.cewm.org Feb 18, 6pm: Mid-Winter Fireside Concert The Intimate Bach The Art of the String Quartet; April 15, 2017 6 PM
CLUB HELSINKI HUDSON 405 COLUMBIA ST., HUDSON, NY Club Helsinki Hudson • 518-828-4800 Club d'Elf with John Medeski Album Release Show January 14, 2017, 9:00pm
AUSTEN RIGGS CENTER 37 MAIN STREET STOCKBRIDGE MA 800.517.4447 www.austenriggs.org Jan18, 2017, 7 pm: Travels with a Masked Man John Hadden has written a play about deception, espionage, and exuberant and trying filial love. It is a fiftyminute, two-character, solo performance based on John’s book, Conversations with a Masked Man: My Father, the CIA, and Me. Haunted by unanswered questions about his childhood overseas, a man confronts his father, an ex-CIA chief who ruminates darkly on the American Empire, the human animal, and himself.
A Curious Nature: Paintings by Shelley Reed February 12, 2017 - June 4, 2017 A Feast of Beasts February 12, 2017 - September 3, 2017 Fitchburg Art Museum, 185 Elm Street, Fitchburg, MA versation soon turns into a revealing power game, further complicated by the return home of two sinister younger men.$18 general, $16 member. 1pm – 4pm. Jan 21: Met Live in HD: Romeo Et Juliette MAHAIWE THEATRE 14 CASTLE ST, GREAT BARRINGTON, MA • 413 528-0100 Bolshoi Ballet in HD: Swan Lake (Encore) Feb 5, 1pm.
MASS MoCA 87 MARSHALL ST., NORTH ADAMS, MA • 413-662-2111 January 20, 8:00 pm Richard Move:XXYY: a multi-sensorial, poetic, and otherworldly theatrical event exploring the chromosomal combinations that produce gender identity, reconstructing the conventional binaries of male and female.
PROCTORS 432 STATE ST. , SCHENECTADY, NY ZZ Top: Feb 26, 2017,8pm; March: Wicked; April:The Sound of Music
SHAKESPEARE & COMPANY 70 KEMBLE STREET, LENOX MA 01240 Feb 18: Lover’s Spat – Shakespeare’s Famous Couple’s EncountersRomantic, fierce, and hysterically funny, these staged readings are the perfect way to celebrate the month of love. Tickets: $15 – $35. Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre. 7pm. THE MOUNT 2 PLUNKETT ST, LENOX, MA Jan 27, 2 & 5pm :Leisure & Lust: A Theatrical Performance in Two Acts Send in your events by the 5th of the month prior to publication. Welcome text files and images:
Read back issues and new issues of The Artful Mind on
BERKSHIRE THEATRE GROUP 11 SOUTH ST, PITTSFIELD, MA Feb 2, 7pm: Remember When Rock Was Young: musical journey celebrates the decades of chart-topping hits of Sir Elton John, including “Benny and the Jets,” “Philadelphia Freedom,” and “Crocodile Rock,” just to name a few.
CLARK ART INSTITUTE 225 SOUTH ST, WILLIAMSTOWN, MA National Theatre Live: No Man’s Land Encore Jan 14: Following their hit run on Broadway, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart return to the West End stage in Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land. One summer’s evening, two aging writers, Hirst and Spooner, meet in a Hampstead pub and continue their drinking into the night at Hirst’s stately house nearby. As the pair become increasingly inebriated, and their stories increasingly unbelievable, the lively con-
THE ARTFUL MIND JANUARY /FEBRUARY 2017 • 5
ANN GETSINGER ANN GETSINGER, BALANCED STONE
JOE GOODWIN JOE GOODWIN SLEEP WALK
This painting called Sleep Walk is a good example of how my abstract images generate an idea or impression from the unconscious or psyche, (however you wish to name it). Yes, the painting develops its own theme or idea. With no intention of illustrating anything specific, this image came about through a process of layering, trial and error, painting and repainting in an effort to achieve balance and harmony. It evokes the memory of walking through woods and streams with a dream-like quality. I rely on my unconscious, and its connection to CG Jung’s idea of the Collective Unconscious to inform and guide the imagery; although it is a personal endeavor, the source, I believe, is universal. Technically, I’ve developed a method that uses layering and sanding of polymer paints that I have engineered with dry pigments and various additives to create luminosity not found in everyday experience. I like the other worldliness about it that can in one glance, be akin to the microscopic world, and in another become extraterrestrial- much the same way things can mutate and transpose in a dream. This is my way of trying to capture the undefinable or transcendent in order to examine it for a while and find more. Joe Goodwin - website: jgoodwinstudio.com; Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JoeGoodwinstudio/
Ann Getsinger, a prominent local artist, is exhibiting her paintings in the lobby of the Claire Teague Senior Center through January 27. Working primarily in oil, her masterful realist paintings have an uncanny surrealist quality created by the combination of still life objects with landscape and seascape. Born in l956, the youngest of five children, she grew up on a farm in Watertown, Connecticut that was surrounded by fields and woods. She also spent summers at a family cottage on midcoast Maine near Port Clyde where she continues to visit. Her early experience of the freedom of growing up in the country and along the shore continues to be her strongest influences. Getsinger started painting at a very young age. She obtained her initial training at the Paier School of Art in New Haven, CT and the San Francisco Art Institute, but she credits her realist style to the influence of the late Sheldon Fink whom she met in l980. Living in the Berkshires since 1963, he was part of a group of realist painters from New York City during and Forties and Fifties, including David Levine, Aaron Schickler and Harvey Dinnerstein. She was also strongly influenced by the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine and the work of Jamie Wyeth. Attracted to the beauty of the Berkshires, Getsinger first moved here in l976. Her home and studio since l988 have been a former laundry building on an estate in New Marlboro with her studio in a nearby barn. Her drawings and paintings are in many collections and private homes and have been shown in museums and galleries in New York City, Greenwich, CT. and on Nantucket Island. They have also been featured in magazines. She is represented by Arundel Farm Gallery in Kennebunkport, ME and Camilla Richman Fine Arts in Osterville, Massachusetts. The Clair Teague Senior Center is located at 917 Main Street in Great Barrington; it is open during the day and evenings for special events. Its daily lunches (by reservation), classes and entertainments are open to all residents. One does not have to be “elderly” to participate. For information: 413-528-1881. Ann Getsinger - anngetsinger.com
GOOD PURPOSE GALLERY WALTER PASKO, BROOK
Good news from Good Purpose Gallery: we are continuing the holiday show, Good Tidings with Anne and Walt Pasko, into February! The show will run through Tuesday, February 21. This means, if you are looking for that special Valentine’s Day gift, you will no doubt find it among our distinctive gifts created by local artists. And, of course, Anne Pasko’s mixed media pieces and Walt Pasko’s stunning oil paintings are also fabulous gifts for loved ones. Both artists are receiving rave reviews for their artwork in this show. We receive new work from each on a weekly basis in order to fill the demand. We are thrilled to announce that Walt is presenting a live demonstration on his art process with oil paints at the gallery on Saturday, January 28 at 3:00 pm. His demos draw quite a crowd so please arrive 10 minutes prior, if possible, in order to secure a seat. You will enjoy the experience of art making up close as you watch Walt create in real time and engage in an informal conversation about artistic processes. Recently the gallery has added many top-line gifts created by local artisans that we are delighted to showcase. To name a few: Maya Ananda, Inc beeswax candles made by Maya and her mom, Michael Vincent Bushy (beautiful handmade journals), Sennin Esko (Mountain Spirit Jewelry), Jan Charbonneau’s (Berkshire Fabrications) gorgeous, upcycled mittens along with her stunning purses made from silk ties, innovative, Michelle Shafto’s beautiful crotched bracelets with pearls and gems, delightful, and creative CATAdirect gifts, Linda Baker-Cimini’s active and artistic mind continues to produce fantastic and whimsical drawings and stories for her books and posters. The gallery is proud to feature Anne and Walt Pasko and all the artisans involved in this wonderful show. Good Purpose Gallery - 40 Main Street, Lee, Massachusetts. 413-394-5045, firstname.lastname@example.org Gallery hours: Open 10am - 4pm daily; closed on Tuesday. For more information on the Gallery, visit our website: Goodpurpose.org
Note to Readers: We are now 25 Years in PRINT
6• JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017 THE ARTFUL MIND
Thank you for a wonderful year! 2017 will bring to the table new ideas and more artists promoting their work and ways for all of us to live better and be inspired on a daily basis. Thank you, everyone, who has stepped in with great photographs, writing and thinking out of the box. Love to all... Harryet Candee, Publisher
Walking Home From Oak-Head
There is something about the snow-laden sky in winter in the late afternoon that brings to the heart elation and the lovely meaninglessness of time. Whenever I get home—whenever— somebody loves me there. Meanwhile I stand in the same dark peace as any pine tree, or wander on slowly like the still unhurried wind, waiting, as for a gift,
Early Winter Redoux, Oil on Canvas, 54 x 72 inches
for the snow to begin which it does at first casually, then, irrepressibly. Wherever else I live— in music, in words, in the fires of the heart, I abide just as deeply in this nameless, indivisible place, this world, which is falling apart now, which is white and wild, which is faithful beyond all our expressions of faith, our deepest prayers. Don’t worry, sooner or later I’ll be home. Red-cheeked from the roused wind, I’ll stand in the doorway stamping my boots and slapping my hands, my shoulders covered with stars. Mary Oliver
FRONT STREET GALLERY
MARGUERITE BRIDE MARGUERITE BRIDE, BUCKSTEEP MANOR, WATERCOLOR
Often winter months in the Berkshires are the busiest time for artists who are preparing for the next Pastels, oils, acrylics and watercolors…..abstract “show season”, which always seems to arrive in a and representational…..landscapes, still lifes and por- hurry. With plans to exhibit new and exciting matetraits….a unique variety of painting technique and rial, painters view this creative period with great exstyles….you will be transported to another world and citement and anticipation. At least that’s how see things in a way you never have before…. join us watercolorist Marguerite Bride feels about it. During these “quiet” months, Bride also gives lesand experience something different. Painting classes continue on Monday and Wednes- sons in watercolor technique. Visit her website for day mornings 10-1:30pm at the studio and Thursday more details about commissioning a painting, purmornings out in the field. These classes are open to chasing a painting or fine art reproduction, lessons all...come to one or come again if it works for you. and updated exhibit information; or contact the artist All levels and materials welcome. Private critiques directly. Over the years Bride has painted many scenes available. Classes at Front Street are for those wishing to from vacations, special occasions, and favorite setlearn, those who just want to be involved in the pure tings...all from clients’ own photos. These have inenjoyment of art, and/or those who have some expe- cluded scenes from romantic wedding settings and rience under their belt. Perfect if you are seeking fresh honeymoon trips, Tuscan villas, vistas from fabulous insight into watercolors, and other mediums. A hikes, exciting canoe trips, scenes from family vateacher for many years, Kate Knapp has a keen sense cations and reunions, "once in a life-time" advenof each student’s artistic needs to take a step beyond. tures, and more. Commissions are always welcome; Perfect setting for setting up still lifes; lighting and a gift of art is suitable for any occasion. Fifteen original pieces from Bride’s “Jazz Vision” space are excellent. Peek in to see! Front Street Gallery – Front Street, Housatonic, series are on display at Public Eat & Drink Pub in North Adams through February. Also see a selection MA. Gallery open by appointment or chance anytime. 413-528-9546 at home or 413-429-7141 (cell). of her Berkshire winter scenes there. Fine art reproductions and note cards of Berkshire images and others by the artist are available at the Red Lion Inn Gift Shop (Stockbridge), Lenox Print & Mercantile (Lenox); and a variety of other fine gift shops, and also directly from the artist. Seasonal The way of the mystic and the way scenes are always on display in the public areas of of the artist are very much alike, the Crowne Plaza in Pittsfield. Or visit Bride’s studio except that the mystic doesn’t by appointment. Marguerite Bride – Home Studio at 46 Glory have the craft. Drive, Pittsfield, Massachusetts by appointment only. –Jean Erdman Call 413-841-1659 or 413-442-7718; margebridepaintings.com; email@example.com; Facebook: Marguerite Bride Watercolors
8 • THE ARTFUL MIND JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
ROBERT FORTE, SWING STATES SEND IN THE CLOWN, OIL AND ACRYLIC ON CANVAS, 24"X 24"
Robert Forte's paintings continue to explore themes and ideas drawn from experiences in his life and in the world around him. The canvas used as a vehicle of expression as opposed to representation provides Forte with the excitement that makes painting an ongoing adventure and a source of limitless possibilities. Antecedent artists that inspire are the great expressionists Soutine and Schiele, Beckmann, Kirchner and Kokoschka. Forte also enjoys the minimalism of contemporary artists such as Alex Katz and the unique imagery of Bacon, Guston and Kitaj. The politically catastrophic events now in progress in this country, and the social upheavals worldwide have reinforced Forte's need to give vigorous expression to ideas and emotions that resonate both personally and universally. The anticipated assault on human rights and dignity make it all the more imperative to use the canvas forcefully, both as a reaffirmation of oneself and a reaching out to others. There are many ways and media with which to achieve this, but Forte has concentrated his work on oils, adding acrylics for their adaptability to rapid brushstrokes. In 2016, Forte was accepted into Atlantic Gallery in the Chelsea arts district of New York City. Accordingly, Robert has been focusing on works for the Atlantic Gallery exhibition schedule for 2017. The first exhibit, opening on January 12, will be a members' group show in which Forte will be showing three new works in oil and acrylic. A second members’ group show will follow, its theme, freedom of expression, seeks to channel the fears and emotions created by the current political scene into an artistic outpouring. A highly successful "Connections" show this year, in which members invited artists to participate, is in the planning stages for next year. Finally, in October 2017, Robert will have his own show at Atlantic Gallery. Robert Forte - www.robertforte.com
SCOTT TAYLOR FEAR NO EVIL, SCOTT TAYLOR
LYNNE M. ANSTETT PHOTOGRAPHER ARTIST VISION
Whether I’m traveling far from my native New England, hiking, or standing in my own back yard, I’m drawn to the endless variety of beautiful things outdoors. It is a hurried world. Photography, to me, is a way of paying visual attention and tribute to what is otherwise often missed or taken for granted – the quiet dignity of buildings, the magnificence of sky, water and land, the mystery of old things, and the countless daily proofs in nature that the world is made for our eyes. I aim to share what I see, by chance or by design, that is beautiful to me. The camera allows me to do that. My work focuses on farms, environmental portraits, landscapes, structures and edibles. I like to explore beyond the traditional scenes and formats as well. I launched a project two years ago to photograph “The Massachusetts’s Berkshires and Beyond”, taking a close look at the diverse beauty of neighborhoods including outdoor recreation, art, history, farms and more. I designed an Art Poster Calendar format to bring these images to life. Look for the 2017 calendar now in artist shops, hotels, bookshops and museums throughout the Berkshires. My photography has been exhibited with the motif Cultural Pittsfield 10 x 10 Upstreet Arts Festival at the Sohn Fine Art Gallery, Lenox and Hotel on North, Pittsfield; Ethel Walker School Bell Library, Simsbury, CT; Whiting Mills - Open Studios, Winsted, CT and at The Gallery on the Green, Canton, CT, where I am juried artist member. I’ve lived in Litchfield County, CT all my life but in recent years have been residing part-time in the Berkshires. Lynne M. Anstett - Photography - Website: http://www.gicleeone.com/Lynne-Anstett-Giclee-Photography, ImageryArtWorks Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LynneMAnstettPhotography/, Author of: Love Bound, The Journey – Lynne’s original poetry and photography, ImageryArtWorks@hotmail.com, 860-888-3672
The beginning of a new year always offers up wonderful possibilities, a rebirth of new ideas and some tweaking of some old ones. I'm finally spending time back in my studio after a hectic art show schedule, doing just what I love to do - PAINT. My studio is located in the historic Stationery Factory on Flansburg Ave in the Berkshire town of Dalton. It’s just a wonderful place to create. I’m on the Northside of the second floor of the Factory which puts me tree height and the large windows flood the studio with great natural light. The mornings are quiet with the exception of the antique heating system that bellows on occasionally, keeping me company on a cold winter’s day. Outside my window the bare tree branches perform a captivating dance as the wind accelerates their movement. A large canvas sat on the wall easel all through the night just waiting to become something today. A Van Morrison CD sets the tone, paint from tubes gets squeezed onto an ever growing palate and brushes get selected. Some days I come to the studio with an idea or a plan, many days I don't and it's up to the moment of the day to take over my creative process. Strangely those are some of my best work days, when the process seems to come though me and I am just a conduit for its creative bliss. I love my job.... Scott Taylor Paintings - open by appointment or by chance most every day. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org and Facebook
LARRY S. FRANKEL LEAF DROPLET, LARRY S. FRANKEL
Larry S. Frankel is a fine arts photographer specializing in landscapes and cityscapes. He has always be interested in the photograph and its relationship with truth and time. Does a photograph portray truth? Can an image expand itself into a different dimension of time and space rather then be based upon the fraction of time it took to create it? What are the underlying differences between painting and photography? Larry uses various techniques dealing with these ideas to alter landscapes and cityscapes in to imagery that represent a new reality. His images have been widely exhibited and he has several pieces in the permanent collection of the Hebrew Union College Museum. In addition several of his written articles and photographs are published. He has also served as an artist in residence for photography at the Hudson River Museum. He received his B.S. from Boston University and his Masters of Arts in Photography from New York University/International Center for Photography. Please visit his web site, larryfrankelphotography.com to view his imagery.
“Art does not solve any problems, but makes us aware of their existence.” -Magdalena Abakanowicz
THE ARTFUL MIND JNANUARY /FEBRUARY 2017• 9
JENNIFER PAZIENZA JENNIFER PAZIENZA, EARLY WINTER REDOUX, OCT 2015
DIANA FELBER GALLERY
Yes, graffiti in a gallery, not on your local town alley walls or trains. It won’t even be directly on the walls of this gallery, but on canvases and paper, etc.– just like the normally great art I’ve been showing since we opened last May. Three artists, all from Massachusetts, one in his 20’s, another in his 30’s and the last in his 40’s – mature artists who express themselves in this most contemporary of art forms will be featured. Their work is dynamic, exciting and really interesting. I am so enthusiastic about sharing it with you! The show will run from January 14 to Feb. 27. A reception to meet the artists will be held on January 14 from 6-9 PM. Hope to see you there! Diana Felber Gallery - 6 Harris St, West Stockbridge, MA. Fall Gallery Hours: Open Thursday – Monday, 11-5pm. 413-854-7002, dianafelbergallery.com, Diana@dianafelbergallery.com
EARLY WINTER REDOUX
I am a representative painter of nature and human nature, making landscapes, close ups of nature, and genre paintings of crowds of people in public spaces. My style ranges from loosely painted and drawn images to more tightly controlled work, the choices depending on specific subject matter, size, medium and mood. Place is very important. I have worked in Tallahassee, the Tyrol (northern Italy),Tubingen, Germany, Mexico, Monhegan Island, Downeast Maine and the Berkshires. Oil is my primary medium but I also use casein and watercolor, draw in pen and ink, pencil and charcoal and make block prints and etchings. Pieter Bruegel's very large landscape drawings from his trips through the Alps to Italy and back that are in the Metropolitan Museum led me to make large landscape drawings. These in turn influenced the textured quality of my large landscapes in oil. An attraction to trees either alone or in densely wooded areas, bushes, plants and flowers in a tangled grassy mass that have to be drawn with a fast, dense line led me to paint the textured surface of close up views from nature. The results looks abstract but are actually detailed depictions of botanical forms. They have been a been a major focus of my work for the past three years or so and can be seen in such subjects as a disintegrating shed roof covered with moss and lichen, the windblown branches of a tamarack, and a small painting roadside bushes and grasses and a field of flowers and grasses. EUNICEAGAR.com
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The lines, There is something about the snow-laden sky in winter, in the late afternoon that brings to the heart elation and the lovely meaninglessness of time, opens Mary Oliver’s poem, Walking Home From Oak-Head and opens for me the felt memories of creating Early Winter Redoux and how I experience the life world of winter in the northeast. How in the post busy-ness of the holidays that is the New Year, I am reminded of the artificiality of time, even as my body tells me otherwise. Whenever I get home—whenever—somebody loves me there. Meanwhile I stand in the same dark peace as any pine tree, or wander on slowly like the still unhurried wind, waiting, as for a gift, for the snow to begin which it does at first casually, then, irrepressibly. And it is a gift, to be blessed with a home, husband and dog, and the time, whether on Keswick Ridge, or sequestered in the Becket woods, or the imagined snow covered concrete yard of my New Jersey childhood home, to literally and figuratively stand in the same dark peace as any pine tree, and feel the joy of my face, hands and toes tingling in anticipation, witnessing my spirit made visible by every exhaled breath. Oliver continues, Wherever else I live—in music, in woods, in the fires of the heart, I abide just as deeply in this nameless, indivisible place, this world, which is falling apart now, which is white and wild, which is faithful beyond all our expressions of faith, our deepest prayers. I have come to understand how it is I have painted against nonduality, painted in order to overcome the tensions I feel between my own humanity and divinity, heaven and earth, matter and spirit to register at once, for the viewer, and myself the indivisibility of the world and its inherent parts. Curator Tom Smart helped me understand this about my work when he wrote, Anchored in a seemingly shared reality and familiar landscape, as an artist she seeks to prompt in us the perception of completeness in which we achieve an immediate and whole contact with nature, as is evident in Early Winter to such an extent that we are given the means and capacity to feel the landscape as a whole before it is broken up into many separate and faceted parts. (Smart, 2010, p.10) Writing in this moment, the truth of what Oliver asserts and Smart explains, floats down from the heavens as I look out onto the white, wild faithful Keswick Ridge landscape. Don't worry, sooner or later I'll be home. Red-cheeked from the roused wind, I'll stand in the doorway stamping my boots and slapping my hands, my shoulders covered with stars. Oliver, M. (2006). Thirst: Poems. Boston: Beacon Press. P. 2-3.Smart, T. (2010). Essay on landscape, love & longing. Landscape, Love & Longing. 7-12. My work is held in Public and Corporate Collections in Canada and in numerous private collections throughout the US, Canada, the UK and Italy. I regularly exhibit in the Berkshire area. I would love to hear from you so please visit my Website & Blog for a chat, inquiries or just to look. Jennifer Pazienza - : http://jenniferpazienza.com/, email@example.com
THE ARTFUL MIND JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 â€¢ 11
their words are lost In the wind
Studies the object through his glasses
Coming from Up in the air
Floats A half mile
But the Gentleman Hears voices
In the darkness
their voices are lost In the wind Friday April 9, 1897
the Gentleman Is standing in his yard Hears voices
Looks up In the night sky
A shadow Falls across the moon Not a cloud A meteor?
Not a balloon
Grabs powerful Marine glasses
An object Almost stationary It’s that ship Everyone’s talking about Airship
A shadow Falls across the moon Moving slowly
Southeasterly direction With almost a jump Starts off At a terrific rate Hears voices
But their words Are lost in the wind
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the character Of the object
Above the earth
Perhaps 50 feet long Of a cigar shape
With great mugs thrust out from each side A broad tail Or steering sail Long beak or blade
At the point Where beak joins main body A powerful search light throws its rays Far into the night
A row of windows Along the side
Give out smaller light
the source of which Must be stored electricity As there is no smoke Or fire
I’m going to report this to the papers Listen
He hears voices
Is it even English? their words are Lost in the wind
~ Matthew Bialer Excerpt from Wonder Weavers
Sketch Book Studies
Nature never satisfied Minute variations multiply Thirty-four species of robins Fifty of seagulls The same with plants and people Humans, no two alike Man tries to standardize Efficiency, convenience Educate, smooth over, eradicate But nature defeats him Human nature and all the rest -Eunice Agar
THE ARTFUL MIND JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 â€˘ 13
Beautiful Massachusetts Berkshires & Beyond
2017 Art Poster Calendars
Twelve Monthly Posters
(Traditional wall style)
Featuring the diverse beauty of our neighborhoods. they include Outdoor Recreation, Farming, Farm-to-table, History and more... Available sizes: 5” x 7” • 11” x 14”
• 8.5” x 11”
I aim to share what I see by chance or by design. that is beautiful to me. The camera allows me to do that. -Lynne M. Anstett - Photography© Imagery Art Works
Lynne M. Anstett - Photography © Imagery Art Works 860-888-3672 ImageryArtWorks@hotmail.com • Imagery Art Works Facebook
http://www.gicleeone.com/lynne-m-anstatt 2017 Art Poster Calendars are available here and other fine stores: 2017 Art Poster Calendars are available here and other fine stores: Williams & Sons Country Store – Stockbridge, Berkshire Museum – Pittsfield, LOCAL – Lenox, Paperdilly – Lee, Wild Oats Market Coop – Williamstown, Gateways Inn – Lenox, Chester Railway Station & Museum – Chester, Water Street Books - Williamstown, Sheffield Historical Society - Sheffield, Cedar Chest – Northampton, Berkshire Emporium & Antiques – North Adams, Booklink Booksellers – Northampton, The Bookstore - Lenox, Holiday Brook Farm - Dalton, Art & Chocolate Lenox, Stockbridge Coffee and Tea - Stockbridge, Old Creamery Co-op Cummington, Farm Country Soup - Southfield, Aerus Electrolux – Pittsfield, Artisans Guild – Norfolk, CT, Salisbury General Store - Salisbury, CT and Unique Finds, Granby, CT
14 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 THE ARTFUL MIND
"Wishing all a joyful celebration of the LIGHT this season and always!” Thursday 10-6, Friday10-8 Saturday 10-8, Sunday 10-6, Monday 10-6 closed Tuesday & Wednesday
COMING SOON Retail Items • Bulk Loose Teas and Herbs 70 Railroad Street, Great Barrington, MA www.Elixirgb.com firstname.lastname@example.org 413. 644. 8999
Everything is always lovingly and consciously prepared with fresh organic ingredients!!
Gourmet Organic Vegetarian Fare with an international flair
FRONT ST. GALLERY
Scents by Skanda offers handmade natural fragrance selections for men and women. Using the finest essential oils from around the globe, we create scents for meditation, yoga, and custom blends for personal aromas. Specializing in exotic oudh and musk fragrances from South East Asia, traditional Hindu attars, agarwood, and more. We carry a full line of oils that include but are not limited to sandalwood, patchouli, jasmine, tuberose, rose, vetiver, blue lotus, oakmoss, palo santo, himalayan cedarwood, and many more! Call 413.717.2498 for sampling by appointment, or find us on Etsy, Facebook, and Instagram
Painting classes on Monday and Wednesday mornings 10-1pm at the studio in Housatonic and Thursday mornings 10am - 1pm out in the field. Also available for private critiques. Open to all. Please come paint with us!
gallery hours: open by chance and by appointment anytime 413. 274. 6607 (gallery) 413. 429. 7141 (cell) 413. 528. 9546 (home) Front Street, Housatonic, MA
THE ARTFUL MIND JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 • 15
MARY CAROL RUDIN "INDIAN SUNSET" 18 X 24 OIL ON CANVAS
FINE LINE MULTIMEDIA LIVE PERFORMANCE PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEO
Fine Line Multimedia provides single or multi-camera video of music, dance and theater performances. Services include: scripting and storyboard art, videography with professional high definition cameras, high quality audio recording, sensitive lighting design and creative editing with the latest non-linear editing system. For the past 45 years Fine Line Multimedia has provided audio/video performance production for The Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood, Berkshire Performing Arts Center, National Music Foundation, Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, United Way of the Berkshires, Arlo Guthrie, Rising Son Records, Bobby Sweet, World Moja, Phil Woods, Grace Kelly, Heather Fisch, Opera Nouveau, Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company and many more. Fine Line was established in 1970 by Lee Everett in Lenox, Massachusetts. Everett came to the Berkshires after studying Advertising Design and Visual Communications at Pratt Institute and working for years as an Art Director in New York. He taught Art in local schools and began a full-service multimedia studio in Lenox specializing in the Performing and Visual Arts and other business and industry. With Photography, Graphic Design, Advertising, Marketing, Audio/Video Production, Website, Social Network Creation and Administration together under one roof, Fine Line can satisfy the artistic communications and promotional needs of a wide range of clients. Please look at some examples from our portfolios of work on our website and use the contact information on the site to get further information, to see more samples, photographs or video reels, for professional and client references or for a free project consultation. Fine Line Multimedia - 66 Church Street, Lenox, MA; www.finelinelenox.com Contact: Lee Everett, 413-637-2020, email@example.com
As a child and adolescent I was drawn to all of the arts. At an early age I expressed that interest by making my own greeting cards. As an adolescent I sewed my own clothes, and as an adult I was able to restore and decorate a beautiful stone house built in the 1920's. I have a lifetime of visiting museums and historic sites in many parts of this country and the world. I consider these experiences important to my appreciation and understanding of the visual arts. It was not until I was widowed that I decided to try to draw. I took my first classes in drawing and watercolor at the Brentwood Art Center in Brentwood, California. I followed with classes in pastel at University of California, Los Angeles and oil painting under the guidance of John Strong and acrylic abstract with Ilana Bloch, also in Los Angeles. When I moved to New York in 2011 I studied drawing and painting at the Art Students League and Chelsea Classical Studio School of Fine Art with Brandon Soloff. I continue to work in graphite, oil and acrylic and paint everything from still life to landscapes, skyscapes, and seascapes. I have experimented with static objects like pearls and am currently preparing studies for an abstract in mixed media on board. I am not sure where the studies will lead as far as a finished product, but the adventure is worth the effort. This is my journey and I believe my inquisitive, adventurous mind simply needs to continue to explore. I am glad I have had the opportunity to live and experience urban life on both the west and the east coast as well as the natural beauty and rich artistic community of the Southern Berkshires. My varied life experiences all contribute to the development of the fabric of my internal life, and my view of the world. I will never stop experimenting and growing as an artist. "Indian Sunset" is a landscape done in oil based on an evening sunset while on a trip to Northern India with World Wildlife. I wanted to capture the color of the sun going down and the remaining rays of sunlight at the end of the day. I found Indian Yellow the perfect color to give the translucent orange in the sky. The dark images of trees in shadow was primarily achieved with the paint color, Perylene Black. While this is categorically black, it has a very dark green transparent quality; beautiful in landscape painting. Unlike most of my paintings that hang in a hall to continue to dry and not be on real display, this one hangs in my bedroom. Mary Carol Rudin - mcrudin.com firstname.lastname@example.org
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HAPPY NEW YEAR! January is the perfect time to create change! The changes we would all like to see in the world around us must first be realized within each of us.If we each we take responsibility for our individual thoughts and actions, for our own small worlds,we create change in the greater world. Georges Ohsawa,the creator of Macrobiotics ,said that we create our own health and happiness every moment of every day of our lives (or not) It makes perfect sense that if our cells are constantly renewing, we have every opportunity to assist them in being healthy, when we choose to nourish ourselves properly. Our miraculous body, that which many of us believe is the temple of our eternal aspect, is the place to begin true change. We all know that pure air,water,food,along with adequate rest, exercise, and some form of meditation practice create a balanced life, yet it is a constant struggle for most people to achieve this with the pressure of every day stress in modern society,but again,what are we choosing for ourselves? If we want our cars to run smoothly,get the most mileage, have a long life,and not break down,we know that we have to put in the best fuel,change the oil and maintain it regularly. Our health and well being depend on this same attention. At ELIXIR we support this self care in everything we offer. We use only non toxic, organic ingredients and prepare everything with positive intention in a calm environment. If you are caught up in the chaos and need to find a quiet place to reset your system,ELIXIR is the place to go. We have deliciously flavorful ,internationally inspired dishes to enjoy in our nurturing,cozy space and also offer take out meals when you are too busy to cook for yourself or your family. We also offer consultations to help you create a healthier lifestyle and have a monthly group participating in our 21 day restorative cleanse. Even stopping by for a pot a steaming tea to catch your breath can help in creating balance in your day. As Gandhi said, we must BE THE CHANGE WE WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD! Begin with self love, self care,begin now. With love and blessings for this new year of healing opportunities for all! NancyLee, ELIXIR chef/owner.70 Railroad StreetGreat Barrington / 413.644.8999
"The soul of the Prince reached out to them, toward the intangible, the unattainable, which gave joy without laying claim to anything in return"
(from The Leopard, by Giuseppe Di Lampedusa)
the Prince is expressing an ineffable moment produced by the infinity of a starry night. His words apply as well to great paintings that touch the soul with a timelessness that transcends the boundaries of paint and canvas. For me, a moment such as the one experienced by the Prince occurred on a snowy day many years ago at the Frick Collection, when I was transfixed by Monet's Winter at Vetheuil. -Robert Forte
Checkmate, oil and acrylic on canvas, 36" x 36"
Regret, oil and acrylic on canvas, 36" x 36"
L'Amateur d' Estampes, (copy in oil of the original by Degas)
L'Amateur d' Estampes, (copy in oil of the original by Degas)
2015 at Spring Studio (now Minerva's Drawing Studio) in New York City. Each one is 18" x 24", in charcoal pencil
THE ARTFUL MIND JANUARY/FEBRUARY2017â€˘ 17
18 â€¢JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 THE ARTFUL MIND
Mary Carol Rudin
A Lady’s Back - Red
Let Them Eat Cake - Chocolate
Rope of Pearls - Study for Triptyck, Acrylic, 20 x 30”
THE ARTFUL MIND JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017 • 19
Joel with Emperor Outdoor Sculpture in Blue. Aluminum & Stainless. 80"H x 36"W
JOEL HOTCHKISS Uplifting Art Forms INTERVIEW BY HARRYET CANDEE
Joel, when I look at your beautiful mobiles, I think of the artist, Alexander Calder. Can you explain the magic of these mobiles? They stand out on their own in the art world, and attract the eyes and the love of millions. They really are magic, and you are the magician! Joel Hotchkiss: Mobiles are magical because they trigger the viewers’ curiosity and imagination. The fact that mobiles are suspended in air—and are intended to exist and move in space—separates them from other art forms. I create a mobile as a poet or lyricist would write a poem or a song. In the end, all the elements have to work harmoniously for the composition to be successful. Mobiles tend to be a joyful and uplifting art form.
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF ARTIST
Alexander Calder brought the mobile art form into the realm of modern art, and then held the world captive for decades with his prolific work and talent. There are not many other art forms where an artist’s omnipresence is so dominant that his name evokes the art itself. I recognized my desire and determination to create mobiles in 1976, the year Calder died. I was in my mid-twenties… He influenced me more in those early years, but my creative path took me to Oakland, California in 1978 and I became totally immersed in my own creative expressions. How do you make them balance? Please tell us what one needs to learn and study and under-
20 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 THE ARTFUL MIND
stand in order to make the balancing act work? Joel: The general rule is that mobiles are designed from the bottom up. So each and every element becomes physically dependent on the other elements. Challenges arise as you add new arms and shapes to make the balance and movement work successfully. Could you explain a little bit about how sculptures that work with the elements in nature bring a sense of whimsy and joy to peoples lives? How do you explain the wonder of a mobile, and how it creates these wonderful feelings like no other art form can? Joel: Mobiles incorporate elements of balance, motion, physics, composition and whimsy. The viewer
JOEL HOTCHKISS Tri-Lumen Nova Indoor Mobile Painted Fabric stretched on Aluminum Framing. 58"W x 42"H
looks up at a mobile surrounded by air, and a ceiling as the backdrop. At some moments a mobile is alive with motion, and at others it may be at ease… just as in life. And as with most art forms, the process of making all the elements work together is not usually evident in the finished product, so the viewer becomes intrigued with the various twists and turns of the forms.
Can you tell us about your life, from your growing-up years in Brooklyn until the time you arrived in the Berkshires? Tell us a little story, and illustrate it with your sense of humor, memories, visions and the ordinary and extraordinary days of your life. Joel: I was born in 1949, and raised in Sherman, CT during the 50s. It was a sleepy little “Mayberry” country town on the northern end of Candlewood Lake, and it had an interesting mix of residents, from
farming families to well-known artists and writers. My parents, Grace and DeWolfe, met in Washington DC during WWII and moved to Connecticut after a year of living in Greenwich Village. My father was a Pratt graduate and an artist, who provided for his family of four boys by working as an art director in New York City. He worked at several of the big ad agencies during the 1960s and early 70s, including BBDO and Benton and Bowles. He had an apartment on East 32nd Street near the East River, and we would visit as kids. I recall the bank of black and white TV monitors at my father’s ad agency, and storyboards for Gaines dog food and Maxwell House coffee. My early impressions of New York in those years are indelible… the car and truck horns wailing, and the smell of piled garbage mixed with bread baking as the breezes wafted down the streets. The summer sun heated the sidewalks and brownstones, and left the evening air warm and inviting
So as New York City emerged in my young imagination, my other life meandered on in the country, until my mother said, “Enough with raising boys alone in Sherman,” and we moved to Mt. Vernon, NY, just north of the Bronx in Westchester County, so my father could commute home every night instead of just on weekends. I entered into sixth grade, where my classmates were all culturally different from me. Once I adjusted, I thrived. Access to New York City and my life opened up. I attended Pratt Institute during the late 60s—the Vietnam era—and graduated in 1971 after a senior semester in Rome, Italy. In 1973 I moved to Boston and worked as an art director for five years. I realized it was not my life’s passion, and began filling my apartment with mobiles. An eye-opening trip to California in 1977 inspired me to move to Oakland a year later and fully dedicate myself to the art of mobiles. Continued on next page...
THE ARTFUL MIND JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017 • 21
JOEL HOTCHKISS Peace Dove Indoor Mobile. 39W x 28H Aluminum & Fabric
JOEL HOTCHKISS Intuition Painted Aluminum 7' W x 3.5' H
Is there anything you’d love to do that’s a bit unrealistic—a huge challenge, and probably unattainable? Joel: I would go to Africa and join an organization that protects the natural habitats of elephants, rhinos, giraffes and other endangered creatures, and help track down and prosecute the poachers who hunt them. How has it been possible for you to stick with making these kinetic mobiles for so long, and not move on to something totally different—which is a common thing among artists? Joel: Once I found this art form that I love, I pursued it. And when I established myself as a mobile artist and realized it was providing a livelihood for myself and my family, I had no reason to change course, because the open road of my art was ahead of me. I do like to change up and create painted metal, wire and wood wall pieces.
JOEL HOTCHKISS Garden Chaperone Stainless & Copper. 72"H x 38"W
22 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 THE ARTFUL MIND
What materials do you work with the most and the least, and which not at all? Why? Joel: Aluminum is the lightest and strongest material I use, although copper, brass, steel and stainless are all part of the mix. In many of my mobiles, I have introduced various Nylon fabrics that are adhered to metal framing. I generally don’t work with glass. When you create a mobile, you must have to consider how Mother Nature is going to respond to the materials–or not! Have you created a sculpture that Calder would
JOEL HOTCHKISS Surround Interior Mobile. Brushed & Painted Aluminum 42"W X 36"H
JOEL HOTCHKISS Jazzman Outdoor Sculpture. Painted Steel 7.5'H X 5'W
either disapprove of or say “BRAVA Joel, I could never have done that!”? Joel: My Airdance outdoor mobile is a design that handles the wind and elements very well. I designed it in the 1990’s and have made and sold many over the years. Made of brass and copper, it will not rust and won’t get tangled in the wind. It is a visually aesthetic design Calder would have appreciated, but wouldn’t have designed himself.
What kind of environment do mobiles work best in? I mean, I don’t think one would work well in small, dark, windowless spaces… or am I wrong? Joel: A static mobile can be aesthetic as a three dimensional object, but the movement is the feature that sells it to the viewer with both curiosity and expectation. Indoors, the ambient air is a variable that is translated to the mobiles and the vanes that catch the air. Outdoor designs need to withstand wind to be successful.
Art fascinates children when there is movement involved. I don’t know why, but it’s a fact. Do you ever work with young children on mobiles? I know the technical aspects may be be quiet challenging… motor coordination has to be fully developed, perhaps? Joel: I have had mobile sessions with groups of young kids, and they’re fun. But preliminary work needs to be done so the process is successful for them. This is also true with adult classes. When a mobile gets into the third level of construction, the variables can become complex. They become air puzzles, in a way, so a mind that functions well with three-dimensional visualization may have an advantage. Tell us just how visitor-friendly your gallery is. I was there, and didn’t want to leave! Joel: We have an Open Studio every day for our visitors. The studio is a large, 2500-square-foot space, and full of mobiles of all kinds hanging and moving. They can see the materials, tools and machines we use to make the mobiles. If I am available, I escort
JOEL HOTCHKISS Champaign Toast Aluminum 20H x 18W
them through, or will just let them wander. I enjoy talking with everyone and answering any questions they might have, either about the process or about which mobile might work best for their space.
I think making art is also a way of visualizing what one truly, deeply desires and needs… I believe that’s the alchemy of art. You draw it, it walks in the door, eventually. Visualization techniques work even when you are not aware of it, all through the art-making process. Your thoughts, please. Joel: I can visualize mobiles as if they are floating inside my head. Next, I may sketch the design out, and finally I start making the mobile, which leads to discovery and spatial solutions. The characteristics of a mobile are like the characteristics of life… balance, motion, dependency, Continued on the next page....
THE ARTFUL MIND JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017 • 23
place somehow, what elements would you pursue, and what would be its general theme and style? Joel: I did design a Peace Dove mobile several years ago, hoping to encourage some sanity in the world. Often, iconic symbolism is overdone and people are desensitized. Abstract shapes have the chance to appeal or resonate with all eyes and hearts, like instrumentals in music. Maybe hundreds of open arches along the Mexican boarder, with stretched out arms and hands balanced and moving on their tops, in the Christo spirit. What colors do you like to use in a mobile, and what is the science, if any, of your color selection? Are there colors that do not work together, in terms of a sculpture? Joel: My palette is open. This is more evident when I do wall art of a face, where I paint on metal. I have an eclectic assortment of paints and inks and airbrush colors that I use intuitively to seek a visual harmony. All colors are equal. It just depends on where and how they are used.
How are you feeling about the new sculpture garden being made right in your West Stockbridge gallery’s backyard? You must be excited about this! West Stockbridge was my first stomping ground; I will always love that town. Joel: I admire the owners for their vision. They saw in a long-neglected piece of land behind our building a “canvas” on which to create a sculptural art space, in order to display their own collection as well as other sculptors’ works. It will be an intown art venue that can only add to the uniquely creative reputation West Stockbridge already has.
JOEL HOTCHKISS Dancing Couple Indoor Mobile 42"H X 24"W
randomness, air, color, texture. Sometimes they fall down while I’m constructing them, just when they are coming together. Perseverance is a handy trait to have.
You often work on commission, Joel. Who have you designed mobile sculptures for? Joel: I have created many commissions over the years, from residential spaces to restaurants, churches, atriums and office spaces. When I receive a commission to create a mobile, I factor in all the parameters first, but then I design it for myself. The most satisfying is generally for individual homes. Usually just one or two people are involved in the decision-making, as opposed to a committee.
Are there songs or poems that go with any of your mobiles? Which of your works went along with the lovely and personal inscription of a song? Joel: My favorite music is generally from the late 60s and early 70s. Classic rock… The Doors’ Light My Fire and Riders On the Storm, Cream’s White Room, Gordon Lightfoot’s That’s What I Get For Loving You, Freddy Mercury’s Bohemian Rhapsody, The Stones’ Brown Sugar, etc… As far as connecting a piece of music to a mobile, I would have to say that pastoral adagios would fit the many gentle gestures of motion that occur in a mobile. If you were to create a mobile for the world to see, one that would actually make the world a better
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Would you entertain us with a funny story you’ve heard or experienced, to end this wonderful interview time with you, Joel? Joel: A planned meeting with the railroad track abutters in West Stockbridge and the Rail-Trail folks was being held upstairs at the West Stockbridge Sportsman’s Club, several years back. The abutters were being encouraged to allow the railroad beds along their properties to be utilized for recreational purposes. Many were reluctant, so feelings and opinions were beginning to heat up. Sandra and I, along with others, headed downstairs to the bar and ordered a couple of drinks, then headed back up to take our seats. To say the meeting didn’t go well is pretty accurate, and some personal barbs were being tossed around. After the meeting ended, in the true spirit of a Norman Rockwell small town, everyone was buying each other drinks at the bar downstairs, as laughter and comradery filled the room. ~8 Center Street, West Stockbridge, MA. Thank you, Joel!
In memory of my Lew Scheffey Thanks for The Artful Mind and Congratulations on publishing for 25 years! -Joyce Scheffey
PHOtO CREDIt: FRED COLLINS
THE ARTFUL MIND JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 â€¢ 25
SUZI BANKS BAUM Photo: Christina Lane
WRITER • MAKER • MOTHER
You have come up with an amazing idea of a project, New Illuminations: Workshop and Exhibition. Congrats! Can you tell me, Suzi, what sparked the beginnings of this large-scale project? Suzi Banks Baum: Thank you for seeing the value of New Illuminations, Harryet. I have a desire to work internationally with women for whom making art is a dangerous act, where their individual voices are silenced by authority—whether political or social, private or public. That desire came
INTERVIEW BY HARRYET CANDEE
out of the work I do in the United States with women of all ages who, when they begin a daily writing practice, find that long unspoken truths surface. They develop the personal power to change conditions that have caused them grief for a long time. I see this happen with my friends, I see this with my students at the Ramsdell Public Library in Housatonic, and in women I work with in the International Women’s Writing Guild. It does not matter where you live; women are, by gender, generally quieter, less willing to
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let uncomfortable truths be known. Most often, once these truths are expressed, women find more joy and devoted engagement in their lives. This is an optimal state for any woman, because it serves her personally—her safety and well being. It serves her family and the unmet needs that often exist there, and it serves her in a social way, because with a voice, a person can join conversations on every level—intimate, family, professional, and community, and even on a national or international level.
Mariam at AGAPA with Suzi
My friend Gina Hyams knew about this desire of mine, and suggested I meet John Stanmeyer of Otis, who is a National Geographic photographer and humanitarian. John was preparing to take a group of photojournalists to Armenia. He invited me to join the group in March of 2016. This both excited and terrified me. I have come to recognize that the feeling of being terrified and excited at the same time means that whatever I am considering is the right action to take. Simple terror means it is not the right choice for me. Most art-making is both terrifying and exciting, don't you think?
I do! So, what is your fascination with Armenia, and why? Suzi: My fascination was seeded by John’s belief that Armenia holds vast, untold stories and unrecognized beauty. He is correct. I spent two weeks in Gyumri, interviewing and photographing women artists in March 2016. While there, I learned of the long-held tradition of illuminated manuscripts in Armenia. It was the first Christian nation. The practice of hand-bound books has ancient and spiritual roots in Armenia. I expected to meet Armenian book artists, but I met none. I began to see that I could put this book-building practice into the hands of the women artists I met, while also teaching them the beginning steps of a daily writing practice, wedding the ancient and the contemporary. I have all the skills I need to do this, plus an amazing
Photo credit: Knar Babayan
translator. This led me to the idea of New Illuminations as a continuation of my interviews with women, inquiring about the thresholds they cross into creative practice, a writing and art workshop in which I teach two different book forms, and an exhibit, which was a collaboration with HAYP Pop Up Gallery of Yerevan, Armenia. What kind of questions do you tend to find most essential when interviewing women artists from Gyumri, and do you speak their language? Suzi: I don’t speak Armenian, so I rely heavily on my translator. Last March, Annie and I spent long days together, interviewing three or four women a day. This was exhausting in so many ways. Listening to the flow of Armenian, while soaking up emotional cues, hearing their responses and knowing the next right question—this was like skiing steep bumps, lots of tiny adjustments being made all of the time, while keeping my heart open and my muscles supple so I could respond authentically. There were many tears in these interviews, and many awkward moments. I learned many women in Gyumri had never discussed their work as work, as meaningful occupation. Questions like, “Tell me when you first thought of yourself as an artist.” or “What are the influences on your work; what do you see that makes you do what you do?” or “Tell me what you dream of doing.” or “Who supports you in your work?” always lead to revelation. And
tears. Women just don’t have the experience of being listened to, being seen and heard as important and worthy. My questions were often met with, “You are the first person to ever talk to me like this.” Who is New Illuminations open to, and how did you select the artists you worked with? Suzi: In March, my translator led me to the first 25 women I interviewed. Even after my first day of talking to people, connections sprouted everywhere. By the end of my two weeks in March, people were stopping by the place I was staying, leaving notes, “You must speak to my mother. She is a painter.” My first list of women artists for the November workshop was from those initial interviews. Then Annie put out an open call to Armenian women artists in Gyumri. She had over 50 responses, each one sending her images of their work, reasons why they were the right women to select. Annie has a very good sense of what I aimed to accomplish. She selected first 10, then 15 women whom we worked with. I could have taught the workshop three or four times over. Plus, there were men who wanted to learn. The only book artist I met was a young male architect who learned to make a Coptic Stitch Journal on YouTube. The book he made is lovely, but I am way better than YouTube. I hope I can work with him the next time I am in Gyumri. Continued on next page...
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Opening Night Gyumri
How does one begin to get involved in New Illuminations? Suzi: It depends on what you mean by involved. Here in the United States, I am looking for foundation support for the project’s future. With my collaborators, Anna Gargarian and Charlotte Poulain, I see New Illuminations as a five-year project where I will continue to teach women, eventually teaching them to teach. We will work in other Armenian cities and villages, collecting more creative women to the project so that a body of contemporary illuminated manuscripts begins to coalesce. The women who did not get in this time form the list for 2017’s workshop in Gyumri. I will continue my interviews and look for more ways to interact with Armenian women and teens. Empowerment may just be something you’re in tune with because you are point blank Daring. You enjoy communication as an art form and find it not only therapeutic but also visually entertaining. I’m wondering, what was the first project you mastered that gave you the sense of freedom to work on more collaboration with other women artists? Suzi: The first project I mastered was in college in
the late 70s. One of my beloved directors created a show of women’s words called Metamorphosis. She cast only women actors, dancers, and design staff. Aside from growing up with three sisters and a single mother, this was the first time I worked solely with women. I loved it. Now, readers may wonder why I focus so much on women's voices. I have worked with and love many men, my husband and son first on that list. But I have grown up, as all of us have, reading texts by men, seeing movies and plays written, directed, and produced by men, hearing songs sung by men, so many men men men. I am hungry to hear more work and words by women, simply to balance out what is available. How in the world can we value women’s contributions to our society and culture if we cannot hear them and only judge vocal women as “too big” or “bossy” or “b*tches?” There is slow change in the United States. We still have a far distance to go. In the past two years, I have been involved in two large collaborative projects, which have inspired me beyond measure. The first was curated by Melanie Mowinski of PRESS gallery in North Adams, a group show of 12 women artists on the theme of freedom and constriction, titled Paper Dresses. And Pooja Rue’s Rites of Passage at the
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Whitney Center for the Arts in Pittsfield. I co-created the Kitchen in that installation with my collaborator Karen Arp-Sandel.
Suzi, what does empowerment mean to you? Can you define it first from a personal point of view, and then from one that pertains to our lives and our times? Suzi: Empowerment means moving as your fullest self, no hiding, no shrinking, and no fear that you will be harmed for living full-out. This movement in a person’s life means that they see only possibility, even with challenge, even with difficulty. An empowered person has access to the tools needed to explore their potential, without restriction. We cannot fail to stand for all women to be voiced, to know the joy of authentic, inspired action that rises forth from fully awakened selves.
Do you think history has an important role for the young women in today’s world? How? Suzi: History is a bellwether. I try to express to my children, a son and daughter, just how recently women in the United States have acquired our current freedoms. This presidential race was a perfect opportunity for them to witness vivid inequality as
New Illuminations workshop group with Suzi Banks Baum, Armenia
it relates to race and gender. I like to ask young women, who was the first woman in their family to vote? Where did they live and what did that mean for them? Usually, this means that they have more questions to ask their elders, but that inquiry always leads to the realization that women’s participation in our democracy is something that only arrived within the last 4 generations. That is when the young women I’ve spoken to begin to recognize the heat of our current situation, the presence of that glass ceiling, and the reason why many older women are so rabidly angry about certain conditions in the United States today. Internationally, there is so much to learn, so many tragic lessons. Today there are uneducated young women my daughter’s age who are in forced marriages and are mothers to two or three children long before they are 20, who have no clue about how to survive and thrive in the world. Injustice and imbalance exists both in historic and present times. It is urgent that we wake up to historic patterns and make different choices, stand for freedom and justice for all, and sincerely mean the all part.
Suzi, tell me about your formative years with your family, and where that was? Suzi: I was born in Evanston, Illinois, the first
Photo credit: Knar Babayan
daughter to my parents, who had three more girls over the course of 11 years. We lived on the north side of Chicago until I was nine, when we relocated to Escanaba, Michigan. I love the Great Lakes region; much of my family lives there. My roots are deeply sunk in to the rocky soil of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. My family life was not a cakewalk. My father suffered through life as an alcoholic, which created a whole lot of stress for my mother and my sisters. He left when I was 14, which began a very interesting part of my life. That was 1972. My mother struggled to find a place for us to live in Escanaba. Homeowners were unwilling to lease a place to a single mother of four. My sisters and I are hearty souls because of all we experienced. My mother was a schoolteacher, and knew something of how to make joy out of any circumstance. She had a huge task to accomplish, raising us alone. What was given to you from your family that helped you to see the value in expressing yourself through art? Suzi: I found family in theatre. That is just the way it all began for me. I learned to sew from my grandma Mimi when I was ten, because my mother did not have the time or skill to make me clothing
I liked. So necessity brought the fiber arts into my life. What I longed for though, all through high school, was to be part of a vigorous group of people who made beautiful things. I had remarkable teachers in high school—in music, in theatre, in political science, and in literature. They shaped me, I knew I could trust them, and they supplied something I needed in the way of direction, which was not evident in my home life. I skipped out on a lot of hours at home because I worked on plays all the time, but it provided me with a level of connection through expression that I needed badly. Suzi, you were on the creative team of the Muppets—my favorite of all time. Please tell me how you got this position, and what was your time with the Muppets like? Suzi: I pursued my acting career in New York City after spending three seasons with Actors Theatre of Louisville. I was an actress who made a living as a seamstress. This was way better than waitressing… more interesting, every day was different, and I met and worked with amazing people. Martha Graham, for one. Somehow, I landed in a small studio run by a husband and wife team, Deborah Lombardi and Bruce Morozko, Continued on next page...
THE ARTFUL MIND JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 • 29
Shushanik and Suzi
Photo credit: Knar Babayan
who had just left the Muppets studio to begin their own work. They were the creative team behind the Miss Piggy and Kermit calendar. Do you remember Miss Piggy‘s Guide To Life? Bruce and Deborah were on the team that created that. So when they hired me, they had just gotten the contract to create the sets, costumes and props for the new Cabbage Kids magazine and eventually for the display windows in the Cabbage Patch flagship store on 5th Avenue, across from the NY Public Library. As the seamstress (which is a title I hate—I was the stitcher. That is what we were called in costume shops), I was the one to sew all the tiny costumes Deborah designed. Tiny jackets, the stitch length set to scale, little hats and matching everything. Berkshire resident Ellen Maggio worked with Bruce and Deborah making all the props for these projects. Ellen had migrated out of the Muppets world also. Deborah was a genius, and together she, Bruce, and Ellen would come up with solutions to questions like, “What does a Cabbage Patch Kid dressed as a pirate use for a sword?” I was the worker bee, generating finished pieces that they then used in the photography studio sets for the magazine or the window displays.
Writing with Mom and Julia “My dad probably took this. You can imagine how grateful I am that he did. Oh how I wish I had that swimming suit again.” - Suzi
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Where did this job with the Muppets lead to? Suzi: This job led me to more costume shops with the confidence that I could sew almost anything, except velvet. I stunk at velvet then. The last Broadway show I worked on was Phantom of the Opera, with the original cast. I was stitching magnificent lace to glorious brocade for an actress who would
Interview Room New Illuminations
stand in the back of a crowd onstage and never be seen by the audience. It was such a lavish use of funds, all for the splashing, lush beauty of the production, but I knew there was more for me in life than layering fabrics that per yard would have covered my rent every month. I had to get out of it. The fine sewing skills I’d learned under Deborah led me to work with a couturier for a few years before starting my own custom clothing business.
Is there anything similar to this work that you adore doing today? Suzi: Hmm… knitting and felting, though I don’t do much felting these days. I love to knit. It is more sculptural than sewing, more dimensional. But I love sewing too. What has taken the place of those years sewing in costume shops, for Cabbage Patch Kids, for the Martha Graham Dance Company and many others, is a consistent passion for fiber, for the expressiveness in clothing, and the extraordinary details that different cultures use in the fiber arts. Have you seen Armenian embroidery or Swiss lacework, German zippers or French ribbons? I get weak-kneed over silk ribbon and I swoon over hand-bound buttonholes; I get dizzy over all things millinery.
How did you start acting? For me, all it took was the final journey of art-making, when I read Les Miserables from start to finish, then auditioned, got my first role… I was bitten by acting for good. And you? Suzi: Theatre started for me in grade school. I was
Photo credit: Raffi Berberian
in an after-school theatre group at Indian Boundary Park in Chicago. I was cast in The Pied Piper of Hamelin. I will never forget this moment: In a quick change from boy to rat, I was jammed in to a bathroom stall, wriggling out of my knee-high wool socks that had a red maple leaf on the calf. I had to slip into my hairy rat costume. I recall it like it was just this morning, looking at my legs in those socks and lace-up boots, thinking about playing a boy, who then turns in to a rat. Life could only get more exciting from there, to play with the transformation that theatre allows, to leave this world and enter another… I was hooked. I still am. I got cast in WAM Theatre's 24 Hour Theatre project a few years ago and had more fun than I thought was allowed, in Cindy Parrish's The People of Corn, directed by Corinna May. Theatre is ultimately collaborative. Theatre is how I think.
Did you ever get caught having to decide whether it’s going to be a visual thing or another medium entirely? How can an artist make easier decisions when torn between the various mediums he or she can utilize? Suzi: I am very disciplined. I write every single morning. This serves as a palate cleanser for my internal drive. I tune in to what my next right steps are and follow those instructions pretty closely. I have more of a problem with time, with how to use my hours well on the various things I do. Also, I go through periods of doing more painting than sewing, more books than poems, more gardening than knitting. I have had to loosen up and follow
what is intriguing me at the time and work there. Making books also marries so much of what I love—color, texture, paint, paper, thread, words and the unexpected. These days, I could make books all day long. Do you find that the Berkshires works with you, or do you find yourself having to work for the Berkshires? Suzi: The Berkshires are the place my husband Jonathan and I chose to raise our family. For the first 13 years of motherhood, I was a full-time mom, volunteering at my kids’ school and in a few places in town; I hung my laundry on a cotton rope in my backyard, gardened and learned to teach yoga. I knit in a regular knitting circle and I have been part of a Moon Circle, a group of women who meet on every single full moon, for almost 19 years. In this way, the Berkshires worked with me, making it possible to have an interesting life while mothering. I did not have to spend my days in the playgrounds of New York City or trawling coffee shops for conversation. I had stuff to do that I could do while mothering, with intriguing, passionate people. Thank you Berkshire County. But then, when my son was 13, I realized I was missing a big part of myself, the expressive part. And thankfully, again, the Berkshires offered me wonderful learning opportunities that opened my internal doors to the world. I am just coming to the fullest expression of my work this past year. Kristen van Ginhoven is a part of that, John Stanmeyer is a part of that, the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers, my dear collaborators, my Continued on next page...
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Found word poem In Your Breath Suzi Banks Baum
students, the audiences, have all contributed to traction, the feeling of finally getting somewhere, at last.
What is one form of art you will NOT go near with a ten-foot pole, and, why? Suzi: I cannot stand the smell of oil paints or encaustic materials. I am not a welder, though I have tried it. And as much as I have studied dance—I love to dance, I love moving—I will not ever dance in public. (Okay, now that I have said all that, I bet next year I will get cast in a show where I play a woman who is a tango dancer, who also welds.)
Are you building up for a project so outrageous, you don’t even know how you will begin? (and it’s okay if it’s still just a pipe dream.) If there was a project that would be your ultimate, what would it be? Suzi: So big I can hardly dream it? Well, New Illuminations, as a long term project of contemporary illuminated manuscripts made by Armenian women artists, exhibited around the world, which generates enough financial support that it seeds other projects in other places with other artists, revives indigenous art practices and gives voices to silenced people… there is that dream. Another is my book, Laundry Line Divine, hugely successful in hard copy, translated into other languages. I do book tours where I go to faraway places and sit in sacred circles with women, listening to stories of motherhood, like in Iowa or Alabama. That is a dream. And one more? I have a growing desire to
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Suzi at Penland School of Arts and Crafts Photo by Lee Irwin
work with teenagers in the United States in visual storytelling and book-making, where they get their hands off electronics and put all their gorgeous attention into story, creating containers for those stories, and igniting several generations of young people who have strong hands for daily creative work. I would do that anywhere in the world, and today. Do you do your own marketing? And I’m wondering, with all the know-how you have accumulated, are you prepared to keep creating while so much craziness is going on in the world today? Technology moves so fast… as for myself, I hope I can keep up with it and not end up running in the back of the race. Your thoughts? Suzi: I believe that if I do my work with integrity, if I stand in my value, no matter what, and continue
to listen and talk to people, my work will get out in to the world. I am not naive to the power of marketing. I have been blogging to build my platform for seven years. I have built an audience that cares about my work, my Rampant Sisterhood. I am compelled to keep creating, no matter what. I believe that people who use their hands and hearts to create beauty out of what we find in the world tend the soul of humanity. We bear history in our hands. So, no Harryet, I am not backing down. And neither should you. Yes, there is a mad race to innovate the next best thing. But there is also a wide swath of people who need to be represented and heard in order for the soul of humanity to thrive. From whom have you learned great things, and what were those great things? Suzi: This could be a book-length response. I have
Binding Books Suzi's Bless book, Paulus' mug on his porch
great teachers—some alive, some gone. My first theatre professor at Northern Michigan University, Dr. James Rapport, who had also taught my best teacher in high school, Peter D. Adamini… those two guys opened my eyes to the magic and power of theatre. My high school English teacher Charles Dedic started me keeping a journal. Here in the Berkshires, Ulrike Grannis, M.C. Giroux and Karen Arp-Sandel started me making books. Janice Lawry started me writing. In the bigger world, Jan Phillips shows me the importance of igniting my voice, Eunice Scarfe listens to me with her huge intelligence and nods yes yes yes. I have had so many great teachers, like Joy Seidler of Holliston, MA, Jill Rogers, Anne Davin… and Regena Thomashauer taught me about being a fully awake woman. My yoga teachers. My voice teachers. But of all, my beloved mentor Paulus Berensohn of Penland School of Crafts who tells me, "It's not about making art, it's about making a life."
Are you willing to teach others to do what you do? Suzi: I love to teach. I started teaching Sunday school in the Lutheran Church I grew up in, and to this day, I love teaching. But to teach what I do? Now that is a good question, because I think what I do is a mosaic of my whole life, my upbringing and spiritual life in and out of church, of the yearn-
ings that drive me to cliff edges from which I jump, the beauty and trouble I have lived though and the way I create from that. Terry Tempest Williams, who is one of the absolute, most important influences on my work says, "It is the work of daring contemplation that inspires action." I could say something self-deprecating here, like, "Why would someone want to learn to do what I do? I am not successful in the usual ways people succeed." I am still capable of thoughts like that. But then, I think of my students, of the women in Armenia, of the years I have spent writing with people, the joy I feel folding papers together to make books that I then write into—I teach people to do this all of the time, and I see what that does to them, the energy that rises forth. With thoughts like that, I know I am successful, and the usual ways of success, I don't care about.
Do you think it is important to attend a good college these days? Suzi: Yes and no. If you want to go work hard and learn lots of things about different topics and pledge to not drink yourself into oblivion, then yes, go to school, preferably a liberal arts college so you can combine Japanese literature with biology with gender studies with calculus. Go to school. After that, go to a craft school, or do that in the summers. Or work outside, go work at a camp or be a guide or
anything that lets you spend weeks without a roof over your head at night. The woods are good teachers. But no, if you are not interested in learning from adults in organized settings where you have to read and write a lot, please don't go to college. Go apprentice yourself to a poet or a welder or a politician, and see what you see.
Do you think Berkshire kids are staying around here for the arts opportunities, or taking off for the cities the way they use to about 15 years ago? I notice many of them returning and finding themselves a nice niche… Suzi: Some of the kids of my friends are here working, and I love to see that. I don't see my kids returning here, at least not for a long while. What makes you inspired to go out each day and attack your challenges? It must be more than just a good cup of coffee, no? Suzi: I don't drink coffee, but the thread I follow is morning. I love the way morning comes. I love waking up. I love the sounds of morning, the ways that villages and cities wake up. I love that quiet time right before dawn, which even happens in New York City, a pause before sunrise. Love inspires me, my family inspires me, and collaboration, the joy of doing good work. Continued on next page....
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Do you feel that making art can solve personal problems? Why do we not do this more? It’s so easy for many to just go to the bars… how does one introduce and inspire a new direction in someone who feels locked in, repressed and troubled? Suzi: This is a huge question, and one that my expressive arts therapist friends could answer better than I. Expression has salvaged many difficult passages in my life, and when things were unusually difficult, more often than not I was not fully engaged enough in my own work to be my best self. Making art of any form—graffiti or ballet—it is all a collaboration with whatever you call spirit, between you and the world, you and what is greater than you. The capacity to slow down enough to smell inspiration, to be responsive to your inner visions—that state of being unlocks story, frees truth, and lets beauty into lives. This relates back to the question you asked me earlier about writing and hope and the world. I see it in my students; the more they are engaged in art-making, while also living their lives with families and jobs and responsibilities, the more new solutions arise to answer long silent questions that the creative practice gives them space to ask. "If I am so unhappy in this job, what steps can I take to remedy that?" Joy takes a seat at the table of your decision-making and you make better and better choices about how you live your life.
Karen, Suzi and Lori at Depot 6, West Stockbridge, MA
Are there any actors you have been on stage with who thrilled you to pieces? Who, and why? Suzi: Onstage? Nearly everyone I have been on stage with thrilled me in some way—most recently Dana Harrison. I think, more than that, I have watched amazing actors and dancers work from very close, like Kevin Kline or Glenne Headly, Holly Hunter and Chris Cooper, John Turturro and June Stein, Deborah Hedwall and Ken Jenkins, my close friends Daniel Jenkins, Bryan Johnson, and Jayne Atkinson. The dancers at Graham, Terese Capucilli and Peggy Lyman. It is instructive to watch people work fully immersed. They inspire me, even if I am watching.
Do you still do any costume design? Suzi: No, I don't do any costume design at all. I worked on plays at my kids’ school, but I don't dip in to that anymore. I have a huge stash of fabric in our attic that needs to be used. Every once in a while, I contemplate donating it to Shakespeare and Company, but then I think I might start sewing again.
Cast of Say deKooning by Martha Swope 1987
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Photo credit: Martha Swope
Has it been easy to be a good influence on your kids? I sometimes feel that when I say the opposite of what I’m thinking, they end up doing what I think is best… Reverse psychology has a strong hold in my family! Suzi: Oh my gosh. It is not easy to be a good influence on my kids. I used to never swear, at all. Then for a while I started to drop the "f" bomb, as my friend Jeff calls it. I hate the way swearing sounds in other people's language, so I can only imagine how coarse it sounds on my lips. I think limiting your language to those words is a negative influ-
Peggy Reeves and Stella Bellow Illuminations Movie Day Photo by Lynnette Najimy
ence on kids. But if living a life that is inspired, as Terry says, by "daring contemplation?" Then I guess I am a decent influence on my kids.
If you could take a mental snapshot of anything in the entire universe, what would it be, and how would you translate it onto paper—or any medium? Suzi: It would be a wide-angle snapshot of the changing face of Lake Superior, the clutter on the beach, or windswept sand, the way that water changes the land, the way the land mirrors the water, the unknowable depths and the glittering beauty of that magnificent body of water. All the wild places, the boundary waters and small islands, lighthouses and shipwrecks, all the small fishing towns, these would be chapters in a huge, beautiful book that would contain hand-written stories, photographs, collages, and small paintings. There would be leather pages in the book worked in beads and embroidery that I learn from the native women who still live near the lake in Minnesota. There would be drawings of plants, pressed leaves, and pigment made from berries that I find on the shores. Chapters would be edged in linen dishtowels, containing the stories of miners and their families and what the woods were like before white people pillaged the forest. Embedded in the book would be birdsong and all the different voices of the wind. The book would be carried in a basket woven of black ash and sweetgrass, a birch handle carved to fit my hand by Mike Saugatuck, the basket maker who taught my mother to weave. The whole thing, the book and its contents, the basket and the maker would be blessed in a ceremony crafted for a white woman whose love is the forest floor, moss, water, kingfishers, trout, long reaches of light, and threatening conditions which call for a strong mind and resilient body. I would make that book with my friends Terri, Kathleen, Diane, Kathy, and Monica—all women artists who love the Upper Peninsula like I do. Or… the same kind of magical tome made in Armenia by many women and me, inspired by the hands of Armenians cradling grapes, children, pomegranates, and the yellow candles they burn in churches, hummed over by a duduk played by a stonecarver.
What is your most relevant message right now to set the stage for women in the arts for 2017? Suzi: It is never, ever too late to follow the thread of joy in your life, especially in these times that seem so difficult. Your story matters for you now and for our common future. SuziBanksBaum.com Thank you Suzi!
Suzi and Catherine Photo by Christina Lane
THE ARTFUL MIND JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 • 35
GINA COLEMAN & MISTY BLUES BAND
Jane Feldman: As I set up my equipment to photograph Gina Coleman for this Artful Mind cover story, on the eve of her band's latest album-release concert, I thought to myself how much she reminded me of so many of the classic blues legends of the past. That was my inspiration for the shoot. I grew up in a house where Billie Holiday sang my nightly lullaby as a kid. I’ve always loved the blues! I helped style Gina for the shoot—dressed in period clothes and jewelry—not that she appears onstage that way, but I wanted to see the classic blues legend emerge before my lens—and she did! When Gina draped a vintage stole over her shoulders, she mentioned that the stole had belonged to her grandmother who, as a child in
INTERVIEW AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY JANE FELDMAN INTERIOR PHOTOGRAPHY BY LEE EVERETT
rural Louisiana, was purported to be the next Marian Anderson. I instantly got chills when Gina told me that, and it felt as if we had conjured the spirits of her grandmother, Marian Anderson, Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Alberta Hunter, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and more! I knew this was going to be a special shoot. I first met Gina three years ago at the Javits Center in NYC, during the Book Expo. She was supporting her husband and son as they were signing copies of their newly-published comic book series, entitled Awesome Robot Science Fiction Action Comix. This project started out as lunchbox notes and drawings that her husband
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would send to school with their son. As we chatted that day, we discovered we had numerous powerful mutual connections. I knew fate would bring us together again. Today, as I sit with this Berkshire County renaissance woman, I'll attempt to share her story, motivations, hopes and passions.
Are you originally from the Berkshires, or are you a transplant? Gina Coleman: Actually, I was born and raised in the housing projects of the South Bronx. I was afforded an opportunity to go away to high school through a program called A Better Chance (ABC). ABC is national non-profit organization that identifies gifted students of color and allows them to attend
Misty Blues members: L to R & Back to Front: Aaron Dean, Rob Tatten, Gina Coleman, Jason Webster, Ben Kohn, Bill Patriquin, Jeff Dudziak the Stationary Factory, Dalton, MA Photo: Jane Feldman
the best public and private secondary schools in the country. I attended Wellesley High School and lived in a scholarship house on the Wellesley College campus with five other scholarship recipients. Our residential directors were a married couple who had both graduated from Williams College. After attending Wellesley High School, I was fortunate enough to gain acceptance to Williams College. Upon graduating from Williams, I knew the Berkshires was the place I wanted to call home.
What did you do upon graduating from Williams? Gina : I first worked as a paraprofessional at Hillcrest Educational Centers in Lenox, MA. Hillcrest is a residential and educational treatment facility for children with varied social, emotional and developmental disabilities. After a few years at Hillcrest, I spent some time working at General Electric Plastics, in sales. While at GE Plastics, I pursued my Master’s in Education at MCLA. Upon completing my M. Ed, I took on a position at Williams College as an Associate Director of Admission. After nearly a decade in Admissions, I became Associate Dean of Students at Williams. In addition to the admissions and dean's work, I served as the Head Women's Rugby Coach
there. Actually, this year will be my 21st year as their head coach. About four years ago, I left the Dean's Office to first serve as the Director of Education at Hillcrest Educational Centers, and now I am the principal at Herberg Middle School in Pittsfield.
I thought I heard someone refer to you as Dr. Coleman… Gina: Yes, somehow, I managed to complete a PhD in Educational Leadership & Policy from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. I have a staggering capacity for work... actually, a fervent disdain for idle time. When did you start performing music? Gina: I was always passionate about music. I started playing the piano at the age of five, and I played various instruments from that point through high school. Oddly, I put music aside during my years at Williams. Upon graduating from Williams, some of my co-workers at Hillcrest took me to an open mic night at a small club in Pittsfield called La Cocina. That night, someone in the group dared me to go onstage and sing a song. I had never been a vocalist, but I also had issues passing up a harmless dare. I took the dare and sang Mercedes Benz by Janis Joplin. To
my astonishment, I won that open mic night... $75. It took me a long time to embrace that I had some actual vocal talent, but the response I received from listeners was too enticing to ignore. Additionally, there was an escape I experienced when I sang that I have yet to experience in any other part of my life. That alone made performing not solely something I wanted to do, but something I needed to do. How did your music progress from that fateful dare? Gina: I started out doing solo performances for open mic nights, but my professional career (actually being paid) started in a duet with Dave Lincoln. We were known as The Siblings. Dave really provided me with a foundation in live music performance. After a few short years, I was really yearning for a bigger sound. When I met guitarist Matt Mervis, he afforded me the opportunity to start my first band, Cole-Connection. Along with Jeff Dudziak and Bill Patriquin we performed as Cole-Connection until 1999. Jeff moved to Boston and Matt was on to other projects, so a shift was on the horizon. During the summer of 1999, I was offered a role in the Williamstown Theater Continued on next page...
THE ARTFUL MIND JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 • 37
Gina Coleman Photos: Lee Everett
Festival's production of A Raisin In The Sun. That turned out to be my first true education in the blues. After the run of that show, I asked Bill Patriquin, dear friend/guitarist Jason Webster and drummer Dan Teichert if they wanted to start a blues band... they were up for the adventure.
Tell me more about the origins and development of Misty Blues. Gina: The summer of 1999 was truly special. Williamstown Theater Festival was putting on their first African American production, A Raisin In The Sun. Gwyneth Paltrow was also doing a production at the Williamstown Theater Festival on the heels of her best actress Oscar win for Shakespeare In Love. I was in my first theatrical production with actors of the highest regard… Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Kimberly Elise (from Set It Off and Beloved), Gloria Foster (The Oracle from the Matrix) and Viola Davis. By the way, Viola owes me $10 to this very day. She bet me that we wouldn't get a standing ovation after every performance, and we did... pay up girl! Actually, the first major affirmative of my vocal abilities
came at the end of the first performance of the play. Upon exiting the backstage door, I was met by throngs of people seeking autographs from the prominent actors in the production. Suddenly, a beautifully spunky gray-haired woman rushed me and proclaimed her admiration for my singing. Then she asked me to stay put, as her husband wanted to meet me as well. She disappeared through the crowd, and moments later she emerged with her husband in tow… Mandy Patinkin. I thought I was having visions, but it was really him, and he was effusive with praise. Upon the conclusion of the play, the lead actor, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, turned me on to a CD collection called Men Are Like Streetcars. It was a collection of female blues artists, from Bessie Smith to Tracy Chapman. Female blues became the foundation of Misty Blues. Slowly but surely, we rolled in classic songs from male blues artists and our own originals. To date, we have recorded six studio albums. Who are the members of Misty Blues? And tell me more about your latest recording project.
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Gina: Misty Blues includes myself as lead vocalist, Jason Webster on guitar, Jeff Dudziak on guitar, Bill Patriquin on bass, Rob Tatten on drums, Ben Kohn on keys and Aaron Dean on saxophone. Oddly, nearly half of the band members are educators in the Pittsfield Public Schools. Aaron is the principal at Crosby Elementary School and Rob Tatten is the band director at Reid Middle School. I affectionately refer to Jason Webster as my work husband/longest standing co-worker. Jason spent years touring with Arlo Guthrie. He has performed with Pete Seeger, Little Feat, Ramblin Jack Elliot, Kris Kristofferson, Richie Havens, John Sebastian and Willie Nelson. Needless to say, Jason also performed at most of my bucket-list venues. When Cole-Connection bassist Dan Broad moved on to other projects, I put up a flyer at Wood Brothers Music in Pittsfield looking for a new bass player. Immediately after putting up the flyer, I went straight home to find the phone ringing. I rushed into the house and the person on the line was Bill Patriquin. He said, “I saw your flyer and wanted to know if you were still looking for a bassist.” My response was, “I just put up that flyer
L to R: Gina Coleman, Garcia Mongue, Michael Mongue, Diego Mongue Photo: Jane Feldman
about fifteen minutes ago!” We must have been in the store at the same time. Bill comes from a musical family here in the Berkshires. His father, Bill Sr., is a longstanding performing guitarist. I first met Ben Kohn playing with the band True Blue at a little roadhouse in Worthington, MA called Liston's. The band was performing that night with Charles Neville. When I went to the venue, the lead guitarist, Charlie Mead, asked me to sing a number with the group. At the next set break, Charles Neville sat with me and expressed that he really enjoyed my singing and assumed I was in a band. He reached out to the venue owner and told him that he needed to book Misty Blues, as he wanted to perform with us. Shortly afterwards, we performed with Mr. Neville at Liston’s, and we have performed with him at least once a year ever since. I must give mention to the drummer who preceded Rob Tatten, Kali Baba McConnell. Kali provided me renewed perspective on the band. His vision and enthusiasm sparked me to write original blues music, and he schooled me on up-to-date marketing vehicles. If it weren’t for Kali, we would still have a clipboard at gigs to add people to our mailing list (snail mail). Our latest recording project is entitled Dark & Saucy. It is an original compilation of sassy musings, mixed with more introspective renderings. Dark & Saucy was engineered by Frank Kennedy and features Matt Berger, Ed Moran, David Vittone and Chris Conry as guest musicians. We also recorded a song on the album where Jason's daughter, Abigail, sings back-up vocals and my son, Diego, plays drums.
Tell me more about your songwriting and recording process. Gina: Even when I was writing music for Cole-Connection, songs came to me in whole form... lyrics and basic melody together. With Misty Blues, I generally take my lyrics and basic melody to Jason Webster. We then record the framework of the song and send it out to the rest of the band. They chew on it individually and when we get together… that is when the magic happens. Once the song is in the hands of the guys in the band, I let go. I have full faith in their abilities and in the marvel of their collaborative work. In terms of our recording process, our albums are recorded in a live format. I am steadfast about creating a true sound that can be replicated at an actual show. Our last three projects were recorded in local spaces with great sound, and our recording engineer, Frank Kennedy, moves in a recording studio. Our last two albums were recorded in the cafeteria of the Williamstown Community Preschool in Williamstown, MA. The true magic behind our recordings is Frank Kennedy. He is a recording genius! He has a fantastic ear and fully understands what we are trying to accomplish: honesty. When we
Painting by Michael Mongue Blue Lady
record, we set up in a circle in order to see each other. I conduct the solo sections based on what I feel should be heard next. The guys have to keep on their toes, because they never know who will be called next. It keeps it fresh and dynamic. Once we finish a song, we wait silently for Frank's voice over our headphones. If he says great, we move on... If he says let’s have another go, we do it again. We trust him implicitly. Continued on next page...
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L to R: Aaron Dean, Jason Webster, Gina Coleman, Matt Berger, Rob Tatten, Bill Patriquin
He has never given us any reason to doubt what he hears. He is truly our biggest supporter.
Who are your musical influences? Gina: I grew up listening to Motown and the Latin classics of Celia Cruz and Tito Puentes. I probably shouldn’t reveal my middle school obsession with Menudo, Misty Blues circa 1999 but it’s true. As a blues singer, I am most L to R: Dan Teichert, Jason Webster, Bill Patriquin, Gina Coleman inspired by the dynamics of Koko Taylor, Big Mama Thornton and Ruth Brown; their voices were larger than life. I am also drawn to the artists who were divinely inspired, ble in order to perform regularly. I favor playing with like Reverend Gary Davis, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and the full band for the energy we produce, but it can The Staple Singers. As a blues composer, I would be be an act of God to find us all free at the same time. remiss not to pay homage to Willie Dixon. Of course Many members in the band perform with other local there are more contemporary artists that I enjoy and groups. Jason also performs with a country band, respect, like Canadian blues artist Sunday Wilde, Whiskey City. Rob performs in the cover band Mr. Debbie Davies, Shemekia Copeland, Marcia Ball, Doubtfire. Jeff performs with The Abombs. Aaron and Benny are two of the most sought-after musiand the jazz duo Tuck & Patti. cians north of the Mississippi. Aaron plays regularly You have a sizable band. Is there a particular type with the Van Morrison tribute band Moondance, and Benny is an active member of the Rev Tor Band. of venue you prefer to perform at? Gina: With a seven-piece band, we have to be flexi- Given that, Misty Blues performs as a duo, trio, quar40 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 THE ARTFUL MIND
tet, etc.; it all depends on what the venue owner is willing to accommodate. Honestly, it is our versatility that has allowed Misty Blues to be around for nearly 20 years. We perform the same repertoire, but the configuration provides us a variety of ways to express ourselves musically. The different configurations keep the music fresh for the audience and us. In terms of venues, I prefer clubs... they are intimate enough for us to connect with the energy of the crowd, but spacious enough for the audience to move and express themselves. Big festival stages are also fun, but the closer I am to my bandmates and the audience, the more I am able to give back.
When I listen to the band I hear a mixture of blues, jazz and folk. Which is your favorite to perform, and why? Gina: I love the blues, and blues is folk with a little more soul. I really appreciate jazz, but I always feel like I'm not educated enough (musically) to do it well. There is an imperfection and forgiveness about the blues that makes it a much more endearing genre of music for me... just a real-life quality and essence.
Gina Coleman Photo by Lee Everett
What are the challenges of being a working musician in Berkshire County? Gina: The greatest challenge is the diminishing number of venues in the county. When I started performing in the early 90’s, there were dozens of musical options, four nights a week… Wednesday through Saturday. That’s why the band performs beyond the Berkshires. We perform regularly at Terra Blues on Bleecker Street in NYC, and we have recently taken up residency at a wonderful restaurant/club on Warren Street in Hudson, NY called American Glory BBQ. We have taken more extensive road trips to MoMo’s on Market Street in Harrisburg, PA and we also performed at the JW Club on Canal Street in New Orleans. All in all, I was thrilled about hosting our latest CD release concert at The Stationery Factory in Dalton, as it is the birth of a new musical venue in the Berkshires. The owner of The Stationery Factory, Steve Sears, is going through great strides to bring back a large venue for local and regional artists.
You have a beautiful family. Tell me more about how they are involved in the musical aspects of your life.
Misty Blues Top to Bottom: Bill Patriquin, Rob Tatten, Ben Kohn, Jeff Dudziak, Gina Coleman, Jason Webster
Gina: Aside from the latest album, my son Diego has performed with Misty Blues on several occasions. He studies drums with Misty Blues drummer Rob Tatten, and studies bass with steady musical collaborator Matt Berger. My husband, Michael Mongue, has provided the artwork for all of the Misty Blues albums. My youngest son, Garcia, is gunning for your job, Jane. He loves photography and captures the band whenever he is at a show.
What do your students think of your musical talents? Gina: Honestly, I try to keep that aspect of my life outside of the school. My cover was blown once. Charles Neville came to my school for an evening program with Andy Kelly's Jazz Ambassadors. He called me out on stage to sing a few songs with him—how do you say no to Charles Neville? Mr. Neville and Misty Blues go back at least a decade now. He performed on our fourth studio album, entitled Between The Stacks. He is such an amazingly talented, kind and giving individual. I am honored to call him a friend. What's left to accomplish musically? Gina: Wow, there is so much I'd love to accomplish.
I want to do a summer tour with Misty Blues in Ireland. I want to play in the Chicago haunts of Buddy Guy, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. I want to perform at the famed Tipitina's in New Orleans. I'd like to record an album at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL, and earn a Grammy nomination, for the loftiest of ambitions. Ultimately, I want to sing until I take my last breath on this earth.
For more info, contact, schedules & to purchase CDs: HYPERLINK "http://www.mistybluesband.com" www.mistybluesband.com HYPERLINK "http://www.reverbnation.com/mistyblues" www.reverbnation.com/mistyblues HYPERLINK "http://www.facebook.com/mistybluesband" www.facebook.com/mistybluesband Thank you Jane, Lee, Gina and members of Misty Blues!
THE ARTFUL MIND JANUARY/FEBRUARY • 41
ADAM GUDEON two separate pages from my new book Peeper and Zeep (Holiday House Books, 2017) Adam Gudeon
ILLUSTRATOR AND WRITER
Harryet Candee: Adam, you grace us with such wonderment through your illustrations. It’s almost like medicine, like chicken soup for the coldridden. Thank you. Those of us who adore animals and the nature of their being can really appreciate your artwork. How is it that animals appear so often in your art-making? Adam Gudeon: Thanks so much, Harryet. Young children have a close connection to animals and our animal nature that many grown-ups lose in part, as normal adult consciousness takes hold. I like to anthropomorphize in varying levels, combining human emotions and worldly concerns with our animal selves and spirit. I also like to draw animals.
Tell us about your new book, which is on the verge of coming out. And please tell us where we can buy one. Adam: My new book is an early-reader, part of Holiday House Books’ I Like to Read series. It's called Peeper and Zeep. Peeper is a bird and Zeep is an alien. They have both fallen from the sky and they are lost. They find each other and together call upon A. Frog, an inventor, engineer and... frog, to help them get home. It can be purchased at any of the
INTERVIEW BY HARRYET CANDEE
usual online sources, and preferably at one's local, independent book store.
Tell us about your journey up here to the Berkshires, where it seems you are happiest. Adam: I lived in New York as a child, but went to Camp Eisner in Great Barrington for a few summers. My parents also had a small house on Lake Buel, which I visited occasionally from the time I was a teenager. When I was looking to move out of Brooklyn in the mid 90s, I was drawn back to the Berkshires, as many are.
How do you feel about Pratt being the place where you did your educational groundwork? Was it really helpful for you and your art-making to have attended that particular art school in NYC? Adam: Pratt in the mid 80s was certainly a multifaceted and formative experience in art education. There was the intense foundation year, some formidable teachers, brilliant and creative students, a crack- and crime-ridden neighborhood of clashing cultures, and a close vicinity to all the arts culture of the city. And now, how do you spend your day? Give us an
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example of what goes on for you. Adam: At the moment, I have children ranging from 17 months to 17 years. While this takes most of my time, they are also my inspiration. I'm presently working on murals with my seventeen-year-old son Ezra, and simultaneously creating books for newborns and infants. How do you decide on what medium to use before setting out to make an illustration? Adam: My media doesn't change much from project to project. I sometimes combine digital and traditional media, but I prefer mixed traditional media, working with my hands. I use ink, collage, oil crayons, colored pencils, wax, teabags, pencil, gouache, watercolor...
Does the excitement of a new medium sometimes generate new ideas and illustration themes for you? Adam: Blank paper, sketchbooks and having lots of supplies around help generate the work. When it comes to learning to draw and paint, do you advocate going to a class where the students
paint the same still life, or whatever, and drink wine? I mean, this is a social gathering more than anything, and I personally don’t like the idea of such classes. How helpful do you think this kind of class is, when compared to teaching one’s self, or going through formal, traditional schooling? Adam: I agree that it's a social gathering, and a bit of practice and fun doesn't hurt. Of course if one is looking to expand their idea and practice of drawing, it would help to work with an inspired instructor and, as with anything, to draw a lot. A sketchbook habit is great as an ongoing exploration that often forms the seeds of other works, as well as being works in themselves. What in your home life or in your past motivates and inspires you to do an illustration? Adam: I'm mostly writing and illustrating for children, so my children, my childhood, and retaining some child-like qualities motivates and inspires.
What happens when you want to draw, but your mind is a blank? Adam: That's the best kind to begin with. Worse is an addled mind.
What other art mediums have you played with (seriously or not seriously), loved, hated or want to go back to someday? Adam: At Pratt we explored them all. At the moment, I'm exploring working on a larger scale, as with the murals, and I'd like to work with those in the performing arts—to combine live drawing with dance and music. I'm also interested in doing some small, 3-D work somehow related to my illustrations for children. Do you listen to music when you draw? Adam: Yes, always when I draw, not so much when writing.
Does your mood affect your drawing? Is drawing therapeutic for you? Adam: Immersion and focus on anything good is healing. Ideally this is brought to all of life, but when the everyday is not quite going that way, art and artmaking can also be a refuge. Do you have personal drawings and public drawings, and are they different from each other? Adam: If the drawings are good enough in my eyes, I don't mind sharing them. If not they end up in the trash, or re-worked.
Adam, are you happy with your imagining skills—seeing things in your mind and then translating them onto paper? Is this one of your stronger mental tools? Adam: I see it as a most important skill, and vital to cultivate. Yes, I'd say it's one of my stronger areas. What artists do you admire—who are you constantly learning from these days? Adam: There are too many to say, but here are a few that are highly resonant for me at this very moment: Andre Francois, Beatrice Alemanga, Olya Leontieva, Shantell Martin, Rob Dunlavey, Paul Rand.
Where do you go for reference material, when it’s needed for a commercial art piece you’re creating? Adam: Illustrators used to keep picture files for reference; these days Google Images does all the compiling. Why is art in your life? Adam: It's essential. Thank you Adam!
Here are two illustrations, from two winter poems; the first is from a Matsuo Basho Haiku called When the Winter Chrysanthemums Go by Adam Gudeon the second is from a Robert Louis Stevenson poem called Picture Books in Winter
THE ARTFUL MIND JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017 • 43
Eve Schatz, Esq. at the 9th annual Free Legal Clinic and Thanksgiving Dinner at the Guthrie Center
EVE SCHATZ LAWYER
INTERVIEW BY HARRYET CANDEE
Why did you decide to become a lawyer? Eve Schatz: There are three or more generations of lawyers in my family but the decision for me was not automatic but rather circuitous. After advocating for patients’ rights in Florida and environmental protection rights here in GB, it occurred to me that I have something special to offer my community as a leader in the public interest arena. Every cause whose agenda I pushed for is a legal matter. I thought if I were an attorney and better understood how the system worked, I could become a more effective advocate. How did you first come to know the Berkshires, and why did you choose this as your place to live and work? Eve: I first came here as a child, and returned many
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF EVE SCHATZ
years later as a regular, part-time summer resident. The Berkshires impressed me as a heavenly place, and I admired these hills, wetlands, rolling fields, lakes, etc. I am a great appreciator of architectural detail, yet nothing is quite so beautiful to me as the land in all its geomorphology. Aside from your work as a lawyer, what are some of the other satisfying and essential parts of your life? Eve: I have a talent and a passion to act on a legislative level on behalf of the public interest, in which the whole society has a stake, and which warrants recognition, promotion, and protection by the government and its agencies. Most recently I proposed an amendment to a bill called S125 (police-wearable cameras) that, if adopted, will protect
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the dignity of victims of sexual crimes and preserve state evidence. My proposal specifically resolved what appeared as opposing or conflicting interests, and was enthusiastically received. The challenge inherent in this work is fun, and comes naturally to me. Originally, fire stations were privately financed and subscribed to. If you could afford to subscribe, the fire department would come and put the fire out at your house. What if your neighbor didn’t have this subscription? Well, your property could burn down, anyway. Now we have public fire departments to protect all of us. When public interest rules, we are all safer in life and property. The same holds true with medical care—if only the wealthy have access to medical treatment, then those who work for the wealthy will expose them to untreated
Detail of colorful rug made by Eve Series of Eveâ€™s screenshot
illnesses, increasing public vulnerability. This is the core necessity of public safety. Also, at Chesterwood Museum, during the ceremony where I was honored as one of the Berkshire 25, 2016, I took cellphone photos of one garden sculpture that morphed into a series of varying points of view of the same thing. I find it exciting to develop this idea into images.
Tell me more about your photography from Chesterwood, Eve. Eve: Details of the larger pieces revealed a certain aesthetic that excited me, made me laugh and pushed me on to keep looking deeper. I examined every inch of the photos and experimented with composition themes and color saturation by taking screenshots of details of the two original photos.
What resulted is a series of images that emit the sensibility and nuance of paintings. The phone images are illuminated which is an essential characteristic I hope will translate to the final product. I'm toying with the idea how to capture light in the use of different printing materials. John Clarke, Karen Anderson, Paul Solovay, and Jane McWhorter and John McGruer have all been very generous with their knowledge of the field. Their encouragement is so persuasive, I've decided to print the photos. John Clarke and I spoke about how the photos show different views of the same thing which is an interesting concept for a series. This concept is also evident in media analysis of current affairs including images of women and false media reporting widely discussed today. As a lawyer I see opponents with different views of what an outcome should be for
the same fact pattern. One might posit that my art is a metaphoric, illustrative snapshot of my current consciousness.
Other artmaking go on for you, Eve? Eve: A few years ago we had two long, dark, cold winters and I used that time to fulfill an old desire to make a rug. I improvised a loom from a hula hoop and used scraps of clothing to weave mandalas. I've been recycling materials since the 1970's when I refashioned down clothing into fresh designs. JoAnn Spies happened to come by and was taken by the process and product and invited me to participate in her event at the Rockwell Museum some time ago. Continued on next page... THE ARTFUL MIND JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 â€˘ 45
Tell us about a typical day when you’re hard at work, and also a day when you just play? Eve: I began my workday today speaking with an elderly man who is currently homeless and living with a friend, who would like to live in his house again; I spoke with the family of a woman who has stage-four cancer and needs end-of-life documents and property advocacy; Fed Ex-ed a refi; reached out to volunteers to help get the Berkshire Center for Justice’s end-of-year donation request out; took this interview; and submitted a grant that was due today. I also worked on the Berkshire Center for Justice's major fundraiser, our annual dinner-dance fundraiser. (It takes place on March 25th, and The Wanda Houston Band will be playing. We haven’t chosen a venue yet, but it will be announced.) No day is cookiecutter, and I like that. Clients are as individual as are their fact patterns, and the environment from which their questions spring. My job is to find the best strategy to promote a successful outcome.
How does compassion actually work in our favor, and can you give an example? Eve: My understanding of compassion is expressed through word and deed. One Buddhist definition of compassion is that it comes from “co” (together) and “passion.” Compassion and wisdom join together for balanced life… balance of heart and science/experience. True wisdom is to directly see for ourselves—not to have blind acceptance of what we are told, but to keep an open mind and examine beliefs that challenge our own point of view. This leads to true understanding. To be compassionate toward those who are not only different but appear unlikable requires courage, patience, flexibility and tolerance. Compassion is a door through which one may learn to distinguish the difference between Universal and relative truth—a baseline of wisdom. Those on the receiving end of compassion feel safe and regarded. Recent examples of compassionate acts include putting out a call for winter clothes for a client who otherwise would be cold, and the community gift to offer weekly free legal clinics. 30 seconds after I put out the call for clothing I was contacted by someone who donated a large bag of clothes in the right size. The benefit? We see a grateful man in GB, not a bitter, angry, cold man. When people get what they need when they need it, they feel better.
What’s the most important thing we can give to insure our children’s future? Eve: I'm concerned about the future of education. The world’s most precious resource is EVERYONE’S accessibility to knowledge, labs and tools so we can grow intellectually, learn about ourselves and working together, and invent what we need to bring us forward. To deny or withhold accessibility to resources is counterproductive.
compassionate based in that they guarantee you won’t be sued without knowledge.
What would be your one important message to people—something you feel strongly about—for this season and beyond. Our country is split in half. When confronted with contrast, an opportunity presents for us to know who we truly are and what we are made of, and to bond as community holding ourselves together, and up. During our most threatening and vulnerable times, when the world becomes unrecognizable, and we become unrecognizable to ourselves, what can remain is divine love. From horrifying events can arise unforeseen, magnificent turns. I have seen this time and again. As individuals and in community, we rise, if we choose to. Have faith.
Bubbles Photograph cropped detail
RUG Eve Schatz
Are there laws that you just don’t agree with, but have to work with on a daily basis? How do you manage? Eve: Of course there are laws I think should be changed. I’m the type of person who actively works to change them. I take comfort in the fact that some laws are compassion-based. There was a time when debtors in default of financial obligations were sent to prison and creditors could force the sale of a primary residence to satisfy a debt. Not so today, and debtor’s prison no longer exists and Massachusetts has a Homestead Act that protects homeowners within certain definitions. Before consumer protection laws, manufacturers lacked incentive to guarantee production of safe products and accurate advertising. The law regulates balance between rights and protections. Some civil procedure rules like notice and service are
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If you can change anything in your reality, what would that be, and how would you do that? When I founded BCJ 10 years ago, my intent was to develop programs that would in the most humane way possible, serve unmet legal needs in the Berkshires. What I didn’t focus on was how this very successful programming would be financed. Operating a charitable nonprofit on $15,000 per annum on which we served in excess of 100 clients and offered 50 free legal clinics, speaks to our dedication, efficiency, and most generous volunteer staff. It is time to prioritize our goal to raise $50,000 seed money while maintaining our essential programming. We are actively expanding our fundraising practices and volunteer Board to include experienced, connected people fully committed to grow Justice for All in the Berkshires. This is a call to attract fellow supporters.
How should people protect themselves from the negative energies that constantly invade our lives? What is your advice? Find balance between being informed but not obsessed with negative media. Be grateful for something every day. Take heart and forgive, and release. Discomfort felt during the forgiveness process transforms into an equal amount of peace. We all have moments when we feel scared/victimized/offended by people and events; or disappointed in ourselves. Holding on to those hurts blocks progress and keeps us in the dark. Unless you want it darker, examine the offense with insightful eyes; release your attachment to being right; forgive and release. In the words of a song I wrote a while ago, “Feel my heart. Free my soul. This is the spiral dance that goes, grows, glows.” There are many tools to deflect and release negative energies- you will find the ones that work best for you.
Eve, how do you celebrate the holidays? I don’t have a single tradition or ritual that I follow. My favorite holiday involves good food, and singing with loving, embracing friends and relatives.
If you could be anyone, from the present or from the past, who would that be, and why? It is my job to be myself, but I’m in love with Leonard Cohen, now more than ever. His lyrical, sensual musicality and exquisite use of language is a magic carpet on which I visit every emotion under the sun. He is a shining example how to age unblinkingly with dignity, style and acceptance. In his way, he touched the world and nearly everyone in it. His recent performances are his best, in my opinion, reflecting his adroit cultivation of his own ripening until the end. He possessed wisdom and humor. I’d like to be even a little bit like him. My superpower would be to freeze frame violence before it caused harm to anyone.
Tell us about how you grew up? Please paint a picture of your days of youth and learning? I grew up in the midst of civil rights activism, race riots and assassinations. I remember the shock of Kent State, and I draw a parallel there with the violence perpetrated at Standing Rock. I grew up in an atmosphere where questioning authority was encouraged, and women’s empowerment and the sexual revolution was something to discuss in the open.
Music was social commentary, producing unforgettable classics like Ohio, For What It’s Worth, and The Times, They Are a-Changin.’ I paid attention, and questioned myself as much as anything else I questioned, and I got involved. I took heat for asking questions. What’s the most important thing we can give to insure our children’s future? The world’s most precious resource is EVERYONE’S accessibility to knowledge, labs and tools so we can grow intellectually, learn about ourselves and working together, and invent what we need to bring us forward. Anything else, whatever it is called, is counterproductive.
What parts of your work now do you feel are unfinished and will always be there to challenge you? Diving deeper and broadening legal advocacy and strategic administration skills and connecting with mentors is a lifelong endeavor. Thank you Eve! Eve Schatz works in Great Barrington, Massachusetts
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NELLIE RUSTIK INTERVIEW BY HARRYET
Hi Nellie! Tell me, how are you? What is the Hartt School of Music like, and are you getting through the work needed to make your time there a great success? Nellie Rustik: Hello! I am doing very well thank you! Things are going really well at the Hartt school—the work there is both challenging and enjoyable, which to me is a great combination. The Graduate Professional Diploma Program only requires that I take nine credits a semester, and about half of those are taken up by voice lessons and coachings. I am also required to perform two recitals while I am there. But I have been able take some really great and important classes pertaining to my career field—diction courses (Italian, French, and German) as well as Opera History. My teachers are fabulous, and really make learning enjoyable. I think I am finally at a level of maturity where I can do well in my classes and actually like being in school. I was never really an academic person… I was always more interested in extra-curricular activities, even back when I was in middle and high school. It was a surprise, even to myself, when I decided to go back to school, as I never thought I would. I took three years off in-between, and it was at the suggestion of my voice teacher, Maureen O'Flynn (whom I study
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PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF NELLIE
with at Hartt), that I look into going back. I'm very glad I did, because I actually like school now!
As a soprano, please talk about the connection between the talent you were born with as opposed to the extensive training that has to take place. Nellie: As an opera singer, there are years and years of training involved. You have to train your voice, obviously, but also the body underneath the voice. Singing is such a bodily function—you have to be properly connected to your breathing, muscles, etc. All of this takes a long time to develop and coordinate. Plus, the voice and body mature naturally, so there is always something to work on. Depending on a singer’s body type and vocal maturity, a career can start in the early 20s, late 20s, early 30s, or beyond. Every singer is different, and their journey is different. I think I was born with the basic talent of any singer—a naturally good voice, adequate hearing, and an intuitive nature for music. I was also (thankfully) born with a very supportive and encouraging family, and a mother who recognized that my talent needed to be nurtured and cared for at an early age by a legitimate voice teacher. Most importantly though, I have always had an ambition to pursue
singing. I've had a lot of different interests, and moved through them freely through my life, but have found that singing is something that has continually stayed with me. It's something I've always wanted to pursue as a career, even when I wasn't so happy doing it.
Do you have a coach? Tell us about him or her. Nellie: I do have a fabulous coach, who I was lucky enough to begin working with at Hartt. His name is Eric Trudel, and he has truly changed my whole career trajectory. His knowledge is unparalleled—languages, repertoire—you name it, he knows everything about it. He's had an illustrious career himself, and has worked with a lot of great musicians. It's crazy to think that I now get to work with him, and draw on all of his insight and wisdom. Beyond Eric, I have worked with other great coaches in the Albany area as well.
What are your future goals in terms of your singing? Where would you like to end up living, performing? Nellie: I have big goals for my singing career. Within the next five years I hope to be singing at the large opera houses around the world—La Scala in Milan,
Covent Garden in England, Paris Opera in France, of course the Met in NYC, etc. I have some bucketlist opera houses as well—Boston Lyric, Santa Fe, Washington National, New Orleans Opera, and I'd love to sing as often as possible in Canada. I am looking to sing in competitions—the Met Nationals, Classical Singer, Operalia, among others. I'd also like to sing extensively with orchestras throughout the US, Canada, and Europe. And I'd love to have an extensive recital career. I have been putting together my own mini-recital tours for the past couple of years, and love working through the extensive artsong repertoire. It is beautiful music, and I am looking forward to exploring it more thoroughly. In terms of where to live, I think that where I currently live in Columbia County is actually an ideal spot. It is very close to Boston, NYC, and Canada, as well as various other travel options. While we might move away for a while for some reason or another, I do think that Chatham will be the place that my fiancé and I end up living long-term.
Do you consider acting and singing totally separate entities in your artistic career? Nellie: I don't consider acting and singing separate entities; quite the opposite, actually. Because we are singing text and not just a melodic line, as say an instrument would, an opera singer must take into consideration every detail of a character, and be able to
Nellie Rustik Hudson Opera House, Hudson, NY Photo: Lindsey Coons
convey that to an audience. The old idea of “park and bark” no longer applies, especially since we are such a technologically advanced society. Opera must now compete with the pyrotechnics of film, sports, television, and so much more that has captured our attention. Audiences want to see real and natural acting, as well as hear a gorgeous voice. We are the marathon runners of the performing world. I have had the great pleasure throughout my life to be able to not only work as a singer but also be involved in musicals and straight plays. I used to think I was behind, in experience, all the other singers I met because I hadn't spent as much time working on opera productions. But now I see that these other forms of performing have been a great addition to my arsenal of options to use onstage. I believe the greatest teacher of acting is real life, which is why I think learning onstage is better than in a classroom. What was your most loved singing experience, and why? Nellie: I have a couple of those. The first one I can remember was during the end-of-the-year recital, senior year of high school in Chatham. I was singing On My Own from Les Miserables, and I just remember standing there onstage and opening my mouth to sing. The next thing I knew, the audience was clapping for me, and people were rushing onstage to hug me. I don't remember anything while I was singing—
I was so engrossed in the text and the emotions of what I was singing, and it was a purely magical experience. Being so in-tune with what you're singing, and in the “sweet spot,” as I call it, doesn't happen all the time, so when it does, you take notice. The second time I can remember that happening was actually about ten years later, in 2015, when I sang my first lead role in an opera. It was with a small opera company, and the role was completely wrong for me, but again, it was exhilarating. That experience solidified for me the fact that I truly do want to make a career out of singing opera around the world. It's terrifying and exciting all at the same time.
Recital work is focused solely on you. Do you ever get really nervous before you get on stage? Nellie: Oh, of course! Singing recital repertoire is a different beast than singing opera. The singer needs to have an openness and vulnerability with the audience—much more so than in an opera. The best recitals are where the singer interacts with the audience, whether it's by explaining the pieces, giving historical information about the composers, etc. That part of the evening doesn't really make me nervous— for me, I always worry about flubbing up words or notes! And there is always that small nagging voice right before I start wondering if they will enjoy what I am singing; that's just part of the business. Continued on next page...
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Nellie and Shelley Roberts as a geisha in 'Madama Butterfly' Berkshire Opera Festival, 2016
During the holidays, do you catch yourself singing one song in particular that only comes up around this time of year? Can you share what song(s) it may be and why it means more to you than the others? Nellie: There are a couple of pieces that I have running through my head during the holidays. I absolutely love Bing Crosby and his Holiday Album. When I was younger we always played that album while decorating the tree, so it has a lot of good memories behind it. I have also spent many, many years singing in church choirs, which means many, many Christmas masses, so there are some hymns I think of this time of year. The Little Drummer Boy and We Three Kings are two of my favorites. Silent Night might be my all-time favorite, though. The simplicity, the beautiful melody, and the memories I have of singing it in church while the whole congregation lighted candles is seared into my mind. I think the words are definitely poignant at this time: “Silent Night, Holy Night, all is calm, all is bright. Round
yon virgin, mother and child. Holy infant so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace.” It's just gorgeous.
Where did you grow up? Nellie: I grew up in Claverack, NY with my mother, brother, dad and grandparents. I love Claverack—it's a very small town, but I spent a lot of time playing sports, drawing and painting, and singing as a child. I went to Claverack Elementary School through third grade, and then when it closed down, I started going to the Chatham Elementary School, where my mother was a teacher. I graduated from the Chatham School District in 2005. How were music and theatre introduced to you? Nellie: When I was at Claverack Elementary, we would perform a holiday concert every year, which included the entire school (it was a very small school). The concerts weren't just singing and playing, but were almost like actual shows; students had
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lines and everything. That was probably the very first time I participated in any sort of theater. At about this time my mother, brother, and I switched church communities, and ended up joining St. James Church in Chatham, NY. It was there that the priest, Fr. Gary, suggested to my mother that I start taking voice lessons—I’ve always had a natural talent and an outgoing nature. So at ten I began taking lessons with a local couple named Margery Ryan and Leo Geoke. Studying with them of course opened up a whole new world of music. I had known somewhat about musical theater, folk music, American popular song, but I began to learn about classical music and opera. I recently looked back on the music I was singing as a kid, and found my first piece, which was My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music. I also found music from Mozart, Schubert, Haydn, Carpenter, Barber, etc. These are composers that, as a child, I didn't even realize were so important, until I got older.
Nellie Rustak, HudsoN, NY
Who is your most important mentor, and why? Nellie: I have been really lucky, in that I've had more than one mentor in my lifetime. I've had multiple teachers who have cultivated and nurtured me over the years. They haven't been all voice teachers either; I've had some great art teachers at school, conductors, and even just close family friends. I'd have to say though, that my current coach has been my most influential mentor to date. As mentioned before, his knowledge and expertise has been paramount to my studies and career goals.
Technically speaking, what do you think is the key to good acting? Can you be specific? Nellie: In my experience, the best actors are the ones who are truly committed to every aspect of their character, and have really done the research to understand the details of the character. This means knowing the who, what, when, where, and why of every scene, and what comes before and after a scene. This past summer I had the fortunate opportunity to be a part of the New England Opera Intensive in Boston. We studied the acting techniques of Uta Hagen, who was a big proponent of what I just talked about in acting. It was there that I realized there was so much more to acting, in order to make
the characters alive onstage.
What do you do in your spare time (if you have any!)? Nellie: I like to spend as much time with my family as I can! I've recently become engaged to the most wonderful man, whom I've known for a long time (Matthew Meier), and we have become homebodies since we've been living together—we make dinner and watch movies. Or we'll do dinner with my dad and half-brother. We try to get together with his family as much as possible, and I see my mother a lot as well. My other brother lives in Tennessee, so sadly I only see him for the holidays. Other than that, I like to spend time drawing and painting, going to museums and classical concerts. I absolutely love getting coffee and doing brunch with Matthew and our friends, and we do it as often as we can; we have a favorite place in Chatham called Ben Gable Savories, but also enjoy going to Hudson and Great Barrington. Matthew and I also travel to Maine whenever we can. We’ve both vacationed there since we were kids, and so there are a lot of great memories. Now we're making our own memories in Maine, and hopefully one day will own our own house there.
Photograph by Lindsey Coons
Are you a classical music lover? Do you love going to, say, Lincoln Center, to see the opera? Tell me your favorite experience, when you have had the time to indulge in entertaining yourself with the same thing you do so well? Nellie: I have been to Lincoln Center a few times to see opera productions, though not as much as I wish I could. Seeing live opera is an experience like no other; it's absolutely amazing, especially since it's what I want to do for a career. But it is expensive to spend a whole day in NYC, especially as a struggling musician and student—travel, tickets, food. So I at least try to get to the Live in HD when I can. Although I take some issue with the HD productions, one must admit that it has been a good thing, in order to bring opera to those who physically cannot go to the Met. When all else fails, I have a subscription to the Met on Demand online, and watch when I can. To be honest, the best experience I've had so far with classical music was the first time I listened to a full recording of the Verdi Requiem—a piece that I am currently learning. I was in the car, driving to school one day, and decided to put on the recording. Wow! It blew my mind, and I listened to that CD for Continued on next page...
Nellie As Chiffon in 'Little Shop of Horrors' at The Ghent Playhouse
weeks. There are parts of it that make my heart pound and parts that make me bawl my eyes out. That's an amazing piece of music, and I can't wait to perform it myself.
What famous artist has had a life that inspired, taught, or enthralled you, and why? Nellie: I am really inspired by the artists that keep working at their art despite various setbacks that might happen, be it in their personal or professional lives. I find that these are the artists I am most drawn to, because I find strength of my own in their stories. I learn from these artists how to get through my own doubts, fears, or setbacks. And it's not always famous artists. Oftentimes, I find my inspiration in local artists who I know personally, especially since I have the ability to discuss problems and solutions with them in person. You mentioned painting earlier. How often do you indulge in painting and the visual arts? Nellie: As much as possible! I have been drawing and painting since before I could actually write; my mother has kept most of my early sketchbooks, and there are many of them. She has also kept a lot of my paintings. I took lessons when I was a kid from a few
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different people—a great teacher named Susan Grybas, and the illustrator Jackie Rodgers, to name a few. They were artistic mentors to me, and introduced me to other forms of visual art, such as working with clay, watercolors, oils, etc. I received a dual degree from SUNY Albany in vocal performance and studio art in 2012. I haven't been doing as much artwork as I'd like to since I graduated, because I find it hard to focus on both music and visual art. But I do consider myself both a singer and visual artist. I have a plan that when I am very old and no longer have a career in singing, I will start a second career as a painter.
Have you finished with your education at this point, or do you think you may go back for further studies? Nellie: I am almost finished with my Graduate Professional Diploma from the Hartt school, which I equate to something like a performance master’s, instead of an academic master’s. I don't think that I will continue any studies at an institution once I am finished; perhaps a young artist program at an opera house, but not at a university or conservatory. In truth, my studies will never end. I'll always be working with a voice teacher and a coach. There will always be more music to learn… language, phrasing,
etc. Even once I retire from the operatic stage (hopefully not for a long, long time), I'll most likely continue to learn and perform recital repertoire. The learning never stops, which is what is so amazing about the art form. I wish opera was more popular in today’s music realm than it actually is. Opera is amazing. Can you explain why it carries such a diversified group of fans? Nellie: Opera is an art form like no other. It pulls together a multitude of different genres of art to create something bigger than one singular piece. Costuming, set-building, painting, lighting design, dancing, singing, composition, writing, science, math, architecture, technology—all of these things come together to create something amazing. I think I mentioned this before, but opera singers are the marathon runners of the performance world. We have to train our bodies and minds for years to have the stamina and strength to be able to handle singing for hours, in heavy costumes under hot lights, while running around and projecting into huge spaces with no amplification. It's crazy, and wonderful. I think it brings so many different people together because the art form speaks to the soul. The story
ideas are basic, and many of them have been repeated by different composers, but the underlying themes are what speak to an audience. Themes of undying love, or freedom, or self-worth. These are human themes, and we all have felt them at some time in our lives. The music allows the listener to be fully immersed into something bigger than one person. Opera transcends race, gender, sexuality, religion, location or age. It is elemental and raw.
What was a major challenge in your artistic career, and what did you learn from it that you are aware of now? Nellie: I've had a couple of major setbacks. The first was in 2010, while I was an undergrad. I went to the ENT (ear, nose, and throat doctor), which was suggested by my voice teacher at the time, and found that I had a polyp on one of my vocal folds. A polyp is almost like a blister. It's not hard like a node, but still makes it so that the chords don't close properly. I was devastated. But I have the best ENT team, and with my doctor and a speech therapist, we got through a very difficult year. I went through a period of vocal therapy which didn't help, and I ultimately had to have vocal chord surgery. It was very scary. I couldn't speak for four days after, then had to do speech therapy again after the surgery. Thankfully, all of my checkups since have shown perfect folds—you can't even tell I had surgery. The other setback happened when I was in my mid-twenties. I went through a period of time, a few years actually, in which I had intense feelings of self-doubt, and doubt in my abilities as a singer. I graduated from undergrad at 25, and moved to Great Barrington to study with the late Phyllis Curtin. She was a fabulous woman, whom I greatly admired and feel so lucky to have spent time with. I progressed a bit, and had some success soloing with a few chorales. But the success was short-lived, and for a few years I really didn't do much, career-wise. I had always had feelings of not fitting in vocally with other singers around me; my voice had always been very large, and almost like a laser beam of sound. From about 25 to 28 years old, I wasn't hired for any major singing gig, and was very unhappy. I felt like quitting many times. I continued to feel that way until I started studying at the Hartt school, and finally had teachers who explained to me the strengths and abilities of MY voice. They gave me new music, and I finally understood that I had been trying to fit my voice into repertoire that others around me were singing, instead of staying true to myself. As one teacher told me recently, "It's like trying to fit your foot into a shoe that's way too small."
Now I celebrate my voice. I am so in love with it! It's getting bigger and bigger, and has a ping to it, while also being warm and full and lush. And it just keeps getting better.
Do you think it’s a good idea to steer young people toward a career in the arts? What are your thoughts on art in today's world? Nellie: I think it's great for children to experience the arts, and to have some sort of artistic nurturing. But when a child expresses a desire to go into the arts as a career, they need to know the pros and cons. While I can easily say that I cannot see myself doing anything else other than singing, I can't say that it has been easy. I have been working towards a sustainable career singing opera for almost 20 years, and have
Nellie Rustick, Hudson, NY Photo credit: Lindsey Coons
had a lot of setbacks. But I've also had a lot of joys and a lot of exhilarating experiences. Children who are interested in any form of the arts need to know it's a lot of hard work, even when they start out with natural talent. It's a long and hard road to follow, with a lot of competition, and it's going to continue to get harder with the way our world is. The arts are not valued as much as they should be. That being said, it is a very rewarding career to be a part of. I have made many lasting friendships along the way. And like I said, I couldn't imagine doing anything else. Obstacles… we’ve all had them. What do you continually see yourself facing these days? Nellie: My biggest obstacle right now is money. I am a struggling student, as well as early in my career, so
financially, my life is difficult right now. I am trying to leave enough room in my schedule to be able to take gigs when they're offered, but sadly most of the gigs offered don't pay a lot of money. There are travel fees, audition and application fees, money for gowns and health-related costs. Soon I will start singing in competitions as well, and you have to pay a fee for them to process your materials. It's a fine balance this early on in my career. I thankfully have a very supportive family, and they help out when I really need it. I'm hoping to get some sort of patron soon, and am looking to apply for grants and scholarships to help with all the costs. It's overwhelming just writing this!
Can you describe your home life to us? Family that live with you? Pets? Do they encourage you in any particular way? Nellie: I live with my fiancé, Matthew, in an apartment in Chatham, NY. Both our families live close, though. His family is from East Chatham, and mine is from Claverack and Hudson. My mother still lives in the house I spent most of my childhood in, in Claverack, and my dog Irwin lives with her. When Matthew and I moved in together, we weren't allowed to have any pets, and now Irwin and my mother are attached to living together—she has lots of room for him to run around in the backyard, and they go everywhere together. I miss him so much though, and see him all the time. He stays with us often. I have been very lucky to have an incredibly supportive family. I can't stress enough how lucky I am. When I was a kid, my mother was at every single thing I did, be it a musical, a play, or a sports event. She was the same for my brother Joe. As I've gotten older, she hasn't been able to make everything, but still comes when she can. My father and brother John are also so supportive—they too come to whatever they can, and I see and talk to them both often—my dad almost every day. I couldn't ask for a better partner than Matthew. He has been a driving force in my going to school, and accepting many great opportunities. It's really important to be with someone who supports your goals and dreams, and Matthew and I are fully on the same page. He's there for me and what I do, and I am that person for him as well. I really credit my mother, father, and Matthew as being the people who have helped the most (other than my teachers) in getting me to where I am today. I am also grateful to Matthew's family for being just as supportive as my own—I am so fortunate! What is an average day in your life like? Tell us about a day that stands out in your memory. Continued on next page...
THE ARTFUL MIND JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 • 53
Nellie Rustick, Hudson, NY
Nellie: I don't really have an “average” day. For the most part, every day is different from the last. This keeps things very interesting, but I do miss some semblance of stability and routine sometimes (not enough to change my career though!). I generally will either have school during the day, or work. I have various part time jobs, including substitute teaching in the Chatham School District, teaching voice lessons, and a church gig on Sundays in Massachusetts. When I am involved in a production, I usually have to be at rehearsal in the evenings a few times a week. When I am not working on a show I stay home at night with Matthew. On days that I'm not working or at school, I do various other things— coaching with my vocal coach, lessons with my teacher, or going through music with my pianist. I try to see friends as much as possible, so I'll get lunch with them when I can. The worst days are the ones where I have to spend a lot of time in the car, such as driving to auditions that aren't close to home, or when I have multiple rehearsals in a day. Just in this last year I have started to space things out a bit more, and say no to other things, so as to not be so overwhelmed. What is your favorite song, and can you give us
some of the words to it? Nellie: I hear and sing through so much music, it's hard to have a favorite… there are so many beautiful pieces out there! There are a couple that stand out in my mind currently, though. The Papers Aria, sung by Magda from Menotti's The Consul, a role that I am learning. It’s a very dramatic piece, authentic, vulnerable, and very relevant to what is going on in our world today. One of the phrases that really resonates with me is, "To this we've come: that men withhold the world from men. No ship nor shore for him who drowns at sea. No home nor grave for him who dies on land. To this we've come: that man be born a stranger upon God's earth, that he be chosen without a chance for choice, that he be hunted without the hope for refuge." And especially this: "Oh! The day will come, I know, when our hearts aflame will burn your paper chains... That day neither ink nor seal shall cage our souls, That day will come!" On a happier and more calming note, there is this piece by Roger Quilter with text from a poem by Tennyson. Quilter is a composer that I love to perform, and this piece is really touching and beautiful. "Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white. Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk. Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font. The firefly wakens; waken
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thou with me. Now folds the lily all her sweetness up. And slips into the bosom of the lake. So fold thyself, my dearest thou, and slip into my bosom, and be lost, be lost in me."
And as far as your belief system goes… Are you a spiritually-minded person? Give us one thought you totally stand by. Nellie: Well, I was brought up Roman Catholic, but am also a member of the Congregational Church in Stockbridge, MA. I consider myself more spiritual than religious, though I do love the traditions, stories, and especially music of all religions. I like to think that music is my religion. That being said, I definitely stand by the idea that if you are nice to someone they will, in most cases, be nice to you. I try not to judge someone before I actually know them, and I like to greet everyone with a smile. In terms of spirituality, I believe there is a higher power and that we have multiple possible paths that we can take. I believe in manifestation, but also hard work. Most of all I believe in love—everyone deserves it, and we should all be giving it out as much as possible. Thank you, Nellie!
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Innovation. Craft. Music. The Berkshires is known for and has ALL of it. Most of us agree that using locally sourced materials beats importing. We love the idea of supporting local craftspeople before overseas mass-production. We like the idea of HANDMADE instruments, expertly and lovingly designed and made right here in Berkshire County. Local craftspeople are building wonderful guitars, ukuleles, ‘strum stick dulcimers,’ bamboo and walking stick flutes, cigar box guitars and ‘canjos’ - and The Music Store is fortunate to represent some of this wonderful collection! And so, we proudly present our Homegrown Musical Masterworks, extraordinary instruments made locally and often using locally sourced materials as well! In each chapter of this series we will introduce new instruments built by a local maker, so stay tuned to The Artful Mind as the months progress through winter and beyond. CHAPTER 6
UNDERMOUNTAIN UKULELES BRANCHES OUT Claudia D’Alessandro
While advancements in technology have vastly elevated the quality of factory made and/or assembled instruments, there is a certain magic associated with instruments made, one at a time, by a skilled luthier. From the workbench of Undermountain Ukulele's Brad Simon come two Berkshire County Handmade GEMS! Many things serve to distinguish fine craftspeople: consistency of quality, attention to detain, aesthetic sensibility and excellence in their field. Brad Simon has earned his place with both his
ukuleles and now, with his fine guitars. Made with beautiful tone woods - sonically as well as aesthetically chosen - and crafted with exacting eyes and hands, Brad has brought to the Berkshires one steel string and one classical guitar which are a pleasure to play and would be a treasure to own! The Steel String. Crafted of spruce and rosewood, two common woods in guitar building, Brad has produced an instrument whose rich tone and colorful voice belies its rather simple exterior. Beautifully and finely braced, and masterfully constructed, this guitar's ample sustain simply prolongs the pleasure of its voice. Additionally, a side sound port allows the player to hear the guitar to its best advantage while it is being played and so to maximally control and showcase the dynamics of the instrument. And the fine French Polish used to finish the guitar is a silky, elastic finish which moves and 'breathes' with the instru-
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ment, providing protection for the wood with minimum restriction of its vibration.
The Classical. Cedar and Ovankol pair here in a particularly beautiful Classical guitar. Well balanced and richly voiced, a spalted maple rosette and the beautiful figure of the Ovankol back and sides give a delicious and unexpected spice to finish a lovely guitar. With long sustain, fine dynamics and rich balance, this sweet classical has quickly become a favorite of those who have tried it. We are truly delighted to meet Undermountain Guitars, this new 'branch' of the Undermountain Ukulele family, and are honored to welcome to them to the community of excellence that has become the Berkshire Handmade group. Kudos to luthier Brad Simon!
PAINTINâ€™ THE TOWN by Natalie Tyler
Living Root Trio
Adam Resnikoff bartending
Besides Sheffield's Stagecoach Hill Tavern fantastic restaurant, they have another warm and special place to hang out. Every Thursday night, catch some great live tunes from talented musicians. In a speakeasy style lounge, hidden under the restaurant, while drinking wine from a mason jar, Thursday, December 23rd The Living Roots Trio, played their soulful folk tunes to a captive audience.
f ff dd
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The Man Who Climbed Stairs NORTHAMPTON 1969 Richard Britell
For several years I had the good fortune to live in Northampton next to Smith College and across the street from Forbes Library. At that time, the state hospital for mental patients was in full operation in Northampton. S0, every day on Main Street, mixed in with the college professors and upscale college students, one saw numerous mental patients out on day passes. They were noticeable by their second-hand clothing, smoking habits, and tendency to engage strangers in personal conversations apropos of nothing. These characters were a regular part of Northampton and with time the students came to know and even to care about their lives and struggles. One patient, an older man, would arrive at the public library each day
in the late morning, and once there he would embark on a project that consisted of climbing the stairs to the second floor stacks. At that time in the morning there might be a dozen individuals in the reading room working on various projects. One person would be following his investments in journals, another would be working on a doctorate, and another on their master’s degree, but this man from the hospital was there for one and only one reason, to climb the stairs to the second floor stacks, which he was unable to do. In between attempts to climb the stairs he would rest in the reading room, sitting sideways in a chair with his eyes fixed on the object of his struggle. Then abruptly, he would walk over to the stairs, take a grip on the handrail, and start to climb. At the halfway point he would stop, and come back down backwards. Sometimes he would rush up the stairs almost by twos, but he never could get closer than two steps from the top before he would have to stop and come back down again. He worked at this project single-mindedly every day. Magazines, books and newspapers held no interest for him, and he spent the time in between attempts, simply staring at the objects that perplexed him. This struggle went on for over a year, and then one day with no one noticing, he got up to the second floor. Imagine just for a moment watching someone climb a flight of stairs and succeed, after failing to do so for more than a year. But he was not the sort of man who would rest on
his laurels. There has always been an outdoor cafe of one kind or another near the corner of Masonic and Main Streets in Northampton. The man who had finally mastered the stairs of the library would often go into that cafe, order a glass of water, and then sit for an hour or two at a table outside, resting from his labors. But his restless spirit needed a new challenge and the summer after his triumph at the library he appeared at the cafe with a bicycle. He didn’t ride the bicycle to the cafe, he walked to town next to it, guiding it with one hand by the seat and the other by the handle grip. Periodically on his journey from the hospital to the town, he would attempt to mount the bicycle, coast uncertainly for a few yards with one foot on the pedal and the other wavering in circles in the air. Then he would jump off and resume walking. At the cafe he would sit drinking his water and staring fixedly at his bike locked securely to a pole, four feet from his face. He would even interrupt his enjoyment of his water to unlock the bike and attempt to ride it. Needless to say, this man’s struggles now became a matter of public notice. The clientele of the cafe were regulars and so they became witnesses to this crazy old man’s repeated attempts to ride the bicycle. At first it was really impossible not to laugh at him, but after many weeks and months it became obvious that he brought more dedication and single mindedness of purpose to his task than we did to ours, whatever ours might have been. He was like a monk, while we were just lay people. As that summer drew to a close, inevitably one day he got himself onto the seat of the bicycle, began to pedal, and drove off wavering down the sidewalk. Involuntarily we got to our feet and began to cheer for him. Word spread quickly inside the cafe, and people came rushing out hoping to catch a glimpse of him in the distance. Everyone was cheering and clapping, and I couldn’t help but notice that some people had unexpected tears in their eyes. That was many years ago. There is still a cafe at the corner of Masonic and Main Streets, but the state mental hospital is long ago demolished, and the library has been remodeled. Where the stairs to the stacks were there is now an office. By now the man who climbed the stairs has gone on to meet his maker, where, if there is recognition for diligence and determination, I am sure he takes his place in front of many an illustrious personage.
~ Richard Britell H
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Grandma Becky’s Recipes by Laura Pian
Quick and Easy Bread!
How I love sharing my Grandma Becky’s recipes with you all. It gives me an opportunity to reflect upon so many special memories I have of her, many moments of which I took for granted as a child. How I wish I had Grandma’s recipes written on paper in her own broken-English handwriting. However, as like many women of her generation, these recipes were rarely written down. they were built upon generations of experience, done from memory, like an ingrained talent. It was often that I’d sit at our small kitchen table in the Bronx, after school, while Grandma Becky prepared something for the evening’s dinner. I adored watching Grandma at work with her automated-like kitchen skills. As she worked, we’d always chit-chat. I would tell her a little about my day and she’d share cooking tips with me, always with a story. I was fascinated by her stories of the depression and how she’d bake a variety of different breads to keep her large family from hunger. While watching her add the ingredients into a large bowl, with flour by the handfuls, I’d ask, “Grandma, how do you know how much flour to use?” She’d explain that you could see and feel the dough change in your hands, how you just knew when it was right enough. She’d let me feel the dough and allow me to throw in a bisseleh (little) more flour as she’d knead, until the dough was perfectly smooth as silk. Some things you just can’t write down.
This is a quick and easy interpretation of just one of Grandma Becky’s awesome breads. I hope your family enjoys it as much as ours! Ingredients: ~ Approximately 5 cups all-purpose flour ~ 2 packets yeast ~ 2 tbs sugar ~ 1 tsp salt ~ 2 cups warm/hot water ~ ¼ cup vegetable (or canola) oil ~ 1 beaten egg (for brushing tops) ~ 2 tsp sesame seeds (divided) ~ 2 tsp dried minced onion (divided)
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease two loaf pans.
Into a large bowl, add 4 of the 5 cups of flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Pour in the warm/hot water and the oil. With your hands, mix until combined. It will feel sticky. Slowly add the remaining cup of flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Feel free to add a bit more if you need to. Knead and fold until dough feels pliable and smooth. Gently form into a ball and place back into bowl. Cover with a damp dish towel and let stand and rise in a warm area until it reaches double its size, approximately 30 minutes.
Remove dough ball from bowl and punch it down. Divide into two equal portions. Hand-roll and shape each dough piece long enough to fill a greased loaf pan. Leave them to sit and rise until the dough reaches the top rim of pan. Lightly brush tops with egg. Sprinkle tops with sesame seeds and minced onions. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 40 minutes until tops are golden.
Esn Gezunt! (to your health!)
THE ARTFUL MIND JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 • 59
ELEANOR LORD ARtISt
eleanorlord.com LAUREN CLARK FINE Visit Us at Our New Digs! 325 Stockbridge Road Great Barrington, MA
Opening January 2017 Give us a call or check our website for the exact re-opening date
www.LaurenClarkFineArt.com 60 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 THE ARTFUL MIND
www.janefeldman.com JANEFELDMANPHOtO@GMAIL.COM 917-710-5546
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