Category Archives: creative process



This is a piece I did a few years ago entitled “The Circus.”  It deals with that part of us that wants to run away and join the circus.  The porcelain doll has my mother’s face superimposed on it.  Over my mother’s face, I put several layers of Frida Kahlo’s face, peeled off in varying degrees.  Over Frida’s face is a miniature antique paste mask that can be pulled aside or allowed to fall into place.  In her hands are a tiny pair of silver scissors and around her waist is a tiny bag woven of morning glory vines.  She rises out of a toy chest decorated with Loteria cards.  On the chair to her left is a small clown figure with wings.  He is painting a portrait of Frida. Many discarded portraits of her lie crumpled and discarded on the floor. They are all the same. Below him are circus animals and a juggler who have spilled from the pages of a tiny journal that has a story written inside about creativity, sides of the brain, intuition vs. reason and imitation vs. unique inspiration. The overall piece is about the importance of coming from a unique place in ourselves rather than depending upon judgement and imitation. For me, the purpose of art is that experience of going into new realms of ourselves—to allow ourselves to do what most of us couldn’t do when we were young—to run away to join the circus!

Why We Believe

Why We Believe

I think the reason why I believe is probably at the root of it the reason why we all believe in something.  It is just such a miracle that anything exists and that I get to be a part of it. What are the chances out of the entire universe that I would be born  at all, let alone born to the time and place and parents that I was? And what are the chances that I would be healthy and have the benefit of an education and that I would find the courage to live the life I want to and continue to have that courage into my sixties and I hope my seventies and eighties and nineties.

I can understand why it would be hard to continue to believe in the magic of life if one were ill or abused or confined or physically handicapped, yet people do continue to hold onto every scrap of existence.  Life is such an incredible thing and to not appreciate it when we have every reason to appreciate it is such a waste.

There is so much cruelty and oppression and greed and poverty and disease and sadness in this world.  Yes, we do what we can to fight it, but an additional and very important way to fight it is to be as productive and happy as we can be.  Polarity demands its opposite and the world changes for the good by holding onto as much of the positive as we can.  Living it.  Promoting it in others.  Helping each other.  Good mothers and fathers do this every minute of every day and those of use who don’t have children can do it by trying to be surrogates for those children and those adults who need our care and help.  This help may be given in an organized fashion by volunteering and donating or by the way we treat others in our every day life.  We can be observant. We can be helpful.  We can be as kind to each other as possible, given that we are human and feel anger, fatigue, frustration and hopelessness.

At the end of the day–even the worst day–we get to choose whether to give up or to continue to believe, and even if the choice is to give up, we have one more chance.  I think dreams are messages and reminders we send to ourselves–little boosts encouraging us to listen to that deep part of ourselves that will always believe, even if it has to go on without the support of our conscious minds.  It is the part we get to when we write or draw or paint or dance or sing or play an instrument.  That is the importance of the arts.  They connect us to our beliefs.

So when I find myself floundering, whatever time of the day or night, my easiest way to find a reason to keep going is to do what I’m doing now.  To write. Or to make art out of whatever I find around me.  For in this aspect, art imitates life.  It is simply looking around for what we can find around us and making the best of it.  Someone once says “It is the job of the artist to take the detritus that the world creates and to hand it back to the world as art.”  That is exactly what I do in my “found art” collages.  And this, at the end of the day, is enough for me to believe in.


Click on any one of the images to enlarge and enter gallery.  Can you find “Lord Love a Duck,” a pheasant, frigate birds, the ballerina, puffin, a seal, a sea bird, wild pig or “Found Heart?”  I just realized I left out my favorite, so I’m going to add it below.

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The Prompt: In Reason to Believe, Bruce Springsteen sings, “At the end of every hard-earned day / people find some reason to believe.” What’s your reason to believe?


(Please click on pictures for a larger view.)

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IMG_2478The final show included the kids from Camp Estrella as well as part of the 153 member kid’s orchestra and chorus from San Juan.  They are the spirited children in white blouses and dark pants. They presented music from Grease, La Bamba and a wonderful spoof where they drew participants from the audience and wound them around the stage area in a long line.  It turns out it was a song about the whole village lining up to buy tortillas in the morning–to buy enough tortillas for 7,000 people from one shop with 7 tortilla machines…The joke is that the people drawn from the audience who took a place were forced to go to the end of the of the line–like newcomers trying to break into the tortilla line.  Much funnier when listening to the lyrics!

The woman doing the scarf dance was Cynthy, one of the counselors.  The woman doing the flamenco was Cindy, the organizer of the camp and the man on the drum and guitar is her husband, David. Other counselors left to right are Audrey to the far left, Juan behind Cynthy, Gloria in polka dots and me! Alicia regrettably left before someone requested we pose for a picture.  She is the exotic Mexican lady standing to the left side of the stage in the picture to the right of the audience shot.

After the show, where all those little girls in bright yellow Camp Estrella T-shirts turned into sophisticated flamenco dancers in exotic dresses and tightly-chignoned hair and all the jostling young boys turned into swelled-breasted young men, every one of them hugged every one of us. Audrey and I vied with each other over who could do the best job of hiding wet eyes and lumps in our throat, and we decided  the 5,000 pesos that the audience gave us to support the camp (the show was free) should be split between the performers. So, we gave each child 100 pesos and gave the rest to the orchestra/chorus.

Counselors were even more richly rewarded by the  memories of working with and getting to know these warm and lovely kids…not to mention the remarkable counselors.  We now count among our friends two new generations of young Mexicans–and feel younger for it and more determined to stay in the flow of life.  Tomorrow we start all over again with another camp in Ajijc, the neighboring town.

Thanks for giving me a platform to share this wonderful Experience.

Now do you know why, if I had a billion dollars, I would spend it to make this sort of experience happen every day for the children of San Juan Cosala?

If you haven’t been following my stories on Camp Estrella, go HERE, HERE or HERE or for more of the story.


The Window

opens onto an empty lot.
Guamuchil trees and wild castor beans
rise from its slope to lift toward
where I sit above, hands engaged
in taking me away to a place
far beyond ideas.
It is that destination dreams only point us to–
that place where, perhaps, I’ll float
after the feared moment
when I’ll leave this world for good.

I dread it so, that zone,
and yet if what my fingers have just told is right,
it’s where I choose to go again and again,
escaping to that little house
down in my garden
where I keep my tools and paint
and ten thousand small objects
all of which have a particular place they want to be fastened.

I am just here to help them go where they want to go.
Where they have, perhaps, been created to go–
taking me with them to the zone,

all of us
headed toward
the inevitable.


“The little house” is my studio, here seen from the garden. The earlier view was of the wild lot next door, seen from the window of my studio.


A message from the zone. Click to enlarge, then hover over objects and click again to see more detail..

The Prompt: Tell us about your favorite way to get lost in a simple activity — running, chopping vegetables, folding laundry, whatever. What’s it like when you’re in  “The Zone?”