Monthly Archives: November 2014

Art Exhibits: 2 opening receptions

I have two art shows coming up in December:  the first one, a group show titled Primar(il)y Red at Gallery U in Westfield, NJ, and the second, a solo exhibit titled Around the World in Twenty-Seven Paintings: A Cross-cultural Sampler, at the Lundt-Glover Gallery in Chatham, NJ.

The New Jersey Monthly, in the Events section, has a preview of my solo exhibit at the Lundt-Glover Gallery. That exhibit runs from December 7 to March 3, 2015. The opening reception, open to all art aficionados and aficionadas, is Sunday, December 7, from 2-4pm.

The theme for the group show at Gallery U centers around the color red, which features prominently in my paintings.

Volcano (2014)

Volcano (2014)

The opening reception for that event takes place on Friday, December 5, from 6-8pm. Gallery U is at 439 South Avenue W in Westfield, NJ.

The Lundt-Glover Gallery is located in the Chatham Township Municipal Building, 58 Meyersville Road, Chatham, NJ.

Hope to see you at one or the other reception–or maybe both!











Needed: Patience, Perseverance, Playfulness

Patience, perseverance, playfulness: those are the attributes displayed by the seven students who recently completed Ivan Bratko’s workshop on human anatomy at Chatham High School.  The students met for six sessions after school in Mr. Hreha’s suitably eclectic classroom, a hotbed of creativity and training ground for future artists.  The assignment?  To build a small scale, three-dimensional, anatomically correct human skeleton with a wire armature and blobs of Sculpty clay to indicate muscle mass.  Quite a challenge, I’d say, especially when heads start to fall off and fingers go missing.  But the students kept at it, kneading the clay, reattaching bits and pieces, giving their skeleton a distinctive identity (a pumpkin-shaped head, for instance, or a pink tongue hanging from the skeleton’s mouth).

The instructor, Ivan Bratko, is an artist from Ukraine.  His passion for the project was evident.  I enjoyed watching him interact with the students, explaining, demonstrating, encouraging.  On the last day of the workshop (I was there as an observer), I expressed my admiration for the students—all girls—who participated in the project.  “I’m curious. Do you know why there are no boys in this class?”  The answer came—swift, irrevocable. “Because boys are not cool enough to be here!”

Seven girls, artists at heart, seven strong personalities. Boys, you are forewarned.

Note: As publicity chair of the Art League of the Chathams, I cover arts-related events in Chatham and neighboring towns. The workshop on human anatomy described here is part of the Advanced Placement Portfolio Development series, an educational resource for Chatham High School students interested in pursuing a career in the arts.  The program is funded in equal parts by the Art League of the Chathams and by members of the CHS National Art Honor Society.


Photo: Eric Hreha

Photo: Eric Hreha

Photo: Philla Barkhorn

Photo: Philla Barkhorn

Photo: Philla Barkhorn

Photo: Philla Barkhorn

Photo: Philla Barkhorn

Photo: Philla Barkhorn

Photo: Philla Barkhorn

Photo: Philla Barkhorn



What equifinality means to me

The word has been on my mind lately. Is it because of my mother’s recent passing? Equi=equal; finality=the end. Was coined by Bertalanffy in reference to systems theory, which in turn became the foundation of family therapy. Simply put, equifinality means that there are multiple ways to reach the same end (however you define it). What I like about the term is that it discredits the view that there is only one way to do things.

This has been a difficult time for me. First, I had to accept the fact that my mother was mortal. I had barely wrapped my head around that notion when she informed me that she planned to choose the time of her “exit.” Not only did I have to accept the fact that she would die one day, but now I was asked to lend support to the idea that she would know when that event took place. To make matters worse, maman kept asking me what date would be convenient. How do you tell your mother what day you would like her to schedule her own departure? You don’t.

So here we are, five days after the deed. All I can say is this: She went out with a bang, partying until the last minute and leaving life as you would a banquet. This was my mother’s motto:

Je voudrais qu’à cet âge on sortît de la vie ainsi que d’un banquet, remerciant son hôte, et qu’on fît son paquet.    (La Fontaine, Fables, Book 8, Fable 1)

My mother left on her own terms while she was still self-sufficient, mobile, and cognitively sharp. That’s how I remember her. Anything less than that would have devastated her. I respect her decision and admire her will to carry it through. I am also grateful that she lived in a country that enabled her to do so legally.

Dear mom, you chose the path that took you where you wanted to go; others may choose a different route. That’s the beauty of equifinality.

On the Impermanence of Life

This week I am making final preparations for my upcoming solo exhibit in December.

I am also preparing for my mother’s passing. Four months shy of her 99th birthday, her functions showing signs of wear, she has decided to return to being a fleck of dust, as she puts it, after a lifetime of achievements and the uncanny ability to turn adversity into a springboard for emotional and intellectual growth.

The two events are not mutually exclusive. My mother supported my career switch from family therapist to figurative painter, taking an active interest in each canvas produced, offering her interpretation of it and praise that warmed my heart, punctuating her statements with a reminder that I was–and would always be–her “filly.”

My brother and I are planning a memorial service to honor her memory, in which her life will be celebrated rather than her passing mourned.

Two years ago, my mother said to me on the phone: “I get the feeling you think I’m immortal.” To which I replied: “You mean you aren’t?”

That started a conversation on the advantages of being prepared for a loved one’s departure. At first, I resisted the idea. Envisioning the day when my mother would not be at the other end of the line when I called, which was often, disturbed me. Then, one night, as I gazed at the moon, I thought: Maman sees the same moon! That revelation inspired me to write a poem acknowledging my mother’s mortality. I thanked her for being a wonderful mother and gave her permission to go.

That was the first step. For the last two years, my mother and I covered every topic relating to her eventual passing. We spoke candidly of death and its rituals; she reiterated her belief that we are all dust particles, part of a much greater universe than our little planet Earth; and more than once she mentioned that her preferred way to leave would be a fatal fall while hiking in her beloved Alps.

Now here we are, at the intersection of our respective journeys: for her, the end of a physical life; for me, the realization that she will always be with me, particles or no particles.

Dearest mother, rest in peace.