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SONIA PAULINE BEKER Photographed by Tasja Keetman

CAROLYN NEWBERGER Forest Revelations

Early this summer I found a morel mushroom near our home, bordering on the edge of a deep forest. About the same time, our little dog, Lily, a rescue, began running into the woods, leaping, snuffling in holes, and racing with abandon across every obstacle. We discovered the forest together, Lily and I, she in pursuit of rodents under logs, and I in pursuit of whatever other delectables were nestled on the forest floor or in the crevasses of fallen trees. Lily and I enter the forest in early morning, I swathed in insect proof clothing, mushroom knife in pocket, bear bell on hiking pole, and with folding stool, notebook and art supplies on my back. Perched on my stool, I draw, paint, and record in words the many insights the forest offers. I am surprised every day by the forest’s astonishing variety, beauty, power and wisdom.




HAPPY ANNIVERSARY 27 YEARS IN PRINT! THANK YOU! “It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?” ― A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh OUR REMAINS OF THE DAY: LETTING GO / THE DIVIDE CARL BERG AND JUDY BERG ... 10


Studio visits by appointment 413. 229. 0380 My Shelter A London Memory 50 x 25”

Morgan Bulkeley




Contributing Writers and Monthly Columnists Richard Britell, Carl and Judy Berg, Laura Pian Photographers December/January Anniversary issue Tasja Keetman Publisher Harryet P. Candee Copy Editor

Marguerite Bride

Advertising and Graphic Design Harryet P. Candee instagram FB




413 854 4400

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


Roselle Kline Chartock Artist and Writer


100 North St Pittsfield Painting - Collage - Construction 914-260-7413



Getting a Leg Up on the News Collage 413. 446 .0859

Chartock’s work can be seen at Hey Day on Main Street in GB



ghetta hirsch


Kimble Farm Exhibit with Ivor Parry

Gemini, Acrylic 48” x 24” Photo Credit Lisa Goudey

January through February Reception: January 27th 2019

Hotel on North

July 1st through August Reception: July 5, 2019 instagram @ghettahirschpaintings

Distance oil on canvas 10 x 10”

Studio visits:


#1270 Boulevard @ Belle St. Hudson Falls, NY 8-11-18 11 x 12” my website/blog: instagram:


@mattchinian matt chinian

Open Studios of Washington County July 19 - 21, 2019 4 • DECEMBER / JANUARY 2019 THE ARTFUL MIND

Jaane Doe



Beautiful Berkshires Calendar of artful events



510 WARREN STREET GALLERY 510 WARREN STREET, HUDSON, NY 518-822-0510 / December and January 2019: Pixels and Poultry; February 1, 2019 through February 24, 2019 in a show entitled “Farther Reaches: Musings on a Wildlife Portfolio”. Reception will be held Saturday February 2, 2019 from 3-6PM Friday & Saturday, 12 - 6, Sunday 12 - 5 or by app A.P.E LTD. GALLERY 126 MAIN ST, NORTHAMPTON, MA • WWW.APEARTS.COM Wild at Heart: portraits of endangered species. Dawn Howkinson Siebel, December 6 – December 31, 2108. Artist Reception: Friday, December 14, 5-8 pm on Arts Night Out 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. First Tuesday of every month. DOTTIE’S COFFEE LOUNGE 444 NORTH ST, PITTSFIELD, MA Oct 5 - Dec 31, Impressionism. "Red Orange Yellow, Green Blue Violet," featuring the paintings of Mike Carty, Scott Taylor, and Terry Wise.

THE STATIONARY FACTORY 16 FLANSBURG AVENUE, DALTON. Annual Holiday Studio Sale. SCOTT TAYLOR Sunday December 1 through January 15.

VAULT GALLERY 322 MAIN ST, GT. BARRINGTON, MA • 413-644-0221 Marilyn Kalish at work and process on view, beautiful gallery and wonderful collection of paintings

EVENTS / workshops Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother (1936) THE HOWARD GREENBERG COLLECTION of PHOTOGRAPHS Museum of Fine Arts, boston avenue of the arts 465 huntington avenue boston, massachusetts Highlights of the Howard Greenberg Collection are a group of key photographs—including Madrid, Spain (1933)—by Henri Cartier-Bresson, who championed the concept of capturing the “decisive moment,” as well as works by Robert Frank, Leon Levinstein, Ralph Eugene Meatyard and James Van Der Zee. The collection also holds major works by master photographer Edward Steichen, including his striking 1924 portrait of Gloria Swanson draped with a lace veil. In addition to classic works by prominent American photographers such as Diane Arbus, Bruce Davidson, Helen Levitt, Lisette Model, and Margaret Bourke-White, the acquisition contains powerful photographs by Mexican, Czech, and Hungarian artists Manuel Álvarez Bravo, André Kertész, Josef Sudek, Jaromir Funke, and Imre Kinszki. Of the 191 photographers represented in the acquisition, more than 80 are new to the MFA’s holdings, including renowned artists such as Leonard Freed, Sid Grossman, Frances Benjamin Johnston, James Karales, Charles Moore, Inge Morath, Ruth Orkin, Jacob Riis, Peter Sekaer, David “Chim” Seymour, Ben Shahn, and Roman Vishniac, among others. Ansel Adams in Our Time (December 13, 2018–February 24, 2019)

FRONT STREET GALLERY 129 FRONT ST, HOUSATONIC, MA • 413-274-6607 Kate Knapp oils and watercolors and classes open to all. JOHN DAVIS GALLERY 362 1/2 WARREN STREET HUDSON, NEW YORK 518-828-5907 / Paintings by Pamela Cardwell


L’ATELIER BERKSHIRES 597 MAIN STREET, GREAT BARRINGTON, MASSACHUSETTS • 510-469-5468 Discover contemporary artists in a historic Great Barrington building. Oil paintings, metal & glass sculpture and custom furniture at L’Atelier Berkshires.



325 STOCKBRIDGE ROAD, GT. BARRINGTON • 413-429-6511 / 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 1040 MASSMOCA WAY, NORTH ADAMS, MA • 413-662-2111 Laurie Anderson, thru 2019; Louise Bourgeois, thru 2019; Jarvis Rockwell thru November

MARGUERITE BRIDE HOME STUDIO AT 46 GLORY DRIVE PITTSFIELD, MA • 413- 841-1659 or 413-442-7718 MARGEBRIDE-PAINTINGS.COM FB: MARGUERITE BRIDE WATERCOLORS Nov 1 - Dec 31, Hotel on North, Pittsfield; December 16 from 12 noon – 2 pm, Bride will be doing a painting demo at Hancock Shaker Village. SCHANTZ GALLERIES 3 ELM ST, STOCKBRIDGE, MA • 413-298-3044 Hours: Daily, 10:30 - 5

MAHAIWE PERFORMING ARTS CENTER CASTLE ST, GT. BARRINGTON, MA Bolshoi Ballet in HD, Sunday, Jan 20, 1pm Pilobolus: COme to your senses, Sat Feb 9, 3pm


CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH MUSIC THE MAHAIWE PERFORMING ARTS CENTER, GT. BARRINGTON, MA • 413-528-0100 “Humor in the Works of Papa Haydn” will be presented by Close Encounters with Music on Saturday, February 23, 2019 at 6pm at Saint James Place in Great Barrington. CLUB HELSINKI HUDSON 405 COLUMBIA ST., HUDSON, NY • 518-828-4800 / Fri Dec 15 9pm /16 8pm: Everett Bradley’s Holidelic; Sat Jan 26, 9pm: Bindlestiff Cirkus Cabin Fever Cabaret.

RACE BROOK LODGE 864 SOUTH UNDERMOUNTAIN RD., SHEFFIELD, MA 413-229-2916 / RBLODGE.COM/SHEFFIELD DCSC Jan 3: Early English Music; The Ghost of Rever Barnscape Concert, Feb 8


413 854 4400





g ‘sin




Ink on paper / collage 13 x 10

ed v o L

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Paul Graubard

Congratulations and thank you Harryet. You have been a major force in the Berkshires art world. We are all grateful for your contributions. Some twenty odd years ago, when I was a beginning artist you wrote a piece about me. Here's my story since then:

JoAnne Spies

Affordable Justice

Travel and Leisure Magazine calls the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore "one of the most fantastic museums anywhere in America." My work is being shown there in their current exhibit - Parenting: An Art Without A Manual. My work is in their permanent collection as well as the permanent collections of the International Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe, the Waterloo Center for the Arts in Waterloo, Iowa, the Jewish Museum in Basel, Switzerland and the Sanskriti Foundation in Delhi, India. In the Spring of 2019 I will have a one man show at the Waterloo Center for the Arts. You're invited. To view my work please visit my website: or if you want to make a studio visit email me at

Lynda’s Antique Clothing Loft

501(C)3 charitable non profit organization since 2006

39 PARK STREET ADAMS, MA 413-884-2065




photo: kate coulehan


Lion and the Fly Photograph by John Lipkowitz


Artist’s Reception: Saturday February 2, 2019 • 3-6 PM.


Sunday 12 - 5 Friday and Saturday 12 - 6 & by Appointment


matthew bialer THE ARTFUL MIND DECEMBER/JANUARY 2019 • 7

collins editions | berkshire digital

Opening in 2005, we do fine art printing for artists and photographers. These Giclée prints, can be made in many different sizes from 5”x7” to 42” x 80” on archival papers. In addition to the printing services, we also offer accurate photo-reproduction of paintings and illustrations for use in books, magazines, brochures, cards and websites. We also offer restoration and repair of damaged or faded photographs. A complete overview of services offered, along with pricing, can be seen on the web at The owner, Fred Collins, has been a commercial and fine art photographer for over 30 years having had studios in Boston and Stamford. He offers over 25 years of experience with Photoshop™ enabling retouching, restoration and enhancement to prints and digital files. The studio is located in Mt Washington but drop-off and pick-up is available through Frames On Wheels, located at 84 Railroad Street in Great Barrington, MA (413) 528-0997. collins | editions studio - (413) 644-9663,




Thank you for coming to the year 2024 with me. Back in 2019, when I put together my 5-year plan, things were a bit rough. Always on the edge of hope, fear, disaster, salvation. To be perfectly honest with you, I wasn’t unshakably optimistic about the prospects for my plan. If you remember, things were pretty shaky with regard to the climate and wars and inequality and the environment and so on. One questioned whether we humans knew what we were doing or not. I myself was absolutely torn with doubts and fears. But now that 2024 has come and is in the process of going, we can just relax into the moment and say to everyone: Here We Are. It is quite wonderful, without a doubt, that this is so. My plan did fail, it is true. But we have persevered. And I think we should celebrate that. In that spirit, I propose to tell you the story of how I survived the Event of 2023. And, further, to regale you with tales of my subsequent travels, trials, wonders, and tribulations, which involved my new friends, Tom, Ant, Edith, Barry, Mirabel, Vince, and more, only one of whom is a human person. My very best friends are animals. We all make the epic journey that, even in the distant future, will be well-known only as: 2024. I will bring my guitar. / pinterest

My current artistic aims involve using collage to illustrate my perspective on contemporary social and political issues, as this country continues to deal with alarming challenges. Art has the power to highlight injustice, and many great artists have made stunning statements in their attempt to share their political views. Among my favorites are Pablo Picasso (“Guernica,” and more), our local icon, Norman Rockwell (“The Problem We All Live With,” and more) and Martha Rosler in her “Bringing the War Home” series. My own recent, politically-motivated collage, “Lock Him Up” (shown above) has garnered both adulation and discomfort, as well as feelings of catharsis. The piece is currently on view in Hey Dey on Main Street in Great Barrington, along with tee-shirts bearing the image. After a forty-five year teaching career, I became a collage artist in part because of my lifelong enjoyment of design and the charming and compelling images in 1930’s-1950’s vintage advertisements, postcards, and photographs. My favorites usually include intriguing women, usually dressed in unique clothing styles (and sometimes undressed), family members now deceased, and, occasionally, historical figures. And because I often provide offbeat and unusual environments for these images, one of my friends has labelled my work “elegantly irreverent.” In other words, while my intent is to bring pleasure to viewers, at the same time, I also want to provoke them, to stimulate them to question and experience wonder and to see the irony that is so much a part of our world. In addition to my work as a collage and pastel artist, I have authored four books – all still in circulation - on topics related to education, history, and Jewish issues; and, in the case of my most recent book, all of those topics: Windsor Mountain School, A Beloved Berkshire Institution (The History Press, 2014.) I have just completed a book about Elvis Presley and am beginning the process of seeking a publisher. email: Cell: 413 446-0859




The November 2018 issue of The Artful Mind gives credit to Photographer, Lisa Goudey, for doing a beautiful job in photographing the paintings/artwork by Michael Fabrizio. Thank you!


Jaane Doe has been part of the musical machinery, stemming the tides of change for more than three decades. This singer/songwriter, a mistress of reinvention in sound and likeness, has the ability to sing like an angel, or with the fierceness of a lion, sharing a message of depth and substance that comes straight from the heart. Born in New York, and traveling to the West Coast as a teen, her musical journey led her back East following her union with Andrew Berliner, Chief Engineer, Owner and Founder of the legendary Crystal Sound Studios in Hollywood California. During her music years in Los Angeles, Jaane was hired as a background vocalist for various projects, one of which brought her to Crystal Sound to co-produce Bobby Taylor with her mentor and longtime friend Joe Schermie, original bass player for Three Dog Night. Jaane, in leopard-spandex, and Andrew, in tie-die T-shirt with red suspenders, met and fell in love, married, and by the summer of 1994 had decided to give up the lifestyle and follow Andrew’s dream to return to Great Barrington where he had attended Cornwall Academy and at 17, earned his pilot’s wings with the assistance of his mentor Walt Koladzda at the Great Barrington Airport. Jaane Doe and Andrew Berliner very quietly assimilated into a happy life in the Berkshires sharing the work of supporting and raising a family together until August 30, 2002, when unexpected tragedy hit and Andrew passed away suddenly from a heart attack. BURNS LIKE FIRE is a tribute to her late husband and musical collaborator, and signifies Jaane Doe’s dynamic return to the music world. The blending of country-tinged Americana, Folk/Pop into a visual masterpiece with great songwriting, vivid imagery and inspired solos make BURNS LIKE FIRE a memorable album. In 2018, Jaane Doe teamed up with Annie Guthrie and was a featured performer at WoodyFest in Okemah Oklahoma. Jaane has new material in the works, and directed a music video shot here in the Berkshires, currently in post-production to be released in 2019. Solo Shows in the Berkshires include the following dates:11/30 Gateways Inn, Lenox MA, 12/08 Mount Washington House, Hillsdale NY, 12/15 Number Ten, Great Barrington MA, 01/10/2019 The Lion’s Den, Stockbridge MA Jaane Doe Music and more - visit,,,,



In 1994, before it was the cover for my CD, I regularly used the photo above to advertise my acupuncture practice in this magazine. So I just wanna say a very big “Congratulations and Thank You!” to Harryet. Congratulations for making it work for all this time and thank you for doing everything you do in support of various arts, the healing arts, and music when you publish The Artful Mind! Thank you to Harryet also for something more specific - thank you for helping me to move Alright Already from the music studio to the world at large! When you interviewed me for the May-June 2018 issue, you gave me a reason to finally finish it. Turns out l just needed a deadline! Alright, Already! I spent years recording these songs with all these wonderful Berkshires musicians on them. Mark Kelso, Josh Connors, Anders Johansson, Darren Todd, Terry a La Berry, Tom Major, Bobby Sweet and Curtis Kelley all contributed their incredible talents... Now we are looking for some great homes for a lot of CDs and digital download cards. If you like music, please check out “Alright, Already” on Spotify (by Renee and the Enablers) or find the playlist on YouTube. If you like it and want to have your own copy (it has the lyrics in the booklet) or if you want to give one to a friend, it’s available on CD Baby and on iTunes and Amazon, as well as in various stores around Berkshire and Columbia County. Or ask Renee. Eventually we'll also have the website, up and running.



Like a reporter I record the time and place of my wanderings around Upstate New York and New England. I find places and scenes of fascination: quiet woodlands or gas stations, farmlands or industrial sites, places I see in passing, sometimes from the corner of my eye often easily overlooked by others. This is where I find beauty. This is where I find the sublime. My website/blog: instagram: @mattchinian Facebook: matt chinian Open Studios of Washington County July19-21, 2019

“The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.” - Alberto Giacometti



Last night, it finally happened. That is, the opening to the compost drum froze, signaling that our vegetable scraps will now be dumped into the plastic bag in the garbage can, and will wind up in some unknown place. These leavings will miss their second life, and mission, as nourishment for our Spring planting. It’s a sad moment. Here I am, turning our scraps loose in the world, to decompose in some anonymous landfill instead of feeding home soil. I guess I just have to let go. This morning’s thermometer reading of seventeen degrees hits us over the head with the fact that winter is here, and we yield to that fact by moving the deck chairs to a covered part of the deck, and bringing in the brightly colored pillows that cradled our backs as we soaked up that last rays of autumn sun. Nature, well aware of the thick headedness of our species has another wakeup call in store for us later today: our first snow of note, followed by a night of freezing rain. The usual November leadin, this is nothing out of the norm, and truly nothing compared to the fires ravaging entire communities on the opposite coast.

November 14

What else but a chicken soup? Our local Price Chopper now carries two chickens that beat out the more industrial brands for growing conditions and taste. They are also pricier, by about a third, putting them beyond the budget reach of those living along the poverty line. Since these birds are not free-range, the buyer can’t exactly boast of humane growing conditions, but regular consumption of truly free-range, locally derived poultry is not a choice that’s available to many, or one that many would make. This supermarket chicken was just dandy, souped up with parsnips, carrots, parsley, a handful of garlic cloves, and the last leeks from the garden. Food choices and habits often cleave along the economic and cultural lines that divide us. How are we to understand our President’s partiality to the Big Mac? Is he signaling his solidarity with working class people for whom it’s a cheap, easy, filling dinner out for the whole family? Or, does it suggest just the opposite? I’m so rich beyond your wildest dreams, could afford organic everything, but don’t need 10 • DECEMBER / JANUARY 2019 THE ARTFUL MIND

to concern myself with any physical vulnerability because I am invincible. Actually, he suggests both commonality with the vulnerable and invincibility at the same time. Brilliant in the use of paradox to manipulate the mesmerized, Trump uses that skill to deepen and widen the divide. Divides are very much in the news right now, being sociopathically used for political purposes. It’s an old maxim: divide and conquer. So, we read about the rural/urban divide, the coastal/interior divide, the gender divide, all ripe for exploitation. I do believe that people are afraid, that they sense ominous conditions around the world, from climate change, migrations of desperate people, and a world economy seemingly dependent on constant war. That vulnerable people turn to “the one who can fix it” should be no surprise. Meanwhile, “the one,” appeared to be genuinely affected while touring the fire devastation in Paradise, California. But, true to form, he returned to his protective bubble during a later news conference during which he stood near a clearly uncomfortable former Governor Jerry Brown. When asked if he had changed his mind about climate change, he replied: “No, I have a strong opinion about that. I want a great climate, and I’m going to have it.” This man lives in a bubble, no benign, playful, child’s bathtub bubble, joyfully popped at the touch of a finger. This bubble is made of industrial plastic that encases “the one” in a perfectly sealed environment where the very air he breathes is not ordinary oxygen. Oxygen is, after all, a factual substance. The air in the bubble of “the one” is as bespoke as the shirt on his back, brewed as a satisfying concoction of whatever serves at the occupant’s pleasure. “The one” flies in his helicopter bubble, careening around dangerously close to the heads of the rest of us down here, Look! He’s so busy reaching around to pat himself on the back, and admiring himself in the video monitor, that his hands and eyes are not on the controls. We, the terrified citizenry, stand on real earth, breathing real air, waiting for the man in his plastic bubble to come down in a crash. But, wait! Some of our fellow citizens, standing on the same ground, breathing the same air, watch him with admiration, even waving and cheering as he loosens his seat belt to

reach up and kiss his face in the video monitor. They cheer wildly as he careens ever closer to our heads, and I realize that they are right up there in that bubble with him, that they are, themselves, so terrified of a reality unaddressed by those in charge, that they have joined him in the bubble. How to address our great divide. I visualize a gigantic map, maybe two gigantic maps, one of the United States, and one of our Earth. Both maps have strings that connect what is going on in one place with what happens in another. For instance: there is a string that starts at the office of the man now charged with protecting our environment, former coal industry lobbyist, Andrew Wheeler, and ends in the scorched earth at Paradise, California. You get the idea. Our world is interconnected and interdependent. Astronauts who have had the privilege of viewing our Earth from outer space know this as a fact. We are Spaceship Earth. Surely, France’s President had “the one” in mind when he referred to Nationalism as an enemy of Patriotism. If you truly love your country, you know that it needs partners and allies, that you can’t wall yourself off and go it alone.

Thanksgiving Day

We were seven at table, a table laden with the usual holiday feast of turkey, stuffing, cranberries, etc. A mix of family and friends, not a bubblehead at the table. We even took a brief, brisk head clearing walk between dinner and dessert, in the coldest night air yet, under a brilliant, mostly full moon. I’m sure that around some tables, even far removed from the gilded ones at Mar-a-lago, people gave thanks for the protective powers of “the one:” troops on duty at the southern border, North Korea pacified, a “great” economy, and the threat of climate change a hoax because he says

so. I wonder what I would have said if any of them had been at our table. But then, I’m reminded of how the media pundits kept telling everyone to keep politics away from the table. How about bringing reality to the table? I read recently that some are attributing a rise in right wing, neo-Nazi extremism in eastern Germany to the ratio of women to men. It seems that after the Berlin Wall came down, many women in the East, who had benefited from the Communist policy of equal opportunity for women, left for the West when they could, leaving some areas with a ratio of two women to five men. The men, many of whom are now middle-aged and unable to find marital partners are naturally out of sorts, and becoming more militantly nationalistic. There’s more at stake here than finding a woman with whom to bed down. Could it be that when women go missing, men feel more at risk, and assume a more militant stance to feel less vulnerable? We’ve been hearing a lot about the gender divide, that more men than women voted for “the one” in our 2016 presidential election. I take this as evidence that we need strong, competent women to stand beside men in positions of leadership, to confront the complex problems to which we’re all vulnerable. In the new year, there will be one woman to every four men in Congress, instead of one to five. I’m hoping that strong women can help men feel less, rather than more, vulnerable. In 1768, the Boston Gazette published “The Liberty Song,” written by John Dickinson, a founding father: “Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all! By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall!” Let’s be brave in breaching our divide. —Judy and Carl Berg


Linda Weisberg LW INTERIORS

617. 633. 1224





@joycummings @jenniferpazienza

Mary Carol Rudin

Winter Studio Sale Scott Taylor Paintings the stationery Factory 63 Flansberg ave. Dalton, ma

Appointments appreciated

"pearls anD pearly whites" 18x18 acrylic on boarD

Nina Lipkowitz December and January 2019

Pixels and Poultry

Pixels: iPad Paintings on Canvas and Paper Poultry: Watercolor on Canvas


Dancing on the Ceiling, ipad

Hudson New York Sunday 12 - 5 Friday and Saturday 12 - 6 & by Appointment 510WARRENSTREETGALLERY.COM FOR MORE INFORMATION:







Sonia, tell me about your life. Sonia Pauline Beker: I’m was an only child of my sweet, Holocaust parents who created a warm, solid home in America for their little family. I always felt a bit disconnected from other kids, as my public schoolmates came from American parents who were more confident, outspoken and self-assured than my parents, who were somewhat more deferential, modest and quiet. I grew up in East New York, Brooklyn. Then, when I was 11, we moved to Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. During the summers, we initially went to Rockaway Beach where we stayed in a boarding house with other Jewish immigrant families. My mom and I went to the beach everyday and I made friends with the other kids nearby. Then, we also spent summers in the Catskills with my aunt, uncle and cousins in bungalow colonies in Swan Lake. Those were exciting days for us young kids. We were free to roam the grounds of the bungalow colony and play games all day until our moms called us in for lunch and dinner. Our dads were away on weekdays and returned on Fridays for the weekend! It was so exciting for us when we saw our



dads again!! Often, they brought us small gifts and toys that we shared with our friends. On Saturday nights, our parents dressed up and drove to the nearby hotels (Concord, Stevensville) to go to the nightclubs for variety and comedy shows. When I got older, I went with my friends! Loved them!! We’d do our hair, tease it up and hairspray it against the mountain humidity. Then, we’d cover it with kerchiefs because we didn’t want bats to fly into our hair!! There was such a feeling of abundance, laughter and sharing! Truly miss those days!! It was a place of healing, I think, for the survivors. On weekends, they swam and played cards or mah jongg during the day, bingo in the main house in the evening, and just relaxed. Then there were those excellent comedy shows on Saturday nights. I think they slowly restored their spirits in this Catskills culture. As I grew up and went to high school, I became friends with a couple of girls with literary interests. We wrote for the school literary magazine and newspaper. We got together on weekends and went to see foreign films in Manhattan. My best and favorite subject was


English, which I continued to major in at SUNY Buffalo. I Went to England for my junior year, then stayed later to audit courses while I became the au pair for the university’s chancellor. Then, returned to SUNY Buffalo, graduated, went back to England to do a Master’s in English and American Lit., then returned to NY, worked in book publishing for a while, went back to school in Vermont to get a Master’s in Teaching English as a Second Language. Got my first job in Boston, then went to teach in Japan for 4 ½ years. Came back and entered the NYC school system as a high school teacher of ESL. Also taught some summers and evenings at Hunter College and the School of Visual Arts. Became more Jewishly observant through a modern orthodox synagogue on the upper west side, then Chabad. Just retired in 2014, which is also when I married Steve Zucker. It’s been a wonderful journey, and I look forward to more. You have written a book, Symphony on Fire: A Story of Music and Spiritual Resistance During the Holocaust. Tell us about why you wrote this book?

mom. They were far from wealthy, but were a happy, close-knit family. My dad’s grandparents lived around the corner, and the family would gather often at my dad’s home for Shabbat and holiday meals. There was lots of joking and laughter at the table, and the family enjoyed each other immensely. His aunts and uncles also lived nearby, and they were all as close as siblings. When he and his brother were in their late teens, they took musician jobs in music halls, nightclubs and local cafés where people would go after dinner to have coffee, fine pastries and hear music. They gave their wages to their parents for the family’s sustenance. Their lives continued in this way until September 1939 when Germany attacked Poland and the war broke out.

max beker

Sonia: When my parents both left this world, I felt very keenly that, as our Jewish survivors were leaving us, the world would be left without their special kind of decency, kindness, modesty, conscientiousness, wry humor, sense of irony, deep love of family, dignity and quiet grace. I knew I had to write my parents’ story, a story of music and the deep humanity that connects us all. It was a way to transcend the painful realization that antiSemitism still stalks the planet, that ignorance, always the easy way out, can still rule people’s minds and create human catastrophe. I wanted to honor my parents and the family members I never knew, I wanted to fight the devastating trends of anti-Semitism with my book, and I will fight them all my life.

Can you tell us what your family’s lives were like before Hitler came into power? Sonia: Their lives were full of the sounds of music – my Uncle Wolf and my mother practicing the piano for upcoming concerts and lessons, and accompanying visiting cantors, such as Yossele Rosenblatt and Moshe Koussevitsky; my aunt practicing her singing; my Grandfather Akiva preparing for his choir performances. They also created small musical reviews for the family’s fun and enjoyment. My grandfather was quite religious, so the family was Shabbat and holiday-observant, although my Uncle Wolf eventually observed less as he became more involved in composing, performing and conducting music in his own right. Music was central to the lives of the Beker family. There were seven children in the family. My father attended the Vilna Conservatory of Music, as did my

Your parents were accomplished musicians. Do you think music was one of the key factors that helped them survive through the Holocaust? And what about your other family members from Lithuania? Sonia: Yes, for both my parents, music was their lifeline and helped them navigate through the Holocaust. My mom, Fania Durmashkin-Beker, pianist, her sister, Henia Durmashkin-Gurko, singer, and my dad, Max Beker, violinist, were from noted musical families in Vilna, Lithuania. Vilna, the Jerusalem of Lithuania, was a Jewish cultural mecca, especially in the 1920s and 1930s, and music was the focal point of the lives of both the Durmashkin and Beker families. My mom’s father, Akiva Durmashkin, was a composer of cantorial music and choir director of Vilna’s Great Synagogue. And so, both Jewish liturgical music and secular, classical music were the pathways that their fathers especially, and children of both families pursued. After the Nazis occupied the city in June 1941, my parents families were taken to the Vilna ghetto in September of that year.

the book by sonia pauline beker

Fania Durmashkin-beker

Uncle Wolf, the only Jewish conductor of the Vilna Symphony Orchestra before Nazi occupation, became the musical leader of the ghetto. He formed a small symphony orchestra, a 100-voice Hebrew choir and held musical competitions and concerts to raise the morale of the devastated ghetto inmates whose numbers dwindled daily as they were selected for transport to concentration camps, taken to Ponary, Vilna’s killing fields, for execution, or succumbed to disease and starvation. I think that music was Wolf’s passion and salvation. I imagine he believed that as long as he could compose, conduct and create, he could somehow stave off death and survive. This was not to be. My mother and her sister were sent to a string of concentration and hard labor camps, eventually ending up in Kaufering 2/ Landsberg, a sub-camp of Dachau. It was there, on their final death march, which the Nazis forced the inmates to participate in when they knew they were losing the war, that they were finally liberated by the Americans. They then became part of a DP (Displaced Persons) Camp where they and other musician survivors from Kovno, formed the Ex-Concentration Camp Orchestra. The Orchestra held its first Liberation Concert in May 1945 at St. Ottilien, a Benedictine monastery in Bavaria with a hospital that treated hundreds of Dachau and other concentration camp inmates at the end of the war. It was there they learned that their gifted brother, Wolf, had been executed in Klooga, an Estonian concentration camp, at the age of 31 just hours before the camp was liberated. Meanwhile, my father, Max Beker, also from Vilna, was a violinist. His father, Berel, was an oboist in the Vilna SymContinued on next page...


max, with violin, front left of conductor, in the stalat Viiia orchestra

phony, and his brother, Leib, was a percussionist and bass player. My dad was conscripted into the Polish Army at the start of the war. He and his fellow soldiers, both Polish and Jewish, were sent to the front. By the time the trains reached that area, Poland had fallen to the Nazis. My father and his regiment were taken as prisoners of war. He ended up at Stalag VIIIA in Silesia, worked in a mine and digging ditches on local farmland. The Jewish prisoners were separated from the Polish prisoners and received much harsher treatment. One day my dad was walking through the camp and heard music. He entered a wooden building and saw a small orchestra of French and Belgian musicians rehearsing for a concert. He identified himself, told the conductor, a well-known Belgian conductor, Ferdinand Carrion, that he was a violinist, and Carrion, told him to stop by the next day for an audition, which my father passed with flying colors. He became the orchestra’s first violinist and the only Jew in the group. He also performed in the camp’s jazz band (he played saxophone!), and gypsy band – in costume!! When my father was captured, he was a violinist without a violin. In Stalag VIIIA, his Jewish bunkmates pooled their meager wages and gave the money to a non-Jewish friend who had free access to go inside and outside the camp. They told him to buy my father a good violin and bring it back with him so they could give it to him. This is the violin he played in the Stalag orchestra, that he took with him when he and his friend snuck away from the prisoners’ death march, and the one he had when, after Liberation, he heard about the St. Ottilien/ Landsberg DP Camp and its primarily Vilna-based members, which encouraged him to go and join them. It was there that he met my mother. And it was there that, in May 1948, Leonard Bernstein conducted the Ex-Concentration Camp Orchestra for two concerts in Landsberg and Feldafing. After five years,

the Orchestra disbanded and the musicians went to various destinations – Israel, Australia, the U.S. My father had relatives in Brooklyn, and so he went there first by ship in 1949. My mother and her sister, who met her future husband on the boat, followed in 1950, also by ship, and joined him there.

Tell us more about your parents connection with Leonard Bernstein. This is a great story of celebration and renewal. Sonia: Leonard Bernstein was in Germany on a cultural mission, and inquired about connecting with a Jewish survivor orchestra. He was directed to the Ex-Concentration Camp Orchestra in Landsberg. He rehearsed with them, and conducted two performances with them in Landsberg and Feldafing. He also accompanied my aunt on the piano as she sang Hebrew songs for the audience. At the end, they presented him with a concentration camp uniform as a token of remembrance. I know that symbolically this experience was so impactful for them. Here was a young, up and coming American Jewish conductor and composer singling them out to show the world “Am Yisrael Chai”, the Jewish people still live!! (This was the Ex-Concentration Camp Orchestra’s slogan). Not only to live, but thrive, and actually show their dignity and talent, that they still have and want to give their special gifts to the world after everything they went through! You must have heard your parents playing music all the time, violin and piano, side by side, all through your life. What do you remember that they loved to play the most? Sonia: My folks used to play Yiddish songs, classical music, and tangos. I loved it when they played together! My mother and her sister made an album, also on CD, called “Songs to Remember”, a variety of ghetto songs and Yiddish melodies.


Being surrounded by music your whole life, do you play an instrument as well? Sonia: My mom started teaching me piano when I was 6, then, by the time I was about 9 or 10, brought me to a terrific piano teacher on the upper west side of Manhattan. I studied until I was a senior in high school, then stopped. In the interim, I played recitals and practiced daily. Perhaps it was a sense of pressure, that I felt the musical legacy of the family lay on my shoulders, but I never again continued with the same intensity. Now, I’m beginning to sit down at the keyboard and play a little again. Were your parents easy to talk to about living through the war? Sonia: Both my parents were equally outspoken about their lives and war experiences to me from the time I was very small. Their lovely survivor friends used to come and visit and my parents and would play music together from that time. Everyone would reminisce, laugh and sometimes cry. I knew them, and about them, and I knew about my parents too. I thought the whole world was cognizant about the Holocaust and how almost a whole race of people with so many gifts to offer the world had been so cruelly annihilated.

What events took place as a result of your book? I know the adventurous side to you must have lead to some new and interesting connections and experiences? Initially, when my book was first published, I gave presentations about it for synagogues, children’s groups, schools and Jewish organizations in NY and other states. I was also interviewed by local publications. Then, after a couple of years, this level of interest subsided. I was happy that my story was out in the world, and life went on. About three years ago, I was contacted by Karla

(Above) pen and ink drawing of max beker by b. thomato, 1941

(Right) max beker, pow

Schonebeck, an investigative reporter who lives in Landsberg, Germany, the location of the DP camp where my parents and aunt were members of the Jewish Displaced Persons Orchestra in Landsberg and in St. Ottilien. Karla had read my book, and was so moved by the story of my uncle, Wolf and the plight of the survivor DP orchestra that she decided to create a project memorializing my uncle in particular, and the Orchestra as well. The name of the project is the Wolf Durmashkin Composition Award or WDCA (you can Google it and read about it in detail). Karla emailed and phoned me for a number of months, we discussed crucial aspects of the project, she asked me to become a member of her team, and we then got my cousins on board. Since she first spoke to me about the project, it has grown tremendously and has a number of different facets. First, in the fall of 2017, the WDCA team organized a competition for young composers from all over the world. These young composers submitted original compositions reflecting the theme of Uncle Wolf's life, namely, the drive and necessity to create and produce one's art on the highest level, even under the most dire circumstances, and, despite the fact that Wolf's life was cut down so tragically, the music and creativity go on.

orchestra members with leonard bernstein, far right. Fania to his left, max beker, 4th from right, and henia Durmashkin-gurko, 7th from right

There was a panel of judges to choose the winning composition, and Karla most generously invited me to be one of them on Feb. 19, 2018 in Munich. The hall where the judging took place was in a Munich University building that had been converted by the Third Reich to administrative offices. Hitler's private office was upstairs, above the room where we judged the compositions. So astonishingly ironic that right below that office we were celebrating the memory of my Uncle Wolf, a renowned Jewish composer, conductor and pianist, in Munich, cultural seat of the Third Reich, by a team of non-Jewish staff! My husband and I traveled there, and I participated in the judging process. Three winners were chosen. The first prize went to Bracha

Bdil, a young, Orthodox woman composer and teacher based in Jerusalem. She is the protege of Alexander Volkoviski (Tamir), who, at the age of 11 in the Vilna ghetto wrote the music for the song, "Shtiler, Shtiler," (lyrics by Shmerke Kaczerginski). Alex won first prize in the ghetto in a music concert organized by my uncle. More irony! Karla also hunted down the piano my mother played in the Ex-Concentration Camp Orchestra. It was in the home of the nephew of the German doctor who was stationed at the DP camp and who loaned it to the Orchestra. When the Orchestra was disbanded in 1949, it was returned to him and he, in turn, Continued on next page...


Vilna, ca. 1930

passed it on to his nephew, a composer. Karla arranged for us to visit this gentleman and his wife so I could play on the piano (I haven't played for decades, but worked up a short Chopin prelude for the occasion). She also arranged for Bavarian TV to film this amazing experience -- it was beyond awe-inspiring! Quite separately, I brought along my father's violin, the one he played in the Displaced Persons Orchestra in Munich, at St. Ottilien, in Landsberg and Feldafing, twice under the direction of Leonard Bernstein. Why? Before we left for Germany, I was contacted by Holocaust violin restorer and luthier, Amnon Weinstein, whose parents originally came to Tel Aviv from Vilna before WWII, and who not only restores Holocaust violins, but then gives them to professional Israeli violinists along with the violins' stories. (Amnon's story is told in a book by Prof. James Grymes called, "Violins of Hope." "Violins of Hope" has now become a concert and presentation venue that Amnon and his son are booked to perform across the U.S. for the next three years). Amnon Weinstein invited me, my husband, Karla and Wolfgang, her colleague, to attend a concert he held at Dachau Palace on Feb. 18, 2018, where Israeli and German violinists performed on his Holocaust violins, which he also displayed. There, at this amazing concert, I presented his son, Avshi, and wife, Assi with my father's violin, and was interviewed by AIPAC and German newspapers. We were privileged to attend the


performance which took place to a packed house, a 99% German audience. (Even more ironically, my mother and aunt were incarcerated in Kaufering/ Dachau!). This experience was absolutely life-changing for me as well!! On May 10, 2018, the WDCA program and exhibition, funded by the Bavarian government and other cultural foundations, was held in Landsberg for one week. An important feature of this May's program was the award ceremony for the original compositions that we had selected in February. In Landsberg this May, the prizes were given to the three winners, and their pieces were performed by the Bavarian Symphony Orchestra in the Landsberg State Theater conducted by Mark Mast. Also, the WDCA honored the Bernstein-led concerts by duplicating in part the May 10, 1948 program. In the 1948 program, Bernstein played "Rhapsody in Blue", and, for our concert, a marvelous young Israeli pianist, Guy Mintus, played the piece with amazing improvisations of his own! He brought the house down!! I must say, too, that I shared a final song of Wolf's (called "Loz Mir Schveigen"), which he composed in the Klooga concentration camp, and which Amnon discovered in an old book in Tel Aviv. This song was performed by a young Jewish-German singer, Yoed Sorek. Among the attending guests was Michael Bernstein, nephew of Leonard, who enjoyed the proceedings immensely, and subsequently wrote about them in an ar-

ticle. The May WDCA program was embedded into an international Jewish-German Festival Week attended by a number of Ex-Concentration Camp Orchestra member descendants and witnesses from Israel, the U.S. and Canada. Attendees included Alex Tamir himself! In addition, there were film screenings, such as "Creating Harmony" by John Michalczyk, a documentary film inspired by my book, an art exhibit and lectures pertaining to this topic. It was endorsed by a number of cultural foundations in Germany, such as the Goethe Institute. Moreover, Karla and Wolfgang wish to use the project to continue the WDCA composition competition for young musicians to submit their work in the future. Another important part of the exhibition was a series of beautifully rendered historical panels, artfully displayed, entitled, "From Lithuania to Landsberg: The Glory of Lithuanian and Vilna Jewish Culture." The exhibition itself is a comprehensive series of panels of historical text and photos about how the Lithuanian Jews, particularly the Vilna Jews, thrived and flourished in Lithuania, developed highly cultural communities, how they were incarcerated in ghettos, scattered to concentration camps, and then survived to find themselves in DP camps in Bavaria. The text contains information, photos and personal stories about both Jews and Germans connected to this particular population,

(Top) gordonia Zionist youth group, Fania is far left. (Left) leo Durmashkin and family: Venya, his daughter, stands between her parents

and much of the information is quite unique, not found in standard history books. The exhibition will also offer films and other multi-media information sources, all of which we are working on now, hoping to bring the exhibition and WDCA music competition to NY, Boston, Vilnius and Jerusalem.

You have visited your parents, family’s village, Vilna and seen for yourself, felt for yourself, the rich history surrounding you as you explored. What discoveries did you make? Sonia: Jewish Vilna is as much a character in the story of its Jews as the actual Jews themselves. From my book: “Vilna, now know as Vilnius, was the cultural mecca of Jewish Lithuania, and the birthplace of my parents. Amazingly, at the turn of the 21st century, it is experiencing a renaissance and has become a major tourist attraction. People from around the world visit its restored twisted cobbled streets, its cafes and medieval courtyards. Music emanates from its concert halls and theaters. Against this backdrop, Jewish secular and religious life is re-emerging, declaring its right to exist once more. A vanguard of concerned individuals at its Jewish Gaon State Museum guards the remnants of Vilna’s extraordinary Jewish history. Professors teach this history at Vilna University. And Jewish music is once again played in auditoriums, coffee houses, churches and at memorial concerts that commemorate Vilna’s ghetto sons, its murdered song-

writers, composers, poets, conductors, artist, novelists and musicians. The rich fabric that was Jewish Vilna at the beginning of the 20th century and through World War II has been irreparably torn. The complex weave of cultural and intellectual life, the variety of personalities, predictable inter-organizational feuds, the bonded, loving families, the culture’s dedication to modern and ancient traditions – to art, science and religion – the talent that flourished for a moment in time and that it offered to the world, will never be seen again. Vilna began as a dream in the 14th century by Duke Gedymin. The Jewish facet of this dream came to fruition during the 16th and 17th centuries religiously with the Vilna Gaon, trade opportunities, then, in the 19th century with the Haskalah (Enlightenment) Movement, the full development of Yiddish which became codified in Vilna as a language of religion, science, literature and medicine, all of which attracted more and more Jews to the city. Jewish Vilna, too, was a dream that burned brightly and was extinguished brutally.” Thanks to a network of friends and guides, I went through Vilna’s streets, visited my parents’ homes, walked in their footsteps, wept everyday, saw the ghosts of my people entwined among the tree branches of the boulevards and heard their voices in the ghetto alleyways and courtyards. What I encountered there was an overwhelming sense of what the world lost, and of what I lost.

I know you are a practicing Jewish American woman. Have you experienced anything of the supernatural, spirit world – you might have encountered something? Sonia: As an observant woman, I’ve learned that G-d rules the world. My presence in it is not accidental, but purposeful, and I have an opportunity to make it a better place through my connection with others. I’ve learned that Torah is the ultimate GPS guiding us through life’s experiences, providing us with a foundation of goodness, clarity and strength that will move us forward. Through my connection with Chabad, I’ve learned that the way to maximize our experiences with Torah and life is through joy. G-d wants us to be joyful and share that joy with our communities. Apropos to that, I once had a vision on Shabbat night in Tsfat, Israel. Tsfat has small, winding streets and many homes have their windows at street level. As I walked through a particular street, I watched as families gathered at their tables. The women lit Shabbat candles, and everyone began singing Shabbat songs of praise and celebration. I came to a small courtyard, a wide space with the starry, night sky above. Suddenly, I saw the Shabbat songs as ribbons unfurling from each window. The ribbons came together in the center of the courtyard and begin twisting around each other in a column, rising up and disappearing into heaven. Continued on next page...


es her c n se mot e hen r P my w op t s for n’t ther d i e d y mo f i L ad oon m d. m m o die as n f the e w pse o ng r e y, e Th ecli artli n ur st orm o j r o er st h n k su ar a gh u o m th ke to e a p m sca to r d n tea he la r. e t d v in e ha fore tim nged ent cha m o r e m t la long s y a a ing t d was k u B e loo r r y n lyn e k e o e d ro ed Th wh win e ov in b g sa g i l r, a ja ad iste e n n is s h o h e , t o er t om rbor ith bek r s i r p bo ha ng w er, er, e ath f d h t n ri t n gra e i m t poster fro o r t f ter gli t of w den let d h nd u lig ft su o From all your relatives that endure the war, played music, lived and died, who can you relate ar so th f to the most? l a Sonia: I think I connect most to my uncle, Wolf Durmashkin. I imagine he was extremely talented, rm itse rs a d w a prodigy who performed piano and conducted an orchestra at the age of seven, and that he was probe eld n d h l u ably immersed in music starting from that early age. He might have been somewhat shy and modest, wo shou and although he had many friends and garnered a great deal of respect from so many people. I think that when he was involved in music, he became fully empowered, and felt the flow of life and beauty commy head d n pletely. d an beyo wind I’m definitely connected to the Durmashkin family of musicians, and to the Jewish Vilna culture before e gs and during the war. The more I researched for my book, the more I loved my family members and the d ht n m n i a people who comprised the rich cultural life of the city. w ig sun a br pt its s, r d Regardless of the terrors the Jews faced during WWII, they were able to feel joy and even a bliss e e m an d sw when hearing the orchestra or playing in the orchestra, or singing in the choir. I find this so moving. im d r s i Music is a powerful drug. Your thoughts? r b wa wave Sonia: I think music touches people very deeply, and moves our souls differently than other art forms. At y sk oss a concert you can see how people respond to music so similarly, with sadness, with awe, with pain and g he n r with joy. Music goes beyond borders, touches our hearts and builds bridges between people and cultures. i c t v a sol e That’s why the Ex-Concentration Camp Orchestra was such a phenomenon. Concentration camp inmates v who could barely walk, hobbled to the concert, while others were brought in stretchers just to hear the dis h abo st. music, cry at memories the music evoked, and get in touch with their humanity again. hig y coa er s Do you feel some things are just timeless? Like, for example, the photo of your dad and POW bunkk u c b mate… You can just about step right on in and join them relaxing in their hard as nails bunk beds! Be P What a gift for you it was to be given these photos and all the documents and memorabilia! In many ia n ways, all of this keeps your parents and family alive. Do you think so too? o Sonia: I completely agree!! To me, the photos are as fresh as the moment they were taken. The essence —S

of my family members and their friends come through in each image! It’s a true document of the time


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and of the people in them! I have many framed and hanging on my wall in my Brooklyn apartment. I totally love them. While creating this book, have you met any remarkable people along the way that have helped you make this book possible you can tell us about, and their part in it? So many people come to mind – Ed Herman, consummate gentleman who was a GI stationed at St. Ottilien who, with his fellow GI, Bob Hilliard, procured more food, clothing and medicine for the Jewish inmates; my dear friend, Marija Krupoves, singer par excellence who, though a devout Christian, taught about the Vilna Jewish cultural community at the university there, sings Jewish ghetto songs in Yiddish in a heartbreakingly beautiful style and has a heart of gold; the Vilna Jewish community; my dear friend, Mira Van Doren, whose film, “The World Was Ours”, codified the eminence of Vilna’s Jewish cultural life, and so inspired me in my research; my dear friend, Helen Schwimmer, journalist and writer of poignant life stories of survivors whose unerring search for substance kept me on track; my own Rabbi and Rebbetzin Raskin


whose spiritual support of me never wavered; and my husband, Steve Zucker, whose love and support meant everything to me all the moments of every day, and still do!! Are you planning another book? You must enjoy writing! Sonia: I’m toying with the idea of writing another book based on the project and exhibition that was developed in Germany. So far, it’s still in my mind, but I think it would be a great sequel to “Symphony on Fire.” I enjoy the writing process, but find it very solitary. My father came to the USA at the age of 13, from where he grew up in a shtetl in the Ukraine, Russia. He had dark skin, red hair, heavy accent, smoked filterless camels… very handsome, politically not sure, maybe Communist, or something, and did very well for himself and family. Coming from Europe and making a life in the USA is such the story of many of my childhood friends’ parents and families. Growing up in the Bronx, it was normal to eat lunch at a friend’s house whose parents had heavy accents, I could not understand them and felt afraid. Watching my friend take a piano lesson from her father, who shocked me with his German strictness! The overprotected mothers, like mine, afraid to let their kids out to play unless they were watched the whole

a letter to brooklyn written by sonia’s grandfather, boris beker, during the early part of the war shortly before the beker Family was executed at ponary.

time…but we rebeled in high school, of course. Us, as kids, whispered to each other the secret that this grandma had tattooed numbers on her arm, and to go gentle with her, “hush-hush mine kindalach!”, we would hear... And boy! Can those elders play a wicked card game card and cook up a storm!! Bortsch, schav, stimmis, corned beef, tongue, kniedlach, maztah balls and brie—it goes on and on!…( See Laura Pian’s article in this issue on Gramma Becky’s Jewish Cooking Recipe this month!) So, does your background compare? Sonia: Some of this is familiar. I think my folks were very protective of me as well. That’s probably why I went to England for my junior year and stayed on, then went to Japan! I think I went a bit overboard to declare my independence, and I’m afraid I hurt my parents by distancing myself in such a way. I’m sorry for that, but we did get together often when I came back. For me, living in a community of survivors was quite normal and comfortable. I found them to be loving, humorous, caring people, always lots of food to eat when company came. Many had numbers on their arms, but it was accepted and we knew why the numbers were there. Yes, we also ate borscht, gefilte fish, kreplach, chicken fat and gribenes, and schav – I loved it when my mom cooked these old world delicacies! Continued on next page...


sonia and steve, berkshires, massachusetts, 2018

Catching up with the present, how did you discover the beautiful Berkshires? Sonia: I began coming to Tanglewood during the summers decades ago with friends, and was enchanted with the Berkshires. I never imagined having a home here – that was just too wonderful!! Then, when Steve and I got together, we began spending summer weekends here as well. Steve became so enamored of the Berkshires he suggested looking at homes here, and the rest is history. The Berkshires are more magical than I realized. Not only is the natural beauty superb, but the people are as well! Quiet, grounded, creative, peopleoriented, talented, articulate, warm! It’s all such a great gift, I think!

Who do you spend most of your free time with? What do you share in common that makes the relationship fit like a glove? Sonia: I spend a lot of time on my own, but share most time with Steve. Over time, I’ve come to know him more, understand him better and appreciate him more as well. We share our Jewish observance, love of the outdoors, love of the old Catskill days, love of similar foods, feelings about world events, world view and the Holocaust, just a fundamental sympatico that endures and grows.

What is one thing you consider vital to teach the next generation? What would you add into the scholastic roster? Sonia: Although this is probably impossible, I would try to limit the amount of time kids spend on their phones and computers, and try to show them how valu-


photograph by tasja keetman

able personal interaction and direct conversation is with friends and family. I would expect parents to take more initiative, as parents in my day did, to interact meaningfully with their kids, take them to films, museums, concerts and shows, make their kids accountable for basic chores at home from an early age, share in their triumphs and help them through rough spots with caring and wisdom. I would also teach them respect for seniors, and how older people are our historical treasures. I would also make it mandatory for high school students to think critically, research ideas to support their opinions, present valid evidence for their positions and not point fingers of blame at others. The Holocaust is no longer taught in NY high schools for more than two days. I would extend that to at least a week, giving students special projects and interviews entailing research and talking to Holocaust survivors or 2nd generation people. Tolerance, acceptance and connection must be taught. These are life lessons that are being left by the wayside. If you could go back into time, where and when would that be, and what would you be doing? Sonia: I would have loved to have been part of the Vilna Jewish cultural community, to have been a member of Yung Vilne, the writer’s group that produced poetry and publications, and held readings. I also would have wanted to be part of the Paper Brigade, a group of Jewish Vilna writers who, in the Vilna ghetto, were appointed by the Nazis to empty the Strashun library of books, to then destroy them or have them sent back to Germany to become part of a Jewish relics museum. These people rescued many books and hid them. Those


who survived after the war came back, found them and donated them to an archive.

What is it you wish for the most, Sonia? Sonia: I wish to have a simple life as I have now. I feel extremely enriched, and want to continue to spend time in the Berkshires in my new creative community, as well as spending time in Brooklyn with my nurturing Jewish community there. I’d like to travel to Italy, Israel, Spain and other places. And, to be able to come back to Lenox, and feel my soul connect to nature. Thank you, Sonia!

“The main thing is to be moved, to love, to hope, to tremble, to live.” —Auguste Rodin

robert wilk







I live in two separate worlds. One verbal and one visual. What they have in common is an attitude of pushing into the unknown; of allowing unconscious elements to take form within consciousness. I couldn’t live without both. Art came first, but after a while I began to feel selfindulgent and isolated. I wanted to address problems of mans’ impact on the environment. I went through careers in art, photography, carpentry, ecology and microbiology before landing in psychology at 30. 10 years ago, when we found a loft in Pittsfield, I returned to my first love, art. It’s not like riding a bicycle. I had to start from scratch. I feel I’m just now catching up to where I left off 50 years ago. I’m not satisfied with a piece for a long time. I’ll put it away and work on something else. I’ll look at it upside down and in a mirror, trying to get a handle on what’s wrong. It’s a very solitary meditation. I might gesso over everything except some small bits that are working; then start over from those. The viewer completes the process. It’s a collaboration. It’s a thrill when someone “gets” a piece, but I’m OK when they don’t. The connection with the viewer should be as rare and special as marriage.



Ghetta Hirsch's was deeply influenced by her childhood surroundings in Morocco and by her subsequent travels. Her artistic mind remembers vividly her father"s architectural drawings, her mother's copious textile collection as well as the shapes and tones of the North African setting. Now, light and movement animate her oil paintings while texture and forms replicate nature. The plein air studies of the Berkshires are numerous as Ghetta tunes into the visual beauty of the area. She finishes her oil paintings in her home studio, focusing on the patterns of colors she perceived and her own interpretation of the Berkshires' light. She moves in a meditative and continuous flow on her canvas until she reaches the feelings experienced initially on location. Some of Ghetta's works is now in private collections in different U.S states as well as in France where she resides part of the year. Instagram @ghettahirschpaintings. Website Exhibits at The Artful Mind Gallery, Lenox, MA. Ghetta lives in Williamstown, MA and can be contacted for Studio visits at


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 environmental portraits, landscapes, structures, outdoor creatures, farms and edibles. I like to explore beyond the traditional scenes and formats as well. One of my products, Picturesque Note Cards has just gone green by using environmentally friendly paper. Cards feature my photographs of butterflies, birds, flowers, seascapes, landscapes and Berkshire scenes. I launched a project four years ago to photograph “The Massachusetts’s Berkshires and Beyond”, taking a close look at the diverse beauty of neighborhoods including Outdoor Recreation, History, Scenic Views, Art, Farms and more. My signature calendar is a wall and desk Art Poster format with the thought of bringing these images a little closer into view. Calendars can be found seasonally in artist shops, hotels, bookshops, museums, eateries and antique shops throughout the Berkshires and Northwest Connecticut. Currently my outdoor photography scenes are part of The Hitchcock Chair Furniture Showroom in Canton and Riverton, Connecticut. One of my photographs was selected as a finalist in Sohn Fine Art Gallery's 6th Annual Juried Exhibition to benefit the Norman Rockwell Museum. The Exhibition was curated and judged by the Museum's Director and Curators. My photography has also been exhibited at the Maplebrook School - 30th and 31st Annual Kentucky Derby Art Show, Amenia, NY; the iMOTIF 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; Artisan Guild, Norfolk, CT; Whiting Mills - Open Studios, Winsted, CT, several photographs were featured on the, A Closer Look at The Berkshires 2018 calendar and The Gallery on the Green, Canton, CT, where I am juried artist member. I’ve lived in Litchfield County, CT all my life and now live in the Berkshires.

Your Musical Journey Begins with


Grammy nomimated former Assistant Professor at Berklee College of Music, touring Artist, currently teaching at MCLA and BCC is now offering music mentoring in performance, private lessons in bass, guitar, piano and song writing for all levels. I have helped many young musicians create successful careers in the music industry. contact me at:


photograph by Jane FelDman

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Available on CD Baby and on iTunes and Amazon, as well as in various stores around Berkshire and Columbia County. Or ask Renee.

Mulberry Hair Company

Follow her confidence on instagram: @hairby.sammcandee 27 1/2 rosseter street, great barrington ma 413. 644. 9385

Gourmet Organic Vegetarian Fare with an international flair

Our Schedule is: Zen Silent Meditation Porridge Monday & Friday 8am-8:45 Tea & Gratitude Writing Our Way Into The Day With Jana Laiz Fridays 9am-10:30am Luncheon Monday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday noon-2pm Afternoon Teatime: Monday, Thursday, Friday, & Saturday 2pm-4pm Sunday Brunch 10am-2pm Sunday Afternoon Salons 21 Day Cleanse Retail Items • Bulk Loose Teas and Herbs 70 Railroad Street, Great Barrington, MA 413.644.8999 Everything is always lovingly & consciously prepared with fresh organic ingredients!





‘Tis the season at the Stationery Factory in Dalton, to join in and to take advantage of great savings on original paintings from local artist Scott Taylor during his fourth Annual Holiday Studio Sale. “I need to make room for drawing not drawn, prints not printed and paintings not painted. Some are as low as $50, and some select work you’ll save hundreds on.” Sunday December 1 is when it will begin and will run through January 15. Scott will be in his studio 10-3 seven days a week (most days), but feel free to e-mail him at to let him know that you’re coming. Here’s hoping we all have the best holiday Season ever! The Stationary Factory is located at 16 Flansburg Avenue, Dalton.



POPS PETERSON’s reinvented versions of iconic Norman Rockwell masterpieces have long been lauded by the public, Berkshires print and broadcast media and The Norman Rockwell Museum. Having recently been featured in The New York Times and on CBS Sunday Morning, and as well as the touring exhibition, “Reimagining The Four Freedoms,” currently at (The Henry Ford Museum), his work has attained national prominence. Now, for the first time, Pops is releasing his new visions of “The Four Freedoms” as affordable posters. Pops is pleased that his works will now be available to everybody, not just collectors who can afford gallery prices. These 16”x20” posters are printed on the finest high-gloss, 100lb paper that will last for generations. Go to to order “THE FOUR FREEDOMS” composite poster, as well as “FREEDOM FROM WHAT?,” Pop’s famous update to Rockwell’s ”Freedom from Fear.” Both are available now for the special price of $30, or signed by the artist for $50. Seventy-five years ago, the concept of The Four Freedoms was introduced by Franklin Delano Roosevelt to uplift our country in the throes of WWII. These freedoms inspired Norman Rockwell to create his iconic images, which galvanized our country and helped win the war effort. Pops Peterson hopes to inspire our new generation to continue to fight for the freedoms that are the birthright of every citizen of our great land. Please visit or email with the subject line, “Poster.”


John Lipkowitz, a retired New York City attorney now living in Great Barrington, has been interested in photography since childhood, receiving his first camera at age 10 and gradually moving to 35mm and a Leica by the time he was fifteen. However nearly four decades passed before his passion for wildlife photography was ignited, as he recalls, by 6AM excursions around what he calls the Rowboat Pond in Central Park a ten minutes walk from where he lived. Those early morning explorations sought out some of the park’s Great Blue, Black Crowned and Green Herons, its Great Egrets and many species of ducks through the year. But his earliest avian subjects were a family of Mute Swans, the mated pair and as many as a dozen or so downy cygnets. As it turned out, this was only first gear, as circumstances soon permitted the first of five (so far) African safaris with his wife Nina (herself an artist) in January 1997. A crazy trip to the North Pole (no Santa there) aboard a Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker brought the Arctic within their reach of John’s then Minolta camera and lenses the following year. More Arctic and then Antarctic travel followed as did a switch to Canon film cameras and wildlife lenses and ultimately to his first Canon digital camera in 2003. Deferring to Nina, not all travel was wildlife based, but much of it was and Japan in winter for snow monkeys, cranes, swans and eagles were the targets in 2005 and India thereafter on two trips was also visited. The birds of Central Park remained of interest while the Lipkowitz’ lived in New York until 2006 as did the birds of Florida where Lipkowitz (without Nina) made many late April trips to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. Although it is essentially a zoo, the Alligator Farm with its alligator swamps (all are captive) is also great habitat for wading birds which roost and breed in the trees growing from the swamp. A few eggs, chicks and sometimes adult birds fall to the gators, but hundreds of chicks of many species of herons and egrets are raised successfully, often just along the boardwalk where all one needs to do is stick a camera practically into a nest. Lipkowitz will be exhibiting a selection of his images taken over the past two decades at the 510 Warren Street Gallery, 510 Warren Street, Hudson, New York (gallery hours 12-6 Friday and Saturday and 12-5 Sunday) from February 1, 2019 through February 24, 2019 in a show entitled “Farther Reaches: Musings on a Wildlife Portfolio”. An Artist’s Reception will be held Saturday February 2, 2019 from 3-6PM. Since this is an artist owned gallery, both Nina and John Lipkowitz as well as many other artists have rotating work on continuous display. 510 Warren Street Gallery - 510 Warren Street, Hudson, New York. Gallery Hours: 12-6 Friday and Saturday and 12-5 Sunday.



This holiday season, give yourself or a loved one the gift of optimum health … ELIXIR’S 21-day restorative cleanse. Are you ready for transformation? Come and enjoy a completely balanced, freshly prepared main meal, at noon every day, starting with soup and followed by a steaming cup of tea, in the peaceful, nurturing environment of ELIXIR. Take home fresh pressed juices, smoothie, herbal infusion, hearty soup w/greens. (You will only have to prepare warm lemon wat in the morning, and before dinner.) Everything is freshly & intentionally prepared using 100% organic ingredients! It takes 21 days to create a new habit. To create the changes we want in our lives, we often need support. During this 21-day period, everything is prepared for you so you can concentrate on the process and not get bogged down with the shopping, planning & preparation, which is usually why people are challenged in staying with and completing a cleanse. The consultation helps to determine what specific needs may have to be addressed during the 21 days and provides guidelines and practical daily external treatments to support the body during the 21 days. In addition to the consultation, we are available to go over any questions each day during the main meal. Meeting other people that are also doing the cleanse, can be very supportive and encouraging as we share our experiences and observe the positive results in each other. Some of the results you can look forward to are: weight regulation, bowel regulation, more energy, more clarity, deeper sleep, pain reduction, skin and hair improvements, changing perspective on life. “A cleanse with Nancy Lee at Elixir is a completely holistic and nurturing experience. Other cleanses I’ve done stripped my body of everything, but Nancy’s program nourished, healed and rebuilt it. My body felt so good! I felt clear, grounded and present. I was most surprised by how much emotional cleansing and empowerment came along with this process as well. While it was challenging at first to make the decision to invest in myself and my health at this level, I now feel it was one of the most important investments I could ever make. I realize that without caring for myself well, I’m not enabling myself to care for anyone or anything else well either! I highly recommend you make space in your life for this and see where it leads you!” - Erika, engineer, Great Barrington. ELIXIR – website: To set up your consultation, contact us at: or call 413-644-8999.


En Masse is back at Thompson Giroux Gallery and On view through December 24, 2018. This is the fifth year for the by-invitation-only, salon-style show featuring over sixty artists and an incredible range of affordable work--sculpture, glass art, oil paintings, collages and much much more. The show includes many of TGG’s longtime gallery artists as well as a handful of artists who have never shown there before. En Masse has become a favorite show for our collectors and art enthusiasts—there’s truly something for everyone! This exhibition encourages artists to take risks and try new things--many have created brand-new work especially for this event—as well as unlock the vault on some never-seen artworks. Pieces are available on a cash-and-carry basis beginning the day after the opening (December 1) , and the show is constantly changing as new pieces are added from the back room. Don't miss the chance to discover and acquire something special in this year’s wild and wonderful En Masse 2018! Artists showing in En Masse 2018 include: Nancy Andell, Fern Apfel, Mary Ashwood, Marcel Bova, Undine Brod, Laura Cannamela, Steven Careau, Benigna Chilla, Frank Curran, Margot Curran, Mary Anne Davis, Dan Devine, Carol Diamond, Cathy Diamond, Tim Ebneth, Jean Feinberg, Leslie Gabosh, Rick Gedney, Barry Gerson, Gail Giles, Kate Hamilton, John Hampshire, Carter Hodgkin, Jim Holl, Katrina Hude, Licha Jimenez, Matson Jones, T. Klacsmann, Georgia Landman, Mark LaRiviere, Leah Lieber, Susan Mastrangelo, Gwenn Mayers, Josh McKeon, Kim McLean, Stanley Moon, Donna Moylan, Mark Olshansky, Dana Piazza, Isabel Piazza, Brian Pike, Mathew Pleva, Lily Price, Catherine Ramey, Jannelle Roberts, Rich Robinson, Meredith Rosier, Margaret Saliske, Arlene Santana Thornton, Christie Scheele, Elliot Schneider, Scout, Gabrielle Senza, Carleen Sheehan, Jill Slaymaker, Ned Snider, D. Jock Solomon, George Spencer, Lawre Stone, Shawn Sullivan, Helen Suter, Beth Thielen, Tony Thompson, Josephine Turalba, Hazle Weatherfield, Gerald Wolfe, Joseph Yetto, Alice Zinnes. Thompson Giroux Gallery is located at 57 Main Street, Chatham, New York. Gallery Hours: Thursday - Monday 11am - 5pm, Friday 11am - 7pm. 518-392-3336.


Recognized as a fabric guru with an eye for color, Jennifer has achieved accolades for her unique sense of style and vision. She has been featured on the cover of House to Home, Lifestyle Magazine of Fairfield County, featuring a home in Westport; East Coast Home Design Magazine; Shippan Designer Show House, (benefiting Stamford Museum and Nature Center); Weston Designer Show House benefiting Connecticut Humane Society. They feature her definitive style of design, transforming spaces to uplifting, functional environments, “simple elegance” at its best! A native of the West Midlands England, Jennifer grew up with a mother who was a passionate knitter and a talented seamstress, with a love to decorate and a relish for fabrics and yarns. This led to many inspiring visits with her to the fabric market. Hence Jennifer’s passion! Her client base extends to Fairfield County, CT, Westchester County, New York City, Long Island, and Berkshire County. Jennifer has a showroom and office based on Railroad Street in Great Barrington, MA. Jennifer is a member of IDS (Interior Design Society), with extensive training in interior design, IDPC (Interior Design Protection Council), member of Better Business Bureau, Metropolitan Museum, NYC, Museum of Natural History, NYC, Museum of Modern Art, NYC, member of Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, member of Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, and a member of A Women’s Creation Circle in Berkshire County. Designs by Jennifer, LLC - 6 Railroad Street, STE 17, Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Office: 413528-5200; Cell: 203-253-3647;

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live!” -Henry David Thoreau THE ARTFUL MIND DECEMBER / JANUARY 2019 • 27


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

Giclée and Photography Printing

· Archival

Prints 5x7 to 42x80

Serving Photographers & Artists Since 2005

“Riders From the Sea” – Lewis Scheffey

Berkshire Digital

collins |editions Collins Editions | Berkshire Digital · (413) 644-9663 Drop-off & pick-up available at Frames on Wheels · 84 Railroad St · Great Barrington, MA (413) 528-0997 THE ARTFUL MIND DECEMBER / JANUARY 2019 • 29




The process of making art is mysterious. It’s a bit like the birth process- It all begins with an act of creation which is nurtured in the womb of the artist until it is ready to be breathed into life and out into the world where it stands on it's own. My work, whether painted on paper, canvas or on the touch screen of an iPad is always a work of inspiration and improvisation.. I found this quote from the Zohar describing a mystical concept of creation. I think that it is a good description of the mystery of how it all begins: “A blinding spark flashed within the concealed of the concealed From the mystery of the infinite a cluster of vapor in formlessness…. Under the impact of breaking through, one high and hidden point shone. Beyond the point nothing is known. So it is called Beginning.” Please visit my web site:

Be Seen!

advertising rates and the perks ! Call or email for Artful Mind details 413 854 4400



When our world seems too filled with dismay and worry, Nature stands steadfast as a powerful ally, offering respite and inspiration when we choose to engage her. The natural world offers a not-so-distant mirror of our experiences reflected in sky, water and earth. Great drama, intricate patterns, hidden faces, abstract shapes and a spectrum of colors abound in shifting light. But sometimes, they last only for an instant. I strive to artfully capture such quixotic moments and transform them into paper, canvas and metal prints that can ornament and inspire our living spaces. It is one of my life's joyful pleasures to share these images with others. “A long time Berkshire County resident and photographer Claudia d'Alessandro makes her home in Great Barrington with her fiancé musician David Reed, and a cat who enjoys tangling her yarn” She firmly believes that it is best to: “Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” -Henry David Thoreau, Walden Please visit me at my website, Claudia d'Alessandro, Photography at:, or on Facebook as Claudia d'Alessandro, Photography, You may also contact me at:, or through my website at


Pastels, oils, acrylics and watercolors…abstract and representational…..landscapes, still lifes and portraits….a unique variety of painting technique and styles….you will be transported to another world and see things in a way you never have before…. join us and experience something different. Painting classes continue on Monday and Wednesday mornings 10-1:30pm at the studio and Thursday mornings out in the field. These classes are open to all...come to one or come again if it works for you. All levels and materials welcome. Private critiques available. Classes at Front Street are for those wishing to learn, those who just want to be involved in the pure enjoyment of art, and/or those who have some experience under their belt. Perfect if you are seeking fresh insight into watercolors, and other mediums. A teacher for many years, Kate Knapp has a keen sense of each student’s artistic needs to take a step beyond. Perfect setting for setting up still lifes; lighting and space are excellent. Peek in to see! Front Street Gallery – Front Street, Housatonic, MA. Gallery open by appointment or chance anytime. 413-528-9546 at home or 413-429-7141 (cell).




"Winter in the Berkshires " at Hotel on North in Pittsfield continues through December 31. In this exhibit, Bride has introduced new watercolors depicting the beauty of our local surroundings in winter. A preview of the paintings on display can be seen at And because this exhibit does run through the gift-giving holiday season, purchased paintings will be allowed to go to their new homes during the exhibit period if desired. Limited edition fine art reproductions of the images are available directly from the artist. “The Berkshires could not be more beautiful than during and right after a snowfall…it’s like a winter wonderland. I know I am happiest when painting a winter scene…even if doing so in the middle of a hot July day. I’m a born and bred New Englander! I have been asked for years to paint something from Dalton…and this exhibit contains two brand new scenes… the Red Barn and the Crane Model Farm. I especially enjoy painting the buildings that surround us. There’s so much history here.” Also, on Sunday, December 16 from 12 noon – 2 pm, Bride will be doing a painting demo at Hancock Shaker Village. Original paintings, fine art reproductions and note cards of Berkshire images and beyond are available locally at the Red Lion Inn Gift Shop (Stockbridge), Lenox Print & Mercantile (Lenox), Good Purpose Gallery (Lee), and also directly from the artist. Seasonal scenes are always on display in the public areas of the Berkshire Plaza in Pittsfield, and Jazz Visions (series of 22 paintings) is on display at 51 Park Tavern and Restaurant in Lee through the year. Marguerite Bride – Home Studio at 46 Glory Drive, Pittsfield, Massachusetts by appointment only. Call 413-841-1659 or 413-442-7718;;; Facebook: Marguerite Bride Watercolors.

The Principles of true art is not to portray but to evoke. –Jerzy Kozinsky


As a painter I love to take on the challenge of subjects and mediums. My website, shows the variety of themes and interpretations I have explored to date. My journey continues as I try new combinations of material and interpretations both representational and abstract. Sometimes a metaphor, a symbol, a phrase, or a quip provokes an image that I decide to want to express. I also like to create titles that I hope lead the viewer closer to what I had in mind when I was painting. Travel also provides me with inspiration. I find the experience of colors, light, and culture endlessly interesting. Images and imagination are at work and thoughts of interpreting them in art run through my head. Recognizing that I will not recall all that I saw, I take many photographs that I can use as references when I return to my easel. Some of my work can be displayed in any direction desired. I describe these works as “No Right Side Up” and to overcome the idea that a signature dictates the direction the painting should be hung, I only sign on the back. I layout my ideas on paper and make studies in color before I commit to a final work. This allows me to work out the details and arrive at what feels like a successful composition. Often what seemed like a good idea has to be reworked and the final painting is quite different than the initial concept. In Los Angeles I studied drawing and watercolor and pastel at Brentwood Art Center and UCLA Extension. I also studied with landscape painter John Strong, and abstract painter Ilana Bloch. In New York City I have studied at the Art Students League and Chelsea Classical Studios. My work has been sold through St. Francis Gallery in South Lee, Massachusetts and 510 Warren Street Gallery in Hudson, New York. Please visit me at The Artful Mind Gallery in Lenox, and

CEWM will be presenting two very special musical events. On Saturday, December 8, at 6 PM – a musical tribute to a dear, deceased fish (which happens to be one of Schubert’s compositional triumphs!) and other worldly Mozart piano quartet, CEWM presents a holiday concert” Mozart and Schubert – Marzipan and the “Trout”. Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, MA. Tickets: $50 (Orchestra and Mezzanine) and $27 (Balcony), Students $15. Two great melodists, two young geniuses in one brilliant evening: Bubbly, like fine Champagne, Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet is one of the most joyous pieces ever written. A landmark of classical music, it weaves a net of enchantment with its catchy melodies and fresh exuberance. An all-star ensemble that joins artistic director Yehuda Hanani includes pianist Max Levinson; violinist Itamar Zorman and David Grossman, double bass of the New York Philharmonic. A post-concert reception for all members of the audience will follow the marzipan and trout theme! And, “Humor in the Works of Papa Haydn” will be presented by Close Encounters with Music on Saturday, February 23, 2019 at 6pm at Saint James Place in Great Barrington. What constitutes a musical—or any other kind of—joke? Humor explodes our expectations and takes us by surprise. Three Haydn string quartets, including his “Joke” Quartet, provide an evening of ambiguous beginnings and fake-out endings; mismatched dialogues between instruments, misunderstandings, musical pratfalls and pretend memory lapses and digressions. Artistic director Yehuda Hanani and colleagues will lead us through this night of musical comedy with their expert playing as well as comments. Call it a master class in musical humor. Performers include: Hagai Shaham and XiaoDong Wang violin: Dov Scheindlin, viola; Yehuda Hanani, cello.Tickets, $38 general seating for February concert. concert.Audiences can savor the music and fun as well as the culinary connections with us at our thematic concerts and receptions this season! Close Encounters With Music - To inquire about pro-rated season subscriptions for the series and/or for more details: or 800-8340778. THE ARTFUL MIND DECEMBER / JANUARY 2019 • 31


You know, some people just have it, and some people just don’t. …. You got it. I love your color pallette, the angles chosen of your sunflowers, your imagination for which you must have a good time with, and the respect you show for letting the paint be paint. How much time do you dedicate to making art? Joseph Yenno: Oh, thank you for your kind words. My still life works tend to take months to complete. I always have several paintings going at a time. The landscapes on the other hand move along at a quicker pace because I want to capture the feeling of that particular day. I work from direct observation and it is difficult to find two days that are alike. However, if I failed to achieve my goal, I often have to return to a site to finish a painting. I just adjust



the painting to capture the light of the new day before me. I believe it gives the work a nice feeling of history. I also make work that can be seen as less traditional where I make use of a microscope to look deeper into my surroundings. For this, my subject matter is decaying insects, dust, mold, and whatever else that I find laying in the nooks and crannies of my house. When I first started making these works I was very determined to capture exactly what I was seeing. Over the years however these works have become full of imagination. I use what I find in the microscope as a leaping off point for my imagination. I combine what I observe in the microscope with what I see and feel in a landscape and in my minds eye. Unlike the still life and landscapes I have

no idea what it will look like at the end of the process. These paintings and drawings are free flowing and very organic. They take months if not longer to complete and at times don’t ever feel complete enough to show. So to answer your question I spend a lot of time making art. The last couple months I have been building my studio which is very exciting! I can’t wait to be done so I can get back to creating. I’m looking forward to see how the new space influences my work. I have worked on a small scale for a number of years now. Maybe I will take advantage of the larger space and make larger works? I do like the intimate nature of smaller works though. We shall see.


When an artist’s work becomes identifiable to viewers, I want to ask them, how long did the road take to get to that point? Are you still working towards that? You may be satisfied without the need to get there, and that too is good and Buddha-like. Hmm? Joseph: I’m not sure I’ve made it to the point where my work is identifiable as a Joseph Yetto, since I haven’t given it much thought. I really don’t feel that it’s a goal of mine. It’s not the reason I paint. I paint because it is what I am drawn to do. Give me an example of a kind of art making medium you are completely challenged with and find yourself struggling to understand it’s puzzle. I’m thinking, maybe, watercolor?

Joseph: Well, I pretty much don’t stray far from oil paints and charcoal. I find these two mediums fulfilling and challenging enough to satisfy my interests. I do find it a good practice however, to make ink wash drawings. They are very hit or miss and can get out of control very quickly. It’s a good way to keep my eye trained on finding abstract shapes within my subject matter. Very much like putting a puzzle together. Where was your favorite gallery exhibit you have had, and why? Joseph: I would have to say being included in “Twice Drawn” at the Tang Museum in Saratoga NY. It was a huge drawing show curated by Jack Shear and Ian Berry back in 2006. Some of the

biggest names in the art world were included in the show. It was a great honor to be shown with some of my heroes.

Thompson-Giroux Gallery in Chatham, New York, represents your art? How would you describe the chemistry between you and the gallery in comparison to your other experiences? Joseph: The Thompson-Giroux Gallery is such a great little gallery. Bill, Marie-Claude, and Mary have been so wonderful to work with. They always bring in a great crowd to their openings and the Chatham NY area is full of art lovers. I receive such nice feedback from the community. It has been a real treat to be a part of their gallery. Continued on next page...



Tell us about your learning years in formal training art school? Or closest to that? Joseph: I was lucky to have some really great instructors during my foundation years. I started my education with a little known art school in Utica NY called The Munson Williams Proctor Institute School of Art (now owned by PRATT). Every teacher I had there was amazing at preparing us to become artists. They were so dedicated to the students. The program was a general fine arts curriculum, so I took classes in all the disciplines. When I graduated from the school I thought I was going to be a sculptor. I then moved onto The Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. At that time, MICA was one of the top schools for painting and I soon switched my focus to that medium. I really took to one teacher in particular, Mark Karnes. He


taught a twelve hour landscape class and a twelve hour figure painting class. These marathon classes were so great! I learned so much from his instruction and his paintings. I still look to his paintings for inspiration.

What is one rule, one major principle you have imposed upon yourself to always follow when creating art, from concept to deliverable ready? Joseph: One major principle for me is to trust the process. There are times when a painting just is not working out right, or I lose my way and start poking at it not really making any real positive decisions. That’s when I know it’s time to sand it, scrape it down with a pallet knife or razor blade, and see what is left to work with. This will happen often through my painting. I find these moments very ex-

citing because I know in the end the repetition of all this scraping, sanding and painting builds a nice surface, a surface with a feeling of history or passing of time observed. This also is true of the drawings. They too go through the same process of sanding and scraping with a razor.

Can you please give us a slice of childhood life you remember when first discovering the pleasures of making a picture? Joseph: My first memory was of drawing pictures of cars with my Crayolas when I was around 5 years old. Around that same time or earlier my mother and I would like making collages by gluing magazine clippings to large pieces of paper board. She wanted to go to school for art but she had me when she was only 17. So she passed that dream on to me to fulfill.


Who in your family was most supportive, and who was least supportive for you becoming an artist? Or, were you old enough, independent, to making and supporting your own decisions? Joseph: My whole family was very supportive of me following my passion for art. My mother in particular encouraged me to pursue college when I found out I was going to be a father at 18. My family was financially poor but they were able to help me raise my daughter while I worked hard at developing my skills. I was and am still a lucky fella for having the support that I have.

Joseph, congrats to all the awards you have won! What do you attribute their choosing your art over others? What did they love about your work?

It’s where to paint

Joseph: Thank you, I really don’t know why my work was chosen over others. I guess I put enough voodoo in the work to win the jurors over. One never knows who is going to win an art show. It is all so subjective.

When does art making for you become a struggle? Joseph: I find making art a constant, beautiful struggle with lots of ups and downs much like life itself. I work in a very organic way. My subject matter at times decays before my eyes, and I stay true to this passing of time in my work. I am constantly changing my painting to reflect what is before me at that moment in time. A sunflower may start out as a vibrant freshly plucked specimen and by the time I finish the painting the flower is left withered,

twisted and magnificent.

Tell me about the other interests you have in your life? Joseph: A great interest of mine is just being outside, all times of the year. I have made some nice trails on my land that I enjoy walking and exploring. Sitting in the woods and just listening and being one with the surroundings is very important to me. Also, over the last few years I have become interested in old vehicles. I love their history, the build quality and simplicity of them. Finding cars from the past, ones that have seen better days, and being able to breathe life back into them, has become fulfilling. When driving them, just like when I paint, I always needs to be 100% engaged and focused on the present moment. Continued on next page...





Do you find that they may overlap at some point? Like, art cannot stay out of things like playing tennis, somehow. Joseph: I find my love for being outside influences my work greatly. One of the reasons I paint landscapes is due to my passion for the outdoors. I also find that the landscape influences my microscope work. These works often resemble an apocalyptic landscape. They can be very mysterious and relatable at the same. To look at these works in particular, to me, creates a sense of mystery and emotion, yet is created from the simplicity of the wing of a mere moth. It’s so simple and so overlooked, yet beautiful. As for my interest in old vehicles, I have made a number of vehicle paintings over the last couple years but I prefer organic subject matter. For now my love of painting and for vehicles are separate interests. Who knows if that will ever change.

The Organic world. Its where I see your imagination going a long way! Is this disintegrating, natural world intense for you, or is it a place in mind that is relaxing and distressing, a problem solving, sub conscious flowing place? Joseph: I think it can be both, but for me it’s mostly a relaxing place. The organic world is real, ephemeral and beautiful. It constantly holds my attention and by painting and drawing it I feel a great sense of fulfillment. I truly enjoy my hours standing before my subject, observing and studying it. Often times, I am trying to figure out what it is that is so magical about the object that draws me to it, and how I can attempt to share that magic with my audience. What in life do you have the most fun doing? I mean, also, tell me, what makes you laugh and feel crazy-good?

Joseph: I’m thinking this might be a bit obvious from my previous responses, but I truly love being outside in the woods, hiking through fields and climbing trees. I would say if anything makes me feel “crazy-good” being one with nature would be it. Thank you Joseph!



Photography by Jane Feldman

Beautiful Massachusetts Berkshires and Beyond 2019 Art Poster Calendars

Twelve Monthly Posters – Available Sizes: 11x14 and 5x7, also 8.5x11 (traditional style)

Featuring the diverse beauty of our neighborhoods. They include Outdoor Recreation, History, Scenic Views, Art and more… 2019 Art Calendars are available at these establishments: The Mount, Edith Wharton's Home - lenox, ma, Bella Flora at Guido’s Marketplace – pittsfield and great barrington, LOCAL – lenox, Paperdilly – lee, CIRCA – pittsfield— The Store at Five Corners – south williamstown, The Bookloft – great barrington, Berkshire Museum – pittsfield, Farm Country Soup - great barrington, Wild Oats Market Coop – williamstown, Berkshire Great Finds - sheffield, Berkshire Emporium & Antiques – north adams, Williams & Sons Country Store – stockbridge, Herman Melville's ARROWHEAD berkshire historical society on-line website store - pittsfield Artisans Guild – norfolk, ct, Salisbury General Store - salisbury, ct, Unique Finds, granby, ct and Gallery on the Green – canton, ct


Lynne M. Anstett – Photography © I aim to share what I see by chance or by design, that is beautiful to me. The camera allows me to do that. 860-888-3672

"Set in an apocalyptic near future, the book catalogues the transformation of Tristia Vogel from a woman to a 'latter hybrid,' a harpy-like creature both fragile and primal, able to survive an imminent ecological tragedy. The hybrid narrative uses art, poetry, narration, museum curating, and apocryphal texts to examine the constraint and construction of women...[Tristia] emerges as a messianic figure for outcasts." —Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers, Foreword Reviews

"Miraculum Monstrum's architecture, in its interplay of word and image, post-apocalyptic Ovidian myth,

Author Kathline Carr

documentary fiction, feminist magical realism, taxonomy, and sensuousness, is a tour de force of hybrid poetics." ~ Shira Dentz, author of door of thin skins

Kathline Carr’s book can be purchased/ordered at: Local bookstores: The Book Store, lenox Book Loft, great barrington

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represented by Fountain street gallery: For upcoming readings and exhibits, see website:






When did your passion for photography begin? I should also ask you, when did your passion for travel begin! Gerald Seligman: Like many of my generation (I was born in 1955), my first introduction to photography came from 2 places – a book, The Family of Man, and Life magazine. Each Wednesday Life would drop through the mail slot. I didn’t even make it to the kitchen table. I’d sit by the front door, the magazine splayed atop my legs, flipping through page after page looking at the marvelously large format photos. It was the world brought home and America, too, in photo essays and long-form journalism. Life and The Family of Man nurtured me in developing empathy for social justice and the world as family, the alien as worthy of respect,


humanity as brotherhood. From the age of 17 I hit the road and traveled far and wide every year. I’m doing it still, having visited probably 40 or 50 countries. This summer I was in Norway, this month I’m off to Lebanon and in December or January back to Mozambique.

Where have you traveled that has given you the most beautiful photos? What was it that brought on this level of successful photography do you think? Gerald: I’ve lived abroad quite a bit, 4 years in Rio de Janeiro, 8 in London, 4 in Berlin. So I’ve photographed a lot in all these and neighboring places. But for reasons I can’t quite explain, 5 days spent photographing on an island off the Mozambique

coast was the best time I ever spent. Usually, if I get 4 or 5 good photos from a trip, I’m happy. Here, there were dozens. I’m going back to finish, since, 8 years later, it occurred to me how a return visit would yield continuity, a photo project and perhaps a book. Gerald, what are you now working on? Gerald: Like many in the digital age, my backlog got way ahead of me, with a few thousand photos unprocessed and beckoning. I’ve been working on them, printing and framing where appropriate and working to get my work in galleries. Until recently I’d never applied to participate in gallery shows in any disciplined way. The response has been very good and I’ve happily sold quite a lot.


What camera gear do you use when traveling? Gerald: I use a full frame Nikon, the weighty D800 with two lenses. My walk-around lens in the 28-70 zoom with a 2.8 aperture. Brilliant, sharp lens. I also take the companion 70-200, 2.8, which is good for muscle tone – mine, thanks to the absurd weight of the thing. Where appropriate I’ll take a tripod since I love twilight photography with very long exposures.

Do you find local Spencertown life is interesting enough to document? What in particular interests you? Gerald: I’m not a rural or landscape photographer – in fact you might say I am not a fan of beauty for its own sake, so I’ve not done much local photography since moving here nearly two years ago. I love street and travel photography, shadow and light, geometry, the human face. I am hoping a way of photographing this beautiful region will inspire

me. But I find it hard to have a point of view that might yield photos that would say anything unique.

Where have you exhibited your work that you found to be a very good experience? When was that? I wonder what your first opportunity showing your work was like for you. Gerald: I’d had my work on quite a few album covers over the years, ones I produced, since my career has been in ‘world’ music, and also ones picked up by other labels for their own projects. And I’d done sporadic newspaper and magazine work, but it is only since winding down much of my music work that I am now concentrating on galleries. So far I’ve had my work in Colorado, Chatham, Rhinebeck, Great Neck, just now in a show in Vermont. It’s been a wonderful experience, with good feedback and sales. It looks like I’ve have a show in Norway next summer. Like any photographer with more than one style of capture, it’s also been worthwhile

to see how others – especially gallery owners – respond to my work, what they find worthy of pinning up on a wall. It wasn’t always the ones I first assumed. I’m very curious to see which of my photographs you select to accompany this interview. How do you process your photographs? Gerald: I don’t like over-processing, hyper-real colors and exaggerated intensity. Since I shoot in what is called ‘camera raw,’ which means entirely unprocessed, all the photos need work, but I seek to reproduce what I saw before me or in my mind’s eye, potentially two very different things.

Do you enhance them in a program, or as is? Gerald: Camera raw means having to process, and I’ve been so impressed with Adobe’s suite of programs. But I’m actually pretty fast and don’t spend hours on a photo. I will never remove or add eleContinued on next page...



ments, for example. Their Lightroom program has gotten so good that I only use Photoshop as a rare exception.

I am wondering, with every cell phone having a camera, do you think the photography fine art world is watered down, saturated with everyone being a photographer? How do you separate yourself from this world trendsetting affair? Gerald: Thanks to everyone having phones on their cameras, photography, the visual, has become such a dominant force in everyone’s social interaction. I think it’s wonderful. I don’t think it detracts from art photography. It just means those of us thinking we have something unique to offer must raise our game when it comes to quality of image, presentation, framing. We must have something to say that goes beyond mere capture. That’s always been and will be the challenge. What other world matters interests you to shoot that could pull at your heart strings these days? Gerald: As a photographer sometimes I envy people who find a single style and stick to it. Me, I’m not so lucky. I have a style – or styles – and people


familiar with my work can often spot my interests and the photos themselves from among a group. But I don’t seek to impose my vision on the world, though impose it I know I do. I am a street photographer, which means I don’t control the environment in the studio or create a scene that I try to capture. In photography as in life, I go out in the world and try for the life of me to make sense of it. I approach every situation as a challenge, a question – how do I make order, how do I capture a meaningful vignette, a telling scene, a human face, an essence, an emotion from all this random bombardment of raw stimulus? What can I see? What can I say about it that might be of interest to me, and, if I’m lucky, to others? I love allowing the scene to dictate the style and subject matter. While it makes my route to recognition more tortuous, it turns the act of shooting out in the world into an absolute joy and among the most profound, interactive, simultaneously contemplative and engaged activities in my life. I am never happier than when I am out, alone, with a camera on the street, looking right, left, up and down for a shot. I call it ‘going out to find some photos.’ And if I find one or two on a long day of

shooting, I go home contented. I do love photographing people. I can never resist a bunch of kids, but I also like shooting people in urban environments, with very shallow depth of filed, high contrast, to get a glimpse of what might be their private lives, their deeper, solitary thoughts. Gerald, where did you grow up? What was your family life like? Gerald: My family moved quite a bit when I was a kid and, oddly, repeated places as if to try and erase the mistakes made when my father took up some ill-fated prospects. So, by the time I was 14, I’d lived in Far Rockaway, where I was born, then Bellmore on Long Island, then Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, then Far Rockaway again and then Bellmore again.

I believe growing up you develop what matters most to you, including principles and ethics. What would some of your principles and ethics be that now make your life manageable and productive? Gerald: Like most kids in the 60s, I was free to roam on my bike and with friends and that explo-


ration was a wonderful thing for a developing sensibility. But like many kids with rough childhoods, I developed a strong sense of justice and I’d like to think that much of my life, work and politics are determined by a sense of connection to the world, empathy. I’ve worked my career in music from all over the world, and strived to support international culture and to help artists make careers. As such I’ve created art events and consulted for Unesco and governments in places like Spain, Brazil, Borneo, La Reunion, the UK, Costa Rica, South Korea, Poland and others. All this travel has been great for the photography, of course.

When traveling, not every subject you are interested in shooting, is interested in being shot! Some scruples of cultures disallow such photo snapping. How do you get around this? My experience: I told them, in Spanish, I was a student. SO they kinda left me alone. It was dangerous, I have to admit! Gerald: The eternal dilemma of a photographer. Beyond photographing in some dangerous places with high crime rates and the risk of personal harm or theft, there is the more delicate issue of treating people as fodder for ‘art.’ There are times when

I’ll ask if I can take a portrait, and it can be fascinating seeing the faces and poses people prepare self-consciously. Kids in poor areas will sometimes demand to be photographed just so that they can view themselves on the digital screen on the back of the camera. Sometimes this will be the first time they see reproductions of themselves and the laughter is a delight to behold. Something of a relationship, however superficial, is forged. But more often it’s the candid moments that are most interesting and I find myself in conflict with the desire to ‘get the shot’ while being aware of the imposition. There is an arrogance in objectifying people for capture in a photograph. Empathy vs. intrusion and invasion of privacy. I’ve been photographing for over 45 years and I’ve yet to resolve that, so I don’t expect I will in future. Given that, I’ve developed some techniques that help me get the photos I seek. For the close-ups I seek with shallow depth of field, I choose my spot, usually with a dark background and a shaft of light, I use a 200mm lens so I can be a distance away and keep the camera held up to my eye. Then, as people step into the light, as it were, I snap without lowering the camera. Subjects usually don’t know for sure if I’ve photographed them or not. Sneaky, that. Or

I’ll use a wide angle and aim to the right or left of the subject so it’s not apparent that I’m shooting him/her. The rule of thirds, bless it… Or else I’ll have the camera settings pre-set and just snap away like a hunter and it’s not called ‘shooting’ for nothing. If I’m not capturing people, it’s easier, of course.

Tell us one of your great photo journaling travel stories, please! Gerald: When I was in Bali, I hired a driver to take me out for a few days of photo shooting. One afternoon we came to a classic vista of rice patties, fields and hills, dense, dark green trees, and the Agung volcano there up on the horizon. A steep path in the foreground led down from the upper left to valley level. I've been known to wait over an hour for a missing element to fill a part of the frame that needs balance, focus or animation. I thought… Right there on that path, I need... something. Some school kids returning home, perhaps a farmer with goats or cattle... anything. Very soon I heard what I thought was a slight murmur. Then louder voices in unison. Chanting. Continued on next page...





A couple of men in loose-fitting, immaculate white clothes, bright sashes and head scarves walked into view right where I wanted them. I looked up, there were more, five, six, dozens, then over a hundred, men and women, too, who carried baskets of offerings on their heads as they traversed down the dirt path to the valley floor. They carried ceremonial parasols, ribbons, flags. It was so perfect, emotion overwhelmed me. The beauty, the made-to-order compositional perfection, the deep, lovely spirituality of the Balinese. I choked back tears. The driver, not sentimental, wondered what had happened to me. Was I hurt? When he realized it was emotion, he looked away, perhaps even just a bit disgusted. I snapped away as the procession wove down the hill. They passed along the edge of the ridge, circling round into a small dirt square dotted with thatched shacks where they all sat in tight rows, chanting all the while. I photographed for 15, 20

minutes, until I thought I'd captured it. Shot a few more, then a few more. Then I nodded and we climbed back into the van. I was still swallowing emotion, so moved I could hardly catch my breath. When I got home a week later I uploaded the photos – these first – and powered up the monitor -- No! I didn't get it! 30, 40 photos and I'd captured nothing. How is that possible? How could a scene so perfect, all that compositional harmony lined up almost upon request, elude me? I’ve come back to the photos from time to time in the four years since, puzzling over how something so profoundly moving and a visual so harmonious could slip through my fingers. A better photographer might have captured it, but I, whatever I think of my skills, couldn't get it. Recently, I looked again, and saw something in the photos I hadn't seen before. Enough time had finally passed for the impact of the event itself to retreat just enough to allow the aesthetics of the

imagery to bleed through the cracks. All that emotion had dispersed and left, what? Call it awe, far paler, to be sure, but, well, it was all pretty, balanced, orderly. Profundity had been replaced by purity. Flipping through the images now I am left with a lesser event and better photographs. What I had lost in experience I had gained in artifact. And that says something to me about the whole nature of photography. Thank you Gerald!


Faldoni Gets Arrested CHAPTER 5


I wanted to tell you about the wonderful progress Faldoni made, having thrown himself into the project of painting geometric borders, but I can't because Faldoni has been arrested. The jail cell was simply his room that now had a padlock on the outside of the door. It was the fault of the master painter who had taken to pointing out the mistake in his painting to the visiting church dignitaries. This was a fatal mistake, as you will see. The problem in question you remember involved the clothing of a donor depicted in a procession. Those donors had a very literal attitude toward the painting, and when they heard that there was a mistake in their picture involving their heraldic colors they felt moved to have a look. The mistake was very serious. The clothing of the confused figures happened to put the legs and the feet of a villainous personage on the body of pious spectator. This pious spectator, a certain Dominic Montafaltori, was a famous Biblical scholar of the time. He was outraged to find that his portrait had become confused with some evil looking figure carrying a long pole with a vinegar soaked sponge attached. The offending portion of the painting had been scraped out and repainted but that did not satisfy either the donor or the ecclesiastical authorities and the question that came up almost instantly was who was to blame. It could not have been the master painter who never painted anything but the faces. But the authorities had no problem assigning blame. For them it was obvious that everyone involved in the project was guilty of blasphemy, and so they simply arrested all of those who had worked on the mural, but the apprentices put their faith in the master painter because of his connections in high places. They assumed that after the uproar quieted down a directive would come from Rome and they would all be released with a warning. After a month the Pope himself sent a letter by way of one of his cardinals, suggesting that all the painters have their trials put off indefinitely until he could review the matter. Faldoni was not mentioned in the Pope’s letter. He was such an unimportant person in the affair that he remained jailed in his cell.


Faldoni was the only one of the group who was completely innocent. Not only had he done no painting on the picture, but also he was the one who pointed out the mistake in the first place. Unfortunately there was something seriously incriminating that could not be overlooked even by the Pope. During the investigation into the causes of the mistake in the mural everyone who had anything to do with the project had their rooms searched, and that search included Faldoni’s cell and among Faldoni’s possessions was found four ounces of pure ultramarine blue pigment that he had ground up for the master who had simply neglected to take it away when Faldoni was done making it. Unfortunately, the people who knew Faldoni were aware that he did not know the immense value of the blue pigment but they were not the personages charged with his trial. The crime he was accused of was absconding with the valuables of the church. This business of removing the valuables of the church was a crime of long standing and one often committed by individuals who had no respect for the Church at all. Before we describe Faldoni’s trial and its consequences, I would like to point out that Faldoni's situation is oddly similar to the predicament of a literary character; that being Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables.” Valjean steals silver from a Bishop, who had given him shelter for the night. Valjean is caught with the stolen items by the police but the Bishop, seeing Valjean's predicament, claims the silver was a gift he had given to him. The Bishop says to Valjean, “Never forget that you have promised me to use this silver to become an honest man." That was the way Victor Hugo chose to deal with the theft of things belonging to the church. He resorts to the device of making Valjean the symbol of all the worlds poor, and reproaches the church for having riches in the first place. About the time Hugo was having Valjean steal the silver dinner service from the Bishop, Dostoevsky was creating a character by the name of Fedka in “The Devils.” He is of interest to our story because he is another one of those fictional persons guilty of stealing things from the church, and so, even though he is a fic-

tional character, he has a bearing on our story of Faldoni. From Dostoevsky’s, The Devils: “Is it true what I hear Fedka, that you robbed a church in our district the other day?” “Well, you see sir, I went to the church with the idea of saying my prayers,” the tramp answered sedately and courteously, as if nothing special had happened; not only sedately, but even with dignity. “And when the good Lord brought me there,” he went on, “I thought to myself - oh, what heavenly bliss! But as God is my witness, sir, it was a sheer loss to me - the good Lord has truly punished me for my sins: I got only twelve roubles for the censor, and the deacon’s strap." “Murdered the watchman didn’t you.” “You see sir, it was together with the watchman that I robbed the church, and it was only later, at daybreak, by the river, that we had an argument about who should carry the sack." Our Faldoni was not as complicated a person as Jean Valjean, or as jaded as Fedka. The only thing he shared with Fedka was the first letter of his name, and that is not as insignificant as it may seem. As so often happens with a simple man, Faldoni was quick to condemn himself for the theft of the ultramarine blue pigment, and readily confessed, and held himself responsible and offered no excuses or explanations. Faldoni’s trial was not a trial in the sense that we understand it. When the inquisition met to try a man, the outcome was a forgone conclusion, but even though a guilty verdict could be expected, still there were certain forms and procedures that were followed. An appointment to defend an already condemned man was in no way a position anyone ever sought. It was very dangerous to present too vigorous an argument because the likely result would be to involve oneself in the crime and suffer the same fate as the criminal, and so a certain humble friar of the district named Friar Thomo, who was recently arrived and knew nobody, was sent to have a chat with Faldoni in order to ask him a few questions and then prepare a defense to present to the judges. The friar decided to take a subtle, one might even say a sarcastic approach, and his words seemed to imply the very opposite of his meaning. He said, “One thing is obvious to anybody Faldoni, and that is; the Holy Roman Catholic Church is in possession of the absolute truth, and we can be confident that anything they decide to do is divinely authorized.” "How do we know this, where is the proof?” he asked rhetorically, even though he did not expect an answer. “All you have to do is go to Rome and have a look at the buildings of the Vatican. How, I ask you, how could such structures have ever been built unless the builders were being guided by the mind of Jehovah himself?” Not seeing any reaction from Faldoni, the friar went on, “And not just the structures, but also the decorations. Consider just the mosaics. Workman had to glue and cement all of those millions of tiny odd shaped stones and pieces of glass together, and after months of constant labor all of those little fragments of different color stones and chips of glass, when seen from a distance, coalesce into astounding images. Don’t you think this proves something Faldoni?” Faldoni, indifferent or immune to the sarcasm of the friar, nodded his head in agreement. But the friar, excited by his idea of the mosaics, continued. “Imagine you are the workman working on that mosaic. You have no idea what those blue stones represent because you have not had the opportunity to view the dome from a distance You Faldoni are like one of those little ultramarine blue squares. You will never have the slightest idea what part you play in that picture because you had no part in its creation, and you could never get back far enough from it to see even a tiny corner of it. But the design exists, and you are a part of it. And even if, some hundred years from now one of those stones should fall out and be swept up and thrown away, the void that remains where it once was still tells your story. That little empty space says, I existed, once I existed. I was beautiful and in my absence, in a way, more beautiful still.” IN


Jeff bynack / sint maartin 2017 We’ve Only Just Begun

To All! A happy and healthy holiday and New Year!


Grandma Becky’s Old World Recipes

Written and shared with a loving spoonful by Laura Pian

Sweet Potato Latkes!

Happy holidays to one and all! ’tis the season for all things good. a season which brings friends and family together. when i think back to my childhood, i remember feeling left out of all the big christmas festivities. there was no big tree standing in my living room decorated with shiny silver tinsel. there were no beautifully wrapped gifts with big bows sitting beneath it. there were no strings of colorful lights wrapped around our windows for the outside world to see. in our home however, there was a beautiful menorah, there were eight nights of colorful candle lighting with a gift for each night, there were traditional hanukkah songs which we sung after lighting our menorah. we did write a letter to santa every christmas eve, to be left on our table along with glass of milk and a small plate of cookies. after all, santa would be so hungry on his journey. while most children were ecstatic to wake up to find that santa came with gifts he left under their trees, i’d be fascinated to find a quick response letter from santa thanking us for the snack. there’d be crumbs scattered about on the table, a bite or two out of the cookies, a half-empty glass of milk, and a bunch of shiny quarters! how did santa find the time to stop at our apartment #5F in the bronx and enjoy our snack on his busiest journey of the year? we did not even have a chimney! it was so much fun. although we truly didn’t celebrate christmas in the traditional sense, we did have hanukkah which meant we did have POTATO LATKES! we ate latkes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. we had latkes with applesauce. we had latkes with sour cream or ranch dressing. we ate them as a main dish, we ate them as a side dish, we ate them as a snack with our fingers. latkes were everywhere! grandma becky used to place these golden treats on the table and say to me “i love you a latke” which always made me laugh! if you are unfamiliar with the term latkes, they are fried patties or pancakes if you will, made of shredded potatoes, onions and basic seasonings. latkes are a staple food in Jewish cooking, especially around hanukkah time. Fried in oil, they are a nod to the oil that miraculously lit the maccabees’ menorah for eight nights. the result is a crispy potato dish that will knock your fuzzy socks off! this year i’ve decided to prepare latkes using a twist on the traditional by using sweet potatoes. these follow the same cooking concept as the classic Jewish version, but i’m using sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes. latkes can be enjoyed sweet or savory. Feel free to eat them plain with salt, dip them in any dip you like, or take a sweet approach and smother them in maple syrup! this year, i am preparing silver-dollar, bite-size latkes. if we don’t eat them all up straight from the frying pan, i put them in baggies and freeze them. they freeze up wonderfully and are ready to eat any time of year.

3-4 medium to large sweet potatoes, washed and peeled 1 small onion, peeled 2 large eggs 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 3 or 4 tablespoons of flour (or matzoh meal) Oil for frying - in food processor, coarsely grate the potato then place in bowl, then coarsely grate onion separately. with paper towels or cheesecloth drain as much of the moisture from the potatoes as possible, repeat same process with the onion. - in a separate bowl, mix eggs, salt and pepper (you may add any other seasonings you like here. sometimes i add a dash of garlic powder or nutmeg, cinnamon, etc… there are no wrong spices, its all up to your personal taste!) - place potatoes, onion, flour (or matzoh meal), and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. add egg mixture and mix well. Don’t be afraid to use your hands here. grandma becky neVer used a mixing spoon! - mold the mixture into whichever size latke you’re preparing and carefully place them into the hot oil. i usually place them on a spatula and slide them into the oil to prevent them breaking up. - keep oil on low-medium heat and allow them to fry for approximately 3 minutes, gently flipping for another 3 or 4 minutes until golden on both sides. place onto paper towels to drain excess oil.

Here’s hoping your holidays are wonderful. No matter which holiday(s) you indulge in, or however you embrace them, may they be filled with love, peace, family, good friends and amazing food. Enjoy and esn gezunt meyn freynt! (eat well my friends!)



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The Artful Mind artzine anniversary issue Dec/Jan 2019  

Read ENJOY & share!

The Artful Mind artzine anniversary issue Dec/Jan 2019  

Read ENJOY & share!