Saturday, October 27, 2007

MY VIEW: Territory by Emma Bull

I don't usually read westerns or historical novels, but this one is wonderful. And, boy, am I glad it crossed my desk.

I've heard about the place and characters, who hasn't...set in Tombstone, Arizona in 1881 featuring Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp and Tom McLaury, and the OK Corral. This is a novel that brings life to the history recreating the town, politics and the people but goes beyond facts to create a world where the mystical crosses paths with historical.

Emma Bull adds new characters to the town as well, including a lead female named, Mildred Benjamin, a widow working for one of the local newspapers as a typesetter but loves to write. In secret, at first, Mrs. Benjamin writes romantic adventures, then gets one published in the fiction magazine of the day, 'Gallagher's'. She even gets paid! Ok, so the check is written out to a Mr. M. Benjamin, but she cashes it anyway. Along the way, her own life gets a little romance, mystery and thrills, too which she gets to write about in the local paper.

Jesse Fox is another new character, who possesses a few mystical and psychic gifts and with the help of a Chinese 'doctor' learns how to use his talents to help himself and others in the town as well. Tombstone's Chinatown adds yet another layer of depth and richness to this well-written book.

Oh, guess who Jesse falls in love with?

Yep. Mildred.

Does it end happily ever after?

I'm not telling...because it's much more fun to read the book.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Map in hand, I set out again for the second weekend of Portland's Open Studio Tour. As a true Portlander, I didn't let a little thunder, lightening and rain stop me and from what I could see, it didn't stop the artists either.

First stop - Wendy Dunder(, a multi-talented artist whose work includes murals, mosiacs and paper/wood sculptural lights. These wonderful, soft lights are made using a wood frame that is covered with layer after layer of tissue paper and glue. Just beautiful.

Marjin Wall(, an artist working in wood, shared her process of using milk paint to finish her hand-turned creations including candlesticks, salt/pepper mills and bowls. Her workshop/studio had that wonderful smell of freshly cut wood.

Jan vonBergen, another multi-talented artist whose work includes ceramics, encaustic and prints generously demonstrated how she does solar plate printing in her cozy studio. I love how her works combines calligraphy, solar printing and exotic, cancelled stamps.

Nicky Falkenhayn(, a metal artist, had no trouble opening up her studio because it's still in the process of being built. A two level space will allow her to do large welded pieces as well as have a separate space for her amazing knitted silver wire jewelry. What a challenge to be out there greeting people on such a cold, rainy day. Thanks, Nicky!

Sunday was a much nicer day to be out and about. I enjoyed my visit to two other studios without the rain.

Sara Swink(, a clay sculpture artist had a wonderful display of both large and small scale clay pieces. I really appreciated it when she explained her process of using oxides and underglazes to achieve the soft, paint-like patina on her sculptures.

Ann Munson(, another artist who works in many different media, opened up her greenhouse/studio sharing her art and garden. There were layered paper collages, cement mosiac sculptures, prints from her colored pencil drawings of animals, fun and funky bracelets, small container gardens to go and cement wall art. Outside I strolled through her wonderful garden taking in even more of her creations like the chickens on a bicycle, basset hound planter and the dragon under construction around her down spout. But not to be missed or forgotten...the turkeys perched in her pine tree. Now that was a sight to behold!

Thank you, thank you to all the brave artists who graciously opened up their studios and shared their art this weekend rain or shine.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Today, I went on the first weekend of the Portland Open Studios Tour. It was a beautiful, sunny fall day that smelled like adventure and so, map in hand, I set out with a friend to tour some of the 55 artist studios open to the curious today.

This event started some 8 years ago, by Portland pastel artist, Kitty Wallis, has grown to include artists from the city to suburbs. The public is invited into artist studios to watch the artist at work, tour their studio, ask questions and even purchase art directly from the artist.

You purchase a calendar that includes color photos of all the artwork from participating artists and a map for both weekends of the tour. You decide if you want to tour by media...paintings, ceramics, glass, or sculpture...or by area, then get out the map and go!

Having done the tour many years ago, I loved the improved map and directions! It was much easier to find the studios this time around.

Once I found the studios, I have a mixed review. Some studio artists stayed behind their desks and ignored visitors. But the artists who took the risk of greeting and demonstrating and answering questions about their art, their process and product were delightful.

Arrianne Bright...kiln form glass artist...clearly showed me and others how she takes slivers of colored glass and stacks them into abstract and landscape forms. Amazing!

Robert Abbott...monoprint artist...explained the monoprint process and how he adds his own stencils and laser printed collage elements to create multidimensional art pieces. He invited us to tour his lush and extensive gardens as well. What an inspiration!

Julie Fulkerson...wildlife and nature artist...showed how she uses an exato knife to 'draw' her amazingly detailed black and white nature scenes in scratchboard and explained how her colored pencil drawings come to life on colored paper. Wonderful!

To the artists willing to show their process and inspiration as well as their product...THANK YOU!

Saturday, October 06, 2007


My View:

Puff, The Magic Dragon
By: Peter Yarrow and Lenny Lipton

with paintings by Eric Puybaret

A touching classic folk song/poem becomes a beautifully illustrated childrens book that includes a 4 song CD in the back featuring Peter Yarrow, his daughter Bethany and cellist, Rufus Cappadocia.

For several generations, now, many children have grown up singing this wonderful song brought into the world by Peter Yarrow along with his friends, Paul and Mary. I first heard the song when I was four, played on a 45 record. Peter, Paul and Mary, the well-loved folk group have performed this song many times over the decades and even with all the silly controversy about the song's, 'real' meaning, its magic has charmed millions of children, parents and now grandparents along the way.

What's even more magical is getting the opportunity to meet Peter Yarrow. I brought my copy of this beautiful book to Powell's in Portland to have it signed and although I expected a crowd, I didn't expect it to be a concert! Peter Yarrow performed at least dozen well-known folk songs, got everyone in the audience to sing along including his son, Christopher, and then invited all the children up on the stage and passed the 'mike' for their own solo in the chorus of "Puff, the magic dragon."

Part concert, peace rally, family gathering and book signing, it made my week. I felt uplifted, loved, hopeful and safe. And he was so sweet to my daughter, I wished I could have said then, what I'm saying now but I was a bit overwhelmed. So here it is: "Peter, you're music is still warm and wonderful, humorous and loveable, just as you are yourself. Thank you so much for sharing it with me. I had't had a very good day until then. You changed it all. Thank you again."

Puff, the Magic Dragon and Peter Yarrow. Still magical after all these years!

Portlanders note: You can catch Peter Yarrow at 2pm tomorrow at The monkey and the rat (his son's cool import art store in Old Town).