Freak of the Week - Kristen Parker

Hey, Hey, hey!!! The FREAK OF THE WEEK is BACK!  Come see what makes Kristen Parker tick and check back next week for more! super dad - screen print on paper - Kristen Parker 2016

  1. Tell our readers a little about you, and your history, your passion, your work.02.05.16 KP portrait

Hi!! I grew up in the eastern part of Massachusetts. I moved out here to the Berkshires about 8 years ago. Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to stay long, but then I found great friends and had a ton of adventures. I now have an awesome family and couldn’t see myself anywhere else!

I started making art at a young age. My mom is a seamstress/pattern maker and when I was little I would stay up late with her in the studio. cutting holes in fabric, making button covers.. pretty much admiring her skill set.

I studied photography in my early 20’s and completed a two year program at The New England School of Photography. Although I consider photography to have stolen my sole, I have a really hard time staying focused in one medium. When I want to explore new things.  I don’t really let anything hold me back. I haven’t found many mediums I have disliked working with, frustrating.. yes, but I just seem to love it all and feel there is always room for new ideas and processes.


  1. Tell a story, have we met? When? Where? Who introduced us? Oh, maybe you are my niece, well, just give a little history here. People love a setting.

Oh we’ve met!! At a bar.. lol!! I first met you at The Dream Away Lodge. I think I bought one of your skirts (I still have it). We just got to know each other over they years and when I found myself preggos a couple years ago.. you hired me as a hand stitcher.. which for me was great.. because I wasn’t sure how I was going to stay active artistically, since most of my projects at the time weren’t too fit for a pregnant lady. I was very thankful that you took me in and kept my hands and brain busy!

bikes - handprinted photo - Kristen Parker 2013

  1. Imagine a story. It is 2030, what are you up to? What is the world looking like?

OMG! I’ve programmed robots to update my website, track my inventory, update all my paper work on a bi weekly basis! My daughter Pippin is off exploring the underworlds of the earth (whatever that means). I'm home my with husband.. in a home we built ourselves.. with our pigs, cows and goats. My studio is off in the back and I'm still showing art. Along with that, I have an awesome art center I run with my friends offering residencies /workshops / classes whatever our young hearts put our minds to!

  1. If you had the power to make one change in the world what would it be?

I would make everyone stop blowing each other up.

elephants - screenprint - Kristen Parker 2015

  1. What are you most passionate about?

My family, my art and seeing all the world before I die.

  1. How did this passion come to be?

I don’t know. I’ve always been a family kind of gal, I’ve always made art, and I’ve always had travel in my life. I owe that to my parents for exposing me to the idea of seeing the world, and exploring other cultures.

  1. Who/What has been most influential in your work/life?

Again.. lol.. my family. On my mom and dads side, my family is filled with designers, painters, drafters, writers.. And my daughter keeps me moving. I want her to see me as a role model showing her that hard work pays off and she can fulfill any passion she has. The way she sees me means a lot to me and how I work.

free range - handprinted photo - Kristen Parker 2014

  1. Where do you find your inspiration/motivation?

Books mostly. I love books!

  1. Aside from working, how do you spend your time?

I try to walk a lot with my dog and my daughter. (although this cold weather would prove me a liar right about now) I play frisbee golf with my hubby every once in awhile. He’s really good at it so when I play the competitive side comes out for sure. I also love to cook from scratch!

  1. Tell about a life transformation you have experienced.

When I experienced child birth for the first time.

  1. Do you have a prized possession? What is it? How did it come to you?

My moms drafting board. I don’t use it as much as I use too, but she gave it to me years ago, and I’ve just kind of held on to it. She also handed down 2 of her really nice sewing machines to me.

  1. Tell about a magical moment that comes to mind when you look back on your life experience.

When I held my daughter for the first time. I know, so cheesy, but the funny part was I couldn’t stop looking at her.. The nurse brought me a turkey sandwich at like 4 in the morning, and at that point, I asked her if it was ok to put my baby down.. because I really needed to go to sleep. I had this terrifying moment thinking that I wasn’t going to have free hands again for 18 years.. lol. The nurse laughed at me, and put my baby in her bassinet.

  1. If you were able to spend an afternoon with anyone – dead or alive, who would it be? What plans would you make for your outing?

Idk…. Probably Irving Penn, a well known fashion photographer.. I don’t know what I would say to him.. but I would probably want to have coffee with him.. and just pick his brain about life.

  1. What is your favorite place and/or way to spend time?

On a large body of water.. Ocean or Lake. Getting in and out of the water! Maybe body surfing with my sisters..

  1. What is your goal or main focus for your next 12 months?

I'm trying really hard to organize my life as an artist. I’ve put together a website and have been making a lot of new work.. and want to continue with this. I’d like to expose myself to new places to exhibit and sell my work. Im ready to take this side of my life more seriously.

  1. Do you have an upcoming event or significant happening that you would like to promote with your blog posting? When? Where? Details and contact information please.                                                                                      YES!! You can view my new work on my website and at Shire City Sanctuary's BINGO! gallery for the month of February at 40 Melville St. in Pittsfield, MA.  Come to the opening on Friday Feb 5th 5-8pm -  So friggin excited!!!postcard_front

Carri Skoczek - Freak of the Week

Do y’all know about BINGO! Gallery? At Shire City Sanctuary there is a sweet little gallery space with all the professional accouterment to make it real. We call it BINGO! ‘cause it is located in the former bingo hall of this amazing building. Each month we feature a professional artist that ties into what we do in some way. This month, until Halloween, we are very pleased to be showing linocuts and original paintings by Carri Skoczek. She is New York City based and her work is truly, not to be missed. 10.22.15 Mistresses

Learn more about her here and then, if you are local, come take a look at her work in person while we still have it here to show off! She is my Freak of the Week, and if you are a regular around here you know that being Freak of the Week involves answering a list of questions via email.  In Carri's own words, here goes:

A brief history..

10.22.15 Carri portraitBorn in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1956. Many moons ago I’ve been drawing since before I can remember. Took art classes when I was a kid at the Milwaukee Art Museum. And ended up teaching kids classes when I moved back. Studied drawing and printmaking at UV Eau Claire. Helped start a "healthfood" (thats what they were called back then) restaurant there in the mid 70's.  I designed the logo and then became a waitress, baker, and food maker. One of the best jobs I ever had until it went bankrupt. Then I moved to Denver because I had a ride and a place to stay. Dicked around for a while then went back to art school. Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design It was small and fabulous. Moved back to Milwaukee with the intention of moving to Chicago, but found the loft of my dreams..3500 sq. ft 200 bucks a month heat included, top floor, skylights, freight elevator . . . stayed for 13 amazing years, 84 til 96 when I moved to NYC after meeting the most incredible man from New York in New Orleans. . (long story, killer small world connections) and here I am, almost 20 years later. Painter, printer, costume designer and doll maker

10.22.15 Vert PortraitWhat am I passionate about? Art. Making weird hats. Theater. Music. Cooking. Mexico. Egon Scheile. Swimming. Chickens. France. Riding my bike. Good friends. Weird dolls. Shoes. Oysters. That truly magical 2 degrees of separation. My Cuisinart. Our killer art collection. Tomatoes. The Met. Voodoo flags. Reading, real actual books. BAM.

10.22.15 Egon SchieleMagical moments. My life has been so full of them! It’s all magical.

-That moment when I finish a piece and it makes me do the happy dance. -Selling my first painting when I was 12 to one of the judges in the competition. -Getting that killer loft because the owner hollered to me from the street, "did I know anyone who wanted to rent 3500 sq ft heat included for 200 bucks?" -Finding my first studio in NYC from a sign on a lamp post. -Every moment I've ever spent in New Orleans. -Becoming the costume designer for Theater X in Milwaukee with no theater experience. Being hired based on my paintings, -Building costumes in Trinidad for carnival with Peter Minshall's crew. -Riding the rhythm truck with The Laventile Rythm section. -Smearing my body with mud and dancing all night in the streets for Jouvay. -That moment right before dawn when all the rhythm trucks are gone and all you hear is the shuffle of hundreds of tired dancers. -Making dolls on the beach with kids in Jamaica from junk we found after 10.22.15 Bernice Fordthe reggae beach parties. -Trading paint for art with Reggie the Tin Man . -Skinny dipping in Monet’s lily pond in Giverny. -Swimming in the seine. -Winning the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. -Swimming in the Caribbean way out where the water turns from turquoise to violet . . . breathtakingly beautiful. -Having lunch with Willem DaFoe. -Dinner with John Waters. -Getting a thank you card from Harvey Keitel for the mermaid t shirts I painted for him and his wife, and the pirate sock monkey I made their son when they were king and queen of the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. -Nick Cave installations. (the artist) -Bruce Springsteen performing at the first jazz fest after Katrina.10.22.15 snake lady -Eating my gramma's cheesecake. -My first oyster po boy. -The first time I ever had concord grape sorbet. -Learning how to " squeeze the tips and suck the heads" eat crawfish. -Firing a raku pot in the mountains outside of Puerto Vallarta. -Seeing the green flash at sunset on Playa De Los Muertos in Puerto Vallarta. -Letting my students at the Milwaukee Art Museum paint my car. -Cate Blanchette in Street Car Named Desire. -Kevin Spacey in Richard lll. -Actually everything I’ve ever seen at BAM. -Seeing Kazuo Ohno (Butoh performer) perform when he was 90 with his son who was in his 70's at the Japan Society. -Meeting Iris Apfel and giving her the linocut portrait I did of her. -Meeting Gemma Cubero the film maker whose film Ella Es El Matador, inspired my my matadora series. -And meeting you Crispina! Finally live and in the flesh at Artists and Fleas, buying a pair of your undies. Our mutual friend Liz Olney singing my praises and you offering me the show at BINGO!!

I could go on and on, but I'll stop now. What a wild ride its been.

10.22.15 Studio Shot

My goal for the next 12 months? Quit smoking? Practice and improve my Spanish. I’m going back to Mexico October 25. To make art. Bigger and better paintings for my next solo show at Causey Contemporary in 2016. I’m working on a series of female circus performers and sideshow freaks.

10.22.15 Carri HandPrized possession? My eyesight.

If I could spend the afternoon with anyone?? That’s hard. No way I could pick just one. So I guess it's gonna be a party. A picnic. On a river or near a pond, so we can swim. With fabulous food and wine . . with Frida Kahlo, Diego, Egon Scheile, Louise Nevelson, Manet, Lautrec and his dancers from the Moulin Rouge, Hemmingway, and Manolette the bullfighter, Zora Neale Hurston, Maya Deren, Julia Child, Tennessee Williams, The German Expressionists, Puccini. The list is actually endless. . . This would be one hell of a party!

Ok I think this covers it.

Cff:  Yes!  I think it does too. This girl knows how to live and make awesome art. Come see. Tuesdays – Saturdays 11-7pm 40 Melville Street in Pittsfield at Shire City Sanctuary's BINGO! Gallery.

10.22.15 Carri finale

Freak of the Week - Ali Herrmann

 THIS Ali Herrmann  

  1. Tell our readers a little about you, and your history, your passion, your work.

I am and have always been an artist, even when I didn’t always see it to fruition or only worked at it part time or as a hobby. For as long as I can remember, I have always painted, but I have also been known to explore ceramics, jewelry, book arts, drawing, and printmaking. I received my BA from Bennington College in 1998, where I studied fine arts and soon there after, explored NYC for a year. I moved back to the Berkshires after realizing that I was living simply to pay rent and found myself with no time to paint. That was back in 2000. Since then I have found myself gardening, cooking, exercising, exploring, and making art, while learning to build a career around it.

Lily pads

  1. Aside from working, how do you spend your time?

Aside from studio time, I like to jog and go on long walks and hikes. The combination of nature, fresh air, exercise, blue skies, grey skies, and Vitamin D helps clear the mental slate. I often find myself thinking of things and ideas that wouldn’t normally come from working in the studio, so it’s good to get that perspective, like a part of the brain exercising alongside me. I also love to cook and belong to a FB foodie group called Eat Share Eat, where we share our recipes/creations, talk food, and post lots of  tasty delectibles. We just exchanged secret Santa names and have to send a fellow foodie something, so it will be fun to give/receive in this group!

Tools Tools 2

  1. Do you have a prized possession? What is it?

My hands are probably my greatest possession, as they allow me to create and make my art; however my eyes would be a close second. Without my hands I could not create as I know it


  1. What is your goal or main focus for your next 12 months?

Over the next twelve months, I want to explore new areas and ideas within my artwork. One big way I’m going to do this is through a Journal Project I recently created, funded by the Martha Boschen Porter Fund grant, awarded by the Berkshire Taconic Foundation. I have given out about 30-40 journals to interested friends, artists, peers, and anyone who said, ‘I want one!’, and asked everyone to ‘journal’in any fashion or style they choose. It could be writings, lists, doodles, collages, poems, etc, but basically whatever journaling means to each individual. I have a wide range of participants, so it’s going to be exciting what I receive back. I’ve already started getting wonderful, heart warming comments from participants and it’s only just begun! When I receive the journals back, I will then begin to go through them, using the words, notes, sketches, etc to create a new body of work, solely related to/reflective of these journals. It’s still in the exploration phase, but I am very excited to see what I get back from everyone.


  1. Where do you find your inspiration/motivation? Who/What has been most influential in your work?

Nature is my biggest influence, inspiration and motivation. I love looking at colors, patterns, and repetition that nature provides and that motivates me to emulate and create from what I see. The act of creating provides a motivation to continue to make more, and provides the inspiration and ideas to continue to make work. There are always new discoveries to be had in the act of creating.


  1. What is your current passion?

My current passion is painting. I use oils, acrylics, watercolors, inks and encaustics…and have even been known to use nail polish on vellum as a paint medium.


  1. How did your passion come to be?

When I was in fifth grade at Cheshire Elementary School, I was in a program called PAT, Program for the Academically Talented. This was a time when, during 3rd period, a group of students would be excused from class (but expected to make up the work) in order to pursue extracurriculars like art, creative writing and computer science. It was there that I studied oil painting and have been in love with painting ever since. And yes, I know….

art = extracurricular? {Harrumph}


  1. Tell about a magical moment that comes to mind when you look back on your life experience. Tell about a transforming memory?

When I was a senior at Bennington, I had been working on this oil painting for my thesis exhibition. It was a painting of blue jeans, repeated on a grid format. Each square had a pair of pants in it, painted a specific color, while the background was also a separate, solid color.            The painting went from looking very checkerboard-like to very quilted, and continued to flip flop in this fashion. I struggled to finish the painting and felt very much like I was ‘painting the painting’, which at the time meant that I was simply laying color down, like a color by number piece. No matter what changes or improvements I thought I made, I felt like I was simply going through the motions, that I was struggling, forcing if you will, this painting into trying to be done and complete. But every time I looked at it and revisited it, it was just so unsettled and unresolved. I let it hang in my studio as my crucifix to bear, so that I could study it and be reminded that I needed to find a way to finish it. It was gruesome. I ended up taking it off the wall and propped it face first in the corner of my studio, so that I didn’t have to look at it and be reminded. I had other work to do! One late night in the printmaking studio, while working on a series of prints using similar ‘pants’imagery, I had that magical moment, an epiphany of how to finish that painting! It was through making prints that I finally understood what this painting was all about, what it needed to be. So I mad dashed upstairs to my paint studio and in about ten minutes, mixed up paint colors and finished the painting. The next morning, coming back to the studio was pure excitement! The smell of soppy wet oil paint was in the air and my painting hung there, smiling at me. One of my fellow peers came over and said, ‘it looks great!, so where’s the other one? You should hang them both together, side by side!’I said, ‘that’s it…that’s the one.’Of course then the conversation bantered a bit with, ‘no the OTHER one,’until seeing the horror in their eyes, it had finally sunk in that I had so drastically transformed new life into this painting and wasn’t looking back. I smiled along with the piece, knowing I had done it.


  1. If you had the power to make one change in the world what would it be?

I wish I could wave a magic wand and put an end to Monsanto and all the evil, sickness and destruction it is causing and spreading in the world.

REd Flowers

10. Imagine a story. It is 2030 and we have brought the environment into balance. How did we do it?

So you mean after the big apocalyptic global climate shift we just nearly survived? First we would have to admit we were part of the problem. Then we’d have to learn our lesson, forgive ourselves and move on to change our ways. I’d like to think that we stopped hydrofracking for natural gas, banned Monsanto from ruining the food, water and land, found a way to eliminate fossil fuels out of our lives, minimized our plastic production, cleaned up the air pollution in China, and forced companies to take/buy back the waste that is generated in whatever they produce, you know, recycle? I could go on, but don’t want to be that negative or pessimistic here; however, that would be a really great start. Guess I should wave that wand again.

Close up Earrings

11. Tell a story, have we met? When? Where? Who introduced us? Oh, maybe you are my niece, well, just give a little history here. People love a sett.

 It won’t be long, but here it goes. I applied to the Holiday Shindy 2014 and got in! Hooray! So a few days before I went to pick up my packet of postcards, Crispina had emailed me and said, I have a really funny story to tell you. When I got there and introduced myself, Crispina explained that she thought that I was her friend, Ali Herrmann. And then I smiled and it dawned on me!: she thought I was the OTHER Ali Herrmann. So yes, there are two of us in Berkshire County. We haven’t ever met. And I’ve tried Googling her, but all I find is that I’m stalking myself. So perhaps if the other Ali Herrmann is reading this, she will stop at the Shindy and say hi!

12.  Do you have an upcoming event or significant happening that you would like to promote with your blog posting? When? Where? Details and contact information please.

HOLIDAY SHINDY:Holiday Shindy 2014 Postcard

Shire City Sanctuary

40 Melville Street

Pittsfield, MA 01201

Preview Party: Friday Dec 12, 5-8pm

Saturday Dec 13, 10-5pm

Sunday Dec 14, 10-3pm

and preview some of my work here too:

Freak of the Week - Kyla Ryman

Kyla Ryman of Home Grown Books

Every week I feature a friend, family member or acquaintance doing remarkable work for human betterment that somehow ties to our weekly theme.  This week we are looking at children's books.  I have two notable friends doing work that needs mention with Children's books.  You might have read about James Owens and The World is Just a Book Away, earlier this week.  Now, let me introduce you to  Kyla Ryman.  She has brought some well researched, artistic, forward thinking kids' books to market with her business partner Jessica.  Read on and learn a bit more about Kyla and her company Home Grown Books.

1.  Tell our readers a little about you, and your history, your passion, your work.

That’s a big question. I guess that if I boiled down my focus, it would be to rethink what learning and education can be for kids. I went to an alternative high school in NYC, studied at Bank Street College of Education, and taught for many years in progressive schools as a reading specialist. Then I attended an Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO) conference about 5 years ago, and it blew my mind. I had to spread the word that the world of education can play out in so many different ways. I’ve started a company that works with artists to make engaging books for kids who are learning to read. I am really into promoting a more organic style of education. I liken it to the slow food movement- diversifying choices and starting with basics. Play is such an important part of learning, as is pulling back and thinking about what the kids need and supporting and scaffolding their learning in natural ways.


  1. Tell a story, have we met? When?  Where?  Who introduced us? Oh, maybe you are my niece, well, just give a little history here.  People love a setting.

I am friends with your cousin, Blaise, from my teenage years! I think we met at some parties- you were part of that interesting, artistic family related to Blaise that had wild names. I  also always salivate about the Dolphin Studio calendars. More recently you and I connected when I was trying to figure out how to make some plush cats modeled from one of my books. I finally found a place in Cochabamba, Bolivia that is a fair trade women’s collective to make them- they are great.

Cats made in in Cochabamba, Bolivia at a fair trade women’s collective


  1. Imagine a story.  It is 2030 and we have brought the environment into balance.  How did we do it?

We took back our power from the biggest players, started living more locally and cleaning up our mess. We valued beauty, nature and community over profits, and we support each other, so that we are free to make choices that are not out of fear. That’s how we did it. This Sunday, I hope everyone is showing up for the climate march in NYC!!!


  1. If you had the power to make one change in the world what would it be?

Everyone needs to stop blaming each other for the past and move on to figure out how we can make things work for the future- really we need to end violence of all kinds!!!!


5.  What is your current passion?

Having big conversations about what we really need to think about in education. What kind of adults do we need in the world? Can we get them by pushing curriculum down to younger and younger kids?  Does a business model work in schools? Are we creating a product or are we raising people? I think there is a deeper level of learning and thoughtfulness when children are studying something that they are interested in and feel in control of their learning. It’s emotionally healthier, and you must have a greater sense of community for all of that. The community is key. We also have all of these divisions- separating children from the world, separating aging people, people with physical and mental issues.  Everything is so polarized right now. Then we get scared and don’t learn from each other because we never see each other. The whole system is out of balance and wacky.

  1. How did your passion come to be?

Being a teacher in very different settings and being a parent to two very different children transformed my ideas around schools and learning and the possibilities of what could be.


  1. Who/What has been most influential in your work?

I learned a lot about supporting kids organically from Bank Street, but AERO allowed me to pull back and look at the bigger picture, like structures around power and kids and education. That organization is doing great work promoting the thinking of John Holt, John Taylor Gatto, Zoe Weil, Grace Llewelyn, Wendy Priesnitz and so many more!

Some Home Grown Books

8.  Where do you find your inspiration/motivation?

 Man, kids are so present. When they are in a supportive environment,  without an arbitrary curriculum being shoved down their throats, they are so happy and joyful. That gives me hope.

9.  Aside from working, how do you spend your time?

I bike, I read, I hang out with friends, dance and I enjoy being around art.  I enjoy cocktail hour too. Sometimes all at the same time.

Grover Book10. Tell about a transforming memory.

 I remember when I learned to read. I loved this silly book: “The Monster at the End of this Book: Starring Lovable, Furry, Old Grover” and I remember my dad used to read it to me in a very funny and dramatic way. So, I decided I wanted to learn to read it. I practiced reading that one book over and over until I made no mistakes. I also had a fourth grade teacher who did a quiet reading time everyday- the first teacher who did that- and I really started to become a serious reader, then. After I read a book over a 100 pages, I realized I was a reader for the first time. I started reading at night before going to sleep, and I haven’t stopped since.

Night Sky

Freaks of the Week ~ John and Primm ffrench

John and Primm ffrench c. 2009 Linnane's, New Quay, Co Clare This week my theme is Teachers/School/Mentors so my freak of the week will actually be FREAKS of the Week and will feature my parents, who were teachers. They are both gone now. So I will improvise, sharing some fun with a little history in their memory.

John and Primm ffrench were The Art Teachers at the local regional high school, and I was The Art Teachers’ daughter for the first 18 years of life.

My mother started teaching in 1950 at the age of 20 in Virginia, where she grew up. She taught in all black schools and worked hard to keep things comfortable for her students and co-workers. There was a story of her bringing in her own chair so at lunchtime when everyone sat on benches that lined the hallways she could sit down without making everyone else stand-up. She loved her job and kept in touch with some of her first year students her whole life. Every Christmas she made (and we still make) Gingerbread Men from a recipe from someone named Dickie Vass, who was in that school her first year.

My dad began teaching after marrying my mother. They lived in Ireland where my father was raised, and my sisters and I were born. My family moved to Stockbridge MA when my older sister, Felicitas, was ready to start school. Irish schools were not known for their kudos at the time and there was a brand new regional high school looking for two art teachers. This shift began my fathers teaching career. His focus was Ceramics but also taught Creative Wood Shop, Introduction to Art, and Batik. So together they taught multiple generations of Berkshire County residents leaving a long legacy of students who went on to professions in the visual arts.

My parents were my high school art teachers.

At each of their funerals, we were hugged, for literally hours, by people from every walk of life who came to pay homage to their favorite teachers. To this day we continue to be reminded of what a difference they made in so many lives.

They encouraged, believed in, nurtured, and loved their students and kids alike. Primm and John were well-traveled, active artists in many media, and conjured up creative lives balancing adventure and stability.

If my mother could have had lunch with anyone, she might have chosen Paul Newman, or maybe Bill Clinton. She just loved Paul Newman for his acting, charitable giving, and good looks. Bill Clinton and Primm both had childhood homes in the south and worked toward racial equality. She called them both (and other foxy gentlemen) ‘Muums Filly Baba!’. Not sure from what language that phrase originates but it means something like ‘Wowsers That is One Beautiful Piece on Man!”

My father was a bit more of an activist. He would have had a really hard time choosing one person for lunch. The short list of possibilities might have included Nelson Mandela, Mohatma Ghandi, Hugo Chavez, Frida Khalo, Isadora Duncan, Alexander Calder, and Angela Davis. He would have loved to have shared tea in a Moroccan tea room with all of them.

My parents were proponents for racial justice, gender and class equality, and artist recognition. My mother was my father’s boss which I never realized was unusual until I was an adult. They were fair, honest, hard working, and creative. They were happily married for nearly 50 years and lived in the house where we were raised til they died.

My dad is the person who actually gave me the idea to create using shrunk wool sweaters for raw material back in 1987.

I was raised by geniuses.   Blessed, for real.

Today, in addition to our regular jobs, my sister, Sofia Hughes and I run The Dolphin Studio, a hand silkscreen printing business that our parents founded in 1971.


Freak of the Week – Victor Powell

I love it here on Cape Cod and have been visiting this magical place I was eleven. Even with that history, there seems so much unexplored about The Cape. In summer it is all gussied up and super fun to dive into. Winter brings quiet and Cape Cod becomes beautifully desolate. The further out the more palpable the loneliness.  Emptiness oozes and things feel sort of out of control,   .    .    . mixed with cozy. The tourists leave, sea thrashes, winds howl, and the skeleton crew hunkers down. 07.25.14 Victor Powell 6It occurs to me each visit, how fragile the Cape Cod landscape is and how many many people demand their vacation existence from it. Thousands of tourists flood the highway all day all summer long. Beach parking lots are filled with long waiting lines. The grocery stores are mazes of mostly unfamiliar shoppers getting stock for their week on the beach, the dumps are overflowing and now a lot of Cape Cod’s well water is not potable. As I strive toward Net Zero Living, my carbon footprint is never far from my mind. The fragile yet ancient lands we are frolicking upon cannot manage our waste. Broken beach toys, shoddily made sand chairs, discarded after a single season, deflated floaties, single flipflops, candy wrappers, bottle tops, picnic garbage, all of it – everywhere, constant reminders that our culture is accustomed to short-term-use products. Things that break and are thrown ‘away’ are the norm.

07.25.14 Victor Powell 7

Yesterday, Ben and I enjoyed an evening out on the town, including dinner at Local 186.   We had the good fortune of time to stroll from one end of Commercial Street in Provincetown, to the other. On our adventure we found a dingy, crooked sign inside a dirty plate glass window of a rowdy bar with a faded newspaper article about the man who made my father a pair of sandals 35 or 40 years ago. Could it be? I have actually searched around for this guy online to no avail – and there it was, down the alley and up a flight of weathered outdoor stairs, Victor Powell Workshop – Open 10-5. Closed Tuesdays.


Just a snippet of a truly memorable evening spent with my son.


Today I went back. I ordered a pair of handmade leather sandals from the last surviving sandal cobbler in Ptown. They cost a lot and could take 6 weeks to get on my feet yet I am so excited! Probably the last pair of sandals I will ever need to buy. Saving the planet from a whole bushel of wasted flip-flops and worn out plastic shoes while supporting traditional crafts, and learning from an amazingly accomplished maker. What could be better? I just wish I could take over his business when he’s ready to retire.

07.25.14 Victor Powell 2

So this week’s Freak of the Week is not actually the typical cyber interview but more of an observation of a Freak from arm’s length. Hope you like it.


Victor Powell and his lady, Ardis, are year ‘round residents of Provincetown, on the very tip of the Cape Cod peninsula of Massachusetts. They have been working from their second floor home/studio down the alley and 'round back, right next to The Lobster Pot on Commercial Street. They are likely both in their seventies, based on their stories, but to look at them they seem much younger; Fit and hip and very active. They have a pretty great website explaining their process and options available which was actually really surprising to me.

07.25.14 Victor Powell 5

Walking into their tidy ocean view workshop (atop a pretty rickety flight of stairs, across a flat roof, and passed a window box full of the tiniest lawn you have ever seen) landed me in a world of sandal magic. Every detail of interior matched the surreal vibe of the street below on a different, quieter but equally as captivating level. We arrived right at closing time having spent the afternoon visiting an old dear and captivating in her own right, friend, Alice Brock. She had called ahead to let Victor know we were coming – they are neighbors and friends.07.25.14 Victor Powell 4


Just beyond the counter displaying all the different style sandal options, is a large and well worn work table with tools neatly in their places at arm’s reach. There is a relic industrial sewing machine, used for sail repair and a lovely display of all sorts of beautifully hand sewn leather bags from dainty purses to super sturdy brief cases. Belts are also hand made on the premises and are sized to order. They run $50-$165. The more expensive ones are beautifully riveted in a wide wavy pattern of brass dots.  Victor told me this is a traditional Provincetown look.  AhMaZinG~

07.25.14 Victor Powell 3

I knew right away that I wanted sandals in the style he was wearing. He grabbed a large sheet of thick paper and dropped to his knees, pencil in hand, and carefully traced both of my feet in a quick minute. It was not a simple outline but included annotations for my arch, and bone structure. He uses the drawings for shaping the footbed and strap placement. My feet feel comfortable just thinking about my new shoes!


He said they would be ready to ship in 4-6 weeks and I just can’t wait!!

07.25.14 Victor Powell 1

You can learn all sorts of details about Victor’s process on his website.  If you find yourself in Provincetown, I encourage you to look Victor and Ardis up. If you are not in Provincetown and would like a super wonderful pair of sandals that will last you many years, you can order them online from his site. There are detailed instructions there explaining how to place your order.

Freak of the Week ~ Jeremy Stanton

It is not possible to have a theme involving outdoor dining and not include Jeremy Stanton.  You can find him at The Meat Market in Great Barrington where he set up shop a few years back as the first artisanal butcher I ever heard of.  He's a trend setter and travels far and wide with his amazing catering business, Fire Roasted.  Check him out here and make sure to experience his gifts in person.  Well worth a day trip, and a must if you are a carnivore in The Berkshires! Jeremy Working a Mid-Summer Fire Roasted Catering Party

Cff:  Tell our readers a little about you, and your history, your passion, your work.

JS:  I was raised in a community for handicap children, just out side Philadelphia PA. I spent part of every summer with my grandma in Copake NY, we would cook and preserve foods, an activity that I loved. Those moments were hugely inspirational. She died about 20 years ago just after I graduated from the Culinary Institute of America.

I am passionate about cooking with FIRE and supporting local agriculture: buying food from local farms is a good way to support local agriculture, maintain the agrarian landscape, and preserve traditional food practices. I am the owner of 2 food businesses; The Meat Market, which is a local meat butchery and café, and Fire Roasted, a catering company which focuses on local and seasonal foods cooked at the event’s site- over open fire.

Cff:  Tell a story, have we met? When? Where? Who introduced us? Oh, maybe you are my niece, well, just give a little history here. People love a setting.

JS:  We met at your old studio in Housatonic many years ago, I have no idea who introduced us, or why I was there. I do remember being very impressed with the concept of your business. Reusing, in a creative and beautiful way, to create functional art.

Cff:  Imagine a story. It is 2030 and we have brought the environment into balance. How did we do it?

JS:  In addition to other’s amazing innovations was the success of my campaign to bring people’s awareness to themselves and their own actions. A key component to my message states that telling other people what they should do is not cool! The key is that we are all responsible, and acting with integrity is the only way to live an authentic life

The Annual Sausage Fest Held at The Meat Market on Rt 7 in Great Barrington


Cff:  If you had the power to make one change in the world what would it be?07.17.14 Dead Animals

JS:  I would make every person believe that ALL creatures including humans are equal and deserve respect, and the opportunity to be healthy and safe. It may sound strange coming from a person with a butcher shop- but I believe in the natural order of things, the predator/prey relationship between species. BUT I have a huge problem with non-humans being treated as if their only purpose is to feed us. Animals we eat should have led a life including their natural behaviors (open land, grazing, raising young in a clean environment in which they can freely move.) In addition, I would also force self-love on all beings- the knowledge that we are perfect just the way we are, that is the place that healthy aspiration and personal evolution arises from.

Cff:  What is your current passion?

JS:  My current passion is freedom, allowing every one the chance to live the life they want, free from fear and the binding constraints that stop them from doing what they want. And cooking with FIRE!

Cff:  How did your passion come to be?

JS:  In the beginning I had a pasta business that was celebrated as a local company. I always felt a little hypocritical, so when I had the opportunity to study local Grass based meat and value added meat production I took it. The New England Heritage Breeds Conservancy had an abattoir in north central Ct. and I was offered a position there, it was a great learning experience. I learned that meat is a crop we can sustainably and humanely grow in the northeast well, and a great way to support local economy and agriculture is buy local meat, thus a passion was born!


Sausage Case at The Meat Market - Rt 7 Great Barrington MA

Cff:  Who/What has been most influential in your work?

JS:  There are many many people who have influenced me through the beginning of my career. Through relationships with many farmers and passionate teachers (writers, artisanal food producers, passionate food consumers like my wife) it became clear to me that the solution to the abomination of factory farming , is more local farming.


Cff:  Where do you find your inspiration/motivation?

JS:  1) Standing in a field of ready to harvest food 2) at an event site where I get the opportunity to visualize a meal served to the guests 3) when I find a cooking technique rooted in history that I can adapt to today.

07.17.14 Piggie

Cff:  Aside from working, how do you spend your time

JS:  I love to tinker with projects at the beautiful home I share with my wife Emily and our kids. Most recently I refined our outdoor shower. In addition I recently took up unicycling and spear fishing!


Cff:  Tell about a transforming memory?

JS:  I got married to Emily in 2008 my marriage has transformed me. Being married has given me the opportunity to work toward being the complete person I strive to be. Facing challenges with a partner that I would otherwise have left unfaced.


Cff:  Do you have a prized possession? What is it?

JS:  My 1980 Jeep CJ5, I bought it 10 years ago from VA. My eldest son Kyle and I flew down to pick it up and drive back to the Berkshires. In addition to being a very fun vehicle to play in, that trip was really fantastic.


Cff:  Tell about a magical moment that comes to mind when you look back on your life experience.

JS:  I believe that we are where we are meant to be, that the universe provides and that people are all connected. Having that belief makes magical moments all the time. 16 years ago my son Kyle was born at 26 weeks gestation he was 1 pound 14 oz. An event that challenged my belief in the infinite power of the universe, and as each day passed and we faced each potential hurdle my faith was restored. I am glad to say that this story has a happy outcome and Kyle is a strong young man.


Cff:  If you were able to spend an afternoon with anyone – dead or alive, who would it be? What plans would you make for your outing?

JS:  I would spent the afternoon with my grandfather, because I never had the chance to meet him. I would air out the garage and spend some time working on my classic car. We would give the old girl a tune up and stop after a while and have an iced coffee. I would love to know about his life, everything that he had done and not done. We would take the top on the car down and go for a sun filled drive through the Berkshire Hills. Our destination would be Ashintully Gardens we would drive up to the ruins and sit next to the pillars watching the sun set over Tyringham Cobble.

07.17.14 JSliced Sausage

Cff:  What is your favorite place and/or way to spend time?

JS:  I love the beach, the wind, the smell of the ocean in the wind, the sun. When I make it to the beach I feel at peace with the world. The power of the mighty ocean reminds me of how temporary life is and that we are only here for a glorious moment so we had better get all that we can out of it.


Surf Casting

Cff:  What is your goal or main focus for your next 12 months?

JS:  On the cusp of our three-year anniversary at The Meat Market I am excited about being able to fine-tune my business over the next 12 months. The first year of business consists of a fair amount of thrashing around wildly, year two brings some clarity and systemization, and year three, if you can hang in there, is when it gets fun.

07.17.14 Fried Chicken

Cff:  Do you have an upcoming event or significant happening that you would like to promote with your blog posting? When? Where? Details and contact information please.

I would like to ask people to come to The Meat Market for Fried Chicken on Thursdays, Asado on Friday Saturday and Sunday or just stop by for lunch

Sign up for our mailing list at join us for one of our special events!07.17.14 Skewers

Freak of the Week ~ Alan Hayes

Some of you may know that my husband and I bought a former Roman Catholic cathedral in Pittsfield, Ma and have been renovating it for over 8 years. (Come see our fledgling site at Our current push is to complete our commercial kitchen where we plan to accommodate artisanal food producers, including Hayes Home Roast.images 07.02.14 Alan Hayes Portrait

Each week - usually on Wednesdays, we feature a FREAK who speaks to our theme. This week's theme is Coffee and Alan Hayes is worthy of our Freak of the Week title - and he is a Coffee Roaster, proprietor of Hayes Home Roast.

1. Tell our readers about you, My most recent worldly manifestation is as a coffee roaster and coffee entrepreneur. This a development of my experience roasting my own coffee, for my own use, for the last 13 or 14 years.  Stop on over and get a one-time-only free sample of our coffee of the week!

But I am most seriously a photographer. My photography, which I pursue for its own sake, in significant ways fairly aimlessly, is the best expression I have in the world, my deepest exploration, the deepest impression I make on the world. I began taking pictures seriously about fifteen years ago.This is a link to a representative sample of some of my photographic work:

Prior to that I had various careers in craft of different sorts, from carpentry and woodworking, to graphic design, to most recently, a foray into acoustic metal sculpture:

None of this activity has ended up particularly associated with getting money, which is why I’ve started putting together a extremely small scale coffee roasting business. This is a manifestation of craft, though at the heart of it is a process analogous to making popcorn. What I am finding is that it is a very good way of being in the world, interacting with people, and making sufficient money to pursue my deep heart pursuits. I feel extremely fortunate to have found a money gig that is so profoundly satisfying on so many levels. Coffee is something that a lot of people really like, and I am in a position to provide them with a kind and quality of coffee that not all that many people have ever experienced. It’s very nice to be able to so simply give so many people such a basic pleasure.

07.02.14 Alan Hayes 32. Have we met? When? Where? Who introduced us? I first met you at one of your holiday open houses, where I  became aware of your remarkable work and purchased a blanket, which is one of my prized possessions to this day. Then some years later we became facebook friends, partly I think because I was always ready to encourage you to keep your girls home from school, the way my mother did me. Then when we met up again, we knew each other a bit. One of the great things about the internet is that it provides a means of finding the other nuts like yourself!

3. If you had the power to make one change in the world what would it be? I would arrange it so that everything for which it was feasible would be kept in Ball jars. I understand that this would probably make very little difference in the world, but that doesn’t keep me from thinking it should be done.

4. What are you passionate about and why? I am passionate about art, my own, and others. I am deeply concerned with social justice, in the simplest sense of treating all people equally. I am very committed to doing whatever I do, photograph, sculpture, book design or coffee, at a high level of accomplishment.

07.02.14 Alan Hayes 25. Who/What has been most influential in your work? My former wife, Rosemary Starace was extremely important in my development as an artist.  My identity as an artist is the most important thing in the world to me.

07.02.14 Alan Hayes 46. Where do you find your inspiration/motivation? Don’t know the answer to this one. I guess I would say I spend a fairly large amount of time moping, and then it just comes. A lot of stuff originates for me at a totally preverbal level, as body feelings, and vague sensations of motion, and a feeling of being in space.

7. Aside from working, how do you spend your time? Work has always been pretty central for me. I tend to be happiest when I have some work to do. Outside of working I spend a fair amount of time just thinking, and being with a few friends. Never got the whole vacation/entertainment thing particularly. I like to cook, though I cook simply, to eat; and read voluminously. And then there is the internet!

8. Tell about a transforming memory or magical moment that proved life-changing. This is going to be a weird one! But you did ask! I once had a dream which featured an aquarium. The aquarium was fairly large, filled with water, colored gravel, the whole bit. Floating somewhat beneath the surface of the water was an old style half gallon ice cream carton, which was leaking small magenta/pink plastic nuns from one corner. That’s basically all of the dream that I remember. It convinced me of the utter meaninglessness of dreams, while at the same time becoming a lifelong obsession. I’ve considered various way of actualizing it. Carving nuns out of styrene (they were definitely styrene!), getting them injection molded, sending to China and getting a container load made, finding out where the local moldmakers drink their beer and making friends, but part of me just wants to leave the whole business in the unactualized realm…

07.02.14 Alan Hayes 59. Do you have a prized possession? What is it? Well, there’s my Crispina blanket! Tools are very important to me. I have a few that I have had most of my life, and even some that came to me from my parents. I have reached a point in life where I’ve become the keeper of heirlooms. It’s more the meaning and associations of things than the things themselves, though the things can hold the magic.

10. If you were able to spend an afternoon with any one person – dead or alive, who would it be? Why and what would you plan for your time together? I always have trouble with this sort of question, but what came to mind is that I would like to have been able to spend some time with the photographer Milton Rogovin, just talking, showing each other pictures.

11. What is your favorite place and/or way to spend time? I like to be making things or working on photographic or graphic projects, things I can lose myself in. These days a lot of this is just sitting in front of a computer, of course.

07.02.14 Alan Hayes 712. What is your goal or main focus for your next 12 months? Getting my new business, Hayes Home Roast to the point where it is supporting me and letting me have sufficient time for my artistic pursuits.

13. Do you have an upcoming event or significant happening that you would like to promote with your blog posting? When? Where? Details and contact information please. The biggest thing I have coming is the official roll out of my coffee roasting business. This has been awaiting the securing of a proper commercial space to do the roasting, which looks, finally, to be imminent. Please take a look at my new website,

Freak of the Week - Elizabeth Keen ~ Indian Line Farm

index_10Let me preface this week’s column with a disclaimer.  Elizabeth Keen is a farmer who I have known from a distance as we both circle through our community – smiling as we pass. This is her BUSY time.  She didn’t have time to sit and answer questions but generously set aside time for a lovely phone conversation covering the typical list of Freak of the Week questions and more.  This week’s column combines information gathered from our discussion and Indian Line Farm’s promotional material. IndianLineFarm_1975What is Community Supported Agriculture? CSA brings together community members and farmers in a relationship of mutual support based on an annual commitment to one another. At Indian Line Farm, members purchase a "share" of the anticipated harvest and make payment in advance at an agreed upon price. In exchange, the farmers plant, cultivate, harvest, wash and provide a bountiful selection of vegetables, fruit, flowers and herbs. In short, the farmer and members become partners in the production, distribution and consumption of locally grown food.

Indian Line Farm was one of the first CSA farms in the United States when Robyn Van En, Jan Vander Tuin and a group of local community members started it in 1985. Currently, there are over 1,700 CSA farms feeding hundreds of thousands of people throughout North America.

Indian Line Farm is a 17-acre farm located in South Egremont, Massachusetts. Farmers Elizabeth Keen and Al Thorp have been growing at Indian Line Farm since 1997. In 1999 they formally purchased the farm using a unique partnership model with the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires and The Nature Conservancy. Now they operate the farm with the help of dedicated employees and apprentices.

IndianLine_1494Our conversation went something like this:

Cff:  Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.

EK: I love to be outside I love to make things beautiful and to be physically active.  I love to exercise, and I am somewhat of an introvert even though I get tons of energy from being with others.

Cff:  If you could make one change in the world, what would it be?

EK:  I would make it easier to come to consensus, easier to break down the barriers of communication. Even people who think they understand each other sometimes don’t.  I see this issue with people who care about each other and who all want the same thing arguing across a barrier of misunderstanding.

Cff:  Who has been most influential in your work?

EK:  Well there is not just one individual but a whole slew of farmers- Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training has continued to be an amazing resource to me and Al.  They answer questions, and provide support.  We would have felt very alone without them.  They have helped, encouraged and have been willing to share all along the way.  This reminds me of how generous people have been with me and encourages me to be generous with my knowledge too.

Cff:  Where do you find inspiration?

EK:  I am very inspired by customers and members, those who make a commitment to our farm.  Their commitment is sometimes overwhelming. It makes me want to keep going.  I have also found inspiration in our weekly email.  It provides a stage for creative writing, reflective writing, and observations to flow. I am inspired by my ability to write and reflect and get feedback on that writing from the people who come to the farm.

IndianLineFarm_2963Cff:  Aside from working how do you like to spend your time?

EK:  Well, I if given the opportunity, I love to curl up with a good novel.  That doesn’t happen often this time of year.  I LOVE Crossfit!  4 months out of the year I can’t do it and I feel a little off.  The rest of the year I just love it!  I love to be active with my kids, to ski, hike, and teach the love of being outdoors.  (kids are Helen 7 Colin10)  Oh and I love needle felting, knitting, and really wish I had all the time in the world!

IndianLineFarm_2907Cff:  Tell about a transforming memory or magical moment that proved life-changing.

EK:  2 things

1. I lived and worked in Guatemala for four years before coming to farming.  There I traveled with a group of refugees from Mexico going back to Guatemala.  The energy and momentum was life changing.  To be surrounded by a group of people who had nothing, who worked so hard to go back to the homes they had to flee from taught me what is right and what we actually need in our lives and what we do for a our family.  Definitely life-changing.

2.  Sarah Hudson, is a woman who was on a delegation with me in Guatemala who happened to be from Tyringham.   I came to visit her after returning to this country and told her I wanted to work on a farm.   Sarah took me to Mahaiwe Harvest where David ingalls was a little grumpy but answered my questions. Later I realized I had interrupted his work time.  The sun was setting while the moon was rising behind me.  It was magical.  I met Al that day.  We didn’t speak but passed.  That whole meeting changed my life.

IndianLineFarm_2302Cff:  What is your favorite place and/or way to spend time?

EK:  My favorite place is Culebra Puerto Rico.  We go every year and camp on the beach.  It is the most relaxed I am all year.

Cff:  If you were able to spend an afternoon with any one person – dead or alive, who would it be?  Why and what would you plan for your time together?

EK:  Well I had a guest Professor of Peace Studies he was from Notre Dame – I went to Colorado College. He had a huge influence in the two weeks I learned from him. He was the first person who encouraged me to look at peace and justice work, as work.  I once heard him speak on NPR on Mt Holyoke Education Minute! He really had a significant impact in my life and I have not been in touch with him for 25 years.

indian_line-370Cff: What is your goal or main focus for your next 12 months?

EK: We are limited by land space and cannot do any major expansion – 5 acres of vegetables, a mix of CSA and Farmers Market produce. A big change this year is that we lost a long time employee (8yrs) and hired 3 newbies. While the learning curve is underway – and time consuming the change makes me realize we need to be more systematic. Post signs and directives in accessible locations throughout the farm - in the green house, at the wash station. . . We need to be better set up, more organized and articulate. The systemizing is underway and really helpful for all of us. Indian Line Farm Logo

Cff: Thank you Elizabeth for the peek inside your way. Thanks too for the education on how your CSA works and for sticking with it as you have to feed and inspire a whole new generation of farmers and healthy eaters.

Freak of the Week ~ Lorne Holden

Each week I feature a friend or acquaintance whose work/life either sets, or works well with, my blog theme of the week.  A month or so ago my friend Laurie and her awesome seven year old son came over for Sunday breakfast, a weekly time of sharing with friends in our house.  She told me about the success she had found developing a system to accomplish things in 10 minutes a day and then authoring a book teaching her system.  I had no idea!  For me, Time Management is a challenge much bigger than this week's blog theme so I am especially excited to introduce you to Lorne Holden.  Lorne, is my friend Laurie's, pen name used to author her best selling time management book Make It Happen in 10 Minutes a Day.   She is embarking on an online coaching class beginning June 16, in which I am very excited to participate. Once you read this post you might just be interested too!  So here goes, Readers, this is Lorne.

Tell our readers about you...

06.05.14 Laurie McLeod portraitI am a Dancemaker, Painter, Moviemaker, Writer and Single Mom. Berkshire County friends will know me by my real name, Laurie McLeod, though professionally now I go by my pen name, Lorne Holden. And I should say that something special about my life is that I've lived a good chunk of it around the corner from The Dolphin Studio, home of the famed ffrench clan!

I have a great love of the ridiculous and think the world would be a better place if we all did something ridiculous every day. I spent many years working devotedly in modern dance and choreography (which I finally realized is pretty ridiculous.) Six years of those years I spent living abroad in England and France. Then I returned to the States and worked in New England and New York City.

06.05.14 Laurie McCloud D. Dance on CameraIn 2000, I had an intense spiritual/life crisis, wondering if I could continue working in dance. I thought I was cracking up but I was really cracking open, and when I emerged I realized I needed a broader canvas of expression. I stopped thinking of myself as a Dancer and moved into considering myself as an Artist. It was an important, liberating moment.

Then, I had a bolt of inspiration: I saw an image of a bride trying to escape her wedding by diving into a swimming pool. Five months later I was in a wedding dress in a pool with a small crew. We had no idea what we were doing but the result, as short film called “Yes, She Said” ended up being one of the great hits of my career.

06.05.14 Laurie McCloud WatertowerI created a series of works under the name “The Waterhaven Project” wherein my underwater films were projected onto, into, around or through water or in places where water was a subject of the environment. My last big art project was the highest beauty I have ever created: my underwater film “Luo Yong's Dream” was projected onto a water tower in Lower Manhattan as part of the High Line Festival. It was the best experience of my creative career.

When I became a Mother in 2007, my big art projects went out the window. No time! But something else emerged – a new understanding of incremental change which eventually grew into my book “MAKE IT HAPPEN in Ten Minutes a Day/The Simple, Lifesaving Method for Getting Things Done.”

06.05.14 Laurie McCloud Book CoverWhat are you passionate about? .

Well, for starters I'm wild about that question. Thanks for asking it! My son is the great passion of my life. My love for him is the axis around which my whole world turns. The great spiritual relationship in my life is the one I have with my imagination - making art is the way I go to church. I find that everything I need to know about the universe is right there in the creative process.

My current passion is creating LifeBloom- an online coaching course based on the success of “MAKE IT HAPPEN in Ten Minutes a Day.” I have an overactive imagination and live in a kind of parallel world when working on a project. I'm in that world now about creating LifeBloom.

So you went from the performing arts to the visual arts to writing to....coaching?

It's all been a natural unfolding. I go wherever my imagination directs me. I've always been grateful for my imagination – it's so wild I don't even take credit for the ideas that appear. I just feel lucky to have what seems to be an excellent satellite dish on the top of my head which catches the ideas that are flying around the universe. And I feel a sense of moral responsibility to those ideas. I figure, if I'm lucky enough to catch them, I should act on them.

Imagine a story. It is 2030 and we have brought the environment into balance. How did we do it?

We began by finding our own balance within. Every person on planet earth – balanced. There is no longer any need for people to hurt others or the earth. From that, everything else emerged naturally without a struggle.

If you had the power to make one change in the world what would it be?

That kindness and humor would permeate all human interaction. And no animal would ever get hit by a car.

Who/What has been most influential in your work?

In my dancemaking career, the great makers that moved me were Tricia Brown and Pina Bausch. I feel lucky to have come up in the field when these people were working – they were both heroic inventors. In my visual arts career, I am actually most influenced by things that are not in the art world.

06.05.14 Laurie McLeod B. Dance on CameraWhere do you find your inspiration/motivation?

I find inspiration nearly everywhere. As the great children's book author, Lois Ehlert says “I keep my eyes open. An idea might be near by.” Also, I often think of that famous Benjamin Franklin quote; “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.” It reminds me that there is always something you can do. Even if you scribble a flower on the back of a napkin, you've made that essential connection between you and your creative self. It is so important. And the moment of self-to-creative self connection is actually more important than whatever product comes of it. We need to experience this connection daily.

Aside from working, how do you spend your time?

I swim, teach water fitness and feel like I'm working on a PHD in Grilled Cheese Sandwiches because I make so many for my son. And I love to laze around. I am by nature both incredibly lazy and very ambitious. A curious mix.

06.05.14 Laurie McCloud Prized PossessionDo you have a prized possession? What is it?

My Grandfather was a painter and illustrator and he made a painting of my Dad when he was 23 as a Pirate. I love this painting. My Dad had to pull it out of the trash because apparently my Grandfather didn't think it was any good. Artists. Sheesh!

Tell about a magical moment that comes to mind when you look back on your life experience.

When I was about nine, I was swimming at the local public pool in Cleveland, Ohio. I went way down underwater and for a moment, it was just me and the sunlight and the water. And I felt for the first time perfect peace. Absolute perfect peace. I've been a water lover ever since. I swim to soothe myself, I swim when I need to sulk, I swim to wash off experiences, and I swim to get lost in thought. It works every time.

If you were able to spend an afternoon with anyone – dead or alive, who would it be? What plans would you make for your outing?

I would want to be with Amelia Earhart. I've always had a thing for her, perhaps because I love being free and she was also very freedom loving. I would make her a great picnic lunch and then ask her to fly me around. Oddly, my Grandfather went to Kindergarden with her. (Yes, the same Grandfather who threw away the painting.)

What is your favorite place and/or way to spend time?

I love being in water. No matter what's going on in my life, I always feel better when I'm in water.06.05.14 Laurie McCloud - Dance on Camera

What is your goal or main focus for your next 12 months?

My main focus for the next 12 months is growing my Book/Coaching project so that the ideas reach and help as many people as possible.

Do you have an upcoming event or significant happening that you would like to promote with your blog posting? When? Where? Details and contact information please.

The first LifeBloom Online Coaching Course begins June 16th and runs for three weeks until July 9th. I've created the course to fit in peoples’ lives, no matter how busy they are. Here's what will happen: each participant will make a commitment to go after something in their lives, for ten minutes a day, every day, for three weeks. Each day, I will be sending what I call a “Dose of Oomph” that will be a short, supportive video file, for people to access whenever the time is right for them. People can then keep these files forever, and reach for them when they need a lift. There will also be three optional live call-in sessions, a private Facebook page and more!

I think of it as a happy holding tank for people to experience this simple, powerful process. Details can be found at Attendance is limited, so I recommend people register right away to be assured of a place.

If you are as jazzed as I am about the idea of learning how to move on to the next level of accoplishment this might be a good way to start.