The artful mind december issuu version

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Author / Teacher / Publisher Jana Photography by Lee Everett


Happy Holidays! Order today!

Your photographs on drinking-coasters and/or fridge magnets made of local Oak Fun gift for everyone in your life!

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.� -- Ernest Hemingway

EDWARD ACKER ph o t o g r a p h e r

Time Flies • Get Pictures 800-508-8373 If interested in being interviewed in The Artful Mind artzine, please send an e-mail with a proposal letter and include web-site / info about yourself. Now planning Summer - Fall 2016 editorial!


Vault Gallery 322 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA. 413-854-7744

Lilly Clifford Gallery 112 South Street, East Sussex England

Window Into the World of Art


Nina Lipkowitz, Summer Sushi


Meditations in Light and Color December 12 - January 12, 2016

Opening Reception Saturday, December 12 • 4 - 7pm

The Magic of Light and Small Miracles October 31 - December 22, 2015

Saint Francis Gallery

1370 Pleasant street. route 102 LEE. MA (next to fire dept.) complete schedule: 413.717. 5199 Open Fri, Sat., Sun., & Mon. 10-5 pm

Gallery supports creative humanitarian work in Kenya


Stephen Filmus 413-528-1253


Chirstine Goldfinger/Brunoski

716 MAIN STREET, WINSTED, CT 06098 ~ Gallery Hours: Wednesday - Saturday 1 - 5pm ~

“Art is a timeless gift”

SPRINGTIME IN JAPAN JohN Lipkowitz,"the Great torii, MiyaJiMa, JapaN"

December 4 - December 27 Artist reception: December 5, 2015 12 - 4pm

AnD stAy for HuDson’s AnnuAl Winter WAlk, 5 - 8pm

510 Warren Street Gallery H udSon , n eW y ork

518-822-0510 • HourS: Friday & Saturday, 12 - 6, Sunday 12 - 5

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The hArriSOn GALLery 39 SPrinG St, WilliaMStoWn, Ma • 413-458-1700 december: Jamie young, thru dec 30.

510 WArren STreeT GALLery 510 Warren Street, HudSon, ny • 518-822-0510 Friday & Saturday, 12 - 6, Sunday 12 - 5 or by appointment; / december: Photography: John lipkowitz: Springtime in Japan, reception dec 5, 12-4pm

VAuLT GALLery 322 Main St, Gt. BarrinGton, Ma • 413-644-0221 Marilyn kalish at work and process on view, beautiful gallery with a wonderful collection of paintings

CArrie hADDAD GALLery 622 Warrent St., HudSon, ny • 518-828-1915 thru dec 27: radical inventions; dec 20 - Feb 7: Photography: david Halliday, robert Hite, eric lindbloom, Jeri eisenberg, Gail Peachin, Portia Munson, kahn & Slelsnick, newbold Bohemia and Birgit Blyth

DeniSe B ChAnDLer Fine art PHotoGraPHy exhibiting and represented by Sohn Fine art, lenox Ma. new member artist at 510 Warren St Gallery, Hudson, ny, view work during gallery hours,

frOnT STreeT GALLery 129 Front St, HouSatoniC, Ma • 413-274-6607 Housatonic gallery for students and artists, featuring watercolor and oil paintings by artist kate knapp

GOOD PurPOSe GALLery 40 Main Street, lee, Ma • 413-394-5045 9am - 4pm every day;; “Holiday Glow” and features the artwork of terry Wise, Susan Himmel, and Jennifer Pazienza, as well as several other talented artists and crafts people. opening reception on Friday, november 27th, from 5:30pm - 7:30pm with live music, hors d'oeuvres, wine and dessert. thru Jan 12th.

JOhn DAViS GALLery 362 1/2 Warren St, HudSon, ny • 518-828-5907 Pamela J. Wallace: in Secluded Corners, thru dec 6.

LAuren CLArK fine ArT 25 railrd. St, Gt. BarrinGton, Ma • 413-528-0432 Fine art and framing. Sunday, december 5 from 3-5pm lauren Clark Fine art presents a poetry ready of noW by author, painter, and poet Jk lawson. MArGueriTe BriDe HoMe Studio at 46 Glory drive, PittSField, Ma 413-841-1659 or 413-442-7718 FB: Marguerite Bride Watercolors original watercolors, specializing in custom house and building portraits. lessons in Watercolor technique. Gift Certificates. now on exhibit: Winter scenes at Mary’s Carrot Cake Shop, union St., Pittsfield. 2 • 2015 DeCeMBer The ArTfuL MinD

Titus Kaphur, To be titled, 2014 WallS evolves: expanding a living Collection through February 7, 2016 • Williams College Museum of art Williamstown, Ma Works of art on our walls, student-led project, recently acquired prints, drawings and photographs on view in this exhibition that brings the acquisition process to the front. Vote when you see the galleries! MASSMoCA 1040 MaSS MoCa Way, nortH adaMS, Ma • 413-664-4481 Jim Shaw: entertainment doubts, now thru Jan 2015 MOrriSOn GALLery 8 old Barn road, kent, Ct • 860-927-4501

OMi inTernATiOnAL ArTS CenTer 1405 County route 22, GHent, ny • 917-941-2671 reframing nature: allan Wexler. thru Jan 2016

SChAnTz GALLerieS 3 elM St, StoCkBridGe, Ma • 413-298-3044 a destination for those seeking premier artists working in glass SCOTT BArrOW 17 HouSatoniC St, lenox, Ma • 413-637-2299 Photography on view by Scott Barrow

SOhn fine ArT 69 CHurCH St, lenox, Ma ormond Gigli, Greg Gorman, eric korenman, Hildy Pincus kronen, anne Mourier, Pops Peterson, Jack radcliffe, kevin Sprague: thru Jan 2016

ST. frAnCiS GALLery rte. 102, SoutH lee (just 2 miles east from the Red Lion Inn) Friday thru Monday 10-5pm. the Magic of light and Small Miracles, thru dec 22, 36pm. Flute music by performer Gregory Getner The CLArK ArT inSTiTuTe 225 SoutH St, WilliaMStoWn, Ma • 413-458-2303 an eye for excellence/ twenty years of Collecting, Clark’s permenant collection, thru april 10, 2016

WinDOW inTO The WOrLD Of ArT 716 Main Street, WinSted, Ct • 203-243-3069 Gallery Wednesday – Saturday from 15pm; Mid november they will head off the beaten path with an exhibit entitled ‘all in the family’, an eclectic collection of art including paintings, drawings, and photographs. Starting december 12, Window into the World of art will exhibit iPaintings by nina lipkowitz, Meditations in light & Color

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 deepely and watch your mind. this class is conducted in silence. adult class. $10, please call to register.


CLOSe enCOunTerS WiTh MuSiC MaHaiWe PerForMinG artS Center, Gt BarrinGton, Ma • 413-528-0100 for tix dec 12, Sat. 6pm: “dually” noted, Music for Four Hands

COLOniAL TheATre 111 SoutH St, PittSField, Ma • 413-997-4444 www.berkshiretheatregroup.or dec 12-22: a Christmas Carol by Charles dickens, adapted by eric Hill, co-directed by travis daly. See web for details on times and tickets. Feb 14, 8pm: the Wailers

heLSinKi CAfe 405 ColuMBia St, HudSon, ny • 518-828-4800 dec 10: elvis Perkins; dec 11 & dec 12, 9pm: Holidelic; dec 20, 8pm: Club d’elf with John Medeski MASSMoCA 1040 MaSS MoCa Way, nortH adaMS, Ma • 413-664-4481 dec. 5, 8pm: San Fermin with Sam amidon

MAhAiWe TheATre 14 CaStle St, Gt BarrinGton, Ma • 413-528-0100 dec 31, 6pm: Berkshire Bach Society presents Bach at new years Send in your liStinGS By tHe 5tH oF eaCH MontH Prior to PuBliCation... artFulMind@yaHoo.CoM

Beautiful Massachusetts Berkshires & Beyond

2016 Art Poster Calendars

Twelve Monthly Posters

featuring the diverse beauty of our neighborhoods. they include outdoor recreation, Farming, Farm-to-table, history and more… available sizes: 5"x7" or 11"x14"

I aim to share what I see by chance or by design, that is beautiful to me. The camera allows me to do that. -Lynne M. Anstett - Photography © Imagery Art Works

Lynne M. Anstett - Photography © Imagery Art Works 860-888-3672 • Imagery Art Works Facebook Website for prints:

Giclée Fine Art Photographs ~ Lynne M. Anstett Choose fine art paper or canvas, framing and stretching available. 2016 Art Poster Calendar available here and other fine stores:

Williams & Sons Country Store – Stockbridge, Berkshire Museum – Pittsfield The Bookloft – Great Barrington, LOCAL – Lenox, The Bookstore – Lenox, Canterbury Farm – Becket, Pleasant & Main – Housatonic, The Williams Inn – Williamstown, Montage – Millerton, NY and Artisans Guild – Norfolk, CT

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“Creativity takes courage.” -Henri Matisse

The MuSiC STOre

Jana Laiz, photographed by Lee Everett Peggy reeves Photographer Harryet Candee... 6

Author/ Teacher / Publisher Jana Laiz Photography by Lee Everett Interview by Harryet Candee ... 12 fiCTiOn: Otis the Playwright Part iii Richard Britell ... 21

Lynne M. Anstett Photographing Our neighborhoods 365 Days of the year Harryet Candee... 22 fiction Christmas Story Frank Gioia ... 28

Contributing Writers and Monthly Columnists Eunice Agar, Richard Britell, Eric Francis, Kris Galli, Amy Tanner Photographers Edward Acker, Lee Everett, Jane Feldman Sabine von Falken, Alison Wedd Publisher Harryet Candee

Copy Editor

Marguerite Bride

Editorial proofreading Kris Galli Advertising and Graphic Design Harryet Candee

Mailing Address: Box 985, Great Barrington, MA 01230 413 854 4400 ALL MATeriAL due the 9th of the month prior to publication

FYI: ©Copyright laws in effect throughout The Artful Mind for logo & all graphics including text material. Copyright laws for photographers and writers throughout The Artful Mind. Permission to reprint is required in all instances. In any case the issue does not appear on the stands as planned due to unforeseeable circumstances beyond our control, advertisers will be compensated on a one to one basis. Disclaimer rights available upon request. Serving the Art community with the intention of enhancing communication and sharing positive creativity in all aspects of our lives. We at The Artful Mind are not responsible for any copyrights of the artists, we only interview them about the art they create.

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What better way to celebrate the Season of Giving than to gift yourself and those you love with MuSiC?! the Music Store’s first Fifteen years in business in Great Barrington has proven many things! We enjoy helping the community, near and far to make music which has been an enjoyable and productive enterprise for us. and we look forward to continuing this mission in the second half of our second decade. We offer wonderful musical instruments and accessories at competitive pricing. We have a good time serving our community, her musicians and music lovers. Come see some of the fun . . . Composite acoustic guitars (the forever guitar!) and their peerless travel guitar, the Cargo, a favorite of our own dr. easy, david reed, made of carbon graphite and impervious to most changes of temperature and humidity. you can see it often in his hands in performance locally and abroad. Guild Guitars - light, powerful, affordable terriFiC ukuleleS! 60+ diFFerent models: Soprano, Concert, tenor and Baritone, acoustic and acoustic/electric, six string, resonator, the Maccaferri-like Makala Waterman uke (made all of plastic for easy portability almost anywhere!) the remarkable u-Bass, and the new Solid Body uke Bass by the Magic Fluke Co.! you might even hear dr. easy play a banuke! How about a Cordoba Cuatro? or a West african djembe with a SMaSHinG carry bag? or a beautiful set of african djun djuns? try takamine for a guitar to suit almost any budget (the Pro Series at deeP unpublished discounts)! dr. easy can tell you about his. and we are SlaSHinG tak prices for the fall!!alvareZ GuitarS - Celebrating their 50th year with BeautiFul limited editions! Breedlove - beautiful, american, sustainable. and so many more brands and types, including luthier Handmade instruments from $150-$5000 . . . . ever heard of dr. easy’s drunk Bay Cigar Boxes? acoustic/electric cigar box guitars, exquisitely made, which bring the past into the present with a delightful punch, acoustically and plugged in! you can even hear them on the patio and in action Saturday nights at GB’s own aegean Breeze restaurant! Harmonicas, in (almost) every key (try a Suzuki Hammond ‘Mouth organ’). Picks (exotic, too!), strings (!!), sticks and reeds. violins, Mandolins, dulcimers, Banjos, and Banjo ukes! Handmade and international percussion instruments! dreamy native american and locally made bamboo and wooden flutes and walking stick flutes! and there is more to delight the eyes, intrigue the ears and bring warm joy to the heart! We remain your neighborhood music store, where advice and help are free and music is the universal language. Working with local luthiers and repairmen we offer stringed and band instrument repair. and we just may have something you haven’t seen before (have you heard the electric Cigar Box Guitars?). We match (or Beat) many on-line prices for the merchandise that we sell, and do so in PerSon, for the most part cheerfully (though we reserve the right to glower a little when asked if we can ‘do better’ on the price of a pick!)! Come and see us soon and help us celebrate the Season and music making in general. your patronage helps the community and makes it a more tuneful, healthy and happy place! Cheers! the Music Store, located at 87 railroad Street in Great Barrington, is open Wednesday through Sunday and by appointment. Call us at 413-528-2460, visit us on line at / on Facebook as the Music Store Plus, or see our listings on at We wish you peace and joy and happy MuSiC MakinG!

GOOD PurPOSe GALLery Holiday GloW t. WiSe, taBle CarPet

the Good Purpose Gallery is celebrating the holidays with a new collection of distinctive artwork and original handmade crafts from local artists. every year the Good Purpose Gallery presents a much anticipated holiday exhibit. this year’s show is titled “Holiday Glow” and features the artwork of terry Wise, Susan Himmel, and Jennifer Pazienza, as well as several other talented artists and crafts people. Join us for a festive opening reception on Friday, november 27th, from 5:30pm - 7:30pm with live music, hors d’oeuvres, wine and dessert. the opening reception is an excellent opportunity both for collectors and art lovers to meet the artists and to share their excitement regarding the selection of work they are especially proud to present. Holiday Glow will run through January 12th. Since its inception in 2011, the Good Purpose Gallery has exhibited the work of area artists in a variety of styles and media. the diversity of styles has long been a point of pride for the gallery and our holiday show is an excellent showcase for the many different approaches artists take to create their unique pieces. terry Wise, a local artist from Stockbridge, Ma, has been trained as a textile designer and translates much of that experience through her paintings. using block print patterns to create images of texture and warmth, she brings to life everyday objects and scenes. Susan Himmel is an artist from upstate new york who fell in love with the Berkshire Hills and has drawn much of her artistic inspiration from the beautiful scenery in the area. Working in both paints and mixed media she explores light, shadow, and color from the world around her. Jennifer Pazienza is a recently retired art education professor with the university of new Brunswick. For her, beauty compels replication – the means by which we renew our search for truth and our regard for that which is life giving. as an artist and educator her work attempts to recreate the call, response, and relationship she experiences for herself and for others. Good Purpose Gallery and Spectrum Playhouse are professional venues that exist to offer students with learning differences real-life training, experience, and integration with the community. Both venues host professional artists and events on a regular basis throughout the year, including student events such as plays, performances, art exhibits, and more. Good Purpose Gallery - 40 Main Street, Lee, Massachusetts. The gallery is open 9am - 3pm Sunday-Friday, 9am – 4pm Saturday; 413-394-5045 /;

frOnT STreeT GALLery

kate knaPP, Winter SunSet, 24 x 36”, oil on CanvaS, 2015,

nOW Jk laWSon

on Sunday, december 5 from 3-5pm lauren Clark Fine art presents a poetry ready of noW by author, painter, and poet Jk lawson. this extraordinary collection of belting poems takes you by surprise and speaks with unexpected tenderness. Please join us for a reading and book signing. as david Scribner, editor of the Berkshire edge writes, “this remarkable collection of poems resonates with a profound understanding of the ironies of the human condition while conveying an abiding indignation at the hypocrisies of human behavior”. Published in the uk by Westwords Press, these poems are at once joyful and angry, celebratory and tragic, raving and utterly sensible. the idiom here is perfectly american yet with an air of British detachment. now is powered by the diving pulse of spoken language, the heart-beat of pumping syntax, the natural pause of the line and stanzabreak. John lawson lives with his family in Berkshire County and is a regular contributor to the Berkshire edge. Lauren Clark Fine Art - 25 Railroad Street, Great Barrington, MA.; 413-528-0432,,

kate knaPP

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. 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. 413-528-9546 or 413-429-7141 (cell).

STePhen fiLMuS CoMMiSSionS

this favorite Berkshire hillside, loved by a Boston couple, was commissioned to mark their special anniversary. Giving a gift of art like this ensures that the essence of a special time and place will endure and give pleasure for years to come. “the commission process is collaboration between artist and client. Whenever possible we visit the site together and discuss the elements of subject, color, form and the “feeling” of the scene. the next step for me is to create a detailed color sketch that reflects the client’s vision and gives them a good sense of how the finished artwork will look. at this point the commissioner can give input and suggestions as i work toward the final design. “lastly, i simply do what i know how to do - i sit at my easel and paint.” Stephen Filmus is represented by J. todd Gallery in Wellesley, Ma. He is presently exhibiting several landscapes at the Bennington Center for the arts and his work can also be seen at his studio in Great Barrington by appointment. Stephen Filmus - / 413-528-1253,

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peGGy reeveS, WOMAN WITH EPILETS, CoLLaGe Mixed Media, CharCoaL, CyaNotype vaN dyke BrowN, photo traNSFer

PeGGy reeVeS PHotoGraPHer peGGy reeveS: iNFrared, PROMENADE, GedNey FarM, toNed

interview by Harryet Candee

harryet: i love your photography. it’s as if the viewer is entering the many different worlds from which you create. The images bring up so many questions, for which there may or may not be answers. Mysterious, intriguing, complicated and symbolic, going back and forth in time, asking what is real and what is fantasy—you use many different methods of photography, and i can’t quite tell which are conventional and which are those you’ve come up with through sheer experimentation. Peggy, explain your motivation and goals in creating your art. PeGGy reeVeS: it’s common for people to ask questions about process when viewing my work. often the journey that i undertake to produce a certain kind of imagery is multi-layered and sometimes quite far from traditional photography. i’m primarily focused on

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process-based photography, which can come in many forms; historic and contemporary methods may be combined in the same piece. i must admit that i enjoy observing people, trying to figure out what they are looking at. if the “how was that made” question brings them close to a deeper experience with the art, i’m happy to provide some mystery. And, what about this person that you are, surrounded by all this art that you produce… who are you? Peggy: i like to putter with things, which may be a genetic imperative. Both my parents were inventive in the kitchen. the studio is not very different from a kitchen or a laboratory, and i often follow recipes to make lightsensitive chemical emulsions. the work, however,

comes more from my need for a spiritual connection to the world and to myself, than from a love of measuring grams of potassium ferrocyanide. Many variables are at play: the strength of the chemicals, the amount of moisture in the paper, the relative intensity of available actinic light… but it’s the “not knowing” that inspires more experimentation and risk. the creative energy is activated when intentions are thwarted by a loss of control over the expected outcome. Peggy, tell us a little about your background. What first inspired you to take photographs? Peggy: the thread of my involvement with photography starts in childhood. i have to attribute my social/cultural awakening to books like “the Family of Man” and the photo essays in the Life magazines that were in my home in the 50’s and 60’s. images of the ephemeral world, something that digital cameras do so well today, captured my attention and broadened my desire to experience other cultures. the making of a photograph (as opposed to taking a picture) happened in college and, at the time, was the closest i’d ever come to giving birth. i was smitten with the darkroom and the process of growing a fully-formed image from a bath of chemicals. exposure to works by edward Weston, alfred Stieglitz and particularly Minor White encouraged me to see through the lens of my camera in a slower, more personal way. in the early 90s, when the Southern Berkshire regional School district built the new high school, i lobbied for a gang darkroom, where my photography students built pinhole cameras and created their own homemade photo

peGGy reeveS, DALE BROUGHT US TOGETHER, CyaNotype aNd photo traNSFer


papers. the science of photography, optics and chemistry began to take center stage in my own studio practice. i took workshops with experts in historic and alternate photo processes, and continue to seek out inspirational teachers whenever possible. now, however, i’m more grounded in the twenty-first century, and spend less and less time in the darkroom, making my negatives digitally instead of using chemicals.

i love the idea of using infrared to produce a photo. how is it done, and does it stand in the forefront or the background of your favorite ways to create an image? Peggy: a camera with an infrared sensor sees the infrared light reflected off objects. the human eye is incapable of seeing this part of the spectrum, and therefore when converted to observable light in Photoshop, the resultant image is a revelation. this opens new doors for interpretation. a photograph may point beyond itself and, with infrared, there is a celebration of light that, with even the most mundane subject can provide an extended moment of awareness. There is no way to look at any of these images for less than two minutes… there is so much to observe. it’s as if the viewer is

hands-on in this experiential place, being there, with you behind the lens. Dream-like, grey tonalities, spiral shapes and illusionary misty effects… what have you cooked up with this series of work? And, not that the viewer really needs to know in order to experience this, but what are Pinhole and zone Plate photography? Please educate us. Peggy: you may already know how similar a camera is to the human eye. the shutter (eyelid), the aperture (pupil), film/sensor (retina) and light-tight box (skull) are the basic parts. Suffice it to say, a pinhole camera is a very simple machine and anyone can make one. My teacher, eric renner, has made pinhole cameras out of red peppers, old suitcases, holes in the ground and empty altoid boxes, to name a few. the diameter of the aperture determines the amount of focus of objects near and far away. the smaller the aperture, the greater the focus in depth. exposure times are very long compared to the fractions of a second of a Canon or nikon. Sometimes it’s this kind of low tech equipment that brings me closer to an intuitive understanding of reality, slows me down to look at things. Zone plate photography is more about the refraction of light passing through the aperture. Continued on next PaGe...

peGGy reeveS, MADONNA OF THE TREE 2 Mixed Media, CharCoaL, CyaNotype, vaN dyke BrowN, photo traNSFer

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PeGGy reeVeS PhOTOGrAPher

peGGy reeveS, BIENNALE 1 UNTITLED, iphoNe photoGraphS, arChivaL piGMeNt priNtS,



By increasing the circles of refraction, light gets dispersed and images take on an otherworldly mystical appearance.

Peggy, tell us a little bit about combining encaustics and photography. And your collage/montage fantasy themes are just magical to my eyes. Please explain this body of work. Peggy: i must have been a beekeeper in a previous life, because wax has been part of my art making since my first box of Crayolas. Batik was my medium throughout the 70’s and 80’s, where wax serves as a resist, repelling dyes on absorbent materials. When mixed with varnish and pigments, molten wax can be an extremely permanent 8 • 2015 DeCeMBer The ArTfuL MinD

painting medium. Clear encaustic medium will also provide protection over photographs and create a visual veil which can be interesting. the harsh theatrical stage lights of the drama Series portraits are softened by many layers of clear wax.

Do you have a strong feeling towards the past, as in images you’ve created that bring the past to life? Though time does not stand still, you can capture a ghost-like image of a woman and essentially give her a second round! is there a challenge for you here, one you’re working on mastering? Peggy: i’m interested in the relationship of photography

to memory, and how images can confirm or distort our sense of time. i began collecting vintage glass negatives and photographs because of their delicate beauty and the presence of a sentient being who lived, breathed and dressed for an important record of their lives. i know none of their names but have given them titles, a new life and perhaps some respect as a collage or archival pigment print. the challenge is to create new memories and, in the process, pay homage to this unknown persona. in “oracle” for example, the lady with the feathery blouse is wearing a headdress i made for a character in the Castle Hill theater Company’s production of “Jack and the Beanstalk.” the composite has timeless mythical presence that neither one had separately.

.What is a chemigram? What is this photographic world you’ve created all about? Did you create this process, or are other photographers acquainted with it as well? it sounds complicated, and looks even more so… aerial views, microscopic worlds and overlapping transparent forms, recognizable yet unknown to our normal vocabulary of objects. Peggy: i didn’t invent this process, which is relatively new to the photographic lexicon. it’s not surprising that there are few practitioners because there’s a high degree of toxicity and lots of surprises in the behavior of the materials. again, like with batik, i work with resists. Photo papers that may be outdated still have the ability to react to the traditional darkroom chemicals and, over extended treatment with them, will breakdown the resists and create astounding shapes, lines and tonal variations. i’m very much in the experimental stages of learning the craft aspects of this process. a new series of images inspired by elizabeth kolbert’s book “the Sixth extinction” may take a few epochs to complete, since i can only work on these pieces outdoors. i think the syntax of the chemigram to illustrate the organic disintegration of the planet frozen in time fits with, when completed, what will likely be called “tropes of the anthropocene.”

(aBove) peGGy reeveS: eNCauStiC over photo traNSFer, draMa SerieS, draMa 4

(riGht) peGGy reeveS: woMeN iN ShroudS, piGMeNt priNt oN “BraiLLe” paper

(BeLow) peGGy reeveS: MadoNNa oF the New worLd, Mixed Media, CharCoaL, CyaNotype, vaN dyke BrowN, photo traNSFer

What gives you the most pleasure in shooting in a foreign locale? is it the people? The world they’ve created? Their lifestyle that both differs from and resembles your own? Peggy: the world is a visually seductive place, and a photographer in a foreign country can easily be lured by the new. Film in a camera demanded a selectivity which digital photography has eliminated. So the question is not what to shoot but rather, what to print. the images that speak most clearly to me are about the feeling of being in a place and time, closer to the soul of the experience. it may be a tender moment between a mother and her child, a happening on the street, a textural study of the side of a building, a landscape that captures a particular quality of light.

even though you show your work with a healthy artist’s attitude, some of it feels very personal and almost private. is there work you won’t ever share? Peggy: My work usually starts with a camera but most often winds up quite far from the original photograph. i rarely share the travel photos in their out-of-the-camera state but you may find them in a mixed media piece, having been filtered through whatever artistic sensibility i’m engaging with at the moment. i’m very grateful for the theater work i’ve done at Mixed Company, Castle Hill, new Stage and rogue angel, which has supplied me with a rich archive of images to play around with over the years. i also garbage-pick, which is the source of my treasure troves of filmstrips cleaned out from the library at Mt. everett. the development of my work can be traced

Studying the nude is essential for becoming a good artist. in photography, as opposed to, say, drawing the nude, what is important to look for in order to make a successful shot? Peggy: it took me a bit of time to figure out how to photograph the nude. Questions related to environment, pose, props and of course light need to be directed and designed to fit the particular model and place. then there’s the issue of nudity and the fit of an unclothed body in a particular space making sense, appropriate to the mood and the meaning of the scene. lots to think about even before the camera, its lens and exposure is determined. i’ve been lucky to work with brave and beautiful women who have partnered with me and my camera to make some memorable images together.

through the use of this storehouse of images and the many methods and techniques available to me. aided by the muses that choose to be kind to me that day, i can happily marry image (content) and medium. the toolbox has grown quite large.

There isn’t one piece of art that you have made that i wouldn’t hang on my walls in an instant, or rave about to art devotees. Tell me, what have you risked to be able to spend this amount of time on your creations? Peggy: there have been few risks or sacrifices in my life that have enabled me to make my work. i’ve always been able to tap into my creative energies with some restrictions on available time from family obligations and teaching. However, i am very fortunate to have had a career as an art educator and to have taught photography as one of the courses available to students. immersion in art as a teacher greatly informed my own approaches to art making. Thank you, Peggy! H

The ArTfuL MinD DeCeMBer 2015 • 9

WinDOW inTO The WOrLD Of ArT Gallery in WinSted, Ct.

Marion Haymann and ken Jacobs are passionate about art. their gallery, Window into the World of art, is dedicated to exhibiting the work of emerging artists. they chose to open in Winsted, Ct, because it is a city striving to develop its artistic side. the gallery currently features the work of torrington photographer Jeff Gettis, whose work represents scenes from his imagination, incorporating dream imagery with traditional influences and contemporary digital photography. in mid november they will head off the beaten path with an exhibit entitled ‘all in the family’, an eclectic collection of art including paintings, drawings, and photographs. Starting december 12, Window into the World of art will exhibit iPaintings by nina lipkowitz in a show titled Meditations in light & Color. using the touch screen of her iPad and her finger, nina creates paintings in light by turning the iPad into an art tool with endless sheets of virtual paper which can be “painted” with infinite marks, brushes and colors, and which her husband, photographer John lipkowitz, turns into beautiful archival, pigment prints. nina lipkowitz will be at the gallery for the show’s opening on december 12 from 4 – 7pm to welcome you and talk about the process involved in creating her iPaintings. Window Into the World of Art Gallery - 716 Main St., Winsted, CT; 203-243-3069: Gallery Hours: Wednesday – Saturday from 1-5pm;

SnOW DAy Jennifer PAzienzA

JenniFer PaZienZa, SnoW day, 2015 42 x 40.5 in. oil on CanvaS

Snow day celebrates my love of coming through a snowstorm and being granted a snow day…aka, a day off from school. a “get out of jail free” card. the childhood giddiness of it comes rushing forward. the promise of being given a day to stay home and make pancakes for breakfast on a weekday, or stay in my pajamas and read books. or, better still throw on my snow pants and snowshoes and head out to my studio for an unplanned day of painting; an event like no other, one that fills me with a joy that can only be described as magical! What a privilege. What a blessing. in the november issue of The Artful Mind Phil Pryjma of the St. Francis Gallery in South lee, where Snow day is currently on exhibition, tells us that this is the season of “magic, miracles and giving,” and indeed it is. Snow day is my way of making visible the gift that is a snow day. i hope you will bask in the miracle of the winter sun as it illuminates the landscape i recreated in paint one very special Snow day. Jennifer Pazienza’s work is held in Public, Private and Corporate Collections in the uS, Canada and italy. The Magic of Light and Small Miracles, Group Show @ the St. Francis Gallery, South lee, Ma. (next to the Fire Station) october 31- december 23. Jennifer Pazienza -; email:

fine Line MuLTiMeDiA live PerForManCe PHotoGraPHy and video

Fine line Multimedia provides single or multi-camera video of music, dance and theater performances. Services include: scripting and storyboard art, videography with professional high definition cameras, high quality audio recording, sensitive lighting design and creative editing with the latest non-linear editing system. For the past 45 years Fine line Multimedia has provided audio/video performance production for the Boston Symphony orchestra at tanglewood, Berkshire Performing arts Center, national Music Foundation, recording for the Blind and dyslexic, united Way of the Berkshires, arlo Guthrie, rising Son records, Bobby Sweet, World Moja, Phil Woods, Grace kelly, Heather Fisch, opera nouveau, ellen Sinopoli dance Company and many more. Fine line was established in 1970 by lee everett in lenox, Massachusetts. everett came to the Berkshires after studying advertising design and visual Communications at Pratt institute and working for years as an art director in new york. He taught art in local schools and began a full-service multimedia studio in lenox specializing in the Performing and visual arts and other business and industry. With Photography, Graphic design, advertising, Marketing, audio/video Production, Website, Social network Creation and administration together under one roof, Fine line can satisfy the artistic communications and promotional needs of a wide range of clients. Please look at some examples from our portfolios of work on our website and use the contact information on the site to get further information, to see more samples, photographs or video reels, for professional and client references or for a free project consultation. Fine Line Multimedia - 66 Church Street, Lenox, MA; Contact: Lee Everett, 413-637-2020, The actor, to give a natural effect, should forget not only his four limbs but perhaps the fifth, his head; but he must feel what he acts, love, anger jealousy . . . and if he really feels all these emotions . . . they will of themselves germinate . . . and move him in the right action. -- Luigi Riccoboni --1728.

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MArGueriTe BriDe

SAinT frAnCiS GALLery

MarGuerite Bride, red lion inn, Winter

artiSt, ivor Parry

Winter WaterColorS


influenced by a season of spiritual magic, diminishing light, and an awareness of the change that happens to all of us as the earth puts to rest its growing cycle, the St. Francis gallery transforms itself once again. it is also a perfect time to visit the gallery and its ever growing selection of creative artists. as the outer world sheds its color the display of our artists work is a welcomed treat. the magic in the gallery is layers of color in oil, watercolor, wax, charcoal, graphite, acrylic and many more mediums shaped by the hands, eyes, and minds of talented local individuals determined to enrich our lives with their creations. the setting of the church itself provides a setting for display that enhances this goal and could provide a delightful personal transformative experience. art has the wonderful potential to expand our circles of knowing to include many new surprises. engaging with the art in the gallery is not a passive experience and not easily explained. like poetry it is embedded in the work you see and engage with. Something will always draw you to a particular art work as you puzzle it out for yourself with this universal quest to understand and explore this connection with the artist and their creation. our artists often have many years of talent and experience to draw from. they are always trying to continue their exploration in new and fresh ways, always hoping to come close to some universal truth that will touch us in some way to see something with new eyes for the first time. yet somehow this something we seemed to recognize we find has always been inside ourselves. art enables us to see this. the gallery also has wonderful and meaningful gifts for the holidays all of these purchases supporting creative humanitarian work. We also would like at this time to thank all of those who have supported our gallery visitors and artists and its mission in the community and in africa. after this show which continues thru the month of december the gallery will close for this year and reopen in the spring for our new season. St. Francis Gallery - Rte. 102, South Lee just 2 miles east from the Red Lion Inn. Gallery hours: Friday thru Monday 10-5pm.

DeniSe B ChAnDLer deniSe B CHandler, Coke

Fine art PHotoartiSt

“the Holidays are the one time of year that it is acceptable to be as outrageous with color, decorations, and adornment as one would like...” it is in that vein that denise B Chandler will be exhibiting three of her large color abstracts at the 510 Warren Street Gallery in Hudson, new york for the month of december. denise B. Chandler is represented by Sohn Fine art Gallery at 69 Church St. in lenox, Massachusetts where various selections of her work can be seen throughout the year. Chandler offers private gallery visits at her personal studio/gallery by appointment only. Denise B Chandler, Studio & Gallery - 415 New Lenox Rd, Lenox, MA. Visits by appointment only. Please call and leave a message at either 413-637-2344 or 413-2818461. Website: Email:

a true new englander, Marguerite Bride loves the winter and it shows in her paintings. Winter in the Berkshires is a magical time…quaint town scenes, fields, streets and forests turn into a winter wonderland. a wide selection of her winter originals and reproductions (framed and unframed) are on display at Mary’s Carrot Cake Shop, union Street, Pittsfield from mid-november until January. enjoy a warm beverage and a delightful sweet while you are there. the shop is open 11am to 2pm tuesday – Friday and/or by appointment with the artist. Stop in during Pittsfield’s december artswalk 5-8 pm to meet the artist and enjoy refreshments. Fine art reproductions and note cards of Berkshire images and others by the artist are available at the red lion inn Gift Shop (Stockbridge), lenox Print & Mercantile (lenox), and St. Francis Gallery (So lee). Seasonal scenes are always on display in the public areas of the Crowne Plaza in Pittsfield. or visit Bride’s studio by appointment. Commissions are always welcome. For holiday gift giving, a personalized gift certificate for a custom painting is always a treasure to give and to receive. Marguerite Bride – Home Studio at 46 Glory Drive, Pittsfield, Massachusetts by appointment only. Call 413841-1659 or 413-442-7718;; Facebook: Marguerite Bride Watercolors.

There is one knows not what sweet mystery about this sea, whose gently awful stirrings seem to speak of some hidden soul beneath. --Herman Melville

The ArTfuL MinD DeCeMBer 2015 • 11

autHor/ teaCHer /PuBliSHer Interview by Harryet Candee

Harryet Candee: Jana, congrats on your new book! How appropriate it is to create a book filled with photos of the red Lion Inn and celebrating the life and times of its ambassador, Simon the cat! Shows your appreciation and affection for animals and the Berkshires. What lit a fire to start such a heart-warming, fun book? Jana LaIZ: Thanks so much Harryet! I’m thrilled about my newest book, Simon Says ~ Tails of the Red Lion Inn Ambassador. I do love animals, and the Berkshires. That’s for sure. I’m happy to say my books are carried at The Red Lion Inn Gift Shop, and whenever I go there, I see Simon the cat. I learned about his “job” as lobby ambassador, and that Jayne Church, his “mom,” is the gift shop manager. We would marvel over this wonderfully smart cat. Several years ago, Jayne and I discussed writing a book about Simon. He’s such a celebrity at The Red Lion. He has a huge following! She has a stack of photos, drawings, stories, letters and poems by guests and fans of Simon, all about him. A big stack! Time went by, we both were so busy, and then suddenly, the time seemed right to get started. And so we did! I had been thinking of giving Simon a voice, and over the years Jayne has written many anecdotal stories about Simon and many in his voice. We began to collaborate and came up with what we think is Simon’s true voice. And an adorable story.

did you enjoy working on this with Jayne Church? Jana: I love working with Jayne. We have very similar

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Photography by Lee Everett

senses of humor and we are both “moms” of many rescued animals. We work really well together, and are about to begin another Simon tale/tail. Who knows, we might use materials from that big stack! We have fun, and that’s so important when collaborating.

How did you choose nancy-Fay Hecker to do the photography, which, by the way makes this book into such a treasure, of course along with the story you wrote—so eloquent and charming! I admit to not reading it thoroughly yet, but I will! I can see the laborious love that went into the making of this beautifully printed book—perfect for all ages too, by the way! Jana: Thank you! I agree! The photos are so captivating. Nancy-Fay has been photographing Simon for years. Her postcards of him are bestsellers in the gift shop. She has created Simon magnets and bookmarks. People LOVE Simon and Nancy-Fay’s photos of him. She somehow captures all his moods. It’s quite remarkable. At first Jayne and I were thinking of having illustrations and some photos, and we wanted to use some of Nancy-Fay’s photos for the book. We set up a meeting with her and the three of us just connected. It was magic. Right then and there, we decided to simply make the book with our text and her photos. What a team! you mentioned that you own a couple of canine creatures. Who are they and what are their names? you must have fun with them. I am inclined to believe

Oh, Jana!

that you are not only an animal lover, but a conscientious environmentalist; the Simon Says book is created from all natural fiber and ink. Jana: I am mom to Allie and Maeve, twin fifteen-yearold (feral) tabby cats, Lila, a fourteen-year-old miniature dachshund and Loki, my two-year-old pit-bull. Loki and I love to hike together and Lila hates to be left alone, but hates to hike (her legs are about two and a half inches), so she rides on my back in a backpack. Yes, I am quite a conscientious environmentalist. My books are all printed by companies that are part of the Green Press Initiative, which promises the use of either recycled paper or reforesting efforts, as well as using veg-

“A Free Woman on God’s Earth”, Top recommended reading list in nyC reads 365 ( Congrats Jana!

etable-based inks. My books are all Rainforest Alliance Certified. Even my website is solar powered. The Twelfth Stone is my eco-fantasy, which, I am SO proud to say, is endorsed by one of my eco-heroes, Bill McKibben. It’s all about treading lightly on the planet and what can happen when we don’t.

you’re not originally from the Berkshires. Can you tell us how you found your way to these parts? you can go back to the part where you got your in with the Vietnamese immigrants—I love that story. Jana: I’ve been here for thirty years, so I like to think of myself as a local, but I’m actually from Westchester, NY. The suburbs. When I was seventeen years old, I was having a rough time in high school. The school had hundreds of kids in it. It was overwhelming to me. I didn’t fit in and felt quite isolated, and I never found my niche there. I was pretty miserable. One day I saw a news report on TV about the “Boat People”—refugees from Vietnam— and something moved me to want to help them. Maybe I saw them suffering more than I could even imagine. Maybe I just needed to get out of myself… I’m not sure, but I took action. I called the TV station that aired the report and asked how I could help. They suggested I call the United Nations, so I did. I talked to a staff member there and they kindly directed me to The International Rescue Committee, or IRC, a refugee resettlement agency in New York that was dealing with this crisis. I called them and asked if I could help. When they found out how old I was, they told me I could collect donations. The incoming refugees needed lots of things. I said I could do that. I was disappointed though; I had been hoping for a foreign assignment. Ha! The caseworker must have heard the disappointment in my voice and she paused and then asked me if I had a car. Well, my grandfather had just given me his old gas-guzzling Dodge. I said, “Yes!” And because of that car, my life changed. I was assigned to five families in the Pelham Parkway area of The Bronx. I volunteered, visiting refugee families every Saturday. I had found my purpose. I taught them English, played with the children, took them on outings, taught them about American culture. I became a friend. And everything changed. I became a happy person again. I did this for years, every Saturday. (We’re still connected!) My parents were very supportive of me and encouraged me to do this work. My parents also rented a ski house on Lake Buel in Monterey—my Berkshire connection! We are all avid cross-country skiers and we would spend winters here in the early 80’s. After college, where I majored in Mandarin Chinese and Anthropology,

I got a real position at IRC and became a resettlement caseworker. I had my very own office and clients from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. I adored my job, though never quite got used to New York City. I’m a country girl at heart. Well, a few years into my job, President Reagan slashed the non-profit budget to smithereens and I lost my beloved job. I was newly married at the time, and with no job and nothing to keep me tied to New York, (my husband moved his office to Albany) we moved to North Egremont, where I opened an Asian artifact and antique shop, Trade Winds. After I lost my job at IRC I became a tour guide, leading tours to mainland China and collecting a lot of items for my little shop. But retail was not for me, and I went back to school and became an elementary school teacher. Eventually I specialized in ESL, which was as close to refugee resettlement work as I could get. And I began to write in earnest. Weeping Under This Same Moon chronicles this time in my life.

as far as the english language goes, how did you learn to write so well? technically speaking, can you tell us a trick or two that you discovered that makes writing a story flow? Jana: Wow, I’ve been writing since I could form words. I love to write so much; I would like to say it comes naturally. Of course some of my work needs to stay in the drawer. But sometimes, the words come out just right. And I simply keep doing it. It’s a craft and an art, but I believe one that has to be nurtured and exercised. I read my stories aloud. I think that’s really important. My mom or my daughter are usually my victims. When I was writing Weeping Under This Same Moon, I called my mother after every chapter. I knew that if I made her cry (or laugh), I’d done my job. When I couldn’t get through the reading without tears, then I knew I was really on to something. I always thought it’s tough for writers to make their readers laugh out loud. Wording it just right, and using the perfect words to make it a home run straight to funnyville. And I don’t mean the entire book is one joke, I mean parts can be very serious. How do you bring in something that is enjoyably funny? Isn’t that a tricky part where you have to share your sense of humor and get it across to the reader that this part of the story is actually funny? I do find it tricky, though I like to think of myself as having a great sense of humor. I love to laugh. I love to read funny stuff and when I can write something funny, it’s truly a joy. A real accomplishment. David Sedaris and Bill Bryson make me laugh out loud. Sedaris had me

pulling my car over after listening to his book on CD. I nearly crashed, I was laughing so hard. I couldn’t see. I wish I could do that. I’m working on it, and there are parts in The Twelfth Stone and in Weeping Under This Same Moon that crack me up. I’m not sure if anyone else thinks those passages are as funny as I do, but I hope so. I’m working on an immigrant story that takes place in an ESL classroom with an eccentric, funny teacher. I hope I can pull it off! Sometimes I get too serious when I’m writing. But I know that often the best way to teach anything is through laughter/humor, so I’m trying to find my inner comedienne and tap into her. I am not using myself as the main character in this new book, but I do make my ESL students crack up on occasion! (OK, maybe I am the main character…)

I’ve always thought it’s tough for writers to make their readers laugh out loud. Wording it just right, and using the perfect words to make it a home run straight to funny-ville. and I don’t mean the entire book is one joke; parts can be very serious. How do you bring in something that is enjoyably funny? Isn’t that the tricky part, where you have to share your sense of humor and get it across to the reader that this part of the story is actually funny? Jana: I do find it tricky. I love to laugh. I love to read funny stuff and when I can write something funny, it’s truly a joy, a real accomplishment. There are parts in The Twelfth Stone and in Weeping Under This Same Moon that crack me up. I’m not sure if anyone else thinks those passages are as funny as I do, but that’s OK. I’m working on a story about an ESL classroom with an eccentric, funny teacher. I hope I can pull it off! I am not using myself as the main character, but I do make my ESL students crack up on occasion!

reminds me of the Internet and e-mailing someone. aLL CaPS means you are angry… italics means you’re sweet, etcetera… How has the modern world of computers, Internet-ing and communication in general worked for you? Jana: I love my MacBook Pro. At this point, I couldn’t live without it. I used to write everything in longhand, but these days I can’t do that. My brain moves too fast for pen and ink. I do, though, have a tough time now that I have DSL. I am always connected, and yes, I know I could turn off my wifi when I write, but I don’t. I’m better now, but when I used hear that ‘ding’ announcing a new email, I’d become so distracted. These days I have several different email addresses for the different hats I The ArTfuL MinD DeCeMBer 2015 • 13


600 CHildren liSteninG to My Book read in tHai

autHor viSit

wear and I get many emails every day. I’m pretty good about answering emails, but I would prefer talk to someone than to email or text. I know it’s the new way of communication, but I actually enjoy talking on the phone! I love my iPhone 5, but at home, I have a real phone that is attached to the wall with a curly long cord that has no caller ID. I like surprises. My kids think I’m nuts. I have rotary phones all throughout the house. Very retro. I don’t write with a quill pen, as I said, I could not live without my computer, and I do love my high speed wifi, so who am I kidding! But thankfully now I have a place where I can work uninterrupted and Internet free! Herman Melville’s house? Yes!

you have the privilege of being able to sit at his desk and drum up thoughts—feel his energy, knowing you are the first person, really, to sit in his chair since his novel Moby Dick came out in 1851. How were you granted such an honor? Jana: Incredible. What a privilege! I do get to sit at his table, in front of the very window from which he looked out, seeing Mt. Greylock and imagining his white whale. My friend saw an article in the Eagle announcing this Writer-In-Residency position. She thought I should apply. I told her I didn’t know much about Melville. I read Moby Dick in high school and didn’t understand it. But I had read and loved Bartleby and Billy Budd, so I thought, why not! I applied. I guess my essay was compelling enough to land me this position. And now I’m writing a children’s biography of Herman Melville, and I’m having so much fun with it. I even re-read Moby Dick and loved it. Guess I was ready. So I sit there and imagine Herman sitting next to me. Of course I try to channel him. I get tremendous inspiration there. The staff and I created a program for students called “Inspired By Melville ~ Writing About Place” that we offer to schools. I’ve visited a bunch of schools in Berkshire County, introducing kids to Herman Melville and to me and hopefully getting them jazzed about writing. 14 • 2015 DeCeMBer The ArTfuL MinD

Jana, I want to read Moby Dick now. and visit his home in Pittsfield now that you have inspired me. and next comes to mind the friendships and working partnerships and educational outlets you have gained and shared through the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers, created by Jennifer Browdy, that clever woman! Is there no end to such great things people are creating here in the Berkshires? Jana: So many creative people here! And yes, what a clever woman is Jennifer Browdy. And what a good friend! Jennifer and I met years ago and have embarked as publishing partners in a brand new publishing venture, Green Fire Press. We published our very first book, an anthology called Writing Fire, featuring over sixty women writers from here and everywhere. It’s a gem. There is such strong and wonderful writing in it. Essays, poems, short pieces, even a mini graphic novel! We have another anthology in the works and are publishing several more books. It’s a curated press, so we are looking for submissions. We’re want to support authors in producing really high-quality books in pretty much any genre; fiction or non-fiction, poetry or prose. We wanted to create a collaborative community of writers, editors and publishing professionals. And we want to focus on helping get our author's vision across as powerfully as possible. We’re very excited about it! And of course the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers has truly created a loving, supportive community of creative people. I’m proud to be a part of it! I have lots of new friends because of it. Thanks to Jennifer! My friend Nancy Tunnicliffe, a world-renowned Highland bagpiper and I have created a program we call Piping & Penning. We introduce children (and adults) to the music and folklore of Scotland. We use my Celtic fantasy novel The Twelfth Stone as a jumping-off point, and get writing to the drones of the pipes. It’s magical. I wrote a book about my dear friend's son Thomas and his little chicken, Autumn, illustrated by another friend, Melody Lea Lamb! I’ve made remarkable friendships because of my writing. Ann-Elizabeth Barnes and I are co-authors of “A Free Woman On God’s Earth,” the story of Mumbet, and are dear friends. And now, Jayne Church and Nancy-Fay Hecker. And you!

What will you be doing at the festival this year? Jana: I’ll be on a panel about the world of publishing. Check the Festival magazine for times and dates! And this year the festival is going to extend throughout the year with workshops, so I’d love to do my Melville workshop again… fifteen people get to write with me in Herman’s study. I’ve had packed workshops for the past several years. It’s wonderful.

you have a passion for teaching. Where and when do you nurture kids with your fun teaching practices of story-writing and inspiration? Was it something you had built-in since you were a child? Jana: I do have a passion for teaching. I love it. I love watching kids suddenly “get it” and I love seeing the expressions on their faces when they do. I never thought I could be a teacher or a speaker; I’m pretty shy by nature. But I have found my voice. When I teach, I have no fear. And I have been invited by many schools and organizations to be keynote speaker, and so far, I’ve gotten rave reviews. When I think about how shy I was in school, I am astonished I can do this. But I think I am so enthusiastic about writing that I can’t help but inspire everyone I work with. I really get into it when I’m in front of students. I’ve also been asked to speak on subjects I write about. I recently spoke at Bryn Mawr to a group of teens and young adults from an organization called Project Common Bond, a part of Tuesday’s Children. These are kids from around the world who have been affected by war and terrorism. They each received a copy of my book, Weeping Under This Same Moon. I spoke about my life as a teenage volunteer and how going outside our comfort zone and helping those in need can have far reaching effects. My talk was accompanied by a slide presentation –my refugee family and me from the 1970s. The kids loved it. And then we wrote. My God, the writing that came from that event was profound and cathartic. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.

What do you think makes a person crave self-expression through the arts? Why is it, do you think, that childhood is the best time to promote to kids these wonderful creative experiences, which they’ll never forget and will want more of, even after they’ve entered that age of saying about their creations, “Uchh, this is awful! Oh, I can’t do it!!” Jana: The younger the better! I think humans have an innate desire to create. I visited the Lascaux Caves and

saw those paintings on the cave walls. 17,000-year-old stories! And think of Shakespeare, still wildly popular after 400 years. I minored in photography in college and had a jewelry studio before I started my first novel. I have to create. But I do think we need to get kids involved in the arts from early on. Before they get to that “I can’t” stage. I have a rule when I’m teaching: No “I can’t” allowed. And as teachers we need to encourage them. We don’t always have to say “good job” to everything our kids do, but we do need to encourage self-expression and artistic expression, and nurture it. And the arts can come in so many forms. I love brainstorming with kids about what kind of artist they are. We come up with very long lists!

a well-rounded background in all the arts, I think, makes learning math and science easier to grasp—at any age! What is your opinion? are we doing enough here in the Berkshires to back up this positive way of learning? I totally agree. The arts make everything richer. There can be beauty in every subject, but it’s so much more enhanced through the arts. Can you imagine teaching science without an artsy bent? How could a science teacher not recognize the beauty of leaves, snowflakes—works of art! And think of math and how it relates to music. Dance too. Measures and numbers, beats… Being wellrounded in the arts is critical for a well-rounded life. And thank you for including writing as an art form. When people ask me if I am an illustrator, I tell them, no way, but I can paint pictures with my words. Is enough being done in the Berkshires? I think we are an incredible artistic community, and we infuse this into our schools and lives. We have it all here: dance, drama, music, writing, visual arts—you name it, we have it! My daughter just graduated from acting school in NYC, and that was in major part due to her experience at Mt. Everett with Shakespeare & Company. What a gift that company gives to the community! And Berkshire Theater Group and its playwriting for kids! Jacob’s Pillow! And one of my ESL students attended Tanglewood’s summer program. And Flying Cloud… oh, I could go on! We live in the BEST place for the arts.

reveal your secret to us Jana! What do you have in common with faeries?? Jana: What I have in common with faeries, hmmn. Like faeries, I love the earth, and I believe in magic. I think it’s pretty much everywhere, if you know where to look. And I can be quite mischievous. I have a thing for the moon too, love that orb. I feel very connected to the elements. I feel the energy from trees and rocks. The Twelfth Stone is all about that connection to the earth, and faeries, of course. Of course I love all things Celtic. Many faeries come from Scotland and Ireland, and the music from those isles is magical. I bet you didn’t know I used to have my own Celtic music radio show. It aired for a year on Great Barrington’s WBCR-LP. It was called Wide is the Door, A Celtic Ceilidh. I listened to Celtic music pretty near constantly while I was writing my faerie novel. Made my family a bit nuts, but it was how I went into that land. Faerie, that is.

Okay, and what is your relationship to MUMBet?? this is a biggy for you, yes? Jana: Mumbet. What a hero. She’s mine, for sure. Writing her story with Ann-Elizabeth Barnes is one of my proudest achievements. When I was teaching ESL in Pittsfield, I had several African refugee students, and I wanted to read them a story about an African American hero/heroine. I remembered hearing about a slave from our local area who was very special. She had sued for her freedom and won. So I looked her up in our library but found nothing. There were no books for kids about her. I

Jana Laiz at desk that belonged to Herman Melville HerMan Melville HouSe, PittSField, Ma PHotoGraPHed By lee everett

searched, but nothing. So, I thought, why not write about her? But I needed help, and very serendipitously I learned about Ann-Elizabeth Barnes, our local Mumbet expert. I went to hear a lecture she was giving on Mumbet and asked her if she wanted to collaborate on a children’s book about her. She said yes and we began. It was an amazing adventure, writing the story of this enslaved woman who had the courage and conviction to sue for her freedom and win, right in Great Barrington! And then I approached illustrator Jacqueline Rogers, who loved the story and illustrated the book. We are so proud of this little book, “A Free Woman On God’s Earth.” And the biggy part: it’s been optioned for film and we are working on it now! Who knows, maybe filming will begin soon, right here in the Berkshires! I also just produced an audio book, narrated by Nigerian American actress, Adenrele Ojo. Her narration is truly moving. It’s available on, Amazon and ITunes. How cool is that! We are all so busy creating. tell me if I’m wrong, but you are an amazing organizer, correct? What is the

underlying cause for such energy and enthusiasm? I have the need to_______ because___________….. Jana: Oh boy. Here’s the hard truth. When it comes to laundry and filing, I am organizationally challenged. I like to think it’s because I’m one of those creative types. Please, call first before coming over. But I can organize a story in my head! When it comes to writing, I’ve got more than enough energy and enthusiasm to spare. OK, I have the need to create because my imagination would overflow and spill out all over if I had no outlet. How’s that? How did you start your own publishing house? Is that a difficult thing to make happen? does it give you the rights to publish anything you write, or anyone else’s writing? How does that work? Jana: What’s the quickest way from here to there? As the crow flies, right? Well, I had been writing for years and sending stuff out and getting thoroughly rejected. And then one day I sent the manuscript of what is now The Twelfth Stone to an agent. CONTINUED... The ArTfuL MinD DeCeMBer 2015 • 15

course children’s writing. Jennifer Browdy published her first children’s piece in the KO! I featured artists, too, like my dear friend, artist and poet Nathan Smith. He did quite a few covers. I am still so proud of that paper. I sometimes think of starting it up again, but I would need help if I did.

Being a writer is mostly for people that enjoy a certain amount of solitude—being with oneself and thinking. do you enjoy this part of the writer’s world? In what place in this world do you find your writing to be the very best of all for you? Jana: Writing is a lonely business and not for the faint of heart. I have many sides of myself, and being a loner is certainly one of them. But I’m also a collaborator, a teacher, publisher, editor and speaker. So I do get outside of myself, often. But when I am really into the writing, I can appear very anti-social. And my alone-time is precious to me. I must have time and space to daydream and imagine. I think any artist needs that. But I’m no hermit. I love hanging out with my friends and family.

tiMe StandS Still, HerMan Melville’S taBle and WritinG toolS in HiS HoMe, PittSField, Ma PHoto By lee

A big one. She loved it. She called me and asked me if she could take it on. She said it reminded her of her childhood in England, that it was magical and “deliciously disgusting.” (You have to read it.) Well, she didn’t see it, but I did several somersaults while I was on the phone. Yes, please! So she took it on, but she had trouble selling it. It’s a YA crossover and at that time, those types of books hadn’t caught on. Thanks to JK, they finally did. I got the most amazing rejections, things like, “we loved it but don’t know how to fit it in our list.” I wanted to say, just make room for it! But eventually, we parted ways and I decided to try it myself. I started Crow Flies Press. I published Weeping Under This Same Moon first, and I worked at selling it like a crazy person. And it started winning awards, awards I never even knew about. And then I published Martin Meader’s wacky tale for kids, The Adventures of Charlie & Moon, which, by the way, our very own Alison Larkin narrated as an audio book. And so on. Not terribly difficult, but WORK. I hired the best designers and typesetters and I am proud to say, my books are beautiful. Weeping Under This Same Moon has been translated into two languages so far. It’s a best seller in Korea! Go figure!

I remember you had a newspaper publication for kids, the Kids’ Onion! I know it was a hell of a lot of work, but you built up this work ethic from it, which 16 • 2015 DeCeMBer The ArTfuL MinD


led you to greater things. In what ways is this true for you? The Kids’ Onion… Just Peel Through It. I loved that newspaper. I started it about the same time as you began your wonderful magazine. The Women’s Times also began around the same time, early 90s. It was tremendously hard work, as you well know. It was very rewarding too, but hard work. Too hard for me, by myself. My son was about 4 and my daughter was a tiny baby when I started it. I used to drag the babysitter in the car with me on my deliveries. I dropped off hundreds of papers to schools and places all over Berkshire County, from Sheffield to Williamstown. It was tiring. My kids are great car riders, thankfully!

What made you want to start a newspaper for the Berkshires to start with? your need to communicate, perhaps? Jana: I wanted to write mainly, but I also wanted to share. So many people at that time would say that there was nothing to do for kids in the Berkshires, and I knew they were wrong, so I went out and proved it. There was a ton going on if you knew where to look, and the Kids’ Onion was the first to have a kids’ calendar of events. One woman told me she actually moved to the Berkshires because of the Kids’ Onion. Anyway, I thought I could share my writing, but then it felt too narcissistic to do that, so instead I featured other writers, and of

Jana, would you ever write a children’s book in Chinese, since you are fluent in that language? Was it hard to learn? Who taught you to speak this tongue? Jana: I have written in Chinese. In fact, my daughter’s favorite story of mine is called The Legend Of Mei Hua, which I originally wrote in Chinese for a class at Middelbury. It’s about the first panda. Chinese hard? That’s an understatement. At Middlebury, the Chinese language students were the only ones with private rooms because they needed to study ALL the time. If they caught us speaking English ever, we would be expelled. Our dorm rooms had adjoining bathrooms and the students used to sneak into the bathrooms together and whisper in English. I got my degree in Mandarin from NYU and then I lived for a year in Taiwan, spent 9 weeks at Middlebury’s summer intensive, then 4 years as a tour guide to mainland. For me, the speaking came very easily, but the writing, wow! I had a box of flashcards that weighed 20 pounds. There are 40,000 characters and no alphabet. It was because of my refugee work that I decided to study Chinese. My friends were ethnic Chinese/Vietnamese, and I found the Vietnamese language even more challenging, plus there were many more Chinese programs at that time. I don’t use it much anymore, but it’s fun to order in restaurants. Ever a crowd pleaser.

Jana, your first book, Weeping Under This Same Moon … what kind of frame of mind were you in to write this book that was so well accepted and read worldwide? What a great first start, ya think? you were meant to be a writer, no doubt. Might you go back into photography in some distant future? Jana: I had finished my first draft of The Twelfth Stone and was thinking about what to write next. I had been pondering and had often thought that I should chronicle that time in my life. That experience changed my life so much, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to reveal so much of myself. And then the phone rang, out of the blue. It was from a number I didn’t recognize, from Florida. It was my Vietnamese “family,” the one from the book. They were having a family reunion and eating carrot cake. Whenever they ate carrot cake, they said, it reminded them of me and our time together. (There’s an explanation of the carrot cake scene in the book.) I knew it was a sign from the gods and I asked them if I could write our story. They cheered a unanimous YES and thought when it was done we should all be on Oprah! I immediately began writing, and I consulted one of them as my editor. Writing that book was very cathartic for me. It flowed out of me. There were times I became Mei. Writing Hannah was much harder. I decided to fictionalize it not only because writing my memoir seemed a strange thing to do at the time, but also I wanted to protect the

Jana, he was very good looking, don’t you think, this Mister Melville?... PHotoGraPH By lee everett

anonymity of my Vietnamese family. Hannah loved photography and “she” still does. I am a decent photographer.

Have we covered the scope of Jana? Can you describe to me what makes life worthwhile for you? and is it possible to reach out and help others that haven’t touched base with their core passions yet? How would you do this if you could do it in any way in the world? Jana: The scope of Jana, wow. I think you got it! But to answer your question, my children make my life worthwhile. Agreed, Jana! They are my most precious and important gifts. I love watching them grow into adults. I wonder what their lives will be like. And they are my teachers too. I have learned so much from being a parent. And I hope I have imparted to them a love of life and art, and the idea that doing what you love is the only way to fly. As far as reaching out to others, I can only teach by my example. I do what I love and when I do, I’m happy. When I don’t, I’m not so good. When I live the life I intended, I see the Universe support me. When I’m on the path miracles happen often. And when you can recognize them, well, that’s the best!

Why are writers stereotyped as using old-fashioned typewriters and burying themselves in cabins in the woods, secluded and alone with just enough good food and coffee to get them through their stay? Something about our history of famous writers… they must all have something in common with each


other, like painters, actors and musicians do. Jana: I love coffee. It’s my only addiction. Wrapping my hands around a hot cup and smelling that aroma before I start writing is rather like heaven. I don’t have a typewriter. I love my computer. A cabin in the woods with a view would be real nice, so if any kind reader has one to lend, I’d be appreciative. I have applied for a few writing retreats; that I have done. Writing requires time and focus, and when I can make sure the sink is empty and the counter is clear, I can work from home. Otherwise, like Herman Melville, I might lock myself in that office! and here, another question: Why is reading the language so much different than speaking the language? Jana: Reading requires one to slow down, focus, pay attention. That’s why I think writing is the most difficult art form to show. It requires a reader. Someone to actually take the time to look at those words on the page.

Who are your favorite authors? Jana: I love Alexander McCall Smith, Charles De Lint, Charlotte Bronte, Herman Melville, Jane Austen, Elizabeth Berg, Katherine Stockett, Barbara Kingsolver, Harper Lee, so many.

Have you gone back to White Plains lately? What feelings from your childhood does it bring up for you? Jana: I go back quite often. My parents live there. I need to clean my room!

PHotoGraPH By lee

everett, HerMan Melville HoMe

How do you piece together and summarize what disciplines and codes you want to follow to live a happy and well-rounded life? any sayings in any language you might want to share as we close this interview time together? Jana: For me, I need to be myself in everything I do. It’s time to take care of myself, to nurture myself, even indulge myself! I haven’t spent a lot of time doing that, and I’m learning. I think lots of mothers (fathers too) need to indulge in some serious self-care. When I follow my heart, I can do pretty much anything. Stop procrastinating and get creative. And try lots of different foods, read lots of books, see lots movies and travel, everywhere you can. Learn a new language and take up an instrument when you’re over 40! Get a uke or learn the fiddle. Do something outside your comfort zone! Sayings: Here’s my favorite Scottish saying taught to me by my friend Nancy: “What’s for ye wi’ ne’er go by ye.” Hafiz, my favorite poet said, “The place you are right now, God circled on a map for you.” I believe that. Thank you, Jana!!!


The ArTfuL MinD DeCeMBer 2015 • 17

GeOffrey MOSS GeoFFrey MoSS, BerkSHire MorninG

PaintinG tHe Barn over and over

Whenever Geoffrey Moss assumes the roll of art instructor, he first cautions that his students “… keep their eyes not on what’s before them in the flesh, but what is in their memory about that flesh…” now, continuing to show his iconic Barns at the lauren Clark Gallery, the painter aware of his own advise, takes selective liberty to remember that negative spaces can offer the viewer, as well as artist, opportunity to personally imagine what has occurred in shadows and sudden contrasts of light in architecture using not one traditional light source, but several; that is, rearranging spaces, building walls, openings, happily abstracting memory. in this present, more representational Gallery offering, unlike his less representational work, forms replace interaction of colors. in these canvases and works on paper, like his totally abstract works, it seems the artist ignores his past use of primary colors of barns in order to document, to enforce views of massive structure, coming closer to a marriage with his familiar Black drawing Series begun as an art student at yale. Quoting a favorite author, William Faulkner, Moss reiterates, “knowing remembers….” Choosing to be the “accidental architect,” the artist obsessively paints, paints, paints barns, rearranging and moving walls of shadows, making full use of his prerogative to own and reinvent. Lauren Clark Fine Art - 25 Railroad Street, Great Barrington, 413-528-0432; /

BerKShire feSTiVAL Of WOMen WriTerS neW leaderSHiP ProGraM For teen GirlS Writer

PHoto: lynnette naJiMy

the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers invites teen girls ages 13 – 18 to join director Jennifer Browdy and spoken word poet Grace rossman in an exciting new program, the Butterfly leadership Circles, aimed at developing young women’s potential as writers, public speakers and creative leaders. the writing-intensive program will meet monthly from January through May, 2016, with three-hour sessions taking place from 2 – 5 p.m. on a series of Sunday afternoons at the unitarian universalist Church in Pittsfield and the South Berkshire Friends Meeting House in Great Barrington, with the final session at the Mount on May 15. “Participants will learn to use writing as a means of self-discovery and self-expression, and also work on building confidence in speaking publicly about issues they care about. through the monthly sessions, we’ll create a collaborative learning community in which we teach and model ways of thoughtfully, respectfully discussing issues of importance to today’s young women,” says dr. Browdy, a longtime educator. Sessions will take place January 10 in Pittsfield, FebDon’t be shy! ruary 7 in Great Barrington, March 6 in Pittsfield, april Advertise your talent! 10 in Great Barrington, and May 15 in lenox. each session will focus on a different topic, including qualities of 413-854-4400 women’s leadership, healthy relationships with self and others, dealing with distraction and stress, taking action on social issues, and more. details can been found at ButterGreat first timer rates! Girls can sign up to attend just one Circle meeting, or more; participants who attend and participate productively in at least four out of the five sessions will be awarded a Certificate of Completion. each Have a great hair day! meeting is limited to a maximum of 20 participants. the cost of each three-hour Samantha Candee session is $60, or sign up for all is now accepting appointments five at the discounted rate of $250. Some partial scholarships Give our new talented stylist the boost are available. of confidence she deserves. It gives her the experience Berkshire Festival of Women she needs to succeed and provide a great discount Writers - Applications and full rate for the community. To receive 15% off of your information available at service by showing this ad.

18 • 2015 DeCeMBer The ArTfuL MinD

413. 528. 9999 Great Barrington, MA

JOhn LiPKOWiTz SPrinGtiMe in JaPan

JoHn liPkoWitZ, noodle SHoP, PHotoGraPH, JaPan

John lipkowitz, a photographer now retired to Great Barrington, lives to shoot, or, perhaps, he shoots to live. His answer to the question of which, parallels the answer to a chicken or egg question and depends upon no discernible criteria. Fortunately for him and hopefully for us as well, John finds his answers and his inspiration in travel, often to exotic places far from the Berkshires. this time he travelled nearly half way around the world to Honshu, the principal island of Japan. John’s wife nina organized the group of individuals with whom they went on an overseas adventure travel itinerary specifically to be in Japan as the cherry blossoms opened, and they landed in tokyo three days after the first official bloom was recorded. visiting several cities and a number of rural areas over three weeks allowed a broad spectrum of Japanese cultural and religious experiences in a country where much of the population practices both Buddhism and Shintoism. these deeply spiritual practices permeate large portions of this culture, much of which John has sought to capture in this exhibit. travel photography is a genre in which many of us engage and the ability to create a collection of images which approach the sublime rather than descending to the mundane is no easy task. in this selection, John gives us a broad range, from an ecstatic wonderment at the reappearance of Sakura or cherry blossoms, to the beauty of Japanese gardens, shrines and temples, always with the impact of thousand year old traditions. While the camera and selfie may be of recent vintage, the blessings of new blooms heralding spring are nearly timeless. in realizing the images included in his Japan collection John has utilized not only traditional Western fine art coated photographic papers, but has experimented with an uncoated Japanese hand made paper and a coated paper incorporating visible fibers in the hope that these evince an enhanced Japanese aesthetic. “Springtime In Japan” will be exhibited December 4 27, with a reception December 5, 12-4pm at the 510 Warren Gallery, 510 Warren St., Hudson, NY, 518-822-0510. Hours are Friday & Saturday, 12-6 and Sunday 12-5. Stay for Hudson’s Annual Winter Walk, 5 - 8pm December 5th! “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” -- Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

Mary Carol Rudin

Denise B Chandler Fine Art Photography

"Moon and Clouds", 12 x 24 oil on canvas


October 31 - December 22, 2015

Reception: Saturday, November 14, 2015

Saint Francis Gallery

1370 Pleasant street. route 102 lee. Ma (next to fire dept.) 413.717. 5199 open Fri, Sat., Sun., & Mon. 10-5 pm

purple dahlia © denise B Chandler 2015

exhiBitiNG and repreSeNted by:

• Sohn Fine art Gallery 69 Church St., Lenox, Ma

• 510 warren Street Gallery 510 warren St., hudson, Ny

JeNNiFer pazieNza

JeNNiFer pazieNza, WINTER’S END, 27 x 84 in, oiL oN CaNvaS

Saint Francis Gallery

1370 PleaSant Street, rte. 102, SoutH lee (just 2 miles east from the Red Lion Inn) 413.717.5199 Friday thru Monday 10-5pm The ArTfuL MinD DeCeMBer 2015 • 19

FroNt St. GaLLery

Kris Galli

Bird Feed deep winter, 24 x 24” , kate knapp

Painting classes on Monday and Wednesday mornings 10 - 1pm at the studio in Housatonic and Thursday mornings 10am - 1pm out in the field. Open to all. Please come paint with us! gallery hours: open by chance or by appointment 413-274-6607 (gallery) 413-429-7141 (cel) 413-528-9546 (home) Front Street, housatonic, Ma

eLeAnOr LOrD artiSt

510 Warren Street, HudSon, ny WWW.510WArrenSTreeTGALLery.COM 518-822-0510

20 • 2015 DeCeMBer The ArTfuL MinD

The Abstractionist

Oil on canvas, 36 x 36

Represented by

Lauren Clark Fine Art 25 Railroad St., Great Barrington

otis the Playwright Part iii

tHe SMallPox Skit riCHard Britell

the rooster was very sensitive to the fact that he was considered an ill omen. this is what he said to otis about it: “if any bird or any animal should be awarded the prize of being a good omen, of being a harbinger of joy and good tidings, it is the rooster, or cock, if you prefer. "We have the honor of greeting and announcing the new day. the idea of the new dawn is traditionally seen as an optimistic omen. nevertheless, the fact is, we are considered a bird of ill omen, and in history we often enter the stage at a time of tragedy. i fear this had its beginning with the death of Socrates, whose last words were, ‘Crito, we owe a cock to asclepius.’ "then about four hundred years later we roosters are dragged into a tragedy again, when Christ is about to be crucified and he says to Peter, ‘truly, i tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.’ Why is it, i ask you otis, that we roosters are abused as a symbol in history in this way; why not utilize a crow, or a goat or pig? the crows at least are known for crowing out their dismal warnings." “i think,” said otis, “that the use of you roosters as a symbol of death has a very obvious unconscious explanation. Please forgive me for saying this, but i believe it stems from the unfortunate habit you roosters have of running all over the place for a short time after your heads are cut off. "even though a pious individual may have a deep faith in the hereafter, when death approaches they are filled with fears and doubts. they exert all of their efforts to form a positive image of life in the great beyond, but they fail to form any meaningful image. the fact remains, the only image of life after death they know about is provided by you roosters in a most graphic and disturbing way, and it pops into their minds as if to mock them." “Be that as it may,” said the rooster, “what i want to create is a work that will redeem the rooster’s image in art, and present him in the light appropriate to his most important function, that being the herald of the dawn. to accomplish this, i want you to consider the thing our spectators fear the most, and transform it into comedy.” “What,” otis asked, “do you consider the thing our spectators fear most?” “death,” said the rooster. “But not just any death— the kind of death provided by the unexpected and unseen sudden diseases that fasten themselves on the unsuspecting. and i am not talking about plague, which announces itself a long way off by attacking distant communities. no, i am thinking of smallpox,” said the rooster, “because it is always around the corner and never really goes away for long. even more than pestilence, it is no respecter of wealth or royalty, and is just as happy to carry off a newborn as the elderly.” “So,” said otis, “you want me to compose a skit in which the fear of smallpox is the subject, and it must be a comedy, and you, as a rooster, must play a prominent

role and be seen in a positive light. is that correct?” “yes, exactly,” said the rooster. it took otis three days to formulate the skit, and late at night when the three comedians were asleep, he presented it to the rooster in outline form. over the years, the smallpox skit has undergone many alterations. every generation of wandering performers, dogs and roosters has their version of the skit. there are performances that use fewer characters, but a dog and a rooster are indispensable. the skit begins with the eldest of the comedians, invariably known as the General, entering the kitchen and telling his wife that he intends to make grape jelly with the wild grapes he has just picked that morning. She is engrossed in knitting something and pays no attention to him. the General takes a huge pot and proceeds to fill it up from his bushel of grapes. He puts it on the stove and begins to boil it, stirring it off and on with what looks like a canoe paddle. the grapes begin to boil as he stirs furiously at the pot. the harder it boils the harder he plies his oar, but the entire time his wife never looks up from her work. the General becomes covered with sweat, and strips down to his underpants. in the skit, it is very important that his formerly white underpants are ancient and are an uneven dark gray color and covered with stains and blotches. the wife is in the foreground with her back to the spectators, and the General is at the back of the stage with his back to his wife and the audience. one can picture his ungainly, nearly naked form. the wife looks up for a moment and, seeing her husband’s frantic gyrations with the grape pot, shakes her head in disgust and returns to her knitting. Finally, the General is satisfied with his pot of boiled grapes. He sets the pot aside and lies down to take a nap while the grapes cool. He is on his back and we can see how huge his stomach is. He begins to snore. the wife approaches him. We still can see only her back, but from her reactions we see that something is terrifying her as she steps back from her husband's body holding her hands to her mouth. the General rolls over in his sleep exposing his corpulent body to the spectators: his face and his entire body is covered with little flecks of dried grape. the General has grapepox. the wife, thinking her husband has smallpox, backs away from him in terror to the far side of the room, until she is backed into a corner. From there she pleads with him to remain in bed. When he tries for a moment to get up, she falls upon her knees and pleads with him to stay where he is and not move. later she attempts unsuccessfully to feed him from a tray that has been tied to a long pole. the wife offers to go and find a doctor, if there is even one who will be willing to examine him. the wife leaves

the room, and the audience notices that the hands of a clock over the fireplace begin to rotate rapidly: two hours go by. She returns with the rooster. the rooster is elaborately dressed as a doctor, but has the bird beak so often associated with plague doctors tied to the front of his face. When he sees the General on the bed covered with purple spots, he too will not go near him, but only observes him from a distance, jumping up on the table and strutting back and forth in order to get a better view. the rooster can offer no help, but he volunteers to go and get a famous doctor from the town. the rooster leaves and the wife begins to tidy up the house, but all the time staying as far as possible from her sick husband. She moves the bucket of boiled grapes and in the process she is also splattered with flecks of grape jelly. now the son enters and discovers both his mother and father covered with the dreaded purple spots. He forces his mother to lie down next to his father and, just like the rooster, tries to stay as far from them as possible. the hands of the clock spin around; twelve hours pass. in the early morning the rooster arrives, announcing his return with his classical greeting. in walks the great, famous doctor, who is none other than otis. otis is dressed in formal attire. He is walking on his hind legs and carries a medicine bag in his right paw; around his neck hangs a stethoscope. He has no fear of the pox. He examines the General first, and then the wife. He thinks for a long time, rubbing his ear with his paw in a pensive way. Finally he begins to lick the General’s face in a typically dog-like way. He licks all of the spots from the sick man's face and chest, and then proceeds to cure the wife. thus ends the Smallpox Skit. it is true that the skit ceased to have much of an effect on audiences after the invention of the smallpox vaccine. once the terror of the disease was gone, the effect of the skit lost it power to entertain. By the early years of the 19th century, the skit had almost disappeared from the repertory of wandering theatre troupes. However, i do wish you could have seen the audience’s reaction to the end of the skit, at the moment when otis begins to lick the General’s face. no one was inclined to laugh; on the contrary they looked on awestruck and open-mouthed. it may have been simply flecks of grape skin otis was licking, but there was not a person in the audience who was not inwardly asking themselves the question, “Would i lick the face of a person with smallpox?” and then came that question’s immediate corollary, “a dog’s affection is of a different order than human affection.” -riCHard Britell

The ArTfuL MinD DeCeMBer 2015 • 21

LyNNe M. aNStett

lynne M. anStett, eMBraCe – it Can HaPPen anyWHere, Cloud Mirror


Lynne, your calendars are how old, now? Lynne M. Anstett: Just in their infancy, relatively speaking. My journey started in 2013 with a traditional Art Photography Calendar. the beginning of the Art Photography Poster Calendar launched in 2014, featuring my travels through new england & Canada. the early art photography posters were test marketed on a small scale to explore interest—to see if they would stick on the wall (pun intended). the posters were well received, so i’ve kept going…. 2015 narrowed the focus from new england to Connecticut, with themes featuring outdoor recreation, farms, farmto-table, history and more. in 2016, i continued with Connecticut but branched into neighboring Massachusetts, particularly the Berkshires. the Massachusetts calendars are available now in stores throughout Berkshire County. i’ve already begun working on a 2017 calendar.

So, you have a wall style, and also a desk style calendar? Lynne: yes, two wall styles: one being the more traditional, functional style you can write on, and the second being the art Poster, which is “art first,” then functional, for visual reference. the desk style follows the same concept as the art Poster for the wall. i have all twelve months hanging in my kitchen on two walls, and quite often they lend themselves well to conversations about time and place. the art Posters can be enjoyed one month at a time, as all twelve or any number in-between, depending on space. What inspired you to start doing this? Any interesting stories lie behind your earlier pioneer days? it all seems very interesting! Lynne: i started taking photography seriously around

22 • 2015 DeCeMBer The ArTfuL MinD

interview by Harryet Candee

2007. although i had a camera in my hands at an early age and was always interested in taking pictures, the inspiration to start this particular aspect of photography came from my strong desire to share what i saw through the lens. i wanted to figure out how to convey that artistic interest with others on a wide scale. i thought there was so much beauty—especially outdoors—and that folks in this hurried world we live in might be missing it. one story comes to mind about a time prior to calendar ventures. While on one of my trips to Prince edward island Canada, my good friend elaine came up with an idea to make Pei dirt shirts. the island is known for the deep red soil (if you wear white socks they won’t come home the same color). all the children on the trip and their cousins that lived on the island were given a white tee shirt. they all had their hand in the design, some with a tie-dyed effect. all the tee shirts were thrown into puddles of the dark reddish soil. once completely soaked, they were hung on the line to dry at the house we were staying at. there was something that struck me about the activity—family, friends and the tee shirts flapping in the ocean wind. of course i took the photo. later i reflected on it, and used this photo to accompany a poem i wrote titled Friends. the poem reflects friendships, which are bound together by layers of threads. those that survive are the threads that stay firmly intact, and those that fall are the threads broken and never repaired. My art projects run in parallel. one was the publication of a book of original poetry and photography titled Love Bound, The Journey; they are all interconnected in some way. it looks awfully fun and time consuming. is it an allencompassing career for you? Lynne: it is time consuming but also very rewarding, which i will elaborate on later. if you asked my close

friends and family, they would say this is an all-encompassing career for me, given the time i spend on it outside of my regular career. So my nights and weekends are spent with this endeavor, and the other time is spent in the business world as a relationship manager. i hope to someday move away from the “day job” duties and transition to spend more time in this second, chosen career. Another woman entrepreneur! yay! Tell me, have you caught much flak while getting this idea of calendars up and running? i mean to say, has anyone tried to rain on your parade because you are a female? Or was there a competitive thing that made you think twice before doing this at any point? i enjoy the struggle aspect of start-up time, when creating a business that has originated from a form of art—in this case, photography. Lynne: Well, i’ve had to learn the ropes, particularly about the business end of the work. you can create many beautiful and functional art items, but will they sell? Who would sell them for me, what types of stores or galleries would take a risk to introduce a new art product and a new artist? Where could i get printing done to meet my expectations regarding timing and competitive pricing? What is the life cycle of calendars, from creating to marketing to production to sales, etc.? no one ever tried to rain on my parade. My family has been very supportive and i have a lot of friends who are thrilled about the path i am pursuing. Many stores have taken a leap of faith with my products and me and i send out a BiG tHankS to them. Sure, there are challenges: production schedules, layout obstacles, photos that don’t quite work and need to be returned to the “photography board,” printing delays, miscommu-

lynne M. anStett, HayStaCkS alonG tHe le Petit train dunord-Mont treMBlant, Canada

nications about the end goal. i think that is common to all things. i’ve thought about the competitive thing— art posters in the form of a calendar are not a new concept and many people have their favorite style. i look for mine to be unique, with my style, and i hope to start traditions where folks will find that my art Poster Calendars are something they look forward to year after year.

Tell me about your passion for photography. Was it passed down from a family member? Or did it strike your fancy when you found you can capture an image forever? Lynne: My father was a photography lover. there was always a camera in the house, and in the early 1970’s he got one of those Polaroid instamatic cameras for my mother. She became a master handler—she developed an expertise for waiting the exact time needed before peeling away the protective paper to reveal the picture (well, it took a couple of film cartridges to get it right). She had that camera for years. When i visit my dad now, he invariably pulls out stacks of pictures from his archives—about 80 years worth. these include faded Polaroids, but some are black and white photos of his family, and from when he was a young lad of about 3 living in Hartland, Ct. He lived on a farm in a former inn along a dirt road. He even has some pictures that were taken by life Magazine in the 1940’s, which depict him, his siblings, his cousins, an author and a famous literary agent at the Stone House in Hartland. So maybe indirectly my father’s love of photography in its basic form influenced me to have a camera handy at all times, so as to not miss “precious moments.” Some things are preserved only through a photograph, and they become those generational things that get handed down. Without them we would never know what that old inn looked like (it’s gone now) or what relatives who we never met looked like because they passed on before we arrived here on this earth. My fancy for photography was struck at a new level, and it stuck when i visited Prince edward island Canada. the island has so much natural beauty… i believe that contributed to my vision: to capture all that is beautiful to me and to share it with others.

When we met, you told me a little about your backwonderful! the potato fields were part of a big garden ground. i found it to be a wonderful image—of your we always had growing up. My father had a green experience with your grandmothers, the potato thumb, and with the help of his children the garden profields, and the simple lifestyle. Can you elaborate? vided an abundance of food. nothing went to waste; Lynne: i had wonderful experiences with both my much of it was canned by my mother and grandmother, grandmothers growing up. My mother’s mom imparted or kept in a root cellar for consumption in the winter. to me many of her loves: reading, cooking, antiques (a More about the potato fields to come…. three story barn filled to the brim that i would explore Continued.... often), travel, foraging for fiddleheads, sea-shelling on Sanibel and Captiva islands, cultivating violets and roses, picking wild blueberries early on many summer mornings and then making jams and jellies. often in the summer she would prepare a picnic feast for the family at a local recreation area. after work my grandfather would come to enjoy, and my siblings and i would come after chores and swim until almost dark, then eat. She had that get-up-and-go attitude, and was motivated to try many things. this was a busy but simple life—less fast-paced than today. this still exists today for some, but i think many have never had this type of experience directly. you have to seek it out. My father’s mother shared her life growing up on long island and then moving to the farm in Hartland to raise a family. She had a great sense of adventure and traveled to many cities around the uS by plane, bus or car in the 1950’s and 1960’s. We always got a postcard. She lived with her daughter; during the week they lived in Hartford, and on weekends they lived in her homestead in Hartland. We visited her often in both places, and we had the beauty of experiencing the city and country life. She was a nurse and a great cook, and we always talked about the importance of lynne M. anStett, FarM-to-taBle – PleaSant & Main CaFé - HouSatoniC, Ma good food and nutrition. Simply The ArTfuL MinD DeCeMBer 2015 • 23


i’d also love for you to talk about your experience on Prince edward island, and the meaning it has for you. you have returned to it many times… how does it affect you and how does it fit into your artistic life? Lynne: yes, i’ve been to the island for three visits with my friends Bob and elaine. they travel there almost every year to visit Bob’s family, who have lived on the island for many, many generations. it feels like the kind of place that is similar to the way my parents and grandparents grew up, living a simple but relaxing and slower-paced life. When we cross the Canadian border, we turn off the cell service so we can sink into that relaxation. our children found other things to do than just be glued to the media devices. activities included having a campfire at the beach and toasting marshmallows for some of those “chocolatey graham cracker treats,”

riding bicycles, taking a walk or just hanging out playing board games and reading books. it was a bit of a shock for them at first, but it didn’t take long to adjust. We’d go to victoria-by-the-Sea for chocolate confections or a hot chocolate beverage, and visit the shops featuring hand-carved candles and jewelry. We’d visit a barn stuffed with antiques and collectibles with a seavillage or island feel. Here you can walk through the historic seacoast village and see the remnants of a onceimportant trade stop. one year, i bicycled on the island with my fiancé; it was a nice way to see the island—all those rolling hills that just kept rolling. one of the main industries on the island is potato farming. the potato fields go on and on and it seems like every corner you come to there are more potato fields. Many of the country roads are dirt—it feels like you stepped back in time, in a nice way. While on Pei, i would accompany

elaine and Bob to many of their family members’ houses. We always went to aunt Barb’s, where we sat around the kitchen, had tea and scones, listened to the fiddle or guitar and just relaxed and told stories. each year we took a boat trip around the northern part of the island, courtesy of one of the relatives, and the view was like no other. one time we were all invited to a wedding, to the music part after the ceremony and dinner. it was customary to invite everyone (related or not) to that part of the celebration. the wedding was set on a cliff overlooking the ocean near the highest point of the island. it felt very romantic, and the view looking out was the opposite from what i saw from the boat trip—a pretty spectacular experience. i later wrote a poem titled, To The Highest Point. Music and dance filled the rooms at many of the homes we visited; the music was just as central as the people themselves. everything i’ve experienced on Pei is easily woven into my artistic life; it’s the kind of place i’d like to visit again. i loved every minute of it. So, now you have a sellable product! Congrats! Please explain the meshing between photography and wanting people to have a functional piece of art? Lynne: thank you, yes, it’s selling. i do want to have a balance of “art” and “function” for this product. My hope is that the art part makes its way to the eye first, so there is some inquisitiveness about it and why was it selected. i’m always eager to share the story behind the photo.

how does it work? When do you shoot? how do you select? how do you print? Details! Lynne: i shoot all the time, as i like to have many options to choose from. Much of the picture-taking has to take place well in advance of the production aspect. the frequency and volume of pictures can grow quickly. of course i take lots of pictures of things that are not for my business, so essentially there is a camera in action a lot of the time, and i know sometimes it drives people nuts. Selection and laying out the themes comes in stages. i want to be sure the individual photo can stand on its own, and when added to a set of 12 monthly posters, i want to be sure there is a collective flow. Sometimes selection changes happen at the last moment. this has to be managed, as i need to keep the project and production schedule on track. i use local printing companies, leaving the printing to the experts. how do you see this business of art and functionality developing and changing in, say, two years from now? Lynne: My goal is to only build and add momentum from here on. But i do have to consider the distance i cover, and factor in a reasonable scope. i hope there will be sufficient public interest to continue this type of art poster calendar. Some efforts lead to other efforts, so it can be hard to predict where a project will take you. i am optimistic that the art and functionality will continue to be appealing in this form.

lynne M. anStett, “WalkinG doWn tHe road – our Four-leGGed Friend leadinG tHe Way” – PrinCe edWard iSland - Canada

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is it hard work? how do you divide your time? i know you have kids, too! Working is a great thing, but do you ever find it has gotten out of control, managing so much? Lynne: i don’t consider the work hard, but rather challenging, in a positive way. dividing my time sometimes needs to be better managed. the kids are grown, but that doesn’t mean they don’t look for interaction and getting together. yes, the cycle of calendar creation and production, running two years in parallel, heightens the activity and can draw me away from other things. i’m striving to create a balance.

lynne M. anStett, FriendS – PrinCe edWard iSland – Canada, tee SHirtS on tHe ClotHeS line

the cupcake calendar!! i adore the cupcakes!! you have a very good eye for design. Have you thought of branching out more into other areas of photography for your calendars? are they just on a commission basis for now? yes, the cupcake calendar has created an avenue for other commissioned work. this subject content has sparked other ideas for photography projects. it was an interesting subject matter to photograph. often at night i would work on the calendar preparation and the concentrated effort resulted in the desire to want a cupcake! But there was none to have, and it became a bit of a struggle to continue the work while the brain said i needed a cupcake. i had to work a better strategy to get the project done without a cupcake supply on hand. it’s not to say that i went without… who could resist…

Lynne, are you good at the business end of all this work for the photo calendars? Where did you get your business experience? Lynne: i can tell you, many artists, photographers, actors, painters, etc., are great at making art, but are terrible dealing with the other side of the table. and that includes marketing oneself! My formal education is business administration and management. i do have some business experience, and i did have a couple of small ventures on my own, which contributed to my experience on a small scale. i do try to think through the end-to-end business process; i network, research, and perform analysis. With that said, i would say that i’m okay with the business end but could always learn more. the marketing aspect comes with time—building the portfolio, networking, making appearances with products in stores that are featuring them, advertising, creating shows, hiring a professional… so much to tap, and with that the need to balance the cost to justify the

potential outcome. the business and marketing components are definitely a challenge. these are opportunities for me to figure out how to be successful.

Would you ever consider formal classical photography training, do portraits, still life… or Lynne, would you ever consider changing the medium from photography to oil or pastel? Do you have a talent for other art mediums? Lynne: i am a firm believer in continuing education and do need to spend more time with training. i’m open to other areas of photography. Many of my friends paint, and i have a great appreciation of their talents. For now i’ll continue my focus on photography, but i am open to change. if circumstances present themselves, i could go down another art path. i do enjoy writing poetry, but it has been dormant for a few years since publishing my book. i enjoy reading from it at poetry events and would like to offer some new ones. i need to dust off some unfinished work. Speaking of talents… are you by chance musically inclined? Lynne: as a child i sang in the church choir every Sunday. i took piano lessons for a few years; my piano teacher was 90 years old. i wish i had kept it up. as an adult, for more than 10 years i participated in Community theater in riverton, Ct, performing in their production of A Christmas Carol. i mainly sang in the chorus, but also danced in the Fezziwig party and had a few small acting parts; my favorite was being a party guest at nephew Fred’s house. the group’s mission is to provide joy during the holiday season and raise money for the tiny tim Fund, which helps children and families.

you travel up to Dalton where your fiancé lives, and you are well acquainted with the Berkshires. Driving is a big part of what you do to make the calendar business work. you must see some amazing things on your travels, yes? Do you stop every ten minutes to take a shot if you have to? Capture that moment when possible? Lynne: i do stop a lot—some of it is planned and other stops are not. i can get easily diverted if something comes into my line of sight that seems interesting. Many of my stops involve talking to people about what they are doing… i visit farmers’ markets, wineries, bakeries, farms and more. Many times there will be a follow-up visit to capture another aspect, such as a seasonal activity. it’s like being on lots of mini vacations. i really enjoy the interaction with people and getting to know what they do. Does it matter what camera you use for your desired outcome for landscapes? Close ups? Animals? People? Lynne: i’ve had a number of cameras along the way, but for now my main camera serves most situations, using various lenses. Particular subjects i photograph in their settings, and they have to be worked out. there are many ways to achieve this and i continue to learn. i like to use as much natural light as possible.

What to you is very important to achieve with your art? Separate from your calendars, what technical things might your eye and experience want to always find and shoot for? Might there always be a challenge you face with photography? Continued... The ArTfuL MinD DeCeMBer 2015 • 25

My eye is always on the horizon and my curiosity of what is “in view” is more than what lies ahead or behind, often it is looking up. “the sky is painted different every day” (from my poem titled the dawn of day) and i like to snap those views as often as possible. i like to pay very close attention to my visual surroundings. My recent show titled looking up captured some technical aspects i am working on. My challenge is that i’ll get an idea, usually complex, but do not always achieve the intended outcome. i look at the challenges as stretch goals and work to achieve them. Most times it takes many tries and sometimes i just can’t get it. i think a mentor would be helpful, and more training. how did you gain so much confidence to get out there and become your own boss? What experience might have given you this wonderful boost of energy? Lynne: My confidence has built up over time through failures and successes; it shakes out to believing in oneself. i believe in myself, and i’m not afraid to try things. not all things work the way you want them to right out of the gate. But being resilient and believing in oneself is key. My energy comes from the excitement of what i am doing, and hoping others will like it too. looking at my grandmothers and what they did is an inspiration for me. lynne M. anStett, tHe vieW – lookinG nortHWeSt – PrinCe edWard iSland - Canada

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

Whatever your next steps will be, have you found that there is a higher spirit that has guided you along this artistic path and will continue to speak to you during your future explorations and discoveries? What do you believe? Lynne: My higher spirit is my mother’s dream that her six children would follow their passions. i think of her often and know that my fulfillment is part of hers. in our world today, would you ever consider becoming a photojournalist in a war-torn area? if you were needed, would you be brave and go off? Lynne: i would consider being a photojournalist but not in the place you describe. i admire photojournalists though, who risk their lives to tell and photograph important stories. i consider myself brave and i believe that it is a valuable trait one needs to have to be able to get through life, in our world today.

What do you think is especially important to preserve through photography? What is it you feel needs to be saved from disappearing? Lynne: 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.

lynne HoldinG CuPCake tray, WelCoMe to tHe SWeet liFe – Cake GyPSy

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how do you imagine that life as an artist—and female, mind you—differs from the lives of the women of the early days, when the land was free and rich and clean, life was simpler, but not necessarily easier? for writers, back in the old days, i cannot even imagine the world they saw, and how they wanted to translate it to the world and its future. Any thoughts? Lynne: i try to imagine the world that writers and artists saw long ago. i only have images and books to go by. For women, i think there was limited opportunity and acceptance for them to be openly expressive; their artists’ abilities were possibly translated into other forms, more subtle but still important art forms.

lynne M. anStett, leFt aSHore – CaPe Cod, Ma

What do you consider to be a rewarding experience? Lynne: it is about personal interaction—getting to know what lies behind the photo subjects—and it most always is about people. While aiming to share what is beautiful to me, my projects have acquainted me with people from all walks of life, who are building small businesses, growing food, and working to preserve the region’s natural and historical legacy. this has created joy for folks when what they have created or supported is featured on a calendar. their joy is my reward.

Just to get a closer idea of who you are as an artist, i was wondering if you can tell me, what kind of art speaks to you? Do you go to museums? The theatre? Where do you get inspiration and knowledge? Lynne: I’ve always adored the impressionist painters, especially Monet, renoir and degas. i am also drawn to and captivated by the work of Maxfield Parrish. Wallace nutting’s photographs of landscapes hit home for me. it’s been written that he rode his bicycle through the countryside taking pictures. i’ve been known to pack a camera while riding a bike. one of my favorite bike rides is the Harlem valley rail trail between Millerton and Wassaic, ny. i think the landscape that folks traveling on the train many years ago saw, is very close to what you can see on the bike ride today. While i peddle down the 11-

mile stretch and back, i often try to imagine i am on that train, and try to visualize myself in another time. yes, museums and theatre are some of my favorite experiences, and i enjoy them both locally and internationally. last year i visited london and Paris with my two sisters and uncle, and we packed in as many museums as possible. My fiancé’s daughter and her husband are actors. over the past several years, we have been fortunate to attend many of their theater performances. it’s a treat i always look forward to. it is wonderful that we have so many rich cultural offerings in this region.

And how do we leave all this…. What do you want to leave behind and be remembered for? if not your photographs, then what? Are there words you would like to share on this? lynne: i would hope to be remembered for many things. My perseverance and resiliency, and the fact that i’m always willing to take a risk knowing the potential for not always ending with complete success. Bringing joy to others through my photography is important to me. i’d like to be remembered for giving back to the community, having a zest for life, and the desire to live life to the fullest. Thank you, Lynne! H

lynne M. anStett, notCHvieW – ProPerty oF tHe truSteeS – WindSor, Ma

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ChriSTMAS eVe by Frank Gioia

the big, black Buick, as if driving itself, floated over the trolley tracks on Wilson ave. Fat, fluffy snowflakes fell silently as the bells from St. theresa’s tolled in the background. in the rear, my brother Joe and i sank into the cushy mohair seats. in the front, my mother’s pleading broke the silence. Why, Jerry why? Why do you have to work on Christmas eve? nobody works on Christmas. My father in his calm, controlling voice said he had to. He had a trunkful of suits and dresses, the latest in women’s fashion, if he sold a few things to my aunt Betty and her sister, he could make as much as $50. Besides, the money would come in handy, it being a holiday and all. We would have dinner at aunt Marian’s. then, he would go to uncle tony and aunt Betty’s in Hempstead. He’d be back by midnight. C’mon, doll he crooned, let’s not get in a fight. it’s Christmas, and you’ll scare the kids. While my father parked the Buick on Putnam avenue, i considered the suits. although he drove a truck for a living, i had recently become aware that my father was a thief. not a real crook like in the daily news. it was just something he did to earn extra money. He would steal a suit or dress while making a delivery to a garment factory and after work he would sell them to friends or relatives for their wives or girlfriends or both. aunt Marion’s three story frame house sparkled for the holidays. outside, the windows and the iron railing to the

second floor were wrapped in flashing colored lights. inside, the blue lights on the Christmas tree shone through the first floor windows to the street. as we entered the house my uncle yelled, Frankie, come and sit next to your uncle Jimmy. let’s have a cherry. the cherries sat drowning in whiskey in a magnum sized bottle on the kitchen table. Chivas regal for the holidays. My aunt Marian kissed me as i passed her, wooden spoon in hand, stirring a large pot of fava beans. i hugged my aunt rosie as she expertly shaped and filled the cassata with pastry cream, her huge breasts splayed across the kitchen table. not for nothing was she known as titty rosie. My father had two sisters and a brother, my uncle tony. What’s the matter my aunt asked? My mother’s disappointment showing through her make-up. Jerry, he’s going to Hempstead later. Says he has to work. really, you didn’t hear? tony’s working too. the restaurant is open. these men, always the money. is Betty going to be home alone, or at her sister’s? My uncle Jimmy handed me the shot glass holding the forbidden fruit. looking skyward. my aunt murmured a prayer for my forgiveness as i tossed the stemmed beauty past my lips. the heat of the alcohol traveled from my throat into my stomach and down to my crotch. My eyes closed and my thoughts shifted to my aunt Betty. i had first seen her naked this past summer. We had dropped by their apartment on linden Street so we could drive in tandem to rockaway. i had gone into the bedroom to ask about my bathing suit and she and my mom were changing. When i saw her, she smiled and continued sliding her long shaved leg into her bathing suit. My mother, who until then was the only woman i had ever seen naked, was very attractive. aunt Betty was off the charts. She was an absolute knockout. like a madonna with heat. i remembered the way my father looked at her. His bad boy smirk, the way his eyes followed her across the room. i couldn’t take my eyes off her and apparently neither could he. i watched as the suit covered her round breasts and the large brown nipples disappeared. Burnt umber, i remembered the color from my Crayola set. even though i had not yet reached puberty, i had what i’ve always thought of as my first sexual experience. the heat in my crotch was transferred to my upper arms as i was greeted by two left jabs and a right hook from my cousin lefty. lefty put his arm around my shoulders, squeezed hard and bit my cheek lightly. Coming from a

seventeen year old, this greeting was genuine affection. i loved it that he was happy to see me...he always made me feel special. He was my coolest relative and on this Christmas eve he was dressed to kill. Powder blue, pegged pants hugged his patent leather wing tips. the pants had a three inch rise and a black snakeskin belt wound its way around his skinny waist. He wore a cobalt blue, rayon shirt with the collar extended upward like a jet plane ready for takeoff. it was the perfect frame for his Sicilian features. His shiny black pompadour sat on his forehead and the duck’s ass haircut on his neck fondled the shirt collar. He could play pool, drive a car and he had a girlfriend with long red hair and even longer legs. He was a charmer and though only a boy, everyone except his mother treated him like a man. His younger sister, my cousin dolly with a face like an angel, completed this italian version of a 1950 nuclear family. as friends and relatives arrived, more food and drinks were served. the long narrow tables covered with white bed sheets were set with the best family china and arranged end to end from the kitchen to the parlor. they soon became filled with great uncles with great stomachs, women in rouge and rhinestones and screaming cousins. the eating continued as relatives hugged, kissed and reached across each other for mushrooms stuffed with moudiga, scungilli swimming in olive oil, fried eel and arancini. the food was washed down with homemade wine from the fall harvest, and of course, the whiskey and the cherries. at around 8:00, the lobster tails were slipped under the broiler and the chicken soup with orzo was brought to the table. Soup was chosen to begin the feast as a way to line the stomach and protect it from the culinary assault scheduled to follow. tradition dictated that no meat, only fish, be eaten until midnight. after the main courses, nuts and fruit and pastry were enjoyed until the sausage was served. My father, true to his plan, left for Hempstead after the lobster. even though he promised us, we didn’t see him until the next morning. i wondered if the pink dress fit my aunt Betty. did she ask him to zip up the back when she modeled it for him? ~Frank Gioia

Our perception of the world is modified by the ways we rationalize our behavior. Seek those rationalizations which color the character's motivation; which actively drive the character in his or her quest for love, power, wealth or justice. -- BM

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68 Main St. Lee, MA 413-243-0242